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Archive for March, 2012

March 28 (CHEDDAR FALLS Wisconsin)    Senator Rick Santorum today affirmed his  support for Israel, saying “Israel is our one Middle Eastern ally in the war against Radical Islam. As the only Western democracy in the region our alliance with Israel is vital.  And if elected president, I promise that I will kiss Israel’s ass every day, even if it hasn’t wiped itself.”

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Earl Scruggs, RIP

Earl Scruggs, the legendary banjo innovator, died yesterday.. He took the banjo out of the rhythm section forever, and paved the way for later creativity.

That sort of playing made this sort possible:

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“…the life of God consists in the eternal practice of love; and this life is wholly beautiful, possessed of a loving disposition toward beauty and never receiving any check in the practice of love. And because beauty is boundless, love shall never cease.”

-St Gregory of Nyssa

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Unravelling

What you see depends upon how you see.

The sad case of the death of Treyvon Martin has become only the latest template upon which the warring factions in our fractured culture write their narratives.

I was listening to Sean Hannity yesterday; I know, this is like admitting that I glance at the tabloids in the checkout line, a shameful thing. And I listen to right wing talk radio for much the same reason: it’s always a good chance to be appalled.

Mr Hannity loves to find two clashing ideologues and let them duke it out, while he occasionally interjects, volume button in hand, ready to turn down whatever side he disagrees with. I call it “Rock  ‘Em Sock ‘Em Radio”. So yesterday he set it up: on the one hand a white liberal reporter, on the other a black woman, a conservative prolife activist, a Republican. She was, I suppose, meant to defend the man who killed young Martin, but to Hannity’s consternation the two women were not in conflict about the shooting of the young man. The woman may have been a conservative, but she is also a black person in America and had firsthand knowledge of the indifference with which local police treat the lives of young black men. Why, she asked cogently, when there was a 17 year old dead in the street, was the shooter not arrested, or even taken downtown to the police station for questioning?

Why, indeed.

But what you see depends upon how you see. First reports spoke of a decent young black man, an athlete and good student, with hopes of college, walking home from a convenience store after buying candy for his younger brother. Later, someone dug up the apparent fact that he had been suspended from school (but not arrested) for possession of traces of marijuana. A photo appeared, claiming to be Treyvon, wearing a sideways ball cap and holding his hands in a gangsta sign.

I’m sorry, traces of marijuana and gangsta hand signs do not a thug make. I suggest that some of those trying to make that case check out their own sons’ Facebook pages. To suggest otherwise is like finding a photo of someone from the 60s with a hand held up in the “V” peace sign and saying “Look! A leftist!”

Sometimes such things may be fad or fashion, not necessarily conviction or criminality.

But the other narrative, that George Zimmerman, the shooter, was simply a racist, also bears scrutiny: black neighbors speak of him warmly, he evidently tutored minority students.

We may never know the details of what transpired that Florida night; after all, one of the main witnesses is dead. The survivor has his own tale of self defense, and claims that young Martin attacked him. This may be so, but in a cell phone call to his girlfriend, Trayvon speaks of a man stalking him. A 911 call from Mr Zimmerman bears this out, though he says that when the operator told him to stop following Treyvon he did so. True or not, it seems evident that both young Martin and Mr Zimmerman were in the grips of fear and suspicion. If Treyvon did attack Zimmerman, he may have thought that he was acting in self defense as well.

Fear and suspicion led Zimmerman to stalk Treyvon. Fear and suspicion led the black lad to be wary. No doubt fear and suspicion led to whatever confrontation that followed.

And fear and suspicion are driving the competing narratives that surround his death.

It’s heartbreaking when some tragedy like this appears and makes apparent the chasm that lurks just beneath the normal facade of American public life. We are in reaction mode at this point; the truth has become secondary to tribal conflict, fueled by warring stereotypes. Blacks are reacting to long experience of injustice and oppression. Whites are reacting to perceptions about young black men and, not least, to what they see as opportunistic civil rights leaders.

It is likely that however this pans out, no one will be satisfied, that this will prove to be just one more fraying  thread in the  unravelling of our nation.

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Fairytale Houses

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Again! Reality Alert! This is not satire!

Look, I am no fan of Obama’s, but this Santorum ad is sheer demagoguery. If Iran, contrary to the fatwa of its Supreme Leader, really is working on developing nuclear weapons in two years it may possess one bomb . Israel has a couple hundred, the US has how many? Would you believe roughly 9600? This ad scares me, all right, but that’s because Santorum scares me, especially given the fact that he presents himself as Mr Catholic. If only he would pay attention to his pope and the teaching Church about something above the groin!

 But see for yourself:

On his website, under “American Exceptionalism” (he’s for it) is this gem of fearmongering and belligerence:

“Rick Santorum understands that the events of September 11, 2001 brought to our front door the uncomfortable truth that attacks on our soil are not merely a distant possibility, but a harsh reality.To combat this threat, Rick refused to back down from those who wish to destroy America.  Rick Santorum understands that those who wish to destroy America do so because they hate everything we are – a land of freedom, a land of prosperity, a land of equality.  Rick knows that backing down to the Jihadists means that we are only putting our foundational principles at greater risk.  As an elected representative, Rick knew that his greatest responsibility was to protect the freedoms we enjoy – and we should not apologize for holding true to these principles.That is why Rick refuses to call this a War on Terror, because, like Blitzkrieg, terror is a tactic.  Rick believes our nation’s leaders must be honest with the American people and call this war what it is, a War with Radical Islam.”

Sheesh. Even George W Bush had the sense not to give the impression that we are at war with Islam…

And check this out, again from his website, a recipe for war if ever I saw one:

Santorum Administration’s Response To Iran:

  • Reinstate full funding authorized under the Iran Freedom and Support Act to assist pro-democracy groups within Iran
  • Bring greater attention to human rights violations of the Iranian regime against democracy protestors and minority religious groups
  • Would work with Israel to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat immediately; and developing a potential plan for military action if needed
  • Would work with Israel to determine the proper military response needed to stabilize the region, protect our allies and protect this country – including the authorization of targeted airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
  • Any nuclear scientist proven to be working for Iran’s nuclear program would be treated as an enemy combatant.
  • Help create Strike Funds to help organizers on the ground publicly protest and overthrow the regime
  • Economically target Iran by sanctioning Iran’s central bank coupled with opening all forms of energy production in the U.S effectively devastating Iran’s only economy
  • Ensure Iranian officials cannot access any of their funds by freezing bank accounts and significantly limit their travel by revoking visas
  • Refuse to negotiate on any level with the terrorist state of Iran
  • Neutralize Iran’s relationships with their primary allies in The Middle East by increasing pressure on Hezbollah and Syria
  • Eliminate the post of U.S. Ambassador to Syria
  • Stand with Israel as an ally and in any efforts Israel may take to defend themselves from Iranian aggression
  • Would push for, fully fund and build a comprehensive missile defense system, and reevaluate the ramifications of the Start Treaty
  • Authorize more research on the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Threat
  • Develop a National Prevention Plan to prevent a severe terrestrial and space emergencies that would take down our information systems or electrical grids

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This Just In

(Click to enbiggen)

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