And now, batting right: Christian, conservative, and Republican, in that order

If my out of state readers wonder what I mean when I refer to living in "the beating red heart of the Reddest of the Red States", may I introduce my Representative to the United States Congress. The article speaks for itself.

Rep. Mike Pence compares himself to the old baseball player in the movie "The Natural". And it's not, he chuckles, because he's got Robert Redford's good looks.

(link) [U.S. News & World Report]

23:00 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

Stormy Spring

If you notice my postings tapering off a bit over this weekend, it'll be because of the massive (and nearly continuous) thunderstorms that have been rolling through the area. We've learned through bitter experience to shut down our systems (including our ISDN router) whenever lightening scores the sky.

Both of us have lived somewhere in "Tornado Alley" most of our adult lives, and rarely do we scamper to the basement due to a storm. Last night was one of those rarities, and our small basement rapidly filled up when we took two dogs, two cats and two sheep(!) down with us during the worst of the big blow.

When all was said and done we'd suffered no real damage, but the yard looked like someone had dumped crushed ice from coolers all over it from, and all of the pastures were almost completely underwater. The cattle had come up behind the small henhouse, braving the hail, rather than get to the walkin shelter. We thought them rather silly until we realized that the walk in was completely surrounded by water! Smart cows - somehow they figured out that if they headed into the walkin they'd be stuck there for a while!

The water's all drained away now, leaving behind a sodden mess. But the soil is completely saturated, and they're predicting similar weather all day today and tomorrow. A front has gone stationary right over us, and air masses are colliding above. Makes for some spectacular sky scenes - perhaps we'll be able to snap some photos today or tomorrow. Assuming we're not washed or blasted or blown away.

23:00 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Generals Break With Tradition Over Rumsfeld

Now this is a take on the issue mentioned here earlier that I had not thought about at all. Do the challenges to Rumsfeld's leadership undermine the principle of civilian control of the military? Even some lefty scholars who dislike Rumsfeld are apparently concerned. There have been tensions between the military brass and the civil administration before, but this does seem a bit unprecedented in both scope and tenor. And I hate to say this, but on reflection the situation does remind me a bit of a novel I read several years back which speculated openly about the unthinkable. I may have to find it on the shelf and read it again.

The demands for Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation shed light on a principle of American governance: civilian control of the military.

(link) [New York Times]

23:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Comedy Central Responds

To an email I sent them, complaining about their censorship of last weeks South Park episode. Here is their reply, in full:

Dear Viewer,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the "South Park" episodes entitled "Cartoon Wars." We appreciate your concerns about censorship and the destructive influence of outside groups on the media, entertainment industry and particularly Comedy Central.

To reiterate, as satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendment right to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations and religions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is to make people laugh and perhaps, if we're lucky, even make them think in the process.

Comedy Central's belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despite our decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made not to mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religion over any other. This decision was based solely on concern for public safety in light of recent world events.

With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes the obligation to use that power in a responsible way. Much as we wish it weren't the case, times have changed and, as witnessed by the intense and deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons, decisions cannot be made in a vacuum without considering what impact they may have on innocent individuals around the globe.

It was with this in mind we decided not to air the image of Muhammad, a decision similar to that made by virtually every single media outlet across the country earlier this year when they each determined that it was not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost in the riots set off by the original publication of these cartoons. The American media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put the safety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.

As a viewer of "South Park," you know that over the course of ten seasons and almost 150 episodes the series has addressed all types of sensitive, hot-button issues, religious and political, and has done so with Comedy Central's full support in every instance, including this one. "Cartoon Wars" contained a very important message, one that Trey and Matt felt strongly about, as did we at the network, which is why we gave them carte blanche in every facet but one: we would not broadcast a portrayal of Muhammad.

In that regard, did we censor the show? Yes, we did. But if you hold Comedy Central's 15-year track record up against any other network out there, you'll find that we afford our talent the most creative freedom and provide a nurturing atmosphere that challenges them to be bold and daring and places them in a position to constantly break barriers and push the envelope. The result has been some of the most provocative television ever produced.

We would like nothing more than to be able to look back at this in a few years and think that perhaps we overreacted. Unfortunately, to have made a different decision and to look back and see that we completely underestimated the damage that resulted was a risk we were not willing to take.

Our pledge to you, our loyal viewers, is that Comedy Central will continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we will continue to push it right to the edge, using and defending the First Amendment in the most responsible way we know how.


Comedy Central Viewer Services

So, in a nutshell, the terrorists have won, and we have sold our birthright of freedom for the illusion of security. Now I know that I could prevent this network from mocking my gods by making terrorist threats. I wonder if the Christian Right will pick up on this and we'll soon see a complete stifling of criticism of Christianity, too? Following this path to it's logical conclusion would reduce the free press to weather forcasts and stock market reports. May I remind the producers at Comedy Central of the wisdom of one of our Founding Fathers:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

They should be ashamed to call themselves Americans.

23:00 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link