Daily Archives: Aug. 1, 2006

Open thread

Gibson acts like a bigot . . .

Actor and director Mel Gibson deserves all the bad publicity and career troubles he gets for his over-the-top and quite believable performance as a Jew hater. During a recent drunken-driving arrest, Gibson uttered a string of anti-Semitic curses, including, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark," Gibson said in an apology Tuesday.
Those not inclined to hold Gibson accountable say it was the liquor talking. But the passion of Gibson’s tirade seemed to come from a deep-seated and authentic place. It doesn’t help that Gibson is already suspect on this issue: He famously refused to renounce his father’s book that denied the Holocaust, and his controversial movie “The Passion of the Christ” was accused by some of containing anti-Semitic themes.
The latter charge is debatable. But on the question of whether Gibson is a Jew hater, the police report seems to provide ample evidence. Unfortunately, they don’t treat that disease at the Betty Ford Clinic.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Should churches count votes as well as souls?

The pastor of a conservative church near St. Paul, Minn., worries that the message of evangelical Christianity sounds little too much like that of the Republican Party. So, the New York Times reported Sunday, the Rev. Gregory Boyd delivered a series of sermons asking his flock to avoid politics, cut back on sexual moralizing, and stop glorifying U.S. military campaigns. He also urged them to stop claiming America as a “Christian nation.”
If the message was a dramatic departure, so was the response: The church’s fund-raising campaign tanked, and about 1,000 of his 5,000 congregation headed for the exits. Still, some of those who stayed told him they found his remarks “liberating.”
Makes you wonder how a similar sermon would go over in some Wichita conservative churches.
Posted by Dave Knadler

Not enough troops to win in Iraq?

It’s sad and infuriating to read that U.S. soldiers complain they still don’t have the troop strength to get the job done in Iraq.
U.S. officials concede that “they’ve been forced to shuffle American units from one part of the country to another for at least two years because there haven’t been enough soldiers and Marines to deal simultaneously with Sunni Muslim insurgents and Shiite militias; train Iraqi forces; and secure roads, power lines, border crossings and ammunition dumps,” according to an article by Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers,
Further, many officers said they don’t ask for more troops for fear of losing their jobs. The message has gone out that requesting more troops is a career-ender.
President Bush has repeatedly said he will send more troops if commanders on the ground request them — but privately, some commanders say the Bush team has made it clear they don’t want to hear about the need for more troops.
What an inexcusable tragedy if, for political reasons, America is not giving its young men and women the resources to prevail.
According to Kenneth Pollack, a respected former National Security Council official, “The numbers should probably be roughly double what they are. We are seeing the right plan but completely inadequate resources to make it work.”
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Sen. Kennedy vs. Edwards and Alito

Well, the votes from the Supreme Court’s last term have been tallied, and Sen. Edward Kennedy has weighed in with the results: the Senate made a big mistake in confirming John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the high court. The senator faults the two Bush appointees for what he terms “an activist’s embrace of the administration’s political and ideological agenda.”
Sen. Kennedy writes in the Washington Post: “Our new justices consistently voted to erode civil liberties, decrease the rights of minorities and limit environmental protections. At the same time, they voted to expand the power of the president, reduce restrictions on abusive police tactics, and approve federal intrusion into issues traditionally governed by state law.”
That Sen. Kennedy should conclude this is not surprising, since he lost no opportunity to impugn the two men during their confirmation hearings. But he does cite specific cases and notes, interestingly, that the two men voted together in 91 percent of all cases.
He concludes with a call for reforming the confirmation process to focus more on candidates’ actual records and legal thinking, with less emphasis on the short rounds of Senate questions that often come off as grandstanding.
Posted by Dave Knadler

Don’t buy claim about definition of science

Biology professor John Richard Schrock reports in a commentary on today’s Opinion page that one of the speakers at the State Board of Education’s evolution hearings last year claimed that Kansas had the only state science standards based on nature. As Schrock notes, that’s absolutely not true. Yet it is a line that is being repeated by socially conservative State BOE candidates and their backers in an attempt to make the board’s actions seem reasonable.
For example, Republican incumbent Ken Willard of Hutchinson (in photo) told The Eagle editorial board that “Kansas had the most restrictive definition of science of any state in the union.” And he claimed that all the State BOE did in removing the phrase “based on natural phenomena” was make our definition of science reflect the other states.
Baloney. This radical redefining of science was a big reason why the State Board’s own science standards committee and so many national experts and science groups object so strongly to the new standards.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee