Posted by: quiscus | September 16, 2010

September 16, 2010

1.  “‘Dude, you have no Koran’

But as a graphic illustration of Islamophobia defeated, nothing beats what happened in Amarillo, Texas, the same day. David Grisham, the wacko director of one Repent Amarillo organization, who had planned his own Koran-burning session in support of  Gainesville, Florida, pastor and instant global celebrity Terry Jones, was about to commit the act in front of around 200 people when, out of nowhere comes …

… the unlikeliest of heroes; Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old, bespectacled local skateboarder. Isom himself described what happened to the Amarillo-Globe News: “I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said ‘Dude you have no Koran,’ and ran off.” The righteous skateboarder even had time to add to a startled Grisham, “You’re just trying to start holy wars,” then handed the unburned Koran to a local Muslim leader.

Repent Amarillo is one of those typical wacko militia American groups, referring to itself as the “Army of God” and with a promotional material modeled on army recruiting pamphlets. Everyone is a target: gays, Muslims, liberal Christians, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, “spring break events” and pornography shops. Repent Amarillo even led a boycott against the city of Houston after it elected Mayor Annise Parker – a lesbian. Their motto is, “We are the special forces of spiritual warfare, we’re looking for a few good warriors.”

2.  “Maher: Tea Bag Repubs are Racist

Bill Maher comes right out with it on CNN’s “Larry King Live”: The Tea Bag branch of the Republican Party just does not want an African American in the White House, and he implies that Newt Gingrich’s references to “the Kenyan” and “Luo tribesman” are just a roundabout way of saying the N word.

(Breaking News: Exhibit A for Maher could have been this one: Tea Party gubernatorial candidate for New York Paladino, enjoys sharing around racist and sexist emails to ‘a certain group of people.’)”

3.  “The Fraudulent Criminalization of Marijuana in America”

4.  “The “tea party” movement is, in my view, a mirror image of the Republican Party generally.  There are some diverse, heterodox factions which compose a small, inconsequential minority of it (various libertarian, independent, and Reagan Democrat types), but it is dominated — in terms of leadership, ideology, and the vast majority of adherents — by the same set of beliefs which have long shaped the American Right:  Reagan-era domestic policies, blinding American exceptionalism and nativism, fetishizing American wars, total disregard for civil liberties, social and religious conservatism, hatred of the minority-Enemy du Jour (currently: Muslims), allegiance to self-interested demagogic leaders, hidden exploitation by corporatist masters, and divisive cultural tribalism.  Other than the fact that (1) it is driven (at least in part) by genuine citizen passion and engagement, and (2) represents a justifiable rebellion against the Washington and GOP establishments, I see little good in it and much potential for bad.  To me, it’s little more than the same extremely discredited faction which drove the country into the ground for the last decade, merely re-branded under a new name.

For as long as I can remember — decades — I’ve been hearing that the new incarnation of the GOP is far more radical and dangerous than anything that preceded it, and it tragically threatens to banish the previously Reasonable, Serious, Adult version of that party.  That was certainly said about Ronald Reagan, as he argued for the elimination of the Department of Education, brought in cabinet officials like Ed Meese and Jim Watt, catered to Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, and nominated people like Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.  That was certainly said about the Gingrich-led GOP of the 90s, with their Contract with America, obsessions with law-enforced morality, and impeachment of Bill Clinton.  And it was said over and over about the Bush/Cheney era that ushered in the Iraq War, the torture regime, broad executive lawlessness, and an endless roster of vapid, know-nothing ideologues and religious fanatics in the highest positions.

Given all that, I’d really like to hear what it is about Christine O’Donnell, or Sharron Angle, or any of these other candidates that sets them apart from decades of radical right-wing elected officials who came before them?  They seem far more similar to me than different.  When was this idealized era of GOP Adult Reasonableness?

The Republican Party has thrived by keeping much of its real agenda and many of its tactics hidden from public view.  These unsophisticated Tea Party candidates are unpracticed in those skills of deception and thus far too harsh and declassé for our effete Guardians of Elite Political Power to bear (watch David Ignatius today long for the glory days when old, wise “centrists” like Lee Hamilton decided everything in secret, bipartisan harmony).  It’s all perfectly fine to crave cultural and religious wars, to start actual wars, to despise marginalized minorities, to want to slash the safety net for an already vulnerable population, to adhere to extremist religious dogma, and to endorse lawlessness in the name of Security.  You’re just not supposed to say any of this — at least not so bluntly, without obfuscating code.”

5.  “Noam Chomsky: “President Obama is Involved in War Crimes Right Now”

Is there any point in us being in Afghanistan?
We wouldn’t have asked in 1985: “Is there any point in the Russians being in Afghanistan?” The fact is that the invasion was a crime. Then comes the question: “Is there any point in continuing?” But that presupposes legitimacy. Putting aside questions of morality and legality and simply asking about the goals of the US government is a very narrow consideration.”

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