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2/21/2003

 

is intelligent design science?



pardon the length of this post. ID is something i've been struggling with for a long time. is it science? if not, what is it? does it belong in schools? if so, in what capacity? i think i've finally gotten myself to a point where i can comfortably categorize and advance ID as a high school curriculum under certain auspices, and i would go so far as to say that, aside from these auspices, ID has no future. don't bother reading this unless you've got a few spare minutes to kill and are inclined to use them giving this issue some serious thought. but if you have the time and the inclination, i'd appreciate your feedback.

i heard phillip johnson on hank hanegraaff's show last night. johnson is one of the founding fathers of the intelligent design movement along with michael behe and a few others. he is a harvard educated lawyer by trade, who has now turned his attention to biology. last night, he was arguing that intelligent design should be taught in public schools. i tend to agree with him, except it's no small task to figure out what to teach it as. is it philosophy? is it theology? is it science?

according to the above-linked ID source, intelligent design is

a scientific theory that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and its diversity. It holds that design is empirically detectable in nature, and particularly in living systems.

Intelligent Design is an intellectual movement that includes a scientific research program for investigating intelligent causes and that challenges naturalistic explanations of origins which currently drive science education and research.


i'll buy the "intellectual movement" categorization, but ID as a scientific theory?

before we talk about what ID is, let's first talk about what it isn't. it is not, as some have called it, "stealth creationism." is theism a prerequisite of ID theory? of some form, yes. are many ID theorists Christians? yes, though some are not. are they creationists? yes, if by that you mean they believe that ultimately the universe cannot be accounted for by natural causes alone. but are they trying to smuggle Christian fundamentalist dogma into the public schools under the guise of science? no. whenever a secular scientist uses a term like "creationist", he is using it as an insult. by it, he refers to an intellectually challenged person who thinks the scrawlings of a millennia-old mystic more trustworthy the findings of modern science, not someone who believes, for whatever reasons, that natural causes alone could not account for all there is. admittedly, for many creationists of the fundamentalist bent, the secular scientist's version is true. many fundamentalist Christians pride themselves (wrongfully) on stubbornly rejecting the findings of modern scientific research and cling to concepts like a young earth all the harder with each and every scrap of conflicting evidence that emerges. but a proponent of ID claims, independent of any religious source, that scientific evidence produced by sober-minded researchers demonstrates empirically that some Higher Power must have put us here. the arrogance of secular science is their ignorance, for who but those who are most blinded by pride could not see the difference between people who believe in spite of science, and people who believe because of science? that they share a certain conclusion in common, namely, the existence of an Intelligent Designer, is coincidental. and beyond that coincidence of belief, an ID theorist and a fundamentalist would have little in common. an ID theorist says nothing of the moral aspects of a Creator, nothing of His personal involvement with humanity, nothing of any laws or precepts He may have established for us to obey, or ceremonies to perform, etc. nor could he, since science alone could, at best, lead one no further than the inference "yes, it is just too improbable that this could have all happened by chance." if he believes beyond that, then it is a matter of his religious faith, and not his science. that many of IDs founders are religious men does not invalidate their claims or establish that ID is religion.

demonstrating that ID is not "stealth creationism" does not establish that it is science. science has certain criteria which must be met. science deals with the empirical. its theories must be testable by experiment, and it must be at least possible to prove them wrong. but ID makes no testable predictions and has no falsifiable claims. if a theory cannot be tested by experiment, what good is it to science? if it cannot be falsified, then we may as well postulate anything. i cannot disprove the claim that "God created the universe" through science, but nor could i disprove the claim "leprechauns are real, but they use magic to keep us from seeing them." furthermore, if ID is science, where is its research? where are its papers? its leaders write books and give interviews and speak at conferences, but where are their published findings? ID fails to meet the most basic prerequisites for a valid scientific theory, and even if one could overlook that, one must still admit that its body of research is virtually non-existent. ID is much more like a media event parading as science than science itself.

i do not wish you for one moment to think that i believe ID is somehow incorrect. i don't believe that. i would agree with the likes of phillip johnson, those who would argue that if the scientific evidence is reviewed fairly, an Intelligent Designer makes a lot more sense than anything the secular thinkers have to offer. i just don't think it's a scientific theory. nor do i think it above science, like philosophy would be, because ID could not exist but for the findings of science, whereas science could not exist but for the validity of logic. for this reason, ID has no right to demand that it be taught along side of science: it is either part of science, or it is naught. moreover, i don't think anyone could dispute that ID is an intellectual movement, but i don't think anyone could reasonably argue that every new intellectual movement to come down the pike ought to be taught in public schools, either. so what is to become of intelligent design?

there is a portion of science that is reserved for those things, like ID, which are not quite theories but yet have the ring of truth to them. things that a large body of evidence would point towards as being true, even though they haven't been validated by experiment or laid out yet as a formal theory. this realm of science is called "hypothesis." it deals, as the root implies, with the hypothetical. we conjure an explanation for a given set of data out of thin air, thus making nothing more than an educated guess. intelligent design is an educated guess. it is a hypothesis, not a theory. and there, sadly, it will stay until someone comes up with a testable prediction and falsifiable claim for ID. michael behe conceived of something called "irreducible complexity" as one such attempt, and it is currently the best ID has to offer. the idea is that there are certain structures in biology which are so complex that they could not have evolved by a darwinian time+chance process. there's a lot of debate about whether or not irreducible complexity is real, but even if it is, that still wouldn't solve ID's problems. no one could predict that if intelligent design is correct, there must be irreducibly complex structures. God is at liberty to create however He likes. nor if irreducible complexity is falsified have we falsified intelligent design, and that for the same reason. at best, if irreducible complexity prevails, darwinism lay in ruin and ID may hope to sneak in and fill the resultant vacuum--at least until some other naturalistic theory emerges and shoves it out again.

is there no hope, then, for intelligent design as part of a science curriculum? if there is, it lies with something phillip johnson calls the "origin question". this is intelligent design's A game. if you look at what science currently knows, which explanation for the origin of man makes more sense: chance, or design? most high school biology teachers would, if asked this question, look you squarely in the eye and tell you that it isn't their business to answer, and that the question won't be asked in their class. "science," they would say "is about fact. it's about what we can empirically prove. we leave students to draw their own conclusions for themselves. if they want to believe in God, i have nothing to say about it one way or the other in my classroom." they would be telling you the truth, and teaching their classes with a clear conscience.

what they don't tell you, and what they probably don't realize themselves, is that they are teaching, in effect "stealth atheism". science only deals with natural causes because natural causes are all it can test, but a curriculum steeped in naturalism ingrains atheistic metaphysical assumptions deeply into the minds of unwitting students. there is no difference between the science an atheist would teach and the science any public high school teacher would teach because the public high school teacher is teaching atheism. now technically he's an agnostic whenever he's in his classroom, which is why he isn't being deliberately deceptive. but that neutrality comes at a price, because in point of fact it is a completely godless version of reality that he shows his students in each and every class. it creates in the mind of the student the whole notion of "the God of the Gaps"--the idea that science has supplanted much of religion's validity, that God exists only to fill in the blanks, that those who believe in God are either uneducated or willfully ignorant. sadly, this is the brazenly advanced position of many scientists today.

it is true that science cannot put God into one of its test tubes. but it cannot keep him out, either. if science defines itself as the explanation of reality that deals with natural causes only, then that may mean that supernatural causes cannot be taught as science, but it does not mean that they cannot be taught as reasonable inferences from science. science has no right to exclude supernatural causes. in a philosophical sense, they are every bit as valid as natural ones, and science cannot reject philosophically valid causes as "false" or "irrelevant" when all of science hinges upon the basic reliability of philosophy. if the laws of reason and inference that lead us to supernatural conclusions are not valid, then neither are those science uses to reach natural ones. why then should one version of reality be taught in our schools while the other is ignored? why should the atheist-friendly secular half be taught as "fact" while the other half, the half that takes the same facts and draws different conclusions from them, is deemed religion and left out in the cold? it is blind prejudice that kids should be given half the story when in order for that half to be true, the other half has to be just as good.

ID theory deals with supernatural causes but that doesn't make it religion. while religion accepts the supernatural, there are no grounds for saying that any belief in the supernatural is religion unless one first wants to say that in order to be a pure philosopher, one must be an atheist. i propose then that a new curriculum be formed, one called "Origin Questions" which would be a part of a student's scientific education, but which would analyze both natural and supernatural causes in light of scientific evidence. this curriculum would advance both the case that the universe, including the life within it, is the result of undirected natural forces, and the case that it is the product of design. it could be pointed out to students that, although supernatural causes are every bit as good as natural ones, they cannot be empirically verified. it should also be pointed out to the students that this has no bearing on their validity which is why they are being taught it. in this class, students would be able to hear what science has been hiding from them. not religion--they can get that in their sunday school classes. but a hypothesis which is as reasonable as any, and which would, if given a fair chance, broaden a student's mind beyond the narrow, prejudicial view that what we can see and touch and taste and smell and hear is all there is. that is a metaphysical, and not a scientific, judgement and thusly has science opened the door for intelligent design. a panel of leading secular scientists could be formed to make their case, and a panel of leading scientists subscribing to ID could be formed to make theirs. the two arguments could be combined in course material and presented to the students to let them decide for themselves--to actually give them the chance to do fairly what we pretend they are allowed to do now.

locdog hopes to see it by the time he has kids





2/20/2003

 

answers to common iraq war objections, a limited time offer from locdog



are you a hawk who never seems to make it off the ground? have those professing peace filled you with inner-conflict? tired of swarms of swooping doves pecking any peccadilos you may have proffered? well have i got the answer for you. right now, you can get my patented, never-fail, iraq attack pack lucky seven can't miss arguments, for absolutely NOTHING. that's right. zip, zilch, nada. you say i've gone mad? you say i've lost my mind? well maybe so, friend, but if i'm crazy then i'm crazy like a fox, a desert fox, that is. you see, i know that once you read my lucky seven and apply them in your arguments, you'll come back to me for all of your defense defense needs, but this deal won't be around forever! so please, take advantage of this limited time offer and try my product. thank you.

"where's the evidence that hussein still has weapons of mass destruction?"

1. neither the u.s., hans blix, tony blair, nor anyone else is required to produce one single scrap of evidence of any weapons of mass destruction to have a case for war. saddam was supposed to produce evidence that he didn't have them. resolution 1441 threatens "serious consequences" if saddam fails to comply. he's been failing now for over ten years.

"no blood for oil!"

2. it's not about oil. if it was, there are a lot of other places we'd be going to war over sooner, tops on the list being venezuela. further, we would have toppled hussein and took his oil the first time we were there, back when every career protestor capable of writing was marching with "no blood for oil" flying high above their befuddled-if-well-meaning faces on signs that had g. h. w. bush with a hitler moustache. finally, the amount of oil we would get from iraq wouldn't justify the expense. war costs billions, and then to be of much use we'd have to completely revamp their oil infrastructure which would cost a lot more, and even then the max oil production per day estimates are around 3.5 million barrels. the most iraq has ever produced was barely over three million per day, and they only did that once. that's around what we get from venezuela now, or were getting, i should say. economically it would make more sense to buy this oil from hussein than to take it from him, hence economics are not the true reason behind going to war with iraq.

"i'm protesting this war because i think there has to be a better way."

3. war protesters have no answers, less brains, and are either communists themselves or the unwitting pawns of those who are. not going to war with hussein solves nothing. ignoring him solves nothing. containing him has cost a lot and gotten no results. inspections have been tried for over a decade and failed to make a bit of difference. diplomatic agreements, such as oil-for-food deals, have been violated every time they have been tried. what's left? war protesters have no answers.

"the united states is the real rogue state. you've killed half-a-million iraqi children."

4. the united states has not killed half-a-million iraqi children. saddam hussein controls every aspect of the iraqi media, and controls what foreign media/human rights groups can see when they enter. it's next to impossible that saddam didn't have something to do with that number. furthermore, even if that ludicrous estimate was true, saddam hussein would be the one to blame. he was never denied food, medicine, or humanitarian aid at any point. the sanctions always made exemptions whereby hussein could sell some of his oil in closely monitored transactions and use the funds to care for his people. he used the money instead to buy weapons.

"why didn't poppy bush finish saddam off when he had the chance? we let thousands of iraqi revolters die!"

5. yes, we should have taken him out the first time, but for diplomatic reasons the administration couldn't. that we would have lost the support from saddam's arab neighbors being foremost on the list. yes, it was terrible that we made the iraqi people believe we would support them in a revolt, when we had no intention of doing so, thus allowing thousands of them to be killed by saddam. why is this an argument against our doing the right thing now?

"bush is a madman. the whole world is against him! we cannot act unilaterally!"

6. no, the world is not against us. aside from germany, france, and the waffling belgium who seems to be inching closer to our position, europe is along aside the united states. chirac just blasted 13 nations for snubbing france by siding with america, threatening their entry into the european union, telling them that they should have "shut up", that they weren't acting very "well brought up", that they were "infantile", etc. we've got the brits, the aussies, and the canadians, i believe, will be there when the time comes. the major players in the region all seem to agree that saddam needs to go, but want to quibble over the details of u.n. involvement or what's to happen afterwords. fine, that's still worlds removed from the peacenik position.

"i'm against the war, but that doesn't mean i'm defending saddam hussein."

7. yes, you are defending saddam hussein. you are knowingly preventing the only possible manner in which saddam hussein could be removed from power. it isn't going to happen without a war, so you are defending saddam whether you want to or not. hussein is evil? hussein is brutal? hussein needs to be contained? blah blah blah. it all boils down to your failure to recognize the united state's authority to act, which means that, when all is said and done, you don't think saddam is that bad and you'd rather see him stay than see us take him out. because believe me, if we don't, no one will. whatever involvement the u.n. has, it will be the product of american arm-twisting alone.

remember to tell your friends to come to locdog's blog for all of their defense defense needs




2/19/2003

 

anyone play chess?



sometimes, in a game of chess, a good player can maneuver a poor player into a situation where, no matter what he does, one of his pieces will be captured.

the left finds themselves in just such a position now.

they must either support the war and in so doing cast their lot in with one they regard as a bastard president, or they must oppose the war and in so doing defend a brutal regime whose human rights abuses makes a mockery of those ideals they claim to hold dear.

a good chess player might be able to arrange things so that his opponent would have to choose between two pieces of roughly equal value, a bishop and a knight rather than a much easier choice between pawn and knight. interesting, is it not, that for the left the choice between political expediency and principle is such an easy one?

locdog would exclude pro-war leftists, but other than democratic presidential candidates, he can't think of any





 

the Gospel



it occurred to me as i was in my car this morning that i've never done a post on the Gospel. i've brought the topic up in a million different contexts, but i've never done a post for the sole/soul purpose of laying it all down, at least not that i can think of. i'll try that now.

the Bible says that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. the universe and our little corner of it was perfect, and we, too, were created as perfect beings, knowing neither suffering nor death. God provided us a free will so that if we served Him, it would be of our own volition. since a free will is meaningless without the possibility of doing something wrong, He set up a law and told us not to break it. you may or may not believe that this law was not to eat a certain apple from a certain tree in a certain garden, but it isn't important for our purposes whether you believe in a literal garden and a talking snake. for right now, we need to see that God gave man a free will, and a way to use it.

and use it we did. we broke God's law and so sin and death entered into our world. we were cursed beings, with corrupted wills now enslaved to that which we had once freely chosen, sin, and a cursed creation to live in since we were no longer worthy of a perfect one. perhaps God over-reacted? no. God would have been within His rights to annihilate us and start from scratch. His standard, after all, is perfection. and any sin makes one less than perfect. but God was not surprised when man sinned. He knew it was coming all along. before He ever created a single molecule of our world, He knew that sin and death would some day spoil it. so why did He create us at all?

the short answer is that by allowing some evil, God could produce a much greater good than would otherwise have been possible. you see, the highest goods are only possible in spite of evil. it is good to share a piece of bread with a friend, but it is better to give your last morsel to a starving man. it is good to love that which is beautiful and perfect, but it is better to love that which is unlovable, to love that which in no way deserves it, to love because you freely chose to do so. this is the love God shows us, and it is the love He has commanded we show each other. it is the highest love, but it, like many other high goods, could not exist in a world were some evil had not been permitted.

but God is perfectly just and perfectly holy. how could He allow evil, even if it was to produce good? evil must be punished, the price must be paid, else God's justice isn't perfect. the price for each of us is death, and not just the temporal death we experience when we leave this place, but an eternal state of alienation from God. our only hope to escape this judgment is to live a perfect life, for only that could meet God's perfectly just demands. none of us could ever do this. if you doubt that, i would point out to you that you cannot even live up to your own standards, let alone God's. we were doomed. God wanted to save us, He wanted to show us love and compassion, but His standards must be met. how could He do it?

He did it by sending His son Jesus to die for all mankind. Jesus is called God's son, but that doesn't mean that He is literally God's offspring. the Bible says that Jesus is co-equal with God, that He existed before all things, and even created them, that He was present In The Beginning. Jesus is called "God's Son" because although they are both the same God, they have distinct personalities. if you add a third personality, called the Holy Spirit, you get what is called the Trinity. God is sometimes described as being "one what but three who's" and that means that there is one God with three personalities. we don't have three personalities, and cannot fully comprehend something that does, but this is how God is described to us, and indeed, it must be so. God is love, you see, and unless God Himself had distinct personalities, there would have been nothing for Him to love before He had created anything. He could not have been.

Jesus, then, is God's Son, and that means that He relates to the persona we call the Father in a way analogous to how an earthly son would relate to a loving earthly father. for this reason, people who have no relationship with their earthly father, or have had a very bad relationship, often have a hard time with the concept of a loving God. Jesus came to earth, and though He remained God at all times, He also assumed the nature of a man, and lived as one of us. He experienced everything that an ordinary man would. He lived as a humble carpenter in a poor neighborhood for thirty years, then for the last three years of His life, He lived among us as the greatest moral philosopher, teacher, philanthropist, and social revolutionary who ever lived. some people think that all of these qualities, or one or two of them, were His purpose. that He was a Good Man who lived to teach us how to be good to each other. this was indeed a large part of what He did, and you could indeed be a very good man and help a lot of people by doing what He said, but you could not get to heaven. you would always be imperfect. for this reason, it was not until Jesus hung on the cross that He cried out "it is finished!" the purpose for which God had sent Him, the plan God had established before the creation of the world, was complete.

Jesus lived a perfect life, a life absolutely free from sin. when He suffered and died, then, He wasn't paying the price for His own sins but for everyone else's. if that's hard to understand, imagine the opposite. could adolph hitler have suffered and died for your sins? of course not. he would simply be getting exactly what he deserved. maybe a person who only had a few sins could pay for many, but only a person who was perfect could pay for all. Jesus paid for us all. some people say that Jesus' death means everyone gets to go to heaven, but that isn't the Gospel, and in fact, it doesn't even make much sense. if Jesus death meant everyone got to go to heaven regardless of their personal choices, why were we ever given a free will to begin with? we started out in paradise, after all. God could have saved Himself and us all a lot of trouble by simply not allowing us to choose. you see, for human existence to have any real dignity, it has to be possible to play the game and lose. this is why hell exists. if there was no hell, then all of human suffering would be pointless because ultimately our free will is a sham.

but it isn't a sham. God created us to be free, and we are free enough to choose Him, even though we are corrupted by sin. but we must choose Him through Jesus. only Jesus lived a perfect life and died for our sins. He paid the price, we can only accept what He has done by asking Him to forgive our sins and trusting in Him to be our salvation. by having faith in Him. no amount of goodness can ever make you perfect. and no amount of sincerity in any other faith, or even in Christianity, can save you from hell if you have not at some point made a decision to turn your life over to Christ, to make Him your savior and lord. the two are inseparable. if salvation was possible through any other faith, God needn't have sent His Son to die. some think there are many paths to God, but who would walk down a path towards a God Who slaughtered His only Son for the sake of variety? Jesus died for us because there was no other choice, and so no other choice but Jesus exists for us. anything else demeans the person of God, and transforms Him into a grand cosmic sadist.

when you place your faith in Christ, you will still sin. you will still sometimes choose your own way rather than God's. and God may discipline you to correct you and get you back on the straight and narrow. it is for your own good. but in God's eyes, you will look to Him as one who was perfect, because it is as though you are saying to God "i'm not perfect, but you sent your Son to be perfect for me, and i'm going to trust in what you have done." for this reason, we can be reunited with God, and live with Him forever in heaven, even though we will still sin from time to time. that's what the Gospel is all about. it's about getting ugly people into the finest night club, about getting bankrupt people into a mansion, about getting ignorant people into the finest university, or talentless people into the greatest art school. it's about God, Who loves us with an intensity and urgency such that He was willing to pay the ultimate price, so that we, if we choose to can return that love.

know that for a time, man will be free to choose. but God won't wait for ever. Jesus commanded the Gospel to be preached in all corners of the world, and it's sad that Christians don't take Him seriously. when every land has heard the Gospel, and the time is right, Jesus will return for those who follow Him, and this world will come to an end. the day of judgment will be at hand, when those who follow Christ will be separated from all others, and evil will be abolished for ever. God is permitting evil for a little while to create an eternity of the greatest possible good. it will be worth it.

locdog hopes to see you there





2/18/2003

 

carter guarantees preemptive, unilateral war in iraq



jimmy carter has given his blessing to the "Not In My Name" petition, an anti-war stunt run by the british tabloid the daily mirror. the petition reads

Mr Blair, I hereby register my opposition to any war with Iraq not justified by unequivocal UN evidence.


"You're doing a good job. I am glad about that. War is evil," said carter after establishing that he had, in fact, heard of the mirror. since mr. carter did not qualify "war is evil," we are left to assume that he includes such things as liberating jews from nazi death camps, and winning our independence from the nation whence the mirror originates. given carter's proven track record as a euro-wannabe, that last one should come as no surprise. not mentioned is whether or not carter knelt and swore allegiance to the crown.

deconstructing the mirror's petition, and moving it into an american context, carter's support seems to emanate from the notion that no nation has the right to do what's in its own best interests unless the UN first says it's ok. in other words, carter, as an american president, must have meant something like, "mr bush, i am opposed to any war in iraq not justified by unequivocal UN evidence since you don't have the authority to act in iraq without their say-so." no wonder they gave this guy the nobel peace prize. he hates american sovereignty more than the europeans do.

basking in the glow of carter's approval, the editors of the mirror paused to laud carter as "one of America's greatest" presidents...

...sorry, i had to compose myself. anyway, they said he's one of america's greatest presidents by which they apparently meant that carter could not have done more to destroy our military, economy, and national morale had he been a paid soviet operative. further, they describe carter as a "worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize" whose "experience and wisdom" mean we should listen to him when it comes to iraq. like we did when it came to afghanistan in 1979. and iran in 1980. and north korea 1994. but i digress.

Mr Carter says war is evil. So it is, though sometimes it is a necessary evil.

Now is not one of those times, though. There is no case for action against Iraq, he says: "We want Saddam to disarm, but we want to achieve this through peaceful means."


the mirror apparently thought the Wise and Experienced One could use a bit of revision, so they tidied up his "war is evil" remark by amending it to "war is a necessary evil." well fine, but that's not what carter said. and he's never done much to indicate that he might feel that way. if anything, carter's presidency and ex-presidential diplomatic career would seem to indicate that war is never necessary, that no matter how aggressive, belligerent, or tyrannical the regime, talk can always solve your problems. doesn't work with school yard bullies, doesn't work in geopolitics either, but hey, since when has jimmy carter ever been about anything more than good intentions, wishful thinking, and failure?

and since absolutely everything carter touches turns to crap (is there such a thing as an inverse midas touch?), i can pretty much guarantee that his support of the anti-war movement will in fact produce just the sort of preemptive, unilateral attack he most desperately seeks to avoid.

locdog will have to send him a nice thank you note





 

chirac's tantrum



this is beautiful. french president jaques chirac has scolded 13 other european nations like an angry schoolmarm for siding with the united states over iraq.

"These countries have been not very well behaved and rather reckless of the danger of aligning themselves too rapidly with the American position."

"It is not really responsible behavior. It is not well brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet."

"I felt they acted frivolously because entry into the European Union implies a minimum of understanding for the others," Chirac said.

Chirac called the letters "infantile" and "dangerous," adding: "They missed a great opportunity to shut up."


these nations are in varying stages of gaining admitance into the european union, so this would seem like a not-so-thinly-veiled threat from chirac to derail that process unless they fall in line with france. but honestly, who cares? i'm just diggin' this rhetoric. "not well brought-up." "infantile." these nations should "shut up"?

why doesn't chirac just threaten to put them over his bony european knee and spank them like the bad boys they are? good little european nations should be seen and not heard. good little european nations should not go along with the united states of america. bad little european nations think and act in their own best interests. bad little european nations don't do what france tells them to do. oh, yeah, and bad little eurpean nations don't get the car keys on saturday night. does chirac really think in these terms? apparently so.

locdog hopes the french never fully grasp their own insignificance: they'd be a lot less funny





2/17/2003

 

why the left will never answer rush limbaugh



if today's liberalism has a holy grail, then it must be the anti-rush limbaugh: the funny, smart demagogue who could rally the troops and carry the DNC's message to the masses. a lot of names have been tossed around. al fraken is the current front runner. michael moore would be my suggestion. alan colmes, phil donahue, mario cuomo...the list goes on and on. dredge up whatever ex-pinko politician or current cable bleeding heart you care to, the left will never answer rush limbaugh. here's why.

1. no one wants a liberal talk show host. in the above-linked new york times article, those behind the latest push are described as "wealthy Democratic donors" who are trying to "counterbalance the conservative tenor of radio programs like 'The Rush Limbaugh Show.'" note that we aren't talking about throngs of moms and pops--grass roots types seeking to satiate a national hunger. these are a few wealthy democrats who believe that there ought to be an answer to rush. consider the times coverage:

The concern has been around for years: Hillary Rodham Clinton first mentioned a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" in 1998. But the sentiment has taken on new urgency with the rise to the top of the cable news ratings of the Fox News Channel, considered by many to have a conservative slant, and the Republicans' gaining control of the Senate in November. Such events have spurred many wealthy Democrats to explore investments in possible, liberal-skewing media ventures. New campaign finance rules that restrict giving opportunities also gave them further incentive.


particularly noteworthy here is the mention of hillary, visionary. not hillary, whiner. or hillary, paranoid lunatic. but hillary, who in 1998 saw what it took the rest of us five more years to see. we're not worthy! we're not worthy!

contrast the left's desire for a heavy-weight host to that which catapulted limbaugh, a once small-time dj who was fired for injecting too much of his politics into the breaks between the bubble gum, to success. met with failure after failure--and more than a few dismissals--early on, in time it became the politics rather than the pop that lured in the listeners. then a radio station in sacremento california took a chance on the then-unknown rotund conservative firebrand and the rest is history. dominant numbers in his market suggested a broader appeal, syndication followed, then books, television shows, a monthly publication, and virtual enshrinement as a cultural icon. limbaugh is a conservative leader, but he followed before he led. he responded to a demand--a demand the left consistently underestimates:

...the fire-and-brimstone manner and a ready-made audience alienated by the mainstream news media it perceives to be full of liberal bias.


in other words, limbaugh fans aren't real people. they aren't normal people. they're disgruntled, angry people with a lot of issues who are looking for someone to amplify their hatred. that is a fatal miscalculation for the left.

2. limbaugh is a unique talent. if the left underestimates limbaugh's fan base, then their estimations of the man himself are a travesty. part of the reason that liberals have never been able to answer rush is that they don't really understand who rush is or what he is about. rush limbaugh, according to their latest messiah, al fraken, is "a big, fat idiot". actually, he's no longer fat (aerobics instructor wives have their merits) nor has he ever been stupid. whether or not limbaugh’s politics or presentation is palatable to a given person, any reasonably objective listener ought to be willing to acknowledge that, at least in the packaging department, limbaugh is a genius akin to p. t. barnum. his populist instincts mesh with his flamboyant style to form an upbeat approach that makes conservatives giddy and leaves liberals wondering why they never seem to have that much fun. he's also quite charming, and neophyte listeners are routinely surprised by rush's willingness to debate with the occasional liberal caller (he moves them to the front of the queue and lavishes air time upon them.) that's a deadly combination. i frankly don't see it, or anything that could even come close to it, on the left, where shrillness and sarcasm pass for humor and style. and even those honest liberals who will concede limbaugh's gifts in presentation all too frequently pan the content. which brings us to...

3. rush limbaugh is not dumb. he isn't educated very much, but that's quite different. of course, this point barely merits mentioning since those who sincerely think limbaugh dumb would likely think the same of george will, william f. buckley jr., thomas sowell, etc. still, the left's failure to appreciate limbaugh as an intellect points to a critical flaw in their approach and warrants further exploration. rush's influence comes from his ability to connect with a broad audience. that means being able to take the medicine of, say, tax policy and sweeten it up with rock music and hyperbole, but it also means being able to take the abstract or complex and break it down into manageable chunks. part of limbaugh's appeal is the slightly self-deprecating know-it-all shtick, but when play time is over listeners feel that, somehow, rush is looking them in the eye explaining something to them the way a close friend might. liberals suck at that. they've got the extremes nailed down: they can pontificate from the ivory towers or condescend to the lowest common denominator. but they leave everyone else behind. that means that they will always have left the biggest part of their potential audience out in the cold.

to steal a line from the master, rush doesn't need to be balanced with equal time, rush is equal time. the left's stranglehold on the press, academia, and hollywood is manifest. fox news and limbaugh are successful not because their fans are militia members plotting the next federal building raid, but because people are fed up with the hypocrisy of the supposedly objective mainstream media and have begun seeking alternatives where at least bias can be treated as a known factor. which isn't to say that just any old conservative would do. limbaugh's unique combination of assets have made him a nation-wide celebrity, and, what's more, taken an obscure media outlet and elevated it to the center of the political discourse. his impact on culture and politics is inestimable. if the left thinks they can find someone to answer that on demand, then they are doomed to failure.

not that locdog minds, of course





 

snowed in



got hit with that big snowstorm that's sweeping the east, so i'm off today. by "off" i mean that instead of sitting in a nice, warm office punching keys and clicking buttons, i've been consigned to back-braking manual labor with shovel and plow out in the cold. funny, it's still better than going in to work.

locdog loves winter