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Archive for February, 2008

Can Scientific Inquiry and Religion Coexist?

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

Recently, the Anthropology club celebrated Charles Darwin’s 199th birthday on campus with a panel discussion on evolution and a screening of the film Flock of Dodos. As a six-day creationist, I was intrigued by the theme of the event “Can Scientific Inquiry and Religion Co-exist?”. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. James Vanderveen, professor of anthropology here at IUSB, about the creation/evolution debate.

JB: Thank you for agreeing to an interview on this subject. Giv-en the theme of your event, do you think that there is room in the educational arena for both intelligent design and evolution and at what age could they be taught?

JV: Schools and colleges succeed when they are open to the free exchange of ideas. Even if the ideas are not popular, they need to be expressed in order to be challenged. There is no single right way of thinking. Some ways are more correct than others, however. Although scientists do not know everything, we are continually testing ideas and refining the ways we seek knowledge.

The process of the scientific method should be taught as early as possible. My five-year old son is making predictions about what may happen when he slides down a hill or puts a seed in the ground, and then testing whether those predictions are right. That is science at its most basic level. If he continually tested these events and the same result always happened, and he compared his results with those of students in his day care and they all turned out the same, he could develop a theory of sledding down hills.

But intelligent design is not in any way, shape, or form, a theory.  It can’t be as it is not based on testing. A theory is an explanation that is based on facts. It has been tested over and over again until all other explanations have failed. Intelligent design is not comparable to evolution as a theory (to use the term as we do in science).

I have no problem with talking about intelligent design in my anthropology courses, because we discuss all kinds of creation myths from many varied cultures. ID should be discussed in political science courses because it has an influence on what people are saying and how they are voting even now. It can be part of philosophy, sociology, or religion courses. Yet ID is not part of the science curriculum. Science is dynamic – it is always seeking the truth from what is not known. ID is part of one particular branch of religion (although it can be dressed up to appear otherwise). It is static and based purely on trying to support claims that are already thought to be known. This is a fundamental difference between evolution and creation ideas.

JB: Given the way you diagramed the scientific method with your son, how does one test evolution without the ability to watch it happen and record results and without the ability to compare it with non-terrestrial life forms?

JV: We can, and do, watch organisms change. Viruses mutate and bacteria alter their structure, which is why doctors tell you to take all the antibiotics. Scientists have recorded evolution in the wings of crickets in Hawaii (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/061003-silent-crickets.html). We see change all around us, happening today as it has happened in the past.

As for finding out what happened in the past without directly observing it, that is what I do as an archaeologist. I study a people known as the Taino, but I am not able to ask them questions about how they made their pottery or what food they ate. Instead I observe the existing pottery in the archaeological record, I form a hypothesis about how they were constructed, and then I test that hypothesis by looking at thin sections of the ceramic or trying to make it myself. I am able to determine what they ate not because of the food that is left — there is none — but the organic residue absorbed within the walls of the pot. This residue, once extracted, suggests the particular species of plants and animals that were utilized. I didn’t see them eat the fish, but I can find out the fish type due to previous experiments and the recovery of associated data.

Astronomers may not be able to “see” the distant galaxies, but they can collect radiation of specific sorts that indicates the presence of those galaxies. Researchers in countless fields are regularly able to learn about subjects too small, too distant, too fast, or too extreme to directly measure. Their results are infrequently challenged, why is it that evolutionary science is not rigorous because the research does not directly observe the processes discussed? 

JB: Evolution and Creation are two very polarizing theories. What I mean is that there is not a whole lot of room for middle ground. Not many people can both believe in the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth and believe in the Evolution of the species. What steps need to be taken in order bring these two groups closer together to become more tolerant of each other?

JV: Actually, many people believe in both. Gallup has often polled the American public and has regularly found that about 40% of people believe that “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.” This is how my wife reconciles the two ideas in her head as well, by picking something along the lines of a compromise. It is the two most extreme ends of the debate that are intolerant. These two camps, the “no God” evolutionists and the “young Earth” creationists will never convert the members of the other side. They need to stop trying, as it only makes for ugliness that attracts the press. Everyone likes a good fight, and that is what people like Dawkins and Ham provide.

The two groups can be brought to a table to discuss their differences, though, and that is what I have been trying to do with the Darwin Day events presented here on campus.

JB: How would you address the issue of the Creation vs. Intelligent Design debate? Creationism and Intelligent Design are not the same thing. If religion and scientific inquiry are to co-exist; is there room at the table for Biblical Creation as well?

JV: From what I have heard, read, and understand, creationism is exactly the same as ID. ID doesn’t have a specific deity directly associated with it, but it is proposed by Christians and not Buddhists, so one can easily see between the lines. Judge Jones, who ruled on the recent Dover case, calls ID the “prog-eny of creationism” and is nothing more than creation science in disguise. I would have to agree.

Religion and science can easily coexist. They are not usually looking at the same things. Science can also be used to study religion. There are faculty in the community that scientifically study the sociology and psychology of religion and its influence on people. There are many ways in which the two ideas can be combined. Student in my archaeology courses often research the ways in which the Maya practiced religion, for example.

In anthropology, we are open minded to all ways of thinking.  There is the room for Biblical Creation at that particular table, but sitting there with it is the idea that all humans were created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The Taínos thought humans were produced through a wad of phlegm blown on to the back of a culture hero, and the resulting lump turned into a turtle. Who is to say they can’t believe that? There are many creation myths, why should one be given precedent over the others as the true story? There is only one successfully tested theory, though, and that is evolution.

JB: What made you decide to show a documentary video known more for its light-hearted, comedic approach to the Evolution/ ID debate as opposed to showing serious programs putting forth the evidence both sides present such as PBS’ 2001 Nova program Evolution and a pro-creation film such as Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution by Dr. Jobe Martin?

JV: Your question also provides the answer. I wanted to show the film last year because we had the rare opportunity to provide its Michiana premiere, and I continue to screen it for Darwin Day this year because of its light-hearted, comedic approach to a typically dry subject. We want to attract an audience and not make going to the event seem like homework. After the film, I was happy to see students continue to discuss its issues and themes. One of the roles of the Anthropology Club is to facilitate conversations between different people on this campus and in the community. The film helps to do that.

JB: Flock of Dodos seems to have the main thesis that proponents of ID are dodos because they place faith before science, but that scientists are also dodos because they have been unable to put their findings into a message that the layperson can understand. Do you agree with this?

JV: Absolutely.

JB: Next year would be Darwin’s 200th birthday. Do you have anything special planned for the bicentennial?

JV: The campus theme next year is “Revolutions in Thought”.  I hope there will be many events planned to commemorate evolutionary theory and other great changes (political, artistic, and otherwise) in our world and our history.

JB: It is a common argument that Creationism does not belong in a science class; it belongs in a philosophy class. How would you respond to a creationist who says that both creation and evolution are matters of faith: faith in God and faith in randomness? If the creation/ evolution debate really comes down to one faith (Biblical Christianity) vs. another faith (Secular Humanism), does evolution belong in a science class?

JV: Faith is a belief that is not based on evidence or proof. Science is the opposite, it is grounded on discovering data and testing predictions based on those data. Creation science and ID do not put forth new positive evidence. No hypotheses have been proposed to test the idea that creation is guided by a supernatural intelligence. It is for that reason that ID shouldn’t be in science classes.

JB: Recently, the Cobb County School District in Georgia lost a court battle over a science textbook sticker that read, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered”. Do you agree or disagree with the decision to remove the sticker?

JV: If the sticker existed in a social vacuum, without the context of religion and politics, I would have no problems with it being placed on a textbook that discusses evolution. Every statement on the sticker is true, in the strictest sense. Evolution is a theory, and it may even yet be proven wrong, but that appears less likely as time passes and evidence mounts. All subjects, regardless of the discipline, should be studied carefully and critically considered. This is what I am trying to teach my classes. The social context of the sticker, however, is what made it such a problem.

JB: In a 1995 Time Magazine article The Evolution Wars, Dr. Richard Dawkins, a biologist teaching at Oxford University stated, “If there was a single hippo or rabbit in the Precambrian [Period], that would completely blow evolution out of the water.” What evidence would you need to see in order to leave evolution and become a creationist?

JV: If only we could test for the presence of a supernatural creator. We could then just ask him/her/them. I would like to know why, if the creation took place in a specific manner, do we have so many myths that differ? Why, as Edward Wilson has written, “would God have been so deceptive as to salt the earth with so much misleading evidence”? Until we ask those questions directly, I will continue to follow the research done by scientists that are now providing details about subjects previously unknown.

JB: Other than “we cannot see him”, how does one scientifically eliminate the possibility of a supernatural Creator?

JV: Scientific inquiry doesn’t entirely eliminate the presence of a supernatural force or amazing phenomenon. There are some researchers looking for Bigfoot and a Yeti. We haven’t found them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Discoveries and the testing of discoveries are the bread and butter of science. Shifts in current thinking based on new evidence is the way scientific fields work. Do you think that a scientist wouldn’t jump up and shout from the rooftops if he or she found evidence of a supernatural intelligent force that guided the evolution of life? That would be the greatest discovery of all time and would change all of our ideas and even our history. But creation science and ID don’t have the qualities of science. They can’t be tested. They may be right, but how are we to know?

Jarrod Brigham

Posted in Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Jarrod Brigham | 6 Comments »

Obama’s Yes We Can Campaign Sounds Good But……

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

YES WE CAN! – It is the message that has been all over the news as the theme of Senator Obama’s campaign. However, what the antique media has decided that you didn’t need to know is that Obama is borrowing his message and theme from a man greater than he; with the very important twist that Obama leaves out a crucial context of that message. Our friends at Newsbusters.org have edited a little reminder of just who the original truly is and I present it to you in The Vision. – Chuck Norton

We as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. We are a nation that has a government – not the other way around and this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people.

From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

It’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes; they just don’t know where to look.

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.”

I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans. – Ronald Reagan

Video at http://www.eyeblast.tv/public/video.aspx?RsrcID=1435

Chuck Norton

Posted in Campaign 2008, Chuck Norton | Leave a Comment »

Hate: The Past That Refuses to Die

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

You would think that perhaps those to whom no one listens to any longer would simply get the message and just go away. Perhaps they would even die off so that the rest of us could move on without the weight of them slowing us down as a nation. 

Recently we found that it just isn’t going to work out that way. I speak of the racist and hateful legacy that America wants to forget, the legacy we are tired of hearing about: the hate mongers among us. These are the haters who recently set fire to a mosque in Tennessee. According to the Associated Press, the fire was set in a mosque in Columbia, Tennessee at nearly 5:00 a.m. 

When the fire was finally put under control, it became clear that this was no ordinary electrical or accidental fire that simply happens without notice. According to the president of the center, the graffiti included the words “white power” and “we run the world”.

While on the one hand the incident in Tennessee is easy to see as another holdover from the racist past, on quite another level it speaks to who we are as a nation, and what we must do to continue moving forward against the legacy of hate. For if we do nothing, we all suffer; not just people of color.

The white supremacy movement in America has a long and checkered history, especially here in Indiana. The modern Ku Klux Klan was actually reborn at the time of World War I, and became so powerful that by the early 1920s, it was essentially impossible to be elected to public office in the State of Indiana if you were not a member of the Klan. What changed all of that was a major scandal involving the Governor. Once the scandal broke, of course, within a few short years the Klan in Indiana had nearly ceased to exist.

They are now all but defunct with just a few local members, and even now, as a national movement, they only number at most a few thousand. And that’s being liberal; the fact of the matter is that the Klan and the white supremacy movement are essentially dead. They do still have rallies on occasion, and they do network extensively with other white supremacy groups, such as the Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance, etc, but white supremacy as a movement is basically a cultural enigma.

So why, pray tell, are they still around? Didn’t the loonies get the cultural memo? Well, yes they did; they just decided to ignore it, that’s all. And therein lies the problem with cultural movements that are so deeply rooted. They sometimes take on a different life of their own when they die out, staying around when everyone else has abandoned the movement.

We are talking about prejudice, after all, not just another bad idea. And prejudices are hard to break because of where they come from. All of us have a sense of ourselves and people who look like us and talk like us. Let’s face it: we all like being around others who think the way we do. So when we are around others who are not like us, we notice. They are the ‘other’ in sociological terms; they are not part of the group that we feel most comfortable with. In Social Psychology, we refer to it as our Social Identity: the identity of the group we belong to.

With white supremacy, of course, it is the ultimate identity group because race is so easily identifiable. Mix in a history of slavery and civil war with a given social identity and you have a mix that is not easily forgotten. People just don’t give in to popular notions so easily when something is so personal.

So where do we go from here with an issue that is so enduring? You probably guessed it. We move forward, we move beyond race, and we find ways to think of the ‘other’ as someone who is just like us. We move forward with ideas that don’t reference the old ideas that tear us apart along racial lines. We simply keep going. Sometimes we will make our mistakes, sometimes we will even become angry with others who are not part of our group, but we still keep going and becoming ever more vigilant against hate. Our children and grandchildren will figure it out better perhaps, but just keep moving. We owe it to them, and they will thank us for it.

Gerry Rough

Posted in Gerry Rough | Leave a Comment »

Anonymous Scientology

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

An online group called Anonymous labeled by the mass media as ‘organized hackers’ recently declared war on the Church of Scientology after video streaming websites such as Youtube were forced to pull a promotional video staring Tom Cruise. Scientology claimed the video was copyright, and the streaming sites had no right to publish it openly to the public.

The pulling of this video spawned great controversy within the internet community over free speech and the damages of fear based tactics to revoke media on the internet.  Anonymous responded to the communities accusations with a video stating: “Over the years, we have been watching you — your campaigns, your suppression of dissent, your litigious nature. All of these things have caught our eye.”  In their video they then tell the leaders of the Church of Scientology “Anonymous has therefore decided your organization should be destroyed, for the good of your followers, for the good of mankind and for our own enjoyment.”

Critics of the Anonymous organization argue the tactics by which they are attempting to bring out information regarding the Church of Scientology are themselves unethical, and they are in no position to put others practices into question. Those who agree with the practices of Anonymous argue their practices mirror the practices of the Church of Scientology itself.

Regardless, there is currently a wave of videos released by the Anonymous group attempting to talk directly with the followers of the Church, encouraging them to question the practices of the organization they are a part of.   Their motives seem to be about raising awareness, yet they also have launched what are called DoS (Denial of Service) attacks at the Church of Scientology’s homepage, bringing it out of service.

Whether one is a member or a critic of the Church, it is always important to learn as much as possible about the organizations of which an individual is a member. It is interesting to see the utilization of the internet as a means to declare ‘war’ on an existing organization. This new medium carries with it a large force of the people in which its members can express their own voices about any topics that might be of interest. The idea that an organization can exist on the internet for the sole purpose to display resources and information in order to educate individuals about particular issues they have interest in, is fascinating. 

Anonymous’ published works are primarily made popular through websites such as Digg where its members “digg up” or “digg down” news depending on whether they think it is interesting or not. It is peer reviewed by its members who often attempt to “bury” news based upon its inaccuracies so the majority of items that end up on the top of the website are either incredibly ridiculous, interesting or accurate.

Craig Chamberlin

Posted in Craig Chamberlin | 3 Comments »

Celebrities and Their Privacy

Posted by iusbvision on February 20, 2008

In the wake of the Britney Spears fiasco, officials in Los Angeles are debating what has become known as Britney’s Law, which would create a 20 foot radius around celebrities who are commonly targets of the paparazzi. If this law were passed, it might license certain celebrities for protection and may even require that any profits made from individuals taking pictures within a 20 foot radius be confiscated.

This issue creates a very good debate. While the average citizen enjoys their freedom and a reasonable sense of privacy, celebrities are what they are because of the “spotlight” and the media attention they receive on a daily basis. The argument could be made that if the average citizen had someone following them around, snapping pictures, and camping outside their house, this would be considered stalking. When the paparazzi does it, it is considered a necessary part of the celebrity’s job. One other little thing is the Constitution, we do have freedom of the press in this country.

In these two scenarios, we need to look at the motive behind the “stalker”. If someone is following around a private citizen, the reason is probably not to take a picture to sell and make money. It could possibly be to harm that person or for some other sadistic reason.

When the paparazzi are following a celebrity they are carrying out their job duties. If Americans weren’t so fascinated with the lives of celebrities, then the paparazzi wouldn’t have a job and neither would the celebrities. Once again, the paparazzi are part of the press and we do have freedom of the press in this country.

This brings up some questions, should “certain celebrities” be singled out and have laws specifically designed for them? Who would pay for this “special protection”? Are there laws already in place to protect the residents of this state?

Celebrities do not need “special protection” from the paparazzi. If a celebrity feels that their safety is in jeopardy, they can call the police and request assistance, just like any other individual. If a celebrity doesn’t like the press following them around and taking pictures of them, they should consider a new profession that isn’t in the lime light.

It is not the tax payer’s responsibility to afford special rights to someone because of their celebrity. Celebrities enjoy a wealth that many will never see and they can use some of that personal wealth and hire private security to shield them the flashes of the camera.

This is a very unnecessary law and the public officials debating this issue should find some more important legislation to discuss that will affect their community at large. There are ample laws already on the books to deal with the media who cross the line between reporting and violating a celebrity’s rights. Let’s just use the laws we already have and not worry about giving celebrities special rights.

Larry Browning

Posted in Larry Browning | 4 Comments »

Watershed Moment: Hillary Clinton’s Existential Dilemma

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

Ah yes. Barely had the ink dried on my last article in these hallowed pages when at last one Hillary Clinton did what we all had expected her to do: she acted like the Hillary that she is.     

Hillary Clinton finally put the race issue into the presidential campaign and succeeded in dividing the Democratic Party along racial fault lines. Thanks, Hillary, right on queue. Worse yet, she did it even better than we expected; she has now succeeded in alienating even liberals from her own party, the very ones mind you, that were planning to endorse her.     

That’s astounding, folks, and staggering in its implications. Imagine that! A mere taste of racial politics directed against another liberal and they scramble like cockroaches when the light comes on. Nay who would have guessed it; who among us would have dared to think it possible: liberals who get squeamish when they are on the receiving end of racial bigotry, the same treatment Republicans have gotten for decades.     

Hell’s bells folks, Hillary’s politics remind me of an old spoof named, The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati: Frankenstein gives me the shakes. And Count Dracula’s driving me batty. But they’re not on a par with the worst one by far: the cockroach that ate Cincinnati.  Oh he must have needed a seltzer It’s amazing how much he got down. For lunch he’d just chew up a suburb or two. And for dinner he ate the whole town (burp!). And so today we mark another milestone in American political history, the melding of racial politics and scorched earth strategy. Congratulations Hillary, you have successfully coined a new political term for the American lexicon: the Liberal White Witch.    

Oh but Hillary isn’t finished just yet with racial politics, not even close. She is now openly courting Hispanics, further alienating the black vote, indeed to the exclusion of it to overcome the very disparity she herself has created. The very vote that made her husband the “First Black President,” and helped give her the chance to become the Democratic nominee is now being shunned for another constituency to make up the difference. But now the stage is being set for Hillary’s final contribution to American political history, the destruction of the very democratic coalition that brought her to power.    

Hillary Clinton’s own scorched earth strategy has now come to fruition as two choices; and both of are them bad. On the one hand, if she picks Barack Obama as her Vice Presidential running mate, she cannot win in November, and she knows all too well why. If she chooses Obama, she only keeps the black votes she needs to win in the blue states. She doesn’t get any additional votes to bring her across the finish line, either in the Electoral College, or the popular vote.     

In order to win, the Democratic nominee must win additional states from the Republicans in order to get elected; and Obama is from Illinois,  already a blue state in the Electoral College. In the end, then, she really gains nothing; she only keeps what she already has. But she cannot win with the current Democratic coalition intact; she must expand her party’s coalition.       

She is now forced to do so because of who she is running against: John McCain. McCain brings in new voters to the Republican camp, and if Hillary does not follow suit, and in a very big way, she will find her Democratic head served on the Republican silver platter on the night of November 4, 2008.    

But now the math gets really interesting. If Hillary Clinton chooses to expand her Electoral College vote by picking someone else as her Vice President, she loses the black vote. African Americans are now invested in Barack Obama; he is their candidate, and they will not be denied their place at the table having come this far. He represents something they have yet to see, a ceiling they know must be broken for their voices to be heard. And if Hillary decides to dash those hopes once again, she will find her head on that same Republican silver platter in November.    

And so the watershed moment in American political history is now upon us. If Hillary Clinton chooses Barack Obama as her running mate, she knows she cannot win the presidency. The Obama candidacy for Vice President will not allow her to win in the Electoral College; she must expand her democratic base or she will lose the election to John McCain. If she chooses to win the election, the democrats will lose the black vote for a generation or more, and probably permanently. Never again will the black vote be as solidly Democratic as it has been for the past two generations. 

Gerry Rough 

Posted in Campaign 2008, Gerry Rough | 1 Comment »

Lazarus Come Forth: The Rise of John McCain

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

John McCain, the man who would dare question Republican Orthodoxy, will soon take the mantle as the Republican nominee for the presidency, despite being left for dead only a few short months ago. But Mac is back with a vengeance, and it will no doubt come as a complete surprise to those who have derided him as the political equivalent of a heretic; he has challenged the odds, toughened his message, and some say he has even defied gravity.     

For an orthodox republican, he has shown a flagrant willingness to challenge the accepted party line when it seems to suit him. Worse yet, he has even shown that he believes what he says and votes on principle of all things. Shocking! This is but a foretaste of things political to come, the trade winds that will guide the McCain juggernaut to victory in November.    

The bottom line is that the McCain juggernaut is now unstoppable, whether it currently looks that way or not from the media who refuse to tell the story from an insider’s cultural perspective. Despite the talking heads on television who have told us that McCain’s victory is the result of his reliance on the independent vote to carry him to victory, the real story that is not being told is that both conservatives and evangelicals who vote in republican primaries are also quite practical: they really like winning. And that more than anything is driving Republicans to rally behind McCain, a nominee who can carry them to victory. Further, even though the current topic of conversation is about the fracturing Republican Party, it is assumed in conservative circles that this is only a temporary detour on the path to November.     

As Republicans, we assume it will all work out in the end. For Democrats, by contrast, the fractures are much deeper. There is the sense of real division. When Democrats come together, they don’t assume anything; they just make it happen anyway. This is one of the many differences between Republicans and Democrats as separate subcultures.    

But John McCain’s victory in November will take place for two basic reasons. The first of these is the issue of electability, the one reason for his eventual election that dwarfs all other considerations. The fact is, McCain can appeal to both Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican, Independent, Libertarian, and even Hispanic. Even the networks have begun to report on this story. It is more than just an oddity that he is a genuine war hero — as opposed to the fraudulent John Kerry kind we saw in 2004. It is certainly notable that he was right in his criticism of the war in Iraq, even when it was political suicide to do so.     

And it is more than just another day at the political office that it was John McCain who teamed up with Senator Ted Kennedy to push through comprehensive immigration legislation, despite the blatantly false accusation that it was an “amnesty” bill, which it was obviously not but was demagogued to death by conservative talk radio. It is still more than just coincidence that he is for lower taxes, which he voted against only for the reason that there were no corresponding spending reductions — an obviously Republican position despite his detractors who deride him for wanting to — gasp! — cut spending.     

Add to this that he is pro-life and pro environment, meaning that he believes global warming is real, wants nuclear power plants and plans to invest in energy independence technologies, and you have a presidential candidate who is right in line with a clear majority of Americans on these and other important issues. Put another way, McCain doesn’t need the polls to inform his political judgments; he already takes the most popular positions on all of the major issues that challenge this generation, and that makes him virtually unbeatable, at least in regard to substance. The novelty of electing our nation’s first woman or African-American is quite another matter.    

The other major issue that will lead McCain to victory is the issue of expandability.  John McCain can do something that no other Republican candidate can do; he can expand the party with liberals, moderates, Hispanics, and independents. He has a wider appeal than any other candidate, save that of Barack Obama. McCain has seen correctly that the party must expand in order to survive, not just appeal to the base. And this sets him dramatically apart from Hillary Clinton, who has successfully alienated her own core constituency to the point of being completely unelectable. The McCain strategy of expansion is the future of American politics, not the politics of exclusion, and it is McCain alone who can carry that torch better than any other candidate.

Gerry Rough 

Posted in Campaign 2008, Gerry Rough | 5 Comments »

The Case Against John McCain

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

“I served 12 years with John McCain and almost at every turn on domestic policy John McCain was not only against us, but leading the charge on the other side…on many votes we had Democrats but we couldn’t get John McCain. On domestic policy he is very dangerous for Republicans.” – Senator Rick Santorum.    

John McCain has put out television ads that say that he is “the true conservative” in the Republican primary. The facts make it clear that not only is John McCain not conservative, he has lead the charge for bills that most of the Republican base has rigorously opposed and he has ran the most dishonest Republican primary campaign in my lifetime.    

What are the bills that McCain has championed in recent years that most any Republican would actively oppose? The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law was supposed to take the big money out of politics. In fact what it did was take the ability of constituent groups from running television ads within 60 days of an election. The last time I checked the First Amendment is designed to protect political speech above all isn’t it? The only groups that may run ads are what are called section 527 groups, which have allowed multi-billionaires like George Soros to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on groups that buy political ads. The net result is more money in politics than ever before and an assault on the freedom of speech of groups like Wisconsin Right to Life where McCain had filed an amicus brief to deny the group freedom of political speech. Yet John McCain says he is pro-life. The James Madison Center said that the law is “The most brazen frontal assault on political speech since Buckley v. Valeo. http://jamesmadisoncenter.org/WI/McCainACBrief.pdf

McCain co-wrote the McCain-Kenney amnesty bill for illegal aliens that the overwhelming amount of Republican and Democrat voters opposed and was defeated after numerous attempts to sneak it through. The Heritage Foundation said it was “the most far-reaching amnesty program in American history.” http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/upload/wm_1521.pdf

McCain co-wrote the McCain-Kennedy-Edwards bill that would have created a new lawsuit industry against the medical profession. Reason Magazine described the bill as “the biggest boon to the trial bar since the tobacco settlement, under the rubric of a patients’ bill of rights.” http://www.reason.com/news/show/32758.html

The list is simply too long to include in this publication. McCain stopped the Republicans from changing Senate rules to stop the illegal filibuster of judicial nominees. McCain, while on the campaign. says that he would appoint justices like Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court, but famed Washington reporter Bob Novak and the Wall Street Journal have reported that McCain has said that he would not support judges like Alito “who wore his conservatism on his sleeve”.    

McCain voted against oil drilling at ANWR and other places while China and Mexico are building oil rigs off our shores. He voted against the popular 2001 and 2003 tax cut bills that passed and became law… and now he has sent out advertisements criticizing Mitt Romney for not endorsing the tax cuts that McCain voted against shhh don’t tell the voters. MSCBC points out that McCain said he would not engage in negative campaigning and asks “and this is the straight talk express?” 

McCain wants to close our military facility in Cuba and bring enemy combatants into the United States and give them access to civilian courts. Can anyone please name me a country that allowed enemy combatants access to civilian courts and lawyers in World War II? Enemy Combatants are prisoners of war that we hold for security and intelligence reasons – we don’t hold them there because they robbed a gas station and await prosecution.    

The final straw that motivated me to write this column is when McCain was asked about having Dr. Juan Hernandez as the head of his Hispanic Outreach Campaign. Hernandez is THE open borders advocate who is famous for saying that illegal aliens  need (as in have a right to) fraudulent social security numbers because America is at fault because we won’t issue a legal social security number to illegal aliens. McCain said, “I don’t know what his previous positions are…but he supports mine I have nothing to do with his…. And I will check into this information you have given me.” 

This was a bold faced lie. Juan Hernandez is a senior fellow at McCain’s think tank, the Reform Institute http://www.reforminstitute.org/about/AboutHernandez.aspx. Their history together is easily documented by anyone with access to a search engine. The Reform Institute even sponsored an art contest that was designed to compare a border fence to the Berlin Wall. Here is the web site for the contest. http://www.brickfish.com/politics/BorderFence?tab= .   

Ed Morrissey also points out that the donor list for the Reform Institute is made up of the cream of the far left and open borders advocacy. This list includes the Tides Foundation, the Proteus Fund, the Open Society Institute (George Soros), and the David Geffen Foundation. “I promise you I will secure our borders” John McCain is heard to say in the video linked above. There is no reason to believe him.     Ann Coulter has stated very publicly that is McCain is the Republican nominee she will campaign for Hillary Clinton because “either way it’s going to be a Democrat so I will just be going for the more conservative Democrat if I go for Hillary over John McCain.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erMa0F_DCJE&eurl    

Joe Scarborough made a passionate monologue on MSNBC stating about McCain, “A conservative is not a man who…” and than gave a devastating summary of John McCain’s record. This video says it better than I ever could so have a look –  

Chuck  Norton 

Posted in Campaign 2008, Chuck Norton | 39 Comments »

The Case For Mike Huckabee

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

By the time this issue of The Vision hits the stand, two dozen states will have put Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul – and their Democratic Party counterparts — through the test of fire called Super Tuesday (or Super Duper Tuesday, as it has been dubbed recently). No other contest in recent years has attracted so much attention and drawn so many indelible lines in the public’s consciousness like the 2008 presidential race, perhaps because so much is at stake. If the 2000 and 2004 elections were polarizing, 2008 has elevated polarization to a level of utmost and precarious meltdown.    

There has been an insurmountable amount of bickering on both sides of the aisle, and personal attack ads have run rampant in South Carolina and Florida. At times, it’s hard to tell if the candidates have the interest of the people of the United States of America at heart, or if their interest lies in furthering a particular partisan agenda. So it is no surprise that people interested in one candidate or another have to cut through the rhetoric with a machete in search for anything resembling a platform worth adhering to. One candidate, however, has been running what could be called the cleanest, most issues-centered campaign out of the candidates still on the race. His name: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.    

After winning the Iowa caucus, Huckabee has transformed from a complete unknown into a de facto contender. A former Baptist preacher who also served 11 years as the 44th governor of the state of Arkansas – only the second Republican since Reconstruction to achieve such a feat – Huckabee embarked into the presidential race running a campaign with very little money and relying heavily on the grassroots support of thousands who saw in him a true, unwavering conservative. His orthodox belief in the sanctity of life, his uncompromising and unabashed position regarding his faith, and support of a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman has truly struck a chord with conservatives, especially the evangelical base of the Republican Party. In addition, his proposed policies for securing the border –a 9-point strategy called The Secure America Plan – are one of the toughest by any candidate. His platform also focuses on education, infra-structure modernization, and health care.    

But the most audacious feature of his platform is the institution of a progressive national sales tax that would replace all federal income and payroll taxes, a plan commonly known as the FairTax. This would virtually place the IRS out of business and ensure a true economic stimulus, much more so than tax rebates could ever do. Huckabee’s position regarding the IRS should come as no surprise: as governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee cut taxes to the tune of $380 million and left the state of Arkansas with a $1 billion surplus.    

Pundits have criticized Huckabee, calling him ‘un-electable’, and have dubbed him ‘the destroyer of the conservative movement’, undoubtedly because some of his policies while governor were not to the liking of conservatives. Another writer for The Vision has even quoted Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative political activist, as accusing Huckabee of ‘leaving the Arkansas Republican Party in shambles’. Since I don’t have the hard data pointing to the moribund state of the Republican Party in Arkansas, I will take instead the word of the people in Arkansas, who thought highly enough of Huckabee to actually re-elect him twice as their governor. As a conservative, this is what irks me the most abut the movement: some pundits, especially those in talk radio, are more concerned with whether the tenets of conservatism are upheld, rather than examine each candidate on a case-by-case basis to determine if his policies and decisions were good to the people,  and not if these policies were ingratiating to conservatism or the Republican Party. Some of these same pundits who were at Bush’s beck and call were quick to jump boat once the president unveiled some of his more ‘compassionate conservative’ initiatives. Chalk this one up to my global world view, where I tend to side with Christian New Labor in terms of Latin American politics, but effecting social reform for the well-being of all Americans should be its government’s number one priority, whether these policies clash with the elitist position of über -conservatives or not. And this is exactly why I have chosen Mike Huckabee: he is not afraid to go against the elite of the conservative movement or the vicious criticism of liberals in his state and Washington to bring into fruition policies that benefited the people of the state of Arkansas    

As a president, he will continue his legacy and will not play into the hands of establishment know-it-alls who would rather see him as a sheep of the conservative movement.    

Alas, the media has dubbed this a ‘3-men-and-one-lady’ race, discarding Huckabee’s chance to become the nominee. In the same week when the New York Giants have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in American football history, I hope Mike Huckabee can pull just as big an upset on Super Tuesday and go on to become the next president of the United States.

Ed Lima 

Posted in Campaign 2008, Ed Lima | 12 Comments »

Alan Keyes: The Best Candidate You Don’t Know

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

If you are a conservative, looking for the next Ronald Reagan, and disappointed with the current crop of candidates, why not support the man selected by Ronald Reagan himself?    

Some people believe that John McCain is the best option  for a terror warrior. While, McCain may have been a soldier, and may have supported President Bush, McCain does not have the endorsement of Ronald Reagan. Alan Keyes worked hard to fight state-sponsors of terrorism, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Read the words of Reagan, “Alan… as my Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations you opposed with every ounce of strength in your body all those who have served to foster and legitimize state-sponsored terrorism.” – Ronald Reagan.    

As important as terrorism, for social conservatives are the candidate’s moral standing. Unlike flip-floppers such as Romney and McCain or candidates that roll with the polls like Clinton and Obama, Alan Keyes believes in basing his positions on economic and social issues from a moral perspective.    

Keyes understands that we cannot solve poverty, mis-education, abortion, or any other of the controversial issues until we figure out a way to fix the American family. This is why I support Alan Keyes, above all else, Alan Keyes is the candidate for the American family.    

In his own words, Keyes states, “We need to start addressing the real underlying cause of these challenges and to recapture a sense of the moral foundation, so that we can restore the moral discipline, restore the sense of commitment to true family life that then provides the basis for economic strength in our communities, for better performance for our children in our schools, for a greater sense of responsibility on the part of parents toward those children, and so forth and so on. We know that these are the keys to real progress, and it’s time we got out and voted like we know.” Until Americans are ready to face that fact that we have a moral problem, not an economic problem, we will not begin to solve our problems.     My voters speak of a candidates ability to work with other nations. Senators do not work with the leaders of other nations, neither do Representatives, Governors, or even first ladies; but Ambassadors do. In 1983, Alan Keyes was appointed by Reagan to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.    

If you are a Reagan conservative, ask yourself this: what positions did Reagan appoint John McCain to? What positions did Reagan appoint Mitt Romney to? What positions did Reagan appoint Ron Paul to? If we want a return to the conservative glory years, we need to elect the only person who served in the Reagan administration: Ambassador Alan Keyes.    

Some fans of MSNBC might remember Keyes from his show “Alan Keyes is Making Sense”. Why is his show no longer on air? He was a victim of MSNBC caving in to  pro-Palestinian activists and homosexual activists. Imagine a candidate taking heat for standing up for Israel and traditional marriage. Compare that with John McCain’s endorsement from the New York Times. There is a reason why liberals fear voices like Keyes and bolster the message  of John McCain.    

Imagine a candidate who wants to end abortion, not end pro-life advocates freedom of speech. Imagine a candidate that wants to end income taxes, instead of voting against the Bush tax cuts. Imagine a candidate that is pro-immigration, yet against colonization.    

In Alan Keyes, conservatives have a candidate that is pro-life, not just for fetuses, but he is against Euthanasia and stem-cell research. We have a candidate that will fight against a kindergartener’s “right” to sex education and their “right” to view pornography in the school library. We have a candidate that wants to enforce the immigration laws already on the books, not create new laws that aren’t going to be enforced anyways.    

I cannot say it any better than Reagan, “Alan reflects the values and bedrock principles of this great nation—the values of family and home and community and church. Our greatest treasure is our precious moral heritage, the basic values of faith and family that makes ours… a great nation.” 

Jarrod Brigham 

Posted in Jarrod Brigham | 4 Comments »

Sitting on the Fence in the Middle of the Road

Posted by iusbvision on February 4, 2008

Politics in America is ever changing. As we grow older, our views of the world around us change, whether it is through life experiences or some other means. To quote Winston Churchill, “If you are not a liberal at age 20 you don’t have a heart, If you are not a conservative at age 40 you don’t have a brain.” Well I just turned 30 and that might be why I find myself in the middle of the road on so many different issues.    

I grew up in a very conservative home, where family and religious values were at the forefront of everything we did and every decision we made. I was a Republican because my parents were Republican. I was under the impression that Democrats were some how evil and if they were in power the world would come crashing down. As I have aged and encountered many different things in my life, I find myself growing more towards the middle of the road. In the past I was a Republican and I didn’t want to believe or listen to anything that the Democratic Party had to say. While today I still consider myself a Republican, I am not going to vote for someone just because he or she is a Republican; it is important to focus on each individual issue and see who most closely aligns with my stances on the majority of those issues.    

I graduated in 2001 from IUSB, with my degree in Criminal Justice and I have worked in the field for several years since. While Republicans are seen as hyper-tough on crime and Democrats are seen as seen as super-easy, I find myself in the middle of the road. I don’t believe every criminal should go to prison, nor do I believe that a criminal should only receive a slap on the wrist. For those of you who don’t know the difference between jails and prisons, a jail is ran by the county and is for offenders serving misdemeanor offenses, which are crimes with a penalty of one year or less and a prison is for felonies, carrying a sentence of one year or longer.    

In my opinion, prisons should be made for the worst of the worst, people who have committed such heinous acts that they should never be allowed into society again, for crimes such as rape, murder, molestation of children, etc. I don’t believe someone who uses drugs for example should be in prison with people who have committed far worse acts. Individuals who use drugs have an addiction problem, not necessarily a criminal problem. My fear is that putting people with addictions issues, with violent, heartless criminals, will adversely turn these addicts/criminals into hardened criminals, capable of far worse acts. When they are released (and they are all eventually released), we now have a new hardened criminal returning to society.  While I believe that drug use/abuse/addiction is a serious problem, I feel the criminal justice system/government has better alternatives for these types of issues.    

I worked for several years for the St. Joseph County Drug Court Program, in South Bend, IN. This program is set up to treat the offender, but also hold them responsible for their actions at the same time.  This program is for individuals who are charged with a drug felony and also have an addiction problem. This program is not intended for individuals who are selling drugs or manufacturing drugs. The prosecutor’s office has certain criteria that makes an individual eligible for this program. That individual is then sent to have an addictions assessment and based on that assessment along with information regarding prior criminal activity, a representative from the prosecutor’s office, the judge, and other members from the drug court team determine if that person is eligible for the program.    

Once an offender is accepted into the program, they are required to go to therapy, take drug tests, find employment, meet with case managers and have intermittent court dates to have the judge review their progress. If the offender completes all requirements, they have their charge dismissed and hopefully have a shot at a better life, without drugs and without a felony on their record. Which in theory, will make them a more productive member of society. If an individual in this program does not do what is required of them, the judge can send them to prison at any time to serve the remainder of the term.       

This way the offender has motivation to do well and if they don’t there are consequences. While programs such as this are good in design and practice, we are dealing with people, so it’s not going to work for everyone, but if it helps half the offenders that come into contact with the program, then it is a success in my eyes.    

This is just one example of a conservative having a liberal view on crime. But there are many other issues and scenarios, where a conservative at heart can find himself, dabbling into some liberal issues. And I’m ok with that. 

Larry Browning 

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