Right Wing Blogger Post’s Assignment Editor

With all the problems we should be discussing, The Post allows a right wing blogger, the same one who started the NYC mosque controversy, to set the agenda.

The story is about an alleged boycott of Campbell Soups because its Canadian subsidiary is producing halal soup.  The claim is not opposition to halal foods, but to the organization that is certifying the designation.

ISNA has denied any ties to Hamas or to officials of a defunct charity called Holy Land Foundation, who were convicted in the conspiracy case. It has specifically condemned religious extremism and violence. In the wake of the conspiracy trial, Jewish and Protestant organizations issued statements in support of ISNA. A spokesperson for the group was unavailable for comment.

But still, The Post makes a story of it. 

Burn the Bible Day

You are invited to my press conference on a future date when news is slow for my “Burn the Bible Day.” I and my followers will be offering a two-fer as we will burn a bible of both New and Old Testament and thusly denigrate both Christians and Jews. Where else can you get such a demonic deal, what I like to think of as a pox on both your houses?

I am not alone in this. I have five followers. One is serving a life sentence for the terrorist act of praying on a carpet remnant from Marlow Furniture. One is cheap relative of mine who agreed to attend because I was also offering a raffle prize. At least one has Alzheimer’s who offered to bring marshmallows. The other is either a sufferer, too, or has a low IQ, or was educated at Bob Jones University; it’s hard to tell. The fifth follower is dead, but gave me his proxy vote in a death bed conversion to atheism.

Now five followers may not seem a lot, especially compared to the throngs that Rev. Earl Terry has, but they are all very passionate, and they’ve signed up for Twitter accounts, so we should have great coverage in the press.

The raffle prize will be a date with Wolf Blitzer. The lucky winner will shadow him for a day as he mentors the “best political team on television.” Second prize is two days with Blitzer. All other ticket holders will need to spend a week with him, after which they can either spend another week with him or commit suicide. In anticipation of the choice of so many, my church will be happy to facilitate by offering a mass blessing along the rim of the Grand Canyon. A small donation for my church is requested to help pay for clean-up at the Canyon’s base.

And though it may seem incongruous after such a political statement as above, I know I will be pilloried if I neglect to say, God bless the United States of America.

Sleaze Ball

This is incredible.  As has been reported, Sen. Tom Colburn knew of Sen Ensign’s affair.  He was there during a confrontation between Ensign and the husband of the woman he was seeing.

Now Colburn says he won’t testify, whether called by a court or the Congressional ethics committee.  The reason he gives is another example of the righteous right’s political bullshit. 

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday said he would not testify in court or before the Ethics Committee about any advice he gave Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) on how to handle his affair with a former staffer, citing constitutional protections for communications during religious counseling, as well as the patient confidentiality privilege.

“I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon. … That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody,” Coburn said.

These guys who hide behind some flimsy religious facade is one reason many of us think of the religious right as a bunch of sleaze ball political opportunists who use religion to advance a dangerous, treasonous agenda.  They are America’s equivalent of the Taliban.

AIPAC vs. American Jews

Please read Harold Meyerson’s column in today Washington Post.  It draws the distinction between AIPAC, the pre-imminent Jewish lobby in this country, and most American Jews.

What underpins the resolve of both the administration and Congress to push the Israelis, no less than the Palestinians, toward a settlement is the clear approval this approach commands among American Jews. A poll taken in March for J Street, an organization of American Jews that favors a territorial accord, showed 72 percent support among Jewish Americans for U.S. pressure on Israel and its Arab neighbors to reach an accord, and, remarkably, 57 percent support for U.S. pressure just on Israel. The poll also found 60 percent opposition to the expansion of settlements.

My experience is no more valid than any other non-Jew who has had Jewish friends (some of whom have put me in hot water, but that’s totally unrelated here, and besides, I jumped into the scalding caldron myself).  But my friends usually just roll their eyes when talking about the Israeli’s policy towards Palestinians.  This is all lost on Congressmen and women who quake in fear of AIPAC.  Thus far, Obama hasn’t.

By every measure, American Jews remain intensely committed to liberalism and to universal and minority rights. As a democratic state rising on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel once embodied those values to its supporters, but 42 years of occupation have rendered Israel a state that tests those values more than it affirms them. Its most fervent American Jewish backers, to be found disproportionately among the Orthodox, identify with it for reasons that are more tribal than universal. All of which has created the political space for President Obama to try to craft a resolution to one of the planet’s most venerable and dangerous disputes.

Read it; it’s a great piece.  To both Meyerson and Obama, Mazel tov.

Ejected from a Ball Game for Bathroom Break During “God Bless America”

A baseball fan filed suit yesterday against the New York Yankees for ejecting him from a game last year during the singing of “God Bless America.”

I have never understood why we sing the national anthem at sporting events.  What’s so patriotic about a baseball or football game? 

The tradition began in the 1918 World Series, according to one source, when the live band during the seventh inning stretch erupted unprompted into the Star-Spangled Banner, which was not declared the national anthem until 1931.  Fans applauded and when the series returned to Boston from Chicago, the Red Sox owner scheduled the song to be played before the game.  But until WW II, it was only played during special games.  Once technology allowed for pre-recorded renditions and to support the troops, the song became a prelude to every baseball game.  Other sports eventually picked up the tradition.

Then after 9/11, teams started playing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch.  But the Yankees took this forced display of patriotism one step further, forbidding fans from leaving their seats during its playing. 

Enter – or should I say exit — Bradford Campeau-Laurion.  According to his suit against the Yankees and the New York police, he left his seat to use the bathroom during a game last August and was stopped by New York police and thrown out of the stadium.

The ACLU has taken up his case.  He says he shouldn’t be forced to be patriotic according to others’ standards or to be religious.  He has good company.

Campeau-Laurion said in the interview he told the police “’I don’t care about ‘God Bless America.’ I don’t believe that’s grounds constitutionally for being dragged out of a baseball game.”

He declined to characterize himself as either an atheist or agnostic.

“I simply don’t have any religious beliefs,” he said.

Irving Berlin, who wrote “God Bless America,” was an agnostic, according to “Irving Berlin: A Daughter’s Memoir,” written by his daughter Mary Ellin Barrett and published in 1994.

Try doing anything but stand quietly and look respectful during the singing of the anthem or “God Bless America.”  One is forced to display this contrived patriotism. 

It reminds me of our son’s high school policy regarding the moment of silence students are required to display before class starts.  No one, the school administration said, must adhere to the moment of silence, but they are asked instead to “remain quiet” during it.  In other words, you don’t have to be silent, just keep quiet.