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Smart talk, Jan.24

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No Kennedys

Spooked by Mike Huckabee's popularity with the Religious Right, Mitt Romney was moved to give a speech about how he's a Christian too and he too wants less separation of church and state. Romney is a Mormon, and some observers compared his speech to one made by John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, in the 1960 presidential race. But Romney, like Dan Quayle, is no Jack Kennedy. Nor is Mike Huckabee, for that matter. This is what Kennedy said :

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote — where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Birds of a feather

Church and State, a religious-liberty magazine, recently named some of the Religious Right leaders who are supporting Mike Huckabee for president:

Jerry Falwell Jr.; former Southern Baptist Convention presidents James Draper, Jack Graham and Jerry Vines; home-schooling guru and Patrick Henry College president Michael Farris; American Family Association chairman Don Wildmon; Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver; Vision America President Rick Scarborough; Tim LaHaye, a godfather of the Religious Right movement and co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” novels; televangelist Kenneth Copeland. And that list is far from complete.

What's on your plate?

Sitting in traffic the other evening with not much else to do, one of our reporters noticed something odd about the Arkansas license plate affixed to the car ahead of him. Running right through the middle of the diamond in the center of the plate was a thin, squiggly line — a line that, on first glance, looked suspiciously like the famous “Double Helix” structure of DNA.

Sure there was some pro-science, anti-creationist hanky-panky afoot, we called the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration to check it out.

Roger Duren, administrator of the state Office of Motor Vehicles, said that the line is a security feature designed to help detect fraudulent license plates. Developed by 3-M Corporation, the vendor who helped design the state's latest generation of tags, the line is included on every standard issue plate and is only fully visible when a strong light is shined on the surface after dark.

Which raises a question: Are there really dastardly bands of license plate forgers stamping out illicit tags under cover of darkness? “No,” Duren said. “So far, we haven't had any reports of anybody making license plates.” Guess that squiggle is doing its job.

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