If Sacco Had Threatened Grimm

We’ve all seen Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) threaten to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto “off this f***ing balcony” for daring to ask a question about Grimm’s campaign finance investigation.  We also saw how high up they were at the U. S. Capitol, and what a looooong way down it was.  Grimm also said Scotto was “not man enough” and “I’ll break you in half.  Like a boy.”

If the situation were reversed, and Scotto had threatened Grimm in the exact same way, Scotto could be facing a federal criminal offense.

In December 2012, Grimm directed a “bizarre and scary” rant against two other NY1 employees, Bob Hardt and Errol Louis, for asking him about the same issue, and said they should “take it outside.”

Grimm clearly has a very poor relationship with the First Amendment.  Reporters should be able to ask legitimate questions without being physically threatened, and Grimm should resign.

Politico reports that Grimm is getting media advice from Anthony Weiner.  Hell, Michael, why don’t you call A-Rod while you’re at it?

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Baby Jesus and Frosty the Snowman

We can all sleep better at night now, people, especially if you live in Texas.  Gov. Rick Perry has solved a terrible problem.

It’s now okay to say “Merry Christmas” in Texas public schools.  Also, you can display symbols of Christmas if you have symbols of more than one religion or just one religion (guess which one!) and a secular symbol.

So look for Frosty the Snowman joining the Three Wise Men in the manger.  Perhaps Frosty will be holding a menorah.

How Many Sources in North Korea Do You Think We Have?

From “What was James Rosen thinking?”,  Jack Shafer, Reuters:

“Although [Fox News reporter James] Rosen’s story asserts that it is ‘withholding some details about the sources and methods…to avoid compromising sensitive overseas operations,’ the basic detail that the CIA has ‘sources inside North Korea’ privy to its future plans is very compromising stuff all by itself.

“Once the North Koreans read the story, they must have asked if the source of the intel was human or if their communications had been breached.  In any event, you can assume that the North Koreans commenced a leak probe that made the U. S. investigation look like the prosecution of a parking ticket.”

I can’t get all wee wee’d up about bumbling James Rosen, who makes Inspector Clouseau look like James Angleton.  If the Obama Administration had prosecuted him along with State Department moron Stephen Jin Woo Kim, I’d see the First Amendment threat here, but they didn’t.  I do mourn the loss of a source inside North Korea, because God knows they are few and far between, and probably now fewer and farther.

I’m with Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo on this one:

“They [DOJ] took a step I think they should not have taken.  But they did so putting together a case against a government employee who more or less in plain sight (thanks to Rosen, in part) leaked what looks to have been highly classified information about US spy networks overseas.  It’s difficult for me not to be more shocked by the self-interested preening of fellow journalists over a comically inept reporter and source than the arguable dangers this episode holds for press freedoms.  Indeed, I’ve failed.  I can’t.

I can’t either.

Exploiting Religion from Cairo, Egypt to Cairo, Illinois

Salman Rushdie is running around on his book tour for Joseph Anton, making the point that all the outrage about offenses to Islam, whether it’s because of a novel like his Satanic Verses or Danish or French cartoons or the Innocence of Muslims video, is not about religion, it is about politics.  It is about political leaders getting their folks wee wee’d up to make them ignore their real problems.

The GOP and Fox News are especially outraged about this use of religion to control people politically.  Hey, it takes one to know one.

In Cairo, Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to distract its people from the fact that they lived in slums under Mubarak  and are living in slums under the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here at home, the party of multi-millionaires knows that there aren’t enough of them to win elections by themselves, and they also know that their interests don’t line up with those of average working people.  So they have to get the people in Cairo, Illinois (and Georgia, Nebraska, West Virginia, Ohio, and Oregon) to focus on something else and get really angry about it, so they’ll vote GOP against their own interests.

Getting Christians stirred up about Obamacare and contraception is just like getting Muslims stirred up about a video.  Before Obamacare, 29 states had these rules about insurance covering contraception, and no one cared.  Some of these states were among our most populous, like New York and California, and some were among our most conservative, like Arkansas.

I live in one of those 29 states.  I never heard a word about the state requiring insurance companies to cover contraception from my church until suddenly President Obama did it.  Suddenly they couldn’t bear to do what they were already doing because it was a violation of their religious freedom.

Yes, the outrage abroad is phony, but before we point out the splinter in the Muslims’ eyes, we should get rid of this huge beam in the eyes of our own Evangelical Christians and Catholics.

 

 

The Mormons Posthumously Baptized Obama’s Mom

President Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, considered herself a spiritual person, but she wasn’t a member of any particular religion.  She sure as hell didn’t consider herself a Mormon.

But why should her own beliefs and wishes stop the Mormon Church from baptizing her?  Posthumously, of course, since they never would have gotten her when she was breathing.

They baptized her on June 4, 2008.  That’s the day after her son won enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee.

Can you think of a greater assault on someone’s religious freedom than baptizing them after they’re dead?

The Mormon Church in America should benefit from the First Amendment, not overrule it.

 

Who Is Behind “Innocence of Muslims”?

I don’t think that the inflammatory video “Innocence of Muslims” is just the work of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka Sam Bacile), a Coptic Christian who lives in L. A. and is now being questioned for possible parole violations.  Nakoula has a criminal history that includes bank fraud and making meth.

But who is behind him?  Who wanted this video made and why?  Is Nakoula the Lee Harvey Oswald of this bizarre episode?

It also seems to me that Americans who make and post such videos with the intent of stirring up anger and violence among Muslims can’t just claim a First Amendment right to free speech and not be held responsible for the threat to fellow Americans serving overseas as diplomats or in the military.

Way back in 1919, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre causing a panic….  The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger.”

I would argue that if an American posts such a video with the intent of offending and inflaming Muslims, he creates a clear and present danger to other Americans who may become the targets of Muslim outrage.