My father was told to learn German. Dad was a pre-med at Baylor University in the late 1920s when his professors explained that the cutting edge of medicine, so to speak, was being done in Germany. So to succeed, American doctors had to learn from the Germans in their language. That thought always hits me when watching those grainy black-and-white news films of 1930s Germans running amok – smashing store windows, beating opponents, tens of thousands cheering wildly for the Der Fuhrer. How did such otherwise intelligent people become so malleable, believe in such idiotic demagogues? When did the cutting edge become slash and burn?  We are seeing that metamorphosis right now, sane people believing the ridiculous. There are also insane people just waiting to be pushed off the edge, which we shall shout about in a moment. Witness the airwaves, the letters to the editor, the speeches, and the interruptions. (When the opposition shouts, it’s a screed. When you and I shout, we are merely exercising our First Amendment rights.) The situation is getting so bad I can’t talk politics with those traitors who disagree with me. Have you tried to discuss waterboarding, death panels and the Noble Peace Prize at the office luau? It’s difficult. If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate it’s intolerance.    There is an evil drumbeat in the background, often masked by Christianity. Remember our motto, well, one of them: Nobody can hate like a good Christian. These people also proclaim themselves true patriots, and challenge the patriotism of all who disagree. “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” said Samuel Johnson. We are refugees from scoundrels. Why this growing, shrill food fight? Beats me. I’m no social scientist and I’ll bet you aren’t either. But our opinions are as good as anyone’s, maybe better. So let’s explore. First, money: Our feelings of outrage are being nurtured by those who figured out how to turn a buck. More than turn a buck, they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars by sewing hatred, divisiveness and cynicism.   So how can we, too, make a bundle off of this toxic temper tantrum? Books and bumper stickers, of course. Lobbying for those looking for someone else to blame for their problems. There’s gold in them that shills, because fear is a cash cow. Former Texas Congressman Dick Armey is raking in a small fortune organizing grass roots tea party rallies. Rush Limbaugh was recently asked on the “Today Show” why he did what he did. He answered honestly: “Ratings. Money.” Eleanor Roosevelt could have been talking about today’s microphone Marines when she noted: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” The loud voices with small minds don’t really discuss anything, they shout, and shout about people. Sadly, they often spread misinformation accepted by ignorant followers.   How ignorant? A new study by the neutral Pew Research Study shows that viewers of the “Daily Show” and the “Colbert Report” have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while viewers of Fox News ranked dead last. Another study, this by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, showed Fox viewers ranking last in public knowledge about current events and the war on terrorism. It appears outraged Fox viewers really don’t know squat. Then there are the bloggers, once described as “old guys in their bathrobes pounding on a computer in their basement.” Bloggers are parasites, feeding off other people’s work, or as Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, noted most accurately, “I didn’t see any Huffington Post or Drudge Report bureaus in Baghdad.” Keller is obviously a bit touchy because his newspaper is spending $3 million a year covering the war. Speaking of bloggers and such, do you get the same paranoid e-mail I get? It’s a cottage industry, full of the most viscous mistruths and conspiracies, such as, “Read this before they pull it down!” It is not clear who “they” are, but “they” are probably hiding under the bed. I keep thinking, you people really need to get a life. Now we come to the next step: the result of these tirades. We have some really weird people out there -- probably in their bathrobes in the basement -- more Timothy McVeighs (Oklahoma City), Ted Kaczynski (the Unibomber) and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi (wannabe Dallas bomber.) We do not know all the twisted minds that are plotting schemes, but it wouldn’t take much to push them into action. Don’t doubt this for a minute. Barack Obama received Secret Service protection earlier than any presidential candidate in history. What does the Secret Service know that we don’t? Now we must notice what we don’t – repeat, don’t -- hear. Where are the sane leaders who are speaking out against the bomb throwers (not yet, literally) among us? Are our politicians so enamored, or so cowed, that they won’t object for fear of retribution? Silence isn’t always golden. Sometimes it’s yellow. OK, there are exceptions. Conservative GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said he never watches Glenn Beck whom he called “cynical.” Liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi observed that today’s semi-hysterical rhetoric reminded her of the atmosphere in her hometown of San Francisco which then saw the assassination of the city’s mayor and a city supervisor. Pelosi caught flak for that warning, but she’s right. The atmosphere is perfect for some loony to feel he has received his marching orders, if not outright permission, to take matters and a grenade into his own hands. Whose fault is that? When you light the fuse, you must bear some responsibility for the subsequent explosion. But, while these enablers constantly preach personal responsibility, if a nutcase goes ballistic, will any of them say, “I created the climate.?” Of course not. They will say, like we do in Texas, “Me no Alamo.” As for my father, he went on to become a pediatrician in Dallas. I’m not sure what happened to the Germans.  Ashby demagogues at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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