September 17, 2005

You know a paper is struggling for air when ...

It makes — and prominently announces — changes in design, format or zoning every month or so.

Well, just a month or so after The Dallas Morning News started some major metropolitan zoning changes (which in my opinion was its way to throw an on-the-cheap bone at “less desirable” suburbs, since, due to the 2004 public knowledge of its circulation overstatements, is the only sort of bone it could afford), the Snooze has done it again.

Now, the “Texas Living” section is going from broadsheet to tab. Other than allowing a full-page color picture, and theoretically a section easier to take with you while shopping at featured stores and events, what diff does that really make? As usual, it’s cosmetic.

Teach the theory of gravity? Well, maybe sometimes

The head of the Kansas Education Board, in rebuffing a plea by Nobel laureates not to undercut the teaching of evolution by placing intelligent design beside it in the classroom, basically said that — gasp — the public school classroom has no absolutes. Shocking! Does this social conservative actually realize the import of what he is saying? Probably not, but let’s line it out.
Education Board Chairman Steve Abrams, a conservative Republican who has supported the proposed standards, said he was unmoved by the scientists’ plea, which became public Thursday.

“I don’t think anything should be taught as dogma,” Abrams told the Lawrence Journal-World.

Nothing? That theory of gravity? Does that mean we should teach that the apple on the ground might someday jump into the air?

That’s to say nothing of moral issues. Should we not always teach that America is a Christian nation? Should we not always teach that unbridled capitalism is good? Should we not always teach that abstinence before marriage is the only good means of protection against STDs? Pat Robertson, after your hitmen visit Hugo Chavez, you now know where their next stop should be.

September 14, 2005

Once again, Pledge ruled unconstitutional

We’ll see if this ruling sticks

Once again, a federal district court in California has declared the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation “under God” violates school children's right to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.”

Michael Newdow, who had his case against the Pledge rejected by the Supreme Court due to its claim he had lack of legal standing to bring it, was involved again — as an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Unlike that case, the Supremes can’t easily reject this one on that ground.
Newdow, an attorney and a medical doctor, filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. Karlton said those families have the right to sue.

So, in a year or two, we will see if the Supreme Court, including presumptive Chief Justice John Roberts, actually believes that the fullest expression of the religion clause of the First Amendment includes freedom from religion. We will see just how high Roberts’ church-state “wall” is.

And we will see if, like his mentor Rehnquist, he spouts nonsense about the inoffensiveness of so-called “civic religion.”

Also, we will see if some self-proclaimed secularlists like Kevin Drum are ready for their legal rubber to hit the road, or are going to be squishes on this issue as before.

However, Karlton’s ruling was narrowly phrased and probably will not satisfy all secularists, either, as he himself admitted.
Karlton dismissed claims that the 1954 Congressional legislation inserting the words "under God" was unconstitutional. If his ruling stands, he reasoned that the school children and their parents in the case would not be harmed by the phrase because they would no longer have to recite it at school.

Karlton himself said his opinion “will satisfy no one involved in that debate.”

While I will take what his ruling offers, I fully recognize it as a quarter-loaf at best, not a half-loaf. Count me as grateful for what’s offered but ultimately among the dissatisified from the secular side.

September 13, 2005

Bush lies, responsibility dies

From his Sept. 13 press conference allegedly accepting responsibility for FEMA and other federal Katrina-response failures:
And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.

However, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff and other flunkies are still going around saying state and local officials are on the front lines in such situations.

In other words, Bush is saying that isn’t the feds' job, so he still doesn’t take responsibility.

And, until he officially disavows both the comments and the commenters, if necessary, he isn't taking responsibility.

Scoop Jackson — smoking crack with Barry Bonds

ESPN’s Scoop Jackson has obviously been smoking crack with Barry Bonds.

Or shooting ’roids in Barry’s ass. Or whatever.

Here’s the money quote:
But ... on the day after the (almost) greatest football player ever (Jerry Rice) didn't play for the first time in 20 years, and on the same day the (more distant almost) best hockey player ever (Mark Messier) called it quits, the (without question) greatest baseball player ever decided step back into the batter's box and add Deuteronomies to the King James version he's been scripturing since the day he was born.

Wrong, Scoop, just plain wrong.

There is no way in hell you can put him ahead of the trio of premier ’50s-’60s outfielders — Mays, Mantle and Aaron. And here’s why, as I e-mailed Scoop:

The first two, especially, had even more speed than Bonds, just didn't steal as many bases.

All three were light-years better on defense, Mays above all, of course.

All three (Mantle's carousing aside, or included) were better team leaders than Bonds.

Scoop, wake up, smell the coffee, look at some old film clips and getter a better sense of historical perspective than Barry Boy.