JABbering Stooge

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Payback's a five-letter word

Freedom for Me, but not for Thee

I must say that I am in shocked awe at the destructive capabilities of the thugs who have hijacked the Republican Party. It has taken them a mere pair of decades to do what no external military force could in all of America’s 229-year history – they have reduced our once firm democratic institutions to rubble and made a mockery of the American ideals of freedom and tolerance for differing opinions. I shall present a small sample of the continuing litany of crimes against democracy being perpetrated in your name below.

First of all, there is the case of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. The church, one of the most liberal in that part of the state, has been threatened by the IRS with the loss of its tax exempt status because the former pastor, Rev. George F. Regas, gave a sermon critical of Operation Iraqi Liberation. While the church has cooperated with the investigation, the IRS seems interested in little more than making an example of All Saints Episcopal, flatly rejecting the church’s protestations of innocence and promising retribution unless the church admitted to "intervening in an election."

While some might argue that this is the liberals’ comeuppance for "trying to get God out of the public square," that would only be the case if the IRS had been consistent in its bullying of churches that get involved in politics. Ask yourself why the IRS isn’t threatening the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status given Pope Benedict Arnold I’s blatant interference in the 2004 election. Ask yourself why the churches in California that supported Proposition 73, which requires parental notification for minors to get an abortion, or the churches here in Texas that supported Proposition 2 aren’t undergoing similar scrutiny.

The reaction of religious conservatives has been equally farcical. Where was the sanctimonious whining of Mullah Jerry Falwell and Ayatollah Pat Robertson about "poor persecuted Christians?" Is the American Center for Law and Justice or the Thomas Moore Law Center preparing a lawsuit against the "godless" IRS, or are they, by their silence, admitting that this is a partisan political ploy designed to stifle dissent from the pulpit?

Then there’s the problem of the American Legion making terroristic threats against anti-war protesters. At its annual convention in Hawaii, coming as it did at the height of Cindy Sheehan’s Crawford protest, the Legion unanimously approved a resolution calling for the end of all anti-war protests by "any means necessary." As anyone even partially educated in English and logic knows, that doesn’t necessarily rule out the use of force.

The problem the American Legion faces, however, is that their actions violate Section 802 of the PATRIOT Act, which expands the definition of domestic terrorism to include activities that "involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State" and "appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Oh, wait. I forgot that the PATRIOT Act only applies to liberals and "swarthy males," as Ann Coulter put it. My bad.

Finally, there is the issue of political balance on the Armed Forces Radio network. Progressive talk radio host Ed Schultz had worked out a deal with the Defense Department to broadcast part of his show, just as it does with Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. However, after Schultz criticized the Defense Department, and in particular, Assistant Secretary of Defense Alison Barber over President Bush’s blatantly scripted photo op with American troops stationed in Iraq, Barber herself told Schultz that the deal was off.

It took an intense grassroots effort coupled with the spoken and written indignation of Democratic senators fresh from a new spine injection to convince the Defense Department that that was a "bad idea." Unfortunately, that concession may only be paper-thin, as a letter to Senator Carl Levin states that "local programmers decide which programs are actually broadcast." In other words, while it may be official policy to ensure a diversity of opinion on the radio our soldiers listen to, I wouldn’t hold my breath that there will be anything other than the Fox News version of "fair and balanced" on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service.

In the Spring 2003 edition of Free Inquiry magazine, Lawrence Britt described fourteen characteristics common to historical and hypothetical fascist regimes. In light of the above, and many more instances like it, we’re already at least halfway there.

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