Also via Follow Me Here: the ACLU is asking people to send messages of support to the plantiffs in the Dover, Pennsylvania "intelligent design" trial, where creationists are attempting to infiltrate their religious ideas into the teaching of high school biology, to the detriment of the teaching of evolution.
A month or so ago, on a quite weekend afternoon, I badly startled my wife and child. My AOL software wasn't working properly and I had been locked out of one of my accounts and was trying to get it reinstated. I was stuck in AOL's voice response system for the second or third time, trying to get to a real person to describe the odd series of events which had led to my dilemma, when I just snapped and began screaming my replies at the time of my lungs.
Clearly, I had had enough -- which is why I understand completely the people in these stories.
Q Now, you gave examples of some theories that were discarded?
Q One was the ether theory?
Q And the other was the theory of geocentrism, right?
A That s correct.
Q And what you said yesterday was that there was some pretty compelling evidence for observers of that time that that was good theory, right?
A Yes, sure.
Q Look up in the sky, and it looked like the sun was going around us, correct?
A That s right.
Q And we know now that those appearances were deceiving, right?
A That s correct.
Q So what we thought we knew from just looking at the sky, that s not in fact what was happening, right?
A That s right.
Q So the theory was discarded?
A That s correct.
Q And intelligent design, also based on appearance, isn t it, Professor Behe?
A All sciences is based on appearances. That s -- what else can one go with except on appearances?
Appearances can be interpreted from a number of different frameworks, and you have to worry that the one that you re interpreting it from is going to turn out to be correct.
But in fact since science is based on observation, now that s just another word for appearance. So intelligent design is science, and so intelligent design is based on observation; that is appearance. Big Bang theory is based on observation, based on appearance, so yes, it is.
Q The whole positive argument for intelligent design as you ve described it, Professor Behe, is look at this system, look at these parts, they appear designed, correct?
A Well, I think I filled that out a little bit more. I said that intelligent design is perceived as the purposeful arrangement of parts, yes. So when we not only see different parts, but we also see that they are ordered to perform some function, yes, that is how we perceived design.
Check out that last statement by Behe:
"[I]ntelligent design is perceived as the purposeful arrangement of parts ... So when we not only see different parts, but we also see that they are ordered to perform some function ... that is how we perceived design."
In other words, when IDers look at something, and they perceive it to be designed, that is proof that it is designed, which proves that "Intelligent Design" is true.
If it appears that Behe's definition is a bit, um, self-referential, a circular argument, that's only because it is.
And for good measure, Behe believes that "observation" is just another word for "appearance" -- never mind that latter is about easily perceived superficial qualities which can lead to flawed, but apparently correct, theories (like the flat earth and geocentrism, both of which appear to the senses to be correct), while "observation" is about close and rigorous examination and, whenever possible, quantification, to get to underlying essential qualities, which lead (one hopes) to theories which have good predictive value.
Of course, Behe also testified that "Intelligent Design" can only be considered a scientific theory when using his own special definition of what a scientific theory is, one that's not only significantly different from the definition recognized by authorities like the National Academy of Sciences, but one that is broad enough that astrology would qualify as scientific. Behe's definition is, in fact, almost exactly the same as what scientists call a "hypothesis" -- which I don't believe is an accident on Behe's part.
There is a distinct difference between the scientific use of "theory" and its colloquial usage. In everyday language, a "theory" is a guess or a supposition, while in scientific usage a theory is an overarching framework which explains multiple questions, is well-supported by observations and evidence, and which suggests new and fertile lines of inquiry. A theory is the closest that science gets to fact, while a "theory" in everyday life is an hypothesis.
"Intelligent Design" lives in the interstices between those two usages. When IDers pound on Darwinian evolution being "only a theory," they're exploiting the differences in the use of that word, and creating the impression that evolution is only a guess or a supposition, and not what it actually is, the very core around which all our understanding of biology is constructed. Without the framework that evolutionary theory provides, you've got nothing tieing together the biological sciences.
So I don't believe for a moment that Behe conflation of "theory" with "hypothesis" is anything but a deliberate one, designed to continue muddying the waters and keeping alive the possibility that ID might one day win at trial what it can't win for itself in the world of science.
Update: Back in February, PZ Myers offered this Shorter Michael Behe:
The evidence for Intelligent Design.
Evolutionary explanations are no good.
There aren't any good evolutionary explanations.
Update (10/22): I've been reading some more of Behe's testimony under cross-examination, and I've decided that he's a perfect exemplar for this dictum of Francis Crick:
Evolution is cleverer than you are.
What struck me forcefully is how unimaginative and dull Behe's mind appears to be, judging by his testimony. The primary reason there must be an intelligent designer, besides that fact that his religion tells him so, is that Behe is unable to imagine any other way that complexity could come about except by a supernatural version of mundane human invention. Not for Behe is J.B.S. Haldane's statement that:
[T]he universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
No for Behe, the universe cannot contain anything that he cannot conceive of in his apparently quite limited imagination. Never mind that the evidence is quite clear that random mutations under selective pressure can do quite wondrous things -- Behe's mind only receives the wonders he's been told to accept.
However did this pathetic, dull, uninsightful, umimaginative man ever become a major spokesperson for "Intelligent Design?" It does not speak highly for their movement to have a man of such obviously limited capabilities out in front.
I'd also like to note in passing that while the plantiff's experts have all been Christians, but could as well have been Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists, it's telling that the expert witnesses for ID are always, without fail, Christians. Obviously, there's a reason for that, because it's not a theory or science it's a corollary to a religious belief masquerading as science.
Finally, I'll complain that during the cross-examination of Dr. Barbara Forrester (the plantiff's expert on creationism and the intelligent design movement), the defense counsel (a former prosecutor who lost his job because the voters in Michigan got fed up with his persecution of Jack Kevorkian) tried repeatedly to counter expressions of religious beliefs by advocates of ID by quoting atheistic or anti-religious remarks made by evolutionary scientists (Dawkins, for example). In countering this, the plantiff's counsel failed, I think, to make clear the obvious point, which is that while those remarks by Dawkins et al. are personal philosophical corollaries to their understanding of evolution, which they believe to be true, they aren't part of evolutionary theory, and need not be accepted by anybody else.
On the other hand, the beliefs expressed by the IDers are central to their claims about ID. The IDers have tried, gamely, to remove the religious center of their "theory", but when they do we find that there's nothing there -- literally so!! Behe said it himself, in cross: there's no mechanism in ID, which means there's merely the observation that complexity must imply design.
As Ed Brayton points out, ID has clearly become entirely dependent on the gaps in scientific knowledge: where we don't quite know how something came about, there (they say) is the evidence for the Designer. And when science moves forward (as it inevitably does) and explains that bit of complexity sufficiently to understand how it got that way, the IDers will move to some other bit of complexity and hitch their wagon to that.
You would think that someone among them would have an understanding that such retrenchment has been going on for centuries now, as science explains more and more, and the need for religious explanation declines. It's a struggle they cannot win -- something that mainstream religionists understand quite well, and have adjusted fairly well to.
Update (10/27): In Slate William Saletan summarizes Behe's theory, a la Monty Python: "All intelligently designed things are brought about by an intelligent designer through a process of intelligently conducted design."
Behe throws up a blizzard of babble: process, intelligent activity, important facts. What process? What activity? What facts? He never explains. He says the designer "took steps" to create complex biological systems, but ID can't specify the steps. Does ID tell us who designed life? No, he answers. Does it tell us how? No. Does it tell us when? No. How would the designer create a bacterial flagellum? It would "somehow cause the plan to, you know, go into effect," he proposes.
Can ID make testable predictions? Not really. If we posit that a given biological system was designed, Rothschild asks, what can we infer about the designer's abilities? Just "that the designer had the ability to make the design that is under consideration," says Behe. "Beyond that, we would be extrapolating beyond the evidence." Does Behe not understand that extrapolating beyond initial evidence is exactly the job of a hypothesis? Does he not grasp the meaninglessness of saying a designer designed things that were designed?
(Incidentally, I've excised all the humor from Saletan's piece -- be sure to read it.)
Addenda: From Steve S., in a comment on Panda's Thumb, comes this list of academic organizations which have examined Intelligent Design and found it wanting as science:
National Academy of Sciences American Association of University Professors American Association for the Advancement of Science American Anthropological Association American Astronomical Society National Association of Biology Teachers Geological Society of America The American Chemical Society American Institute of Biological Sciences The Paleontological Society Botanical Society of America New Orleans Geological Society New York Academy of Sciences Ohio Academy of Science Ohio Math and Science Coalition Oklahoma Academy of Sciences Society for Amateur Scientists Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Society for Neuroscience Society for Organic Petrology Society for the Study of Evolution Society of Physics Students Society of Systematic Biologists Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Southern Anthropological Society Virginia Academy of Science West Virginia Academy of Science American Association of Physical Anthropologists American Geophysical Union American Society of Biological Chemists American Psychological Association American Physical Society American Society of Parasitologists Association for Women Geoscientists Australian Academy of Science California Academy of Sciences Ecological Society of America Genetics Society of America Geological Society of America Georgia Academy of Science History of Science Society Iowa Academy of Science Kentucky Paleontological Society Louisiana Academy of Sciences National Academy of Sciences North American Benthological Society North Carolina Academy of Science
Well, expectations do seem to have gotten entirely out of hand -- people are referring to the announcement of the Fitzgerald investigation indictments as "Fitzmas". They're putting so much emotional weight onto it (entirely too much), they're bound to be extremely disappointed when they find out that the indictments are limited and reasonable (by which I mean both defensible and prosecutable).
At least that's my prediction.
Bush will not be indicted, nor will he be named as an unindicted co-conspirator. It's possible, but only barely so, that Cheney might be named one -- but I certainly wouldn't count on it. Rove's the pivot point, and I've written before (here and here) what I think is likely to happen to him. Anyone under Rove is fair game -- that's where we'll see some indictments.
To sum it up: There will be indictments, some people who have done wrong things will be prosecuted, other people who did wrong things will skate, the administration will not be taken down, or neutered. Bush and Cheney will still be in power, somewhat weakened, perhaps, and missing the talents of some of their people, but still running the country.
And that's about it.
The world we're living in now is not the same world that existed during Watergate, the power structure is entirely different, and that makes Watergate in general a bad model to follow in predicting what's going to happen now. This will not be a repeat of Watergate, there is precisely zero chance of Bush being impeached, and it would be best is everyone stopped wanting so badly for those things to happen.
I'm sorry if that's boring, or depressing, or too pessimistic, or entirely too realistic, but that's what I think will happen.
Addenda: I know, I know, it's so much more pleasant to soothe our troubled souls with fantasies, aery fortresses of self-delusion, about the members of the White House Iraq Group being frogmarched out of the White House into waiting paddy wagons than it is to cope with the harsh realities of the power structure that exists in Washington right now.
It's odd, really, that some of the same people who are concerned that Bush and Cheney might not release the reigns of power if the next elected President is not who they want it to be, seem convinced that the outcome of a single investigation concerning a specific and circumscribed event will knock them for a loop and force them to abandon their hard-won power. These folks can look at the prescribed mechanism for impeachment and see it used against Bush without considering for a moment where the necessary will for impeachment is going to come from, as if the mechanism exists by itself, in isolation, without neeeding people -- people with power -- to make it work.
But even those who have been more level-headed in delving into the minutia and specifics of the Plame case have allowed themselves, I think, to get carried away with the possibilities of the case. They get hung up on what's technically illegal without consideration of what's possible to prosecute, which I would think are not exactly the same thing. They have a tendency to lose themselves inside a shakey edifice, a house of cards that's tenuous in the extreme: speculation on top of interpolation inside possibilities buttressed by hypotheticals. It's no wonder that some keep at until the construction gets high enough to reache the fabled City in the Clouds where Impeachment and Bush in Jail live.
Those things aren't going to happen -- at least at this moment in time -- and believing they will is no different from believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Worse, really, it's actually more like believing in the Great Pumpkin -- at least for a while, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny actually deliver the goods.
Postscript: It shouldn't be necessary to add, but apparently it is, that my intuition about what I believe will happen has nothing whatsoever to do with what I think should happen or, even more to the point, my own fantasies about what I would prefer to happen -- and also that I would be plenty damn happy to be proved wrong by actual events, for crying out loud.
BTW, what's that expression Alan Greenspan used a while back, in describing one of our recent bubbles? Oh, right -- "irrational exuberance." That's a pretty good description of what's coursing through the liberal blogosphere right now.
Also: ...check out Tom Hilton's post here. He asks what lengths Bush would go to to hang on to power. My comment (slightly edited):
I think ultimately the question being asked is not framed correctly. In point of fact, Bush doesn't have to do anything to "hang on to power", because there's one and only one available mechanism to remove him from office, and that's impeachment and conviction -- and that chances of that happening as long as the GOP controls the Congress is so close to zero that you couldn't see the gap with an electron microscope.
Even if, in a political miracle, the Dems retake the Congress in 2006, it's far from a slam-dunk that Bush or Cheney would be impeached, and, if impeached, convicted -- there are just too many conservative Democrats, too many folks with deep reservations about the damage done to the country by the (bogus) impeachment of Clinton, and too much chance that the GOP, however fractured it is by the events we're specualating about, will stick together and vote as a bloc. That adds up to a pretty low probability of anything happening.
So, absent impeachment and conviction, Bush stays in the White House, and as long as he's got the reigns of office there, he's got the power to do a lot of stuff by fiat and directive, without Congressional backing if necessary. We can only drive him out if he's got a conscience and is subject to feeling shame -- I've seen no particular indication that that is the case.
Bush is above 50 percent in only six states -- Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Utah, at 61/36, is the only state above 60 percent. In May, Bush was above 50 percent in 13 states. In September, it was 10 states.
25 states are below 40 percent. Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts are all under 30 percent. Bush is 29/70 in Rhode Island.
Overall, Bush is at 38/59.
I thought it would be interesting to look at the results in terms of Bush's slippage from the 2004 election to now, so I took Bush's state by state 2004 election results, subtracted the current poll results (Bush's approval rating) and graphed the results:
The scale on the left is the amount Bush has slipped in almost a year from November of 2005 to October 2004. (The SUSA poll was released today, 10/18/05, but the poll was taken between the 14th and the 16th.) These numbers are shown in the red and blue bars (corresponding with the "red" states and the "blue" states from the election.
On the right, another scale is used for the election results (yellow triangles) and the SUSA poll approval numbers (white squares).
The second graph shows the same data, but with the states listed in order of their increasing percetage of vote for Bush:
North and South Dakota sure got wise to Bush, not to mention Kansas and ... Texas?
Update: I tweaked the graphs a little, mostly to show red and blue states -- and in doing so revealed that most of Bush's slippage is in the red states, not the blue ones. Of course, Bush's election take in some of the blue states was so low that it would be hard to get too much lower, but, still, it's pretty remarkable that he's going down in the states that are supposed to be the bastion of his base.
Update: I fixed an error where New Mexico was colored blue instead of red, and changed the triangles back to plain yellow, which looks better.
Update: Another problem fixed: due to a bad data sort, the District of Columbia (numbers for which weren't included in the SUSA poll) snuck onto the second chart, pushing Utah off the other end.
His first day in Los Angeles winds up with an amazing devil-be-damned liaison with a beautiful, elegant, older woman who, while they get acquainted, reveals that her politics are the opposite of his. "I hate you," they whisper to each other. "Take off your clothes, you subversive Commie bastard," she tells him. "Nixon is a loser and a slimy politician," he shoots back as they embrace. [NYTBR]
Clearly, more sex for everyone is the answer to restoring civility between the right and the left.
The CommonCensus Map Project is redrawing the map of the United States based on your voting, to show how the country is organized culturally, as opposed to traditional political boundaries. It shows how the country is divided into 'spheres of influence' between different cities at the national, regional, and local levels.
This information will finally settle the question over where disputed cultural boundaries lie (like between New York City and Upstate New York), contribute to the national debate over Congressional redistricting and gerrymandering, and educate people everywhere as to the true layout of the American people that they've never seen on any map before.
I've bolded the ones I've seen (31 [Note: Corrected from 29 -- Ed] out of the 50 listed), and added some comments:
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! -- A fun movie, to be sure, but ultimately disappointing, and I'm not sure where its significance lies.
Alien -- Really a horror film, but very good.
Aliens -- My favorite of the Alien series.
Back to the Future -- I'd dispute the inclusion of this piece of schlock.
Blade Runner -- One of the best, ever. Many layers here.
Brazil -- Was the director's cut ever released?
Bride of Frankenstein -- But not Frankenstein?
Brother From Another Planet -- I've tried to like it, without success.
A Clockwork Orange -- A difficult film to watch, but very good.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind -- What's to say?
The Day The Earth Stood Still -- A classic, one of the best.
Escape From New York -- Huh? Scalzi is joking here?
ET: The Extraterrestrial -- Very entertaining.
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial) -- Update: In researching the release year for this, I realized it was one of the Flash Gordon serials I had seen as a kid.
The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet -- Almost, but not quite, sunk by its Freudian b.s.
Ghost in the Shell -- I'm totally unfamiliar with this 1995 anime film, also called Kôkaku kidôtai
The Incredibles -- You've got to be joking! One of the most significant science fiction films of all time!?! I have no doubt it's probably a very entertaining film, but, come on.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version) -- Another classic.
Jurassic Park -- Never got around to seeing it, and I don't particular feel like I'm missing anything.
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior -- I've seen large portions of it, and I'm certainly aware of its pervasive influence in terms of style.
Metropolis -- Worth watching again.
On the Beach -- I have a copy of this, but haven't watched it yet.
Planet of the Apes (1968 version) -- I've studiously avoided seeing this, or any of the others in the series.
Robocop - (snicker)
Sleeper - Funny, but I would dispute its inclusion here.
Solaris (1972 version) -- Have it, haven't seen it.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- All the Star Trek films have been disappointing to one extent or another. Probably the most entertaining of them has been Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (the one about the whales), but Wrath of Khan was surely the right one to include on this list.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back -- These two are clearly the best of the 6 Star Wars films.
The Stepford Wives -- Which version is Scalzi referring to, the 1975 original or the 2004 remake?
Superman -- Eh.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day -- Another I've seen large parts of, but was never interested in seeing the whole thing.
The Thing From Another World
Things to Come -- Disappointing. Influential, but not very watchable.
Tron -- I've seen a bt of it.
28 Days Later -- Also waiting for me to watch it.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea -- I've seen some of it.
2001: A Space Odyssey -- Hugely influential, at least until Star Wars came around. There's really nothing like it.
La Voyage Dans la Lune -- Update: I belatedly realized that this was the 1902 Georges Melies film, which I've seen
War of the Worlds (1953 version)
Films that probably should have been included:
Altered States (1980) -- An "inner space" movie.
Dark Star (1983) -- Very influential, if not nearly as funny as its supposed to be (it might help to watch it stoned).
Fahrenheit 451 (1967) -- A flawed film, but very stylish and strangely affecting.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) -- Mysterious and fairly non-linear.
THX 1138 (1971) -- George Lucas's dystopia is quite good looking, and not bad to watch.
As with much else to do with people's taste, there is a clear preference on my part for movies which came out when I was a teenager or young adult, and I suspect a similar bias is at play in Scalzi's list. When I have a moment I'll look up the dates for the films on his list and see if they have anything to say.
Update: In researching the dates of these films, I realized that I had seen two additional films, the Flash Gordon serial and The Voyage to the Moon, so I updated my comments above. Also, which version of The Stepford Wives is Scalzi referring to? I've assumed it's the original, 1975, version.
The 50 films that Scalzi chose range in date from 1902 to 2004. The average (mean) date is 1972.12, the median is 1978.5, and the mode is 1982.
The decade of 1980-1989 provided 30% of the films in the list (15 films), the most of any decade. The 1950's were next, with 18% (9), followed by the 1970's with 16% (8). Sixty percent of the films were released in the thirty years between 1970 and 1999 (inclusive).
Were there really no significant science fiction films released in the 1940's?
Update (10/18): Top answer my own question, apparently not. A check through Brian Aldiss' Trillion Year Spree and the John Clute & Peter Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction shows no significant sf films being released in the 1940's. The Encyclopedia calls that decade "empty years."
Some other films that might have been considered for inclusion: King Kong, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Barbarella and The Andromeda Strain -- depending, of course, on what "significant" means. Scalzi explains:
Note that "most significant" does not mean "best" or "most popular" or even "most influential." Some of the films may be all three of these, but not all of them are -- indeed, some films in The Canon aren't objectively very good, weren't blockbusters and may not have influenced other filmmakers to any significant degree. Be that as it may, I think they matter -- in one way or another, they are uniquely representative of some aspect of the science fiction film experience.
Suitably vague, allowing him quite a bit of leeway to include personal favorites and exclude those he disliked. Without a more rigorous definition, it's difficult to argue with his choices.
Data: Here's Scalzi's list of films with their US date of release:
1902 Voyage Dans la Lune, La 1927 Metropolis 1935 Bride of Frankenstein 1936 Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial) 1936 Things to Come 1950 Destination Moon 1951 Day The Earth Stood Still, The 1951 Thing From Another World, The 1953 War of the Worlds 1954 Gojira/Godzilla 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1956 Forbidden Planet 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1959 On the Beach 1962 Damned, The 1965 Alphaville 1968 Planet of the Apes 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey 1971 Clockwork Orange, A 1972 Solaris 1973 Sleeper 1975 Stepford Wives, The 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 1978 Superman 1979 Alien 1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 1981 Escape From New York 1981 Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior 1982 Blade Runner 1982 ET: The Extraterrestrial 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 1982 Tron 1984 Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The 1984 Brother From Another Planet 1985 Back to the Future 1985 Brazil 1985 Fly, The 1986 Aliens 1987 RoboCop 1988 Akira 1991 Delicatessen 1991 Terminator 2: Judgement Day 1993 Jurassic Park 1995 Ghost in the Shell 1995 Twelve Monkeys 1997 Contact 1999 Matrix, The 2002 28 Days Later 2004 Incredibles, The
Ten days ago, I wrote and posted an entry about why I thought Karl Rove would not be indicted, the nub of which was that that Patrick Fitzgerald was a sharp enough guy that he would realize that there was a limit to how far he could go up the White House hierarcy with his indictments and not receive massive return fire from Bush & Company, the nature of which could potentially damage his ability to prosecute the indictments -- and that Karl Rover was essentially that limit. It was my feeling that he could indict right up to Rove, but if he tried to take down Rove, he was in trouble.
In a couple of comments threads on TPM Cage and Hullabaloo I was taken to task for overestimating the power of the White House to retaliate, and chided for my pessimism.
Today, Bull Moose presents some ideas about what the scope of the counterattack could be:
We will soon learn the fate of Mr. Rove. But what we already know is what his reaction will be if he or anyone else in the White House are indicted - he will unleash the dogs of war against Mr. Fitzgerald. Rove undoubtedly has his operatives in place and prepared to respond if the indictment comes down. The plan of attack has been signed, sealed and ready for delivery at a Fox News outlet in your neighborhood.
While the President has praised the Republican special counsel, that will not influence the Republican attack machine. If the GOP is so dissatisfied with Fitzgerald, why wasn't he fired? Or why was he hired in the first place?
No, if he indicts, nothing else will matter to the GOP smear team than sullying the reputation of the special counsel. Hopefully, he has no unpaid parking tickets, has never jaywalked or removed a label from a mattress. If he has committed these misdeeds, we will see them advertised as a screaming headline on Drudge. They will do a "South Carolina" number on Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald will become the anti-Ken Starr to the right. He will be characterized as a zealous out of control prosecutor. The ACLU will be enlisted by the Norquist crowd to defend their brave persecuted leader, Mr. Rove. The right will wail that they are the victims of modern Palmer Raids with innocent leaders such as DeLay and Rove being swept out of power by a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. Wasn't Fitzgerald seen at Blockbuster furtively renting a Michael Moore video and surfing Moveon.org?
All of the pack that relentlessly pursued Clinton will kvetch about the "criminalization of politics." They will see no irony or hypocrisy in their complaint because this is a fight about preserving power not maintaining consistency. The conservative standard is clear - when a Democratic President is the target it is about the "rule of law" and when the "victim" is a Republican it is about the "criminalization of politics." It is particularly rich that Tom DeLay, the relentless pursuer of Clinton, is making this claim. One wonders whether he agonized over this injustice with Casino Jack Abramoff and Righteous Ralph Reed as they jetted over the Atlantic on the way to their golfing outing in Scotland.
If indictments come, the right will cast Special Counsel Fitzgerald as a modern day Inspector Javert hounding his poor victim Rove who will emerge as the conservatives' Jean Valjean. Expect The Washington Post Style Section to report that Karl Valjean has been sighted driving his Jaguar down exclusive Foxhall Road on his way to his attorney blaring tunes from Les Miserables on his CD player.
Next step for Jean Rove will be a high profile come to Jesus moment with Chuck Colson. This will be followed by teary-eyed appearances on the 700 Club and Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family where he will express himself by speaking in toungue. Rove is being crucified by Pontius Fitzgerald!
This is correct as far as it goes, but I was actually thinking of something else, not just the usual vituperations of the right-wing attack machine writ large -- something more on the order of Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, in which Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox was dismissed and Attorney General Eliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus were forced to resign, all in an effort to derail the Watergate investigation. That didn't happen, of course, but Nixon was working with a Congress controlled by the opposition party and a moderately liberal Supreme Court, which limited to a large extent the amount of power he could bring to bear. Now, with Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, as well as a center-right Supreme Court more attuned to protecting Bush's imperial presidency, there are few restraints on Bush beyond public opinion and whatever furor might be kicked up in today's tame media.
True, cracks have appeared in the smooth facade of Republican control, but as soon as it is understood that the special prosecutor has the big chief's biggest guy in his sights, the wagons will be circled and there will be no protection at all available for Fitzgerald.
Addenda: My standard disclaimer -- I would like nothing better than for Karl Rove to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. My concern is that indicting Rove could have the effect of scuttling the other indictments that are brought, and I would prefer to see as many of the charges as possible prosecuted to conviction.
There s approximately zero chance of the indictments, whoever they include, will bring down the Bush administration, so if that's why people are so hungry for them, they're on the wrong track.
DALLAS (AP) - The driver of a bus that caught fire while carrying nursing-home patients fleeing Hurricane Rita was charged Monday with criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of 23 passengers.
Juan Robles Gutierrez, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen, was taken into federal custody on an immigration violation five days after the Sept. 23 explosion near Dallas.
Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Don Peritz would not give any specific examples of any negligence by Robles, saying details will be released if he is indicted.
"The bus is under his care, custody and control, and so is everyone on board," he said. "Safe transportation from the nursing home to the final destination is his responsibility. Based on the end result, he failed in that responsibility."
There was no immediate comment from the bus company, Global Limo Inc., which was shut down by federal regulators Oct. 7 as a hazard the public. Its telephone has been disconnected.
Peritz said the investigation was continuing and additional charges could be filed.
Each of the 23 counts of criminally negligent homicide carries up to two years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.
The bus erupted in flames about 16 hours after leaving Houston. Some passengers and the driver escaped, but the flames, fed by 18 medical oxygen tanks, trapped many inside.
From the beginning, investigators focused on the condition of the bus brakes. A motorist told investigators he motioned the driver to pull over shortly after seeing a rear wheel hub that was glowing red.
Authorities said Robles did not mention the encounter with the other driver when they interviewed him after the fire.
It'll be interesting to see if they stop there, with a Mexican bus driver, or if they go after the bus company, whose negligence seems obvious. It's certain they won't be pressing charges against the governor of Texas, who issued the blanket waiver which allowed otherwise unroadworthy vehicles to be used in the Rita evacuation.
Here, in some sort of roughly appropriate order I couldn't hope to justify by quantifying it, is what I watch on television:
Baseball (in season: Yankees and Mets; post-season: whoever)
Movies on TCM
Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Movies on IFC, the HBO channels, Fox Movie Channel, Sundance and very, very, very occasionally (because I dislike watching movies with commercials inserted) AMC
Science, nature and technology programs on the Science Channel, PBS, Discovery Channel, TLC, National Geographic, etc.
Tennis (USA Open and Wimbeldon)
M*A*S*H reruns (until I get sick of them again -- and if Mary Tyler Moore Show and Bob Newhart Show re-runs were still on, I'd watch them too, despite having seen all of them a bazillion times)
The Hitler Channel ... that is to say, the History Channel
The Military Channel (historical programs)
Monty Python, Blackadder and a few other programs on BBC-America
Childrens programs: Dragon Tales, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, Jack's Big Music Show, etc. ...
...also, any and every program about or remotely connected to trains, trolleys and railroads, historical or current, right down to those Coors Light "Love Train" commercials
CNN and CNN International during natural disasters, major crises or breaking news stories (sometimes I'll flip around for more information and visit MSNBC or one of the broadcast networks or their local affiliates for a while; on extremely rare occasions I'll check out Faux News for a moment or two -- but I wash my hands afterwards)
C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3 (but much, much less than I used to)
Public access (Manhattan Neighborhood Network)
NY1 (Time-Warner's local cable news channel) and The Weather Channel for the temperature and weather
Columbo and Dick Van Dyke Show re-runs
That's about it, I don't think I left anything out. At last count I've got 43 channels programmed as "favorites," so the 500-channel universe turns out, practically speaking, to be quite a bit less expansive than predicted: who could keep up with 500 channels?
As a Yankee fan, I was glad to see the White Sox (who beat the Red Sox) beat the Angels (who beat the Yankees) -- and I'd like to see them go all the way and win their first World Series since 1917. (Two years later, in 1919, the White Sox had another chance to win, but were sunk by the "Black Sox" scandal, in which eight White Sox players colluded with gamblers to throw the Series to the Cincinatti Reds. They were banned from baseball for life by the newly installed Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Keneshaw Mountain Landis.)
On the National League side, I'd prefer to see the Cardinals beat the Astros, not only because Stan "The Man" Musial was one of my favorite players as a kid, but also because I'm still pissed of that Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens are pitching for the Astros and not the Yankees. (Clemens in particular annoyed me by pretending to be "retiring" from baseball, and accepting the accolades of the crowd at every stadium he pitched his "last game" in -- including at Fenway, where the fans had every reason to dislike Clemens for leaving the Red Sox -- and then turning around and decided to unretire so he could pitch for a team in his home state.) Texas has a lot to answer for, and doesn't deserve to have one of its teams win a pennant, or the Series.
So while it's a far cry from rooting for a team I really care about, I'll be pulling for the Cards to come back from 3-1 and win the National League, and for the White Sox to prevail in the World Series.
Note:For those who reached this post looking for the latest information on Hurricane Wilma, especially the computer models, you can get the newest maps by clicking on the images below (which are now out of date) -- you will be sent to the pages where the latest maps are located. Or look at the sidebar on the right, under the red "storm watch" banner, where you'll find thumbnails of all the latest maps. (The thumbnails can also be clicked on to get larger images.) -- Ed Fitzgerald
(Sun 16 Oct 11:13pm): Tropical Depression Twenty-four, expected to turn into Tropical Storm Wilma on Monday morning, and then Hurricane Wilma sometime on Tuesday:
[Click on image for latest map]
This map shows the probability of tropical-storm force winds in the next 120 hours (5 days):
[Click on image for latest map]
I guess we'll know more by Friday, when the storm has cleared the Yucatan Peninsula, but the last thing the Gulf Coast, especially New Orleans, needs right now is another storm, whether it's still a hurricane or has stepped back down to a tropical storm -- even a damned tropical depression would be very unhelpful there.
I'm going to reopen some of the maps in the "storm watch" box on the sidebar.
Update: It looks like the water is plenty warm enough in the Gulf to feed any tropical storm that heads across it, so I guess we shouldn't count on it weakening very much after it leaves the Yucatan (just the opposite):
[Click on image for latest (Gulf of Mexico 14 KM Analysis - Sea Surface Temperature)]
[Click on image for latest (Derived Sea Surface Products: NLOM SSH Total)]
(Mon 17 Oct 2:20am): The current computer models (see below) show the storm crossing the Yucatan peninsula from east to west, instead of just grazing its northeast coast as indicated above, so I would expect the offical tracking path to change somewhat tomorrow (since it is to some extent based on the models). This new path would not only head it away from the devasted parts of the American Gulf Coast, towards the Mexican Gulf coast, but might also sap some of its power as well, and move it across a part of the Gulf that's less warm, so it has less opportunity to rebuild its strength.
[Click on image for latest map]
(6:15am): As of the 5am advisory, TD 24 is now officially Tropical Storm Wilma, the 21st named storm for the season in this area (and the last of the reserved names -- if there's another they'll start using the letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta etc). The official forecast track has shifted very slightly over the Yucatan Peninsula, but still shows the storm pointing directly at New Orleans once it clears land (although I'm sure that steering winds will control its actual path). The computer models continue to show it passing more fully over Yucatan.
(10:43am): The computer models are now split, two older runs still showing Wilma crossing the Yucatan, but the three most recent ones show it bending to the right, skirting the western tip of Cuba and then heading for the west coast of Florida, somewhere between Fort Meyers and Tampa Bay. That's good news for the Gulf, not so good for some Floridians.
Despite the change in the models, the official forecast track hasn't been significantly changed, due to forecasters' low confidence in the models showing a move to the northeast.
(5:20pm): As of the 5pm advisory, the official forecast track (following the computer models) shows Wilma turning to the northeast once it clears the Yucatan peninsula, which points it at the west coast of Florida. We'll know in the next couple of days how much curvature they expect, which will determine where it hits, but at least the damaged areas of the Gulf Coast seem to be less in danger than as of last night.
(Tues 18 Oct 12:15am): It's still looking good for the Gulf Coast, and not too bad for Florida either. The current forecast track points Wilma at the Everglades after skimming by the Keys (which wouldn't take a direct hit, but would be on the dirty side of the storm, where the storm surge is worse).
(2:55am): All the models now agree that Wilma will turn towards Florida, missing New Orleans and the coast to either side of it. Whether it hits the mainland or just passes over the Keys is still to be determined, but, barring some change in the track, it looks like the folks in the Gulf Coast won't have to brace for yet another storm.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.