Sunday, August 29, 2010

What hath Glenn Beck Wrought? Naught but Rot.

". . .There is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone." 
Martin Luther King,  August 28, 1963

Here it is, the morning after the heralded Glenn Beck "Restoring Honor" rally, held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial inches away from the exact spot where Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a Dream" speech exactly 47 years ago. (Beck claimed it was "coincidence" that his speech was delivered then and there, but we know Beck so we know better.)

So the crowds came and the numbers were relatively "vast", and we're in a tizzy because it just shouldn't be.  It's Glenn Beck in charge and he's a mean one, and there's fear of a sullying or a misremembering or a watering-down of MLK's glorious words.

Fear not, oh, please.  Crowds are what we have with Glenn Beck but resonance is what we cherish with the Rev. Martin Luther King.  When we quote entire phrases from Dr. King, even now, after nearly a half-century, we're uplifted by their goodness and reminded of his courage and his deeds.  He brought us around to his way of thinking at a time when there was still so much resistance to the notion of racial equality.  We look back now (most of us who lived through it) and wonder how we could have been so blinded for so long, until true leaders--good men and women willing to lay down their lives for the kind of justice that should have been theirs all along--spoke to us in words and actions we could finally understand.

This is what Glenn Beck wants his flock to believe he's doing now.   Yesterday's Beck put on his religious cloak and preached goodness and mercy and a back-to-God  message that might have brought tears to our eyes, had we not known about the Beck-Before-Yesterday.

That is the Beck he's going to have to live down if we're to believe anything he said at the MLK "I Have A Dream" site. Glenn Beck's history is neither as a peaceful organizer nor as a man of God.  He's not even a man of the people.  He is a man of the person, an island unto himself.  This is his show, his shtick, and tomorrow the matinee will have changed and on the screen will be Glenn Beck, the actor, in yet another role designed to keep his paying audience riveted and agitated.

It's possible that he'll like this role so much he'll do an encore and we'll see him in MLK makeup for a while longer, but Beck is Beck and not that good at the kind of discipline that would require him to maintain the persona.

He is smart enough, however, to know his own people.  They're not peacemakers, either, and they won't tolerate this for long.  It's all an act, it's all a game, and they're playing because they think there's something in it for them.  Their goal is to destroy the "others" (that's us) and "take back" the country (our country--all of ours).
 It won't happen.

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke to a huge crowd of their followers.  That was the significance of yesterday.  The significance of MLK's "I have a dream" speech 47 years ago to the day is that we still remember it and we still honor the man who gave it.  We still believe in the America he dreamed about, and we still understand our roles in preserving it.

Glenn Beck tried to dilute that message yesterday and he failed.

Curtain down. 



Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Holiness of Burning, Burning Hate

The city of Gainesville has denied Dove World Outreach Center’s application for a burn permit to set fire to copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, but the church plans to burn the holy books anyway.
The Gainesville Sun, 8/18/10

So let me get this straight:  A "church" called Dove World Outreach Center, 50 members strong,  followers by their own admission of the Christian bible, reaches out to another faith by threatening to burn their sacred book.  Is that the way it looks to you, too?

Dove World calls itself a "New Testament" church, but quotes lavishly from--surprise!--Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Their calling--given to them by God, according to them--is to denounce both the Quran and Homosexuality.  It's a big job but they're a feisty bunch.  No sitting on their hands in that "church".  They have signs:

 They have tee shirts:

They have FaceBook:   (Sorry, couldn't stay.  My hair can only stand on end for so long.)

But their website is where it's at:  In a blog titled "No Homo Mayor Protest",  Fran Ingram seems to want to make the  rant about those "homosexual sinners", but inexplicably cites a quote from Exodus first:  Exodus 20:14 (New International Version)14 "You shall not commit adultery"

Then she goes on to cite Leviticus 20:10-17 as proof that homosexuality is a sinThere is, yes,  mention of men with men in one of those eight verses, but there's a whole lot of killing required for men and women together, for all kinds of abominations, including adultery.  Death to adulterers!  (Which may explain that measly Dove World Outreach Center membership of only fifty.)

The seeming head blogger, Fran Ingram, wrote another blog called "Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran".  It explains all.

Reason #1:  The Koran teaches that Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Risen Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was NOT the Son of God, nor was he crucified (a well documented historical fact that ONLY Islam denies).  (!!)

#2:  The Koran does not have an eternal origin. It is not recorded in heaven. The Almighty God, Creator of the World, is NOT it's source. It is not holy. It's writings are human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings. (Oh, my.  How to break it to Fran that the Christian bible's writings are also "human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings"?  How to tell her that the reason she's using "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" is because the Brits came up with the "King James Version" of the bible long, long  after Christ was no longer of this earth, Anglifying it to suit their anal-retentive, misogynistic, royalty-revering needs?)

#3:  The Koran's teaching includes Arabian idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals.  (Depends on what you mean by "paganism".  As for idolatry, rites and rituals--We kneel, we stand, we chant, we cross our hearts, we sprinkle water on heads of young and old alike, we hang Christ on a Crucifix in our living rooms and over our beds, we touch the hem of Virgin Mary statues, we devote entire catalogs to Christian lucky charms. . .)

#4:  The earliest writings that are known to exist about the Prophet Mohammad were recorded 120 years after his death. All of the Islamic writings (the Koran and the Hadith, the biographies, the traditions and histories) are confused, contradictory and inconsistent. Maybe Mohammad never existed. We have no conclusive account about what he said or did.  (Oh, boy.  See #2 above.  Or better yet, read the Christian bible.)

#5:  Mohammad's life and message cannot be respected. The first Meccan period of his leadership seems to have been religiously motivated and a search for the truth. But in the second Medina period he was "corrupted by power and worldly ambitions."  (Uh huh.  Hmmm.  Sounds a lot like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Paul Crouch, Ted Haggard, Jim and Tammy, George Rekers and a whole lot of supposed "Christian leaders".  Of course, they aren't deities.  At least not to the rest of us.)

#6:  Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature. There is no separation of church and state. It is irrational. It is supposedly immutable and cannot be changed. It must be accepted without criticism.  (Sounds like a Christian Right wet dream.)

#7:  Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights. The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam. The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment and abuse for which Moslem men receive little or no punishment, and in many cases are encouraged to commit such acts, and are even praised for them. This is a direct fruit of the teachings of the Koran.  (So the Koran is based on Leviticus and Deuteronomy? And this is a bad thing?)

#8:  A Muslim does not have the right to change his religion. Apostasy is punishable by death.  (That death thing is pretty harsh (a big thing in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, by the way.)  Burning in Hell for non-believers is pretty harsh, too.  But how does the bible feel about liars?)

#9:  Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West. (You want to see irrational fear and loathing--look first to the Old Testament, then follow that line to the Religious Right.  You could start with the Dove World Outreach Center.)

#10:  Islam is a weapon of Arab imperialism and Islamic colonialism. Wherever Islam has or gains political power, Christians, Jews and all non-Moslems receive persecution, discrimination, are forced to convert. There are massacres and churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship are destroyed.   ("The Qur'an states: '...There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is here forth distinct from error...”[2:256]
In the light of the above verse, a person has to be insane to belief that Islam prescribes execution for apostasy.
The Qur'an further states:
' Say (Muhammad it is) truth from Lord of all. Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, LET him disbelieve.' [18:29]
In no uncertain terms, Allah commands Prophet to allow people to believe and disbelieve. If the Shariah recommends to kill an apostate, this law cannot be Islamic because it contradicts the above two verses."

 Okay. now let's have a look at Deuteronomy 7:1:  “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. [1] You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire."

So out of those 10 reasons there are NO reasons for burning the Quran.  But that won't stop them, any more than a plea for common sense will stop them from attacking "homos".  They are on a mission to avenge their version of God, and common sense is a big, fat loser.

But wait. . .happily, there's more:  Apparently their God is no match for the city, the bank and the insurance company.

An email to the Dove World Outreach Center flock:

DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER needs your support!

City of Gainesville denies burn permit – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

RBC Bank calls in mortgage – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

Cottons All-Lines cancels insurance – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

We will proceed with the Koran Burning Event, Saturday 9/11, 6-9pm, as planned.

RBC Bank called in our mortgage with a limited time to pay it off. Now Cottons All-lines Insurance has also cancelled our commercial insurance on our property putting our mortgage in immediate default. We need to raise the $140,000 to pay off the RBC loan immediately.

Oh my God.  Could it GET any better?  Yes, it could.  The IRS could take one look at that web page and decide that using the words "God" and "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" doesn't make them a church.  (Dove World was accused in 2009 of selling used furniture for profit on eBay, using volunteer help from church members, including Dove World Academy students, who are not allowed outside contact even for weddings and funerals.  I'm looking for the outcome.  Haven't found it yet.  Dove World leader Terry Jones says he does pay taxes on TS Company, their eBay furniture company, but won't say how much.  Read the linked article above for the full story.)  

The only time any of the phony "churches" believe in separation of church and state is when they can get around having to pay taxes. A "church" only has to prove 51% usage in order to get full tax exemption.  Pretty good, huh?  That means they can claim outside profits of up to 49% of their income and still not have to pay taxes.

The unfortunate truth is that God's hate pays way more than God's love.  Wonder if there's a bible quote for that.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, PTSD - A Human Heart is Crying Out

"As if there is not enough that has gone tragically wrong in this era of endless warfare, the military is facing an epidemic of suicides. In the year that ended Sept. 30, 2009, 160 active duty soldiers took their own lives — a record for the Army. The Marines set their own tragic record in 2009 with 52 suicides. And this past June, another record was set — 32 military suicides in just one month. War is a meat grinder for service members and their families. It grinds people up without mercy, killing them and inflicting the worst kinds of wounds imaginable, physical and psychological . . . [a]nd the multiple deployments (four, five and six tours in the war zones) have jacked up stress levels to the point where many just can’t take it. "  Bob Herbert, The Lunatic's Manual, NYT  August 2, 2010

I'm thinking now of three men I've known whose lives were changed dramatically by war.  Their injuries weren't as much to blood and bones and sinew as they were to the heart and mind.  They were each in their own way shell-shocked.

My Great-uncle Leonard, quiet and dignified even as a young man, I'm told, fought in the First World War.  He came back silent and withdrawn and by his own words, not fit for society.  He had lost so much weight people in his hometown didn't recognize him.  His sister-in-law told me he could be seen at all hours walking and walking and walking.  His beard grew long, his clothes grew tattered, and after a while people stopped seeing him altogether.
He told me later, when he was in his late 80s and still robust, that he had to go into the wilderness to heal himself.  He built a rude cabin deep in the woods and lived there for three or four years, coming into town only for provisions, getting out again, quickly, stealthily.

He spent his time hunting and fishing, following a daily regimen of grueling calisthenics to strengthen his body, and studying the habits of the deer and other wildlife living with him in the surrounding forest.  A simple life that no doubt also included a coming-to-terms with what he had seen and done on the battlefield.  Events which he never talked about, and would only describe some 60 years later as "terrible".

My grandmother's step-son sustained some leg injuries and was shell-shocked during World War II.  He walked with a wobble but his major wounds were psychic and so deeply embedded he never got over them.  He came back with a monthly government disability pension that usually lasted no more than a week.  Alcohol was his solace, and his barmates were his closest friends--until the money ran out.  He was called "Rubberlegs" by nearly everyone, including the kids.  When my grandmother heard us say it, she called us in and told us what had happened to him.  "They never should have taken him," she said. "They should have seen that Wesley's soul was too kind for war."

My cousin's Uncle Bill was a soldier in World War II, as were two of his older brothers.  I remember how handsome he was, looking to me just like Dennis Morgan, the movie star.  As a silly teenager I had an enormous crush on him and found any excuse to be near him.  After the war, he was staying with my aunt and uncle for a while, and one day I found him sitting alone in the living room.  He had his head down, his hands covering his brow and I thought he had drifted off to sleep.  Then I saw his shoulders shaking and realized he was crying.  I backed out and went to tell my aunt.  "It's the war," she said.  "It won't let him forget it."

His two brothers made the adjustment back to civilian life without any outward signs of trouble, even though they had both been in fierce battles on the European front, but Bill had been a medic at the Battle of the Bulge.  The images of bodies and body parts would not go away.  He was a lost soul for many years, drowning his memories in a sea of alcohol.

We train our children at an early age to be considerate of other peoples' bodies and feelings.  We do not hit.  We do not call names.  We do not cause deliberate harm to humans or animals.  And then we take those still malleable young people and send them to war, expecting them not just to forget societal rules but to completely turn those rules on their asses and do the exact opposite.

Once inside the base gates they're taught that there is honor in war, even though the ultimate goal is to kill.    We use fancy terms like "collateral damage" to define the innocents who get caught in the crossfire.   It takes a strong will or a dulled mind to pretend those innocents, young and old, are unworthy human beings.   It's enough to cause any conscious mind to crash.

A while back, George Carlin put his own take on the emotional casualties of war and the euphemisms we choose to slot them:
 There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap.
In the first world war, that condition was called Shell Shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, Shell Shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago.

Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called Battle Fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell Shock! Battle Fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called Operational Exhaustion. Hey, we're up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it Shell Shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha."

And I'll bet if we had a no-escape draft open to the sons and daughters of rich and poor alike, wars (if there were any) would be short and to the point.  Then we might not have to resort to euphemisms in order to get around the fact that as evolved human beings we're no longer built for war.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Follow the Light. Hear the Voices. It's not all Fox and Hounds. It's not even C-Span.

For the past couple of years I've been watching with trepidation and, yes, sadness, as C-Span, that formerly great political  leveler, has been moving farther and farther to the right.  There was a time when they were scrupulous about their fairness.  I haven't forgotten the days when Brian Lamb seemed to feel strongly about their responsibility to present issues without bias.

These days things have changed enough that the moderators of Washington Journal find themselves using up precious minutes defending their choices against more and more urgent calls for some equity. They firmly deny the obvious fact that they give more quality time to Republicans and their issues than they do to Democrats. 

  They will say they read from many papers, and it's true, but if they choose, say, the New York Times, they'll only read the portions that weaken the Dem positions and strengthen the Republicans.  They choose the portions of articles they highlight based on how effectively they think it bashes government policies.  I didn't notice that same attention to detail during the dreaded Bush years.

Their papers du jour are the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the New York Post.  They  bring on guests from The Heritage Foundation, (just this AM Lisa Curtis from the Heritage Foundation was on  talking about WikiLeaks), The American Enterprise Institution, and the Cato Institution, and treat them as if their utterings are actually those of the American People.

Where are the folks from or People for the American Way?  Where are the spokespeople for the labor organizations?  I see the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushing their myth that unfettered business will fix everything, but I don't see representation of the obvious evidence showing that unfettered business benefited mightily from the ruination of our country.  (Today Laura Ingraham was on C-Span2's BookTV touting her latest screed against Obama.  Where's Robert Reich or Al Franken or Rachel Maddow?)

 Okay, I am biased and I make no bones about it.  I not only lean Liberal, I stand firmly on what I consider hallowed ground.  I haven't written about this before because I wanted to be sure I wasn't letting my biases get in the way.  Was I seeing something that wasn't actually there?  Are they fair and I'm just missing the times when the Democratic/Liberal/Progressive point-of-view is presented honestly and fairly, with the same amount of time given?

I wish I could say I'm wrong.  I used to have a real love affair with C-Span.  I watched it religiously and I marveled at the amount of unbiased information I could get from them.  Something happened to C-Span during the last few years of the Bush administration, but I was still blindly in love at the time and  refused to accept the growing signs of their abandonment.  It was there, I just wasn't admitting it.  Now I am.  They've left me--and you--and all of us who refuse to toe the Republican/Right Wing line.  They've gone over to the dark side and I'm completely baffled.  Just when we need them the most, they've sided with the enemy.  Why?

(August 2, 6:45 AM - C-Span 2 repeating the 7/16/10 airing of the 2010 Eagle Forum Collegians Summit at the Heritage Foundation.  Phyllis Schlafly and Michael Coffman spewing their Right Wing nonsense to a motley handful of students, but the C-Span cameras were there.  Why?)


It's one among many "whys".  Why are foolish clowns like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin the anointed titular heads of the Republican Party?
 Why are hate-filled organizations like the Tea Party and the NRA viewed as celebrators of democracy?

Why are our fearless leaders afraid of all of the above?  Why is the supposed free press afraid?

The answers are constantly being sought by those of us in the Liberal/Progressive blogosphere.  The good news is our numbers are rising.  The bad news is that there are so many of us, only a select few will rise to the top to be seen and heard by what passes these days for multitudes.

But now there is Twitter.

Yes, Twitter.

I know, I know.  I made the same jokes about Twitter and Tweeting as everyone else, but here's what's so great about Twitter:


Plus you get to follow people who either know what they're talking about or can lead you (RT or ReTweet) to someone else who knows what they're talking about.  You can RT anything you find enlightening or amusing or nutty or sad, and it saves you from having to come up with your own 140-character quote-in-a-jar.

 There's even a secret code that opens the doors to other liberal/progressive Tweeters and lets them know you're one of them. (#p2)  There are other secret codes, of course, but I'm still bungling my way through so it's the only one I feel comfortable sharing right now.  There's TweetDeck and Bitly and hashtags and a whole host of other confusing and arcane necessities required of heavy-duty Tweeters and their acolytes. (That's me.)

But the whole point of my post here is to shed light on some pretty amazing bloggers.  These are people I might never have discovered had it not been for Twitter--and that's a fact.  I find pretty amazing bloggers in other places, too, (like Talking Points Memo Cafe Reader Posts , Alternet Soapbox, and Open Salon--where every would-be blogger--including me--is welcome).  In fact, there are legions of pretty amazing bloggers who are singing our song, spreading our message, and proving beyond doubt that liberals and progressives are out there in numbers that would be staggering to the MSM if only they would take the time to look around.

Here are a few of my favorite Twitter bloggers:

Tomfoolery with Otoolefan:  Check out his his piece about Thomas Sowell.  Priceless.
The Political Carnival with Paddy and Laffy
 A Free America: You Decide
Lady Liberty Speaks
Radio Graffiti
Drums n Whistles (Karoli)
The Jack Wade Show

From Talking Points Memo:

American Dad
The People Choose
Beneath the Spin - Wattree
Sleepin' Jeezus
Joe Wood
Brown Man Thinking Hard - Kris Broughton

And others:

Nutwood Junction
Bucko's World
Out Left

There are so many more (including my Favorites on the right side of my blog), but this gives an idea of the quality of the political blogs out there.  They're wonderful and deserve a spot at the top.  At the very least, they should know how much they're appreciated.  And the country should know they're here.  Please help spread the word.  And feel free to add names to my list.   Let their voices be heard.