"Why do we still have apes if we came from them?" state Sen. Stephen Wise of Florida rhetorically asked a Tampa radio host in 2009. He'd just introduced a bill that would have required public school teachers who cover evolution to also discuss intelligent design. At the time, the ravings of (the ironically named) Wise looked like little more than the quixotic roars of a political dinosaur.
Wise now has a bunch of new friends in Tallahassee, courtesy of the tea party movement. They've appointed him to the chairmanship of Florida's Senate Education Committee. And guess what?
Wise, R-Jacksonville, thinks his evolution bill may have a better chance this year because there are more conservatives in the Legislature and because he chairs a substantive committee.
“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise said, referring to evolution and what he called “nonevolution.”
“You have critical thinking in school,” Wise added. “Why would you not do both?”
Maybe because, until recently, you've had a little bit of critical thinking in the state legislature.
Why can't evolutionists and creationists get along like humans and dinosaurs did?
Unlike many other states, Texas does not ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. But don't be alarmed; the Lone Star State is working on that whole civil liberties thing. Last week, Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler introduced HB 2454, a bill that would establish new workplace protections for proponents of intelligent design. Here's the key part:
An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.
In politics, as in life, scarcity is the mother of invention. Texas Democrats face a paucity of money, candidates, and votes heading into the 2012 race for US Senate. Which has inspired liberal Houston radio host Geoff Berg to hatch a brilliant idea: Draft actor Tommy Lee Jones for the job.
"If he accepted our offer," Berg says, "I don't see how he doesn't immediately become the front runner."
Jones would certainly have a lot going for him as a politico in the Lone Star State. He was raised in Dallas, lives near San Antonio, and has a cattle ranch in San Saba. Between his Hollywood connections and Al Gore, his college roommate from his Harvard days, he'd rake in plenty of campaign cash. And perhaps most importantly, he looks totally natural in a cowboy hat. He need not share the fears of the competent-yet-bald former mayor of Houston, Bill White, a Democrat who rarely doffed the state headgear in last year's race against Governor Good Hair for worry of being labeled a poser.
No doubt, battling aliens with a J2 blaster in Men in Black III would be a lot more fun and lucrative for Jones than an uphill fight against hordes of tea baggers. (Jones' publicist did not return a call). And yet. . . maybe politics is in Jones' destiny. His filmography could be so effective against Texas Republicans that he might as well have orchestrated it to pad his campaign resume. Forthwith, a map of how Jones can use his movies to win Texas (elaboration below the jump):
Campbell Fittings, a maker of precision screws and couplings used by petrochemical, mining, and construction companies, is nothing if not efficient. A typical employee in its factory in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, supervises two machines that each stamp out a new screw every 12 seconds. Yet its Chinese competitors sell nearly identical screws in the US for at least 40 percent less—well below what Campbell pays for raw materials. It's no secret why: For years, the Chinese government has kept the yuan trading at 40 percent below its true market value, making its exports that much cheaper. "I can fight companies," says Joe McGlynn, Campbell Fittings' vice president. "I can't fight countries."
The company's 75 workers aren't the only ones getting (ahem) screwed over by what is effectively a huge subsidy for China's manufacturing sector. "Chinese currency manipulation is the single biggest reason why so many Americans are still jobless," says Peter Morici, a University of Maryland business professor and former chief economist with the US International Trade Commission. Eliminating the practice, economists estimate, would boost American exports by $125 billion a year and create 900,000 US jobs. "The Chinese have figured out that this advantages them even though it's unfair," Morici says. "And they are not going to change it until we take action."
Rep. Paul spoke with me about why the federal ban on the super-fiber is further evidence of "government stupidity," how liberals and libertarians can cooperate in the budget debate, and his plans for 2012.
Mother Jones: Hemp is a natural, eco-friendly fiber with a wide range of industrial uses, none of which involve getting high. So why has Congress been treating it like an illegal drug?
Ron Paul: Because they don't have any common sense and they don't know what they are talking about and it's sort of an hysterical reaction to the drug war. If they had any sense at all they would just legalize it like it was for most of our history. So it is rather bizarre.