Friday, April 2, 2010

It’s Beginning To Look Like Everyone Wants A Fight Here At Home.

It’s Beginning To Look Like Everyone Wants A Fight Here At Home.

“It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. And it's always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades.”

Television is "the most awesome God-damned force in the whole godless world" Television is democracy at its ugliest.”

-Paddy Chayefsky-

The Next Civil War

The Civil War ranks as the most costly of US wars, with 625,000 deaths and a comparable number of injuries. Now the Republican Party is stoking the fires of insurrection and for thousands of right-wing zealots a new civil war seems a political necessity. As increasing numbers of Democratic politicians are threatened, how long will it be before domestic terrorists use their weapons?

The first Civil War was precipitated by a dispute regarding slavery and states' rights. It was inflamed by volatile rhetoric and widespread use of guns.

The looming civil war reincarnates the debate about states' rights. Immediately after President Obama signed Healthcare Reform into law, several state Attorney Generals filed lawsuits arguing the Federal government violated the Constitution.

Rather than slavery, the new civil war is being waged over the necessity to guarantee human rights for all Americans - whether or not every citizen deserves healthcare. Many Republicans feel this is not a legitimate use of government power, that it infringes on the sacred "free market."

In the run up to the first Civil War, passions were inflamed by fiery rhetoric from secessionist politicians such as Jefferson Davis. The impending civil war is being fed by mass-media personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who routinely feed their listeners blatant falsehoods. The success of these demagogues was revealed in a March 23rdLouis Harris poll of Republicans: 67 percent "believe that Obama is a socialist." 57 percent "believe that Obama is a Muslim." 45 percent believe that Obama "was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president." 38 percent of Republicans say the President is "doing many of the things that Hitler did." And, 24 percent believe Obama "may be the Antichrist."

Coupled with these skewed beliefs is increasingly strident rhetoric from Republican leaders. House minority leader John Boehner compared healthcare reform to "Armageddon" and declared the GOP to the Party of "Hell no." This refrain was picked up Senator John McCain and former Governor Sarah Palin, who added, "Freedom is a god-given right worth fighting for."

There's little doubt that the use of inflammatory language has increased the ratings of the Fox News Channel, which is now the highest rated cable channel, and "the highest rated basic channel in primetime." Fox commentators such as Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly regularly contend the US "is headed into socialism" and compare President Obama to Hitler. On March 23rd, prominent conservative David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, appearing onABC Nightline observed, "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we're discovering we work for Fox."

Beck and his new Fox News associate, Sarah Palin, have appropriated therhetoric used by the Militia movement, language that suggests violence may be required to "save" America. Since Barack Obama became President there has been an unprecedented run on guns fomented by a right-wing rumor that Obama was going to restrict gun ownership. As documented in the Spring Report of theSouthern Poverty Law Center, there has also been an explosive growth of hate and militia groups. "An astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009 - a 244% jump." (On March 29th, nine members of one of these groups the Hutaree were charged with conspiring to kill police officers.)

The Republican Party's embrace of militant extremism follows a grim logic. The GOP is losing members; a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that only 24 percent of respondents self-identified as Republicans - versus 34 percent for Democrats and 38 percent for Independents. Grasping for support, the GOP has abandoned traditional conservative ideology and allowed its message to be highjacked.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party lacks a leader with the gravitas to speak out against the escalating violence of its supporters. Elected Republicans such a Boehner, McCain, McConnell, and Steele are much less influential than are conservative media figures such as Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Palin. As a result, as Fox News becomes even more outrageous, and violence against Democrats escalates, GOP leaders either claim to be powerless to stop it or argue the mainstream media has exaggerated the problem.

Meanwhile, a second civil war is brewing. Considering the volatile mixture of inflammatory rhetoric, weapons usage, and growth of militia groups, it appears likely there will be a tragic event: an assault on a Democratic politician, the burning of a congressional office, or another bombing of a Federal office building.

In 1860, the onset of the Civil War could have been averted. Dispassionate observers saw that the Confederacy did not have the resources required to defeat the Union. In 2010, the impending Civil War should be averted. Right-wing zealots are a minority and do not have the resources to commandeer America. Nonetheless, they can cause needless bloodshed.

What will it take for voices of reason to rise up within the Republican Party? How long will it be before a major Republican leader speaks out against domestic terrorism and urges the GOP to return to reason and reconciliation?

Right-wing media complain that Pelosi incited tea partiers with her "big gavel"

Right-wing media figures have criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for carrying a gavel while walking to the Capitol to vote on health care reform, claiming she sought to incite Tea Party members protesting the legislation. Glenn Beck said Pelosi was "inciting" the tea partiers and "slapping them across the face," and Rush Limbaugh said Pelosi tried to "provoke" tea partiers by "carrying that big gavel" with an "excrement-eating grin on her face."

Conservatives criticize Pelosi's "big hammer"/"big gavel"/"big mallet" and "excrement-eating grin"

Beck asks if Nancy Pelosi was "inciting" tea partiers with House gavel -- "a big hammer." On his Fox News show, Beck asked, "If [Pelosi] was really worried about violence and she thought these people were violent, why would you grab a big hammer and walk into a sea of these people?" He later asked, "Did anyone say to Nancy Pelosi, 'You're inciting these people. You're slapping them across the face'?" [Glenn Beck, 3/25/10]

Limbaugh: Pelosi tried to "provoke" tea partiers by "carrying that big gavel" with "excrement-eating grin on her face." On his April 2 radio show, Limbaugh stated that Democrats had "faked an incident" to make "false claims of racism at the tea party people." He further stated:

LIMBAUGH: They faked an incident. They faked -- they were trying to provoke an incident. There's no reason to walk above ground to get to the Capitol building from their offices. There's tunnels underneath with trains, subways, and so forth. They were purpose -- send the Congressional Black Caucus to walk over, send Pelosi over there with a big gavel trying to provoke an incident. When an incident didn't happen, they made it up.

Later in the show, Limbaugh discussed the issue with a caller:

LIMBAUGH: Those of you in the Tea Party who go to these rallies, I'm sure you're aware of the effort to besmirch you by accusing you of shouting the N-word at John Lewis.

CALLER: That was -- that did not happen.

LIMBAUGH: I know it didn't happen. There's no evidence it happened. If they had videotape evidence that it had happened, they would have shown it. They don't have it. They were trying to create it. They were being provocative. They were being contentious. There's no reason that that group of people from Congress had to walk through the crowd. They never go to the Capitol that way. They get there in the underground tunnels. They want -- and Pelosi carrying that big gavel with that, you know, excrement-eating grin on her face. They were trying to provoke everybody into an incident. And when it didn't happen, they said it did anyway. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/2/10]

Michael Graham: Pelosi was "asking for" response by carrying gavel. Appearing on Glenn Beck, radio host Michael Graham stated, "I think Nancy Pelosi marching through the protesters on the eve of the health care battle with that big mallet in her hand, she was asking for -- she was saying yet again, 'Just try -- don't even look at me. I'm in charge here. You people sit down and shut up.' " [Glenn Beck, 3/25/10].

Tea Party blogger: "It would have been more symbolic had she had a whip." On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Kevin Jackson of the blog, who was described by host Bill O'Reilly as a "Tea Party member," complained about the "symbology" of Pelosi's gavel:

O'REILLY: They say that they got assaulted verbally when they came into the Capitol for the health care vote. That really lit the fuse on this latest thing.

JACKSON: Well, it's interesting to me that -- the symbology of what happened, where you've got this very wealthy white lady leading a group of black, you know, men up to the thing with a gavel in her hand. It would have been more symbolic had she had a whip. [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/31/10]

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Glenn Beck

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In this Holy Season for Christians; how many Catholics will be watching their parish priest celebrate the Mass and be asking themselves; what kind of man is he in the church of Pedophile Priests and a Protecting Pontiff?

German Sex Abuse Hot Line Lights Up, Then Shuts Down as Thousands Call

The hot line set up by the German Catholic Church to offer services to victims of sexual abuse by priests "melted down" in its first day day as almost 4,500 calls poured in from around the country. The church, which was totally unprepared for the "onslaught," had only staffed the hot line with a "handful of therapists," and only 162 of the 4,459 callers were counseled before the system was shut down. The Daily Mail reports that since long-standing allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the German church have become widely known, parishoners have been leaving churches "in droves." In a recent survey, one in four German Catholics said they'd lost faith in church leadership. Speaking of church leadership; on Friday, the Associated Press linked the pope to another allegedly abusive American priest who stayed on the church's payroll for 12 years while the Vatican dithered about whether he should be defrocked (despite the fact that members of a church tribunal deemed his behavior "almost Satanic"). Also on Friday, the papal staff conducted Good Friday services at the Vatican. The pope listened as the Vatican's house preacher compared sex-abuse accusations directed at the church to anti-Semitism.

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