The man being interviewed clears his throat thoughtfully, as he ponders the really big dilemmas. Does alien life exist out there in the universe? Will we find it–or will it find us–one day?

I think the entire conversation is silly. We’ve been receiving alien transmissions for a long time. All I have to do to hear them is turn the radio dial.

“Who knows if the theory of evolution is true? And who cares? Why would you even ask anyone about it…it’s such a gotcha question!”

“Kbbhhlth…zgfffx…Women who want equal pay are angry feminazis….”

Somewhere in the darkest reaches of space, a planet is spinning wildly. Its empty canyons echo with the sounds of Joni Ernst’s manic laughter, its silence occasionally interrupted by the sobbing call of the orange-hued Boehner. It’s beaming its signals back to the reality I inhabit. Its messages are enigmatic and difficult to decipher.

“It was a good decision to go into Iraq…bleep bleep blorp…”

What in God’s name are these lifeforms trying to say? Either this is a civilization so advanced that I am unable to follow the twists and turns of its logic, or these aliens have spent such a long time breathing in their own unique atmosphere that it has driven them nuts.

The serious question is, why do I continue to spend my time intercepting their radio communications, trying to make sense of the garbled noise they broadcast? I could listen to NPR, which reports on actual Earth news as opposed to that of an alternate universe. The NPR hosts speak in measured, reasonable tones. The guests are experts in their field. They don’t scream at the people they disagree with, or break down weeping, or rave with excitement about the upcoming end of the world. So why do I change the station?

Could it be that I’m just a little bit crazy myself? Could it be that I have an attachment to my beliefs which is unreasonable, immoderate, irrational? Is it easier for me to identify with these strange creatures which lose their temper when they care too much, than with the humans who calmly explain how they feel?

Whatever the case, I will keep listening for the sounds of the insane planet, listening to it whirling in the darkness, while I sit in front of the radio and whirl around my own confused axis.

We all like to think we’re special, even if we don’t want to admit that we think we’re special.  And as much as I detest the ideas it stands for, this is part of the reason conservative talk radio has been so successful.  It makes Americans listening to it feel that the beliefs they hold make them special and set them apart from the rest of the country.

Glenn Beck is a master at this.  I’ve listened to him again recently, and it’s amazing how talented he is at what he does.  Human beings, especially in a world as fast-paced and confusing as ours, have a deep desire for meaningful existence, and Glenn plays that desire like a boss.  He tells his followers that they are soldiers in a war.  He tells them that God created them for a purpose.  No matter how small and insignificant they might feel, they have a job to do.  They were meant to be here to help the cause.  Now, “helping the cause” usually means sending money to Glenn and purchasing something he is selling, but that’s just how this higher cause works–it needs your cash.

So, slimy and manipulative in the worst way?  Yep, but I can’t completely knock that kind of evil genius.  If only I was as good at using my dark superpowers, and with the same financial results!

So…which ones are conservatives?  The people who love civil rights?  Or the people who…maybe…kinda…prefer the time before the civil rights movement came along?

According to Glenn Beck at his NRA convention speech earlier this month, Tea Party conservatives are the new civil rights movement.  He even went so far as to adopt the “We Shall Overcome” motto.  On his show, Glenn has told the story of the NRA as a civil rights organization created to empower blacks in the South.

Historian David Barton on Glenn’s show:

“The NRA rises up in 1871 with three Union officers who had fought to end slavery, fought for civil rights, fought for civil rights for blacks…  And part of the reason is, they want blacks to defend themselves individually, use their individual right of self-defense against the Klan.”

So far, so good.  After all, conservatives want to reach out to minorities, right?  But ruh roh, wait!  Here is James Porter, the new president of the NRA, and here is how he feels about how the NRA started:

“It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the War of Northern Aggression. Now, y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the War of Northern Aggression down South.”

Of course, Porter doesn’t say anything outright about how he feels about black people—if he did, he probably wouldn’t have a job anymore—but my guess is that anyone who refers to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression is likely not that excited about following in the footsteps of the civil rights marchers.

Ouch.  Every time conservatives try to look a bit more, well, normal…one of their own comes along and completely ruins that PR job for them.

I’m back at work after Thanksgiving break and that can only mean one thing…listening to Glenn Beck in the morning for amusement.  This week, Beck went on for a while about how wonderful and peace-loving his followers are.  He recounted an anecdote about a book signing at which he was protested by mean-spirited, table-climbing Occupy radicals–and in response, his supporters sang Christmas carols.  He talked about how the liberal media will smear them and say they are horrible, when in reality, these are the good people.

I spent quite a bit of time after election night on The Blaze, Beck’s online forum, so something about this didn’t sound right to me.  And lo and behold, here are some quotes from Glenn’s peaceful fans:

“This country or at least half the people in it are a lost cause.  It doesn’t matter who wins at this point if we are forced to live with these vermin.  It’s time we start eliminating them now.”

“I for one will no longer give to charity in the event that my money would ever help someone who voted for Obama or worse someone who didn’t get off their lazy azz to go vote or decided that it didn’t matter.”

“I like Rush’s idea:  kick all of the Liberals out of the West Coast (and shoot them if they try to come back)”

“I’ve lost all faith in america I hope she burns”

“May the coming nuclear strikes hit the big blue cities.”

“Enjoy your trip to the concentration camp and don’t ask for my help, I voted for the American.”

About Californians:  “I don’t want to sound crazy, but why does it seem like they need to be contained or eradicated to control their disastrous spread.”

About libertarians:  “We might as well have shot them all to death.”

“Oh yeah, New York and New Jersey…have fun with the noreaster.  I hope you all freeze.  I hope the rats eat your children while they spread the plague to the dim-witted adults who for years have embraced left-wing politicians that have made your states the disasters they are.”

“I hope you’re regulars at soup kitchens because money troubles wrent your families apart.”

“I hope that Obama gets cancer.”

Ah yes, these are the good folks.  Now, I get that not everyone on The Blaze acts this way, but every discussion thread I went to on this site included multiple comments either threatening violence or wishing suffering and a slow death to those with opposing political views.  And these are the people I’m supposed to go to for Christian love…?

Links to the discussions I’ve culled these quotes from, if you’re brave enough:  here, here, here, here and here.

 

After the Republicans got their butts kicked in the election, they were supposed to search their souls and re-examine their message, or so we were told.  After all, a lot of voters had clearly found that message unattractive.  But while the GOP leadership has made some noises about changing course, that’s not the reaction I’ve seen so far from the conservative rank and file.  Rather than ask “Why don’t the voters like us?” they’ve been busy discussing the many reasons why they don’t like the voters.  Or voting, for that matter–at least, not too much of it.

Women were understandably repulsed by the bizarro Republican stances on issues like rape and contraceptives.  So now I’m hearing the familiar chorus of voices suggesting that perhaps, just perhaps, it had been better if we had never given women the right to vote.  And this chorus includes some Tea Party women, who think their fellow females are simply not smart enough to vote correctly.  As far as I know, nobody’s been so dumb as to make the same type of comment about African-Americans and their voting rights, but Paul Ryan did mention those pesky “urban districts” and their high turnout this year.  You can bet that there are Republicans in local governments right now working on figuring out how to make voting even more difficult in those districts by 2016.  And speaking of urban areas, there are lawmakers in places like Ohio trying to change the way electoral votes are apportioned, so that they are divvied up one per congressional district, as opposed to winner take all for the state.  This would benefit more conservative rural areas and strip the cities of their population advantage.  As one angry Glenn Beck fan declared on The Blaze, “We gotta stop letting the blind masses in the cities control our fate!”

Well, it’s easy to see the direction this is going, and it’s not one of deep reflection.  Other lovely right-wing responses to the election results have been “Young people are too stupid to vote!  Let’s raise the voting age back to 21” and “Stop letting all the immigrants in!”  And, of course:  “They’re Takers who want gifts!”  Not a single “Hmmmm, why is it that Americans are not excited about voting for us?”  I suppose that only benefits my side, but it would be nice to have a decent opposition party–it would give me more options.  However, that kind of change would take some soul-searching.

So this is a good sign for the Obama campaign–conservatives are nervous enough that they’ve started talking to God.  A Utah woman named Mona Williams is calling for a day of fasting for Romney this Sunday.  She states that she is “frustrated” with the direction the country is heading in and asks that people fast and pray for Mitt to be “blessed in the debates”.  She’s not the only one.  I was watching Glenn Beck’s show a few days ago on his new channel, and he was exhorting his followers to fall on their knees and cry out to God about the election.

First of all, what does it say about Mitt’s skill and charisma that he needs divine intervention for the debates?  Overall, though, this is encouraging to hear.  Conservatives are starting to acknowledge that Obama could very well win re-election.  I’m no longer hearing them claim that the President is unpopular with the general public.  Now their theory seems to be that people have been deceived, and they’re praying that a miracle will turn this around.

Naturally, they’re making a huge assumption–that God is on their side.  Beyond the most basic questions–Does God exist?  Is He an automatic supporter of the Mormon Church, or any other church?–even the views within the LDS Church are divided.  Some Mormons are big believers in helping the poor and did not appreciate Mitt’s “47%” comments.  In fact, if Mitt gets elected President, he will join a ward in Washington DC in which most members are Obama supporters.

So if divine intervention does get involved, who knows which way it will go?  Personally, I believe we are the ones who are responsible for who gets elected, but if I decided to meditate to the Goddess, I know it would be for a completely different election result than Mona Williams.

 

Once in a while I overhear something on Glenn Beck’s show that leaves me slightly befuddled.  A few weeks ago, Glenn was enthusing over the Avengers and how much he loved the movie.  How Captain America kicked ass, how this was an example of America’s greatness.  And then he said that when he left the movie theater, he thought “Take that, Europe!”

Ummm…so, I hope Glenn realizes that the Avengers is a fictional story?  Yeah, Europe is having a lot of problems right now…but I kind of doubt that Captain America is at the top of their list of issues, unless he is involved in the Greek debt crisis in some way that I’m not aware of.  Economic growth, a stronger military—these are all ways that we can show the world what we’re made of, so to speak.  Imaginary superheroes?  Not so much.  Unless he’s applauding our ability to make superior movie entertainment, in which case, great—but I doubt an entertaining movie will convince the Europeans that we have a better system than they do.

Anyway, just another instance of Glenn unhinging himself from reality just a bit.  Maybe that’s why I like listening to his show, because I can relate to having a delusional side.  Cheers from one lunatic to another….

So, it’s Lent.  This is the time of year when, back when I was still a practicing Catholic, I would try to give something up.  I no longer attend church, but am thinking it would still do me good to do a little cutting back in my life.

So I think this year I’m going to give up Rick Santorum for Lent.  I have been obsessively reading, writing blogs and making Facebook posts about Rick Santorum, contraceptives and the Christian right.  All these topics need a break, before I lose my mind.  I’m sure that I am creative enough that I can find other subjects to write about.  While I’m at it, I need to give up Glenn Beck as well.  Glenn can be my bonus sacrifice.

In case I just can’t stop myself from blogging about Santorum—and the temptation will be difficult to resist—I have other Lent options.  Stop working so much damn overtime, so I have more time to blog.  And I can martyr myself with some serious hangovers.  It’s a hard sacrifice, but I may have to be the courageous Christian who is willing to do it.

Anyway, here’s to the official start of my Rick Santorum fast.  I’ll bash him again the minute Easter Sunday starts.

My family recently received an e-mail from relatives in Poland telling us how the “true Polish national identity” is the Catholic one, and going so far as to say that anyone outside that Catholic identity is not only indifferent to the well-being of the country, but might in fact be an evil Commie.  (Sound familiar?)  Being that my parents have for most of their lives been practitioners of Buddhism and yoga, this rubbed them the wrong way.  When my mother tried to suggest that perhaps non-Catholics, atheists, gay and Jewish people should also have a place in Polish society, the relative came back with the pleasant response that he hoped those atheists, gays and Jews would be well served by the euthanasia and abortion they so strongly believed in.

This is a growing movement in Poland right now, and many of our old friends—people who used to be rebels and freethinkers—are more and more often making these kinds of shocking statements to us.  Of course, all I have to do is turn on the right radio station or website here in America and I can hear all about how this is a Christian country and only those who are Christian in the correct way are truly a part of it.  Except that over here this kind of talk will be prefaced by the disclaimer that the talker believes in everyone’s right to have a different opinion or belief…it’s just that those with the different opinion are a “darkness” or a “cancer”.  And a cancer needs to be removed from the body, right?

Is it just me, or does anybody else feel the gathering stormy weather?  That pounding drumbeat of “those who are not like us”?  I suppose that drumbeat is always there, but there are times when it seems to flare up, and right now the tension is building up so tight it feels like the planet needs to clear its sinuses.  Then again, since the sinus-clearing usually entails a world war of some sort, maybe it’s better if we remain clogged.

One thing we cannot do is allow ourselves to be fooled by the relative calm.  After all, Western Europe in the 20th century was a very polite, civilized society as well, wasn’t it?  For now we still smile at each other on the train and give each other the fake “I’m doing great!”  In a moment of real crisis, how quickly could that turn into “You are the problem and you need to go”?  It has happened over and over again.

Maybe those times of horror are part of a strange birthing process by which our species grows.  Hey, I have the right to delude myself as much as anyone else.  All I know is that no matter where you go, you will always meet that group of people which needs to hold on to some type of dogma to be secure.  And I have met those people both on the right and the left, by the way.  I’m from Poland, so I’ve dealt with real Commies, not the bugaboo ones that conservatives invent over here.  No matter which side the true believers are on, they are bound by one common quality:  they can’t handle it when someone else thinks differently from them.  It rocks their world too much.  They lash out against it.  Under certain circumstances, they even kill.

And no matter which time we live in, it is the duty of those of us who don’t have a closed mind to stop them from doing so.  It may be a struggle which never ends.  And probably one I’m not strong enough for.

I listened to talk radio way too much at work today.  I’ve got the talk radio hangover.  Now I wanna move to Texas, arm myself and buy a supply of dried food that I can store underground.  I’m about to get torn limb from limb by a mob of unemployed hippies.  I’m about to be abducted by a Communist UFO.  I’m about to either get blown up by a terrorist or run over by a drunken illegal immigrant, I’m not sure which.  It’s all scary.  There are billionaire bankers who want me to starve and panhandlers who want to slit my throat.

I need to take my big gun with me everywhere I go.  I have to be able to take it to my church.  I have to be able to take it to my child care center.  Those children out there are rabid, you know.

What I need is for someone to save me.  Someone knows what the truth is.  Someone knows what God is thinking and can tell me.  Tell me what to do, please.

Actually what I need to do is turn off the damn radio.  The chatter is funny at first, but then it turns into poison flowing into my mind.

Isn’t there a station somewhere playing Christmas carols already?

 

Quick note:  Since I know people get bent out of shape these days, yes, the above is satire.  I do not even have a big gun, much less am I planning to take it anywhere.  However, on a connected note, the BBC News is reporting that sales of bulletproof glass have quadrupled in America during the last two years, as the American economy has tanked.  Just a little something to chew on.