Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 08.31

Newsworthy

Regnerus cleared. The University of Texas at Austin has found no evidence of scientific misconduct by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology whose study on the effects of homosexual parenting created controversy when published in June. Of course, the politically correct university couldn't resist noting that just because there was no evidence of falsification of data or other unethical practices, it does not mean the study isn't "seriously flawed." As part of the inquiry, the university examined Regnerus' computers, email, and grant applications. According to the university's report, "None of the allegations of scientific misconduct … were substantiated either by physical data, written materials, or by information provided during the interviews."

RNC ends. The Republican National Convention ended in a somewhat surreal manner last night, with Clint Eastwood, who sometimes portrayed "The Man With No Name," talking to "The Chair With No Occupant." It was an odd bit of political theatre, and it may end up dulling whatever bounce the GOP hoped to get out of the Isaac-shortened convention. Also buffering the bounce is the Labor Day holiday and the Democratic National Convention, both of which will deprive the RNC of media oxygen in the days ahead. Right now, President Obama has about a 1-point lead over Mitt Romney in national polls. Compare that to four years ago: On Aug. 31, 2008, Obama had more than 3 points on John McCain. Obama ended up winning by a 7.6 percent margin. All of this raises the stakes significantly for the DNC next week in Charlotte, N.C. Stay tuned.

Hispanics rising. One of the goals of the Republican convention was to reach out to Hispanics. Platform speakers included New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation's first Hispanic woman governor. One of Mitt Romney's sons, Craig, delivered a portion of his speech in Spanish. All this outreach is for good reason. Hispanics are now the largest minority in the nation, representing about 15 percent of the population. And a new study from the Center for Immigration Studies project that Hispanics will be 8.9 percent of the electorate in 2012-a 1.5 percentage point increase from 7.4 percent in 2008. Steven Camarota, the Center's director of research, said, "While Hispanic voters are a small share of the electorate, in a close election they could decide the outcome." States where Hispanic voters will make the biggest difference are the toss-up states of Colorado and Florida, both of which need to go Romney's way if he is to have a chance of winning.

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A little palate cleanser. Amidst all these weighty matters, I can't help indulging in a few reflections on the greatest game in the history of mankind: baseball. This is a particularly interesting season, with tight races in five out of the six divisions. Only the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division appear to be a lock at this point. Chipper Jones is having a glorious final year with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .304 with 13 home runs. And he still occasionally turns in an amazing play at third base. Jones is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I sometimes wonder if he didn't regret the decision to retire just short of 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Only four other players in baseball history have achieved both milestones: Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Eddie Matthews, and Rafael Palmiero. Anyone who gets to this level can make an argument, at least, to the title of Greatest Player of All Time. But Jones has reaffirmed his intention to retire. His knees haven't let him play a full season in years, and he says he's "made promises to his family" that he intends to keep. Hard to argue with that.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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