Friday, December 10, 2004

CNB History Lesson: Dolley Madison was Stacked

CNB's crack investigative staff stumbled upon James Madison's biography on the White House website. It begins with the following (emphasis has been added):
At his inauguration, James Madison, a small, wizened man, appeared old and worn; Washington Irving described him as "but a withered little apple-John." But whatever his deficiencies in charm, Madison's buxom wife Dolley compensated for them with her warmth and gaiety. She was the toast of Washington.
CNB is unsure why the author felt it necessary to point out that Dolley Madison had ample bosoms, but, evidently, historical accuracy demands such details.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rumsfeld Shows the Soldiers His Appreciation

Everyone and their dog is talking about the Rumsefeld "town-hall" debacle, where he opened himself up for questions from soldiers about to go to Iraq. The now-infamous Question came from Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team (comprised mainly of soldiers from the TN National Guard): "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"

That would seem to be a valid question, to put it mildly. Rummy responded in a fashion that it is difficult to find more insulting or uncaring: "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

I began a comment on this, but then realized that Fred Kaplan of Slate summed up my thoughts perfectly:

Rumsfeld's answer was, first, unforgivably glib, reminiscent of his shrugged line about the looting in the days after Saddam's fall ("Stuff happens"), but more shocking because here he was addressing American soldiers who are still fighting and dying, 20 months after Baghdad's fall, as a result of Rumsfeld's decisions.

More than that, his answer was wrong. If you're attacked by surprise, you go to war with the army you have. But if you've planned the war a year in advance and you initiate the attack, you have the opportunity—and obligation—to equip your soldiers with what they'll need. Yes, some soldiers will get killed no matter the precautions, but the idea is to heighten their odds—or at least not diminish them—as they're thrust into battle.

So here stands the secretary of defense, long and widely despised by officers for rejecting their advice before the war and now openly criticized by the grunts for failing to give them proper cover as the war rages on all around them.

And yet Rumsfeld is the one Cabinet secretary who has received explicit assurances that he will keep his job, with President Bush's full confidence, into the second term.

Today, Rumsfeld said he expects the Army to do its best to resolve the problem. His passing of the buck is unsurprising, in that he still has yet to suffer any consequences from Abu Ghraib.

CNB generally tries to be independent, but, for crying out loud, can someone explain why they voted for Bush, if this type of guy earns loyalty? Support our troops, indeed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Who is this Man? A CNB Quiz

This man is:
  1. A waiter on Celebrity Cruise Lines
  2. Trying to make Members Only jackets cool again
  3. A world leader once again wearing a uniform (or in this case, a uniform-like jacket) when appearing with members of the military

Many thanks to Atrios.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas in Danger? Hardly

While CNB prides itself on being aware of major goings-on, evidently there was news that the CNB NewsRadar (patent pending) missed: Christmas is in severe danger of being eradicated.

Don't believe your old pal, the CNB? Ask Chicago lawyer Andy Norman, who, in his words, is out to "save Christmas from the ACLU." "It's not the grinch that steals Christmas anymore, it's the ACLU because they have this concept that you can't have any bit of religion on state property or you're violating the First Amendment and that's wrong," said Mr. Norman.

"ACLU bluster has cowarded many fine teachers and administrators, causing them to miss or underutilize the wonderful artistic, historical, cultural, musical and sociologic educational opportunities which Christmas presents to our children," Mr. Norman has further stated.

At the risk of sounding elderly (no offense to the elderly): fiddlesticks. This vicitmization-of-the-majority crap is unconvincing, especially in light of the recent election, and its misleading focus upon the effect of Evangelical Christian voters.

For Christmas actually to be under fire, rather than solely exist in the rabble-rousing of a vocal group with an agenda (CNB is distrustful of those, whether on the right or left), something would have to occur to actually affect Christmas -- e.g., a governmental entity would have to change the officially recognized holiday of Christmas to "Winter Solstice" or something like that (which, if these people paid attention to theology, would be more accurate). However, these folks are angry because schools are not having kids sing songs involving Christ. (As a helpful hint, CNB understands that there are several churches of various Christian sects still open for business. Check your yellow pages.)

If the problem were that other religions were getting more time than Christianity, then I understand the point -- that could be seen as favoring one religion over another (of course, that has been the problem for other religions and this was the attempt to resolve the issue). However, Mr. Norman says that the problem in one school is that "The program has cleansed itself of all references to Jesus and the Christmas story. None of the other religions had their songs affected." His point would seem potentially valid, until you look at the list of songs: "Do You Know About Hanukkah?" and "Celebrate Kwanzaa" (sounding more like cursory summaries rather than celebratory songs) - the Christmas songs were "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Good King Wenceslas." Evidently, Mr. Norman's beef is with the absence of the word "Christ," which would then mean "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "We Three Kings" (among others) would not be Christian enough.

Would Mr. Norman feel fine if there were separate, but equal (sound familiar?), pageants for each major religion? Is his complaint only that he feels Christians are getting slighted? Why is he not mad that there was no song concerning Ramadan? Isn't Islam considered worthy of religious liberty, freedom, and equality?

It would seem that Mr. Norman and his comrades have a fairly narrow view of religious liberty. Why not just call it "pro-Christianity" and be honest? There is no pejorative connotation with such a label (quite the opposite in the current political atmosphere), and at least we wouldn't have to deal with pretending these folks are equally concerned of religious freedom for all.

By the way, for an accurate view of what the ACLU actually thinks about religion in schools, look at its website.