Saturday, January 20, 2007

And so it begins

The presidential ellection is underway: the character assassination machine has started up. Hilary's people have fired the first shot by attempting to paint Barak Obama as the Manchurian Candidate. They *say* that what they are doing is challenging his forthightness but they know the real result will be to challenge his loyalty. Seems that Mr. Obama from Illinois, who was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia as a boy, atended what he described as a "predominently Muslim school" at one point (after attending a Lutheran school), which Hilary's people have identified as a Madrass.

Now we all know what Madrass' are in the imagination of most Americans. They are schools for Islamic terrorists. What Hilary's people are saying out loud is that Mr. Obama should have said in his biography "I attended a Madrass," and that by not saying so he is being deceptive. But what they want people to hear is that he's hiding his background because he's secretly in league with the terrorists. They know what will happen when the right wing whackos on Fox News get hold of this.

Me, I think his background as a Christian man with African and Muslim roots, having had education in secular, Christian and Islamic schools is ideal for a statesman of the 21st Century. But I live in 11218, so I'm barely American myself.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Elizabeth the sequal

Ok, the best thing about the Golden Globes was indeed Sasha Baron Cohen's acceptance speech. Maybe. It might also have been Forrest Witaker finally getting the recongition he deserves as one of the few truly great actors of our time. Like Philip Seymore Hoffman last year, he was my hope (and I haven't even seen *Last King of Scotland* yet). Like Hoffman, Whitaker is an actor's actor whom everyone in the industry knows as one of the truly great actors in the business, but because he's an actor and not a movie star he gets little recognition outside the industry and the critics. The gosspi rags ignore him and he is not a bankable star. That he landed a plum role is no surprise because, again like Hoffman, he chooses great roles for himself but, like the afformentioned once more, this time he chose a famous person, a larger than life character that many people remember and whom many people who don't always go in for art films might be interested in. Of course, Idi Amin is a bit more terrifying than Truman Capote (a bit). I had no idea how strongly I was rooting for him until his name was announced and I screamed. The standing ovation he received was the town's way of saying "it's about time," and it is. Ghost Dog. Crying Game. Phone Booth. Good Morning Viet Nam. On and on. I love his work.

But both those great moments might have been overshadowed by Helen Mirren's accomplishment: winning the acting award in two seperate categories, one for TV Mini series and one for Film Drama one for playing Queen Elizabeth the First and the other for playing Queen Elizabeth the Second. Now that's symmetry. The tabloids will have dozens of jokes about it tommorrow and, I swear, I cna't think of anything witty to say. The awards are quite an accomplishment, while the roles, quite frankly, form an almost disturbing coincidence.

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But the Chargers blew it, and they were my pick. I know I have become a real New Yorker, becuase I now hate all New England sports teams and for no particular reason. Now I guess I'll root for the Saints from here on in.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An Open Letter to Congressman Goode

To the Honorable Virgil Goode, member of Congress, greetings,

I wonder, sir: have you, a Virginian, read the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom? It was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was born in what is now your own 5th Congressional District. You, as a Virginian, surely must have heard of it. You graduated from law school at the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded, and served in the Virginia Commonwealth Senate. I assume you have read Virginia’s governing documents.

The statute reads in part:

“the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right.”

Clearly, sir, your recent attack upon Congressman Keith Ellison’s decision to use a Koran for his swearing in ceremony, is just such a proscription. You have said that only a bible should be used for the private swearing in (which as you know is not even the official oath, which is administered without a bible or book of any kind). Clearly this directly contradicts Jefferson’s position.

So I ask you, Sir, was Jefferson wrong?

Did you object when Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, swore on the Old Testament? If you did I did not hear about it. Your comments make it seem that your real concern is that Congressman Ellison is Muslim. This also is contradictory to Jeffersonian principles, not to mention Article IV and the First Amendment to the Constitution. What, by the way, should the two Buddhists just elected to Congress swear upon? I’m just asking here. And while we are at it, how can you, as a Christian, ask that someone foreswear himself? That is, after all, what you are demanding. The Bible, the Christian Bible, insists that persons not swear false oaths, yet by asking Congressman Ellison to swear on a Bible instead of a Koran you are asking him to do exactly that. I assume that you would have condemned John Quincy Adams for swearing upon a copy of the constitution, and what of Roosevelt refusing to use any book at all?

Examples such as these is why we have religious freedom enshrined in our constitution and in the governing documents of Virginia. Jefferson said a great deal on religious freedom. He said that no one should vote for a person based upon their religious beliefs, yet you raise the specter of Muslims being elected to congress as though it is an attack on our nation. He said that no elected official should profess his or her religion, especially in matters of policy, yet you proclaim yourself to be Christian and a champion of Christianity and encourage people to vote for you for this reason.

As the political heir to Jefferson I must ask you again, sir, was Jefferson wrong?

That Congressman Ellison is going to take the oath of office on a Koran that was once owned by Jefferson himself only serves to point up how completely your own position is at enmity with that of Virginia’s greatest statesman. Knowing that you represent the Virginia and indeed the county of his birth, Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.

Sic Sempre Tryanus