19 October 2007

Handicapping the Republican candidates

In 1994 I succesfully predicted, very early, that Bill Clinton would earn the Democratic nomination. Full of myself, I've attempted to make early predictions of the nominees every election since, with a success rate of 0%. So here goes, my handicapping of the relevant candidates (see prior post for a list of irrelevant candidates).

    Mitt Romney: Romney is the current front-runner, but I have a hard time seeing him gain the support of the religious right, or of moderates if his religious views become known. Granted, Bob Jones III has endorsed Romney, and te religious right likes his opposition to gay marriage and abortion (although his conversion on those issues appears to be a pure political move as he positioned himself for this run), but most theologically conservative Christians are going to see him as an idolator and heretic. For what it's worth, Jerry Fallwell disagrees with me, but James Dobson agrees. But also, non-devout people, raised in a culture where mainstream Christianity is the norm, may also be unnerved if some of the tenets of the Mormom faith become public. (I won't list any of them here--I don't believe it ought to matter, so I'm not going to participate in "outing" Romney's beliefs.)

    Rudy Guiliani: Forget it. The polls showing he's popular are not targeting the right group of people, likely Republican primary voters. The more devout party members are the ones who dominate primaries, and in the Republican Party most of those people are far more conservative than Guiliani. He won't get the nomination, period. End of story.

    John McCain: My good friend, Jeff, in Iowa, claims McCain's making a comeback after struggling badly. My own feeling is that his time has passed. He was news in 2000, but now seems passe. (Too bad, as he's my favorite among the Republicans). But he's an old pro, so don't count him out. A surprisingly good showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he's working hard, could set him on a path toward the nomination.

    Mike Huckabee: As a true conservative, former minister, and governor, he ought to be doing better. I suspect his funny name, and the fact that, like Clinton, he's from Hope, Arkansas will doom his candidacy. Symbolism is important in the candidate selection process, and that's all working against him. Come on, say it with me, "Another president from Arkansas." It just sounds bad. Could be a good Veep pick, however, very appealing to the religious conservatives.

    Fred Thompson: OK, so tell me. If the Democrats are the party of Hollywood, why is it only Republicans who run actors for elected office? Reagan, Fred Grandy (Congressman Gopher), Clint Eastwood, Arnold, and Thompson. (OK, Ben Jones, Congressman Cooter, is a Dem, but they're still outnumbered.) Thompson was supposed to have the Reaganesque quality, but so far he's disappointing people. The reason is that he's not as smooth without a script as Reagan. Thompson's great with a script, but he hasn't developed his non-scripted speaking skills, and unless he does quickly, he'll bomb in the debates. Also, he has cancer, and people simply aren't going to vote for someone with cancer--they don't want to vote for someone they think will die in office (remember Paul Tsongas). Furthermore, after seeing him in the debate, I didn't think he looked healthy, and my lovely wife agreed. So, a guy with cancer who looks ill...He might as well toss it in and go join Brownback in the hinterlands of Kansas.

So who will get the nomination? Good god, they all look dreadfully flawed in terms of winning the Republican primary. I'm going to take a flyer and say McCain. Which, if my batting average holds, means he doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.

Next posting--handicapping the Democrats. Much easier, fewer candidates. God bless the, I guess.

1 down, many to go

Just for the historical record, Sam Brownback ended his presidential bid today. The announcement received more attention than his entire campaign had to date, which goes a long way toward explaining why he's had to call it quits.

Seriously, doesn't anyone check the historical record anymore? The last member of the Senate to be elected president was Kennedy in 1960. What made Brownback think he could pull a Kennedy? Doesn't he realize nobody knows who Sam Brownback is? Americans just don't pay attention to senators outside their own states. Why should they? They can't vote for them, and those senators aren't going to put any effort into providing goodies for their state. And the press won't make many senators household names because there's just too damn many to focus on. That's why they all congregate at the White House; there's only one president, so they don't have to work hard to figure out who's important.

There are, of course, three senators running who do have name recognition: McCain, Clinton, and Obama, and one former senator, Thompson. If Brownback has some reason to think he can become as well-known as them, I wish he'd share it with me.

There are candidates more clueless than Brownback, however, named Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Dennis Kucinich, all lowly members of the House of Reps. Just to let them know, the last, and only, member of the House of Representatives to be elected president was....James Garfield in....1872. Why so few? Because the lack of recognition that senators struggle with is magnified 10 fold for representatives, many of whom aren't even known across their own state.

Sad pathetic attention whores, that's all they are.

09 October 2007

Scary Squirrel World: More Creationist Babble

I was preparing a lecture on natural selection and looking for information on squirrel species at the Grand Canyon, where a species has subdivided into North Rim and South Rim sub-species, when I stumbled across the information I was looking for contained in a Duane Gish "research article." Oh, joy.

If you don't know, Duane Gish is a creationist, and this article apparently came from the Creation Research Society Quarterly way back in 1989. It's a classic example of the pathetic and illogical arguments of the creationists, which may explain why the Creation Research Society Quarterly, assuming it really exists, is not a peer-reivewed journal.

Gish refers to a research article that suggests the squirrel subspecies haven't diverged enough to have been separated for the millions of years the Grand Canyon has supposedly been in existence. According to him, this proves that the Grand Canyon itself is young.
If the Grand Canyon was formed during the waning stages of the Flood, as receding Flood waters drained from the emerging North American continent, there would have been no squirrels on either rim of the newly formed Grand Canyon. It would be many years after the formation of the Grand Canyon before squirrels and other animals could have arrived. It appears more likely that the tassel-eared squirrel migrated to areas on both sides of the Grand Canyon and that these areas have since become ecologically isolated from one another in relatively recent times. Evolutionists, of course, assume that this isolation occurred several million years ago, whatever the causative factors.

The illogic of this is clear. Gish clearly states that the squirrels had to have come to the Grand Canyon after it was created, but then argues this implies a recent creation for the Grand Canyon. But the arguments that the squirrels came (a) after the canyon was formed, and (b) recently, gives us no indication of how long ago the Canyon was formed, except that it was before the squirrels got there. The squirrel evidence suggest neither a millions year old Canyon nor a thousands year old one. Elementary logic-Gish's weak point-shows that the two events are simply not related to each other.

And when Gish says "Evolutionists...assume that this isolation occurred several million years ago..." he is simply lying. Geologists have evidence that the Grand Canyon is millions of years old. Evolutionary theorists don't assume the age of the canyon is necessarily related to the date of squirrel divergence. If the evidence shows that squirrels diverged only in the last few thousand years, then that's what the "evolutionists" believe. Then they ask themselves, "If the Grand Canyon is millions of years old, and the squirrel divergence between North and South Rims occured only a few thousand years ago, what does that mean? It means the squirrels migrated to the North and South Rims after the Canyon was created." So as it turns out, Gish actually agrees with the "evolutionists" on that point.