Inhuman Swill : Politics : Page 10

Making monkeys of Americans

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[info]bobhowe calls my attention to an article in today's New York Times about a survey commissioned by a couple of Pew trusts which finds that "nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools."

John C. Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection. Mr. Green called it a reflection of "American pragmatism."

"It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' It seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists and the scientists," said Mr. Green, who is also a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Eugenie C. Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings were not surprising because "Americans react very positively to the fairness or equal time kind of argument."

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Supernovak

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A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I went to a taping of The Daily Show. Before the cameras rolled, Jon Stewart was taking questions from the studio audience and had been riffing on Robert Novak for a while. Laura whispered that I should ask a question about intelligent design, but I couldn't think of one until just moments too late. So here's what I would have asked Jon Stewart had my brain been just a trifle quicker:

"Is Robert Novak better evidence for evolution or intelligent design?"

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Memo to Rick Santorum

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Fuck you, you dissembling fuck. I heard you this morning on Morning Edition just as I was leaving for work, bloviating about how the reason the question of where our species came from is important is because if it was just random chance then there's no necessity for morality. Let me tell you, sir, that the atheists and evolutionists—not necessarily equivalent sets, mind you—I know have more morality in their fingernail trimmings than you have anywhere within a ten-meter radius of your wizened little heart. Small-minded, bigoted twits like you may not be able to envision a reason to treat each other well absent some authoritarian patriarch in the sky, but that's only because you can't even bring yourself to treat others well after your professed pal J.C. set the example. Compassion and tolerance are so much more important when life on this tiny rock is the only life we'll ever have, but your only idea of compassion is to force the 14-year-old girls you've rendered ignorant into bringing more hungry, poverty-stricken babies into the world, and your only idea of tolerance is to slither your way into one of the most powerful posts in American government and then whinge endlessly about how so-called Christians like you aren't allowed a place in the public discourse. I may not believe in God, but I do believe in evil, and you're its simpering mug. Eat primordial soup and die, but I mean that in only the most compassionate way. Fucker.

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Mike Hunt is Aiken

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Elect MIKE HUNT Aiken County Sheriff
What a weekend Laura and I just had! We arrived back late last night from three days in beautiful Aiken, South Carolina. We were invited by our dear friend Shana, who lives here in the city and was going home for the annual Aiken Steeplechase, an afternoon of horseracing that is one of the biggest events in town.

Shana's father is a successful entrepreneur and state senator. His private jet was dispatched to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to pick us up Friday morning. There were nine passengers: Shana, her sister, her brother-in-law, their twin infants, Laura, me, Shana's fellow Aikenite-in-exile Joe, and Joe's friend Matt. The jet seated seven passengers, so we were at capacity.

Laura and I stayed for the weekend in an upstairs bedroom in the senator's home in Aiken. We were treated to all the hospitality for which the South is famous (this was my first excursion into the real South), with far more caring and far less pretentiousness than I perhaps had expected.

Saturday afternoon at the Steeplechase was quite an experience. Thousands of cars pulled into neat rows around both the interior and exterior rails of the track, with boisterous but not rowdy tailgate parties everywhere. Wandering from place to place, we ended up at a central tent where Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, dressed down in chinos and a plaid shirt, was shaking hands and breaking hearts left and right.

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Make your own Bush speech

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Thanks for [info]pould, bringer of all things mischievous, for pointing out the Bush Speechmaker:

http://www.lemonbovril.co.uk/bushspeech/
You can hear my own feeble attempt here. Yours will be far more clever than this.

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Foreign orals

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Hey, everybody pop over to my friend lightningrod's journal and pester him to write about the oral exams he recently took in Washington D.C. for the Foreign Service. I've heard it, and it's fascinating stuff. Let's get him to post it!

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Maybe you caught the news this morning that, in a surprise announcement, Andrew Cuomo declared his intention of running for governor of New York. Cuomo, until ten days ago, was of course our HUD Secretary, and you probably know that his dear ol' dad Mario used to be governor here.

What surprised me was that this was a surprise announcement. What else is the son of a former governor going to do when his Cabinet appointment ends—particularly one whose family connections stretch back so far in national politics on both sides?

In all fairness, I had some, er, insider information. My friend Jonathan worked until recently for Kerry Kennedy Cuomo's human rights organization Speak Truth to Power. Kerry is Andrew's wife, and she's also RFK's daughter. Jonathan invited Laura and me to a private signing of the coffee-table book Speak Truth to Power in December, which was held at Kenneth Cole's flagship store at Rockefeller Center. Kenneth is married to Andrew's sister, and all the above-mentioned folks were in attendance at the little shindig, plus RFK Jr., who looks far more like his father than JFK Jr. looked like his.

Anyway, Jonathan told me that Andrew would be running for governor, and that he has his eye on the Presidency eventually. (Maybe he and Hillary will duke it out for the Democratic nomination in 2008—which would be an even stranger scenario than the one I sketched out for my story "From Our Point of View We Had Moved to the Left," which appeared F&SF in 1993 and concerned the Presidential Inauguration of 2009.) Andrew's intent seemed so inevitable that I guess I couldn't believe anyone would find his announcement a surprise.

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President Clinton's Final Days

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If you haven't seen this video yet, and you have a fast connection, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You won't see George Dubya making a video like this anytime soon. (My favorite part is the bit with Kevin Spacey, but I like the ice cream machine almost as much.)

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Just on the off-chance that you haven't been forwarded this in email (Michael Bishop sent it to me), you must read Michael Moore's plea to Koffi Anan for intervention in the presidential election. Really.

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A toss-up (as in cookies)

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I'm looking at a map at CNN.com and feeling like tossing my cookies. I mean, the facts aren't as bad as all that. Going into the election this morning, Gore has 181 electoral votes locked up (12 states plus DC), to Bush's 224 (26 states). Up for grabs are 133 electoral votes from 12 "toss-up" states.

It doesn't sound so hopeless for those of us who would prefer to see Gore in the White House than that empty suit George Dubya. However, if you look at the map, it sure looks scary, because Bush has most of those big empty western and midwestern states. Gore has California and Minnesota and Illinois and New York and no other geographically imposing states. Areawise, it looks like Bush has about 90% of the country in his deep, deep pockets. I feel sick.

I can't tell you how glad I am to live in a state that's going to Gore. That frees me up to vote my conscience: Ralph Nader. I'd like to see the Green Party get matching federal funds in the next election and start bringing a viable third candidates back into the political discourse. My vote for Nader in New York is not likely to hurt Gore's chances of winning this state's electoral votes.

That's why I'm so puzzled by the woman who followed Laura and me into Old Navy on Saturday. We were checking out some cheap clothing on Sixth Avenue (that's Avenue of the Americas to you out-of-towners), and the street was crawling with Democrats "getting the word out" for the Gore-Lieberman-Clinton ticket. (I had to consciously remind myself that the "Clinton" meant that carpetbagger Hillary.) A myopic woman with a bad dye job was passing out these leaflets in front of Old Navy. "Vote for Gore!" she said to us as we entered the store.

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