Conservative Blogs Won’t Let Their Lie Die

Glenn Greenwald is perfectly capable of responding to this absurd attack, but since I quoted his post in question in one of my posts I’ll also comment. The issue was conservative blogs claiming that liberal bloggers were hoping that those who attempted to assassinate Dick Cheney had been successful. The response from myself, Glenn Greenwald, and several other liberal bloggers was to say this charge was absurd, and noted that this is based upon quoting some people who comment on blogs.

Patterico actually helps to prove our case in a rather weak attack directed at Glenn Greenwald. Rather than responding to the actual argument made by Greenwald he quotes him out of context and claims that Greenwald’s argument is that there is absolutely no talk involving any degree of violence from liberal leaders. He then argues with this straw man and ignores what Greenwald actually was arguing.

Even in trying to find any signs of violence in the speech of those on the left Patterico builds a weak case. His first example of “leftist hate” comes from Nina Totenberg saying ” [I]f there is retributive justice [Sen. Jesse Helms] will get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.” His other leftist leaders include people like Alec Baldwin, Spike Lee, and Chris Rock. When he quotes actual politicians he relies on quite old quotations. Trying to bring liberal bloggers into this he quotes Kos’s comments on the contractors who were killed in Iraq, but fails to note that Kos was widely criticized by other liberals for this comment, and his blog was removed from the blog roll of the official Kerry blog in response. He quotes Atrios who is being more humerous than violent by citing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For that matter, few of his quotes approach the level of violence in advocating the assassination of a political figure which is what Greenwald’s post was about.

Patterico fails to give a single example of a liberal leader or blogger who supported the recent attempt on Dick Cheney’s life. Neither Greenwald nor anyone else I’m aware of has ever claimed that there has never, ever been a single case of someone on the left saying something which could be seen as violent. If we are going to look at lines such as Patterico quoted going back over several years, and including some I would hardly consider to be liberal thought leaders, we could find far more in a very brief time in the conservative media.

The argument Greenwald and others of us made still holds. While some writing comments on blogs showed poor taste in cheering on the Taliban, this is not an attitude supported by liberal bloggers or other liberal leaders. Conservative bloggers who launched these dishonest attacks on liberal bloggers would look better if they simply admitted they were wrong rather than trying to keep this issue open by distorting what was said.

Sam Harris Takes Lead in Debate With Andrew Sullivan

I gave the lead to Andrew Sullivan in the early stages of his debate with Sam Harris, but Harris has successfully overcome Sullivan’s arguments and is taking a clear lead. While I remain somewhat sympathetic to Sullivan’s arguments in favor of moderate believers, I am reminded of what was said about the Earth in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Mostly harmless.” While I give some credence to Sullivan’s arguments that those who keep religion out of politics are substantially different from the fundamentalists who do not believe in separation of church and state, Harris’s points that moderate religious beliefs do act to enable the more extreme (but more consistent) fundamentalist beliefs.

Harris’s argument was initially weakened by the appearance that he was dismissing all religious moderates, but he has clarified his position. He responds to Sullivan saying, “Contrary to your allegation, I do not “disdain” religious moderates. I do, however, disdain bad ideas and bad arguments–which, I’m afraid, you have begun to manufacture in earnest. I’d like to point out that you have not rebutted any of the substantial challenges I made in my last post.” He repeats this general argument in later writing, “You have also made the false charge that I think religious people are “fools” or “idiots.” Needless to say, I do not think Blaise Pascal was an idiot (nor do I think you are, for that matter). But I do consider certain ideas idiotic, and idiotic ideas can occasionally be found rattling around the brains of extraordinarily intelligent people.”

Harris makes several other points in his last post, including refuting Sullivan’s fundamental arguments claiming his religion provides a true answer about the Creator of the universe:

Needless to say, your attempt to pull theism up by its bootstraps (“since God is definitionally the Creator of such a universe; and the meaning of the universe cannot be in conflict with its Creator”) could be used to justify almost any metaphysical assertion. “The Flying Spaghetti Monster who created the universe” is also “definitionally” the Creator of the universe; this doesn’t mean that he exists, or that the universe had a Creator at all. Many other chains of pious reasoning could be cashed-out in the same way: “Satan is the Tempter; I find that I am tempted on a hourly basis to eat ice cream and have sex with my neighbor’s wife; ergo, Satan exists.” Or what if I suggested that what we know about the brain renders the idea of a human soul rather implausible, and one your brethren countered: “The immortal soul governs all the activity in a person’s brain; I have no fear about what neuroscience will tell me about the brain, because the soul is definitionally the brain’s operator.” Would this strike you as an argument for the existence of souls? Granted, there are still many gaps in neuroscience into which a soul might still be inserted, just as there are gaps in our understanding of the cosmos into which the faithful eagerly insert God, but such maneuvers are utterly without intellectual merit. You can insert almost anything “definitionally” into those gaps. The Muslims have inserted Allah, and the Qur’an is His perfect word. The Hindus have inserted Gods of every color and flavor. Why don’t these efforts persuade you?

Starbucks in Space

In this week’s edition of Sci Fi Friday I looked at why Doctor Who has stayed so close to earth. There may be yet another answer: so that coffee will always be available. In the future, where The Doctor sometimes travels, this may include Starbucks in space. CNet News reports on commercializing space exploration, predicting that “Starbucks will be in space.”

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will also appreciate the titel of the article: Restaurant at end of universe not so far off.

Sci Fi Friday: Looking Back At Al Gore’s Appeal To The Federation Council

Liberal Values remain at least partially in reruns for the holiday weekend with Sci Fi Friday set to post today before I left on vacation. Under the fold I present old posts which question whether neocons are more like the Sith or Vogons, how the final Star Wars movie warned of dangers to democracy, and a couple of old Star Trek posts including Star Ship Captains for Truth Attack Jean-Luc Picard. Before getting to that I’ll start with something which isn’t technically an old blog post of mine. It was written before I had heard of political blogs, shortly after the 2000 election. Parts of this require quite detailed knowledge of Star Trek, but hopefully others will find the bulk of it amusing.

Gore Star Fleet

Al Gore Appeals Election to Federation Council

In what could be the final blow to Vice President Al Gore’s Presidential campaign, the Federation Council has refused his appeal to overturn the adverse ruling against him by the United States Supreme Court issued on December 12, 2000. An unsigned majority ruling agreed that this would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive.

In a concurring statement, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan refused Al Gore’s request to perform Vulcan mind melds to definitively determine the will of the voters. While conceding that a majority of Florida voters may have intended to vote for Mr. Gore on election day, Ambassador Sarek declared that “Logic would dictate that voters who preferred Al Gore should have punched the chad by Al Gore’s name, not Pat Buchanan’s name.”

The majority statement did not refute Mr. Gore’s assertion that Texas Governor George Bush’s future Supreme Court appointees would result in further racial and cultural divide, culminating in the Bell Riots of 2024, but did find that the these events were part of the time line which ultimately resulted in the formation of the United Federation of Planets. For reasons which were not explained, Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine recused himself when discussion of Gabriel Bell was raised.

In a dissenting view, several members saw no justification in refusing Mr. Gore’s request to travel to the Guardian of Forever to determine if there was any validity to his accusations that a Bush Presidency would cause an alternative time line with the alternative Empire encountered by Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.

A review of the time line also suggested that Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were actually from an alternative time line than the one in which Star Fleet is a reality. While history of that era was sketchy, records seems to indicate that the President circa 2000 was actually named Jeb Bartlett.

Reaction to the Federation Council’s decision was mixed. The Ambassador from the Bizarro Planet was puzzled as to what the controversy was all about, stating that, “On my Planet, the candidate who comes in second is always declared the winner.”

Mr. Gore had no immediate response to this latest setback. After rumors that some aides were suggesting a further appeal of this decision to a higher authority, the Q Continuum offered to hear the case. “This is my kind of election,” declared Q.