Sunday, September 12, 2010

It Is Right That We Should Do This

For anyone old enough to comprehend it at the time, 9/11 will always be a sad day. There will be years when it is more sad than others. Some years, it will be mid-morning before you realize the significance of the date. Some years, you'll be thinking about it days in advance. This is the nature of seminal, life-changing events. This is what happened with the anniversaries of the assassination of JFK, Pearl Harbor, and - for those living 100+ years ago - the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

This 9/11 was particularly sad. There are, no doubt, many reasons for this, although I think the primary culprit is the total dissolution of the false sense of 'unity' that seemed to take over the country since the first anniversary of the first plane hitting the first tower. Much has been written about how 'angry' and 'volatile' this 9th anniversary of 9/11 has been. There is no doubt that the pundits are correct when they say it is the most discordant anniversary of the eight that preceded it.

The sadness that this leaves in many of us is not because we really believe that we were all united on that day, every year, since 2002. I think it is because of the real unity we felt in the 96 or so hours after the first plane hit the first tower. By the time President Bush reintroduced air flight in the United States - on September 13, 2011 - after its suspension immediately after the attacks, the small pockets of discord returned to our lives. And that is as it should be. The country is rarely united in such a way - and thank God. It was united because it takes tragedy of an unimaginable force to make us put all other interests aside, other than each other. If you are lucky, you get through a whole lifetime without that kind of unity, quite frankly. At the most, you hope to see it only once in your lifetime. It is not normal, nor should it be.

But there is a difference between the 'normal' discord and what has become 'normal' over the past 25 or so years. The venom that pervades our body politic is not the kind of discord that makes a representative democracy run, but the kind of rancor that dissolves such forms of government if it is left unchecked or untempered by rational discussion.

That venom is at its highest level in this country, perhaps since the Civil War. Hopefully, we will never experience the kind of violent dissolution that our forefathers suffered 150 years ago. Let's hope we don't, anyway. Still, it is discouraging for us in 2010, no less than it was for Americans in 1860.

There are - really - large pockets of people in this country who believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist; who - really - believe that we are 'creeping' toward Socialism; who believe that 'Liberals' are really intent on taxing and spending us into a totalitarian state of perpetual 'slavery' to a national government that wants to take over every aspect of our lives.

On the flip side, there are - really - large pockets of people in this country who believe that President George Bush not only allowed 9/11 to happen but planned it in a top--secret effort to start the U.S. down a path to war with Iraq, while rewarding his 'buddies' in the oil industry and the 'military industrial complex' with billions of dollars in government contracts. They believe that 'conservatives' want to reinstate slavery of African Americans; that they want to suspend religious freedoms for all but white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants; and that the entire 'war on terror' is a giant plot designed to establish U.S. hegemony over the world's few billion Muslims.

When a few people hold such beliefs - on either side of the political spectrum - it is mildly amusing and great blog fodder. When enough people to fill the Grand Canyon believe it, it is neither mild nor amusing. It is surely beyond 'sad', but 'sad' is the only word in the English language that I can think of right now.

That is why this 9/11 was particularly sad. Not because we were really 'united' every year on that date since 2001; but because we really were united during those days after the attacks. We all had a shared experience that - while terrifying [and lest you forget, those days were terrifying for all of us with the very real possibility, in our minds anyway, of further death and destruction] - were also somehow comforting because we were all going through it.

For those who lost loved ones that day in 2001, the anniversary is an incredibly personal experience of death that they have been forced, by the nature of the tragedy, to share with all of us. We need to allow them to have their personal grief and remembrance. It is right that we should do this, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, when talking about the monuments to the dead on that battlefield. For the rest of us, though, beyond the shock and disgust over the loss of thousands of lives, we should remember what we all felt on that day and on the days that immediately followed.

Beyond wearing images of the U.S. flag on everything from caps to pins to diaphragms; beyond calling it Patriot Day; what 9/11 should be is a time - once a year - where we disconnect from our ongoing venomous dialogue and think back to how we felt on that date in 2001.

That, I think, would be the greatest tribute to those who died. And it is the greatest meaning we could discern from their deaths.

copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never, Never Forget

List of 9/11 Victims

Have You Forgotten

By Darryl Worley

I hear people sayin'. We Don't need this war.
I say there's some things worth fightin' for.
What about our freedom, and this piece of ground?
We didn't get to keep 'em by backin' down.
They say we don't realize the mess we're gettin' in
Before you start preachin' let me ask you this my friend.

Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten, when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin through a livin hell
And you say we shouldn't worry bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

You took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbin for you and me
It'll just breed anger is what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday
Some say this country just out lookin' for a fight
Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say right.

Have you forgotten, how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell
We had neighbors still inside goin' through a livin' hell
And we vow to get the ones behind Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

I've been there with the soldiers
Who've gone away to war
you can bet they remember just what they're fightin' for

Have you forgotten
All the people killed
Yes some went down like heroes
In that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten
About our Pentagon
All the loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don't you tell me not to worry 'bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten?

Have you forgotten?

Have you forgotten?!

copyright 2009, 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Day in the Life

A few hours after the Naperville crash, rescuers were still trying to free victims [above]. One of the first on the scene was Calista Wehrli.

An elderly lady died on Labor Day in Naperville, Illinois. Often, we see these obituaries - Mertz, Matilda: nee Schmidt, 92 - see the picture of an old face, and go right on to the sports page. For most people who see such an obituary, not much thought is given to what - exactly - Matilda did in her life.

Someone looking at Calista Wehrli's obituary might well have wondered the same thing. If they had asked the question about what she had done with her life, however, her story would have been worth listening to.

Even before April 26, 1946, Wehrli's life was remarkable. She graduated high school - where she had become a star baseball and basketball player - in Naperville in 1943. Unlike most 18-year olds at the time, she enlisted in the Marines Corps Women's Reserve in World War II. While in the Marines, she served most of her time organizing the sports programs for the 1,000 women and 10,000 men stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and at Parris Island, South Carolina.

On April 26, 1946, Wehrli was on leave from the military, helping her older sister hem a wedding dress. The fact that Wehrli was even in Naperville on that day was quite extraordinary: even a full year after the end of fighting in Europe, getting a leave from duty in the military was no easy feat. Wehrli, however, was able to get the leave, and as a result dozens of people would live to see April 27, 1946 - people who might not have done so if Wehrli had been back in the Carolinas.

As Wehrli helped her sister with the dress a few minutes after 12:30 pm, they both heard a loud boom. "I ran out of the house, and from the porch I said, 'Oh my God, there is a train sticking up in the air!'" she later recalled for reporters.

The 'boom' the Wehrli sisters had heard was a horrific rear-end collision of the Burlington railroad's westbound fast 'Exposition Flyer' train into an 'Advance Flyer' train. Because Wehrli had been taught to deal with disaster in the Marines, she instinctively and immediately ran toward the crash site.

The sight that Wehrli faced was gruesome. The Advance Flyer, carrying about 200 passengers in nine coach cars, was bound for Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. The Exposition Flyer, made up of eleven cars and also carrying about 200 persons, was headed for San Francisco. The collision occurred about two minutes after the Advance Flyer made an unscheduled stop in Naperville. The Exposition Flyer plowed into the rear of the stalled train.

Wehrli heard screams, and saw chaos and confusion. The loudest cries came from the rear coach of the Advance Flyer, so she turned her attention there. As she approached, it was evident that dozens of injured passengers were trapped, with no way to get out of the train on their own. Because many of the injuries were life-threatening, immediate medical attention was essential if they were to survive. Briefly taking her eye off the Advance Flyer, Wehrli witnessed others inside the Exposition Flyer train groping in attempts to escape from the mass of steel wreckage. Wehrli began getting the injured out of the trains.

The carnage was terrible. Eleven coaches were overturned or left the rails, 6 on the Advance Flyer and 5 on the Exposition Flyer. By the time all casualties had been accounted for, 47 were dead and another 125 were injured. Wehrli's ability to pull out many of those 125 victims, however, led them to end up as injured instead of dead.

Wehrli's heroism that day later got her an invitation to the White House to meet President Harry Truman. "She felt that was one of the major accomplishments of her entire life that she was able to be so helpful [on the day of the crash]," her niece and goddaughter Kimbeth Judge told the Chicago Tribune. "Whenever she described it, she would become emotional about it."

Indeed, on that April day in 1946, Wehrli made a difference. Her heroism saved countless lives. Of course, there was more to her life than her role in the crash. Wehrli went on to attend North Central College and Iowa State Teachers College, received a bachelor's degree in 1950, and a master's degree from UCLA in 1954. During the summers of 1947 and 1948, Wehrli also played baseball for the Borman Chryslerette's, a farm club for the Rockford Peaches, in a professional women's league. After college, she taught physical education in California at the high school and college levels for 34 years, retiring in 1985.

So, when Wehrli died of natural causes Monday at the age of 85, it was not "just" another elderly person gone. It was the end of a remarkable life - one that prolonged the lives of dozens of others on that April day 64 years ago.

copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Zookeeper

Although, no doubt, this is the image Glenn Beck would like you to have of him, click on him to take a listen of the real Glenn Beck, Zookeeper.

Let me start out by saying that Glenn Beck is a charlatan. Saying that he is an asshole would be to state the obvious. Besides, being an asshole isn't really what makes him vile. Like his fellow-purveyor of bullshit - Rush Limbaugh - Beck is nothing more than a former disc jockey who managed to be quick-witted enough to catch the wave of neo-Nazi conservative talk radio and turn it into millions.

Both of these insidious vermin would normally just be a scourge that - like crabs or gonorrhea - one could get rid of with a shot of penicillin. Indeed, in the case of the bloated Limbaugh, the penicillin has largely worked. For the most part - not entirely, but for the most part - Limbaugh has been neutered over the past few years. Even his audience found his addiction to 'hillbilly heroin' a bit much to stomach.

Into that vacuum of racism, jingoism, homophobia and faux-religious fervor has stepped Beck - perhaps one of the least talented disc jockeys of the 20th century. Needless to say, that's saying something.

In the aftermath of his shameful desecration of the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington with his despicable Morons on Washington 2010, I thought it might be helpful to take a real look at the 'real' Glenn Beck. Lest any of you think he believes a word he says, take a listen.

Glenn Beck was born to the shocked, stunned - and not a little disappointed - William and Mary [no, seriously, those were their names] Beck in 1964. Still reeling from the Kennedy assassination and the appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show a few days earlier, Beck's family had to deal with him dropping from the womb on February 10th. His early years can be summarized in a sentence: lacking any discernible talent, intellectual curiosity, or natural abilities, his parents naturally encouraged him to pursue a career in radio. Beck was a bit of a prodigy in the disc jockey genre, landing a job at a local radio station in his hometown in Washington state by the age of 13, after winning a contest as The Most Talentless Tween in Washington State, 1976. Around that time, William Beck left Mary, as her alcoholism was cutting into his gambling winnings.

Tragedy [or incredible irony, depending on your political point of view] struck on May 15, 1979, when Mary Beck drowned - along with a man with whom she'd fallen into bed - in Puget Sound. Although Tacoma police stated that Mary Beck "appeared to be a classic drowning victim", Beck has managed to exploit the tragedy into a tale about "overcoming" the "trauma" of his mother's "suicide".

After surprising everyone by actually graduating high school, Beck toured the nation's plethora of tiny, shitty, dead-end disc jockey jobs in shit-kicking towns from Provo, Utah to Hamden, Connecticut. He caught his big break in Phoenix, where he reached the position that was pinnacle of radio disc jockeying in the 1980s: Zookeeper. At that time, a great scourge upon the land came, and it was called The Morning Zoo. Throughout America, listeners of Morning Zoos were subjected to some of the most God-awful attempts at humor through flatulence sound affects, voice impersonations, crank phone calls and dozens of other incredibly unfunny attempts at getting someone to laugh.

By the mid-1980s, like crack clinics and Nancy Reagan 'Say No to Drugs' PSAs, these Zoos were everywhere. To become a Zookeeper was to be at the top of the 'craft'. Zookeepers took such names as 'Tony Rigatoni', 'Bubba the Birth Control Sponge', 'The Greaseman', 'Dirk Dickman' 'Shemp and Fez', and 'Jeff Christie' [the latter being the name the bloated Limbaugh used]. With Beck's lack of talent, terrible impersonations and incredibly poor taste, though, Zookeeping came naturally to him.

Against this scourge of Zoos stood Howard Stern. Through incredible will and talent, Stern managed to set the bar high for radio entertainment and eventually defeated the Zoos by the early 1990s. In doing so, though, Stern inadvertently gave Zookeepers across the nation hundreds of ideas, spoofs, pranks and sketches from which to steal. Fortunately, though, the Zookeepers did a piss-poor job of the imitation and always went too far - blazing past 'funny' before screeching to a violent halt at 'tasteless verbal assault'.

Beck was no exception. Taking a page from Stern's feuds with fellow disc jockeys, Beck started a rivalry with another local Phoenix-area DJ, the equally unfunny although slightly more intelligent Bruce Kelly. Through practical jokes that were about as funny as a migraine, and publicity stunts that bordered on the macabre [Beck telephoned Kelly's wife on-the-air, mocking her recent miscarriage], Beck was the top Zookeeper in Arizona.

Not terribly amused by the 'dead-baby-in-the toilet' prank on Mrs. Kelly, Beck's station fired him. Undaunted, Beck next landed in Houston. This time, he lasted an entire year before being fired for lack of ratings, taste and talent. Beck next moved on to Baltimore. It was during his tenure in Baltimore that Beck was arrested for speeding in his DeLorean with one of the car's gull-wing doors wide open. Beck was once again fired and spent six months in Baltimore living [i.e. boozing and snorting] off of his severance pay.

Next was sunny Hamden, Connecticut. His stint there ended when - in a terribly unfunny bit - Beck pretended to speak Chinese during a taped comedy skit. When an Asian-American listener called to complain, Beck made fun of the caller, playing gongs in the background while speaking in a mock-Chinese accent.

By this time, Beck's personal and professional life was in the shitter. As with most itinerant disc jockeys [redundancy alert], Beck blew through a marriage within a few years in a haze of drugs, booze and broads - but not before fathering two children. By 1994, Beck was suicidal, but - unfortunately - talked himself out of it. At around the same time, Beck diagnosed himself with Attention Deficit Disorder, because no one was paying him any attention.

A complete failure in a life - an occupational hazard of his profession - Beck had a discovery that changed his life, not to mention what it did to ours. While in one of his numerous drug rehabs during the mid-1990s, Beck found Jesus [he was lying under the bed trying to hide from Glenn, apparently], with the encouragement of his daughter - who was tired of being the daughter of a complete fuck up. Beck married another female in 1999, and he, Jesus, his daughters and the new little woman joined the Mormons, as the Moonies had no openings at that time (Beck would later make a financial killing by trivializing his conversion in a terribly funny CD/DVD called "An Unlikely Mormon: The Conversion Story of Glenn Beck". I, personally, can't wait for the musical].

It was in late-1999, however, that Beck finally came up with an idea after 20 years in radio. Seeing the success of the bloated former disc jockey Limbaugh, Beck decided to become a conservative radio talk show host, too. The wittily titled 'Glenn Beck Program' first aired in 2000 in Tampa. Semi-literate white trash from across the region flocked to the program, as Limbaugh was only on for three hours a day, and one can only watch so many Jerry Springer shows. With the success of that market [and the fact that 'the semi-literate white trash' demographic was second only to the Hispanic market in potential ratings growth], by 2002 Premiere Radio Networks was broadcasting Beck's show nationwide on 47 stations.

Competing with Limbaugh in popularity in Florida drove Beck nuts, however. So, he inexplicably moved to Philadelphia, and by 2008 his show was broadcast to over 280 terrestrial stations, as well as XM Satellite.

Radio was one thing. The one area Limbaugh had never managed to conquer - mainly because people had to look at him, was television. Slightly easier on the eyes, Beck thus branched out into TV, determined to become bigger [figuratively, not literally] than Limbaugh. His first foray - in 2006 hosting a nightly news-commentary show on CNN's Headline News - was moderately successful.

The problem was that the semi-literate white trash population had turned the clicker away from CNN to watch Fox "News". That, clearly, was where Beck needed to be. After moving to the Fox "News" Channel, in addition to his own hour of bullshit, Beck was soon appearing on other Fox "News" programs, including a regular segment on The O'Reilly Factor, wittily titled "At Your Beck and Call."

So, that's Beck's history. From Zookeeper to leading the Morons on Washington last weekend. He now tours the nation, making nearly $100 million, and has succeeded in surpassing the bloated Limbaugh as the second most dangerous person in media [Oprah, naturally, being the first].He has helped to fan the flames of racism and bigotry to a 10alarm level. In 2006, Beck remarked to Muslim congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a guest on his show, "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel."[

Beck's true target, though, has been President Obama. He has said that Obama has repeatedly shown "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture," saying, "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." Not content with just attacking the President, Beck has gone after Obama's family as well, mocking 11-year-old Malia Obama during a discussion of the President's response to the BP Gulf oil spill. He questioned Malia's level of education and imitated her voice asking her father why he hated black people.

Beck has had success against Obama, though. The most infamous example was his attacks on one of Obama's dumber appointments, that of Van Jones, whom Obama named Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality [whatever the fuck that is]. Although Jones was in the least important position in Washington, Beck went after him [the fact that Jones deserved to be gotten after is a moot point for my purposes right now]. Beck was critical of Jones' involvement in STORM, a communist non-governmental group, and his support for cop-killer Wesley Cook [i.e. Mumia Abu-Jamal]. Beck spotlighted a video of Jones referring to Republicans as "assholes" [so, he's not completely crazy], and a petition Jones signed suggesting that President Bush knowingly let the 9/11 attacks happen [but he's still pretty wacky]. Wisely, in September 2009, Jones resigned his position in the Obama Administration. The New York Daily News called it Beck's "first knockout punch."

Beck himself has been a target. In 2009, lawyers for Beck brought a case against the owner of a satirical website named The claim that the domain name of the website is itself defamatory was described as a first in cyberlaw. Beck's lawyers argued that the site infringed on his trademarked name and that the domain should be turned over to Beck. While the subsequent ruling went against Beck, the web site's author voluntarily transferred the domain to Beck anyway, no doubt for cash.

And cash, after all, is something Beck can understand. It is for cash that he found Jesus, it is for cash that he found conservatism, and is it for cash that Beck has become who he is. Still, no matter how big he gets, there is one title that we should never let Beck can never escape from. It puts all of this in perspective. Never forget that Glenn Beck's true title says it all: Zookeeper.

copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.