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February 25th, 2009

Yes, They’d Be Crazy To Start Another American Civil War. What Do You Think That Means?

A few snapshots of the times we live in…followed by a dream…


Tom Tomorrow:

Crazy Glenn Beck

If I had my way, that would be his name, as far as any rational person was concerned. (As in: “I was in my car listening to Crazy Glenn Beck …”) Because Crazy Glenn Beck has carved out his own niche in the talk radio/Fox News spectrum, and it is the Crazy niche. And these aren’t exactly venues known for their non-craziness to begin with.

Glenn Greenwald has a rundown of Crazy Glenn Beck’s latest lunacy — “war gaming” the, uh, coming civil war.

Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air blog links to Crazy Glenn Beck’s discussion of the coming civil war, but even there, the writer feels compelled to note:

There’s something “off” about Beck in a way that’s not true of other chat-show hosts, although that’s not necessarily a criticism: O’Reilly and Hannity can be tiresome in more than small doses but this guy I find watchable even at a stretch. Partly it’s the sheer bravado of the performance, partly it’s the challenge of trying to figure out what’s going on in his head to make him the way he is.

When a right winger is so crazy that one of Michelle Malkin’s bloggers finds it necessary to post a disclaimer, however mild — that’s some serious crazy!

Crazy Glenn Beck had a health incident a couple of Christmasses ago — somehow things went awry with his health care provider and he had at least one incredibly rough night, which he later described to his listeners as consisting of terrible visions, such as — I’m not making this up but I am paraphrasing from memory — children’s faces being chewed off by dogs.

I was listening that morning and I remember thinking, “Wow! Discussing visions of children’s faces being chewed off by dogs on a nationally syndicated morning radio program? That’s crazy, even for Crazy Glenn Beck!”

So to answer the Hot Air blogger’s question, I’ll tell you what’s going on in Crazy Glenn Beck’s head: he’s trying not to react to the invisible people shouting at him, the ones that only he can see and hear, because he knows he’s on camera and he has to hold it together. He’s trying not to let the demons crawl right out of his skin while he’s in front of the microphone, because his livelihood depends on walking up to the crazy line but not crossing over, and mostly he succeeds, but clearly the strain is taking its toll. Bill O’Reilly used to be my leading candidate for right wing blowhard most likely to have an on air meltdown, but since Fox gave him a live tv show, Crazy Glenn Beck has pulled way into the lead.

(Crazy Glenn Beck’s bizarre post-surgery YouTube video is here. And here — at about the fifty second mark — Crazy Glenn Beck “jokes” about specific and graphic ways he would like to kill Michael Moore. Ha ha ha.)


Fox News "war games" the coming civil war

Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 gave rise to the American "militia movement":  hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the "liberals" and "leftists" running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors.  Those theater groups — the cultural precursor to George Bush’s prancing 2003 performance dressed in a fighter pilot outfit on Mission Accomplished Day — spawned the decade of the so-called "Angry White Male," the movement behind the 1994 takeover of the U.S. Congress by Newt Gingrich and his band of federal-government-cursing, pseudo-revolutionary, play-acting tough guys.

What was most remarkable about this allegedly "anti-government" movement was that — with some isolated and principled exceptions — it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory.  Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional — limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending — they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on.  

They’re the same people who embraced and justified full-scale, impenetrable federal government secrecy and comprehensive domestic spying databases conducted in the dark and against the law when perpetrated by a Republican President — but have spent the last week flamboyantly pretending to be scandalized and outraged by the snooping which Bill Moyers did 45 years ago (literally) as part of a Democratic administration.  They’re the people who relentlessly opposed and impugned Clinton’s military deployments and then turned around and insisted that only those who are anti-American would question or oppose Bush’s decision to start wars. 

They’re the same people who believed that Bill Clinton’s use of the FISA court to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on Americans was a grave threat to liberty, but believed that George Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law was a profound defense of freedom.  In sum, they dressed up in warrior clothing to fight against Bill Clinton’s supposed tyranny, and then underwent a major costume change on January 20, 2001, thereafter dressing up in cheerleader costumes to glorify George Bush’s far more extreme acquisitions of federal power.

In doing so, they revealed themselves as motivated by no ideological principles or political values of any kind.  It was a purely tribalistic movement motivated by fear of losing its cultural and demographic supremacy.  In that sense — the only sense that mattered — George Bush was one of them, even though, with his actions, he did everything they long claimed to fear and despise.  Nonetheless, his mere occupancy of the White House was sufficient to pacify them and convert them almost overnight from limited-government militants into foot soldiers supporting the endless expansion of federal government power.

But now, only four weeks into the presidency of Barack Obama, they are back — angrier and more chest-beating than ever.  Actually, the mere threat of an Obama presidency was enough to revitalize them from their eight-year slumber, awaken them from their camouflaged, well-armed suburban caves.  The disturbingly ugly atmosphere that marked virtually every Sarah Palin rally had its roots in this cultural resentment, which is why her fear-mongering cultural warnings about Obama’s exotic, threatening otherness — he’s a Muslim-loving, Terrorist-embracing, Rev.-Wright-following Marxist:  who is the real Barack Obama? — resonated so stingingly with the rabid lynch mobs that cheered her on.

With Obama now actually in the Oval Office — and a financial crisis in full force that is generating the exact type of widespread, intense anxiety that typically inflames these cultural resentments — their mask is dropping, has dropped, and they’ve suddenly re-discovered their righteous "principles."  The week-long CNBC Revolt of the Traders led by McCain voter Rick Santelli and the fledgling little Tea Party movement promoted by the Michelle Malkins of the world are obvious outgrowths of this 1990s mentality, now fortified by the most powerful fuel:  deep economic fear.  But as feisty and fire-breathing as those outbursts are, nothing can match — for pure, illustrative derangement — the discussion below from Glenn Beck’s new Fox show this week, in which he and an array of ex-military and CIA guests ponder (and plot and plan) "war games" for the coming Civil War against Obama-led tyranny.  It really has to be seen to be believed.

That’s the context for this Glenn Beck "War Games" show on Fox News this week — one promoted, with some mild and obligatory caveats, by Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air.  In the segment below, he convened a panel that includes former CIA officer Michael Scheuer and Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Major Tim Strong.  They discuss a coming "civil war" led by American "Bubba" militias — Beck says he "believes we’re on this road" — and they contemplate whether the U.S. military would follow the President’s orders to subdue civil unrest or would instead join with "the people" in defense of their Constitutional rights against the Government (they agree that the U.S. military would be with "the people")…


Buttars: Gays ‘greatest threat to America’

He called the gay-rights movement "probably the greatest threat to America," likened gay activists to Muslim radicals and dubbed same-sex relationships "abominations." 

Buttars’ latest remarks come from an interview with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan that aired on ABC 4 this week. Buttars told Cowan the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community doesn’t want "equality, they want superiority."

"It’s the beginning of the end," the West Jordan Republican said. "Oh, it’s worse than that. Sure. Sodom and Gomorrah was localized. This is worldwide


Gay rights group slams Renfroe for comparing homosexuality to murder

The state Senate passed SB 88 — sponsored by the Legislature’s two openly gay members, Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, both Denver Democrats — on a voice vote after Renfroe spoke, and then gave final approval to the bill Tuesday morning by a margin of 22-12, with Republican Sens. Ken Kester and Al White joining Democrats voting in favor. The bill moves on to the House for consideration.

The bill, which also came under fire from Focus on the Family in an advertising campaign last week, roused Renfroe to pull out a Bible and thump it during debate Monday. After first establishing that God created Eve to be Adam’s “helper,” Renfroe explained why he opposed extending health care benefits to gay and lesbian partners of state employees:

Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural, created order and it is an offense to God, the Creator, who created men and women, male and female, for procreation.

Then came some passages from the Bible:

Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female, it is an abomination.”


Leviticus 20:13 says, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act and they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”

And I still can’t get this dream out of my head…

In this dream I’m driving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit some gay friends. 

From Baltimore, Gettysburg is not all that far away. This is a day trip I’m taking, and I have three gay friends with me…a full car.  We chat easily as I drive with the windows down and the moon roof open through some very lovely Maryland, and then Pennsylvania countryside.  It is a beautiful day.  Perfect actually.  Not too hot, not too cold.  The air smells sweet and crisp and clear.  The sky is a perfect blue, with just a few fluffy clouds in it here and there…just enough to make it beautiful, but not so many as to block the sun.  A perfect day.  My companions and I are feeling as sunny and cheerful as the weather.  Peace and contentment and companionship.  A perfect day.

Eventually we get to a small and cozy old cottage house in Gettysburg.  Somehow I know it is not far from the battlefield nearby…somewhere over the rolling hills of grass and trees.  But the sight of such a charming little house puts all thoughts of that terrible war out of my mind.  It is so cozy and peaceful to look at.  Like something out of a Currier and Ives print.  There is a large plot of land around it, with a very nice stone walled garden on one side of the house.  Inside we meet more friends,  There is a table of lovely snacks and wine.  Delicious.  I chat with a few of the folks inside, get a few snacks from the table and a small crystal glass of wine, and walk out into the garden…back out into the perfect day.

I don’t recognize any of these people.  But somehow in my dream I know that they are all gay friends of mine.  We chat about this and that in the beautiful garden. The couple who owns the house has clearly done years of careful loving work on both house and garden.  The garden is surrounded by a low stone walls that I think must date back hundreds of years. Inside the wall are so many beautiful bushes and flowers it just takes your breath away.  A little paradise. 

It is a very peaceful, tranquil setting, and I feel a warm, serene ease being there, and being in the company of these other gay folks.  I don’t know any of them, yet I feel that we are all compatriots…comrades somehow.  Kindred.  I am sitting on one of the low stone walls.  A guy about my age is sitting beside me on my right.  Several other guys are standing in front of me.  We are chatting easily about this and that. 

As we chat, about a dozen bright yellow birds, American Goldfinches, land on the wall near us.  We watch as they fly a short distance to one of the garden’s Azalea bushes, now in full rosy bloom. Yellow birds hopping around in a rose red bush, looking for some food I suppose. The sight is lovely.  One of my companions remarks on how colorful they are, and I agree.

The goldfinches fly off, and almost immediately about a dozen or so starlings land on the stone wall a short distance away from us. My companions ignore them. Some people don’t like starlings, they’re not very pretty birds, but I like and even admire them in some ways. They can find homes in the most amazing of places in and around humankind’s structures. Their flocks make these spectacular air formations, that weave and turn and undulate in the sky as if the entire flock had a single mind. I’m told it’s behavior they evolved over time in their European homelands, to confuse and evade hawks and other air predators. And starlings make this cheerful, goofy song that sounds to my ear like the squeaky wheel noise of the old fax signals I used to hear on my shortwave radio when I was a kid. No other bird makes a song quite like a starling’s. It’s bizarre and goofy and cheerful and just brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. But starlings are not welcome in most places because their flocks can get Huge and they make a lot of mess.

My companions ignore the small flock of starlings.  As I watch it, one of the birds starts walking awkwardly over to me.

As it gets closer, I can see its feathers are unkempt…ruffled…disordered.  Some look broken.  It’s little pointy yellow beak is broken and bent in the middle.  It comes closer, awkwardly waddling on little stubby bird legs.  I can see eyes are just two black holes in its head…empty sockets in its little bird skull.

It walks over the stones to me, then it stops, fixes those empty socket eyes on mine, and in a little dry, gravelly voice, begins singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic to me.

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage
where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

…and then I wake up.


One Response to “Yes, They’d Be Crazy To Start Another American Civil War. What Do You Think That Means?”

  1. Bob C Says:

    I have a fairly wide and "interesting" circle of friends and acquaintances. It keeps life interesting. And having a wide spectrum of friends of all different religious and political or racial persuasions (Gives me that ever-popular and persuasive "But my black friends don’t mind if I…" argument) somewhat gives me a cultural or political compass as far as ‘knowing which way the wind blows’.
    Having said that, I was hanging out with a friend….who’s political stripes I am still not sure of. They could be camoflage stripes hiding something else….or not.
    Our talk turned to local crime, and a current ‘gang war’ in town, and a rash of home-invasions. (This discussion came soon after he plopped down a bag on a bar counter, and out fell two boxes of high-zoot large-caliber bullets….not an entirely surprizing thing…but Iv’e always wondered if this guy just liked to shoot and hunt, or is an outright paranoid gun-nut)
    I made a remark that I’ve been thinking about buying a new pistol. Sometimes I get paranoid and worried about some of the home-invasions by crack-heads that have been happening around the neighborhood. But for the most part, as far as confronting and shooting a crackhead in your own living room….you are FAR better off just letting them take what they want, or even taking a black eye or two, then shooting them. Shooting a criminal just isn’t worth the costs and time and possible punishment….whatever they take doesnt equal the cost of defending yourself in court.
    After a few incidents years ago, I divested myself of all of my guns.
    But this cultural vibe, and a coming civil war, or at least the talk of it from the left right and so-called center, has a lot of people paranoid, especially out here in the midwest.
    So he asks me "What kind of gun are you thinking about getting?"
    I replied "Probably a 9mm of some sort, and if I get a pistol, I want it to be a quality peice, not some junk, and 9mm ammo is plentiful and fairly cheap"
    He replies "Oh, no it isn’t! Right now the entire country is on back-order for 9mm! Everyone has been stocking up on it and buying up all of it …’s because we have a black guy in the whitehouse".
    Well, I’m not going to get into an arms-race with a bunch of flag-waving militants OR the gang-bangers!
    Guns arn’t a high priority for me….guitars are.
    And I think I can do a bit more, have a tiny bit more influence over the kultur war with a guitar then sleeping in a paranoid sweat with a gun under my pillow.

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