The Washington Post's "On Faith" site currently features a post by J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee, explaining "How to Pray at School." In it, Walker touts the "See You at the Pole" event that "leads students to gather around their school flagpole for prayer on the fourth Wednesday of September":
First begun by Texas Baptists almost two decades ago, "See You at the Pole" has spread across the country, and it now garners participation by students of many denominational ties. It is important to highlight this program because it provides an example of how students can properly engage in religious exercises, even in the public schools.
Walker recognizes one possible "pitfall" of holding such demonstrations around the U.S. flag:
Finally, students should avoid being lulled into a civil religion trap. Joining hands in a circle facing the quintessential symbol of our country, the American Flag, makes this a real risk. Yes, we are told in Scriptures to pray for our leaders. Students should understand they are not praying to Caesar, but to God.
Oddly, though, it doesn't seem to have occurred to Walker that by holding their prayer group under the "quintessential symbol of our country," "See You at the Pole" participants a fundamentally linking their religion with America, and with patriotism. They risk conveying to non-participants that if they don't join the prayers, they are less "American" than those who do. That they undermine the spirit of the separation of church and state, if not any legal prohibitions on the same.
There are so many ways to do religion in public schools right. "See You at the Pole," when properly done, is one of the best. We don't need, and should not want, the government's help in our religious activities. Let the students pray, but let the government keep out of it.
So why choose the flag as the location? Doing so implies government help, even if none exists.
Is there any supernatural power right-wing bloggers don't process?
Check out Erick Erickson's "exclusive" at RedState where he claims he can pretty much prove Obama was lying when he said over the weekend that he wasn't paying much attention to the right-wing's beloved ACORN caper. How does crack journalist Erickson go about proving that Obama has been paying attention? Easy, Erickson lists all the connections, real and imagined, between ACORN and Obama. Even more amazing, after rifling through the ACORN CEO's private contact list, he reports she has phone numbers for staffers who work at the White House! I mean, how many other people in Washington, D.C. can say that?
Well, actually hundreds if not thousands can say that, but you get the idea....
RedState's bottom line: It can just sense that Obama's been following the ACORN story closely. Of course, RedState doesn't have any actual proof. It can't quote anybody who's had detailed discussion with Obama about ACORN in recent days. It doesn't have access to White House memos which indicate a huge interest from Obama in the story. But RedState can just tell. It can feel that Obama is lying.
I knew Obama's dismissive comment regarding ACORN on Sunday would drive the right-wing to distraction. (i.e. "Frankly, it's not really something I've followed closely. I didn't even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.") I just didn't think folks like Erickson would resort to using supernatural powers (and lifted contact list info) to crack the case. I didn't think right-wing bloggers would claim they could read Obama's mind and definitively claim that the POTUS has been following the ACORN story closely.
Then again, I always underestimate bloggers like Erickson.
UPDATED: RedState's whiff simply highlights how, without eye-catching hidden camera video to rally around, the conservative attempt to turn ACORN into a blockbuster story about a sprawling Evil Empire just isn't going to have much staying power. Especially with crack "reporters" like Erickson flogging it. (Reminder: He took somebody's private phone/email contact list and posted it as an "exclusive." Disgraceful.)
UPDATED: RedState responds. Warning: It's almost too dumb for words.
Actual length of Fox News "America's Newsroom" segment about a model suing a plastic surgeon: 7 minutes and 20 seconds.
Now, it's Fox News, so this is probably a net positive. I mean, any time they spend on a frivolous non-story is time they aren't spending lying about something important. Wasting our time is probably the best we can hope for from them.
Check out who the Washington Post turned to for an assessment of President Obama's "Media Offensive":
The Post asked political experts what, if anything, President Obama has gained from his media offensive. Below are contributions from Karl Rove, Douglas E. Schoen, Dan Schnur, Ed Rogers, Dana Perino, Linda Chavez, and Lanny J. Davis.
If you're keeping score at home, that's five Republicans and two Democrats -- and neither of the Democrats -- Schoen and Davis -- are from the progressive wing of the party. (Doug Schoen -- a Fox News contributor -- joined Rove and the Republicans in criticizing Obama's efforts, saying he should have gone on Fox to reach swing voters. Lanny Davis -- a Washington Times columnist -- said the White House needs to appeal to people like ... Lanny Davis. And where is Lanny Davis on health care reform? He opposes a public option, much like the corporate interests that pay him. And Schoen and Davis are the Democrats the Post sought out.)
I guess this is another example of how the Washington Post needs to be more responsive to conservatives.
UPDATE: The last time the Post did one of these "occasional features," they featured five Republicans and three Democrats (one the chair of the DLC.)
I was reminded of that after seeing this Time headline:
The Risks for Dems Going It Alone on Health Care
Time wasn't doing anything unusual with its headline. The Beltway press has been hitting this points for months now: How might the health care battle damage Democrats, which is an interesting angle since there are, y'know, two major parties in American politics. (You're just not going to see many "The Risks for GOP Going It Alone on Health Care" headlines this year.)
Picking up where the press left off with the stimulus "debate," when journalists fretted over how that legislation might hurt Democrats--and only Democrats, and how the GOP won by simply resisting the White House, reporters seem only interesting in detailing potential woes for Dems.
I'm not saying journalists have to conclude that opposing health care reform will hurt the GOP, because I don't think anybody knows yet if that's the case. But it would be nice if, on occasion, the press acknowledged that possibility. It'd be nice if reporters spent time considered both sides of the ledger rather than portraying the health care push as posing serious downsides for only one party.
Only recently have I watched portions of [Glenn Beck's] television program, as well as interviews with him, and heard parts of his radio program. And what I've seen should worry the conservative movement.
I say that because he seems to be more of a populist and libertarian than a conservative, more of a Perotista than a Reaganite. His interest in conspiracy theories is disquieting, as is his admiration for Ron Paul and his charges of American "imperialism." (He is now talking about pulling troops out of Afghanistan, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere.) Some of Beck's statements -- for example, that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" -- are quite unfair and not good for the country. His argument that there is very little difference between the two parties is silly, and his contempt for parties in general is anti-Burkean (Burke himself was a great champion of political parties). And then there is his sometimes bizarre behavior, from tearing up to screaming at his callers. Beck seems to be a roiling mix of fear, resentment, and anger -- the antithesis of Ronald Reagan.
I understand that a political movement is a mansion with many rooms; the people who occupy them are involved in intellectual and policy work, in politics, and in polemics. Different people take on different roles. And certainly some of the things Beck has done on his program are fine and appropriate. But the role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality. My hunch is that he is a comet blazing across the media sky right now -- and will soon flame out. Whether he does or not, he isn't the face or disposition that should represent modern-day conservatism. At a time when we should aim for intellectual depth, for tough-minded and reasoned arguments, for good cheer and calm purpose, rather than erratic behavior, he is not the kind of figure conservatives should embrace or cheer on.
As Eric mentioned earlier, Mediaite obtained an internal memo written by Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon this afternoon. Sammon was responding to the embarrassing video of a Fox producer encouraging the 9/12 protestors prior to a live report.
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 005 -Washington
For those of us who have only been at Fox for a relatively short period of time, it's useful to remind ourselves that, as journalists, we must always be careful to cover the story without becoming part of the story. Occasionally, however, the story is totally about us. At news events, we're supposed to function as dispassionate observers, not active participants. We are there to chronicle the news, not create it. Unless other outlets are ignoring super-important stories.
That means we ask questions in a fair, impartial manner. For example, Obama's health care plan is not necessarily worse than cancer, which is why we must simply ask if it is. When approaching interviewees, we identify ourselves, by both name and news organization, up front. This is especially important when we ambush them on vacation. We seek out a variety of voices and views. Sometimes these can be hard to find, so don't stress too much about it. We take note of the scene in order to bring color and context to our viewers. For example, take stock of a scene by asking tax day protesters when "are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?"
We do not cheerlead for one cause or another. When celebrating the defeat of various Democratic proposals and ideas, use, at most, one exclamation point proclaiming "Victory!" We do not rile up a crowd. If a crowd happens to be boisterous when we show it on TV, so be it. If it happens to be quiet, that's fine, too. It's not our job to affect the crowd's behavior one way or the other. If the crowd we spent months encouraging to show up happens to be angry, then we should respect their display of grassroots anger. Again, we're journalists, not participants -- and certainly not performers. Note: Exceptions granted to rodeo clowns.
Indeed, any effort to affect the crowd's behavior only serves to undermine our legitimate journalistic role as detached eyewitnesses. Remember, our viewers are counting on us to be honest brokers when it comes to reporting -- not altering -the important events of the day. If these important events of the day are eerily similar to GOP press releases and websites, so be it. That is nothing less than a sacred trust. We must always take pains to preserve that trust. I cannot stress this enough: always.
More than 60 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program in recent weeks. Here are his September 21 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
A Jim Angle report on cap and trade just featured a clip of Myron Ebell warning that environmental legislation would lead to "energy rationing" and higher prices. And who is Myron Ebell? FOX News identified him only via a chyron labeling him an "Energy and Environment Expert."
In fact, Ebell is Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy for the Conservative Enterprise Institute and "chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises over two dozen non-profit groups in this country and abroad that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has enjoyed funding from, among others, Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Texaco, General Motors, Richard Mellon Scaife's foundations, and the Koch family foundations (Koch Industries is the nation's largest privately-held energy company and a record-setting polluter. Oh, and they use the fortune the accumulated in part by stealing oil from US taxpayers and Indian lands to provide millions of dollars in funding for the conservative movement.)
Anyway, FOX Viewers don't know any of that. They're just told that Myron Ebell is an "Energy and Environment Expert." I guess FOX figures that telling them Ebell is funded by the nation's worst polluters would just confuse them.