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August 29, 2006

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Yesterday, while listening to some of the Katrina C-Span programs, I was brought up short by one comment. The speaker was the head of the Elite (and apparently all white)commission that has been appointed to lead the recovery, and the guy had been introduced as the recently retired President of the Whitney Bank -- and other such qualifications. Anyhow, he was commenting on the subsidence problem in parts of New Orleans, the need to rebuild the barrier islands and coast line -- and in the middle of all this, he says "When the Mississippi River was created about seven thousand years ago...." I quacked one big "WHAT" -- and so now I know at least one reason the rebuilding is going so poorly.

I live on top of the ridge along the Upper Mississippi -- The River is three long blocks and a bridge across I 94 away -- and know there have been at least four ice ages that have formed, melted, and got flushed down the Mississippi, and ended up somewhere around New Orleans, and the last one was long before 7000 years ago.

there's an interesting NY Times article today on Mike Pence, concentrating on how he gotinto trouble on immigration. For the purposes of this post, the quote is

Mr. Pence — [who] bills himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order”
That's great, except for the extent that the order affects public policy.
“I had a hard way of reconciling my commitment to biblical truth with the national Democratic Party’s commitment to abortion on demand,” he said.
and stem cells, and what else? "Biblical truth" as defined by fallible human beings is no basis to decide these issues.

Sara, unbelievable.

DemFromCT, that article caught my eye too -- particularly the opening, "He supports tax cuts and the war in Iraq. He opposes stem cell research and the Medicare drug plan. He is a master of his movement’s medium, talk radio. Jesus Christ is his personal savior and Ronald Reagan his political idol. Conjure what might be called the perfect conservative, and chances are he would look a lot like Representative Mike Pence..." More like the perfect _Republican_, because though I'm new to political workings I didn't think government-endorsed religion was in the classical conservative canon. Even more so after reading a bit about the upcoming documentary on Barry Goldwater by his granddaughter: "He emerges as a complex figure — a half-Jewish cowboy from Phoenix who believed the government should stay out of our hair. He thought gays should be allowed in the military and was also pro-choice. My mom had an abortion in the mid-50’s, before she had me. She was in college, and she wanted to finish and get a degree and not have a child then. Barry felt it was a woman’s right to make that choice."

I can see an old-school conservative making a case against all public funding of science (and that's actually an interesting discussion I've been meaning to start) but to limit specific areas of research based on Biblical notions? That's the Republican war on science, not conservatism.

" 'Biblical truth' as defined by fallible human beings is no basis to decide these issues."

I hope we remain able to argue for scientific outcomes in this way. Couldn't believe they tried to cut out evolution majors for those grants. From my perspective it was as deliberately wrong as saying the Statue of Liberty and a petting zoo are similarly valuable terrorist targets.

What with the Pope backtracking on evolution (Teihard de Chardin must be spinning in his grave), we are really taking several steps backwards. The US public is pitiftul on scientific understanding.

Wanted to thank DemfromCT for mentioning my paperback release...that quote about the origins of the Mississippi is fantastic. Is that online anywhere?

If we evolution defenders lose the support of the Catholic church, it is going to make the politics of the issue massively more difficult.

Chris Mooney -- I suspect one can find the quote regarding the age of the Mississippi on the C-Span site. It was broadcast Monday, middle of the day, and is part of the Panel devoted to the work of the NO restoration efforts led by Walter Isackson, formerly head of Time Warner and AOL and now head of the Aspen Institute. The speaker, whose name I did not catch, was introduced as the recently retired President of Whitney Bank. The first part of his presentation was straightforward -- the need to restore the barrier islands, the need to get congress to appropriate funds to restore the wetlands and the LA coast. He then moved on to the difficulty of building in much of NO because of subsidence -- and it was that topic that led to the 7000 year age of the Mississippi River. What started as essentially good environmental policy and the need to lobby for funding morphed into the creationist stuff.

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