Thursday, November 30, 2006

we won't have bill frist to kick around anymore

It's a damn shame that Bill "Skeletor" Frist has decided not to run for President in 2008. I mean, all that pandering to the right-wing has been wasted if he doesn't run. And if elected, he would have been the very best President from Tennessee since Andrew Johnson. And with the superior communications technology he would have enjoyed as President, I am sure he could have conducted many many more remote diagnoses of patients in comas or other unconscious states.

Instead, Dr. Bill says he'll go back to doctoring. Not in Tennessee though, at least not right away. He'll go to poor and civil-war-stricken countries to tend to the sick.

Doesn't sound like he's retiring from politics to me. Although I wonder if there weren't financial skeletors I mean skeletons in his closet; remember the conveniently-timed sale of stock he owned in the family business, HCA. Conveniently at a time right before that stock dropped based on news that hospital admissions were lower than expected.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

oh good, another bad idea in iraq

All ideas about Iraq seem bad now, but now Nawaf Obaid, an advisor to the Saudi government, is suggesting the Saudis would protect Iraq's Sunnis if the US pulled out.

First of all, the brand of Sunni endorsed by the Saudis is particularly nasty and we don't need any more opportunity for it to be spread, especially among Iraq's relative moderate Sunnis (moderate religiously, that is).

And second, the Saudi Kingdom always seems to me just a few bad days from collapsing, with any replacement for the Saud family unlikely to include many Jeffersonian Democrats among their number. Getting involved in Iraq I have to think would radicalize and destabilize it, not to mention running the risk of entering into an armed conflict with much-stronger Iran, which sees itself as the protector of the Shiites in Iraq. Obaid even says as much in his op-ed: To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.

And that's clearly the purpose of this piece -- to scare the de facto Bush Administration into staying IN Iraq, for fear of an alternative that could be even worse.

I await the next bright idea about Iraq from the White House, toes tingling with anticipation.

the guns n' roses approach to iraq

Taking a page from Axl Rose's songbook, the White House and its cronies insist on singing, "I don't need no civil war." But to paraphrase another poet by name of Shakespeare, a rose is a rose is a rose, and it doesn't matter what you call it.

The de facto Administration and its Fox News trained mouthpiece Tony Snow are saying the mess in Iraq isn't a civil war because it isn't a place "where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power but for territory." Gosh, didn't realize the definition was so precise. I'm surprised Snow didn't also specify that the two sides have to wear blue and gray.

Now, referring to a dictionary to define something is a rather lame technique usually resorted to by 7th graders who haven't bothered to do their homework. But that is just about the right intellectual level of the Decider in Chief, so it's appropriate to do so here. At, three definitions of civil war show up. All include the idea that a civil war is between factions within a country. One of the definitions in fact OMITS any mention of a war between different regions within a country. None of them specify that the factions have to fight over a particular patch of land.

In any case, the factions in Iraq clearly ARE fighting over land. The Sunnis are fighting to retain the dominant position in Iraq they enjoyed under Saddam, where although a minority concentrated in the center of the country, they also dominated the Kurdish regions in the north, and the Shiite areas in the southeast.

In any case, the Iraqis see this as a civil war -- the Prime Minister included -- and it seems to me they should get a vote in what to call the violent bloody convulsions wracking their country. The de facto Administration is fighting THIS particular war -- the war of terminology -- because they have no clue how to win the REAL war in Iraq. The optional war, Mr. Bush's War, the war against a tyrant who was going to give weapons of mass destruction to just about everybody. Except that was wrong, too. Oops.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

given the chance...

The US has a pretty good degree of social mobility, but it is far from a pure meritocracy. Why? Because everybody doesn't have equal access to education (not to say nutrition) that can help native talent come out. For example, most sub-average students can't get into Yale and become President of the United States unless they are lucky enough to have a daddy that went to Yale (and a Supreme Court majority on their side).

But schools in Seaford, Delaware began offering programs to help get more students into college-prep and college-level courses. Many of the students in question are minority kids. And surprise, surprise, with a school making the effort and making more difficult classes available to "average" kids, more black students from Seaford are "doing well and going on to college." Other places around the country have tried similar programs, with similar results.

Monday, November 27, 2006

quit complaining

I complain, you complain, we all complain. But if you're complaining about your job today, just remember you could be doing the graveyard shift at a crappy Burger King and cleaning toilets to keep you and your two children going.

Think about it for a moment -- and then go back to complaining. Complain that you aren't one of the rich, the one in 825 Americans that makes $2 million a year, or the one in 325 Americans that has a net worth of $10 million.

And which of these groups -- the Burger King graveyard shift workers or the wealthy -- benefited more from the de facto Bush Administration's tax cuts? Bingo -- I knew you'd get the right answer.

So I'll keep on complaining.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

this science fact brought to you by exxon mobil

Lest we think Exxon Mobile is going soft, "An Inconvenient Truth" producer Laurie David reminds us of a sad fact: materials for science classes in many US schools are provided by corporate America, companies like Exxon, Monsanto, lumber giant Weyerhauser, and the American Petroleum Institute.

And the schools, fearful that grants and materials might dry up, are refusing to show "An Inconvenient Truth" to their students. So instead of learning about their increasingly-inconvenient future (which won't only damage the human species), they get propaganda lessons on climate change as imagined by Exxon's PR flacks.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

energy companies rethink climate change opposition

Now facing a Democratic Congress, and action by states like California and even the city of Boulder, Colorado, energy companies are reconsidering their approach on climate change.

The president of Shell Oil recently said in a speech, "From Shell's point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, 'Let's debate the science'?" Exxon is also reconsidering its support for anti-climate change organizations.

But don't get your hopes up. I don't think these companies have found Jesus on the issue of carbon and climate change. Rather, they are finding it harder to play defense and now want a federal standard to avoid dealing with 50 states. They say it's for clarity, but I imagine they also want something weaker than what California and other places are doing and are considering -- a pre-emptive standard to avoid some stronger medicine.

And I'm sure they'd love to have a federal standard while the science-denying de facto Bush Administration is still in office.

spy vs. spy

The story about the poisoning in London of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko took a surprising, sinister turn. The surprise isn't that he was poisoned -- it's the substance used to kill him, a highly radioactive isotope known as polonium 210. The British are Not Amused -- they have called in the Russian Ambassador.

The Soviets, oops I mean Russians, aren't copping to the killing, and even say this is a plot to discredit Russia. Tsar Vladimir, aka President Putin, blandly said "As I know, the medical certificate of British doctors does not indicate that he died a violent death. It does not say that. Hence there is no reason for such talk at all." That could be because they haven't done an autopsy yet, out of concern for the safety of the doctors. Polonium 210 is nasty stuff.

I guess it depends on your definition of "violent", eh Vladimir? Polonium 210 isn't something you can buy on-line from your friendly chemistry lab. It is one of the rarest elements on the planet, and is usually only found in government labs. And there is no recorded case of it being used as a poison before.

This safely rules the Syrians out as suspects.

Friday, November 24, 2006

sarasota and fraud that doesn't involve race horses

Lest you assume that the fact that the Democrats won the House & Senate means there was no GOP chicanery, EJ Dionne reminds us to think again. Estimates are that various voter suppression activities, Diebold "malfunctioning" machines (actually, they work perfectly well...), and mysterious "undercounts" in strongly Democratic areas like Sarasota County in Florida helped shave a couple percentage points off the nationwide Democratic total.

In other words, absent this manipulative bullshit -- I think the technical terms are "fraud" and "theft" -- the Dems would have had an even BIGGER majority in Congress starting in January.

Not to mention that President Al Gore would be halfway through his second term.

Dionne is right on this: "And if anyone still needs evidence that all electronic systems should provide verifiable paper trails so real ballots are available in the event of a recount, let them go to Sarasota."

Of course, we could just SKIP the computer bullshit and use paper ballots, still used in advanced democracies all over the world, which have a built-in paper trail AND are far, far cheaper to use.

still in saigon, i mean bloody baghdad

October was the bloodiest month for Iraqis, according to no-doubt understated official numbers that said 3709 died. And yesterday -- Thanksgiving day for Americans, but just another bloody day in the life for those living thru Mr. Bush's War -- saw the bloodiest single attack against civilians, the toll now over 200.

I'm glad the US strategy, according to the aforementioned Mr. Bush, is "victory." Now, I thought "victory" was a goal not a stragery I mean strategy, but hey I'm open to learning. Unfortunately, untold thousands of Iraqis are literally dying to know what exactly the "victory" strategy is, and when it will begin -- because the current situation isn't exactly a cakewalk.

don't screw with putin

If you ever feel nostalgic for the days of the KGB and the Cold War and assassination plots, take comfort that Putin's Russia is still up to their old tricks. The former Russian spy and critic of Maximum Leader Putin, Alexander Litvinenko, died in London from poisoning. And no, I don't think the Syrians are responsible for this one. Probably the same people that killed that investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya last month -- a murder that Litvinenko was investigating himself.

So if you decide to investigate LITVINENKO'S death, you might want to watch your back and hire a food taster. Because Tsar Vladimir I mean President Putin doesn't seem to cotton to such activities.

I wonder when Bush looked into Putin's limpid eyes and gauged his soul, if he saw the soul of a heartless assassinating anti-democratic thug. I mean, did Bush like what he saw (which would be bad), or did he just completely misread the man (which would be less bad but still bad)? Mark up another one on the score of not-so-excellent Bush judgements, probably even worse than letting Sammy Sosa be traded, but not as bad as the one that said Iraq had WMDs and would be a cakewalk...

is your sushi pure?

The Japanese Agriculture Minister and others are worried that food being marketed as "Japanese" in foreign countries ain't up to snuff, and they are trying to launch a government seal of approval for restaurants that rise to the standard of "pure Japanese."

Admittedly, there is a lot of limp sushi, soggy sashimi, and tepid tempura being sold in restaurants but this hardly calls out for government action. And how do you define "Japanese food," anyway -- one Japanese food expert points out that the tasty breaded pork called tonkatsu in Tokyo is called porc paner in Paris.

In any case, a country that has committed culinary atrocities against foreign foods such as putting corn and squid on pizzas, and mayonaise on just about anything is hardly in a position to complain about inadequately artful yakitori, or menus that dare to include sushi on the same page as Korean barbecue.

comfortable flying, and taking liberties with patents

Again Boeing and Airbus are offering ways to make flying more comfortable. We've heard that one before, ideas for comfort and elegance in the air that are undone when King-Albert-in-a-Can Airlines decide to maximize revenue by minimizing legroom. They'd put us in comas and stack us in the cargo hold if they could come up with a way to revive at least 95% of us safely. But at least the idea of improving pressurization and humidity in the cabins -- which presumably the purchasing airline can't undo -- might help a bit.

I also see that Boeing patented a seating configuration designed to minimize the number of people passengers have to sit next to. Good idea -- but a PATENT? That is another of the absurd patents that have been granted in increasing numbers, along with Amazon's one-click shopping, patents on swinging techniques (the kiddie playground version, not Hefner-style) and various other things that in my opinion woefully fail the non-obvious innovation test that is supposed to determine whether a pattent is granted. Hell, even I had wondered myself once, on a long miserable flight with me in the middle of a full row of five, why airplanes couldn't configure the seats better, so the non-obvious thing obviously fails.

I should've patented that.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

unsurprisingly, he did it for the money

OJ Simpson admits he wrote his now-withdrawn book, "If I Did It," for money to pay bills. This qualifies as one of the all-time non-surprising headlines, as unshocking as "Bush Lied" or "GOP Tax Cuts Benefit Rich" or "Bonds Uses Steroids."

Simpson said, "It's all blood money, and unfortunately I had to join the jackals." The difference? None of the other "jackals" who have written on the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman WERE THE ACTUAL MURDERER. That makes this instance just that teensy weensy bit worse...

So if you're trying to think of reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving, just thank yourself you aren't one of Nicole Brown's children, living with the man who killed your mom.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

a bad '80s flashback in lebanon

A politician called Gemayel assassinated in Lebanon, country slides closer to war, the Syrians are probably responsible. This isn't just 1980s Middle Eastern history, it's happening again this week. To quote the philosopher Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again.

Funny, a few months ago the Administration was taking extreme liberties by taking full credit for political developments in Lebanon. Nowadays, they don't seem so quick to point to what's happening in Lebanon as a positive outcome of the Iraq invasion (how's that going, by the way?).

toles on climate change

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

polygamy, coming at ya

Some so-called Mormons are stealing pages from the gay marriage movement to push for love, Joseph Smith-style. They want polygamy to be re-legalized.

Yes folks, polygamy is alive and well in the United States. Probably 40,000 or so people are involved in such domestic arrangements, mostly in Utah. To be fair, although the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints has some damn weird ideas* (and I say this as somebody who has enjoyed friendships with Mormons since high school), this practice is NOT condoned by today's mainstream Mormon Church. Ever since the church's president in 1890 had a sudden divine revelation that God really did NOT want them to practice polygamy, a contradiction of earlier doctrine that conveniently coincided with efforts to gain Utah's admission to the union as a state, the LDS have opposed polygamy. But the breakaway groups known as Mormon fundamentalists want to stick to Joseph Smith's self-serving doctrine of legalized teen rape by church leaders and their cronies, oops I mean plural marriage.

I support gay marriage. Gays and lesbians should be able to create legally binding partnerships that allow them many rights that are only conveyed through marriage, for example the right to visit their partner in a hospital. Despite the case the fundamental Mormon soccer moms try to make, I'm not so sure about polygamy, especially as practiced by fundamentalist Mormons.

Fundamentalist Mormon polygamy serves as an excuse for a hell of a lot of child rape, and causes major problems for young men in that society who aren't part of the church leadership, who can basically pick and choose among the sweet young things of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona when they want to expand their harems. Or the elders can give a young girl to a friend, instead, as a way to repay favors and solidify their near-absolute power within their community.

I think it is reasonable to establish certain parameters for marriage. It should be the partnership between two consenting adults. And both must be human (sorry, animals can't give informed consent -- the rape of dogs or chickens or whatever shouldn't be condoned).

*One unusual practice among Mormons is wearing some special underwear. I was surprised to learn today that Sikhs also have certain lingerie requirements. I knew about the daggers, but not that.

no o.j.

Apparently, major American media does retain some vestigial traces of shame. Murdoch's News Corp has shitcanned the OJ-extravaganza it planned to present us with. No book saying how OJ would have killed his wife if he'd wanted to (did he say he'd strangle her? I might have caught that in the 5 seconds or so it took me to find the remote and switch channels), and no infomercial on the Fox network featuring OJ and his publisher, Judith Regan.

Don't go claiming censorship. I think Regan and Fox TV should be free to publish/air the OJ quasi-confession if they want. And they can suffer the market consequences. Which is the REAL reason for their backing away from the project -- they began to realize the distaste for OJ Simpson in America was so great that they might stand to lose more than they would gain from what would have been the most obscene TV show ever.

Look for it on the web some time soon.

in iraq, death of a clown

In George W. Bush's modern Iraq, even the comedians are being killed. Walid Hassan joked about the problems in Iraq, including the raging violence. And now he's been found dead, shot in the head and back.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

goodbye rummie, hello pelosi

De facto President George W. Bush bid a fond adieu to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It's difficult for a president to fire one of the few people in the public eye who is less competent than you are, which is probably why Bush waited till after the election, instead of doing it six months ago when it might have helped the Republicans.

And he said hello to Speaker-in-Waiting Nancy Pelosi, and likely Senate leader Harry Reid. At his press conference, Bush uttered a sentence that made my jaw drop: "I've been around politics a long time. I understand when campaigns end and when the governing begins."

Umm, there's been no evidence of that in his Presidency. He took his one-vote victory courtesy of the Supreme Court and rode it as if he had a 49-state landslide mandate like Reagan in 1984. He snookered bipartisan-minded Democrats like Ted Kennedy into some early cooperation and backstabbed them by underhandedly changing the terms of their agreements. He made the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war into partisan issues, stopping barely short of calling Democrats "enemy combatants."

Bush's first six years in office were a permanent campaign. I'll suspend belief (despite his Texas record) that he can "govern" in conjunction with Democrats until I see some firm proof.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

it comes down to virginia

I'm mildly surprised that the Democrats did so well in the elections -- a nice majority in the House and still a good chance in the Senate. I mean, I'd seen the poll numbers etc, but I guess I was just nervous about the possibility of surprises and Rovian machinations.

But as Josh Marshall points out, look for Rove to play a big and nasty role in the likely Virginia recount -- especially if the Dems take Montana and Virginia becomes the seat that would give the Democrats control of the Senate. I'm just glad Virginia has a Democratic governor. It could get ugly, even so.

Among the many positive things from this election is the fact that redneck Senator from the Confederate I mean Commonwealth of Virginia George "Racist Fratboy" Allen's presidential aspirations have probably been killed. He is like George W. Bush without the brains. And naturally, would have had a good chance at getting the GOP nomination in 2008.

Like Mel Gibson but without even being drunk, Allen gave us a few glimpses into his real psyche during this campaign. The "macaca" flap. Reacting so publicly negatively to news that his mother had been Jewish -- it was like somebody had said she was a Nazi death camp operator. And the revelations of Allen's predilection to use the n-word, coupled with the established facts that he kept Confederate flags and NOOSES in his office.

Oh yeah, he would have been a great President.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

crisis of confidence

A study commissioned by U.S. News & World Report (but I couldn't find it at USNWR's site yet) says "American is in trouble." Three-quarters of people polled said we face a "leadership crisis."

Gosh, after six years of Bush mis-leading us at every step of the way, and the incredible pettiness and venality and corruption of the GOP Congress, I can only imagine why people are down on our politicians.

My question is, who are the other 25%???

We'll see if this crisis in confidence manifests itself in the elections today. Go and vote for a Democrat.

If you are a to-the-core Republican and can't bring yourself to do that, give yourself a break and just keep away from the polls. I mean, Republican voters have brought us the de facto Bush Administration, Tom DeLay and the other crooks in Congress, record deficits, repeated tax cuts for the wealthy, disdain for science. You've done enough. Really.

Monday, November 06, 2006

saddam verdict

I'm opposed to the death penalty on general principles. But if anybody deserves it, it's Saddam Hussein. I guess exceptions could be made for mass-murdering dictators.

Not that the trial was exactly perfect, with calls for an international tribunal rather than an Iraqi trial, the interference and influence of the US in the proceedings, and notably the hard-to-miss "coincidence" that this verdict happened just 2 days before Congressional elections in the US...

It's odd that reports say he was "shaken" by the verdict. Surely Saddam knows a show trial when he sees one? (Even though the guilt of this particular defendant is indisputable, it was still a show trial...) I guess it's possible Saddam had deluded himself into believing he would beat this rap. After all, he says he is still President of Iraq.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The de facto President and Decider in Chief has been on the campaign trail. He is helpfully explaining how if the Democrats get elected, bad guys will take control in Iraq, have access to all that oil revenue, keep all the oil off the market, and drive gas prices to $400 a barrel unless we agree to make Britney Spears wear a burka.

It simply isn't so. First, it is possible to oppose Bush and not be a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer. Second, the bad guys can't both have oil revenues and keep the oil off the market -- surely even Bush's intellect is sufficient to grasp that.

And third, Iraq simply doesn't control enough of the oil market to drive prices up to $400 a barrel. Hell, Iraq's oil has been largely absent from the markets over the past few years, due to sanctions and after Mr. Bush's War, because of insurgent attacks on oil infrastructure. And oil has never even hit $80/bbl.

So it saddens me to remind everybody that in the cause of partisan politics, Bush has made a statement that either proves he is hugely ignorant, or lied.

He lied.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

silence about that torture!

Adding insult to injury (literally), people who were imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism and subsequently released are not allowed to say anything about how they were "interrogated" during their all-expenses-paid stay at an American detention camp. At least, that's the argument the de facto Bush Administration is making in federal court.

Seems the torture methods -- excuse me, I mean interrogation techniques -- are top secret.

Allow me to express my skepticism about the true reason for the classification of these techniques. I doubt the precise method for waterboarding, or hooking electrical circuits to a prisoner's body, is information that if released would endanger the United States.

But it would endanger the Bush clan and the military and intelligence agencies if these methods were described in public, because they easily be mistaken for torture.


another closeted drug-taking bisexual republican

So now mega-pastor Ted Haggard admits he bought drugs -- but didn't use them. And admits he has been alone in a hotel room with a gay prostitute -- but didn't have sex. He didn't address the fact that the prostitute said they met every month for three years...

If you believe him, please send me your social security number and bank account information, because I want to use your name and bank account to transfer money from an African bank to the US, and naturally I will give you half of the $20 million dollars, but I'll need $10,000 up front to cover transaction fees. You'll have the money next week, honest.

Where was Haggard when Clinton said "I didn't inhale" and "I didn't have sex with that woman", I wonder? I bet he was howling for Clinton's impeachment, too.

elections draw close, last-gasp for gop

If Karl Rove and Diebold really do have the election pre-cooked, they haven't convinced the GOP candidates, because they're running scared in a lot of districts. Moderate Republicans are in trouble in several districts -- which is actually unfortunate, because if they lose the GOP becomes even more rightist. But hey, that's their fault for associating themselves with the likes of DeLay, Hastert, and Pombo, and for being part of Congress' "amen chorus" for the White House's reprehensible policies.

De facto President Bush has been out campaigning -- playing defense in districts sufficiently conservative that the incumbent Republican candidates are gambling that Bush's presence will not cost them votes. I was struck by one comment from country singer Larry Gatling at one rally -- "I tell ya what, we're gonna git Osama!"

When? It's been five fricking years since 9/11.

Anyway, the GOP has trotted Secretary of State Condi Rice out to campaign too, despite the State person usually not getting involved with partisan politicking. She denies that she's campaigning, but her steady diet of interviews with members of the right-wing media stands in marked contrast with her usual press.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"capitalists for stalin"

Anti-gay evangelist mega-pastor Ted Haggard in Colorado quits his job to fight accusations that he has been paying for gay sex for the past three years. The accusing party (all this is hearsay at the moment) says he outed Haggard because he realized the pastor was anti-gay and opposed things like gay marriage. Oh, the pastor also allegedly used meth at their monthly rendezvous. (What's the plural of "rendezvous," anyway?)

Is gay GOP prostitute/reporter/ally in the White House press conference room Jeff Gannon/Guckert on this case in either of his professional capacities? Just curious.

On that note, I have a hard time wondering how a Log Cabin Republican (in other words, a gay Republican) can remain with the Theo-Bush Republican party. It is a party that finds it convenient to vilify and smear people for their sexual preference all for short-term political gain among the GOP's base -- no not the business elites, the racists and homophobes. I know smart gay guys who are Republicans and I simple don't understand how they can reconcile the insults they take from their "fellow" Republicans.

Log Cabin Republicans -- that's like "Capitalists for Stalin."

enjoy that fishwich

A report says that at current rates, it is possible that humans will fish the seas essentially empty by 2050. Don't believe it? Think the phrase "as numerous as the fish in the sea" means "limitless"? Think again, fishwich-muncher, fisheries around the world are collapsing already.

Maybe the best/worst example is the Grand Banks, off the coast of Newfoundland (Canada) in the Atlantic. Europeans began fishing there in 1497, and it was famous for its abundance of cod. It was once said you could walk on the surface of the ocean on the back of cod.

Well, you know, a few hundred years of fishing, with increasing numbers of vessels and increasingly effective catching methods like sonar did a number on the cod there. The Grand Banks fishery is closed. Lots of fishermen from Canada and New England have had to find something else to do. Meanwhile, ever-growing fishing fleets have turned elsewhere, to new regions and to new species of fish. And they're being depleted, too.

It isn't too late to save the world's fish. The report notes that in places where humans have set up marine reserves, fish stocks have begun to rebound rapidly. But you know, we can't just keep going on with business as usual, or one day you won't be able to get a fishwich at McDonalds at any price.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

freedom of speech for military chaplains?

An evangelical Christian chaplain in the Navy (Gordon J. Klingenschmitt; amusingly the spellchecker tried to change his name to Chitterlings) is suing the Navy. He says Navy is "violating his First Amendment rights by forbidding him to pray 'in the name of Jesus' at public ceremonies."

This is quite moronic (that's a legal term). Chitterlings I mean Klingenschmitt is able to pray in the name of Jesus on his own time. The concept that certain forms of employment can lead to limits on one's freedom of speech is pretty well established. For example, Klingenschmitt and other federal employees are banned from disclosing classified information. All members of the military are prevented from publicly insulting their commander in chief (well, THAT provision was apparently suspended when Clinton was President) and from campaigning for a politician in a partisan election. Does any of THAT violate Klingenschmitt's First Amendment rights?

At public ceremonies, Klingenschmitt is presumably representing the US Navy. Last I checked, the US Navy still allowed Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Zoroastrians, atheists and pagans to join the Navy. The Navy correctly wants to prevent having chaplains push a particular religion on their time. Klingenschmitt of course is free to pray in the name of Jesus any other time he wants, and is free to discuss Jesus with any Navy person who visits him for advice or counsel.

But if you really feel that strongly, Chaplain Klingenschmitt, you can pray in the name of Jesus any time you like by leaving the Navy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

kerry's joke, tempest in a teapot

You know, judging from the media you'd think John Kerry had said that our military personnel are worse than a bunch of page-chasing congressmen. I thought the context of the joke was clear, but hey, the right-wing media is seizing on anything it can right now to slam the Dems, because there is little positive to say about the Republicans, whose campaign slogan is, "Apres nous, le deluge" (rough translation, "vote Democratic and we all die").

Also shows the dangers of trying a joke in American politics, with wilfully-humorless media and pundits ready to jump on the slightest excuse. Get it right, or stick to the facts and the insults. I always thought it was too bad that a politician like Bob Dole, who really has a good sharp sense of humor, had to hold it in while running for office. He should have been in the British Parliament, there his cutting wit would've been an asset.