Lap Dancing Protected Under Oregon Constitution

Lap dancing appears to be a big issue in the Pacific north west. Last November I posted on proposed restrictions in Seattle. Now we have a judge in Salem, Oregon defending lap dancing as being protected by the free speech provisions of the Oregon Constitution.

Terrorist Mickey Killed

I’ve had a number of posts on television finales, from The Sopranos to Studio 60, but here’s one I missed. The good news is that, after previous promises, Hamas is finally getting rid of the Mickey Mouse look alike which is used to indoctrinate children in terrorism. The bad news is that the method by which this was done might reinforce hatred:

In the final skit, Farfour was beaten to death by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour’s land. At one point, Farfour called the Israeli a “terrorist.”

“Farfour was martyred while defending his land,” said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed “by the killers of children,” she added.

SciFi Friday: Finales For Doctor Who and Studio 60; Best Genre Shows of All Time

The major event in science fiction this weekend is the finale of the third season of Doctor Who, with this weeks episode running an extra six to eight minutes. My review of the previous episode, The Sound of Drums, along with a video clip, is here. Of course those planning to watch the season starting in July on the SciFi Channel might want to avoid these spoilers.

Many questions remain going into the finale, including the nature of the droids which are literally decimating the earth. I say literally as their instructions are to kill one tenth of all humans. We do know that The Master has converted the Tardis into a Paradox Machine to bring them to earth. He calls them Toclafane, which The Doctor says is really a fairy tale villain, not a real alien race. The Master also warned The Doctor that their identity will break his heart. One theory is that The Master is using The Paradox Machine to bring Cybermen in a new form back to our dimension, with Rose somehow involved, explaining the part about breaking The Doctor’s heart. (Fortunately The Doctor has two hearts). Another possibility is that The Paradox Machine brings fairy tales to life.

While Doctor Who has more episodes of any genre show, TV Guide didn’t give it the respect it deserves. They have released an updated list of the top thirty genre shows as follows:

30) Strangers with Candy (1999-2000)*
29) Absolutely Fabulous (1994-2003)
28) Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)*
27) H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1971)
26) Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1975-1978)
25) Firefly (2002-2003)*
24) Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
23) Dark Shadows (1966-1971)
22) Doctor Who (1963-present)
21) Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

20) The Avengers (1966-1969)
19) Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
18) Veronica Mars (2004-2007)*
17) Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990)
16) Babylon 5 (1994-1998)
15) Family Guy (1999-present)
14) Battlestar Galactica (2003-present)*
13) Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1989-1999)
12) Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991)
11) Jericho (2006-present)*

10) Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)
9 ) Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
8 ) The Simpsons (1989-present)
7 ) The Prisoner (1967-1968)
6 ) Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
5 ) Lost (2004-present)*
4 ) Farscape (1999-2003)
3 ) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
2 ) The X-Files (1993-2002)
1 ) Star Trek (1966-1969)

Shows marked with an asterisk are new to the list. I can’t see placing Doctor Who, which has more episodes than any show on the list (even if we add on all the spin offs to Star Trek) and is far better than many of the shows, at only 22. Firefly is ranked at 25. While I might place it a little higher, I do agree that it doesn’t deserve as high a ranking as some would give it. For example, recently I posted a list of top science fiction movies which listed Serenity (which was based on Firefly) as the top movie. They might also be overly influenced by the reaction to the cancellation and subsequent saving of Jericho. While a good show, it is over ranked here. I have no disagreement with the two two spots, Star Trek and The X-Files. While I’ve never seen Buffy, it has a tremendous following and I can also see ranking it highly. A few shows which have been left out, Heroes, 24, Lost in Space, and Dark Angel, are far more significant than several of the shows on the list.

Finally, a farewell to Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Fans of the show took out the above ad in the Hollywood Reporter thanking Studio 60 and encouraging donations to the Tipitina’s Foundation of New Orleans.

The problem with the show, which led to its demise, was that it was composed of Aaron Sorkin characters engaging in Aaron Sorkin dialog about Aaaron Sorkin’s favorite issues, transferred from the West Wing to the set of a television show. On the other hand, the great thing about the show was that it was composed of Aaron Sorkin characters engaging in Aaron Sorkin dialog about Aaaron Sorkin’s favorite issues, transferred from the West Wing to the set of a television show.

Prior to the finale, the show had a three part episode which ranks with the best of television. The finale tied up the loose ends, giving everyone a happy ending, even if not always realistically. Personally I don’t ever recall pulling a patient’s family aside with the words “I need to talk to you” to deliver good news! On the other hand, I’m glad to see that Jordan not only survived, but had already thought to draw up papers for Danny to adopt her newborn daughter. It was predictable all season that Matt and Harriet would follow the Ross and Rachel route and get back together. The best Harriett scene in the final four episodes, however, was not with Matt and Harriet but between Harriet and Danny. When things were looking bleak for Jordan, Harriet came up with,”Let me teach you how to pray.” If it was anyone but Aaron Sorkin, I’d start worrying–this is Studio 60, not Seventh Heaven after all. Fortunately it turns out that it was Danny who had something to teach Harriet, placing a few questions in her mind.

Sorkin ended Sports Night with a jab at ABC when he had a character say, “Anybody who can’t make money off of Sports Night should get out of the money-making business.” That left me wondering if he would end Studio 60 with a similar message to NBC. With all the happy endings in the finale, my suspicion was that Aaron Sorkin might have been thinking, “so this stuff is too complex for you. Here, have a nice happy television ending if that will make you happy.” While there were perhaps too many happy endings for all, it was preferable to shows such as Veronica Mars which ended without a resolution in the hopes of being renewed. For better or for worse, it was also as different from the ending of The Sopranos as an ending could be.

Clinton Concedes Defeat to Obama–On Fund Raising

The initial wave of Obamamania had seemed to die down in the media, and Hillary Clinton had been appearing to remain a strong front runner–assuming that anything that happens this early really matters, and assuming that Al Gore stays out of the race. It isn’t surprising that Obama wasn’t able to maintain that intensity of coverage once the novelty wore off. The dynamics of the race may change again, however, when the results of the second quarter fund raising come in. Hillary Clinton has conceded defeat, at least as far as this quarter is concerned.

A memo from campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson predicts that Clinton will bring in $27 million. He didn’t disclose how much of this is for the primary campaign and how much for the general election. Obama is expected to raise around $30 million, most of it for the primary campaign. Obama might also have a long term advantage in terms of fund raising as more of his contributions have come from small donors who can legally continue to contribute, while Clinton has received more funds from those who have already reached the maximum.

Last night’s debate was also mixed in terms of the perceived winner with the edge going once again to Hillary Clinton. The Politico places Clinton in first place with Obama in second. David Yepsin thought that Hillary’s performance should help her over take Edwards in Iowa. Others writing on the debates have called this Obama’s best debate performance yet, with some believing he tied or beat Clinton.

Poll Shows Low Approval For Congress; Lower Approval For Republicans

In looking at previous polls showing low approval for Congress, I noted that I would also give them a low approval rating and that these polls should not be interpreted as preferring Republican control. This attitude is also seen in a CNN Poll. 49% disapprove of what the Democratic leaders in Congress have done but it is clear in this poll that they do not think the Republicans would do any better. 57% said they believe Democratic control of Congress is good for the country with 31% disagreeing.

Democrats also continue to win on generic ballots. 53% say they would vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress if the elections were held today while 41% say they would vote for the Republican. 51% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party with 38% having an unfavorable opinion. In contrast 53% have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party with only 36% having a favorable opinion.

Approval of Congress and approval of the parties are two separate issues. Many of us can disapprove of what Congress has done so far, but still realize that the Republicans have shown that they were incapable of governing effectively or with integrity when they were in control. Some of the reasons to disapprove of Congress are not reasons to support the Republicans, including dissatisfaction with their actions to end the war and to hold the Bush administration accountable. Other reasons are institutional, such as the inability to accomplish very much with a slim majority and hostile President.

Do Not Buy Books About Hillary Clinton

At least not from this site if this post is being stolen like many others.

I stumbled across a site which appears to be taken from RSS feeds from legitimate blogs, including Liberal Values. It posts blog posts from other blogs without attributing the posts to the original source. I believe the site’s primary function is to sell books on Hillary Clinton, along with what ever other ads Google inserts.

I’m hoping this is all automated and nobody realizes that a post is going up requesting that readers do not buy from them.

Fact Checking “Wall of Separation”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has reviewed many errors in the religious right propaganda film, Wall of Separation, which I also commented on last week. Following are some of the specific errors found:

Claim: Thomas Jefferson supported seminaries at the University of Virginia.
Response: Just the opposite is true. Jefferson opposed having a divinity professor at the university, asserting that religious groups could provide services in the town of Charlottesville. UVA is generally regarded as the first American university to separate religion from higher education.

Claim: Jefferson supported using the Bible in Washington, D.C.’s public schools.
Response: During his presidency, Jefferson served as president of the local school board in a largely ceremonial post. The board adopted a proposal to include the Bible in the curriculum in 1812 – three years after Jefferson left the board. In his Notes on Virginia, Jefferson opposed teaching the Bible to children, arguing that their minds were not mature enough.

Claim: James Madison approved chaplains in Congress.
Response: Madison did so early in his career. He later admitted his mistake, writing, “The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles.”

Claim: Jefferson wrote the Northwest Ordinance, which called for government funding of religion.
Response: Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Northwest Ordinance, and his language was wholly secular. A congressional committee later added language stating, “Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The document does not endorse government funding of religion.

Claim: “In God We Trust” is inscribed in the House and Senate chambers and appears on U.S. currency, thus proving that the framers supported mixing religion and government.
Response: These are modern developments, dating to the 1950s. “In God We Trust” was adopted as a national motto in 1956. (“In God We Trust” first appeared on some coins during the Civil War. Its use was not mandated on coins until the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Its use on paper money was mandated by Congress during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

Claim: Benjamin Franklin called for prayers during the Constitutional Convention.
Response: True, but “Wall of Separation” fails to tell the rest of the story: The delegates did not act on the request. Franklin himself noted, “The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary.” Why would a convention determined to forge a society based on “biblical law” open its deliberations without even a nod to a Supreme Being?

Claim: The Supreme Court applied the Bill of Rights to the states in 1947’s Everson v. Board of Education.
Response: The 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, applies portions of the Bill of Rights to the states. During the debate over the amendment, Sen. Jacob Howard (R-Mich.), a primary advocate, said the amendment’s purpose was to apply the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights to the states. “To these privileges and immunities,” he noted, “should be added the personal rights guaranteed and secured by the first eight amendments to the Constitution….The great object of the first section of the amendment is therefore to restrain the powers of the state and to compel them at all times to respect these fundamental guarantees.” The Supreme Court recognized this as early as the 1920s and fully embraced “incorporation” in a 1940 ruling, Cantwell v. Connecticut.

Claim: In 1963, the Supreme Court struck down “voluntary Bible reading” in public schools in Abington Township School District v. Schempp.
Response: There was nothing voluntary about it. Pennsylvania state law mandated that ten verses of the King James Bible be read aloud every day followed by recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Schools were not required to excuse students, and some punished those who would not take part.

Claim: Article VI, a constitutional provision that bans religious tests for public office, was actually designed to preserve religious tests in the states.
Response: This is an absurd argument. When Article VI was announced, it sparked a firestorm of opposition from conservative religious leaders, who supported religious tests for public office. They did not perceive Article VI as helpful to their cause.

Wall Street Journal Staff Protests Possible Sale to Rupert Murdoch

The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is as far right as they come, but, unlike Fox News, there is a distinction between the news and editorials. There is an institutional bias towards business and somewhat towards Republicans, but they do provide a valuable news source. This could change if Rupert Murdoch is successful in his bid to add The Wall Street Journal to his empire.

The probable outcome if Murdoch does purchase the paper is that, like Fox News, it will become an organ primarily followed by the true believers and the rest of us will have one less national news source of value. The staff of the paper is also concerned about this and spent the morning at home in protest. Both contract negotiations and the loss of journalistic independence were cited as reasons:

The Wall Street Journal’s long tradition of independence, which has been the hallmark of our news coverage for decades, is threatened today. We, along with hundreds of other Dow Jones employees represented by the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, want to demonstrate our conviction that the Journal’s editorial integrity depends on an owner committed to journalistic independence.

Ann Coulter Is Losing It


Ann Coulter can dish it out, but we now see that she can’t take it herself. She may call her political opponents traitors or fags, or say she wishes they were killed by terrorists, but she can’t handle the recent criticism from John and Elizabeth Edwards. More comments at AmericaBlog.

Update: Ann Coulter provides her spin in today’s column.  Hmm, someone who spews lies and hatred and then acts like the innocent victim. I’m getting a strange sense of deju vu here. Well, at least Ann Coulter doesn’t stoop so low as to say that those who criticize her are sexists for criticizing a woman.

Gore Leads New Hampshire Poll

National polls have generally placed Al Gore in third place when he is included. I doubt many people have paid much attention to this due to both the unreliability of national polls this far before the primaries and due to believing Gore would do much better if he was actually in the race. We now have a better indication of how Gore might do. A New Hampshire presidential poll by WHDH-TV and Suffolk University shows that Gore would lead the race with 32%, and I bet he would do even better if he was an active candidate. Hillary Clinton leads with 37% without Gore in the race, but loses over a quarter of support when Gore’s name is added to the poll.

Considering all the things which could happen which could help and hurt each candidate’s choices, it is impossible to make any definite predictions now. That said, I think that if Gore entered the race he would have the best chance of any of the candidates to win. Polls such as this might also motivate Gore to give it a shot.