Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Glenn Beck Rally and Our Society

Anyone who has followed this blog or my “Notes” on Facebook is aware that I do not have much use for the likes of Glenn Beck, Fox Noise, the Tea Party, or most of those who follow the rants of this narcissistic nut ball. (Friends and relatives excepted! –LOL) His visions of personal grandeur and self-importance make me want to hurl my breakfast.

That having been said I determined this morning that I might have to write an essay acknowledging the fact that Glenn Beck did in fact get his crowd together for the rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Never mind that this event, in my opinion, was a mockery of all that Dr. Martin Luther King stood for.  However, I certainly recognize that he has tapped into the enormous sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are in society and government today. That does not mean I agree with any single word that comes out of his mouth.

I am not feeling particularly charitable, especially after reviewing the Katrina 5th anniversary programs this week and the reminder of how totally incompetent our government has become in most areas of our lives.  And that is what really scares me.  When unrest is further encouraged by those who are least sane, or least competent to understand the power of one negative assault after another on the public psyche, there is considerable concern about the possibility of someone finally lighting the actual fuse of revolution.  When those seeking public office have as their mandate the course of exercising their “Second Amendment remedies” (read Sharron Angle of Nevada) if government does not do what they think government should do, we are in deep trouble.

There is no question many folks are very unhappy with what is happening in our country.  I am very upset about many of the same things.  But what I am most unhappy about is the failure of our politicians to demonstrate even a vestige of integrity or genuine concern, let alone any awareness, of the plight of an increasing portion of the populace.  I cannot, will not, go into all of the aspects at the root of this dissatisfaction, except to say that the devastating financial divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is at the breaking point.  There is very definitely a different philosophical base between the Democrats and the Republicans on this issue.  That philosophy could be debated reasonably, but it is not.

Frankly, and here comes my basic negativity about things, I think we may have passed the point of no return when it comes to our ability to engage constructively with one another.  I believe we have come to the point where many think it really is necessary to wear guns to rallies to showcase our opinions.  We are almost at the point of the only argument being, “My gun is bigger than your gun!”

Some may be saying, “It is easy to complain.  Why don’t you offer some alternatives?”  I guess what I feel about that is my expressions of other ways of thinking, feeling, and living don’t seem to resonate with those caught up with the Glenn Becks of this society.  I have stated my position in hundreds of articles over the years and in two books.  So now I will just cop out.  Of course that is not much better than the position of the radical right and left who complain and offer such radical alternatives that there is no room to compromise.

For anyone who feels strongly about what I have said, I invite your comments.  You have as much right to your opinions as Glenn Beck does and as I do.  Opinions are cheap, aren’t they?  They require very little other than a means to state them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Could Have Predicted This State of Affairs?

For some time now I have wanted to voice my disgust with the current rampage of the growing percentage of Americans who “want to take the country back.” Back to where? Back to when? These so-called Constitutionalists have either not read the Constitution or want to believe the Founders didn’t really mean what they wrote down at the beginning of our democracy. (I have read it and keep a pocket copy handy to reaffirm its contents in the face of the demagoguery of the idiots wearing hats with teabags hanging from them.)

Don’t get me wrong. Every person has a right to express his/her opinion. What they DO NOT have is the right to make up their own facts and present them as Truth.

In my email today I received this copy of an editorial by Frank Rich of the New York Times. It pretty much reflected my views on a number of current topics, so I decided to reproduce it here for those who have not seen it. To some extent, it saves me from raising my blood pressure over what is happening in this country today.

How Fox Betrayed Petraeus
August 21, 2010 – New York Times

THE “ground zero mosque,” as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room. It’s not going to determine President Obama’s political future or the elections of 2010 or 2012. Still, the battle that has broken out over this project in Lower Manhattan — on the “hallowed ground” of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory store one block from the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club — will prove eventful all the same. And the consequences will be far more profound than any midterm election results or any of the grand debates now raging 24/7 over the parameters of tolerance, religious freedom, and the real estate gospel of location, location, location.
Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.
So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?
You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.
We owe thanks to Justin Elliott of Salon for the single most revealing account of this controversy’s evolution. He reports that there was zero reaction to the “ground zero mosque” from the front-line right or anyone else except marginal bloggers when The Times first reported on the Park51 plans in a lengthy front-page article on Dec. 9, 2009. The sole exception came some two weeks later at Fox News, where Laura Ingraham, filling in on “The O’Reilly Factor,” interviewed Daisy Khan, the wife of the project’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Ingraham gave the plans her blessing. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” she said. “I like what you’re trying to do.”
As well Ingraham might. Rauf is no terrorist. He has been repeatedly sent on speaking tours by the Bush and Obama State Departments alike to promote tolerance in Arab and Muslim nations. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reported last week, Rauf gave a moving eulogy at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan, at the Manhattan synagogue B’nai Jeshurun. Pearl’s father was in attendance. The Park51 board is chock-full of Christians and Jews. Perhaps the most threatening thing about this fledgling multi-use community center, an unabashed imitator of the venerable (and Jewish) 92nd Street Y uptown, is its potential to spawn yet another coveted, impossible-to-get-into Manhattan private preschool.
In the five months after The Times’s initial account there were no newspaper articles on the project at all. It was only in May of this year that the Rupert Murdoch axis of demagoguery revved up, jettisoning Ingraham’s benign take for a New York Post jihad. The paper’s inspiration was a rabidly anti-Islam blogger best known for claiming that Obama was Malcolm X’s illegitimate son. Soon the rest of the Murdoch empire and its political allies piled on, promoting the incendiary libel that the “radical Islamists” behind the “ground zero mosque” were tantamount either to neo-Nazis in Skokie (according to a Wall Street Journal columnist) or actual Nazis (per Newt Gingrich).
These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.
The Fox patron saint Sarah Palin calls Park51 a “stab in the heart” of Americans who “still have that lingering pain from 9/11.” But her only previous engagement with the 9/11 site was when she used it as a political backdrop for taking her first questions from reporters nearly a month after being named to the G.O.P. ticket. (She was so eager to grab her ground zero photo op that she defied John McCain’s just-announced “suspension” of their campaign.) Her disingenuous piety has been topped only by Bernie Kerik, who smuggled a Twitter message out of prison to register his rage at the ground zero desecration. As my colleague Clyde Haberman reminded us, such was Kerik’s previous reverence for the burial ground of 9/11 that he appropriated an apartment overlooking the site (and designated for recovery workers) for an extramarital affair.
At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.
Were McCain in the White House, Fox and friends would have kept ignoring Park51. But it’s an irresistible target in our current election year because it revives the most insidious anti-Obama narrative of the many Fox promoted in the previous election year: Obama the closet Muslim and secret madrassa alumnus. In the much discussed latest Pew poll, a record number of Americans (nearing 20 percent) said that our Christian president practices Islam. And they do not see that as a good thing. Existing or proposed American mosques hundreds and even thousands of miles from ground zero, from Tennessee to Wisconsin to California, are now under siege.
After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?
In the latest CNN poll, American opposition is at an all-time high to both the ostensibly concluded war in Iraq (69 percent) and the endless one in Afghanistan (62 percent). Now, when the very same politicians and pundits who urge infinite patience for Afghanistan slime Muslims as Nazis, they will have to explain that they are not talking about Hamid Karzai or his corrupt narco-thug government or the questionably loyal Afghan armed forces our own forces are asked to entrust with their lives. The hawks will have to make the case that American troops should make the ultimate sacrifice to build a Nazi — Afghan, I mean — nation and that economically depressed taxpayers should keep paying for it. Good luck with that.
Poor General Petraeus. Over the last week he has been ubiquitous in the major newspapers and on television as he pursues a publicity tour to pitch the war he’s inherited. But have you heard any buzz about what he had to say? Any debate? Any anything? No one was listening and no one cared. Everyone was too busy yelling about the mosque.
It’s poignant, really. Even as America’s most venerable soldier returned from the front to valiantly assume the role of Willy Loman, the product he was selling was being discredited and discontinued by his own self-proclaimed allies at home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prayers Answered – Deep Gratitude to All!

I just received the news that the 4.4 cm polyp removed from Shawn’s colon is an adenoma,* a benign tumor!  This is great news and an example of the power of people praying together.  Even the surgeon felt the growth would be determined malignant.  I do not have to tell you how relieved Shawn is, and of course, so am I.  She will have to return to the hospital at a later time to complete the colonoscopy that was interrupted due to her waking up during the procedure.  But now there is time to continue building the image of a vital, perfectly functioning system, fully healed.

Thank you all for your prayerful support!

* Adenomas of the colon are quite prevalent. They are found commonly at colonoscopy. They are removed because of their tendency to become malignant and to lead to colon cancer.  --Wikipedia

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Did This Happen To Me?

I KNOW you have asked yourself, “Why did this happen to me?”  If you didn’t ask the question for yourself, you have probably wondered why so much bad stuff happens to people you know.  Those of you who read my blog or follow my “Notes” on Facebook will know I have a dear friend who is one of those for whom the question surely can be asked.  In fact, Shawn brought it up herself and in doing so she made light of her circumstances.  I couldn’t help but chuckle about the way she was looking through the pain and fear to see the “funny” side of her situation.

As I read her question about why all the bad stuff happens to people it occurred to me that maybe God knows which of His children can handle paying up KARMA in advance!  Okay, I know how this sounds, but it isn’t any crazier than thinking God is punishing us for some nutty behavior. I personally do not believe things happen by chance.  I am not always able to connect the dots on why something works out the way it does in my life, but still, I know I am participating in some way.  Hopefully in the scheme of things we will come to understand what it is all about.  For one thing, consider what we often learn about ourselves when we overcome the challenge.  How many times have you said, “Well, I won’t have to make that mistake again”?

When someone is in the midst of despair, pain, illness and discouragement, it is NOT time to point out how they brought this on themselves.  It is just not that simple.  Furthermore, who are we to think we know the cause/effect situations in another person’s life?  We usually can’t figure it out for our own.  Love and pray for those in need.  Encourage them to do the same for themselves, when appropriate.  That is your gift to the situation.  That, in my opinion, is why you are connected to that friend or loved one who very much needs support, right now.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Long-Time Friend

I have a long-time friend whom I met (in this lifetime) back in the early 1980s.  We were married for ten years and have now been divorced for many years.  Shawn is one of those persons in life that once you meet you know you have always known her and will always travel with her through life times, no matter what events draw you close or tear you asunder. With deep passion we loved and with great heartbreak we fell apart.  But we have remained friends through it all.

This dearest of friends is now engaged in a struggle with cancer, among other health  challenges.  Her vital spirit is not dampened, but fear abounds as one might imagine.  She recently visited me because she felt I needed support.  She knew I was on the down side of depression.  She is like that.  She always knows.  And I always know about her.  I must share that I hurt so deeply for her and the pain and fear she is experiencing.  I can only do what I know to do and that is to love her and pray for her without end.

I can get all "metaphysical" about the philosophy of healing.  I can say that healing is the reality even
if the body is released and soul moves on.  For me, right now, even knowing that is little comfort.  I
share that belief with Shawn, but I know how hard it is to hear it--experience it--through the fear.

So, my readers and my friends, I ask you to support us both with your prayers for strength, life and courage.  I am eternally grateful!

To My Long-Time Friend
(Whom I Met Just Recently)

We are long-time friends, you and I,
Who met just recently.
Pasts and futures acknowledged
As one impacting play
Of knowing,

Universes have we traveled together,
And many we wandered alone.
Yet in the heart-search that urged
Us forward
We have felt the closeness of our Spirits.

Whatever paths we ultimately may follow
As once again we seek our
Our eyes now lock in single embrace,
A mutual eternity.

And in this now-moment we
Laugh again,
Cry again,
Love again—

I love you
My long-time Friend
Whom I met just recently!

Written for Shawn
February 1983