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July 28, 2014

Common Sense from Sam Harris -- and a Thought Experiment


Guest Post by David Klinghoffer

It's a pleasure to be able to commend something written by evangelizing atheist Sam Harris as highly as I would his essay "Why Don't I Criticize Israel?"

Why do I bring it up here? The last we heard from Harris, he had contributed one of the chapters, "Science Must Destroy Religion," in a book full of atheist diatribes being taught as the sole text in a course at Ball State University. That was while physicist Eric Hedin was being silenced on the same campus for putting some information about intelligent design in a bibliography for a class he was teaching.

The essay about Israel is worth reading not only because it's carefully and powerfully argued but because Harris had to write it at all. (Actually it's the edited transcript of a podcast.) His bottom line is not much different from a point many sensible people have made, including our friends Michael Medved and George Gilder: If Israel today put down its arms, the country's Palestinian Muslim neighbors who support Hamas would immediately seek to commit genocide against Israel's Jewish citizens. So says the Hamas charter. If the Palestinians put down their arms, Israel would immediately seek to do business with them, forming a relationship like America has with Canada and Mexico.

Turn your neighbors into corpses or turn them into trading partners. That's the yawning moral difference between the ultimate goals of Hamas and the ultimate hopes of Israel.

Continue reading "Common Sense from Sam Harris -- and a Thought Experiment" »

July 27, 2014

Paul Schell: Mayor, Innovator, Friend

paul schell.jpg

Paul Schell, a former Mayor of Seattle and civic innovator, died unexpectedly this morning from complications after heart surgery. Paul is remembered fondly at Discovery Institute as a founding Co-chairman of the Board in 1990 (with Tom Alberg) and served for several years in that capacity. He was my long time friend, his daughter Jamie a god-daughter.

Paul, born in Iowa in 1937, the son of a Lutheran pastor, went to Wartburg College (which has since honored him). He attended Columbia Law School in New York, where he met and married Pam. They moved to Seattle in 1967. A lawyer at the Perkins, Coie firm, and then in his own, Paul was active in Seattle's political reform movement of Seattle in the late 60s and early 70s. He chaired the Allied Arts organization at a key juncture in civic history--fighting for the Pike Place Market, historic preservation, neighborhood community groups and good urban design. He was part of the citizens group that combatted the erection of new freeways, such as the elevated Bay Freeway that would have walled off Lake Union.

I used to come to the Schells' house after church on a Sunday and one of Paul's favorite pastimes was driving around the city with Pam and me, pointing out where new buildings were going or where they should go. He saw the potential of the downtown's growth north to Lake Union long before others did. There surely has never been another local leader in Seattle as well-grounded, or as visionary, in city design.

Mayor Wes Uhlman made him the city's Director of Community Development, enabling Paul to give form and substance to ideas he had long promoted. He also gained practical experience with development issues and the operations of bureaucracy. After City service at this point he entered private development with Weyerhaueser support (the Cornerstone group) that had a major effect on the preservation and re-use of buildings along the Seattle waterfront.

In 1977 Paul ran and lost a spirited and principled race for Mayor, beaten by Charles Royer. He subsequently was elected to the Seattle Port Commission, where his service resulted in a number of improvements, including erection of the new International Conference Center, among other things. He was a long time exponent of better trade and cultural relations with our Northwest neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia and helped popularize the concept of "Cascadia". He encouraged and supported a project under that name at Discovery Institute that continues today.

Continue reading "Paul Schell: Mayor, Innovator, Friend" »

July 25, 2014

Our Amazing Array of Food


By Bruce Chapman

Grand Central Bakery 2.jpg

Raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo. In Seattle, where elimination diets abound, I'm a convinced and happy omnivore. I gladly eat fresh melons from Mexico (it helps the Mexican economy and consoles me on a rainy day) and I also shop at the farmer's market for anything local they have on offer -- maybe somebody's artisanal chèvre cheese or heritage tomatoes.

Our food supply is arguably the most complicated, wholesome and imaginative of any in history. Ancient Roman aristocrats dining on hummingbird wings did not have the choices we do, and eating hummingbirds sounds disgusting anyhow.

Continue reading "Our Amazing Array of Food" »

Don't Fall into "Impeachment" Trap

The Administration is pretending to be concerned about the possibility that Republicans will try to impeach President Obama. This is bait for catching conservative hot-heads. To the extent they take the bait, they create a prize fund-raising argument for Democrats.

First, there isn't going to be any impeachment in the timetable of politics ahead. The evidence of bad government and of political corruption abounds, but an actual impeachment would take years, not months, to develop. Recall that the Watergate break-in happened in the summer of 1972, but Richard Nixon did not resign (which he did under the threat of likely impeachment) until mid-1974. So, even if provable scandals were much further along than they are, an impeachment process would not make serious headway in the months ahead, though an attempt at it would be used by Democrats to mobilize their base in advance of the mid-term elections.

Second, impeachable offenses have to raise to the level of demonstrable felonies, not just incompetence and alleged corruption. Bill Clinton lied under oath, but still was not impeached. The bar is very high.

Third, the Senate, in case you hadn't noticed, is Democratic. There is almost no chance under the current circumstances of convicting a Democratic President, even if a Republican House were to pass a bill of impeachment.

Continue reading "Don't Fall into "Impeachment" Trap" »

July 24, 2014

Mosul Atrocities of Epic Nature

The ISIS atrocities in Mosul, Iraq are not getting a fraction of the attention of the conflict in Gaza, but that is mostly because Western reporters dare not go there. Christianity in the region goes back almost 2000 years. Yet Christians, under threat of death, have been forced to flee, an exodus of hundreds of thousands. Churches have been desecrated and turned into mosques, virgin girls are being rounded up to become brides for jihadis, younger girls are being forced into genital mutilation. The UN is being urged to get involved. But so many catastrophes are happening in the world that this one is barely noticed.

July 23, 2014

Obama Imposes Sanctions on....Israel!

UPDATE: FAA lifts ban.

The U.S. Government, with full White House approval and perhaps encouragement, has closed off air flights by U.S. carriers to Israel. Supposedly the result of a Hamas rocket landing a mile from Ben Gurion Airport, the FAA-ruling has the result of imposing a U.S. sanction on Israel. Hamas certainly sees it that way, pronouncing the policy a "victory".

Meanwhile, the Administration simultaneously is rewarding Hamas by sending $47 million of humanitarian aid through UNRWA (the U.N. agency serving the Palestinians) and the Palestinian Authority. Please remember that the U.N. good will has been violated several times by Hamas, by, among other things, placing rockets in UNRWA designated schools.

Continue reading "Obama Imposes Sanctions on....Israel!" »

July 22, 2014

All You Can Eat--Just be Grateful today carries my thoughts about the quiet food revolution--improved quantity, variety and quality--available to the contemporary American.

July 21, 2014

Maybe Pedophilia Confers an Evolutionary Advantage?

Richard Dawkins, probably the world's leading Darwin defender, is also a defender of "mild pedophilia", it appears. A recent interview has him rationalizing the dear old teacher who liked to molest little boys from time to time. Nothing too wrong with that, right?

This is the moral universe of Richard Dawkins.

"War On Humans" Video Released Today

The radical edge of the environmental movement somehow always identifies people as a curse on the planet, and they aren't kidding.
Today a film, The War on Humans, has been released by Dr. John West of Discovery Institute, based on the work of Wesley J. Smith, director of Discovery's Center on Human Exceptionalism.

So are humans just another animal in the forest--the bad boy of the forest, indeed? Or something exceptional in nature? What a difference that makes!

The 30 minute video can be opened directly from the link above.

July 18, 2014

Window Into Russian Propaganda

Repeatedly this blog has tried (without much success) to call attention to the propaganda campaigns waged within America by the Russian government and the Chinese government. I don't have a problem with their government's making their views known, even while they suppress the accurate representation in their countries of our government's views. What is galling is the failure of American major media to call attention to these organized information (and disinformation) campaigns.

The same goes for Al-Jazzera TV, sponsored by the Emir of Qatar, who has a definite anti-Western agenda on a number of issues.

Now we have a reporter quitting Russia Today news in protest over the editorial censorship. It deserves more play. Imagine if a reporter quit Fox News claiming it was censoring the news; the other major media would be all over it.

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