Michigan Board of Education Backs Teaching of Evolution

The Michigan State Board of Education unanimously approved teaching evolution:

“The intent of the board needs to be very clear,” said board member John Austin, an Ann Arbor Democrat. “Evolution is not under stress. It is not untested science.”

The vote should also prevent the teaching of creationism/intelligent design:

Gregory Forbes, a biology instructor at Grand Rapids Community College, said it appears the “doors have been shut” on those in Michigan who support the teaching of intelligent design as a viable scientific alternative to evolution.

Forbes, a supporter of evolution theory, told the state board there is a difference in scientific status between evolution and intelligent design.

“Science can’t answer all the questions,” he said. “Scientific theory has to be testable. To suggest intelligent design is a scientific theory is inappropriate because it is not testable. … It hasn’t earned its way into the science classroom.”

To follow up my last post on tonight’s debate, I should also note that the coverage of the vote included mention of the Governor’s race:

Intelligent design has also become an issue in the Michigan governor’s race.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, a conservative Christian, said last month that he approves of intelligent design being taught along with evolution in science classes, though he said the decision should be left up to local school districts.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is Roman Catholic, said Michigan schools need to teach evolution in science classes and not include intelligent design. She said school districts can explore intelligent design in current events or comparative religions classes.

Granholm Demolishes DeVos in Second Debate

It is a shame that most people in Michigan are watching the Detroit Tigers in the baseball playoffs than watching the second Granholm vs. DeVos debate as Granholm demolished DeVos. Once again DeVos avoided any specifics, while Granholm showed she had plans (even if four years wasn’t enough time to turn around the economy, especially when dealing with a Republican legislature and Republican national government). We also saw another flip flop from DeVos. In the first debate he tried to hide his opposition to embryonic stem cell research by hoping viewers didn’t realize the important distinction between embryonic and adult stem cells. This time he went even further in trying to hide his record in opposition to abortion rights.

Besides losing on the issues, DeVos lost what might be the more important test with most voters–how the candidates look with the sound turned off. DeVoss typically looked away from the camera when answering questions and had a deer in headlights look, while Granholm looked confident answering the questions while looking directly into the camera. Seeing how DeVos looked, I had the feeling he realizes his shot at politics (and using the Governor’s position as a stepping stone to the White House) is already dead.

The Michigan Democratic Party also has an ad out this week which shows how Dick DeVos is George Bush’s twin. Video here.

Republicans and Values

Just as Katrina ended the illusion of Republican competence, Iraq is beginning to destroy the illusion of Republicans being strong on national security, the Foley scandal is ending the myth that Republicans are more moral than Democrats. Eugene Robinson has an excellent column on the effect of the Foley scandal on Republicans. He explains that the view that Republicans are the defenders of moral standards is an illusion:

The Republicans wouldn’t be where they are today — in control of the White House and all of Capitol Hill — if they hadn’t portrayed themselves as the stalwart defenders of moral standards and painted Democrats as a bunch of anything-goes libertines. Republicans promised social and religious conservatives that the values they treasure would not only be respected but written into law. Even if they didn’t deliver on these promises, or even try very hard, Republicans paid enough lip service to moral issues to keep “values voters” inside the tent.

It was a political masterstroke, but it required creating and sustaining an illusion — that Republican officeholders themselves not only talked the talk but walked the walk, that in their own lives they adhered to these deeply conservative moral standards. Human nature being what it is, there was no way this illusion could be sustained.

The Foley scandal has changed the nature of the culture wars:

The culture war is supposed to be about morality, but really it’s a crusade to compel Americans to follow certain norms of private behavior that some social and religious conservatives believe are mandated by sociology, nature or God. Republican officeholders have paid lip service to this crusade, all the while knowing that the human family is diverse and fallible. They know that the gravest threat to marriage is the heterosexual divorce rate. They know that Republicans drink, swear, carouse and have affairs, just like Democrats. They know that homosexuals aren’t devils.

Quote of the Day: The Truth Was Out There

“We thought the fact that the truth was out there was enough,” he said.

“Clearly it wasn’t.”

John Kerry, speaking about the Swift Boat Liars

Republicans and A Religious Test

Religion has become an issue in a court race in Texas. Law.com quotes a Republican newsletter as saying the Democratic nominee “is reported to be a professed atheist.” The Democratic candidate denies being an atheist, but what if he was? Do we allow the Republicans to establish a religious test for running for public office? This is yet one more way in which the Republicans fail to respect the Constitution. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.)

Reaction to the North Korean Bomb

There is now some question as to whether North Korea’s nuclear test was a success. While there are a lot of unanswered questions, looking around the blogosphere the Republican reaction is amusing, but predictable: Blame Clinton, and take no responsibility for their own failures. Most likely it was Bill Clinton who snuck in and altered the teleprompter to have Bush call North Korea part of the Axis of Evil. It was also Clinton’s fault that Bush went into the wrong country looking for WMD, distracting him from more serious threats in North Korea and Iran.

In 2010 if anything goes wrong, can we follow their logic and blame everything on Bush instead of, hypothetically, President Kerry?

It is easy for Republicans to argue when they don’t have to worry about facts or logic. They start from the premise that Bush did everything right and it is Clinton’s fault, and then work from there.

Besides the knee jerk blaming of Clinton, there’s a lot of specious arguments in the conservative blogs. Arguments based upon how evil North Korea is don’t tell us anything we didn’t know. That’s a given. The controversy is over how we deal with the reality. Do we be tough and smart, or do we continue to follow the Bush policy of being tough but dumb?

The World War II analogies in many Republican posts are also specious. Defeating Nazi Germany was both the only response and a realistic response (and accomplished by Democrats). In a nuclear age such a conventional approach is no longer as simple. But that’s conservativism for you–look at the solutions of the past and ignore everything that has changed.

More discussion at Arms and Influence, The Duck of Minerva, Bradford Plumer, and Tapped.

Update: More worth reading at Unclaimed Territory and Baloon Juice.