No matter how many times they’re struck down, the rabid Creationists — intent on inculcating magic thinking into our impressionable public school children — just won’t stop:

The latest round in a long-running battle over how evolution should be taught in Texas schools began in earnest Wednesday as the State Board of Education heard impassioned testimony from scientists and social conservatives on revising the science curriculum. […]

In the past, the conservatives on the education board have lacked the votes to change textbooks. This year, both sides say, the final vote, in March, is likely to be close.

Even as federal courts have banned the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in biology courses, social conservatives have gained 7 of 15 seats on the Texas board in recent years, and they enjoy the strong support of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican.

The chairman of the board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist, pushed in 2003 for a more skeptical version of evolution to be presented in the state’s textbooks, but could not get a majority to vote with him. Dr. McLeroy has said he does not believe in Darwin’s theory and thinks that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event, thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion as scientists contend.

Look, I respect the right of religious people to have crazy views. For all I care, you can run around thinking that the Earth and everyone on it was coughed up as a hairball by some supreme celestial kitty.

And in certain circumstances, I can at least understand why they would expend enormous amounts of time and energy blaring their message into the public sphere. For example, as regards abortion, at least religious people genuinely believe that there is some enormous evil being perpetrated that they are trying to fight.

But when it comes to the lunacy of forcing the teaching of creationism in public schools, my tolerance drys up real fast.

First, as to the merits, a public school is a neutral venue where our children go to learn in a non-threatening environment that should respect the rights of children of people of all religions (including those with no religion at all). Creationism is a purely religious construct and, as such, has no place in a public school. Evolution, on the other hand, is a scientific and imminently secular construct and, as such, deserves its place in public school science classes.

Aside from the underlying merits of Creationism, the biggest thing that angers me about this never-ending controversy is the enormous waste of time and resources that it entails.

I mean, you can disagree with the pro-lifers all you want but at least there is some arguable legitimacy to clogging the nation’s courts and legislatures with countless abortion laws and challenges. They believe a wrong is being committed and want to do something about it.

When it comes to Creationism, there is simply no justification for the millions of dollars, man-hours and aggravation these people require. If religious nutters have a child, they are perfectly capable of raising that child on the belief that God snapped his fingers and created everything in existence in a matter of minutes, hours, days — who gives a damn? Moreover, they can teach their children about the theory of Evolution in the same way they teach them about all the other evil secular plots that lie in wait for them when they enter the secular world every day (e.g. the “gay agenda”, logic, liberal pinko commies, rational thought, etc.)

But noooo; on this one tiny fucking issue, Christianists scream, cry and INSIST that our secular public school curriculum “teach the controversy” by pitting Evolution against the equivalent of “the Tooth Fairy farted and her gas congealed into the Universe.” I say keep your goddamn Tooth Fairy Farts theory confined to your family and your church and stop wasting millions of dollars in taxpayer resources constantly fighting and re-fighting this stupid battle in whatever redneck cousin-lovin’ part of the Bible Belt feels like entertaining your bullshit at the moment.

I’ll leave the final (less intemperate) word to Steve Benen:

[T]his nonsense really needs to stop as a national phenomenon. Fundamentalists are entitled to their personal beliefs, but these efforts to undermine science education have gone on long enough. The country just can’t afford to tolerate this nonsense anymore — the competitive advantage the United States used to enjoy is vanishing, and conservatives’ anti-science push comes with too high a burden for the country.

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Gleen Greenwald makes a great point:

If it were really the goal of Terrorists to attack American prisons where their members are incarcerated and if they were actually capable of doing that, they already have a long list of “targets” and have had such a list for two decades. If U.S. civilian courts were inadequate forums for obtaining convictions of Terrorism suspects, then the above-listed individuals would not be imprisoned — most of them for life — while the Guantanamo military commission system still has nothing to show for it other than a series of humiliating setbacks for the Government. As is true for virtually every fear-mongering claim made over the last eight years to frighten Americans into believing that they must vest the Government with vast and un-American powers lest they be slaughtered by the Terrorists, none of these claims is remotely rational and all of them are empirically disproven.

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The National Republican Congressional Committee displays on their website the idiocy and tone-deafness that caused them such catastrophic losses in the last election: “Thanks to Republican economic policies, the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong.”

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A reader over at Greg Sargeant’s blog makes a poignant observation:

I’m confused. According to the right, 9/11 happens nine months into Bush’s term and it’s Clinton’s fault; however, Obama’s already being blamed for any upcoming attack. Doesn’t Obama get the same sort of grace period Bush got?

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This is absolutely outrageous:

Tamera Jo Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver in 2007 when her two children began to quarrel over the window shade and then spilled a Bloody Mary into her lap.

She spanked each of them on the thigh with three swats. It was a small incident, but one that in the heightened anxiety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would eventually have enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children…

The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

“I had no idea I was breaking the law,” said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty.

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ABC News came out with a truly astounding poll yesterday that debunked a lot of sloppy “conventional” wisdom about Americans’ views on torture.

Glenn Greenwald sums up some of the poll’s key findings:

By a wide margin — 58-40% — Americans say that torture should never be used, no matter the circumstances. Let’s repeat that: “no matter the circumstance”…

Moreover, a majority of Americans (53-42%) favor the closing of Guantanamo, with large support among Democrats (68%) and independents (55%).

[A] majority of Americans (50-47%) believe that the Obama administration should investigate whether the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees was illegal.

Say what you will about the body politic, sometimes they get it right.

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About time:

Moving quickly to reverse his predecessor’s policies on the treatment of terror suspects, President Barack Obama on Thursday signed an executive order to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year.

He also signed an executive order to require that all U.S. interrogations of terror suspects must now conform to the U.S. Army Field Manual, a move meant to restrict what the CIA can do. The presdient created an interagency task force to advise him on detainee policy.

In addition, the man tapped to oversee U.S. intelligence is promising Congress there will be no torture, harsh interrogations and warrantless wiretapping on his watch.

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James Kirchik, writing for The New Majority, has a new piece on why the GOP needs to give up its neverending fight against those scary gays:

[T]he continued propagation of policies opposed to the advancement of the gay rights agenda will doom the GOP for a generation. Given the fact that nearly 40 states have passed laws in some way or another defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the notion that conservatives should drop gay issues may seem counterintuitive. But these successes are illusory. America has witnessed a sea change in attitudes on the subject of homosexuality over the past 35 years. In 1973, for instance, 73% of Americans viewed same-sex relations as “always wrong.” In 2006, that figure stood at 56%. In February of 2004, 61% of Americans supported banning gay marriage; two years later that figure dropped to just 51%. Likewise, support for the right of gays to serve openly in the military now stands at nearly 80% (a majority of Americans opposed open service when it first became a national controversy in the early months of the first Clinton administration), and about half of Americans support allowing gays to adopt children…

Conservatives face a stark choice. They can succumb to the short-term temptation of erstwhile electoral victory and continue to support regressive policies on gay rights that are fast going out of fashion. Or they can look at the statistics, talk to their younger colleagues, coolly survey the direction in which the culture is inevitably headed, and plan accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily require the GOP to support gay marriage, just to stand out of the way of what’s coming. A properly conservative party does not just wish to preserve the useful traditions of the past, but to adapt those traditions for the future.

I suggest reading the whole article. There is a lot there and I have to run off in a few minutes to a meeting. Before I go, a few points on why the GOP needs to stop with the gay-bashing:

1. It’s the right thing to do. People are perfectly welcome to hate gay people (or blacks, Jews, or left-handed people) in their private lives. However, when it comes to the public sphere, too much of the Republican anti-gay agenda has served to demonize gay people in a truly despicable way.

2. Simply from the point of self-interest, the Republican Party would be better served by dropping the gay hate. With every passing year, the hatred and stigma of gay people lessens. In the “conservative” Tory Party in England, there are already a number of gay elected officials serving openly without much of a clamor from the party faithful. Could you imagine such a state of affairs in today’s Republican Party?

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