Friday, October 06, 2006

Odds and Ends. Mostly Odd, Though

Been a hectic couple of weeks, so, although I've been thinking many great thoughts, none of them have been set down here. But here are a few items that came across the radar scope of late. (Thanks to friends Jerry and Ron for making sure of that):

Item: "War plans: Congress OKs $20 mil for victory parties"
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The military's top generals have warned Iraq is on the cusp of a civil war and that U.S. troops must remain in large numbers until at least next spring. But if the winds suddenly blow a different direction, Congress is ready to celebrate with a $20 million victory party. ... [read it all at, 10/4/06]

Good to know that somebody's thinking ahead!


Item: "Perversion"
It took the Republicans a little more than a decade to achieve what forty years of Democratic rule accomplished - the institutionalization of corruption. The major difference is that the elephant masqueraded as a reformist, moral revolutionary. Hypocrisy is truly the tribute vice pays to virtue. These guys give Elmer Gantry a bad name.

How can fiscal conservatives continue to endorse Republican rule? How can social conservatives embrace a House leadership that neglected to expel a child predator from their ranks? How can reformists applaud the Abramoff Congress? ... [10/3/06; read it all at]

Two words: willful and ignorance.


Item: "While the leadership inside the White House has self-destructed over the revelations of a book with a glowing red cover ..."

Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, “We must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.”

Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed.

If your commitment to “put aside differences and work together” is replaced in the span of just three weeks by claiming your political opponents prefer to wait to see this country attacked again, and by spewing fabrications about what they’ve said, then the questions your critics need to be asking are no longer about your policies.

They are, instead, solemn and even terrible questions, about your fitness to fulfill the responsibilities of your office. [10/6/06; read it all at]

Was Keith Olbermann ever a carpenter? He's good at hitting nails on the head.


Item: "Lessons from the priest scandal"
What did the House Republican leadership learn from the priest pedophilia scandal? Not much, apparently. Otherwise, Speaker Dennis Hastert et al. would have followed the most basic precepts of public relations: Be honest, be forthcoming, be quick. Otherwise, politicians lose credibility and sink fast. ...[10/2/06; read it all at]

What??! Since when do cover-ups and stonewalling not work??

Item: "Republican Plan to Teach Creationism in Public Schools Will Lead to State Income Tax"
The South Dakota Republican Party adopted a resolution at their 2006 state convention endorsing a mandate for teaching creationism in public schools. Current Republican legislators were quoted in the article supporting potential legislation for a statewide mandate. [10/2/06; read it all at{FD915CBA-5D5D-4D06-A068-24B0C352B22A}&DE={9824FF0A-18D0-46D0-9A63-0D70C61B01C4}]

The South Dakota GOP seems intent on dragging this state back into the eighteenth century at best, and forcing their own warped views of reality onto the rest of us at worst. The "creationism" question was posed to several of us who have been selected for the current "Dakota Comments" panel of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader a couple of weeks ago:

The state Republican Party has approved a resolution that supports teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. In addition, a couuple of surveys indicate South Dakota biology teachers think that's not a bad idea. Should creationism be taught - in any form - in public schools?

Here's what I replied (it wasn't printed in the paper, but appeared online):

Would the South Dakota Republican Party push a resolution to teach the Civil War in gym class? Of course not: one has nothing to do with the another. So why creationism taught "alongside" evolution in science class? Creationism is not science but rather a literary device to illustrate a religious concept. It has as much business in a science classroom as in a math or woodworking classroom. Biology teachers should understand that.

Where does it belong? If a school district (not a political party) so decides, teach creationism in social studies, history, political science, current-events...and represent it truthfully, as a religious or cultural belief, not "alternative science."

What I didn't have space enough to say is this: Creationism is not "an alternative view." That implies that it's science, that it's another way of looking dispassionately at evidence and reaching a verifiable conclusion. It's like my math teacher telling me that the area of a circle is pi times the radius squared and me saying, "Well, that's what you say but I have an alternate view." In such instances, we would call the "alternate view" by its proper name, viz., wrong!