ebyPastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Florida kindled a firestorm with threats to burn the Koran for the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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John Eby: We ought to be reading books, not burning them

Published 11:47pm Monday, September 13, 2010

As hundreds of protesters poured into the streets of Kabul, President Barack Obama urged him to hear “better angels” and give up his “stunt,” since Gen. David Petraeus said it would endanger U.S. troops, not to mention help recruit Islamic terrorists.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates personally called Jones, who in one picture resembles Jed Clampett, but apparently absent the patriarch Beverly Hillbilly’s innate wisdom.

All this global attention lavished on a tiny Pentecostal church.

First mention of book burning I remember since 2001, when the Harry Potter series was torched to protest its “promotion” of witchcraft, magic and Satan.

Reminds me of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, another teeny church teeming with hate.

They go to soldiers’ funerals holding signs denouncing gays in the military.

Two years ago, they burned a Koran, too.

The media had the good sense to ignore it.

Apparently upset at being upstaged, the Westboro bunch burned a Koran and an American flag in Topeka.

Some local news crews showed up, but maybe we’ve been spared intentionally inflammatory pictures.

We ought to be reading books instead of burning them and writing our own narratives, not letting Fox News Channel package our news to fit their script.

On “The Daily Show” the other night, Jon Stewart called out Sean Hannity for his blatant dishonesty in presenting the president’s “rare moment of honesty.”

Stewart played a fair and balanced clip of President Obama saying, “Taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year for everybody.”

“I know the anointed one will make sure that happens,” Hannity smirked.

Then Stewart cued a longer clip in context of what he actually said: “Under the tax plan passed by the last administration, taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year for everybody.”

Stewart said, “Starting clips later and cutting them off before the speaker can finish the thought’s full construction can be a useful tool in helping your audience understand what you want them to think. It’s a fun and easy way to make people you disagree with say things that make them unelectable…”

Stewart employed the same tactic to a quote by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who said while announcing the GOP jobs plan: “We’re going to ship millions of jobs overseas.”

“I bet if we played that clip out,” the comedian said, “it would end with Boehner throwing monkey s—- at the American flag. By the way, that’s speculation. I don’t know. I’m just saying. It’s a shame we don’t have time to actually look at the whole clip. Fox, MSNBC, it’s so difficult to watch coverage on these hyperpartisan networks. Let’s see what CNN’s response to this speech was.” Cut to Rick Sanchez: “Guess what? Moments ago, the Republican minority leader, John Boehner, sent me a tweet, personally.”

To which Stewart zinged, “Dude, you’re a newsman, not a 13-year-old girl who just won a meet Justin Bieber radio contest.”

Brilliant, even if The Daily Show and The Colbert Report trail Daniel Tosh and “South Park” in ratings.

Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “The easiest thing for the other side to do is to ride this fear and anger all the way to election day. Most of the Republicans in Congress have said no to just about every policy I’ve proposed since taking office … I fail, they win.”

— President Barack Obama in Parma, Ohio, Sept. 8. Pundits said Obama — “in campaign mode, he blamed Bush, he blamed the GOP” and fomented “class warfare,” offering a message “too little too late.” Not Bush’s brain, Karl Rove, who disagreed, “I think it was too much too early.”

•••

“I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular. When I talk with Americans, I often wonder why they are so simpleminded.”

— Ichiro Ozawa, a day before he announced he will mount a challenge for leadership of Japan’s governing Democratic Party

•••

“I can’t spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.”

— President Obama, addressing rumors he was not born in the United States. In fact, almost a fourth of all Americans believe him to be a Muslim.

•••

“The personal character is clear: this is a man with steel in every part of him. The expectation of his presidency was beyond exaggeration. The criticism is now exaggerated. He has remained the same throughout. And believe me, that is hard to do. I achieved that serenity only at the end.”

— former British prime minister Tony Blair on President Obama in his memoir, “A Journey: My Political Life.” Blair also writes, “George Bush was straightforward and direct. And very smart. One of the most ludicrous caricatures of George is that he was a dumb idiot who stumbled into the presidency. No one stumbles into that job.”

•••

Whatever happened to?: Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police was captured on tape in 1991, is engaged to Cynthia Kelley, one of the jurors who awarded him $3.8 million in his civil suit against the city.

Obit: Paul Conrad, 86, died Sept. 4. The editorial cartoonist drew almost 30 years for the Los Angeles Times, winning three Pulitzer Prizes and a proud place on Richard Nixon’s enemies list.

$75,000: Annual household income needed to make Americans happy, a study finds.

Earnings more than that amount has no further effect on contentment.

Who knew Taylor Swift was a Notre Dame fan? But there the country cutie is in Sports Illustrated wearing Irish gear at the 23-12 opening win over Purdue.

Anniversary: The first American Football League game, 50.

On Sept. 9, 1960, when a ticket could be had for $2.50, 21,597 fans filed into Boston University Field. Ushers wore tri-cornered hats and a horseman played Paul Revere. The Patriots were 16-point favorites, but lost to the Denver Broncos, 13-10.

The AFL debut was not televised in marked contrast to today’s corporate culture, where the New York Times advertising section writes about the “official air freshener” of the NFL.

Kaitlin Olson, star of the FX comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and her husband and co-star, Rob McElhenney, had to leave a Phillies-Dodgers game for her to give birth to son Axel. But not until Ryan Howard belted a three-run homer.

Weezer’s new album, “Hurley,” shows actor Jorge Garcia, who played Hugo “Hurley” Reyes on “Lost.” They even flew together to a state fair, which doesn’t sound like a good idea — a guy from “Lost” and Rivers Cuomo, who wrote “Buddy Holly,” on a private plane.

Brian Wilson’s new album reimagines Gershwin, remaking “Summertime” and “I Got Rhythm” with the Beach Boys sound.

Rolling Stone’s special fall television issue features three favorites, “Mad Men” (creator Matthew Weiner, who grew up the son of a famous neuroscientist, wasn’t allowed to watch TV on school nights); mean “Chelsea Lately” host, bestselling author and MTV Video Music Awards host Chelsea Handler, 35 (who’s reportedly made $19 million in the past year from her assorted ventures); and Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live. Didn’t know Tina Fey based Alec Baldwin’s “30 Rock” Jack Donaghy character on Michaels.

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