The Stupid Shall Be Punished is Meridian blogger Joel Kennedy's mantra, whether he's writing about the sea as a cruel mistress or former Idaho Rep. Bill Sali.
Kennedy, a retired Naval submarine officer, started blogging in September 2004, just before leaving the Navy. He mostly writes about U.S. submariner politics, but garnered a good deal of attention during the last election cycle.
Kennedy writes under the name "bubblehead" at bubbleheads.blogspot.com.
He was in charge of the guys running the nuclear reactors on Seawolf class submarines--the ultimate Cold War machines--but he can't really talk about it.
After 21 years in the Navy, he now prefers "mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found."
What was your longest time underwater?
The longest I was ever submerged was 71 days. That was interesting because we hadn't quite planned out the food quite right. When we pulled into port, we had one bag of vegetables and three boxes of Jell-O. We actually had a list of which crew members were going to eat first if they kept us out longer. I was pretty high up. I was pretty popular. We had 20 guys who weren't actual crew members, who were the first to go, obviously, secret squirrel type guys ... people who support you in missions vital to national security.
Like the guy on Hunt for Red October?
The Hunt for Red October, when it first came out was, it was amazing, it was about 10 percent accurate. But that was maybe 10 times more accurate than anything that had come out to that point, and that was one of the reasons I actually started the blog. I wanted to have a platform to be able to correct misconceptions that showed up in the mainstream media about submarines.
Are you Mormon?
I was stationed in Orlando, and for those of us who were going up to Idaho, they told us you have to watch out because there's a bunch of Mormon girls up there and they're going to try to marry you. I said, "Whoa, we're going to be careful about that." And so, I met [my wife], she was going to school at Idaho State, and she told me, "Yeah, I'm Mormon, and I love you, but I'm not going to convert you. I know that eventually you'll see what the truth is." And so she married me, and nine years later, I saw the truth. I go to church, the whole works. But I use bad language sometimes on the blog.
Do you get in trouble for that?
No, but one of the other blogs that I had in the last political season used a lot of really bad language. But that was more semi-anonymous. I don't know if you followed the congressional race last year on the blogosphere or not. I was Bill Sali Fan [the blog]. I actually outed myself after the election ... up on HBO [Huckleberries Online]. Did you ever read my defense of Larry Craig? That was my best writing ever. I actually coined the term "cock-thirsty glory holing." And I actually got an e-mail from somebody who said, "Hey, I really like your defense of Sen. Craig, I just think you should not use so much bad language." I also had, "an anonymous slab of man meat tickling his senatorial tonsils."
What was your goal with Bill Sali Fan?
To mock and belittle the people that thought like Bill Sali. As a military person my whole life, I'd been a Republican before I came to Idaho. Always been kind of moderate though. And Bill Sali stood for everything that I thought was wrong with what was happening to the Republican Party. So I wanted to mock and belittle him in a way that would make him appear foolish, not that he had much problem doing that on his own. Hopefully I succeeded a little bit.
Do you think it influenced the election?
It was just fun. The Idaho political blogosphere is a complete echo chamber. There's a few of us that read it. But if you look at it, my blog gets about 1,200 hits a day. Clayton Cramer gets about 1,000. But I'd be surprised if anyone other than Chris at Unequivocal Notion or 43rd State Blues gets more than a couple hundred hits a day, and that includes Adam Graham. It's mostly an echo chamber ... It really is insular, and it does not really affect that much. It affects the candidates a lot more, but it really doesn't affect the general public debate.
The candidates worry about the blogs?
I actually met with Wayne Hoffman and we discussed Bill Sali Fan. I didn't reveal at the time that I was Bill Sali Fan. He was just wondering why I was so anti-Bill Sali.
How do you think Minnick's doing?
I think he's really good. He's more conservative than I am at this point, which I think he needs to be if he wants to win re-election, and I think that if the cards really came down on the table, he would vote the right way.
What do you call your politics?
I'm a moderate realist, which in Idaho makes me a Democrat. I'm more libertarian as far as government interference with personal life. I'm more of a deficit hawk when it comes to the economy. I'm for a robust foreign policy and a strong military.
Why do political elites and the media pay attention to the little blogs?
The bloggers are self-selected people who I think have something to say, and they're thoughtful, and they can provide immediate feedback to the candidates and to policy makers on what they do. If [Sen.] Shirley McKague had read some of my critiques of her various memorials, then perhaps she would have realized the idiocy before it actually came up in hearings.
Have you recovered from your esophageal cancer?
The blog really helped. Support from the readers was actually kind of nice. It was really good for me to talk about it because my family got tired of hearing about it. I actually waited 'til right after the elections to announce it. I found out about it Oct. 21, started radiation and chemo right around Thanksgiving, that was done New Year's, had surgery around the middle of February, and it's gone.
How do you feel?
I feel great. I lost a lot of weight. They took out the top part of my stomach, all of my esophagus, and turned what was left of the stomach into esophagus. There's better ways to lose weight.
bubblehead on gays in the military, women on boats and more at citydesk.boiseweekly.com.