Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell Is Dead

Maybe there is a God after all.

The Rev.
Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist preacher who founded the Moral Majority and brought the language and passions of religious conservatives into the hurly-burly of American politics, died yesterday in Lynchburg, Va. He was 73.

At first I wasn't going to write about this. The adages,"Don't speak ill of the dead" and "If you can't say something nice..." popped into my head. But after thinking about it for a day, I realized that if I go to hell (if there is such a place), it's not going to be for trashing Falwell. I've said much worse as my friends will attest, so here it goes.

Let me start by quoting a
news release of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas:
"There is little doubt that Falwell split Hell wide open the instant he died." Oh by the way, the website of this Baptist church, a beacon of light no doubt, is .

So it isn't just me. Even the freaks hated Falwell. But let's not mistake Westboro Baptist Church hating Falwell because he was an honorable man, which is what you'd think by reading Westboro's full release. You'd think that he was a proponent of inclusion by Westboro's standards. On the contrary.

Not only was Falwell a homophobe, but he was a racist, a misogyist, an anti-Semite. So much so, that he blamed 9/11 on everyone he could think of. Everyone, that is, except the actual perpetrators and enablers. "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Of course! The American Civil Liberties Union is to blame for 9/11. Why didn’t I think of that?!

What boggles my mind is how this nut actually created a following. But I suppose it’s easier to preach a doctrine of hate than an ideology of tolerance, love for your fellow man, helping the poor and infirmed, and the like. It’s much easier to hate someone. It’s much harder to promote inclusion.

Is it Christian to be bigoted? Is it Christian to be racist? Is it Christian to be misogynistic? Is it Christian to be anti-Semitic?

Falwell’s creation of the Moral Majority, the Christian “family values” based lobbying group has, in my opinion, set the political structure of the country back immeasurably. But that's a for another time and another post.

And let’s not forget Falwell’s attack on Tinky-Winky! Falwell mused how Tinky Winky has the voice of a boy yet carries a purse. "He is purple — the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay-pride symbol," Falwell says. Poor Teletubby. As a result, Tinky-Winky, who worked hard all his life and trained endlessly to become a children’s show character, has been unable to find work for some time now due to Falwell’s baseless claim. A libel suit is pending.

Yes, Jerry Falwell is dead. And the air is a little fresher, the grass is a little greener and the sky seems bluer. Can you feel it? Close your eyes. Can you smell it? I know you can if you concentrate.... There it is. Ahhhh....

Can you feel it? Tinky-Winky can.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Giuliani, The Benevolent Dictator

Rudy has taken another hit in his bid for GOP presidential nominee. A New York Times article on May 14th, 2007 focuses on the health problems of thousands of workers and volunteers at Ground Zero due to the toxic and poor air quality that was cleared as "safe" only one week after the attacks.

An examination of Mr. Giuliani’s handling of the extraordinary recovery operation during his last months in office shows that he seized control and largely limited the influence of experienced federal agencies. In doing that, according to some experts and many of those who worked in the trade center’s ruins, Mr. Giuliani might have allowed his sense of purpose to trump caution in the rush to prove that his city was not crippled by the attack. the last four months of Mr. Giuliani’s administration, [documents] show that while the city had a safety plan for workers, it never meaningfully enforced federal requirements that those at the site wear respirators.

At the same time, the administration warned companies working on the pile that they would face penalties or be fired if work slowed. And according to public hearing transcripts and unpublished administration records, officials also on some occasions gave flawed public representations of the nature of the health threat, even as they privately worried about exposure to lawsuits by sickened workers.

“The city ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response to environmental concerns,” said David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a labor group.

Giuliani ruled like a "benevolent dictator" according to one Army Corps official. Although disaster experts from FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and OSHA were at the scene almost immediately, Rudy kept them on the sidelines while the clean up work was given out to a largely unknown city agency, the Department of Design and Construction. Kenneth Holden, the department’s commissioner until January 2004, said in a deposition in the federal lawsuit against the city that he initially expected FEMA or the Army Corps to try to take over the cleanup operation. Mr. Giuliani never let them.

...Lee Clarke, director of health and safety for District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees’ union, said Mr. Giuliani used “very, very poor judgment” in rushing to reopen the financial district without watching out for the workers who cheered him at ground zero.
Ms. Clarke said that if those workers found themselves in a meeting with Mr. Giuliani today, “a number of them would be standing up, wanting a piece of Rudy.”

The article goes on to state that while Giuliani was attending heroes' funerals, no one ever saw him at a 9/11 hearing on health. In fact, when the city began facing as many as 10,000 liability claims, Giuliani wrote to members of the city’s Congressional delegation urging passage of a bill that capped the city’s liability at $350 million. And two years after Mr. Giuliani left office, FEMA appropriated $1 billion for a special insurance company to defend the city against 9/11 lawsuits.

Couple that with the stories of the
remains of 9/11 victims being used for pothole filler, his marital history and his ties to Bernie Kerik, and what you have is another typical GOP candidate.

ALSO READ: Giulani: Hero or Race Baiter?