Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our Political Choices

Are you a free market capitalist that thinks public health care and socialized medicine are frightening? Do you think Obama is leading us down a path of destruction? Then ask yourself, why is it that in fact Obama is dragging his feet on the issue, almost like he's not really all that interested in providing public care? Glenn Greenwald explains some of these things here.

Likewise Bill Moyers was on Bill Maher discussing the same thing. Do we really have an actual choice when we decide between a Republican and a Democrat.

I've quoted Goebbels before and I'm doing it again. In the media successful propaganda must offer an "ostensible diversity that masks an actual uniformity." That's American media and government as I see it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Audio Debates

Th/e purpose of this post is to provide a single link where my audio debates can be accessed. I'll update this link as I continue to participate in these debates. The most recent will be at the top.

11/9/12-Bob Dutko and I talk about tax policy.
6/22/12-Bob Dutko and I talk about global warming.
10/28/11-Bob Dutko and I talk about Occupy Wall St.
6/3/11-Bob Dutko and I talk about Israel and the 1967 borders.
3/11/11-Bob Dutko and I talk about the Wisconsin union battles and Bob's false statements about what the rich pay in taxes.
1/21/11-Bob Dutko and I argue about whether or not Bradley Manning is a hero.
10/22/10-Bob Dutko and I talk about whether or not Obama is a liberal.
5/27/10-My debate with Norm Cohen on the causes of Islamic terrorism. My opening statement with sources is here.
3/15/10-I spend an hour and a half in studio with Bob Dutko debating the existence of God
11/12/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about what motivates Muslim terrorists
10/8/09-James White and I talk about his performance in debate against Dan Barker which was about the Jesus story as cut from the same cloth as pagan stories
8/12/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about what the word "terrorism" means
7/?/09-Matt Slick and I talk about evolution
7/6/09-Matt Slick and I talk about the Kalam Cosmological argument for the existence of God
7/6/09-Matt Slick and I talk about the transcendental argument for the existence of God
6/12/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about his misrepresentations of the Qur'an
4/24/09-Bob Dutko and I debate U.S. torture policy
3/27/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about transitional fossils
1/23/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about Endogenous Retro Viruses and how this is evidence for evolution
12/19/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about why Muslims are unhappy with the United States
11/21/09-Bob Dutko and I talk about what motivates violent Muslims to attack Americans
10/24/08-Bob Dutko and I talk about whether Sarah Palin is a good choice for McCain
9/13/08-Gene Bridges and his partner Jonathan Goundry discuss presuppositionalism with me
6/1/08-Greg Koukl and I talk about the empty tomb and the significance of women being reported as the first witnesses
5/9/08-Bob Dutko and I talk about women at the tomb of Jesus
8/10/07-Bob Dutko and I talk about Bob's use of the Agapian version of Josephus
7/27/07-Bob Dutko and I talk about the disciples dying for belief in the physical resurrection
7/8/07-Greg Koukl and I talk about his use of scholars and the relevance of that to the claim that the disciples believed Jesus was physically raised from the dead
7/1/07-Greg Koukl and I talk about the disciples dying for belief in the physical resurrection
6/15/07-This is my first call to Bob Dutko. We discuss the claim that the disciples died for belief in the physical resurrection
6/5/07-James White and I talk about Robert Price's credibility
10/06-I follow up on my prior call with James White on inerrancy
6/06-James White and I talk about inerrancy

Old Europe vs New Europe

As you may know if you read my blog I used to be a right wing war monger type. It's interesting to look back on the arguments that I found persuasive.

In the build up to war the Bush administration framed his opponents in Europe as belonging to a coalition he called Old Europe. These were the old fogies that didn't get it. Whereas New Europe understood the threats of dictatorship and thus understood why Saddam needed to be overthrown violently, with or without U.N. approval.

Sadly I bought off on that rhetoric. But it's worth looking back and asking the question. Did New Europe really support the invasion? Take a look at this polling data. It shows the level of popular support for an invasion of Iraq even without U.N. approval. Support for that action ranges from 4 to 11%. Note the Eastern bloc countries, which are regarded as part of New Europe. These are the countries that understand Communist oppression and hence appreciate what the U.S. is doing. There's no additional support for unilateral invasion that I can see.

The real difference between Old Europe and New Europe is pretty plain (and let me give credit to Chomsky for making this clear to me). Old Europe is those governments that govern in a manner consistent with the will of the people. New Europe has much more contempt for democracy. They overrule the large majority of the people so that we can "bring democracy to Iraq." One wonders why in Iraq they don't seem to want our brand of democracy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Matt Slick and I Talk Evolution

I spoke with Matt Slick almost 2 months ago following up on my prior call with him and then moving into a discussion on evolution. You can listen to it here. Matt's a good guy and talking with him is pleasant. I should call back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Is Terrorism Mr. Dutko?

I spoke with Bob Dutko yesterday and asked him to tell me what terrorism is. Seems that when enemies of the U.S. government are violent against civilians that's terrorism, but when the U.S. government is violent towards civilians that's freedom fighting or spreading democracy or something like that. How does Bob react to the claim? Listen here.

It was a good week to discuss this issue because Bob Dutko has been expressing outrage that the Libyan convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 has been realeased by the Scottish government since he has terminal cancer and is expected to die within 3 months. After all, he's a terrorist. Right?

If you look into this case you might find that his conviction is somewhat dubious. There is good reason to think that Iran is responsible and acted in retaliation to the bombing of Iran Air Flight 655. I've yet to hear Bob Dutko express outrage about that incident. No need to release those responsible for that from prison since of course they never went. In fact they were awarded combat medals for their service.

I'm sensing that Bob more and more is attempting to prevent me from expressing myself clearly as it seems he used to do. There are more interruptions, more talking over. For instance at about the 7:34 mark he completes his thought that he doesn't see America in the negative light that I do. I tried to respond that I distinguish between America and the American government. Criticizing U.S. policy is not the same thing as hating America. Here's how it goes, with him cutting me off loudly to prevent me from being heard.

Bob-If this is your passion of what drives you, look how bad America is, but by the way I'm not Anti American
Jon-I don't
Bob-Whatever. I don't know how to speak to that
Jon-I don't say America is the same as the government. (This is hard to hear as he speaks over it).
Bob-I don't see America in the same light as you do.
Jon-There's a distinction between (Again this is cut off and I know I can't be heard so I stop again.)
Bob-I don't see America in the same light as you do.
Jon-(Finally he lets me through) There's a difference between America and the American government.

By jumping in repeatedly, saying the same thing that he's already said, so he's adding nothing in terms of content, he in my view attempts to trip me up in my train of thought and make the expression of my thoughts difficult.

I have to admit that I jump in as well, but this is because Bob more and more is filibustering. During the call which went 8:45 I was able to speak uninterrupted for 2:45 and if Bob with his O'Reilly style of cutting me off had his way it would be less.

People ask me why I bother with such treatment. It's not like I'm "winning" in the eyes of his listeners. Of course how can I win when he dominates the microphone, talks over and cuts me off as he does. But I wonder if maybe 1 in 100 listeners might look into Nicaragua or other atrocities committed by the U.S. government and take notice that the scale of many of these atrocities that they've never heard of make the events of 9/11 look small. And they might wonder why they've never heard of them and they might begin to understand this world a little better.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Humorous Advertising

Do they know what they are advertising over at Uncommon Descent? This is what I see in my feeder.

Friday, August 14, 2009

From Methuselah's Diary

Twenty-seventh Day-This day, Zuar, a slave of mine, did prostrate himself before me, humbly reminding me that it is now six years since I bought him of his father. Calling my steward, he shewed me that it was so. Wherefore, the man being a Hebrew, I might not longer hold him, so told him he was free from bondage. Then bowed he again to the earth saying, "My lord, I have a wife and children." Then would I, not thinking, have said, "Take them also," but that my steward, falling upon his knees, cried, "O Prince, I must not fail my duty, albeit it is hard: they came not with him when he was bought; your grace did give him his wife, and his children were born in servitude." Whereat I was troubled, as not knowing my own matter, I having no experience of a like case before, but said, "Well, if it be so, let it be so-give him money and clothing and let him depart from his house alone; but be kind to his wife and babes, they shall not be sold neither suffered to want."

Then Zuar rose up and saluting, went out bowed as one that is stricken with a great sorrow. I was not easy in my mind, though fulfilling the law. I wished it might be otherwise. I went out to see, forbidding the guards to come, and found them locked in each other's arms, but not speaking, their faces turned to stone, and not a tear, the babes prattling about their knees, contending for a butterfly that one had caught. I drew back to my place, the pleasure of life gone out of me, which was strange, these being only slaves, dust under my feet. I must give this thing some further thought.

Twenty-eighth Day-Came these poor creatures to me, and Zuar, with a despondent face that belied his words, said, "My Lord, in the form and according to the usage of the law, I am come to declare that I love my lord, and my wife and my children, and do refuse to go out free; therefore, let my ear be bored with an awl before the judges, and I and mine by this token be returned to slavery forever, since that or even death itself is better than I be parted from these that are more to me than bread and sunshine and the breath that giveth life."

I know not if I did right, but there was no finding it in my heart to suffer this; so I said, "It is a hard law and cruel; go forth free, all of ye, that my conscience may trouble me no more." These were servants of price, but I pray God I shall not repent me of it, since my state is so great and opulent it is but casting away a farthing in any wise. (Mark Twain-The Bible According to Mark Twain)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A War to Eliminate Islam

For many people the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are like a lot of other wars. It's about money. But for others it's really another Crusade. Our tax dollars fund Blackwater, which is the worlds most powerful mercenary army. The owner of Blackwater is Eric Prince, a guy that sees his private army as a neo Crusader force. He's from a powerhouse family of the religious right. This is the guy who's forces are in Iraq engaged in the war against a Muslim nation. Now in sworn affidavits former Blackwater employees claim that Prince murdered individuals that were complying with an investigation against Blackwater. This is scary stuff, and a big deal.

Read Jeremy Scahill's report here. His recent interviews on Olbermann are below.

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Look At Me!! I'm Winning an Argument!!

I had a friend in high school that had a condition that caused him to jerk and twitch. He was a real good guy. He became an mechanical engineer, as I did. His condition didn't seem to affect him too much. Seems to me it was at its worst though around 5th or 6th grade, lessened somewhat through high school, and I think now he's outgrown it entirely.

Once in 6th grade I asked him if he could try and hold still. Don't twitch at all. So he tried and I watched him as the clock ticked away. He was concentrating. My pencil fell off my desk and I reached for it. As I was leaned over I looked back over my shoulder. He was twitching and jerking wildly, indulging the urge that he had been restraining for the last 30 seconds.

This was the first thing I thought of when I read Jason Engwer's recent post about me, which he calls Jon Curry's Losing Hand. What's natural for Jason is to insult his opponents, ridicule them, and in other various ways act in a rude manner. Having entered the str threads he proceeded to engage in the same behavior, but the Christian moderators at str know how that makes Christianity look, so they wouldn't tolerate it. Here's one exchange with the moderator Amy.

Jason-Since Joe is such a poor communicator, and he doesn't put much effort into his posts, we often have to guess at what he's trying to say.

Amy-Jason, we do encourage people to argue vigorously in their comments about the arguments, and I appreciate the arguments you've laid out here, but a personal statement like this one is not helpful.

I entered the thread and informed Joe that this abuse was typical of Jason, so don't take it too seriously. Now, Jason already knows that he's supposed to try and avoid being rude as he reacts to me at str, but rudeness is very natural for him and he can't restrain himself. But he's still trying. So he responds to me with similar rudeness and again Amy warns him to get himself under control or he could be banned.

So the subsequent posts focused on arguments to a large degree. Much larger than Jason typically does. I thought this was a great scenario. A chance to argue without the ad hominem distractions.

Now the thread has been closed, understandably. It's long and kind of out of hand. So now what? The restraints imposed of charity and grace have been removed, so Jason can return to his old self. And so he did immediately, probably jerking and twitching wildly to spew out the personal attacks that he had been restraining for so long. Start off with the very title of the thread. Jon Curry's Losing Hand. It seems one of the pillars of Jason's argumentative style is to simply assert that he is right and his opponents' arguments are very feeble (discussed before here and here). My hand is very weak. My arguments are very bad. His arguments are very strong and persuasive. He quotes Steve Hays assessment of me. I'm "in over my head", had "no good reason to repudiate the faith in the first place", he's "called my bluff" forcing me to "lay (my) losing hand on the table". He really showed me. He decided he did such a good job that he needed to pat himself on the back a little more with a "Mission accomplished". Good job, Steve.

What does this behavior really show? To me it exposes how little confidence they have in their own beliefs. Obviously science has dealt serious blows to their version of Christianity. Basic moral decency is another huge strike against the slavery endorsing, women owning, genocidal contents of the bible. Contradictions galore, miraculous claims that are dismissed as absurd in all non-Biblical contexts. The evidence thing isn't working out, so what's left? Do what the propagandists have done before when proven wrong. Assert the opposite. "Your arguments are very bad, mine are very good. You're running scared, I've destroyed you as I set out to do. Mission accomplished. You are a deceiver and a liar. You misrepresent the arguments because you cannot deal with them."

I'm biased too. I admit it. Which is why I don't feel the need to pontificate on which arguments are the "best". I've made this point before. But this repeated behavior of asserting your own dominance that the Triabloggers often engage in is just fascinating and prompts my reaction. I wonder if what Tacitus said of crime is also true of transparently erroneous, yet cherished beliefs. Tacitus said "Crime once exposed has no refuge but in audacity."

In the comments below I offer another rebuttal to Jason's latest over at str. You'd have to be an odd person to even read it, and maybe I'm a bigger weirdo for even writing it. But then maybe I'll learn something from the rude rebuttals. And why not keep these guys hopping?