Saturday, December 31, 2005
Is Santorum dead meat?
Our favorite christian prostitute, Senator Rick Santorum, may be in some real hot water when he goes up for re-election in 2006. He faces a tough opponent in Democrat Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., whom he trails by 12 points right now.
Nationally, Democrats have their sights on Santorum, considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election. On social issues in particular, he has alienated many swing voters in the battleground state. A poll in December by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University poll showed Santorum trailing 12 points behind Casey â€” up five points from an earlier survey.
To Democrats, Santorum presents an opportunity to take out a senior senator of the other party â€” just as Republican John Thune did in South Dakota last year when he upset then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. Democrats haven’t elected a Pennsylvanian to a full term in the Senate since 1962.
For his part, Santorum said he considers the Democrats’ determination to kick him out a badge of honor.
Voters in Pennsylvania seem to want a Senator who will focus on their state, not on the success of Wal-Mart and the Outback Steakhouse:
Casey told the AP that voters want a senator focused on Pennsylvania priorities.
“What they see with Senator Santorum time and again is a lot of ideology and special interests,” Casey said. “That’s why people are demanding change.”
I guess Pennsylvania voters are tiring of a Wal-Mart owned Senator who screws workers and helps ship jobs to communist China. And this is the guy who is the shining light of the talk-religion-walk-corporate conservative movement. I can’t wait for him to go down.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Look Back in Anger
It as though it was all for naught, that fight a mere three decades ago.
"You know who I am,” he said
The speaker was an angel
He coughed and shook his crumpled wings
Closed his eyes and moved his lips
“It’s time we should be going.” - David Bowie, “Look Back in Anger"
Like some plague that lay fallow for some years, or the nice man next door who quietly kills and buries children in his back yard, the monster that was the Nixon Administration is with us still, more dangerous and evil than ever. It has gone about its work after so many thought that a resignation had ended it, while it quietly went about its business spreading authoritarianism throughout this country and throughout the world. The Nixonites, lovers of spying and character assassination and death squads, are stalking the land proudly again, daring ANYONE to stop them. Only now we call them the Bush Administration, yet this is only another name for a nameless evil.
Nixon famously claimed, after resigning from office, that when the president undertook an action in the name of national security, even if he broke the law, it was not illegal.
Nixon’s thinking (and he was learned in the law) relied on the precedent established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Nixon, quoting Lincoln, said in an interview, “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation.”
David Frost, the interviewer, immediately countered by pointing out that the anti-war demonstrators upon whom Nixon focused illegal surveillance, were hardly the equivalent of the rebel South. Nixon responded, “This nation was torn apart in an ideological way by the war in Vietnam, as much as the Civil War tore apart the nation when Lincoln was president.” It was a weak rejoinder, but the best he had.
Nixon took the same stance when he responded to interrogatories proffered by the Senate Select Committee on Government Operations To Study Intelligence Operations (best know as the “Church Committee,” after its chairman Senator Frank Church). In particular, he told the committee, “In 1969, during my Administration, warrantless wiretapping, even by the government, was unlawful, but if undertaken because of a presidential determination that it was in the interest of national security was lawful. Support for the legality of such action is found, for example, in the concurring opinion of Justice White in Katz v. United States.” (Katz is the opinion that established that a wiretap constitutes a “search and seizure” under the Fourth Amendment, just as surely as a search of one’s living room does - and thus that the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements apply to wiretapping.)
Nixon rather presciently anticipated - and provided a rationalization for - Bush: He wrote, “there have been - and will be in the future - circumstances in which presidents may lawfully authorize actions in the interest of security of this country, which if undertaken by other persons, even by the president under different circumstances, would be illegal."
It is no suprise that many of the architects of Bush’s policies, Cheney, Rumsfield, Negroponte, Poindexter and others were all survivors of the Nixon Administration and the Reagan/Bush I Administrations. They have nurtured and incubated those dreams of unbounded Executive power. That they escaped any punishments for the crimes committed during those years served only to embolden them, strengthen them, to give them the time to groom and elevate younger acolytes to other positions of power. Many of them were also involved in Iran/Contra, BCCI and our support of dangerous regimes in Latin America. They’ve brought the Salvador Option to Iraq and Afghanistan, adopted purported legal frameworks for torture and murder. Like roaches that survived a nuclear blast, they have spread and continue to run over anything in their path, dragging the best and most noble traditions of this country into disrepute.
No one seemed to hear him
So he leafed through a magazine
And, yawning, rubbed the sleep away
Very sane he seemed to me - Bowie, Ibid
When our children’s children look back at us in anger, they will ask about “good Americans” the way people now wonder about all of the “good Germans” before World War II. “Where were they?” they will ask. There are those who are fighting, have fought, continue to protest, but it all seems so futile. The ACLU has done excellent work on the recent revelations of spying, including placing new ads highlighting how Nixonian this White House is. Human Rights Watch, Senator Russ Feingold, Congressman John Conyers Jr., Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Mama D and so many others have tried to fight for our better angels, but overall the American people remain quiescent. The thousands who take to the streets, who write and call and cry in protest of this country’s crimes seem to be screaming into a howling wind, their voices ripped away and drowned by the chorus of war and plunder, the silence of the majority providing no comfort.
As this terrible year comes to a close, as this half-decade of a new Century grinds to an end, how will we look back on it with anything other than sadness and raw, impotent fury? Is it even possible for enough popular will to override the combined power of the military-industrial complex, the various authoritarian fundamentalist religious groups and Big Money from rapacious Wall Street for this tide to be turned back? We can look back at this past year, as the anger so many of us have felt since the election was stolen at the dawn of this dark century has slowly spread to our fellow citizens and wonder, is it too little, is it too late?
As a blood red dawn breaks the horizon of a New Year, lets hope that the chorus of protest grows louder, that it’s not too late, that perhaps in some future time we can look back not in anger, but in pride of a victory snatched from the jaws of certain defeat. Impeachment and indictment need to be our battle cries, and this time they must be pursued by all means necessary. This time the monster must be put down, burned, it’s ashes scattered and the soil from which it grew salted with lime. Lets not leave this terrible legacy to the future, or else we will be remembered as “good Americans”, and people will say those words with sad disgust.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The Boy King's (and his Regent's) Eager Courtiers
The Editors: We’ll take three cards.
Dick Cheney: Give me one.
Sounds of cards being placed down, dealt, retrieved, and rearranged in hand. Non-commital noises, puffing of cigars.
TE: Fifty bucks.
DC: I’m in. Show ‘em.
TE: Two pair, sevens and fives.
DC: Not good enough.
TE: What do you have?
DC: Better than that, that’s for sure. Pay up.
TE: Can you show us your cards?
DC: Sure. One of them’s a six.
TE: You need to show all your cards. That’s the way the game is played.
Colin Powell: Ladies and gentlemen. We have accumulated overwhelming evidence that Mr. Cheney’s poker hand is far, far better than two pair. Note this satellite photo, taken three minutes ago when The Editors went to get more chips. In it we clearly see the back sides of five playing cards, arranged in a poker hand. Defector reports have assured us that Mr. Cheney’s hand was already well advanced at this stage. Later, Mr. Cheney drew only one card. Why only one card? Would a man without a strong hand choose only one card? We are absolutely convinced that Mr. Cheney has at least a full house.
Tim Russert: Wow. Colin Powell really hit a homerun for the Administration right there. A very powerful performance. My dad played a lot of poker in World War 2, and he taught me many things about life. Read my book.
The sad thing is, you can actually imagine Russert saying exactly something like that. In fact, as I pointed out yesterday with NEWSFLASH, our courtier press have been eager enablers since the Bush Administration stole the Oval Office.
This is MSNBC’s O’Donnell interviewing a former CIA agent who is critical of Bush’s non-existent hunt for Osama:
O’DONNELL: So, Gary, you say that you knew where Osama bin Laden was and the president says he was in a cave with a door on it.
BERNTSEN: Well, let me say this. We tracked bin Laden with our reporting from Kabul, down to Nangarhar Province, into Jalalbad, down into the mountains. We had a steady stream. But, you know, every once in a while you get a report that says he’s off, you know, in left field.
Here at this place or that place, but when you get a line of reporting, a stream of it, and we’re marking it on a map, we can see consistently, you know, which way he’s moving and from multiple sources. And then, of course, we were listening to his voice on an unencrypted radio.
O’DONNELL: Can I ask you, Gary, are you a Democrat?
BERNTSEN: No, I’m a Republican. And I’m a loyal supporter of the president and I think the president is doing a good job in the fight on terrorism.
Yup, a critic MUST be airing their criticism to pursue a partisan agenda. This ISN’T what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said, "The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being.â€? No, this is the behavior of a slavish courtier before a ruthless monarchy, or a hanger-on cheering on the mobster cheating his way to a winning hand in poker. This is yet another example of how the overpaid press corps in this country, and ESPECIALLY the shameless talking heads on cable, have failed their responsibilities.
Matthews, the usual host of “Hardball” (what a joke THAT name is, with his relentless ass-kissing of the Bush Administration), has of course perfected this sort of behavior for years now, a marked contrast to the endless scorn he heaped on the Clinton White House. In fact, Media Matters has “rewarded” him for his endless lying and shilling with their Misinformer of the Year award:
Since our launch in May 2004, Media Matters for America has monitored, analyzed, and corrected conservative misinformation in the media, wherever and whenever we find it. As you may remember, last year our staff conducted an extensive review of all the misinformation we identified and corrected in the early days in order to name the first annual “Misinformer of the Year.” We singled out one particularly egregious purveyor of falsehoods and awarded Bill O’Reilly the dubious title. O’Reilly graciously accepted the award on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.
This year, of all the news anchors, columnists, pundits, and reporters whose work we’ve critiqued and corrected, one man stands alone as a clear successor to the O’Reilly throne. We are pleased to announce broadcast journalist, former newspaper bureau chief, former presidential speechwriter, and best-selling author Chris Matthews has earned the title of 2005’s “Misinformer of the Year.” At times, it has even been difficult to tell the difference between 2005’s Misinformer of the Year and his predecessor.
One wonders why the Bush Junta bother to buy favorable coverage when the vast majority of the corporate press are eager to suck up and repeat distortions and lies in order to bask in the glow of “access”. Despite what Brokaw and Koppel so blithely agreed, there has been easily obtainable counterpoints to Republican lying, cheating and stealing, much of it hidden in plain site and only a google search away.
Back to the Poor Man:
TE: Wait! It’s not even a straight! You’ve got a eight and ten of hearts, a six of clubs, and the seven and five of diamonds. You have a ten high. That’s nothing.
Sean Hannity: Well, well, well. In another sign of liberal desperation, liberals now complain that a ten high is “nothing”. Does ten equal zero in liberal mathematics? That would explain a lot.
Robert Novak: It’s a perfectly valid poker hand. Apparently, liberals have never heard of a “skip straight”. It’s a kind of straight, just with one card missing. But if you skip around the missing nine, it’s a straight.
Alan Colmes: Mother says I mustn’t play poker.
TE: There is no such thing as a “skip straight”.
Brit Hume: It seems like some people are still playing poker like it’s September 10th. Back then, you needed to have all your cards in order to claim a straight. But, as we learned on that day, sometimes you won’t have perfect knowledge. Sometimes you have to learn to connect the dots, and see the patterns which are not visible to superficial analysis of the type favored by the CIA and the State Department. Dick Cheney’s skip straight is a winning poker hand for the post-9/11 world.
Rush Limbaugh: Do The Editors have two pairs, or a pair of twos? First they say one thing, then another. What are they hiding?
Andrew Sullivan: Dick Cheney never said he had a straight. He was very careful about this. His cards can form many different hands. None of these hands alone can beat a pair of twos; but, taken together, the combination of all possible hands presents a more compelling case for taking the pot than simply screaming “Pair of twos! Pair of twos!” as unprincipled liberal critics of the Vice President so often do.
I know it’s just a parody, but it seems so much like flipping through the channels on a Sunday morning.
(Some) Forgotten Stories of 2005Well as 2005 draws to a close, I thought it was time to look back on all the forgotten stories over the past year.
Some of them made quite a furor when they first broke, but were soon forgotten. Others were barely recognized at all. Either way, these are the top stories which I feel should've been covered more, or updated, but weren't. My apologies to any and all stories which even I, in my humble effort to be comprehensive, have missed:
The Firing of General Kevin Byrnes - Byrnes, a 4-star general, was dismissed in early August, just weeks before he was set to retire, allegedly because of an affair with a civilian. Byrnes at the time was married to someone else, but legally separated and in the process of getting a divorce. While his behavior was certainly not technically permissable, publically shaming him literally just a few days before his scheduled retirement was seen as politically motivated. After a lot of public fuss, the issue dropped off the headlines. Byrnes was quietly replaced as head of the military's training division and no explanation for the public humiliation ever came forth.
Election of Insulza as OAS President - On the face of it, the election of a new Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) was no big deal when it occurred in May. Every country in the hemisphere (except for Haiti and Cuba) voted for a new Secretary General. The real impact of the story, about which I wrote in-depth here, was that Insulza was the first OAS SecGeneral in history who was not backed by the United States.
In fact, the U.S. lobbied hard for other candidates, one of which who withdrew after a scandal (Flores of El Salvador) and the second (Derbez of Mexico) because his close ties with Washington actually hurt his chances. The increasingly strong leftist bloc of South America, led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, rallied around Insulza, who served under Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a 1973 coup sponsored by the United States. For the first time in United States' history, American hegemony over the hemisphere, in the tradition of the "Monroe Doctrine", was broken. Absolutely huge story, yet barely covered in the mainstream media.
Elections in Bolivia and Uruguay - Both countries held presidential elections, both of which I should mention were judged free and fair in the democratic tradition, to elect "leftist" presidencies. Combined with the growing regional influence of Venezuela and Brazil, South America has increasingly become independent of the United States, something literally unknown in the post-colonial period of the hemisphere.
Non-Election in Haiti - In February 2004, the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown in a coup fostered and financed by the United States and France. Despite the Haitian Constitution, which calls for fresh elections 90 days after the loss of a president, and a prohibition on foreign citizens holding the highest office, the nation has continued to be ruled by the junta put into power by the United States in 2004 (led by Gerard Latortue, an American citizen).
The nation, already the poorest in the hemisphere, has spiralled into ever-increasing poverty and violent clashes between the police and pro-Aristide supporters. Well, nobody ever gave a fig about Haiti, and it seems very few still do...
Elections in Liberia - After decades of some of the most brutal and violent civil wars, the African nation of Liberia successfully held a (largely) peaceful and fair, democratic election, with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf winning the top post.
Not only was it an amazing and wonderful step forward for Liberia to have a peaceful transition of power, but Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf is one of only a handful of female Africans to ever hold the top spot. Kudos to the U.N. peacekeeping team in Liberia, which did a good job of disarming rebels and reintegrating them into civilian life. Sadly, the United States, which could've played a leading role (and who would've been welcomed with open arms by most Liberians) did little but offer some cash and declined to send a single soldier to participate in the mission.
Coup in Mauritania - On the face of it, the coup in August in this impoverished African nation was nothing new - a junta of military officers threw off the yoke of a repressive dictator. However Mauritania had particularly pro-western ties, having open diplomatic relations with Israel and received a lot of both financial and military help from the United States. Although the country has not had democratic elections, the majority of the population supports the coupsters precisely because they were sick of the former administration's close ties with Israel and the United States, a very clear example of the way world opinion is turning.
African Famine - As "usual", many millions of people in Africa, particulary Niger, suffered from famine and large-scale malnutrition. Sadly, as usual, it is the children who suffer the most. While the UN begged for rich countries to send aid, little was sent.
Operation Murambatsvina - Over the summer, some 700,000 people were evicted from their homes in Zimbabwe as part of a "clean-up" operation by the increasingly dictatorial Zanu-PDF Party, led by Robert Mugabe. This story caused quite a furor at the time, but was soon forgotten. Yet the UN and other relief agencies continue to report that the vast majority of these "relocated" people are still suffering from malnourishment and basic living conditions. It is thought that the move was spurred by an attempt to fragment support for the opposition MDC party, whose voter base is largely concentrated in the urban areas, the target of the mass evictions.
Civil War in Yemen - Barely reported in the mainstream media, Shi'ite clansmen belonging to cleric Hussein al-Houthi fought the central government for months, the conflict only ending after largescale bloodshed and the shelling of villages. The insurrection began when the government tried to arrest al-Houthi for preaching anti-American and anti-Israeli messages, once again a clear example of the way world opinion is turning. The leadership in Yemen, such as in Mauritania, has a distinctly pro-western orientation and has allowed CIA agents to operate freely on its territory.
Peace in Aceh - After the devastating tsunami at the end of 2004, world attention was brought to Aceh. Prior to the tsunami, the area has been completely off-limits to foreigners as the central government had thousands of troops intent on violently crushing an independence movement which has been fighting for 30 years. The Indonesian army was cited many times for severe human rights abuses against the Acehenese people.
Yet amazingly, this year a peace accord was signed between Jakarta and Aceh, and just this week the final batallion of Indonesian soldiers left the region as the GAM disbanded. Kudos go to Finland, who sponsored and was heavily involved in negotiating peace in this long-troubled area of the world.
Peace and Democracy in Burundi - Like neighboring Rwanda, Burundi suffered for decades under military dictatorships and a bloody inter-ethnic war between the Hutus and Tutsis. Yet 2005 marked not only the democratic election of President Pierre Nkurunziza (a former rebel leader) but also a peace accord with the final rebel group, the FNL.
The Odd Tale of Charles Robert Jenkins - After serving for years in the U.S. Army, Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins deserted in 1965 to North Korea (of all places). A few years ago, it was revealed that his Japanese-born wife had been kidnapped by the North Korean government. She was allowed to return to Japan after extensive negotiations and then Jenkins finally made it to Japan himself. After a few months, he was tried by the U.S. military on the 40 year old desertion charges, served 25 days in prison, and is now a free man. He then later went to the U.S. for the first time in decades to see his mother. The tale was odd for many reasons, including the Bush administration's unbending intent to punish Jenkins for desertion some 40 years after the fact.
Jose Padilla - An American citizen, arrested on American soil, Padilla was seized in 2002. After being held incommunicado for 3 years, he was suddenly re-classified from being an "enemy combatant" to a normal criminal, charged only with a relatively minor crime of fundraising for terrorist groups. The saga continues, with just this week the U.S. government petitioning the Supreme Court to allow Padilla to be transferred to civilian custody. He has been held in a military brig for 3 years, completely without access to his family or to lawyers.
This story should never be forgotten because if it could happen to him, it could happen to any of us...
CIA Secret Prisons and Ghost Flights - Well this isn't exactly a "forgotten" story, but it's fading from the public's memory. I've already written a (so far) 19-part series on this issue, but what bears remembering is that the mainstream media (particularly the Washington Post) knows which countries hosted the secret prisons, but refuses to name names. Not only that, but the Bush administration has categorically refused to deny their existance.
And oddly enough, every potential host country has denied hosting them, leading to a paradox that apparently won't get sorted out until next year. Meanwhile Dick Marty at the Council of Europe is hard on the trail of those guilty of this shocking defiance of basic human rights in the name of the "war on terror".
London Bombings - Although the events of July 7 were well-documented, certain angles of the story have disappeared from the public's memory. Among them are the strange coincidence that a terror attack was planned on the same day at the exact same locations, that the police shot and killed an innocent man (and meanwhile defended this action) and that the "mastermind", Mohammed Sidique Khan, had been monitored by intelligence agencies for years yet somehow he managed to pull off the attacks flawlessly. I've written a 12-part series on this story if you're interested in more details.
Non-Publication of International Terrorism Report - Every year since 1985, the U.S. State Department has published an annual report on international terrorism. Yet in April of this year, they suddenly declined to publish one, without explanation. Later it was discovered that terrorist attacks had risen since 2004, embarassing the administration.
Darfur - The region in western Sudan has been devastated by a vicious and brutal inter-ethnic war with thousands killed, millions displaced from their home, and the violence has been marked by mass rape. Yet the United States and western powers have done little this year to end the fighting. Indeed, recently the Bush administration cut funds to the African Union peacekeeping force, some 7,000 soldiers trying to patrol an area the size of Texas.
Kashmir Earthquake - Despite widespread coverage after the earthquake hit on October 8, aid has trickled and 1.2 million were displaced, most of whom are still homeless and hungry in a mountainous region with bitterly cold winter setting in. These people still need help!
Bill Bennett - The former Education "czar" under Ronald Reagan and righteous preacher of morals opened his mouth on September 28, 2005 and said "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."
This after admitting in 2003 that he had lost millions of dollars in gambling but refused to say he had a "problem". Anyone feel like checking out "The Book of Virtues" from the library anytime soon?
White Phosphorous - First, the U.S. Army denied it had ever used WP in Iraq. Then after research by bloggers, it admitted it had used it in Fallujah, but not in such a way as to violate the Treaty on Chemical Weapons. Either way, a horrific documentary was produced by RAI television showing civilians with melted skin. Yet another example of the U.S. improving its own image.
Peeing on the Koran - Newsweek released a story about American guards urinating on the Koran, Islam's holy book, which triggered off riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan (and elsewhere). At first, the White House condemned Newsweek for their "irresponsible acts" yet later the Pentagon admitted the story was true, with the caveat that the pissing on the Koran was "purely accidental". Yet another example of the U.S. improving its own image.
Downing Street Memos - Someone released a copy of insider documents from the British Prime Minister's office, showing how the war to occupy Iraq was rigged. It got little attention from the mainstream media until it was heavily pushed by bloggers. Then it faded away as it seemed the public cared little about the issue.
Afghanistan - It seems the entire country has been forgotten. Amongst other things, that 2005 was the deadliest year of the 4-year occupation, that some 99 American soldiers (including NFL star Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire, which the Pentagon initially covered up) and 30 coalition soldiers have been killed (plus scores of Afghan troops).
Also forgotten is that finally a parliament was elected, marred by serious irregularities and also the inclusion of many drug- and warlords in the cabinet. Plus the Taliban is far from being eradicated as it still holds press conferences triumphing its "successes".
Oh yeah, hardly any reconstruction has been done, even Kabul is attacked/shelled regularly and women continued to be treated poorly, up to and including being jailed for running away from forced marriages. Oh yeah, plus 240 American soldiers were wounded in Afghanistan in 2005, bringing the total to 658.
Rick Santorum - The Senator from Pennsylvania, on April 7 in an interview with the AP:
SANTORUM: Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality â€”This was on top of other controversies, including his saying pedophilia amongst priests in Boston was "no surprise" because it is a "liberal" city, his children's attendance at a school district in which they weren't living and his blaming of Katrina victims for not "heeding the warnings". Not to mention he's one of the most corrupt members of Congress.
AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.
SANTORUM: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately.
Uzbekistan - A steadfast ally of the United States, regularly engaging in state-sponsored horrific torture (including boiling victims alive), gunned down hundreds of civilians in Andijan/Andizhan in May. After receiving only lukewarm criticism from the United States, the government responded by evicting the American military from its use of the K2 airbase.
Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey pipeline - After billions of dollars of financing, an oil pipeline was opened to carry petroleum from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. This despite the fact that the Azeri government is hideously corrupt and authoritarian, regularly cracking down on opposition movements and expressions of free speech.
The U.S. also lodged no complaints in November after a clearly rigged election kept strongman Aliyev's party in power. Not reported almost anywhere, the U.S. is also in the process of constructing an airbase near Baku, and has donated millions of dollars in "used" military equipment to the regime, including a Coast Guard cutter ship.
Halabja, Iraq - 17 years ago, Saddam Hussein become internationally condemned for using chemical weapons against the largely Kurdish town of Halabja, killing some 5,000 people. Yet over the years, more people died because of contaminated drinking water. Earlier this year, the U.S. eliminated funding to provide clean drinking water to the town due to a shifting of funds from reconstruction to defense. Absolutely tragic.
Terri Schiavo - Everyone remembers the controversy this March when a braindead woman had her feeding tube removed after 15 years of being in a vegetative state. What should never be forgotten however is the U.S. Congress' intervention in the case, "subpoening" her so she could get "witness protection", Florida Governor Jeb Bush's intervention and last but not least, Senator Majority leader Bill Frist "diagnosing" that she was not braindead after viewing a videotape of her.
Jeff Gannon/James Guckert - For years, the mainstream media at White House briefings let an unqualified reporter, who couldn't pass a basic security check, sit in at press briefings and lob softball questions to help out the president. Then activist bloggers, pooling together publically-available material, revealed his true background including his stint as a gay prostitute. Shame on the commercial media and endless kudos go to the citizens who did the media's job, resulting in the creation of E Pluribus Media.
Robertson Wants Chavez Assassinated - On August 23, conservative religious "leader" and long-time Republican funder Pat Robertson openly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Robertson later "modified" his comments, saying he was quoted out of context. Meanwhile the White House refused to condemn Robertson's statements, lending more fuel to the leftist anti-U.S. fire burning in South America.
Saddam Not Connected to 9/11 - Boggling to the mind, on December 16 George Bush stated that he never said there was a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein despite making dozens of such references in the lead-up to the war.
Paid To Publish - There were a whole heap of stories this year on this subject, from the military paying the Iraqi press to insert "favorable" stories to Armstrong Williams paid to promote the administration's "No Child Left Behind" to slimeball lobbyist Jack Abramoff paying syndicated columnists to publish favorable articles as he wooed policymakers to vote a certain way. Disgusting all the way around.
Iraq Worse Now Than Under Saddam Hussein - Despite what should've been a shellshocking revelation, little ink was spilled in covering the story that human rights abuses are worse now than under Saddam Hussein. Yep, it's the sad truth, and no less than the former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi confirmed it (not to mention entities like Human Rights Watch).
Bill O'Reilly Advocates Terrorism - Back in November on his show, O'Reilly publically called on terrorists to strike San Francisco. He later said he was quoted "out of context" and defended his statements.
Reasons for War Staged - Not I'm not talking about Iraq (although it should be admitted as well), but in October the American government officially admitted that the Gulf of Tonkin "incident", which sparked off the larger military "action" (war) in Vietnam was completely falsified in order for President LBJ to get Congress to authorize the war.
Hurricane Katrina - While obviously this story is not forgotten, it should never be allowed to fade that Bush was busy playing the guitar, Condoleezza Rice was shopping for shoes, and Michael "Brownie" Brown was complaining about his wardrobe when a major American city was nearly wiped off the map.
Nor should it be forgotten just how many National Guards troops and their equipment were in Iraq, unable to help defend the country they were employed to defend. Plus of course atrocious treatment of those who were unable to evacuate, including the nightmare that became the Super Bowl.
Cindy Sheehan - An ordinary woman, who lost her son in the foolish Iraq war, managed to light a spark in the nation when she camped outside of Bush's ranch in Crawford this summer, demanding an answer as to what "noble cause" her son died for. Kudos goes to the thousands of supporters who rallied behind her cause.
Spec. Sean Baker - You might remember him, he was the soldier who in 2003 was beaten to a pulp when he was "roleplaying" a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. In June, he sued the Pentagon for $15 million dollars, saying the incident violated his rights. After the incident, he was forced to retire for medical reasons after 5 soldiers banged his head against a concrete floor, choked him and sprayed him with pepper gas. It's also worth not forgetting that not a single person was ever punished for the incident.
John Negroponte - Confirmed in his post as National Intelligence Director, Negroponte's sordid history in the 1980's, covering up government-sponsored massacres (and advocating for their deployment in Iraq), was completely overlooked. Once again, the U.S. continued to destroy it's image in the view of the free world.
Alberto Gonzales - He was confirmed in his position as Attorney General, the person who is supposed to uphold the laws of the land, after conspiring with Torture Masterâ„¢ John Yoo to find legal "loopholes" to justify the torture of prisoners in the name of the "war on terror".
Maher Arar - An innocent Canadian citizen, stopping in New York City en route back to his hometown, was forcibly "rendered" unto Syria (via Jordan) to be tortured and denied access to his country's embassy. Arar sued the American government on March 29 but the case has not been heard. Meanwhile Rice and Bush continue to say the U.S. "does not send people" to countries where torture is practiced.
WMD Hunt Abandoned - In January, the Bush administration officially stopped all searches for Saddam Hussein's illegal WMD "stockpiles" as not a single illegal weapon was ever found. Meanwhile the casualties continue to mount up...
Abu Ghraib - On January 14 and September 26 respectively, Charles Graner and Lynndie England were convicted on minor charges of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. More on this here. Meanwhile no high-ranking officers were ever demoted or tried in court for this incident.
Also what should never be forgotten is that two lawyers who crafted some of the legislation that organized torture, Jay Bybee and Michael Chertoff, were both given plum jobs afterwards (Bybee as a Circuit Court judge and Chertoff as head of the Dept. of Homeland Security).
Kenneth Maupin - And last but not least, Private Kenneth Maupin is still listed as being Missing in Action. He was captured by unknown Iraqi forces on April 16, 2004 and is the only American soldier listed as MIA. His family has just spent their second Christmas without knowing the fate of their son. You'll never be forgotten.
Been a heck of a year, eh?
Chimp blocks Cuba from World Baseball Classic
Our wonderful chimperor has blocked Cuba from participating in next year’s international baseball competition on the usual grounds: We hate communists, and Fidel is one. Usual bullshit. Sports is just another front that can and has been politicized (remember 1936, 1972, and 1980??) but this is just another frustrating maneuver by our shortsighted president.
“Enough already!” said Antonio Mayeta, whose brother plays for Havana’s Industriales baseball team. “It’s unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture. Everyone was so anxious to see these games.”
The chimp is punishing players and fans of the sport, not Fidel.
But its the double standards that crack me up. Here is a partial list of other leftist nations that the chimp is allowing to play:
China: The biggest perpetrator of human rights violations
Venezuela: Home of that leftist rascal, Chavez
So why not Cuba? Is it a fear that Cuban players may show up the lackluster U.S. team? Is it embarassment that Fidel has outlasted every president since JFK? No. Its just a dunce president holding fast to the belief that if you punish Cuban ballplayers, they will turn against Fidel.
Cross-posted by AK of Meat-eating leftist.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
from Editor & Publisher:
Appearing on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert this week, two broadcast veterans, Tom Brokaw of NBC and Ted Koppel, agreed that the press shouldn’t be faulted too harshly for not questioning more deeply the claims of WMD in Iraq--and declared that Bill Clinton would have gone into Iraq just like George Bush if were still president in 2003.
Along with Russert, they also argued that it was a “uniformly held belief” that Saddam Hussein had WMD when the Iraq war began.
They didn’t do their fucking jobs, but hey, what they hell, why hold THAT against them?
Me, moderately well-educated schlub w/ an internet connection, was able to read reservations from many European news organizations, from UN Inspector Hans Blix, former inspector Scott Ritter and William Rivers Pitt ... I found it pretty easy to find counter-arguments, but then I’m not hanging out on the DC cocktail circuit and sending my kids to the same private schools along with the scumbags profitting off the military/industrial/congressional complex.
From what I knew from my undergraduate coursework in physics, and some reading, I knew that WMDs, especially nuclear ones, are by their very nature unstable and hard/expensive to maintain. Then again, I’m not some admirable suit sitting behind a “news"desk, so what the hell do I know?
More pearls of wisdom:
KOPPEL: Do we have a right to ask critical-- not just a right; do we have an obligation to ask critical questions? And did we fall short of that prior to the Iraq War? That’s a perfectly legitimate point, and I think we all have to plead guilty, to one degree or another, to having been, you know, a little bit soft on the administration beforehand.
But in large measure, when the president and his top people tell you, as they did, “Here’s our perception of what exists. Here’s our perception of the danger to the United States. Here’s our perception of a relationship between this guy who has weapons of mass destruction and the group that just blew up the Pentagon and the World Trade Center,” I don’t know that reporters as a whole can sit there and say, “Oh, hokum. You know, it’s just not true.” We can raise questions, and I…
BROKAW: Given the absence of hard evidence.
KOPPEL: Hard evidence. Right.
BROKAW: There was not--you know, the French intelligence were sharing the same conclusions with the administration. I thought--I agree with you that I don’t think that we pushed hard enough for vigorous debate. I think that on Capitol Hill that the debate was anemic, at best. You had--Ted Kennedy and Senator Byrd, really, were the only ones speaking out with any kind of passion in the Senate, the people who…
RUSSERT: And they were not questioning whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
BROKAW: No. No. No.
RUSSERT: That seemed to be a uniformly held belief.
BROKAW: Right. Yeah.
KOPPEL: Nor did the Clinton administration beforehand.
KOPPEL: I mean, the only difference between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration was 9/11.
KOPPEL: If 9/11 had happened on Bill Clinton’s watch, he would have gone into Iraq.
BROKAW: Yeah. Yeah.
Yuk it up guys. Feel better now? Does it bother you that Benjamin Franklin and Edward R. Murrow would beat you to death with their own desicated thighbones for what you’ve turned journalism into?
All of our institutions have failed in this country. All of them.
Thug billionaire Bloomberg under fire for union-bashing language
Mike Bloomberg is perhaps the worst kind of rich guy: He flouts his wealth and power and does not even make a show of feigning interest for the little guys. Basically, he and Dick Cheney are cut from the same cloth. During the transit strike in NYC last week, Bloomberg referred to striking city workers as ‘thugs.’ These are the same people who make the city run every damn day. The same people who earn $40,000 a year when it costs $75,000 just to be able to live in the five boroughs. And yet Bloomie calls these workers thugs, when all they wanted was some more money for the work they are doing.
Bloomberg is still getting bashed by NY pols who are asking for him to retract his words:
“Those who operate our transportation system are not thugs,” Adams said. “They’re men and women who are the heart of our transportation system.”
Last week, when addressing the controversy, union leader Roger Toussaint did not touch on the issue of race.
But he chastised the mayor for “some offensive and insulting language such as referring to our union members and our leadership as thugs, selfish, and essentially characterizing us as being overpaid and greedy.”
Bloomberg stands by his colorful terms. What does he care? He is a lame duck at this point.
For once, I’d like a politician to call stockbrokers thugs. Or how about CEO’s? Don’t they show thuggish behavior?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Just a heads up to some excellent sources of information available to those of you keeping track of the continuing assault on women’s reproductive freedom:
It’s so hard to keep up these days, and she does a wonderful job of pulling it all together in one place. Bookmark Our Word so you make sure not to miss it.
The fine folks who volunteer for the Lilith Fund, highlighted in October so wonderfully by Moiv in her piece The Katrina Aid That Dare Not Speak Its Name, have started a blog, called “Lilith Blog". They are posting the first-person stories of women who Lilith Fund try to help to obtain help exercising their choices about their own reproductive help. They are in the trenches fighting hard in the culture war ... stop in, see what they’re up to and maybe send them a little something to start the New Year and to help them continue their vital work.
Monday, December 26, 2005
California Dems Dodge A Bullet
California Dems just got some more good news after the defeat of all Schwarzenegger’s Propositions in the November elections. Rob Reiner has announced he will not run for governor. The director of some good films in decades past has decided to keep directing and raising his family at the top of his agenda. As published HERE:
He won’t be running for governor of California, at least not in 2006, but director Rob Reiner is working the room with the practiced ease of a born politician. Shaking hands and trading pleasantries with a gaggle of reporters gathered at a Pasadena hotel, Reiner is pressing the flesh on behalf of his new romantic comedy “Rumor Has It ...”
Reiner also plans to focus on the Preschool for All Act, which will appear on a referendum ballots in 2006. The proposal was organized by Parents Action for Children, a group Reiner founded with his wife, Michele Singer, in 1997. But he’ll be doing his campaigning, for now, from the vantage point of a private citizen. Elaborating on his announcement earlier this month that he would not try to take on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the upcoming gubernatorial race, Reiner said his two sons, ages 14 and 12, and 7-year-old daughter talked him out of running.
Reiner can be much more productive doing things like working for the Preschool For All Act than running for governor. California needs an experienced civil servant to replace the very bad actor currently occupying the slot and the same goes for Warren Beatty. Can I suggest Henry Waxman or the incredible Sheila James Kuehl for the post? These two understand the inner workings of California and would lead the state forward. If you’ll notice I didn’t even mention how utterly mediocre his new film “Rumor Has It” is!
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Did Yet Some Good Booty?
Did you get something under the tree that you deeply desired? Did dad bring how something ... ill-advised?
Hope you had a happy holiday!
Classy Move By Your Virgin Atlantic Staff, Sir Richard Branson
My mother may pass away today or tomorrow in England. She is now desperately ill. And last night.... well, last night, my wife Hope and I were thrown off a Virgin Atlantic flight from Kennedy to Heathrow to join her.
As described in my narrative below, which occupied me for the first half of Christmas Day, an irate passenger had apparently just destroyed my $1500 computer. And he and a self-important steward called Matthew were DESPERATE to get me off the flight before I could fire the computer up and actually prove it.
So here we still remain, in New York, until we fly late tonight. More than a day later. While my mother gradually fades away.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman
Virgin Atlantic, Crawley, Sussex, England
Fax addresses: 011 44 1293 561 721, 011 44 1293 538 337, 011 44 1293 747 699, 011 44 1293 444 924, and 011 44 1293 448 262
Dear Sir Richard:
Complaint: Illegal Behavior On Flight 4 From JFK
Congratulations on V-A’s 21st. I work with an arm of the United Nations and have encouraged many to take your flights. I also have extensive contacts in Washington DC.
Please be so kind as to investigate this: one of your cabin-crew members, Matthew, seemed to condone two kinds of illegal behavior by another passenger on your flight 4 from JFK at 7:30 pm on Saturday 24 December.
This resulted in damage, seemingly terminal, to my $1500 notebook computer, and when I protested, the eviction of myself and my wife from the flight.
This is the full narrative.
1. On Friday 23 December, Dr Joshi of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (contactable via the ward number: 07928-3294) called me to say that my mother appeared to have only a day or two to live, and that I should get there soonest.
2. I booked the first flight that came up on Orbitz, your Saturday Flight 4, for my wife Hope and myself.
3. We arrived for the flight from Manhattan in good time. The check-in clerk bungled our request for seating - my wife wanted any aisle seat and I wanted any window seat, but she placed my wife in a center seat on Row 37; and myself in a window seat on Row 59. No matter.
4. I stowed my computer bag and a good Italian overcoat and suit-jacket at one side of the overhead locker several rows forward; the only available space in the area.
5. A passenger then arrived with a suitcase with wheels that would be approximately 50 percent above the legal size limit. Apparently no Virgin Atlantic staff at any point had told him â€œyou must stow it - this is way over the legal limitâ€?.
6. He made perhaps 8-10 increasingly angry attempts to push the suitcase into the locker vertically. There was an overhang at the bottom of about four inches.
7. He then angrily hauled my clothes out of the locker, and dropped them on the seat. He hauled my computer bag out of the locker and the weight of it caught him unawares; it crashed perhaps eight feet to the floor.
8. He looked around and then very hurriedly loaded his suitcase horizontally into the locker. Equally hurriedly he reloaded my computer bag, bundled my cloths into a large ball and stuffed them in back, looked round again (not seeing me) and hurriedly sat down.
9. At that point, I know now, my computer was already a seeming write-off.
10. I rose and protested to the passenger that he had just dropped a $1500 computer and bundled my clothes up. His rage was instant, and there was considerable low-level swearing.
11. I moved all my gear to another emptier locker that was pointed out by another passenger.
12. Presumably realizing that the moment the flight was in the air, I would attempt to fire up the computer, find it broken, and stick him with a $1500 tab, the passenger started complaining to cabin staff.
13. Your steward Matthew then pulled me out of my seat and rather aggressively asked me to calm down. (I was completely calm before he approached me.) At least five times, I indicated that damage had probably been done to my computer by a passenger with an illegally oversize bag, and that he should check both that bag and my computer. He refused each time, no reason given, and I sat down.
14. Presumably both Matthew and the passenger now realized that when the flight was in the air I would try to fire up my computer to see if it was damaged.
15. Five minutes later, Matthew was back with two senior VA ground crew and asked me to leave the flight. He said another carrier might take me that night. He said the passenger was nervous of me. (Give me a break; I had just witnessed a classic case of low-level criminal behavior.)
16. All three VA staff seemed distinctly surprised and in fact quite nervous when I told them I also had a wife on the flight.
17. When my wife and I were back at the door of the aircraft and talking finally to Matthew, another of your crew made the kind of gesture with his eyes to me that said: â€œMatthew is just like that. Donâ€™t blame us!â€? Chatting later, one of your senior ground crew later said â€œYes he is like thatâ€? which might mean that Matthew has a certain track record or reputation..
18. Your (sympathetic) gate crew tried hard to place us on any of the many half-full flights Saturday night; but the Orbitz ticket was not transferable. No coupon was issued for another airline; a staff member of another airline tells me it should have been.
19. We are now booked on the very next VA flight an astounding 26 hours later. I have no report today Sunday of my motherâ€™s condition.
20. The computer has now failed to fire up. Having seen the force of the impact, my guess is that the damage to the drive and so on is terminal. It is a 15-inch Toshiba.
At no time did Matthew (1) check my computer, (2) check the other passengerâ€™s suitcase, or (3) ask any passengers if they had witnessed my computer being hauled to the floor.
Please initiate an investigation? Obviously I know the possibilities via a lawsuit, and media coverage, and a complaint to the FAA and to Congressional contacts.
However, I will hold back on these fronts pending your own investigation, and will be happy to assist you if requested.
I will be in Bristol at 079-738-690 through 7 January, and then back in NYC. I could visit Crawley to discuss if that would assist you.
Kind regards. Pity your staff hasten and sadden the end of old ladies. But good airline otherwise.
Peter M Quennell
An Exile_lsf Holiday Frisk from Us to You
Keeping with the spirit of our ‘frisky’ ways here at Exile_lsf, here is a photo to show you just how much Santa loves you (but doesn’t trust you). What’s next, a hidden cache of surveillance tapes of anti-war protesters discovered at the North Pole? Will Rudolph and Blixen be the next ones outed by Novak as operatives for the CIA?
The government may know what we’re all doing these days but we here at Exile_lsf would love to hear it right from the horses mouth. What are you dear Exile_lsf readers doing this holiday? Are you celebrating Kwanza, Hannukah, Christmas or the Winter Solstice? Is it possibly none of the above or maybe just drinking too much eggnog to even know what month it is?
Oh, and I almost forgot to add: HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Wal-Mart eats its lunch
Wal-Mart got slapped yesterday with a $172M ruling by an Oakland jury for denying its employees the right to eat lunch:
Jessica Grant, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, spoke to Reuters after the ruling. “What was compelling for the jury was that we put a lot of evidence before them of memos by Wal-Mart from seven years ago that concluded they had been breaking the law,” said Grant.
“Instead of taking steps to solve the problem, Wal-Mart concealed it.”
I hate this fucking shithole of a company. I mean to deny workers their lunch?
Eh, keep shopping there people. Keep supporting this modern slave farm.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Italy casting a wide net for CIA Agents
Here at the BBC we find this news:
An Italian court has issued Europe-wide arrest warrants for 22 suspected CIA agents accused of helping to kidnap a Muslim cleric in Milan in 2003.
The suspects are accused of abducting Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, without Italian permission, and flying him to Egypt for interrogation.
The new warrants allow for the suspects’ detention anywhere in the 25-nation EU, a prosecutor said. The authorities had already issued arrest orders within Italy.
Italy says the alleged operation hindered Italian terrorism investigations.
It appears Italy is ‘mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore’. I hope it’s contagious as it’s time for this Administration’s policies to be stood up to both at home and abroad. I can’t wait to see the Rovian slime about to be thrown at ‘Old Europe”. Of course Berlusconi will protect Bushco but who knows what the rest of Europe might do with these warrants.
Here We Go Again
The winger media has adopted another fundie crybaby as the lastest example of how those poor put-upon evangelicals are “discriminated” against. Tucker Carlson interviewed the lastest “victim” earlier this week:
If you thought Saudi Arabia was the only place a man could get in trouble for using the word â€œJesus,â€? think again.
A Navy chaplain has gone on a hunger strike outside the White House because heâ€˜s afraid of being fired for saying â€œJesusâ€? during prayer. Lieutenant Gordon James Klingenschmitt wants President Bush to issue an executive order allowing military chaplains to pray according to their individual faiths.
Wow, sounds dire. Let’s see what the chaplain has to say:
KLINGENSCHMITT: Well, I have a document, and itâ€˜s on my website. And a chief of Navy chaplains told me that if I pray in Jesusâ€˜ name, Iâ€˜m denigrating other faiths. And so they want me to pray privately in Jesusâ€˜ name, but if I use the â€œJâ€? word in public, then they say that Iâ€˜m offending other people.
Well, I asked my commanding officer on my ship, USS Anzio. I said, â€œSir, why donâ€˜t we share the evening prayer? Itâ€˜s a tradition at sea. And let myâ€”let my Muslim sailor come on and pray to Allah, and let my Jewish sailor come on and pray in Hebrew, let my Roman Catholic pray in the name of the father, and son, and the holy spirit. And Iâ€˜ll just pray in Jesusâ€˜ name every fourth night. And we can take turns.â€?
He said, â€œNo, Chaps, Iâ€˜m not comfortable with that. You keep saying the prayer, but from now on, I want you to pray Jewish prayers.â€? And so I obeyed him. For eight months I only prayed out of the Psalms. But after those eight months…
Yes, he called Psalms (you probably know Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd ..."), which if I remember right is part of the Bible, “Jewish” prayers, which they are, of course, but they are in that pesky part of the book known as the Old Testament, (and also recognized in Islam, though as “corrupted” by Judaism and Christianity).
Mr. Klingenschmitt continues:
Iâ€˜m just asking the president to enforce the law thatâ€˜s been on the books since 1860. Itâ€˜s been public law. U.S. Code Title 10 says that we can pray according to our own faith and not according to the governmentâ€˜s faith.
(a) Each chaplain shall, when practicable, hold appropriate religious services at least once on each Sunday for the command to which he is assigned, and shall perform appropriate religious burial services for members of the Army who die while in that command.
(b) Each commanding officer shall furnish facilities, including necessary transportation, to any chaplain assigned to his command, to assist the chaplain in performing his duties.
That’s their job. Like so much in the statutes, what is actually required has been fleshed out over time by traditions and court cases. This latest bid for attention is a continuation of a publicity campaign that has been going on for months, but what tugs the heartstrings of a zealot more than a poor chaplain starving himself, ON CHRISTMAS, before the White House (you can just see the fundraising letters going out over this one)? Lets look back at some earlier reports about this issue, about what the US Code and military regulations allow:
Iasiello said chaplains are free to preach however they wish in their base chapels or at sectarian worship services. But when they have a multifaith audience at staff meetings, change-of-command ceremonies, ship commissionings and other public events, they are encouraged to offer more generic, inclusive prayers, he said.
“We train our people to be sensitive to the needs of all of God’s people. We don’t direct how a person’s going to pray. Because everyone’s own denomination or faith group has certain directives or certain ways of doing things, and we would never—it’s that whole separation-of-church-and-state thing—we would never want to direct institutionally that a person could or couldn’t do something,” Iasiello said.
But the model of chaplaincy advocated by older chaplains such as Iasiello, which hinges on self-restraint, is increasingly under challenge by younger ones, such as Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt, 37.
Yup, there he is, our starving martyr. How does this report characterize the dispute?
In July 2004, he was reprimanded for a sermon at the memorial service of a sailor who died in a motorcycle accident. In the sermon, he said, he emphasized that the sailor was certainly in heaven and “mentioned in passing” that, according to John 3:36, those who do not accept Jesus are doomed for eternity.
John 3:36 is interpreted sometimes as referring to Baptism, especially in Catholicism, but in some evangelical circles it refers to being “born again” and can be considered that other versions of Christianity AREN’T “true” because a believer isn’t “born again” in Christ. In other words, depending on context it can be a controversial choice.
Klingenschmitt has accused the Navy of religious discrimination, contending in a written complaint to his superiors that he was punished because he refused to practice a “government-sanitized” faith that he calls “pluralism, with a capital P.”
Navy officials declined to discuss Klingenschmitt’s case. But they noted that the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, a private association to which most chaplains belong, says in its code of ethics that each chaplain must “function in a pluralistic environment” and “not proselytize from other religious bodies,” though they “retain the right to evangelize those who are not affiliated.”
When Klingenschimitt refers to his Title X rights, he’s speaking of his rights AS AN INDIVIDUAL. As a chaplain, in his official duties, he’s expected to minister to ALL of the enlisted personnel when the function is a public one. In other words, the whole idea is to HELP with unit cohesion, not add futher divisions. (As a non-believer, I still have some problems with this function being performed at all, but having a diverse chaplain corp representing the plurality of American society is a compromise I guess we’re stuck with). So this man, this poor put-upon victim, is conflating his personal beliefs with his official function as an officer in our military. Much in the same way that publically licensed evangelical and Catholic pharmacists, doctors and nurses insist that they can push their religious beliefs on patients, or a publicly licensed teacher might insist on pushing “intelligent design” on captive students. Another fake instance of “oppression” because a commanding officer is attempting to maintain a shared public space where the unit AS A WHOLE can meet without division.
There is no “discrimination” happening here. What happened was a commander trying to remove a divisive zealot from his command. No, do not insist that we should be “tolerant” of people who insist that “tolerance” requires we give them free rein to spread their own intolerant beliefs. Mr. Klingenschmitt can pray all he wants, but when he is acting in a public capacity at a public function, he’s acting as an agent of the Navy, and thus as an agent of the US Government. In that role, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, respect paid to the diversity that is the true source of our greatest strengths.