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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jefferson: Closet Muslim?

Remember Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress? I wrote about him a few weeks ago because some people were outraged after hearing he wanted to take his oath of office on a copy of the Koran rather than the Bible.

Well, that turned out to be a bunch of hooey. No one in Congress uses any sort of book when they take their oath — everyone just raises their right hand and swears in unison. People are free to have all the unofficial swearing in ceremonies they like, however, involving the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon, can swear on a stack of Fantastic Fours if you want.

So yes, after the official ceremony, Ellison is having a private swearing-in with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Ellison is one smart cookie, though. He's using Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Koran, on loan from the Library of Congress.

How un-American of Ellison. And Mr. Jefferson.

Keith strikes again

In a speech next week, President Bush plans to announce his "new way forward" for Iraq. Reports have leaked out that this will likely involve sending an additional 20,000 to 40,000 troops. For a variety of reasons, this is completely bugshit insane. One of which is the recent election, which as far as I can tell was used by the American people to tell our president to GET US THE FUCK OUT OF IRAQ. LIKE, SOON.

A hopping-mad Keith Olbermann says it better than I ever could.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hope, from the death of a president

As Buck and Gordon try to decide exactly what they'll be doing with this new year, Mandasaurus enjoyed not working on the National Day of Mourning.

Former President Gerald Ford lay in state at the U.S. Capitol this weekend.

Ford in the Rotunda.
President Ford lying in state in the Rotunda.
Since I live about three miles from there it seemed proper to go. Two friends and I hopped the train to L'Enfant Plaza and walked over to stand in line. We got there at about 8 p.m. Saturday. We stood — among visitors to D.C. who'd spent the entire day outside, mostly — until about 10 waiting and shuffling toward the Capitol.

We walked through security (metal detectors, x-ray machines) to the porch of the Capitol. I heard a little boy talk about Jupiter and "Saturun" and describe the awe of the armed security guards. We passed dozens (seriously, dozens) of security guards. All of them standing tall with solemn faces. Some held giant guns. Some gave sneaky nods as you walked by, saying, "Come on in."

Inside the Capitol Rotunda (which isn't easy to get to and is definitely one of the most beautiful rooms in America) it was silent. Probably 60 people were in there — walking, standing, taking photos — but it was silent. Spotlights hit the casket, soldiers, and wreaths.

Five men — officers of the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force — stood as still as statues around Ford's casket. I saw one man blink. That's it.

I'm not a traditional gal. I don't toe the line. I can't imagine a military life. (Plus, I'm not allowed in since I take insulin for my diabetes.) I don't think it's for me to follow orders or iron an uniform to look proper.

But I'm incredibly thankful that there are such people out there. These soldiers will fight for America. These soldiers will die for each other. These soldiers can bring peace and war someplace.

It's a beautiful thing to see. It's respectful, beautiful, powerful and even peaceful. Maybe we can give that a chance. Maybe we can take the peace that comes alongside the death of an old man who was once our president and let it grow.

Can it? Will it? Let's hope.
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.