Late Night: God Gooses Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck thinks God gave him a flyover at his Beckstalnacht rally Saturday in Washington DC. With a flock of geese. Because Glenn Beck couldn’t get a military flyover. Or someone in uniform to present the flag, thank god/s:

I think it was God’s flyover. It was not supposed to happen. We couldn’t get a flyover. We couldn’t even get anybody dressed in a military uniform to present the flag. We tried for almost a year. We couldn’t get it done. Thank God, we had our flyover.

Beck must be confused about “wasn’t supposed to happen.” Geese fly in flocks and there are resident geese in DC.  No doubt, some were a little disrupted by the crowds on Saturday and so they took to the air. That aside, the use of augury and signs from nature to indicate a message from God/s is off limits for Christians and especially Mormons like Beck who would like the rest of us to forget about the golden salamander, golden tablets and magic glasses.

In Roman augury, birds flying from behind you is a bad sign. The birds were flying from behind the audience at Beck. Good for Beck, bad for his followers. But the flock of Canadian geese–the same species that caused the US Airways crash into the Hudson–veered to Beck’s left side. Bad omen.

If Beck was going to go retro-pagan and divine signs from God in the movement of birds, he really should have used the birds made for it. However, some works of augury say the birds that appear should be used to see which god is answering the question. So let’s give that a try:

Geese are sacred to Aphrodite. Aphrodite is Venus in Roman mythology. Venus the planet was ruled by her, and certain Christian sects came to associate the planet with Lucifer.

But let’s modernize our augury. Colloquially, God was goosing Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is a silly goose. Honk if you think Glenn Beck is nuts….Surely you have some interpretation of this event.

(photo: Sakurako Kitsa on Flickr)

Detroit Initiative to Legalize Small Amounts of Marijuana Will be Kept off the November Ballot

The organization Coalition for a Safer Detroit, earlier this year gathered sufficient signatures to place on the ballot in Detroit an initiative that would legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The three-member Detroit Election Commission voted to prevent it from being place on the November ballot where it could have been voted on by the citizens of the city. After losing an appeal on August 9th to the Wayne County Circuit judge, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that future attempts to appeal the decision will not come in time to allow the measure to appear on the ballot this November.

“We have no interest in losing this on appeal, so we are not going to simply rush to the courthouse with a sloppy legal brief in hopes of getting emergency relief from the Court of Appeals at such a late hour,” organizer Tim Beck said. “If we win, we will simply be on the ballot at a later date and will not have to gather signatures again.”
Depending on when/if they win the appeal the initiative could eventually make it on the ballot in future elections. If that happens the actual people of Detroit will be allowed to decide the matter for themselves.

AK Sen: NRSC Rushes to Release Internal Poll Showing Joe Miller With Strong Lead

The likely victory of Sarah Palin-backed ultra-right wing Republican Joe Miller in the Alaska primary over incumbent Lisa Murkowski has really thrown the Senate race into chaos. The basically unknown and very underfunded Senate Democratic nominee Scott McAdams has gone from sacrificial lamb to a candidate with a real shot against Miller.

PPP recently released the first poll of the potential match up showing McAdams trailing Miller by only eight points, not a bad starting place for a man who has done almost no campaigning and zero advertising. Interestingly the NRSC rushed to release their own internal poll that has Miller with a large lead over McAdams 52%-36%. Normally, I would take internal polls with a fair amount of salt; given how unknown McAdams was until a few days ago any poll at this point probably has little predictive value on November’s results.

What does this mean? Personally, if I were the Republican Party and fully convinced Miller was going to win I would be happy to see Democrats and their allies encouraged to waste a million or two in Alaska when they currently have several other states they need to defend. Only if I was really concerned that with a mere million dollars Democrats might possibly take a Republican seat would I try to squash McAdams’ momentum — but that’s just my reading on the situation.

When There’s Nothing On The Horizon, You’ve Got Nothing Left To Prove

August 24, 2010
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Jason D. Calo, 23, of Lexington, Ky., died Aug. 22 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the II Marine Division public affairs office at 910-449-9925 or .

Who Is Barack Obama: Should We Believe Beck or Limbaugh?

Americans to some degree and particularly those on the Right are now beset by a true conundrum. Is Barack Obama a Christian or a Muslim? According to the latest Pew Research polling: "nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is." Well, it’s no wonder people are so confused, especially when two of the most prominent talking heads on the far right differ as to what is the actual religion of the President. If Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh aren’t on the same page on this, how can we expect the lowliest schlep to know what’s real and as opposed to contrived?

In a recent anti-Obama rant, Mr. Limbaugh intoned: "Imam Hussein Obama is probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had." Limbaugh has been at center stage in railing against the proposed "Ground Zero Mosque’ while trying to somehow insinuate that Obama’s defense of the constitutional right to religious freedom somehow proves that the President is an Islamic. Meanwhile just this past Sunday, in a follow up to his Lincoln Memorial Rally, Mr. Beck appeared with Chris Wallace of Fox News to proclaim that Obama is in fact not a racist after all, but a practicing Christian who just happens to be enamored with Liberation Theology. This brand of Christian thought is defined: "as a movement in Christian theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions." According to Beck himself: "he misunderstood Obama’s philosophy and his theology…which is liberation theology… he didn’t understand, really, his theology his viewpoints come from liberation theology. That’s what I think as in — at the gut level I was sensing. And I miscast it as racism. And really, what it is liberation theology." Thus, its now official, according to Glenn Beck, Barak Obama is legitimately some sort of Christian. Well fancy that, one of the most prominent forces in the American right has reaffirmed that the President is in fact a Christian while the other is still working overtime to convince Americans otherwise.

So what is really going on here? Is there a genuine question as to Barack Obama’s faith or are we in fact looking at a garden variety witch hunt perpetrated from two different angles in a crass and unvarnished attempt to undermine a legitimately elected president through the propagation of falsehoods? Do Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh really believe what they are publicly saying or are they and their followers just unable to face up to the fact that their idea of what America should be just does not comport with what people voted for in 2008. Is that truth just too much to bear? And where is the leadership that we should be seeing from responsible and respectable Republicans in opposition to this political falderal and farce? Perhaps the leaders of the G.O.P. are just too cowed by the far right to stand up for political decency or perhaps they just don’t have the requisite courage. In a recent op-ed on this very topic, Paul Krugman opined: "What we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don’t consider government by liberals – even very moderate liberals – legitimate. Obama’s election would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage. And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage…Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the 1990s, Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince Foster. Now, as we’ve just seen, he’s doing his best to insinuate Obama is a Muslim. And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found." That said, it’s more than evident that the time for the truly patriotic to stand up for political decency and honest debate is now and that’s especially true for the leadership of the G.O.P. How can they legitimately ask for our votes when they allow this type of anti-democratic demagoguery to take place right under their noses and in plain view? Perhaps this is what you get from a political party that may be on its way out of business in the long run. Then again, maybe it’s what you get when there is just a lack of courage in a party that has for so long prided itself as the repository of "real American values." At any rate every American voter has to ask himself this question: If the leaders of the Republican Party lack the courage to take on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, where will they find the courage and stamina required to get us out of the Great Recession or face down Al Qaida or any other threat that will surely emerge in the brave new world of this new century? Failing that courage, do they really deserve our votes?

Steven J. Gulitti
New Haven, CT.


Growing Number of Americans Say Obama is a Muslim;

Liberation theology;

Beck: Obama’s not a racist, he just believes in an "evil" theology;

Limbaugh Dubs NYC Islamic Center "The Hamasque";

Rush Limbaugh Newswire: Comprehensive Real-Time News Feed for Rush Limbaugh.;

It’s Witch-Hunt Season

How Many Lone Nuts Does It Take To Make A Party Mix?

Photo by s58y
Photo by s58y

Stanley Fish had an excellent post in the NYT yesterday about the hypocritical double standard that the right applies to Muslim terrorists vs. Christian ones.  In a (lone) nutshell:

The formula is simple and foolproof (although those who deploy it so facilely seem to think we are all fools): If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on or is in the air (he came from nowhere) and characterize him as a one-off, non-generalizable, sui generis phenomenon.

For examples, Fish harkens back to the the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and the right’s whiplash-fast pivot from talking about Islam’s “culture of violence” to “Oh, it was just some guy acting completely on his own with no connection to anything” when it turned out the bomber was a Christian white guy, and to the irony of holding the entire religion of Islam responsible for 9/11 while disavowing any connection with the guy who tried to kill a cab driver just for being Muslim.

What’s most remarkable is not so much that the right does this, but that they get away with it so many times.  Consider:

Eric Rudolph: Four bombs, two dead, 110 wounded.  Motivated by hatred of abortion and homosexuality.  Conservative response (Cliff Kincaid): He’s not a “Christian terrorist,” he’s a “doper.”  Marijuana bad!

Scott Roeder: Shoots abortion doctor George Tiller in the head in front of his church.  Motivated by hatred of abortion, subscribed to magazine which called killing abortion practitioners “justifiable homicide,” received operational support from senior Operation Rescue staffer.  Conservative response (Randall Terry): He’s a lone wolf, not my fault, but Tiller totally had it coming.

James Von Brunn: Shoots Holocaust Museum guard to death.  White supremacist and Holocaust denier.  Conservative response (Holocaust denier Mark Weber): Don’t blame me for the actions of crazy people!  The Holocaust Museum is a historically inaccurate “expression of the enormous power of the Jewish community,” but I would never condone violence against it!

Byron Williams: Taken down in shootout with cops on his way to “start a revolution by… killing people of importance” at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, the latter of which is featured prominently in Glenn Beck’s abundant conspiracy diagrams.  Conservative response (Beck and his producer): “Liberal blogs” are unfairly blaming us, we can’t be responsible for every crazy person who watches the show, and the Tides Foundation is still the Antichrist.


The Invisible Hand Reaches Across The Aisle

Former Townhall nitwit turned Jim DeMint flunky needs some help:

In the spirit of comity, let’s be helpful, okay*?

I’m kind of torn between:

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?


Fuck you. I’ve got mine.

You may submit your own in the comments.

*Disclaimer: By providing help without the promise of remuneration, you run the risk of sanctioning your own victimhood. Proceed cautiously and at your own moral hazard.

Breaking The Silence About Palestine, And The Force of Anger

"We need more detailed, researched, factual pieces which allow persons to formulate educated opinions and with effort and thoughtful discussion, more solutions. What isn’t needed is more incitement to anger." – Rayne (comment # 6 in this post).

If anybody takes Rayne’s advice, and researches the issue Israel/Palestine conflict for at least two days, anger at Israel for its continual obstruction of the peace process, war crimes, and daily humiliation/occupation of 1.5 million people who live in a tiny strip of land is the normal, and correct response. An educated opinion about the conflict naturally leads one to be angry at Israel, otherwise, it’s not an educated opinion.

Israel’s three year blockade of Gaza underwent a change in July after the Freedom Flotilla massacre provoked international public outcry against the blockade. A cruel form of collective punishment, it forced innocent Palestinians to suffer through life without sufficient supplies of food, water, clothing, building supplies, and teaching material. Richard Falk, the United Nations, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, called the blockade a "flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law."

Israel’s clever propaganda techniques masks its totalitarianism. It’s harsh rulers, who are investing the country’s fate in the powers of darkness and deception, reassure the world that Israel is the classical embodiment of the victim while it kills like a self-righteous king. In January, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy suggested that Israel go under psychiatric observation. It wasn’t exactly a serious idea, but that didn’t make it any less good. Sometimes it’s the unserious ideas that make a difference in a person, or a country’s life. Levy:

There are numerous reasons for the observation. A long series of acts that have no rational explanation, or really any explanation whatsoever, raise the following suspicions: a loss of touch with reality; temporary or permanent insanity, paranoia, schizophrenia and megalomania; memory loss and loss of judgment. All of this must be examined, under careful observation.

A society that can’t self-correct itself is destined to destroy itself. And anybody who is a friend of humanity, and an admirer of the Jewish tradition, does not want to see the destruction of Israel, whether it comes at its own hands, or the hands of others. Breaking the silence about Israel’s heartless violence towards Palestinians is necessary to create a true discussion about peace in the Middle East. We shouldn’t speak in code, or mask our emotions about the most important issue of our era. Palestine is the real ground zero in the manufactured "War on Terrorism," – not the site of the destroyed twin towers, (plus building seven). And that’s not to downplay the death of nearly 3,000 Americans on that day, or ignore the lasting pain that their families are in, but we must keep in mind that the state terrorism that Palestinians have experienced for decades has no comparison in the modern world. What Albert Camus said of Spain in 1948, that "For the first time men of my age came face to face with injustice triumphing in history," is true of Palestine today, where injustice and inhumanity has triumphed in the face of international silence.

In the past nine years, the "War on Terrorism" has been used to justify the ongoing destruction of Gaza by Israel, and the permanent occupation of Palestinians. During the same time, criticism of Israel has accelerated, due in part to Israel’s own criminal aggression against its neighbours, but also because outspoken moral leaders like the late Tony Judt, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappé, Richard Falk, Noam Chomsky, and Richard Goldstone have made it easier for others to be more critical of Israel.

I hope such scholarly criticism grows, and more influential leaders speak up. It is crucial, however, that we make sure criticism of Israel’s actions doesn’t turn into hatred for Israel, and its people. An entire people cannot be blamed for the actions of their leaders, not in Palestine, not in Israel, and not in America. As George Orwell wrote in his essay "AntiSemitism In Britain":

It seems to me a safe assumption that the disease loosely called nationalism is now almost universal. Antisemitism is only one manifestation of nationalism, and not everyone will have the disease in that particular form. A Jew, for example, would not be antisemitic: but then many Zionist Jews seem to me to be merely antisemites turned upside-down, just as many Indians and Negroes display the normal colour prejudices in an inverted form. The point is that something, some psychological vitamin, is lacking in modern civilisation, and as a result we are all more or less subject to this lunacy of believing that whole races or nations are mysteriously good or mysteriously evil.

I hold Israel’s leaders responsible for Israel’s crimes, not its people. The Israeli people are perpetually deceived about the need for security, and don’t know of the role that their leaders play in the breakdown of peace negotiations. They are conditioned day and night to be afraid, and nervous about their future. And it is all unnecessary. This truth needs to be stated more often in the discussion about Israel/Palestine. Minds that are under siege by the state can be made to support any act of state criminality.

The same phenomenon that is happening in Israel is also happening in America, and the West, where propaganda about the unending crisis of terrorism is allowing the government to do anything it wants. That is why a new 9/11 investigation is so critical for peace. If the full truth is known, then the veil of the secret National Security State will be lifted, and the "crisis of terrorism" will be understood by all the people for what it truly is: a false threat used to hijack the liberties of countries, and misled people into supporting illegal wars, and state aggression. Also, let’s not forget that Israel’s Mossad gave birth to Hamas. Hassane Zerouky:

Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamist movement in Palestine, returning from Cairo in the seventies, established an Islamic charity association. Prime Minister Golda Meir, saw this as a an opportunity to counterbalance the rise of Arafat’s Fatah movement. According to the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit (October 1987), "The Islamic associations as well as the university had been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authority" in charge of the (civilian) administration of the West Bank and Gaza. "They [the Islamic associations and the university] were authorized to receive money payments from abroad."

Richard Sale, United Press International’s terrorism correspondent, wrote an article called "Hamas History Tied to Israel" in 2002. An excerpt:

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly — the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel’s support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.

Understanding how the roots of terrorism are connected to state policy, whether in Israel or in America and Britain, will help us to move away from the mindset that we are facing terrorist threats, and allow us to map out a realizable peace in the Middle East for all peoples and nations. By identifying the American, Israeli, and British states and their intelligence agencies as the main culprits in the crisis of international terrorism, we will also be able to articulate our anger at the right people. And we have a right to be angry.

Anger is a healthy emotion, it should not be suppressed. It should be incited, because without anger, reform is not possible.

Read what Aristotle said about anger:

For those who are not angry at the things they should be angry at are thought to be fools, and so are those who are not angry in the right way, at the right time, or with the right persons; for such a man is thought not to feel things nor to be pained by them, and, since he does not get angry, he is thought unlikely to defend himself; and to endure being insulted and put up with insult to one’s friends is slavish.

We must be angry at American, Israeli, British, Canadian, and overall Western leadership. It is a tragedy that we have tolerated their repeated failure in the handling of Israel/Palestine for this long. We can’t be silent about anything, not 9/11, and not Palestine. It is an act of resistance to speak up, and express our anger, and we must do so every single day until we don’t have to anymore.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." – Martin Luther King Jr.

Reid: Energy Bill Pushed to Lame-Duck Session

Is this duck lame enough for you? (photo: Thomas Hawk on Flickr)

A narrow energy bill which Harry Reid scaled back from earlier, more grandiose ambitions is likely to be pushed back until after the midterm elections, said the Senate Majority Leader on a conference call today. However, he did offer renewed hope, for the first time in a while, that the bill could include a renewable energy standard, mandating a percentage of electricity to be generated from renewable sources.

On the call, scheduled in advance of the third annual Clean Energy Summit on September 7 in Las Vegas, Reid went over the history of the energy bill, which initially was a comprehensive plan from John Kerry and others, including a cap and trade system for carbon emissions. “We originally tried to do a bill that John Kerry worked on for 8 or 9 months,” Reid said, but at the end of the process, Kerry and his colleagues found themselves unable to attract Republican support. “We had to step back with something more modest… a more compact bill.” The bill that Reid unveiled before the August recess includes the Home Star energy retrofits for residential properties, inducements for natural gas and electric vehicles, particularly in the trucking fleets, to reduce dependence on oil, and increased money for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which can go toward any number of land use projects.

Reid said that, while he hoped to keep working on the bill in the period between now and the midterms, “we’re bound to come back in a lame duck session… Maybe after the elections we can get some help from Republicans on these key issues.”

Republicans have already started demanding that nothing of consequence get passed in the lame duck, a drumbeat which would undoubtedly grow louder if they happened to win one or both houses of Congress.

Reid described the current recess as a “time-out period” for the energy bill, to see if enough Senators can come together and pass it before the end of the year. He did offer a glimmer of hope on one piece that concerns environmentalists, however. Asked if the bill could still include a renewable energy standard, Reid said that two GOP Senators have expressed an interest in such a standard, and he would be talking to them next week. I know that Sam Brownback is one of those two; not sure yet on the other.

Of course, Brownback pushed an RES from the Natural Resources Committee version of the bill, which was a painfully weak 15% by 2021. Even Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman thinks that’s too low, and wants to raise it to 20%.

On the prospects of a carbon cap, Reid wasn’t as charitable. “It doesn’t appear so at this stage. It doesn’t have the traction that we wish it has.”

UPDATE: There’s also substantial question about the GOP conception of what gets included in a “renewable energy standard,” including things like nuclear and so-called “clean coal” technology.

Out Of Iraq In 2011, No Asterisks

You can parse this in such a way that it’s not totally ironclad, but Ben Rhodes, one of President Obama’s most senior advisers, told me that there’s not going to be a renegotiation of the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq to keep U.S. troops there beyond 2011. Even if the Iraqis decide that their national pride isn’t such a big deal, Obama would still have to choose to re-escalate, a perilous decision that would strain the military immensely and come at enormous strategic (and political) risk. Basically, you have to get to a baroque set of conditions before reneging on the 2011 pullout — set by a binding diplomatic accord —  begins to be imaginable. You can imagine a rather small contingent of either diplomatic security or small logistics advisory force (since the Iraqis buy a lot of our military equipment) but nothing like the permanent bases with tens of thousands of garrisoned forces that I reported on in 2006.

War in Iraq: March 19, 2003 to December 31, 2010. It never should have been a day.

By the way, Siun was on the same conference call with Rhodes that I was on, so she may have some more…