Under the headline, "Glenn Beck's gun-toting followers," spiritualist Dana Milbank traduces a model citizen for one little miscue in an otherwise irreproachable life and presumably for watching too much television:
Late on a Saturday night two weeks ago, an unemployed carpenter packed his mother's Toyota Tundra with guns and set off for San Francisco with a plan to kill progressives.
When California Highway Patrol officers stopped him on an interstate in Oakland for driving erratically, Byron Williams, wearing body armor, fired at police with a 9mm handgun, a shotgun and a .308-caliber rifle with armor-piercing bullets, Oakland police say. Shot and captured after injuring two officers, Williams, on parole for bank robbery, told investigators that he wanted "to start a revolution" by "killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU," according to a police affidavit. His mother, Janice, told the San Francisco Chronicle that her son had been watching television news and was upset by "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."
(August 1, 2010)
Leon Wieseltier launches out on one of his periodic efforts at poetry, this time on the face, his face, your face, possibly his dog's face. Where it all ended maybe a plastic surgeon could tell you. I had an appointment with my mixologist:
Is there any more eloquent or definitive evidence of human individuality, of human dignity, than the face? My face shows that I am unlike you, that I am myself; and in this beautiful incommensurability we establish solidarity with each other, because your face also looks only like itself, only like you.
(August 12, 2010)
New York Observer
A stirring defense of the Manhattan mosque from Joe Conason, who would look very comely in a burqa:
The impulse to violate the First Amendment rights of Muslims-as-Muslims is so blatantly wrong and so radical, in the worst sense, that it almost defies outrage. Until now, nobody in a position of responsibility has sought to deny basic religious liberty to any group whose practices did not somehow trespass the law. Despite disagreements around the borders of religious freedom, the nation shared a consensus in favor of the concept for everyone, with no exceptions.
(August 3, 2010)
Over at the Nation the reliable bugaboos stir up the animals:
After months of Glenn Beck denouncing healthcare reform as "the beginning of reparations" and Rush Limbaugh accusing Obama of inflicting economic pain as a "payback," it is not a bit surprising that Tea Party activists found Andrew Breitbart's vilification of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod irresistible. In their universe the caricature of "Shirley Sherrod, Racist" perfectly symbolizes the quasi-Black Panther, secretly communist president. She's Obama's willing bureaucrat, an ordinary black civil servant who uses the mighty federal leviathan to discriminate against white farmers and to redistribute taxpayer wealth to fellow blacks. As one Tea Party blogger succinctly put it, "Next stop, Zimbabwe."
(August 16/23, 2010)
Enough of this senseless killing, Sarah from Rockville calls for our president to send in the Obama special ops team:
With the change of command in Afghanistan, it is time to increase diplomatic efforts and gradually decrease our military presence.
Included in such efforts ought to be an increased presence in that country of human and civil rights experts, proponents of social justice and peacemakers. We should place greater emphasis on teaching tolerance, the merits of diversity, affirmative action and equal opportunity for all Afghans. These experts should be deployed to the tribal areas where their skills are most needed. Sponsoring anger management courses for the Taliban and other jihadists, as well as holding prayer breakfasts with warlords, should be considered.
If war is not the answer, maybe we will find out what is. The military could then withdraw to rest and refit.
Sarah Botsai, Rockville
(June 28, 2010)
Another lunkhead filing from columnist Terry Tempest Williams on the occasion of the oil spill, any oil spill:
Would we then be willing to look to our oil addiction in the eye and say what terminally ill patients learn to say to those they love: "I am sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. I love you"?
We are often transformed not by the facts of the situation, but by the emotion of the situation, what we see and feel when truth is revealed.
We hear of sea turtles being burned alive as surface oil is set on fire in BP's cleanup efforts.
And we learn that a sea captain, who recently enrolled in BP's "vessel of opportunity" program and offered his boat to aid in oil recovery activities, grew increasingly despondent over the spill and died of a gunshot to the head. Shall we call it suicide or murder?
The spell [sic?] has kept us complacent and numb shatters. We wake up to the horror of our own oiled hands.
New York Times
Reflections of a psychoanalytical nature expressed on the op-ed page of the New York Times by Dr. Maureen Dowd, just before she jumped:
The bookstore gave the president a copy of Freedom, a new novel by Jonathan Franzen about a dysfunctional family in America. This is apt, since Obama is the head of the dysfunctional family of America-a rational man running a most irrational nation, a high-minded man in a low-minded age.
The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown, with the right spreading fear and disinformation that is amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment.
The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven't flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems-making them easy prey for fearmongers.
Many people still have a confused view of Muslims, and the president seems unable to help navigate the country through its Islamophobia.
(August 21, 2010)
From the Archives
Timeless Tosh from Current Wisdoms Past
New York Times
Fighting words from Times columnist Anna Quindlen, another of America's two-fisted viragos:
Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey are no longer nuns. They did not leave the convent as so many other did, finding fulfillment within the smaller circle of marriage and motherhood. These two spent years finding reasons to stay: to serve the poor, to fight for social justice. They resigned from Sisters of Notre Dame in 1988, four years after a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under this headline:
A DIVERSITY OF OPINIONS REGARDING ABORTION EXISTS AMONG COMMITED CATHOLICS.
Ninety-seven people signed it.
Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey were two of them.
They have written a book about what happened after that day, and what their lives were like before it. It is called No Turning Back, and it is sure to be seen as an attack on the church...."The Vatican's version of Catholicism is a culture of oppression," they write, "a church that is only about itself." Those are harsh words. These are harsh times. And faced with harsh laws of the church and of state, women like these will continue to speak, no matter what the consequences.
Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey shouldn't have been nuns in the first place.
They should have been priests.
(September 16, 1990)
The peaceful sough of an editorial mind blissfully remote from reality and a sense of shame:
New York is a city about money and death, the two things that America has mastered in this century.
(October 1, 1990)