The Spectacle Blog

A Bush/Powell Conundrum No More

By on 11.20.05 | 5:39PM

Long ago, in my column, "The Bush/Powell Conundrum," I analyzed the relationship between George W. Bush and Colin Powell, and came down generally on the positive side in my evaluation of Powell as then-new Secretary of State. I hereby and definitively change my mind, and acknowledge that I should have listened to my friend Jeff Jacoby, always a Powell skeptic. Powell is now and was always a snake in the bosom of the Bush presidency.

The latest: Former Powell chief of staff Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson tells CNN that Vice President Dick Cheney provided the "'philosophical guidance' and 'flexibility' that led to the torture of detainees in U.S. facilities...and told CNN that the practice of torture may be continuing in U.S.-run facilities."

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Re: Theories and Experiments

By on 11.20.05 | 2:12PM

Dave: No, that's not correct. Evolutionary theory consists of a constellation of hypotheses that are falsifiable by experimentation. It's pretty easy to come up with simple ones. For example: Get a mix of puppies of various breeds and raise them in a lab with their food on a platform. Raise the platform six inches every 2 months, until it is 3 feet high when the dogs are one year old. When they breed, raise their offspring under similar conditions. Hypothesis: Each generation of dogs will be taller, on average, than the last. If the hypothesis is correct, it would seem to demonstrate that height is heritable and can be determined by natural selection. If dogs too small to reach their food, and thus too unhealthy to breed, continue to be born generation after generation, then size must not be heritable, and we have to figure out some other explanation.

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Re: More on ID

By on 11.20.05 | 10:06AM

John, I understand your point, but the problem Darwinism has is natural selection. So long as scientists cling to the idea that natural selection is necessarily random, or that there is a missing link, Darwinism will be an incomplete theory, and in its own way, a genuflection to science's own God.

As the debate plays out, this happens:

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Graham Destroys Dems

By on 11.20.05 | 8:01AM

Former Democratic Senator Bob Graham was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9-11 and in the months leading up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. He has managed to single-handedly destroyed the "Bush lied" about Iraq pre-war intelligence in his op-ed in today's WaPo.

Here's the money quote:

"At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

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Europe’s Place in the World

By on 11.19.05 | 11:15PM

Jed is right. There is a reason that little "c" conservatives are gaining ground in European elections, whether it's the death of the EU constitution, their gains in Britain and Germany, etc.

But the gains they have made aren't enough, the Conservatives in Britain have succeeded through essentially an anti-American position, while the Germans have gained by making promises their economy can't sustain without true economic change. If Europe is to transform itself, both nations must come closer to the U.S. conservative position both domestically (economically and socially) and international (pro-national defense). That can only happen with a strong America to take them by the hand and show them the way.

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Theories and Experiments

By on 11.19.05 | 7:24PM

John, I apologize for my rusty terminology and application -- high school science classes seem so long ago. Let me take another crack at it: a scientific theory must be falsifiable through repeated experiments. Neither evolutionary theory or ID qualify under such requirements, correct?

Are you arguing that the question of how things came to be is the exclusive domain of science?

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Re: ID

By on 11.19.05 | 6:09PM

J.P.: The thing is, as far as the science is concerned, there really is no debate. Krauthammer is dead right: ID is not a scientific theory, period. It makes no positive assertions that are falsifiable. That is, its falsifiable assertions are entirely negative, variations all on "natural selection doesn't explain X." Its positive assertions (an Intelligent Designer did it) are not falsifiable. As far as the metaphysics goes, there's a lot to mull over, as Krauthammer acknowledges ("Intelligent design may be interesting as theology"). But science isn't metaphysics, and it's a mistake to rely on Edward O. Wilson's theological conclusions. I've mentioned here before that lots of scientists are flakey, even nuts, when it comes to serious thinking about religion. It's no more profitable to ask them about the nature of God then to ask a priest or philosopher to lead a paleontological dig.

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Melloan’s Europe

By on 11.19.05 | 8:00AM

George Melloan of the WSJ is always worth reading. Until I read his 11/15 column (subs req'd) I couldn't think of a time I seriously disagreed with him. Consider this one: Melloan, arguing that most of the damage to European unity is self-inflicted and not America's fault, is right on target. But his conclusion is way off:

"It would be foolish of Americans to think that all this turmoil in Europe somehow serves U.S. interests. Chaos in Europe has never worked that way before, it should be carefully remembered...There is nothing to be gained by the U.S. from watching cars burn in Paris, politicians fumbling in Berlin or mass demonstrations against the government in a Spain at risk of exploding into little pieces." Actually, there is.

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Tantrum in the House

By on 11.18.05 | 7:07PM

Read the AP report to catch up on today's back and forth on the Murtha resolution. The highlight:

The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.

Democrats booed and shouted her down - causing the House to come to a standstill.

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