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Monday July 28th 2014

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Rant & Rave 9.16

SCARY BECK Glenn Beck scares me, and he should scare all honorable Americans. He’s smooth, conniving, and Machiavellian. His “Restore Honor” campaign, which appropriated the language, if not the values, of the Civil Rights movement, was a monumental theater of absurd stagecraft.

What is scarier than Glenn Beck’s egomaniacal pontifications? His followers.  Fueling and riding the wave of Islamophobia, funded by the National Rifle Association and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and promoted by Freedom Works and the Tea Partiers, Beck has right-wing groups at his beck and call (pun intended), and disaffected Americans under the influence of his forked tongue. Hitler had his followers too, and he was a master of apocalyptic raving. Let’s take a look at how Mr. Beck, whose “beckground” is anything but honorable, “restores honor to America.”

He fans the flames of xenophobia during a period of economic instability; Hitler did the same.

He inflames his followers by warning them that there will be “rivers of blood” in American streets unless they heed his commandments.

He invokes religion and patriotism, an emotionally potent mixture, to promote his social paranoia. He promotes instinctive, unreliable patriotism rather than that which is based on knowledge and reflection.

He intentionally misuses terms like “socialism” and “communism” to pander to the economic angst of his fans.

He accuses President Obama of being a racist while he exploits the latent and egregious racism of his followers.

He would deny the extension of unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed, which would immediately stimulate the economy, while he supports the extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, whose economic benefits would support their investments rather than being plowed back into the economy.

He would deny health care to the poor and uninsured while Forbes estimates Beck earned $23 million in 2009, while other estimates are as high as $52 million, and his family lives in a $4.2 million-dollar colonial mansion in Connecticut.

Mr. Beck disdains what is truly honorable in this country: the Bill of Rights, equality under the law, freedom of religion and freedom from religion, and laws that uphold the commonwealth or common good.

His unpatriotic rhetoric sows division in our nation and undermines our cohesion and strength.

While claiming to be a righteous Christian, Mr. Beck’s behavior is neither.  His Bible ignores the host of instances where Jesus chastises the Pharisees and sanctimonious, and the multitude of times Jesus shows his love of, and preference for the poor.

Mr. Beck would “restore honor” to America by taking this nation “beckward.”  No thanks. I love my country too much.

—Patricia Taylor Edmisten, Pensacola
HIGH STAKES JENGA I’ve never liked Jenga—the game where wooden blocks are stacked to form a tower, then removed one by one until the tower collapses. In 2010, Florida’s manatees and aquatic ecosystems have been caught in a high stakes game of Jenga, where we watched the events around us unfold, while hoping the tower wouldn’t crash. The year started out with some positive news for manatees—a prolonged cold spell, coupled with good visibility, allowed researchers to obtain the best snapshot of the manatee population ever, and a record number of manatees were counted.

Unfortunately, in the weeks following the historic count, manatees began dying in unprecedented numbers, unable to withstand the extreme cold. In total, more than 300 manatees are believed to have died from this lingering event.

As of Aug. 20, 58 manatees have died from watercraft-related injuries statewide, and there have been a dozen manatees rescued after suffering watercraft strikes. Six of these manatees have survived their encounters and are still undergoing treatment at critical care facilities or have already been released.

Then, of course, on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico, first claiming human lives, then evolving into a slow motion disaster that stole human livelihoods and ravaged the Gulf ecosystem.

People sometimes ask why it is important to protect manatees. The answer is this: by protecting manatees and their habitat, we protect all of the things that we need and love about Florida—our freshwater springs that provide recreation and the majority of our drinking water supply; our ocean, Gulf, bays, and estuaries that drive our economy; our seagrass beds that help make Florida “The Fishing Capital of the World,” and many other elements that we might take for granted. So, if the manatee’s Jenga tower is falling, you can be sure that ours isn’t far behind, and that’s not a game I want to play.

—Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science & Conservation, Save the Manatee Club