The New Antievolution Strategy: Just Make Bizarre Stuff Up

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Pim van Meurs alerted me to another just plain false broadside from the Discovery Institute*. Joe Manzari (American Enterprise Institute) and Seth Cooper (formerly of the Discovery Institute) say that Brian Rehm, one of the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, had a “clear” conflict of interest in being part of the new school board that specifically turned down a proposal to rescind the “intelligent design” policy.

One might assume the new board’s first item of business would be to rescind the old board’s evolution policy. Not so. During their first meeting on December 5th, former Dover Board member David Napierski proposed a resolution to rescind the old board’s evolution policy (prior to any court ruling). Acting as a private citizen, Napierski procured the opinion of an attorney, who said that a vote to rescind the evolution policy could stave off a courtroom defeat and significantly reduce or eliminate legal costs and fees. Yet the new board rejected Napierski’s proposal to rescind the old policy.

What’s more, one of the new board members who rejected any attempt to rescind the old evolution policy was also a plaintiff in the lawsuit whose outcome was pending. Dover C.A.R.E.S candidate turned new Dover Board member Bryan Rehm was represented by the ACLU and AUSCS. Yet, in a clear conflict of interest, he participated in the new Dover Board’s consideration of the resolution to rescind the evolution policy.

Wow. That’s pretty bad, isn’t it? So what’s the evidence that bears upon this serious allegation of misconduct on the part of an elected government official? It turns out that the major claim is contradicted by information easily obtained online. I guess easily for people other than AEI “research assistants” and former DI “policy analysts”.

(* Correction added: Cooper is noted at the bottom of the article as a former policy analyst for the DI. We had to wait a few hours for the Discovery Institute’s official false broadside to appear. Now Ed Brayton has a great takedown of the official DI post.)

Well, first, it should be noted that Manzari and Cooper are right that Mr. David Napierskie did encourage the new Dover school board to immediately rescind the policy. We can tell this because the Dover school board puts minutes for meetings online. The meeting in question was held on December 5th, 2005.

Here’s the notation for the interaction with Mr. Napierskie:

2. David Napierskie. 6495 Cabot Road. Dover voiced his concerns of the legal ramifications of the Intelligent Design case and the dropping of the case now. Mr. Napierskie also presented legal briefs to the school board for their review.

3. Board president Reinking noted that legal counsel advised the board that the trial is over and can not change the outcome of any vote. Mrs. Reinking promised to include the community and staff in any decisions made on Intelligent design. Intelligent design will be on the agenda for the January 3rd of meeting. There will be discussion at that time on the issue.

It is interesting that while Manzari and Cooper stress that Napierskie had consulted with an actual attorney, they fail to mention that the minutes immediately note that the new board also had its own legal advice on the issue, even if the minutes aren’t entirely coherent about what that legal advice actually was. The last time the board ignored their own counsel, they lost any coverage under insurance for the very case in question.

An interesting thing about minutes is that they document who participated in the proceedings. So, by Manzari and Cooper’s accusation, we should expect to see Brian Rehm’s name in the list of paneled board members. Here’s the list from the official minutes:

Roll Call

The Dover Area School Board met Monday, December 5, 2005, 7:01p.m. at the North Salem Elementary School. The Board Secretary opened the meeting with a pledge of allegiance the the flag and silent reflection. The following director was present: Mrs. Gessey. The following newly elected and certified board members were present: Mrs. Dapp, Mr. Emig, Mr. Gurreri, Mr. Herman, Mr. McIlvaine, Mrs. McIlvaine and Mrs. Reinking. Student representatives: Meghan Hilbert and Joshua Rowand.

Hmmm. Brian Rehm’s name doesn’t appear in the roll call for the board. In fact, his name doesn’t appear in the minutes for this meeting at all. The roll call goes to list 27 other names of people attending the meeting. But no Rehm. So we have a conundrum for Manzari and Cooper: how was Rehm “clearly” in conflict of interest at a meeting that there is no record that he even attended?

Here’s where it might have been a good thing for Manzari and Cooper to have done a little research. Note the “newly elected and certified board members” phrasing in the roll call. Rehm did not participate in the December 5th decision that would have been a “clear conflict of interest” because his election results were not yet certified. There was a problem with a voting machine that made the result ambiguous between the highest vote-getter of the old board, James Cashman, and the lowest vote-getter of the challengers, Brian Rehm. It would, in fact, require a runoff election between Rehm and Cashman to determine who the final board member would be. That runoff election took place January 3rd, 2006, and Brian Rehm only took his place on the board after his runoff election victory.

The revote was limited to about 800 voters who voted at the church on Nov. 8, when the voting machines registered 100 votes for Rehm and between 0 and 1 vote for Cashman.

A Court of Common Pleas judge ordered the revote between Rehm and Cashman – an incumbent who supported the intelligent design policy – because of a faulty voting machine at the church.

The machine didn’t properly count votes for Cashman, who has contended that he could have defeated Rehm, the winning four-year candidate with the fewest votes.

Yesterday, 621 people voted at the church and 32 sent in absentee ballots.

Joins CARES winners: Rehm will now join fellow Dover CARES (Citizens Actively Reviewing Educational Strategies) members elected to the school board on Nov. 8.

(Source: York Daily Record, http://www.yorkdispatch.com/local/ci_3371232, last accessed 2006/01/04. See also Penn Live; ACLU PA)

Oops.

Various ID advocates obviously care nothing for whether their accusations of misconduct on the part of people opposing them have the slightest grounding in reality at all. The bizarre campaign of Forrest Mims to destroy the career of Eric Pianka over Mims’s inability to grasp the simplest concepts of ecology is followed only three days later by this completely fabricated slam on Brian Rehm. Whenever an ID advocate claims that they have any regard for facts, be sure to remind them of these two cases.

Are there any ID advocates out there with an ounce of moral fiber? We’ll be able to tell because they’ll be the ones who loudly and publicly register their disagreement with Mims, Manzari, and Cooper. I suspect the list will never grow so large as to require me to take off my shoes to count that high, though I’d be pleasantly surprised if I were proved wrong on that point.

Update: As another data point on the sloppy and careless way the Manzari and Cooper article is put together ([mr.rogers]Can you say, “reckless disregard”? Good.[/mr.rogers]), consider what blogger Ed Brayton pointed out to me in their article:

According to the ACLU’s Eric Rothschild, “We think it’s important that the public record will reflect how much it costs to stop an unconstitutional action.”

Eric Rothschild is not an ACLU employee. He is a partner in the Pepper Hamilton law firm.

2 TrackBacks

The Discovery Institute really needs better lawyers. from Law Evolution Science and Junk Science on April 4, 2006 10:54 PM

The ones they have don’t seem to really know what they’re doing. A former Discovery Institute lawyer teams up to write an article suggesting that a single Dover school board member had a huge conflict of interest because that newly Read More

Several bloggers have dissected the Discovery Institute Media/Judge/Transitional Fossil Complaints Division’s pitiful response to the Nature report on the new fish-tetrapod transitional fossil, Tiktaalik roseae. The author, Rob Crowther, is just... Read More

69 Comments

Also, one more obvious point. This meeting took place on Dec. 5, after the trial stage was over and the judge was making his decision, how would the board voting to recind the policy at that date reduce their court cost? If anything it would have been a public admission of guilt (not that this would have been allowed to influence Judge Jones’ decision, as I believe the Judge pointed out himself.)

Wow. Let be the first to say:

Pwned!

Well done, Wesley, that’s one fine piece of research.

between 0 and 1 vote for Cashman

Wow. If I were designing a voting machine, I probably would have used integer math.

Are there any ID advocates out there with an ounce of moral fiber?

Nope. Next question?

It makes for a great conspiracy theory, it’d be a shame if anything as trivial as mere facts were to get in the way.

Time to submit letters to the editor at the enterprise institute, be bold and forceful, swamp them with enough letters to the editor indicating the stupidity of the Manzari and Cooper article and lets see what happens.

Time to submit letters to the editor at the enterprise institute, be bold and forceful, swamp them with enough letters to the editor indicating the stupidity of the Manzari and Cooper article and lets see what happens. Here is the address for letters:

E-mail letters to [Enable javascript to see this email address.] or Fax them to (202) 862-5867 or Write “The Mail” The American Enterprise 1150 17th Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036

From a legal standpoint could removing the need for a redress have actually affected the outcome? I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t it too late once the trial is over? Am I wrong or would the judge would still have to reach a decision, this would still set a precedent, and the board would still have to pay the opposing legal fees?

It does seem like there is a concerted effort to simply libel the snot out of anyone who the IDiots decide they don’t like, at this point. It is telling that, when their movement is under greater and greater pressure to produce results (none yet!), their behavior grows more and more bizarre.

Though I would love to see the wedge document for this new strategy. “Our goal is, having failed to replace natural methodology with faith-based reasoning, to shamelessly lie about everyone who is not Christian enough for our liking.”

I almost think it would be worth going back and doing a formal “performance review” of the wedge document…

Am I wrong or would the judge would still have to reach a decision, this would still set a precedent, and the board would still have to pay the opposing legal fees?

Changing the decision after the trial had concluded would have had no bearing on the result.

If the board had voted to rescind the policy, they still would have been liable for attorney fees, a precedent still would have been established, and judge Jones still would have reached a decision. At best, it would have accomplished nothing with regard to the trial. At worst, it would have served as a potentially influential public admission of guilt and opened the door to other suits, which is why any legal advisor probably would have told them not to do it once the point was moot.

I’m pretty sure the legal situation is that even if the school board had rescinded the policy, it wouldn’t moot the court case. There is probably some legal doctrine with a latin name for this, but basically once a case is before a court, defendants can’t just make it go away by unilaterally reversing their action. This is because the following game could be play: 1. Do something bad; 2. Get sued; 3. Plaintiffs spend months of time and thousands of dollars preparing suit; 4. Defendants drop the policy and the lawsuit goes away; 5. Defendants start the policy again, and the plaintiffs have to start the lawsuit all over. This game could be played indefinitely.

So I think both parties have to agree to resolve a lawsuit by signing a consent decree. This option was given to the Dover school board when the lawsuit was filed in December 2004, if they dropped the policy immediately, which they didn’t. The chance of the plaintiffs agreeing to a consent decree *after* they’ve gone through the expense and hassle of a trial is pretty low.

Of course, it must be added that I Am Not A Lawyer.

It’s obvious, but someone has to say it: Since when is making bizarre stuff up a new strategy for antievolutionists?

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

If ‘you know who’ doesn’t show up ‘with you know what’ now, then ‘who knows when’ we will be able to rub his nose in it all over again.

I’m pretty sure the legal situation is that even if the school board had rescinded the policy, it wouldn’t moot the court case. There is probably some legal doctrine with a latin name for this, but basically once a case is before a court, defendants can’t just make it go away by unilaterally reversing their action. This is because the following game could be play: 1. Do something bad; 2. Get sued; 3. Plaintiffs spend months of time and thousands of dollars preparing suit; 4. Defendants drop the policy and the lawsuit goes away; 5. Defendants start the policy again, and the plaintiffs have to start the lawsuit all over. This game could be played indefinitely.

“Voluntary cessation” can not moot a civil rights case once it has gone to trial (for the very reasons given by Nick). There is no existing precedent that would have allowed a non-activist judge to moot this case (and an activist judge ruling the case moot would have been slapped down hard by the appellate courts). Once it reached trial, the plaintiffs would have had to drop the charges for a decision not to have been rendered.

let me be the second to say LOL PWN3D!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111

Rescinding the policy does save fees that would otherwise have been paid on the appeal that the new Board would not pursue.

If anyone gets a response / retraction / apology from the American Enterprise Institute, could they please post it?

Um… Pardon my ignorance, but are you sure this is a new strategy?

Actually, by the lack of activity, the question is probably whether I would have to take off one of a pair of mittens to count that high.

Dear Panda’s Thumb Readers:

Seth and I made a good hearted effort to get the facts straight in this article. We acknowledge that we did make a small factual error in the paragraph about Bryan Rehm and we have moved quickly to fix it.

An editors note has now been included in the piece which reads: “Editor’s note: Correction - The Dover Board considered rescinding the evolution policy at the December 5th meeting; Board member Bryan Rehm did not participate in the consideration.”

Let the fun natured debate move forward!

Best, Joe Manzari

This is par for the course for the AEI. The day after the Dover decision, I remember listening to a segment on NPR that had one person who supported the decision and one person who opposed it. The person who opposed it was from the AEI (I can’t remember who.) and just made stuff up in his statement.

Mr. Manzari, I don’t think that works. The whole thesis of the article is based upon that one incident. Without that being true, you have no collusion between the ACLU and the board and the entire thesis of the article is gone. The entire article should thus be retracted.

Seth and I made a good hearted effort to get the facts straight in this article.

LOL.

remind not to hire you guys to do any in depth reporting.

I highly suggest NOT putting this on your resume.

Dear Panda’s Thumb Readers: Seth and I made a good hearted effort to get the facts straight in this article.

In school, that would get you a “D” (maybe a “C” in this era of grade inflation). In the real world, that effort would get you fired (good and half are not synonyms).

All in all, not very impressive.

Come on guys. These are, by and large, soul-less conservatives we’re dealing with here. They are the worst hypocrites on the planet. This attempt to slander and libel is the DEFACTO fallback position for everything they do.

related: Bush lies on WMD, Katrina nonresponse, ad nauseum.

Enjoy.

… you know, if they actually admit their intention was a constructed falsehood, at least that would imply they had some level of competence.

coming here to say they “tried to get it right” only promotes the idea of their complete incompetence.

so, Joe, which do you think you and Seth prefer to be applied to your efforts here:

intentional deceit

~or~

gross incompetence

?

“Seth and I made a good hearted effort to get the facts straight in this article. We acknowledge that we did make a small factual error in the paragraph about Bryan Rehm and we have moved quickly to fix it.”

And you still have problems with the truth.

1. You did not correct the *article*, instead there is a note at the end. So your problems with the truth are still there in the body of the article. (The proper thing to do is remove all references to Rehm in the article and append a note saying ‘in an earlier version of this article, we stated that Brian Rehm etc. etc. We acknowledge that we were incorrect. We apologize to Mr. Rehm for our error.”)

2. The editors note also has problems with the truth: it refers to *board member* Rehm not attending the meeting, but Rehm was not a board member when the meeting took place. (You can do Clintonesque/Bushesque word parsing and say that the editors note is not therefore a lie, but why not be crystal clear: Editor’s note: Brian Rehm was not a board member at the time of the decision and therefore had no part in it.)

3. You still do not acknowledge that the board’s counsel advised against rescinding (as noted in the minutes).

4. You still do not acknowledge that rescinding would not have removed the liability for costs on the part of the board.

In fact, your story is a non story. All relevant facts are in this sentence:

The Dover Board considered rescinding the policy at the Dec. 5 meeting even though doing so would not remove liability for costs, but decided not to do so on advice of counsel.

It’s true that the article now includes a correction about Rehm. Nonetheless, this is a profoundly dishonest article. It somehow fails to mention that the school board broke the law, or that the board ignored their own counsel, or that the board had the option of not going ahead with the trial and turned it down, they refer to ID as “the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design” and somehow fail to mention that Jones found it to be 100% pure religion devoid of any science.

They say “the policy itself wasn’t favored by such leading proponents of intelligent design as the Discovery Institute, which opposes mandating the topic in public schools and repeatedly urged the Dover board to repeal its policy” but somehow forget to mention that the ID instigated the entire affair, and only backed out later after the school board starting making religious statements. Instead, they refer to the requirement that science be taught in science class as “a comprehensive attack against scientists, philosophers, academics, and institutions throughout the nation.”

Well, that should teach Manzari and Cooper a lesson: Never SAY falsehoods when you can IMPLY them in sentence after sentence, in the process creating a totally false misrepresentation of the actual situation, in every respect. What is needed is a statement at the end of the article saying Correction: None of the implications in this article are in fact true.

There’s more squink in the water on this one. Though there’s no basis for the claims anymore, the DI now has fully endorsed the Manzari and Cooper position.

BTW, Francisco, Manzari and Cooper are the ones who made the initial rounds of claims concerning the morality of actions in this incident. It turns out that they were moral defectives, willing to bear false witness to a world audience, and it looks like Francisco is yet another ID advocate with a degaussed moral compass.

The article is still wrong. The body of the article implies Rehm was a “new board member” at the time of the meeting when in fact he was not. This is pathetic, shoddy research.

In fact the new version of Manzari-Cooper’s article does not anymore contain the prase about Rehm’s “clear conflict of interests.” For me it looks like a cover-up. It is good that Wesley quoted the original text, otherwise readers would be puzzled: what he complains about? In view of that deletion, the half-hearted comment at the article’s end sounds immaterial for readers not familiar with Wesley’s post to PT. Given the authors’ obvious sympathy for ID (which they refer to as “an emerging scientific theory”) there is little surprise they did not really care about facts. Manzari’s clarification sounds a bit forced by the unearthing of the real story. Good-hearted effort? Come on, guys, the record of ID advocates is too well known - they usually are prepared to lie for the “Glory of God” (Dembski’s expresion)

By the way, guys, Seth Cooper is listed as a former policy analyst for the DI but they don’t list his current job - he’s a clerk for Justice Jim Johnson of the Washington State Supreme Court. I wonder if his boss knows that in his spare time he’s writing such clearly irrational and defamatory articles.

I dunno, Ed. Why don’t you send the judge an email and see what happens?

More stuff for your information.

There was a news report of an earlier attempt to save the Dover school district a bunch of money. One wonders why Manzari and Cooper failed to mention it.

Attorney Seth Cooper advised the Dover school board not to adopt its policy and even offered guidelines for change. “We do believe a lawsuit is certain in your situation,” Cooper told Alan Bonsell, the school board curriculum chairman, in a Dec. 10, 2004, e-mail. “We strongly recommend some corrective action be taken.”

(USA Today)

This is amusing…

Seth Cooper, an attorney and legal analyst with Discovery Institute, faulted school district lead counsel Linwood Gunn for putting on “an incompetent defense.” (DI MCD)

I moved a series of sidetracking and meta-talk comments to the Bathroom Wall.

As discussed by Pim and Red State Rabble, just last week came the revelation, by Bill Buckingham himself, that the DI actively encouraged the tools at the Dover BoE to pursue their pro-ID policy (before dropping them like hot potatoes when the going got tough), thereby helping initiate the chain of events that costed the district a cool mil.

I don’t think it would be wise to consider Buckingham a reliable source.

Are there any ID advocates out there with an ounce of moral fiber? We’ll be able to tell because they’ll be the ones who loudly and publicly register their disagreement with Mims, Manzari, and Cooper. I suspect the list will never grow so large as to require me to take off my shoes to count that high, though I’d be pleasantly surprised if I were proved wrong on that point.

Should I have expected that I could be a quadruple amputee and still have the zero digits needed to count up the ID advocates willing to take issue with Manzari, Cooper, and Francisco’s shameful treatment of Brian Rehm?

As discussed by Pim and Red State Rabble, just last week came the revelation, by Bill Buckingham himself, that the DI actively encouraged the tools at the Dover BoE to pursue their pro-ID policy (before dropping them like hot potatoes when the going got tough), thereby helping initiate the chain of events that costed the district a cool mil.

I don’t think it would be wise to consider Buckingham a reliable source.

By all means, but in this case it’s up to the DI to argue that, and provide contrary evidence. And that’s where the can of worms is, because, in fact, we know that the DI provided initial consultation and material to the Dover bozos, that it also sent them literature suggesting teaching ID was constitutional, and started suggesting prudence only when a suit became clearly unavoidable. Indeed, even after the case was well underway, the DI provided external support to the BoE by allowing all its big shots to testify for the defense at the trial, until most of them ran for the hills at the eve of their depositions (thus further contributing to the trial outcome and resulting damages).

By all accounts, evidence for the DI’s direct responsibility in the financial loss incurred by the Dover school district as a result of the hare-brained pro-ID policy is far more compelling than that from any action by the newly elected BoE. It’s really not surprising that the DI and Cooper may be trying to cover their behinds now - I wonder whether they fear any further legal action against them in this respect.

Why was I not surprised to find this in Kevin Lewis’s CV (Lewis was the legal expert Napierskie consulted), under the heading Teaching and Professional Experience.

Research Clerk, Christian Research Institute Irvine, CA (Volunteer 1987-1989)

And what is the only law class he teaches?

Legal Evidence & Christian Apologetics (Graduate)

6.

Posting under multiple identities or falsely posting as someone else may lead to removal of affected comments and blocking of the IP address from which those comments were posted, at the discretion of the management.

Simply put, don’t make a jerk out of yourself.

Larry Fafarman, you are not welcome to post comments at this web site. There are many fora available that will accommodate your comments. This is not one of them. Posting here is not a right. It is a privilege. You abused that privilege, and now you do not have that privilege. This is not a game. Go create a Blogger account or haunt someone else’s forum until they, too, decide to rescind your posting privileges.

So far, it has been more troublesome to track down and remove your illegally entered unauthorized messages than it seemed worth. Threatening the PT system is a sure-fire way to make us re-evaluate that cost/benefit analysis.

AWW, I’m gonna miss “As the Wingnut Turns” and “All My Aliases” - not. Don’t woory, there’ll always be some other nut to show lurkers what we’re up against.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on April 4, 2006 12:03 PM.

Now in the “Do As We Say, Not As We Do” Dept. was the previous entry in this blog.

The Cost of Unconstitutionality is the next entry in this blog.

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