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Short takes

CHARLES Krauthammer is a psychiatrist, Fox News contributor and newspaper columnist. On Tuesday, Krauthammer tried to add another occupation to his list: recruiter.

During a panel discussion on Tuesday, Krauthammer turned to Sen. Joe Manchin and asked: "Why don't you 'fess up and become a Republican?"

The West Virginia Democrat would no more switch parties than he would begin to root for Pitt, but he took the offer as a compliment.

"I'm centrist, as about as centrist as you can get," Manchin said. "I'm very fiscally responsible and conservative. I'm socially compassionate. And I don't always go to the bottom line. I always root for the underdog. So, whatever that makes me, that's what I am."

Republicans worried that Manchin would become Washington Joe if elected and while he continues to schmooze, he's actually making Washington more like Joe, working with:

n Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on gun legislation.

n Sens. Burr, R-N.C., Coburn, R-Okla., Alexander, R-Tenn., and King, I-Maine, on student loan legislation.

n A host of Republicans to head off a war in


n Susan Collins, R-Maine, on avoiding default.

n Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., on consumer credit


n Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., on an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes coal.

That shows two things. One, Manchin is willing to work with Republicans. Two, many Republicans are willing to work with him.

The nation might be better off if he stayed Democratic and ran for president. We've done worse, especially the last two.

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PHIL Robertson is the patriarch of "Duck Dynasty" on A&E, which is the highest rated show in cable history. But in an interview with GQ magazine, a reporter asked Robertson what is sinful.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson said. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

Officials at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination immediately demanded that A&E fire Robertson, and the network suspended him indefinitely.

Once again, a special interest group has bullied a corporation to punish someone for speaking his mind. Over the years, extremists on the left and on the right have ignored fair play and free speech.

Sadly, many in the media shirk their duty to defend free speech. On Wednesday, Piers Morgan of CNN discussed the Robertson situation with CNN colleague Don Lemon.

Both men have faced campaigns to fire them.

"Listen, I always err on the side of free speech. Just because I'm offended, as I say, I think people can say whatever they want to say. I don't think people should be fired. I think the marketplace should decide. If people don't like 'Duck Dynasty,' they shouldn't watch 'Duck Dynasty'," Lemon said in a lengthier response.

After listening, Morgan said, "I won't be quite as kind as you. I think he should be fired. I think it's absolutely repulsive."

That begs the question: Who made Piers Morgan in charge of what Americans may or may not hear?

For a country founded on the concept of freedom of speech, Americans sure don't seem to tolerate it much.

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MANY people have begun complaining about the substitution of Xmas for Christmas. But Karen Vuranch, a writer in Fayetteville, did a little research for West Virginia Public Radio and found that far from being a slur, the X belongs in Christmas.

The use of X to symbolize Christ began in the first century, when Roman authorities banned Christianity and Christians faced crucifixion and worse for practicing their religion.

"Not only did the X stand for the first letter of Christ's name, if you tipped it on its side, it becomes a cross.  So, X marked the place of secret place of worship," Vurnach wrote.

One might say the early Christians were the original X Men.


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