Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Bloviating Hammerhead Caption Contest Winner!

Thanks to all who sent in your captions (at least, thanks for sending in the ones I could approve for the comments section; some of the others were a bit, shall we say, “NC-17” for publication on The B.H.).

There can only be one winner, however, and the award goes to Krystal, whose caption appears below.

Stop calling me "Screech!"

Great job, Krystal!  Come by the parsonage soon and pick up your hearty handshake and your pat on the back.  You earned it.

"Stop calling me 'Obama!'"

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It’s the Bloviating Hammerhead Caption Contest!

Caption this!

This may be the most precious moment in the Obama presidency.

It reminds me of a certain photograph of a certain Massachusetts Governor.

"At least I'm not on a bike!" - Michael Dukakis

Caption the Obama cycling photo.

The most clever entry wins a hearty handshake, a pat on the back, and the satisfaction of knowing that the rest of the blogosphere holds you in the highest regard.

Phil Hare vs. YouTube

I think the Internet is one of mankind’s greatest achievements.  Oh sure, I have to give credit to the Kellogg’s folks for conceiving the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tart.  And I certainly want to tip my hat to Scott Boilen; if he hadn’t courageously asked,  “What is stopping me from putting sleeves on a blanket?” then there would have never been a Snuggie®, and I wouldn’t have a thing to wear to my next job interview.  But the Internet has brought us something very special indeed:  The Citizen Journalist.

I have a feeling, though, that US Congressman Phil Hare disagrees.  Representing, as he does, a district so gerrymandered that its tentacles encompass parts of Uzbekistan as well as the lost city of Atlantis, Hare seemed to have everything working in his favor.  That is until a Flip Cam-wielding blogger captured some very unflattering footage of the Representative at a town hall meeting.

This was last April when, you may recall, the public debate over President Obama’s health care boondoggle had reached a rolling boil.  As some of his constituents repeatedly challenged him to substantiate the constitutionality of the plan, Hare was perspiring and sputtering away until he finally spat out those words that even now resonate through cyberspace:

“I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest.”

Realizing the remark was politically disastrous, the Congressman made a half-hearted attempt at a save by saying, “I believe that it says we have the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”

This backfired, of course.  One nanosecond later a constituent corrected him, explaining to the Representative that he had just quoted the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

“It doesn’t matter to me!  Either one!” a petulant Hare muttered.  A moment later, in red-faced exasperation, he finally, angrily conceded he could not substantiate the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Once the video was posted on the Internet, it “went viral” as the kids say these days.  (Truth be told, as I watched the clip, I was angered by Hare’s comments, but I still felt sorry for him.  He looked like a June bug surrounded by a flock of hungry ducks.)

It was all downhill from there, of course. None other than Bill O’Reilly himself rode it for a full news cycle.  So much political blood was drawn by it that Representative Hare even had to post a video rationalization on YouTube.

Eventually the entire incident faded from the public consciousness.  That is, until this past weekend when, once again, Flip Cam + YouTube = headache for Phil Hare.  The Congressman was at a dog-and-pony show at a hotel somewhere, when out from behind a potted plant a Citizen Journalist pounced on him.

Now, I ask you:  If you had been subjected to a grilling like the Congressman had endured back in April, wouldn’t you have made sure that you had a 24-karat sound bite in the holster for the next time someone pulled out a video camera and asked, “So, where in the Constitution does it say that you can force people to buy health care?”

I would have.  Phil Hare didn’t.  He was bereft of bon mot.  He offered no quaint, quotable quips.  He merely sighed and said, “Oh, boy.  We’re not going there again, are we?”

The rest of the clip is an increasingly awkward-looking attempt by the Representative to press the flesh with his supporters while the tenacious blogger stubbornly demands an answer.  Finally, Congressman Hare steps in it again by telling a staffer who was trying to intervene, “Pat, don’t worry about it.  Don’t worry about it, Pat.  It’s just silly stuff.”

And the blogosphere lit up like Aunt Gladys with a hot flash!  (Note to Phil Hare’s handlers:  Work up an answer to that question for your boy there.  He’s starting to remind me of Basil Marceaux.)

Which brings me to Tuesday.  Some dear friends invited me to attend a meet-and-greet for Hare’s opponent, Republican pizzeria-owner Bobby Schilling, held at the AmericInn in Monmouth.

As I listened to Mr. Schilling talk, a wicked idea struck me:  I have a YouTube account.  I write a blog.  And I had a Flip Cam in my pocket!  I decided to ambush this fellow and see how he handled it.

Pulling out my camera and sticking it in his face, I demanded, “Where in the Constitution does it say that you can force people to buy health care?”

“It does not,” Schilling said.

Oh.

Well, okay then.

Calls to Congressman Hare’s office for comment were not returned by press time.

Check out my video of Hare vs. Shilling here:


Amazing.

This morning I found this comment about “Moses and the Mosque” in the Review-Atlas forum:

The NRA convention was held LESS THAN 2 WEEKS after the Columbine shootings. It has been almost 9 years since September 11, 2001. Certainly one could make an argument regarding the scale of the respective events, but I still don’t think you’re making a valid comparison.

Muslims have been worshiping in the Pentagon for years, the prayer room they use a matter of feet from where Flight 77 crashed into the building. The building that is being renovated for the Park51 project in New York is ALREADY IN USE for Muslim worship and has been for some time. In December 2009, Imam Rauf’s wife appeared on Fox News & received glowing commendations for what they had planned. That segment recognized that the project had broad support from community leaders, including Christian ministers & Jewish rabbis.

Imam Rauf is widely recognized for his condemnation of terrorism and his interfaith activities with Christians & Jews. Yes, he has made some inflammatory statements, but actions speak louder than words and he & his wife have done a lot of good work. They don’t deserve to be demonized by you & others like you with innuendos of terrorist connections. Islamic charities and communications with Islamic countries are HEAVILY monitored by our intelligence services, and Rauf has NEVER been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Let’s also clarify that the Park51 project is going to be a community center WITH a mosque. From Wikipedia: ‘Plans are for the facility to include a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, food court serving halal dishes, and prayer space for 1,0002,000 Muslims.’ Ooooh, a BASKETBALL COURT. A DAYCARE!!! Oh my lord, the horror!!! (ROLLING EYES). Yes people, Muslims work out, swim & play basketball. Shockingly, they are human beings, and they do the things many other New Yorkers do. Like many in this country they also pray, and one of the central requirements of Islam (the Five Pillars) is that one should pray five times per day. Of course this Islamic center is going to have a prayer room – and a rather large one for such a large facility in one of the largest & most diverse cities on Earth.

Let’s clear up a few more facts, like the fact that more Muslims were victims of the 9/11 attacks than perpetrated it. American Muslims serve in our armed forces loyally & have given their lives for their country. All of our soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan are fighting ALONGSIDE Muslims to DEFEND other Muslims, in the hope that we can start those countries down the path toward freedom & democracy. Don’t you think that honoring those Muslims is ‘simple human decency’? Instead you spit on their graves & their service to their country.

Essentially what you’re doing, Mr. Bennett, is to lump all Muslims together and to blame them for the 9/11 attacks. This is both ignorant & entirely unfair. Because you are a Christian, would it be right to blame you for the crimes of the Crusades? The Inquisition? The Salem witch trials? The 30 Years War? You would have quite a lot of blood on your hands by those standards. You’re a Baptist minister, so do you hold the same opinions as Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church? Get my point yet?

You are also fanning the flames of ignorance & hatred that put the LIVES OF OUR SOLDIERS AT RISK. This may surprise some of those commenting here, but Muslims can read. They can watch TV & get on the internet. They can see & hear all the ignorant and hateful things being said about them, all the crass generalizations being made about them by people like WAKEupAMERICA. How do you think that affects our troops in harms way in Iraq & Afghanistan and other Islamic nations??? There’s a group of local National Guard in Egypt right now – our own sons & daughters. Ignorance like this makes their job a hundred times more difficult. It puts their lives in danger.

What I read here & from many other conservative pundits is a bunch of hand-waving & excuses that cover up the true underlying problem: intolerance of the ‘other’, hatred & fear of a ‘foreign’ religion, and frequently racism. I’m saddened to see you publicly wallow in that cesspool, Mr. Bennett.

So, against my better judgment, I wrote a response:

Dr. Weidman, while I respect your opinion, there are several statements in your post that should be addressed.

First of all, you seem to find a significant distinction in the fact that the NRA convention was scheduled two weeks after Columbine, and the 9/11 attacks occurred almost 9 years ago.

I don’t believe the virtues of discretion and propriety have an expiration date.

Furthermore, you acknowledge – and rightfully so – that “one could make an argument regarding the scale of the respective events,” but then you summarily dismiss that very salient point and give no reason for doing so. The difference in scale is highly significant regardless of whether or not you are willing accept that. More to the point, the September 11th attacks were an act of war; I’ll see your nine years and raise you nearly three thousand innocent lives.

Imam Rauf’s vile statements blaming America for 9/11 are not unlike blaming an attractive woman for “provoking” a rapist. Those declarations have never been retracted by him, nor has he apologized for them. The fact that he made those incendiary comments and actually believes such nonsense is, above all else, why I object to his building project and his role as a State Department cultural envoy. It is not, as you so disappointingly insinuate, because I am a bigot, a racist, or a hatemonger, but more about that later.

You wrote, “Because you are a Christian, would it be right to blame you for the crimes of the Crusades? The Inquisition? The Salem witch trials? The 30 Years War? You would have quite a lot of blood on your hands by those standards. You’re a Baptist minister, so do you hold the same opinions as Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church? Get my point yet?” I certainly do get your point. Now get mine: Every example you cited is something to which Christians ARE still being connected to this day, despite the fact that centuries, not just a few years, have passed since the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials and the 30 Years War. As for your reference to Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church, I would say that this is an example that makes my point, not yours. Does Phelps have the right to make his reprehensible statements? In America, he does. Does he have the right to make them near of the funeral of an AIDS victim or a dead soldier? Though the matter is still under legal debate, currently the courts affirm that he does have that right. But SHOULD he? He most certainly should not!

You wrote, “Muslims have been worshiping in the Pentagon for years, the prayer room they use [sic] a matter of feet from where Flight 77 crashed into the building. The building that is being renovated for the Park51 project in New York is ALREADY IN USE for Muslim worship and has been for some time.” I don’t dispute that, though I do find it irrelevant. That statement glosses over some very significant factors. Again, even the most cursory reading of my column reveals that my objections to the Ground Zero Mosque are not aimed against Muslim worship at that location per se, but largely against the man proposing it. You also make a glaring omission of the fact that Park51 will require the razing of a building that was damaged by wreckage from one of the hijacked planes, all to make way for a towering 13-story spectacle that many of those who lost loved ones in 9/11 view as confrontationally symbolic.

You wrote of Imam Rauf, “Yes, he has made some inflammatory statements, but actions speak louder than words and he & his wife have done a lot of good work. They don’t deserve to be demonized by you & others like you with innuendos of terrorist connections.”

Wow.

It’s hard to know where to begin with that.

With all due respect, a platitude like “actions speak louder than words” is breathtakingly disingenuous in this case. Doctor, you surely know that rhetoric has meaning and in the case of a preacher and commentator, his words ARE his actions. To pretend that the Imam, who has pursued and accepted the role of a spokesperson, should have his explosive utterances negated by what you perceive as his admirable “actions” is, quite frankly, ridiculous. I am both a preacher and, in my small way, a commentator; I understand and accept that in those roles, I have a heightened responsibility for what I say. Indeed, all of us are, and should be, as accountable for what we SAY as we are for what we DO.

You write, “Essentially what you’re doing, Mr. Bennett, is to lump all Muslims together and to blame them for the 9/11 attacks.” Are we discussing the same column, Doctor? I was very careful to confine my commentary to the secular issues at stake here. I deliberately wrote in strictly political, historical, cultural, and social terms. YOU, sir, are the one who has erroneously inferred the religious context, not I. Why are you unwilling to make your case on its merits? Why must you resort to distortions and insults?

More to the point, you have subjected me to an absurd double standard: In your view, the Imam’s heinous public statements in the wake of 9/11 are waved away because his “actions speak louder than words,” but my own comments are “fanning the flames of ignorance & hatred that put the LIVES OF OUR SOLDIERS AT RISK.” Doctor, I mean you no disrespect, but I have grown weary of this cheap tactic. I am disappointed that what began as your reasonable, albeit incorrect, response deteriorated into a pathetic ad hominem attack. The only “demonization” going on here, it seems, comes from you. In your world of extremes, taking an opposing point of view constitutes hate, religious bigotry and racism. Sir, if you must sling slander, could you at least do it correctly? You are ascribing views to me that I do not hold and views that were in no way communicated in my column. Are the many Arab Muslims who share my objections to the Park51 project racists and bigots? How about the general manager of Al-Arabiya television, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed? In his column titled “A House of Worship or a Symbol of Destruction?” published A-Sharq Al-Awsat, he criticized the wisdom of building a mosque so close to the “burial site” of 9/11. He wrote, “Muslims do not aspire for a mosque next to the September 11 cemetery.” Is he an anti-Arab racist? Is he an anti-Muslim bigot? When author Raheel Raza, a board member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, says, “I oppose [Park51] along with other members of the Muslim-Canadian Congress because it’s confrontational. It is in bad faith. And it doesn’t really set up any kind of dialogue or discussion on tolerance,” is she an anti-Arab racist? Is she an anti-Muslim bigot?

Also, I find nothing in my column that could be confused with “innuendos of terrorist connections.” If you are referring to my statement that the Imam has been “evasive” about his financial backing, I was making a fiscal observation. If you are referring to my statement that Rauf refused to characterize Hamas as a terrorist organization, that is not an innuendo, it is a fact and a matter of public record.

A visit to your very well-written and engaging blog, however, showed me that I am not the only one subjected to your extremist vitriol. For example, of those who are involved in establishing a Christian school in Roseville, you write, “If some Roseville residents want to contribute to the degradation of public education in Warren County and spit in the faces of their fellow villagers who can’t afford a private education for their children … by all means, start a new private Christian school.”

Let me get this straight: You are objecting to the establishment of a religious institution (the Christian school) at least in part because it will upset some people (“villagers who can’t afford a private education for their children”) but you can’t stand the fact that I object to the establishment of a religious institution (Ground Zero mosque) at least in part because it will upset some people (the families of those killed in the September 11th attacks). Great googly-moogly.

(This is beside the point, but how does starting a new private Christian school degrade public education? By reducing class sizes in public schools and favorably increasing the teacher-student ratio in public schools? How do those starting said private Christian school “spit in the faces of their fellow villagers who can’t afford a private education for their children”? Some people can’t afford a computer and an internet connection; does that mean you are spitting in their faces by writing a blog? And why is it that anyone who holds a view that you reject “spits in the faces of their fellow villagers” or “spit[s] on their graves & their service to their country”? Is it not possible, sir, that one can hold a view that differs from yours without being characterized as a malicious expectorator? There’s a whole lotta spittin’ goin’ on.)

But I digress. Lastly, though I am loathe to do so, I must address your disgusting assertion that I am a racist, a bigot, and that I spit “on the graves” of American Muslim soldiers and “their service to their country,” by writing what I have written. This is my final word on this entire matter: May I humbly suggest, Dr. Weidman, that my commitment to my fellow veterans and my support for the freedom of Arabs and Muslims were both established when I left hearth and home to defend Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait as a United States Marine?

Do those “actions” speak loudly enough for you?


“Moses” and the Mosque

By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas

On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot 12 students, a teacher and themselves to death at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado.

That year, the National Rifle Association convention had been booked for the end of the month at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, 14 miles from the site of the tragedy.

The event had been planned and paid for long before the massacre, but Association President Charlton Heston swiftly cancelled all of the convention’s various seminars, luncheons, ceremonies and the sprawling firearms exposition anyway.

The NRA voluntarily reduced their traditionally festive three-day assemblage to a few hours, long enough for an austere membership meeting (which they held only because it was required by law under their non-profit charter) and a brief, low-key reception.
Even though neither Harris nor Klebold was a member of the National Rifle Association, Heston went to extraordinary lengths to extend kindness to those who had lost their loved ones in the mass slaying.

This is called “simple human decency.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists hijacked four airliners and purposely smashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The two skyscrapers collapsed a short time later. The third jet was intentionally flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and the fourth, which the hijackers had directed toward Washington D.C., crashed in a field in Pennsylvania as passengers and crew were courageously attempting to regain control of it; 2,976 people were killed in the attack, along with the hijackers. More than 6,000 people were injured.

In December 2009, Islamic Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf announced plans to build a 13-story mosque and Muslim cultural center just two blocks from the site of the Twin Towers atrocity. When some family members of 9/11 victims bristled at the suggestion and cried out for sensitivity, Rauf and his backers just pressed forward.

Simple human decency? Hello?

But what did the NRA get for their sacrificial and sympathetic gestures in 1999? They were pilloried by the press anyway; many media outlets continued to report the story as if the organization had simply shaken a defiant fist in the face of the families of the Columbine victims and gone ahead with their convention as planned.

The mayor of Denver at the time, Wellington Webb, a Democrat, demanded that Heston and his conventioneers stay out of the city altogether.

In contrast, the New York Times calls the Ground Zero mosque a “monument to tolerance,” and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks of the project in supportive, glowing terms. He believes the mosque will “help repudiate the false and repugnant idea that the attacks of 9/11 were in any way consistent with Islam.”

That’s an interesting statement, considering that Imam Rauf has refused to condemn Hamas as the terrorist organization it is. Bloomberg’s support shouldn’t surprise us though; the May Day car bomb discovered in Times Square left His Honor the Mayor speculating that the bomber was some right-winger upset over Obama’s health care plan. Later, police arrested Faisal Shahzad, a Muslim terrorist from Pakistan.

When federal officials weighed in on the NRA convention controversy in ’99, Congressman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, called the group “merchants of death” while then-First Lady Hillary Clinton smiled and nodded in agreement.
When it comes to the Ground Zero mosque, however, even President Obama himself has inexplicably endorsed it. Shamelessly pandering to Muslims at the second annual White House Ramadan dinner Friday night, He called for the development to proceed, in spite of the pain it’s causing.

After the Columbine murders, NRA President Charlton Heston immediately called upon his constituents to show their “profound sympathy and respect for the families and communities in the Denver area in their time of great loss.” Again: Simple human decency.

Compare that statement to what Imam Rauf said on the Sept. 30, 2001, edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes”: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened [on 9/11], but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”

But the Soetoro Administration’s fondness for Rauf could have no greater affirmation than his selection by the government to be sent abroad on a month-long junket (funded by you and me, taxpayers) to various Muslim countries. His mission, says State Department spokesman C.J. Crowley, is “to foster a greater understanding and outreach … among Muslim majority communities … to help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”

We’re talking about a guy who once told Ed Bradley that the U.S. has “been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.”

I’m not sure this is the man we want “fostering a greater understanding and outreach” among Muslims, let alone building anything near Ground Zero.

Perhaps most disconcerting is the murky funding behind this $100 million development. Rauf and his partners have been eerily evasive about that, yet calls for an investigation into the Imam’s financial backers have fallen on deaf ears. Mayor Bloomberg says undertaking such a probe would be “un-American,” but now comes word that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is actually calling for an investigation into the funding of those OPPOSING the construction of the mosque!

“Simple human decency,” indeed.

Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.

Copyright 2010 Daily Review Atlas. Some rights reserved

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