Saturday, August 28, 2010


So Glenn Beck calls his little get-together a rally to restore our national honor. Please, if anyone can, tell me how our honor is restored by a carnival barker who knows absolutely nothing about anything telling a bunch of people who know even less that they aren't as stupid, puerile, racist, anti-Muslim as they have been portrayed, all the while telling them things that aren't true, that are racist, that are puerile, that are anti-Muslim.

The whole thing is a ridiculous joke. Get a bunch of people terrified of the shadow by day and the terror by night in one place, reassure them there are so many things to be afraid of, and then send them back to their separate lives reinforced in their fear and loathing of everything that is even slightly different then their own, limited, experiences.

Yeah, honor is being restored.

What Does This Mean?

Please read. When finished, please put in comments what, exactly, Broder is talking about here. Is Beck like King? Is he not like King? Are the crowds at the '63 March going to find an echo in these folks? Or perhaps a distorted, white, mirror?

I really don't understand what this column is attempting to say, other than, even nearly 50 years ago, David Broder was so important his employers wouldn't bother him while on vacation. Except when a bunch of colored people threatened to come to the nation's capital and complain that they were being treated badly. Obviously, as Broder says, a mob.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hope For Healing Our Broken Nation

The signs are everywhere - our country is in deep, no question. There is inordinate attention being paid to a few voices of hate and exclusion. All the while the rest of us are told these people are representative of the rest of us, and soon we begin to believe it.

Our "leaders" seem powerless in the face of economic catastrophe and social unraveling. They look after their own, while the angry voices in the street, on the radio, on the internet, on television keep telling us that the only way to save us to exclude, to denounce, to demonize. Our President is alienating us from our traditions. Our immigrants are stealing our jobs. Our Muslims fellow-citizens are a threat.

It's not just here. As American troops leave Iraq, with that country still without a government, the low-level civil war heats up. Bombings and shootings increase, more people die, and there is literally no protection. In Afghanistan, the Taliban moves from victory to victory, leaving death and terror in their wake. Pakistan is still under water, with millions displaced and no prospect of things improving quickly.

It would be so easy to succumb to despair. It would be so easy to accept that these images and sounds, these voices and people are the only ones that count. It would be so easy to accept that our political leaders are not just fearful, but incompetent as well. It would be so easy to simply surrender, leave over this land of many other lands to those who want us to be a place we are not and can never be.

Yet, I refuse to do so. My hope does not lie in politics, our "leaders", our people, even our Constitution. My hope lies in the promise of God that, despite it all, we live under Divine Providence. The United States is greater than our present moment would indicate. While we have many faults, to be sure, we also have had moments in the past when, at its bleakest, we have managed to show ourselves better than our worst instincts. From the Founders, with their vision of a commercial Republic in which active participation was a blessing to Henry Clay's vision of a country united and growing in spite of differences through the tragic, firm gentleness of Abraham Lincoln to the compassionate noblesse oblige of Franklin Roosevelt, at those moments when all seemed lost we have had men arise who helped all of us rise to some level above the general malaise and anger. These men are indications of the possibilities that all is never lost.

I know ours will never be a perfect land. The wounds of our history - of race and the destruction of the native populations; of economic exploitation and environmental degradation; of that general human tendency to want the rest of our country to look like us, not them - run far too deep to ever be completely erased. Yet, we have certainly been better than we are now. I do not mean that phrase the way the right uses it; on the contrary, their fear- and hate-filled screeching is part of the problem, part of what could so easily lead to despair. The God in whom I believe, in whom I place my life and faith and trust, will not lead us to destruction. Certainly we have much for which to atone - our greed masked as sound economy; our bigotry masked as concern; our pride masked as concern; our hubris masked as a belief in our Divine destiny - but we still have much to offer. A chastened, more humble America would be a boon to the world.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Does Anyone Remember?

I don't think it is either naive or ridiculous to hope that a variant of James Stewart's speech during the run on the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan in It's A Wonderful Life would be a useful model for the Democrats to use as a campaign tool. On the other hand, I am so underwhelmed by the Democrats at the moment, that I really do wonder if they understand the historic opportunity they were offered in the previous national elections they won, and then pissed away.

In any event, in light of the Republican belief they will not only take over both houses of Congress but dismantle pretty much every legislative gain of the past four years (if I hear "Obamacare" one more time, I'm going to find the pollster or consultant who came up with it and punch him in the mouth) it shouldn't be too hard to remind people why they booted them out of office. Let's start with George W. Bush. Tom DeLay. Indeed, just mentioning a few names (Newt! Palin!) might serve as shorthand.

The simple reality is this - while the Democrats have stumbled badly the past six months (in particular on selling more stimulus to the American people), it was not the Democrats who created the many linked threads now wound as the rope from which our nation currently hangs. For decades we have heard that the government was the problem, that the market would solve every problem. Except, of course, when the market collapses, and the government needs to rush in and pass out checks to big banks and big businesses. Furthermore, the Obama Administration has just not done enough to explore the possibilities of further fiscal stimulus, particularly in light of the belt-tightening too many states have been forced to undergo due to legal constraints on budgeting and spending. Our current fiscal shortfall is indeed staggering when considered in and of itself. The economy is currently teetering not so much on "double-dip" as it is on near-collapse precisely because the potential gains from federal stimulus spending has been offset by the fiscal retrenchment at the state level. Demand is still low, and as the economy continues to worsen, it will go even lower.

Now is the time for bold thinking and action. None of that is happening, however, so the best we can hope for is for Democrats to remind the American people just how horrible the Republicans were, and just how much all their economic policies and principles led to our current mess, and how much their intransigence is making any attempt to make things better nearly impossible.

Of course, the distractions of gay marriage and the planned Manhattan Islamic Community Center are marvelous distractions, at least for the moment. Just as the threat of Iraq killing us all in our sleep was a wonderful distraction in mid-summer 2002 from the Enron collapse and the implications it had for the Bush Administration, some folks have found a wonderful little shiny object for everyone to look at in order to keep their eyes from the onrushing train bearing down on them.

While a holding action against ignorant nihilists regaining power is hardly a campaign slogan or tactic, precisely because it is all they currently have, I suggest the Democrats use it (although no one asked me . . .). Besides, it could be fun (Mark Foley) reminding the American (David Vitter) people just how horrible (Terri Schiavo) the Republicans were, especially in the dotage (Denny Hastert) of their reign.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hallowed Ground

This photo is of one of many businesses within that circle of hallowed ground that protesters insist should not include a Muslim Community Center. I assume that, as a strip club serves to remind people of how sacred the bodies of the honored dead are, it has to stay. A place where people can gather to exercise, to swim, to have parties, to attend religious instruction classes, and to worship freely is an affront to the memories of the Muslims who were working in the World Trade Center that day, dying in a rain of fire and steel and glass.

Incidentally, I heard a report on NPR this morning that the anti-mosque folks, with all their red-faced hatred on full display, are feeding in to the views of extremists. So, please, continue to carry on about the community center and encourage more violence, more hatred of the United States. Play in to the hands of the terrorists by opposing nothing more than a Muslim version of a "Y".

Monday, August 23, 2010

When Hate Goes National

Mitch McConnell lied on Meet The Press yesterday. He insisted the "national debate" on the planned Islamic Center was begun by Pres. Obama. On the contrary, it was begun by the shrieking of Pam "Atlas Jugs" Geller and her google-eyed fans, most of whom wouldn't visit NYC out of fear that every New Yorker is out to kill them, con them, or give them a social disease. It makes me nuts that almost every person speaking out against the plan has no connection with Manhattan.

As far as I'm concerned this is a local issue. I am frustrated to the point of banging my head against the wall by the fact that our governor, Pat Quinn, has decided to offer his "view" on the matter. Every idiot with a mouth and an opinion seems to think it necessary to offer a view.

My mother taught me that a marvelous human virtue is minding one's own business. If something has nothing to do with you, offering your view (particularly when said offering isn't requested) is grossly impolite. That there are those who think, in the age of the internet, that the barriers that exist in the real world are somehow less important, giving tacit permission to any- and everyone to speak up and speak out on questions that have nothing to do with them. Indeed, many of those who choose to speak out believe their views have a great deal of weight - people like Newt Gingrich and Carly Fiorina. It just floors me that some person sitting in Montana or Arkansas or where ever believes that his or her view on a building project they will likely never see outside a news report on television is part of some "national conversation". Really, it's an example of the breakdown of etiquette of mammoth proportions.

Somehow, the right believes they have a winner with this one. Let them think so. I'm with Ted Olson on this, the constant screeching and spittle-spraying hate is only going to turn people off. More important, if the Republicans really believe it is their bounden duty to tell the rest of the world how to live their lives, they should remember that this whole ginned-up fake controversy is nothing more than the Terri Schiavo case writ large. That worked out really well for them.

Virtual Tin Cup

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