Jack is back

In-kind communications: California media mutterers may want to watch what they say in this coming special-election season, because a recent court ruling may force them to put a lid on political speech. Or put a price on it.

Washington-state radio talkers John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur—both employed by the Fox News-affiliated KVI 570 AM up in the Emerald City—used their programs to promote a statewide initiative aimed at rolling back automobile gas taxes. The two—no strangers to political activism— reportedly helped create the initiative.

So, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wickham ruled that on-air comments promoting the gas-tax rollback were the equivalent of in-kind campaign donations, and he directed the station to put a dollar figure on the airtime.

If the ruling holds legal water up there, the precedent could flow south and affect media-industry-employed advocates in the Golden State.

Consider KFBK nighttime squawker Mark Williams, who recently traveled—along with dozens of other radio commentators from across the country—to Washington, D.C., to try to convince legislators to do something about illegal immigrants. He even took credit for helping usher along a Senate bill to prevent illegal aliens from attaining driver’s licenses.

The station manager might want to go down to the secretary of state and pick up a box of campaign-disclosure forms. Williams is going to need plenty.

Agent orange chicken: Bites firmly believes that all good meetings have free food. So, when Congressman Dan Lungren’s staff handed out menus at his recent town-hall event, Bites was excited. But, unfortunately, there was no food to be had.

The menu was an example of the fare America’s terrorist prisoners are offered in the cozy confines of Marine-operated Guantánamo Bay, not a buffet to buy votes. California’s former top cop and failed 1998 gubernatorial candidate was trying to prove that Guantánamo is less gulag and more Club Med.

According to Lungren, the average inmate has gained six pounds while living at Club Gitmo. Maybe it’s the food. Or maybe it’s the fact that a 6-foot-square cell just isn’t big enough to burn off those love handles.

Lungren’s self-titled Gitmo Menu did look pretty appetizing. Breakfast had an assortment of choices, including two 6-inch pancakes with syrup, served with orange juice. One lunch option was orange chicken, served with whole-wheat bread, rice pilaf, fresh fruit and okra. Topping it off is a dinner consisting of honey-ginger chicken with rice, bread, fruit, squash, carrots and a side of butter.

Still, Lungren’s approach to Guantánamo’s residents isn’t all milk, cookies and bayou chicken. On how to extract information from detainees, Lungren rhetorically asked, “Do you use psychological techniques? I would say yes you do. … We’re not going to treat them as criminal defendants, because that is not what they are.”

Maybe Bites should cancel his trip to Club Gitmo after all.

Not halal, and definitely not kosher: Even “psychological techniques” don’t sound so bad next to some creepy ideas for fighting terrorism that have been floating around the National Guard building. The San Jose Mercury News recently reported that local peace activists discovered a publicly displayed poster that suggested we needed another military leader as brutal as old Black Jack Pershing. According to one particularly grisly legend, Pershing had his soldiers dip their bullets in pigs’ blood before executing 49 of 50 Muslim extremists in 1911. “They let the 50th man go. And for the next forty-two years,” read the poster, photographed by one of the activists, “there was not a single Muslim extremist attack anywhere in the world.”

“Maybe it is time for this segment of history to repeat itself, maybe in Iraq? The question is, where do we find another Black Jack Pershing?” the flier concluded.

“It’s just very disconcerting,” said CodePink activist Natalie Wormeli. “No matter what the intent is,” she said, “to have this in a public building with people trained to use M16s … it scares me.” According to a statement released by Maj. Jon R. Siepmann, “the flier was a personal item that was posted in a soldier’s work area. It does not reflect the policies or the viewpoints of the California National Guard. The flier was inappropriate for the workplace and it has been removed.” Of course, it took Merc reporter Dion Nissenbaum’s story to show the Guard just how inappropriate it was.