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Thursday, November 22, 2012
In this wonderful nation, at this magnificent time in human history I have many, many reasons to give thanks. Why am I particularly grateful? After centuries of hard work we became the kind of country you people would have utterly despised.
It's strange how we teach our kids this fairy tale of your courageous search for what we somehow find the audacity to call "religious freedom." We act like you actually wanted to see a place where the First Amendment became law. That our struggle is a continuation of your own. And then the real story becomes something of an asterisk to the preschool fantasy we've created, complete with its construction paper hats and handprint turkey art.
I want to take a moment to remember that it is precisely this real story that should make us proud and amazed and happy. Out of the darkness of human history one of the nastier, more narrow-minded collections of primates emerged on a small, rickety ship trying to find an out of the way spot on the planet where they could set up an ugly little cult compound and practice their backward traditions without interference. They survived, prospered... They executed witches and outlawed the really fun sexual practices. They suppressed women and punished nonbelievers. They banned Christmas, for Chrissake. And yet... the colony they created grew into the kind of country that would snuff out their whole stupid culture.
Oh sure, we haven't finished the job. Creationists are still selling textbooks. Michele Bachmann has government stationery. But more and more Americans are dedicating themselves to creating the kind of tolerant, open-minded society that would make you Pilgrims wish that first winter had claimed the lot of you. You couldn't walk the streets of our great cities without wanting to drop to your knees and await the Apocalypse.
Every day those who'd agree with you get shriller and more powerless. They're still here, of course. We will never get rid of them. We don't need to. We won't take away their rights. But we'll win when they can't take away ours. This big crazy country is becoming the kind of place that stands in opposition to every sick thing you ever wanted.
And as we stop pretending you're the good guys, we appreciate the subversive character of freedom more deeply. We realize it has a pitiless and undeniable logic - in claiming it for yourself, you allow others to claim it for themselves. In ways you can't predict. In ways you might not like. Freedom spreads, because we always end up discovering we're going to have to let others have it, to keep it for ourselves.
Thank you, Mayflower crew. You enemies of liberty, you opponents of everything America can be. We'll take it from here.
Monday, November 19, 2012
The next Irene or Sandy is going to hit us within a season or two, and it will paralyze the American Northeast. Some of our biggest, most important cities will go dark for weeks. Again. We all know this, don't we? And we also know that both houses of Congress will not feel the kind of shame they should, the kind of shame that comes from letting the world's last superpower transform into some Third World country that needs a benefit concert to get drinkable water.
Why don't our leaders drop every single fucking thing they are doing and upgrade the infrastructure in the economic center of America, so we don't look like we're waiting for a pity-visit from Bono?
Simple: There's no one to shoot here.
That's why we really need the Taliban. We need to fly them in with C-130s and give them some of that bribe money we throw around in parts of the world where we never really explain what we're doing to our own people. We need them to set up madrassas in Staten Island and Jersey City and enforce sharia law on Hoboken. We need to see footage of them burning churches and street fairs to the ground. We need to see Snooki in a burqa.
Then we'll finally do something. Because it's war, and our country - let's admit this - loves a good war. Republicans and Democrats will agree that we must act now, never mind the consequences. No one will want to look like a waffler, not when CNN's sending camera crews into the target area to get footage of the very first night attack. Someone's going to get a Pulitzer, and someone's going to make general, and maybe even launch a political career. CIA Special Activities Division teams will helicopter in to make power arrangements with city elders and local politicians. We'll hunt down enemy forces and implement a robust counterinsurgency program. We'll build roads and bridges, and upgrade the power grid so it doesn't shut down whenever a strong breeze blows through. People in New York City will finally get a decent public education. Parts of New York City, anyway.
We'll throw billions of dollars into the region and spend a decade trying to bring it into the 21st century, and we'll tell ourselves that we will let no obstacle stop us, because when we're done we will have proven that we have a superior government and way of life. We will tell ourselves we're going to become an example to the world.
And for once, we'll be right.