Friday, April 30, 2004

Fighting Words - 203

[The point that Mr. Witten was trying to make - and make and make and make - was that the, all to visible, Iraqi terrorists were NOT following the Muslim religious precepts that they profess. Unfortunately, so many points were superficial, and obvious counterpoints so often completely ignored, that the plot seemed contrived and forced. The self-serving, sensationalistic reporter was, however, all too familiar - if not an overused character type.]
The SECNAV introduced Major General Earl Watson and his Iraqi counterpart General Mohammed Jabra at a press conference where ZNN reporter Jill Waddington grandstanded and accused Watson of having an offensive attitude toward the Muslims. She claimed that she had "just happened upon" (a lie) Watsons guest sermon at a Baptist church, where he called it a "second rate religion" and that "we were doing battle with the devil." The SECNAV ordered a JAG investigation and (surprise) Harm (H) and Mac (M) disagreed on about everything. Watson told M that the religion "has a warrior streak which is too easily appropriated as justification for holy war." M began her arguments with him by saying that Islam explicitly condemned terrorism. Watson said that Waddington's reports weren't accurate or complete. He had spoken that it was "Christian duty to protect people from terrorism" and told the two to ask the congregation for the complete truth. Unfortunately they interviewed seven people who had all seemed to hear the talk completely differently. Turner (T) offered to help M, who was having back pain, with the prosecution saying that he had never heard his chaplain father say anything against any other religion. Then Waddington brought out never shown, archived footage of another "sermon" Watson gave 4 days after 9/11 over 2 1/2 years previously. Watson had said the US was under attack by people who were following the Koran's advice to "Fight unbelievers wherever you find them" and that we were "a Christian army who will win this holy war." The SECNAV bumped it to an official court of inquiry, closed to the press, who began asking questions like: why didn't you get your speech approved by public affairs? And why did you wear your uniform? M tried to belittle H saying: "why aren't you offended by his speech?" H told her that the general had spent, and nearly given, his life to defend our right for free speech, "now you want to take away his right to freedom of religion and speech - why doesn't that offend you?" T found that Waddington had actually received her tip from a Cpl Hamud who was getting out of the service.

T received notice of an investigation into his "anti-Korean bias" charge from Lt Yi. Chegwidden (C) assigned Bud (B) to investigate saying that if it wasn't true he wanted T's record cleared. B argued that he had been in the exact same place, having Ts career in his hands, a year ago. C quipped "well, fortunately, he survived that experience!" T worried to M that his prosecution of Watson was hypocritical. She told him that "you're far too obsessively rational to be prejudiced against anyone." T took B his notes and information and told him that he "would do a fine job." Coates (Co) nagged C for a press release and he told her that what the country needed was more baseball heroes. When she said she wasn't a fan of baseball, he said "I've fired people for less." He dictated a memo to the SECNAV and included the part about baseball heroes, so she said she would write the first draft for his signature. The whole gang cornered Co in M's office and asked about Meredith. H said "we know that you know something." She told them "yes, I do… and the admiral won't be saying those two words." Hamud told M that he had met Waddington doing a story at boot camp. He called her after hearing of Watson's new appointment because he had been offended by Watson's "trash talking Islam" at an "interfaith" sermon after 9/11.

The board of inquiry recommended court martial and on the stand Watson said that he had been asked to be a guest speaker at a church meeting, in a chapel, days after 9/11 when emotions were high and did wear his uniform but made it clear his opinions were his own. To M's caustic examination he said: "I expressed belief that God is not neutral in the struggle between freedom and terrorism. M sniped back that she "thought God would prefer that people didn't throw his name around quite so much." M called the SECNAV to testify against Watson but H countered all of her arguments. Jabra testified that most Americans "can't tell the difference between real Islam and the terrorist perversion of Islam." He said Watson's remarks didn't really bother them because they were "just words." After saying that the people were glad of the help to rid them of Saddam Hussein, he said that he could "cut Watson some slack" because the speech was made after 9/11. He then told the court that he, personally, found Christian ideas odd; so, "if I find your religion a little bizarre, I can't get angry with you finding mine equally strange." Waddington reported that she "wondered if the prosecution was really trying to win," and M called her a "stupid twit." T brought in reverend Haynes, from Watsons previous speech, to explain the slides he used. One showing Baghdad on fire he said showed "the devil in the smoke." Watson explained to H that while he was there with his men, in battle, in danger, he believed that "God had permitted him to see the face of the devil" which had given him the strength to go on. He gave H one potential witness for his character. Mrs. Sattar's husband, Ayman, was killed in a fedayeen ambush and Watson had come to the house to express condolences. When found that she had breast cancer that the Iraqi hospital couldn't help, he arranged for his church to bring her to America for treatment, let her live in their housing and drive her to the Mosque every Friday for worship. H called Watson to the stand and he did well. M felt it necessary to give a lesson on Islamic belief's saying that "Jihad" only meant "to struggle or strive," only considered "warfare justified for self-defense or liberation," had rules against killing "children, women, elderly and other non-combatants… including suicide." She said that "they are not following Islam any more than Timothy McVeigh was following Christianity." [The authors left out that McVeigh never claimed to be on a Christian crusade or that "official" Islamic leaders aren't seen to actively refute or "excommunicate" terrorists] The court found Watson not guilty on the charges; but, the judge recommended formal counseling and ordered not to assert belief's in public forums. As Watson was walking out with H and M, they saw a news report of 18 killed in a Fallujah suicide bombing by the "fire of Allah" claiming a "glorious victory in this holy war." Watson excused himself. H said "that's why we need men like the general." M sniped "or not."

Yi told B that T had allowed a sailor to antagonize a North Korean skipper and supported him being tied up. He said that T had made statements showing he had little respect for Koreans. B told Yi that he had spoken with his father, who had been shot by a black man, and found him to be bigoted against blacks. He asked Yi to tell him honestly that he hadn't at least once questioned his own motives against T. Yi dropped the charges and B told T that he "wasn't going to let you down this time." C told Co about the most famous Jew in the 1930's. Hank Greenberg, AKA "hammerin' hank" was a hall of fame 1st baseman and left fielder who took the Detroit Tigers to four world series. Greenberg, C said, did more to combat anti-Semitism in the 30's than any other man. "What the world needs now," C said, "is a Muslim who can hit 60 home runs!"

Friday, April 2, 2004

Hard Time - 201

[This is such an incredibly absurd episode, and the expectation that the JAG audience is gullible enough to believe it is so condescending, that it reduces it to the level of an adolescent 'soapbox opera' or 'sitcom.' It is hard for me to believe that it even deserves retelling! I wouldn't, except that the premise, that two 'poppy seed' bagles can ever be 'mistakenly' the source of a false positive drug screen, cannot be left unchallenged. Ms. Coen not only wrote an exceedingly poor episode; but, compounded it by perpetuating a drug user myth, and completely fabricating her own medical reality. The premises are childish, the dialog fabricated and the actions are out-of-character. Where is this series going?] Mac (M) prosecuted PFC Michelle Boyer for 'Heroin use' and won a conviction yielding 1 year confinement. The 'brig-chaser' let Boyer get in M's face and ask if she'd ever 'regretted sending someone away?" Then, when M answered 'no,' Boyer cold-cocked M to the ground. T asked for another three years, and the judge gave her four! Then, when M found that the same incompetent 'brig-chaser' was being assigned to move Boyer across country, she asked the convening authority, Col Okerman, to assign someone else. You guessed it, Okerman was the overused, arrogant, condescending, resenting women in military type and refused. Then, when Chegwidden (C) tried to intervene, Okerman demanded that M be assigned to do it (!) And C agreed (!!) They couldn't find military transport (!) went commercial (!) with a layover in Cincinnati - Boyer's 'hometown.' (!) Boyer 'disappeared' in 15 seconds from a restroom stall with M standing in front of it (!), then was recaptured when she went for a smoke (!). No more flights to San Diego until the next day and a weenie security boss forced M off the airport (!) Of course, sharing the same room made them best of buddies, so M took her the next day to see her daughter in her boyfriends custody (!) where she, again unattended, stole pills from a bathroom and tried suicide. Again, missing the apparently 'only' flight from Cincinnati to San Diego (!) and giving M the opportunity to feel sorry for her and take her to a beautician, and shopping and out to eat (!) Of course she would pig out on muffins and begin to retch and be taken to an ER where an eager 'intern' would recognize 'poppy seed' induced 'false positive' drug test and offer that 'some people's system's are more sensitive' and he would run 'allergy tests' to prove it (!!!!) C goes to bat for M against little Lord Fauntleroy Okerman to obtain a new trial and M testifies that even she wouldn't have had better control if she'd been falsely convicted (!) [This is the kind of crappy writing that lost the show ratings and got it cancelled!]

Harm (H) and Bud (H) were assigned the case of Senior Chief Paul De Fina who's CO, Stotler, stupidly revealed De Fina's HIV status to PO McMichael, who had gotten a 'couple of drops' of blood on his sleeve from De Fina's cut hand without either proper rationale or precautions for confidentiality. Of course, McMichael gossiped it all over the unit. Again, the arrogant, know-it-all Stotler not only compounded the harm by relieving De Fina of duty, but basically told H "oh well" when the harm his actions had caused was pointed out. De Fina wanted to proceed with charges for reversal of the decision but his wife, who was also HIV positive, refused to talk to H and B. De Fina had been shot in a rebel uprising in Africa and received 'tainted' blood according to the hospital. B, in his meticulous follow-up, found the treating doctor who said that he remembered the case and didn't give any blood transfusion. H and B manipulated a confession from De Fina's wife who had found she was HIV positive while her husband was away then let him think that he had infected her. De Fina filed for divorce and got a position as HIV case manager at Bethesda. Stotler wanted H to get De Fina back because he was now short of trainers; but, De Fina refused.

Meredith came to visit C. Coates didn't keep her out saying "I'll pay for this, but it's in his best interest." Meredith said she didn't come to patch things up or ask forgiveness, just "couldn't let us part without words." C said: "goodbye." When she said "I deserved that," he told her that "falling on your sword" was embarrassing and he wasn't "playing out a scene from a bad movie with you." She told him that "Allesandro is married, so I am not worthy of being with any man, especially you." And "I've done this four times. Two acts of unfaithfulness and two I just disappeared." She said it was a pathology, self-destructive behavior. He told her to "go to a Therapist and stop working it out on the unsuspecting." She tried to start requesting something; but, he shut her off with "not this time" and "somewhere down the line with someone else." She left.