Thursday, December 22, 2005

Idiot Santorum

Just as I am about to call it a day, old Rick Santorum does something I just can't pass up.

Santorum today withdrew his affiliation from the Thomas More Law Center, the Christian-rights law center that defended the Dover, PA, school district's policy mandating the teaching of "intelligent design."

Santorum earlier this year praised the Dover Area School District for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.


Santorum claimed, "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did."

Gee, Rick, would you have dropped them if the Center had won? Would you have dropped them if you were 16 points ahead of Bob Casey instead of 16 points behind?

Does Senator Santorum think the voters are too stupid to see through this transparent flip-flop? Actually, he does, because the man is none-too-bright.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think it is a pre-requisite that you have an IQ score of 200 to be a Senator. I would just feel more comfortable if our junior senator had a score that was closer to 3 digits than 1.

Idiot Senator

This submission will be mercifully short, because it's about the intelligence of one of my state's senators, Rick Santorum. The man is painfully stupid, as was evident by his appearance on today's Sean Hannity radio show.

The only thing that I can say that is positive about Santorum is that he is now 16 points down to Democratic challenger Bob Casey. And Casey hasn't even begun campaigning, while Santorum has been running a bunch of ads for over a month.

Santorum is telegenic, but so was Michael Huffington, the former CA senatorial candidate (and former husband of Arianna Huffington). Both are, what they say down in TX, "all hat and no cattle."

I can't wait for a debate between the two, though I am afraid that Casey will beat Santorum so badly that maybe voters will feel sorry for Santorum. Unlikely, but this is a state that right now shows Lynn Swann running only 4 points behind Gov. Ed Rendell. Swann's major political claim to fame is that he was a great Pittsburgh Steeler receiver. I guess he is trying to be PA's version of J.C. Watts.

I have to say that I moved to an interesting state politically. Now, if they could just do something about finishing repairing the highways ...

Idiot TX decision

Trustees of the Ector County Independent School District decided, 4 to 2, on Tuesday night that high school students would use a course published by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools for studying the Bible in history and literature. The council is a religious advocacy group in Greensboro, N.C., and has the backing of the Eagle Forum and Focus on the Family, two conservative organizations. A biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University, Mark A. Chancey, said the book had factual errors, promoted creationism and taught that the Constitution was based on Scripture.

ECISD is in Odessa, TX -- the same part of Texas that President Bush likes to hang out in. I also taught in West Texas -- Texas Tech to be exact. People in West Texas (maybe most of Texas, though I only lived in West Texas) have this "Don't Mess With Texas" attitude. They feel that if they don't like something -- even the Constitution -- then they'll behave however they feel is right. That's clearly how our president operates. The eavesdropping policy revealed in the New York Times last week is, at best, Constitutionally shaky, and completely unnecessary (you can wiretap first, then get a warrant within the next 72 hours), yet the president doesn't care -- he's declared he's going to continue to do it anyway. That's the West Texas way.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Idiot Policy 2

"It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

That was the President's reaction today about the revelation of the idiotic policy of illegally eavesdropping on citizens' international phone calls and emails. Of course, the President was emboldened by the following statement by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

"Our position is that authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11, constitutes that other authorization ... to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."

I'm confused. Force = eavesdropping?

Then Gonzales admitted:

"One might argue, now wait a minute, there's nothing in the authorization to use force that specifically mentions electronic surveillance."

OK, so is it really legal?

It should be noted that when this policy was developed, Gonzales was the White House counsel, the same person who said detainees realy had no rights.

The White House has also said that Democratic leaders were informed, and that they had no objections to the program. Yet, Bob Graham, who was head of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, said he was never informed of the specifics of the program, and both Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller say they objected.

Someone has some 'splainin to do.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Idiot Policy

I was going to entitled this post "Idiot Bush". While I don't have any problem thinking George Bush is an idiot, he is our president, and I hesitate to demean the office. But, I am comfortable calling a policy idiotic.

This policy of eavesdropping on international communications by our citizens is idiotic on so many different levels, not the least of which is that we're holding ourselves up to be this bastion of freedom to the world, while, at the same time, we're engaging in a policy that authoritarian regimes do regularly.

The only good thing about the policy is that it has given cover for the few Republicans who know that the Patriot Act is abhorrent, but who are also afraid of the radical right.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Idiot Limbaugh II

Survived another term of grading, so it's now back to ranting.

Overall, today has not been a bad day for Americans. The election in Iraq went as smoothly as we could have hoped, the president was forced to accept the "no-torture" amendment proposed by John McCain, and the Senate was not able to overcome a filibuster of the Patriot Act. Maybe some of our civil liberties will be restored.

On the other hand, there is the story in the New York Times about Bush ordering the National Security Agency to secretly monitor citizens' international phone calls and emails. The reaction by the conservatives is typified by Rush Limbaugh. Rather than be offended by the violation of citizens' privacy, he is calling for the Attorney General to investigate who leaked the story to the Times.

Of course, this is a man who calls himself "America's anchorman", not understanding that the primary function of the news media is surveillance of the environment, not opinion dissemination. We should be aware when the government violates our rights.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Idiot Limbaugh (First of a long series, I'm sure)

Rush Limbaugh is one of the conservative idiots out there doing major damage to our political discourse. Beyond the fact that he can't come up with a solid argument to save his life, he distorts the facts beyond recognition when he doesn't outright lie.

Here's an example from today. In reporting the results from the latest New York Times/CBS poll, he tells his audience that there are contradictory findings. For example, here's one question from the poll:

66. Do you think the United States should or should not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq?

Should Should not DK/NA
7/13-14/05 CBS 55 40 5
12/2-6/05 58 39 3

Note --The question asked about setting a timetable, not withdrawing now. Yet, that's what Limbaugh indicated to this audience. A timetable may be established so that troops are withdrawn months or years from now. That's not the same as immediate withdrawal.

Another question.

67. If the U.S. withdrew its troops from Iraq now, do you think the threat of terrorism against the United States would increase, decrease, or stay about the same?

Increase Decrease Stay about the same DK/NA
8/29-31/05 32 11 54 3
12/2-6/05 40 8 49 3

The question asked about withdrawing troops now, not setting a timetable for withdrawal, which is John Murtha's position (plus, he calls for redeployment, not withdrawal). Yet, Limbaugh says this finding contradicts the first one.

Another question:

68. If the U.S. withdrew its troops from Iraq now, do you think there would be more violence in Iraq than there is now, would there be less violence than there is now, or about the same amount of violence as there is now?

More Less About the same amount DK/NA
8/29-31/05 CBS 48 11 37 4
12/2-6/05 46 12 38 3

Again, the question asks about withdrawing troops now, not according to a timetable. Still, Limbaugh states that if we follow what John Murtha wants, the American people believes that there will be more violence. But, that's not what the question asked.

One more question Limbaugh tackled:

73. If your representative in Congress called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would that make you more likely to vote for that representative, less likely to vote for that representative, or wouldn't it make much of a difference to you?

More Less Not much difference Wouldn't vote (vol.) DK/NA
12/2-6/05 21 36 40 1 2

Limbaugh made a big deal about how 36% would be less likely to vote for a representative of Congress who called for an immediate withdrawal. He claimed that representatives taking this position would be "punished" at the polls. Yet, 40% said it would not make any difference, and 21% would be more likely. And, again, the question talked about immediate withdrawal, not about a timetable.

Here's a question Limbaugh didn't report. Wonder why?

70. Do you think George W. Bush has a clear plan for victory in Iraq, or hasn't hedeveloped one yet?

Has a clear plan Hasn't developed one yet DK/NA
12/2-6/05 25 68 6

Two and one-half times as many respondents don't believe the president has a clear plan for victory in Iraq. That's pretty bad news for the president. That's not newsworthy according to Rush.

It's times like these that I wish there still was a Fairness Doctrine.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Idiot University of Kansas II

Paul Mirecki, the University of Kansas professor whose proposed course on intelligent design drew the wrath of religious fundamentalists, was beaten by two men yesterday morning. Mirecki was driving into work in the early morning when he noticed a truck tailgating him. When he pulled over, two men beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object. Mirecki suffered cuts and bruises as well as a broken tooth. While he was being beaten, the two men assailants made reference to the intelligent design controversy.

In addition to his proposed course, Mirecki stirred up further controversy by referring to religious fundamentalists as "fundies" and that his proposed course would be “a nice slap in their big fat face.” Under pressure from the University of Kansas administration, Mirecki cancelled the class last week.

The troubling part of this story is that it appears violence -- verbal and physical -- is fast becoming a substitute for rational discourse. This should not be surprising, especially when the success of right wing talk shows on the radio and on Fox News is based not on the fact that hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly have better arguments, but are louder and more verbally aggressive than everyone else.

Milton believed in the self-righting principle of the marketplace of ideas -- that in a battle of truth versus falsehood, truth would win out. I wonder what Milton would think today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Idiot University of Kansas

I tell you -- the best thing that ever happened to Dorothy was getting out of Kansas. Too bad she never realized that,

First, we have the Matthew Limon case, where he was sentence to 17 years for having sex with a 14-year old boy when, had he had sex with a 14-year old girl, he would have served only about 4 years.

Now we have the University of Kansas, gutless wonders of the midwest. Paul Mirecki, a Harvard-trained theologian and head of the university’s Religious Studies Department, was scheduled to teach a course examining Creationism -- oh, excuse me, Intelligent Design -- in the spring entitled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies". Mirecki is no fan of Creationism, and that's no secret at the university. However, he made the mistake of publishing comments to a listserve that attacked religious fundamentalists. As a result, the university has cancelled the course for the spring. The university claims the course will be taught in the future, though they are not sure when or who will teach it. In addition, they claim that it was Mirecki's comments, and not pressure from relgious groups, that caused them to cancel the course.

Right. Sure. Of course.

Let's see, an environment when you hear the following doesn't lead to making a decision that flies in the face of academic freedom:

State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican, doesn't want Mirecki to teach religious studies courses. “It’s hard to teach religion if you don’t believe in it.” She also wants hearings when the Legislature resumes next month. She said she wants to know whether professors are exhibiting any intolerance. “It may show we’re not providing fair and balanced opportunities to our students.”

Sen. Kay O’Connor, an Olathe Republican: “We’re not in the taxpayer-funded hatred business. Why should taxpayers give him [Mirecki] an opportunity to profess his hatred for Christians?”

I feel sorry for Paul Mirecki. I bet he wishes he wasn't in Kansas anymore.