by Jay Richards

Knowledge and Power

by George Gilder

Darwin's Doubt

by Stephen C. Meyer

Wealth and Poverty

by George Gilder

Indivisible Review

by Jay W. Richards

The Israel Test

by George Gilder

God and Evolution

Edited by Jay Richards

Signature in The Cell

by Stephen C. Meyer

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August 21, 2014

James Foley Likely Was a Martyr

Serious faith is not talked about on mainstream television very often, so when the parents of James Foley, who was beheaded by ISIS, held a press conference in Rochester, N.H., faith was not a theme the media emphasized. There was however coverage of the parents' statement that the many prayers for James' safety were appreciated, as he had noted himself when in a tight situation earlier in Libya. That led me to wonder what else was said.

Thee truth seems to be that the Foley family are devout Catholics and have had the active involvement of their church parish in supporting them through the long ordeal of son Jim's captivity and now, violent death.

It was decided not to stress religious faith during their son's captivity, for fear, one supposes, that it would give ISIS a further reason to kill him. But more is coming out now. It is significant, perhaps, that Pope Francis made a personal call of sympathy to the family.

Continue reading "James Foley Likely Was a Martyr" »

Education Idea of Gorton's Gets a New Look

Our friend and Discovery Institute board member, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, had a number of good ideas while in Congress (and since) that deserve fresh attention.
Block granting about half of the funds administered to the states by the Department of Education is one of them, as columnist Danny Westneat observes.

August 20, 2014

A Just War: Rescue the Christians of Iraq and Syria

Catholics and other Christians often appeal to the Just War doctrine of St. Augustine to decide whether force is justified in combatting armed evil. Many Christians have the de facto position of "Never." But that usually is a mask for indifference or, worse, appeasement, as it was for many pacifists before World War II. Church congregations routinely are asked to pray for various persecuted and victimized peoples around the world, but somehow there seldom is any mention of Christians. Yet fellow Christians, one would think, should elicit especial concern, since the future of the Church is plainly challenged by persecution, and especially now by the arrant genocide going on in the Middle East.

I have been appalled by the reluctance of Christian officials to speak out in defense of Christians in an age when martyrs are more numerous than ever before, or at least since the initial waves of Muslim conquests from the 8th to 15th centuries. Only in recent weeks has the Pope seeming seemed to call for a military response, though even so he is eager to hedge his advice with various cautions and limitations. And yet we have the wrench appeal of the Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul, Iraq, whose own captured cathedral church has become a headquarters for the murderous ISIS regime that beheads opponents, shoots others, rapes others and sells women and children into slavery. Remember, please, that the Christians were in Mosul and other parts of the Middle East hundreds of years before the first Muslims and have not been persecuted in this way since the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. ISIS is a new group, not an old one, in any case, and has no standing whatever to impose its rule on anyone.

Says Archbishop Amel Nona, "Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

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August 18, 2014

Criminalization of Policy Differences

Mark Helprin.jpgAuthor Mark Helprin (a onetime fellow of Discovery Institute) long ago coined the term "criminalization of policy differences" to describe the tactic of finding legal grounds for suing--and therefore helping handicap--political opponents. For some reason, Democrats seem to employ the tactic most often. Today, of course, we are seeing it in in Travis County (Austin)--where, to borrow an old saying about prosecutors' influence on the grand juries they call--even a ham sandwich could be indicted. Governor Rick Perry is planning to run for president, so what better way to slow him down than to indict him on some bogus charge? Perry is right to be indignant. He'll win, but the legal process could well drag on for years, especially if the case is heard initially by Democratic judges. The beginning of the race for President, 2016 cycle, is only months away.

Political candidates cannot usually stand to operate under indictment. Consider Rep. Tom DeLay. His problem in politics was that he played hardball and helped defeat Democrats, both in Congressional legislation and at the ballot box. But the proper way to deal with someone like that--assuming you dislike him and his stands--is through traditional politics, not criminal legal cases. DeLay won, of course, but it took years and he had to leave Congress to defend himself--which constituted the victory his opponents were hoping for, after all. So the lawsuit tactic sometimes works.

It has not worked with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, though the prosecutor's office in Milwaukee seems unable to let go.

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August 15, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt and the New Ken Burns Series

E Roosevelt.jpg

A new series, The Roosevelts, by the celebrated documentarian, Ken Burns, will air next month (starting September 14), bringing to PBS viewers an early to mid-20th Century world that by now seems exotic. Almost everyone from those times, after all, is gone. But Burns' evocation of those days may well have some new things to tell us about our own world.

Consider Eleanor Roosevelt, who is featured in the series, along with her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, and her husband (and distant cousin), Franklin. Mrs. Roosevelt is famous for her role as a first lady with a public life that buttressed, but also went beyond her husband's. Among other unique activities, she personally wrote a daily newspaper column--"My Day"--for nearly three decades, something that has not been attempted by any of her successors, even by her greatest admirer, Hillary Clinton. In some ways it was a precursor of the blog, a daily journal, but one with the most interesting array of entries.

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August 13, 2014

Foundations that Live Up to the Billing

One of the dreariest and most familiar of stories in philanthropy is that of the sound and good person of wealth who leaves his fortune to a foundation, only to have that foundation after his death depart on adventures he probably would have opposed and certainly would not have supported. (Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur, to name a few.) A choice temptation is to use foundation dollars to campaign for government dollars.

Community Foundations have a better reputation and record. State Representative (and Discovery's director for the Chapman Fellows in Civic Leadership) writes in Philanthropy Daily about the 100th Anniversary of community foundations.

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August 12, 2014

Finally, a Believable Villain

Movies and TV do preach, and much of the implicit sermon is part of the cultural rot of the times. Therefore, when a television program that actually pins the materialist, Social Darwinist viewpoint on an obvious villain it is startling. Our colleague, Wesley J. Smith writes in his column "Human Exceptionalism" of one program--Murder in the First on TNT-- with a villain who is rotten to his philosophical core. Wesley is almost more surprised than gratified.

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Bitcoin Issue is Golden

Pic of Eric.jpgEric Garcia, Discovery Institute COO, has shown again that his job description properly should include "idea goad". In the case of our esteemed Sr. Fellow George Gilder, it was Eric who pushed him three years ago to agree to a re-issue of Wealth and Poverty (after 30 years). When George proceeded with his "update" the result was not just a reissue of Wealth and Poverty, but also the inspiration for a whole new book--and economic theory--Knowledge and Power.

In a spirited office conversation some months ago, Eric tried to persuade an initially skeptical George about the significance of Bitcoin. George was preparing a book on gold. But how, Eric demanded, will you avoid the obvious contemporary questions about Bitcoin? George came around, and now is finishing a new book that is not mainly about gold, but rather about Bitcoin. Indeed, he's an enthusiastic expert.

Photo of George Gilder.jpgGeorge demonstrates his expertise in an interview for Reason TV that he gave last month at Freedomfest, the libertarian gab-gathering held annually in Las Vegas. The interview already is gaining wide will the book to come.

"[Bitcoin] is the perfect libertarian solution to the money enigma," George tells ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie. You can decide for yourself whether he is right--once more.

August 7, 2014

Fake Genocide versus Real Genocide

by Keith Pennock

Preposterous charges have been made that Israel followed a policy of genocide in Gaza, when, in fact, it was the policy of Hamas to put its own civilians in harms way in the hope of inciting international outrage against Israel. The truth has come out, thanks to a few honest reporters, including an intrepid Indian TV crew that filmed a camouflaged Hamas rocket next to their hotel. But meanwhile real genocide is going on in Iraq as ISIS purges whole provinces of religious minorities that it doesn't like--which is just about everybody.

Thanks to YouTube you can see one impassioned speaker in Iraq's Parliament, Kurdish MP Vian Kakhil, on one aspect of ISIS ethnic/religious cleansing--of the Yazidis.

Transcript: "Mr. Speaker we are being slaughtered under the banner of 'there is no god but Allah'. Mr. Speaker until now 500 Yazidi men have been slaughtered. Mr. Speaker our women are being taken as slaves and sold in the slave market. Brothers, there is now a campaign of genocide being waged on the Yazidi constituent. Please, Mr. Speaker, my people are being slaughtered just as all Iraqis were slaughtered. The Shiites (Shias), the Sunnis, the Christians, the Turkmens and the Shabak were slaughtered. And today the Yazidis are being slaughtered. Brothers, away from all political disputes, we want humanitarian solidarity. I speak here in the name of humanity. Save us! Save us! For 48 hours 30,000 families are besieged in the Sinjar Mountain without water and food. They are dying. Seventy babies have died so far from thirst and suffocation. Fifty old people have died from the deteriorating conditions. Mr. Speaker, we demand that the Iraqi Parliament intervenes immediately to stop this massacre. There have been 72 genocide campaigns on the Yazidis, and now it is being repeated in the 21st century. An entire religion is being exterminated from the face of the earth. Brothers, I appeal to you in the name of humanity to save us!"

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August 5, 2014

Reichert Sees the People Behind Trafficking Issue


Speaking in Seattle today at Discovery Institute's Chapman Center on Citizen Leadership, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) described his bill on "Preventing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care". Under it, Reichert, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Human Resources, would help children in Foster Care to live more normal lives and get mainstreamed more expeditiously into adoptive homes or guardianship arrangements. Early assistance in finding permanent homes is crucial in preventing runaways from the Foster Care system--and runaways represent a terrible risk for eventual human trafficking. Fifty nine percent of youth in human trafficking in the the U.S. are from foster homes, many as runaways.

Reichert's bill has passed the House, but is being held up in the Senate. If Republicans and Democrats want to find a way to pass something of significance this term of Congress, here is a good bi-partisan cause worth advancing.

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