Americans demand satirical response to Glenn Beck

    50214_150942998258775_5717_nSomeone on Reddit had a brilliant idea today for a D.C. rally in response to the one Glenn Beck held this last weekend. Here it is:

    I’ve had a vision and I can’t shake it: Colbert needs to hold a satirical rally in DC.

    I was woken in the middle of the night by this (along with the sound of my cat getting ready to pee on the rug).

    Think about it. It’ll be just like Colbert’s mockery of GW Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, but 500,000 people will be able to participate with him. We’ll all stay totally in character as teabaggers. The kid with the microphone that interviews all the idiots at these things can come by and we’ll ramble into his microphone.

    This would be the high water mark of American satire. Half a million people pretending to suspend all rational thought in unison. Perfect harmony. It’ll feel like San Francisco in the late 60s, only we won’t be able to get any acid.

    I know you’re out there somewhere, Stephen, watching LOLcat gifs alongside us. We need you. There’s no way to have a logical public discussion with the teabaggers. The best we can do is to mimic them. Show them a mirror and hopefully some will realize how ridiculous they actually are… Or maybe they won’t even realize that they’re being mocked, which could be even more awesome.

    And it’s not just me that likes the idea. There’s already a Facebook page with over 2,250 fans, a budding wiki presence and a logo (pictured to the right). And people are, at this very moment, furiously writing letters to the producer of the Colbert Report. As someone pointed out on the wiki, “If America needs anything it’s a 500,000 person mirror with Colbert holding it!” And I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know what I can do from here in Michigan to help, but, at the very least, I’m thinking that I can charter the first bus to D.C. and set out to fill it with fellow fauxbaggers.

    We’ve tried logic. It doesn’t work. Why not give satire a chance? What have we got to lose? If nothing else, it might give Democrats a little psychological boost going into the November elections. And, all that aside, it would just be great to show Beck what a 500,000 person rally really looks like.

    I wonder, though, if something like this could possibly come together in a few month’s time. I suspect it’s not an uncomplicated thing to reserve the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall.

    For those of you who don’t see a need to respond to Beck, I’d encourage you to watch the following interview footage, which was shot at his “Restoring Honor” event on Saturday.

    And Beck’s misinformation campaign isn’t showing any signs of slowing. Today, on his radio show, he announced the launch of a new news portal called The Blaze. The site, he said, in addition to providing him yet another venue from which to
    push dubious gold investments, would serve as a fair and balanced response to the lies being spread by the Huffington Post. (He didn’t really mention the gold ads, but the website is full of them.)

    While we’re on the subject of Beck, I’d also like to suggest you check out the article in today’s Washington Post on his transformation into a spiritual leader. Here’s a clip:

    A few weeks before organizing a massive rally on the Mall that had the feel of a religious revival, Glenn Beck sought the blessing of some of the country’s most prominent conservative Christian leaders.

    The Fox talk show host wanted their support as he shifted from political commentary to a more spiritual message, he told the group of about 20.

    This is where God is leading me, Beck declared, according to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who was there, along with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

    Land said most in the group found Beck’s faith genuine and heartfelt, although not everyone agreed to embrace him publicly.

    “We walked back to the hotel after and said, ‘That was extraordinary,’ ” Land said of his conversation with Dobson after the dinner in Manhattan. “I’ve never heard a cultural figure of that popularity talking that overtly about his faith. He sounded like Billy Graham.”

    Two days after Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally drew a crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial, many Americans were still trying to figure out if the commentator had just seized the mantle of the religious right.

    Conservative Christian talk radio was crackling with debate about Beck’s Mormonism. Religious progressives were assailing his attacks on President Obama’s Christianity. Scholars of religion and politics were analyzing Beck’s evangelical-like talk of being saved from drug and alcohol addiction. Some pastor-bloggers were bemoaning what they consider the conflation of celebrity, politics and spirituality.

    “Politically, everyone is with it, but theologically, when he says the country should turn back to God, the question is: Which God?” said Tom Tradup, vice president for news and talk at Salem Radio Network,which serves more than 2,000 stations, most of them Christian. “How much of this is turning to God? How much is religious revival and how much is a snake oil medicine show?”…

    Hopefully Colbert can do it even better.

    Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

    City and Township to discuss consolidation of law enforcement services

    AnnArbor.com has a story up on their site tonight about ongoing talks between the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township on the possibility of working together to provide law enforcement services. Here’s a clip:

    …“This is very preliminary, we just wanted to discuss some basic issues and possible impediments that are there. Then we’ll know more and see if the City Council and township board want to pursue it,” Ypsilanti City Manager Ed Koryzno said.

    The township contracts for deputies with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and the city has its own police force. Officials said the talks will help shed light on what legal obstacles a shared service agreement may present and how it could work financially…

    Both municipalities have been forced to reduce the number of officers patrolling their streets in the last year. Ypsilanti Township cut the number of deputies it contracts for from 38 to 31 after residents defeated a millage last November.

    The Board of Trustees recently approved language for new 1.5-mill levy to go in front voters in November. Township officials say without its approval, they will likely trim the deputy force down to 29.

    The township has faced a sharp drop in property value and high foreclosure rates in recent years. Concurrently, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, which sets the per deputy cost, has nearly doubled the price of a police services unit, which is one deputy position.

    The City of Ypsilanti recently eliminated 2.5 positions from its force, which will remain at the current levels for this and the following fiscal years…

    The last time we discussed the possibility of the City and Township coming together to provide police service, as you might recall, things got heated. We were discussing the murder of a young man along a busy Township thoroughfare in broad daylight, when someone proposed that perhaps the Township should work with the City to maintain more of a consistent police presence. A reader by the name of cmadler came forward with the following numbers to support the claim that they were understaffed:

    Ypsi City: 34.5 police officers for 22,000 people in 4.5 sq mi = 1 officer per 638 people; 0.13 sq mi per officer.

    EMU: 29 police officers (plus 7 dispatchers/support staff) for 23,000 students in 1.25 sq mi = 1 officer per 793 students; .04 sq mi per officer

    Ypsi Twp: 31 sheriff’s deputies for 49,000 people in 31.8 sq mi = 1 deputy per 1580 people; 1 sq mi per deputy.

    The voters of Ypsilanti Township have made it pretty clear that they don’t want to pay for policing.

    The response from Township residents as I recall was essentially, “We don’t like paying taxes – how dare you tell us how to handle our affairs – we will never join with the City in any way.” And that’s pretty much what’s playing out right now in the AnnArbor.com comments section. I particularly liked this comment by someone calling himself YpsiLivin:

    …Ypsilanti township residents enjoy a MUCH LOWER tax rate than do the residents of the City of Ypsilanti. The City of Ypsilanti has the HIGHEST tax assessment in Washtenaw County. In no way would combining the City and Township lead to lower taxes for anyone. In fact, quite the opposite would happen for the residents of the township.

    Ypsilanti Township has three times the number of residents that the City does for a good reason: lower taxes. And not just for the actual assessed taxes, but for taxing authority as well. Cities have the power to impose income taxes; townships do not. Township residents would NEVER stay in the township if it were annexed by the City and fell under the City tax structure.

    Personally, as distasteful and backward as I find many of the Township folks who leave comments on this site, I think that it makes sense for the Township and City to consolidate. And, I think shared policing is a necessary step toward getting us there. My hope is that our elected officials will find a way to make it work… The bottom line is that we need each other in order to be successful. The Township needs a real, functional city center. And the City needs a broader tax base, and room to expand. Granted, any arrangement would likely see Township residents paying more in the way of taxes, at least percentage-wise, but, with the taxable values of their homes dropping every day, it may not be that bad for them… The days of sprawl, like it or not, are over. And it’s time for everyone to face reality.

    Posted in Politics, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

      When is it time to walk away from Israel?

      I had other plans for tonight’s post. I had wanted, of all things, to write about Johnny Cash’s appearance in a 1974 episode of Columbo entitled Swan Song. It’s been one of my favorites for a long time, and I thought that a nice discussion of it would make a welcomed detour from all the ranting about Glenn Beck and our country’s descent into madness. But, as is often the case, I got distracted. A friend of mine wrote to tell me that an Israeli military court yesterday ruled that the man referred to as “Captain R” was found innocent of all charges brought against him. Captain R, as you might recall, is the Israeli army officer who, a few years ago, shot a defenseless 13 year old girl to death, knowing full well that she was terrified, unarmed and not at all a threat. And, now, all I can think about is how ashamed I am of our continued support of a country where something like this could happen. Here, by way of background, is a clip from the Guardian:

      An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

      The soldier, who has only been identified as “Captain R”, was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

      The manner of Iman’s killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was “scared to death”, made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died…

      A recording of radio exchanges between Capt R and his troops obtained by Israeli television revealed that from the beginning soldiers identified Iman as a child…

      In the recording, a soldier in a watchtower radioed a colleague in the army post’s operations room and describes Iman as “a little girl” who was “scared to death”. After soldiers first opened fire, she dropped her schoolbag which was then hit by several bullets establishing that it did not contain explosive. At that point she was no longer carrying the bag and, the tape revealed, was heading away from the army post when she was shot…

      In case it’s not clear from this excerpt, this military officer not only shot the girl, whom had been identified beforehand as a terrified ten year old, but he went out to where she lay wounded, and put two more bullets in her head. And, as if that weren’t enough, this officer later said that he would have done the same thing if it had been a three year old. It’s absolutely unconscionable.

      I don’t know how much a year we, the tax payers of the United States of America, send to Israel in form of foreign aid, but I know that it’s a lot. A few years ago, if you had asked me, I probably would have said that it was warranted, seeing as how they’re a democracy in an incredibly inhospitable part of the world. Now, though, I’m not so sure that I’d be of the same mind. While I’m certainly sympathetic to their situation, I’ve seen too many videos of Palestinian families being harassed and escorted at gunpoint from their homes, and I’ve read too many stories like the one above.

      Maybe the people of Israel can’t see it. Maybe living under the constant threat of terrorism, surrounded by nations of people that want to see you dead, takes its toll. Maybe this is just what happens over time. Given our experience here, in the wake of 9/11, I can see that. Maybe this is what we’re headed toward as a nation. And maybe that’s what terrifies me the most. I don’t want for this to be our future. And it concerns me that some in our country would defend this soldier’s actions. What this officer did, though, seems truly evil to me. And it’s hard for me to reconcile that my tax dollars are going to a country that not only would find this man without fault, but reward him with a promotion. This, again, is a man who said that he would put two bullets into the head of a wounded, unarmed Palestinian toddler. So, while I love my Jewish friends, and appreciate the work of many peace activists in Israel today, I have to wonder if it’s really in our best interest to keep enabling the increasingly cruel, sadistic and racist behavior that we’re seeing.

      Here, on a much, much happier note, is the Johnny Cash video I’d set out to play for you before all of this happened.

      Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

      Tennessee Mosque Attack

      EnrightI dont think there’s any way you can argue that there’s not a heightened anti-muslim sentiment in this country in the wake of the manufactured controversy over the so-called 911 mosque. Since the big protest in New York last week, I know of at least two violent attacks. First, there was the stabbing of New York cab driver Ahmed Sharif, by 21 year old film student Michael Enright (pictured right). Enright, as you’ve probably heard by now, asked Sharif if he was Muslim before the attack. Sharif responded that he was, at which point Enright began stabbing him in his throat. Then, yesterday, construction equipment was set ablaze at the site of an Islamic Center being built in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Following is more from CBS News:

      …Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said….

      “We unfortunately did not experience hostilities for the 30 years we’ve been here and have only seen the hostility since approval of the site plan for the new center,” said Sbenaty.

      Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

      “They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.

      Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law…

      “No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”

      Leaving aside for the moment the fact that this country was very deliberately not “based on Christianity,” I find it more than just a little disconcerting that these things are happening on top of one another now, after a long and heated summer of irresponsible fear-mongering on the part a growing minority on the right. Among those fanning the flames of xenophobia was none other than Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, not far from Murfreesboro. Here’s a clip from Think Progress:

      …On July 14, Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R), who is a Tea Party-backed candidate for governor, spoke about the planned Islamic Center to a group of Republicans. He said he opposed the project because it might bring “Sharia Law” into the state and wondered whether Islam might be some sort of cult…

      For what it’s worth, for them to force Sharia law on the people of Murfreesboro, I think they probably need to exceed the 1:200 mosque-to-church ratio they presently enjoy.

      If Murfreesboro sounds familiar, it might be because the Daily Show just visited there a few days ago, to find out why people were opposed to this particular Islamic center. (Weren’t we told that the only reason the mosque in NYC was being objected to was because of its proximity to ground zero?) If you haven’t seen the episode, you can check it out here… I particularly liked the woman who stated very matter-of-factly that Muslims presently operate 35 terrorist training camps within the boundaries of the United States. (She’d read it on the internet.)

      So, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. My guess, though, is that the burning of equipment in Murfreesboro won’t be identified as an act of terrorism by U.S. officials, although it was clearly done with the intention of terrorizing these men and woman… White people, it would seem, are incapable of such things.

      I should add that I know very little about the Muslim community of Murfeesboro. I don’t know how radical they are, if at all. As I haven’t heard of women being stoned to death for adultery in Tennessee, though, my guess is that they’re decent hard-working people who obey our laws, and, as such, should have the same freedom that the rest of us enjoy. There’s one thing that I’m absolutely certain of, though — the non-Muslim men and women of Tennessee who were interviewed by the Daily Show and other media outlets are an embarrassment to our country and a testament to the fact that our schools are failing. This, my friends, is what happens when you systematically dismantle the public school system, destroy the middle class, demonize the educated and spread fear among the people.

      One last thing… The people of FOX News and the men behind the Tea Partyfication of American politics will, if things continue as they are, soon have blood on their hands. I would encourage them to give this fact serious thought. I imagine there’s some part of them that knows that a line has been crossed, and my hope is that they listen to that part before they do irreparable harm to this democracy for which so many good men and women have given their lives.

      Posted in Civil Liberties, Observations, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

      Rick Snyder confronts teabaggery en masse

      As predicted, it looks as though yesterday’s Republican Convention in East Lansing did not go smoothly, as Rick Snyder, the Republican candidate for Governor, was confronted head-on by the fact that his party is largely one of misdirected anger and insanity. Here, with more, is a clip from the Detroit Free Press:

      In a raucous, record-setting eight-hour session, tea party boosters showed their muscle at the state Republican Party convention, barely ratifying gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder’s choice for lieutenant governor, Brian Calley, and forcing showdowns in fights for attorney general and secretary of state.

      In what’s supposed to be a big Republican year, it was clear Republicans have a tiger by the tail with the tea party.

      The unexpected race for lieutenant governor, customarily the sole discretion of the nominee for governor, provided the loudest fireworks….

      Snyder did his best to ignore the discord, telling delegates: “It’s time to unite, to come together.” He was the moderate among five Republicans running for governor, making his victory a bitter pill for some conservatives.

      He was attending his first convention and looked less than comfortable in an arena of partisans. That was especially true after a rump faction of them tried to derail his choice of running mate.

      In a move that caught party leaders by surprise, a Holland area businessman, Bill Cooper, who recently finished fourth in a congressional race in west Michigan, challenged Calley’s selection (the lieutenant governor is selected formally at the convention, but always before was at the discretion of the nominee).

      Because it wasn’t anticipated, the party didn’t have ballots for a vote, which touched off a chorus of catcalls that subsided only when Cooper conceded and asked his supporters to back Calley and Snyder…

      So, the lunatic fringe showed up, and, not really understanding how things work, nominated their own candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Fortunately, though, after a few hours they were wrestled back into their tri-cornered hats and straight jackets. Hopefully that’s the last time Rick, whom I actually like, is going to have to face off against these folks en masse, but you never know. This could just be the opening salvo in a battle that will rage from now until November.

      I feel bad for Rick, who strikes me as a thoughtful guy that probably would have been better suited for a run back in the days when the Republican party was defined more by ideas than by fear, but that hasn’t been the case in a long time. The days of Eisenhower, sadly, are long behind us.

      Here, for those of you who are interested, is video from the floor of the convention:

      Posted in Michigan, Observations, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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