Daily Archives: February 19, 2004

Evolution Reinstated in Georgia


According to today’s AJC, the GA evolution flap is almost over. Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox has used her better judgment–with a little help from the press and public opinion.

State education officials agreed Thursday to consider revised science standards that reinstate evolution and discussion of the big-bang theory.The scientific theories had been omitted in an initial draft released by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox in January. After a public outcry, the superintendent agreed to include strengthened standards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the source initially recommended by teachers and science experts.

By last week, Cox had proposed a new science curriculum that introduces origins of the universe, specifically the big-bang theory, in middle school; and strengthened standards for evolution in middle and high school life science courses.

If this means what it sounds like it means (we won’t know until June when the final decision is made by the Board of Education), science will be making a comeback in GA’s science classrooms next fall. Of course, a lot appears to depend on public feedback–Cox seems dedicated to proposing her education courses based on polls. The re-revised curriculum will be posted and open for public comment until at least the end of May. Will a concerted fundamentalist effort to force creationism into the state’s science curriculum develop? If it does, will all the new hollering convince Cox to revise her re-revision and remove evolution again?

This business of deciding what constitutes science on the basis of the loudest voices of public opinion at any given moment has some definite drawbacks. Inconsistency, for one. And unpredictability–you’ll never know what will be taught from one year to the next until you see who screams the loudest at BOE meetings. There are some areas where majority rule is inappropriate, and science curricula is one of them.

Worry About Kerry Dept

As regular readers know, we’ve been expressing doubts about how effective Kerry will be as the Democratic nominee in the general election. Part of our hesitation revolves around his spotty record, his expedient votes, his corporate ties, and his ability (or lack of it) to generate enthusiasm for his campaign. The parts we haven’t talked much about are his long-standing unwillingness to take a stand on anything and his tendency to play it safe when campaigning. Dean–and sheer desperation–seems to have put a little iron in his spine the last few weeks, and that’s good. The question is, will it last? His campaign staff is loaded with DLC establishment-types, the same guys responsible for Al Gore’s weak performance in 2000. If they take the same approach with Kerry, I think it’s not unreasonable to expect the same result–a close election that the win-at-any-cost Radcon Republicans will have another opportunity to steal.

A recent rebuttal ad countering the Publican accusation that Kerry is beholden to “special interests” (“More Than Anyone”–requires Windows Media or Real Player) indicates that Kerry is willing to fight back when he has to. It’s a solid, effective if low-key ad that lists amounts the Bush campaign has received from some of its biggest contributors–oil, banks, Enron–and ends with a tag-line that says Bush is attacking Kerry’s record because “he can’t defend his own.” Not bad.

But then in yesterday’s Boston Globe, Scott Lehigh catalogues some disturbing observations about Kerry’s recent behavior in interviews.

SINCE EMERGING as the Democratic presidential front-runner, John Kerry has put his campaign on cautious cruise control.That’s a problem, for it has brought one of Kerry’s worst weaknesses to the fore: his penchant for equivocation. That shortcoming was on full display in Sunday’s Democratic debate in Milwaukee.

Let’s start with MSNBC anchor Lester Holt’s simple question about whether, in Kerry’s view, the Republican campaign against him has crossed an inappropriate line.

Kerry: “Well, that’s for the American people to judge.” Now, this is hardly the most important matter in the free world. But surely Kerry, whose campaign has regularly warned that he will be ferocious in countering unfair attacks, must have an opinion about whether or not the campaign has been above-board.

On to substance. Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked whether, given the loss of jobs of the last few years, Kerry would again vote for NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China, both of which are unpopular in Wisconsin.

Rather than answering directly, Kerry embarked on a discussion of the need for enforceable environment and labor standards in all future trade agreements. Gilbert: “But no regrets about those votes?”

Kerry: “I regret the way that they haven’t been enforced, sure.” That seems to suggest that Kerry stands by his votes for the trade agreements, but who knows?

That’s exactly the sort of ducking-and-covering that could sink him. It feeds the worst feelings on both sides–to his Democratic constituency it looks (and is) the kind of spineless equivocating we thought the party had learned from Dean was a dead-end loser; to his radcon opponents, it gives their charges of waffling and “He’ll say anything to get elected” conscienceless ambition substance and credibility. It’s an approach almost guaranteed to turn our side off and the other side into high gear. It seems that without Dean pushing him, Kerry may have lapsed back into his standard campaign stance: the same non-committal, talking-out-of-both-sides-of-his-mouth slipperiness that let Dean blow by him in the months before the primaries.

If Kerry thinks he can wait until the last minute in the general to come on strong and still beat Bush as he did Dean, he’s playing a very dangerous game. Gore played that game last time, and we know what happened then.

Drudge Sludge

There were two separate pieces to the Drudge Report’s Kerry slander. The first was that he had an affair with an intern. Good story except for a few minor mistakes, like: she denies it categorically and there is no evidence or confirmation that it ever happened; her family denies it; her husband denies it; she wasn’t in Washington when it was supposed to be going on; and she wasn’t an intern. Aside from that, it was right-wing journalism at its finest.

Unfortunately, once the bubble at the core of the story burst, that left the conservative press scrambling to make an issue out of the second piece: Drudge the Sludge’s accusation that the story originated from a comment made by Wes Clark. Well, now that turns out to be false, too. From NRO political clolumnist Ryan Lizza:

I was there when Clark spoke, and just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I’ve also checked with other reporters who were there. Since it was off the record (sort of), I can’t get into what Clark actually said (let’s just say it was not his finest moment on the campaign trail), but I can report that the quote Drudge attributes to him–“Kerry will implode over an intern issue”–is not accurate. He never said that.

Glad somebody at the NRO has a sense of journalistic honor. I didn’t check to see if the news had filtered down to the Corner Kids yet.

Score: Matt Drudge 0 for 2. Those of you surprised by this development should report to your local clinic as soon as possible for de-programming and therapy.

(By way of The Poor Man)

Quotes of the Day

I don’t believe there’s intelligent life in outer space. I believe they’re just like us.–Michael Feldman

No, no. Don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be connected to.–Buckaroo Banzai

Change the approach and you change the results.–Cindy Peters

Among all the things I’m going to tell you today about being a journalist, all you have to remember is two words: governments lie.–I.F. Stone

No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.–George W Bush