Saturday, September 13, 2008

* The bastardization of democracy – This week I spent several vacation days at the seashore. My inner therapist counseled the avoidance of all things news and it was a welcome hiatus. When I returned home and began looking at the news my stomach felt as though I had consumed bouillabaisse made from spoiled clams, mussels and politicians. And I wish barnacles on the inner thighs of the next person that tells me, “It’s just politics.” The misinformation, false accusations and bald-faced lies “popularized” in the 2000 and 2004 Bush campaigns have become the game plan of the McCain campaign. The Straight Talk Express took a right turn to hell sullying the ideals and nobility of “the greatest democracy in the history of mankind.” We have experienced that when the end justifies the means politically we wind up with the worst president in the history of America. Disingenuous faux patriots do not put their hand on the bible to take an oath of office and miraculously become Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. They remain George Bush! Yes, we all can be fooled. The question is, “How many times?”

* Vacation musings, or, Stephen – get a life:

~ Change you can believe in – The Wasilla Bible Church was Sarah Palin’s house of worship before she became governor. The church is promoting a conference that promises to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer. If it works I am going to sign up for their next conference, “You Can Be 35 Years Old Again with a Full Head of Hair.”

~ It is being reported that the Bush administration has been spying on Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki. When Bush exports democracy he does not hold back. In a Bush democracy the government spies on citizens’ phone calls, emails and internet activities. Mr. al-Maliki must be wondering if the purple index finger that signified an Iraqi citizen had voted has become the purple middle finger of the Bush administration.

~ During his acceptance speech McCain was not reluctant to discuss at great length his military service to our country. Is it not curious that there was no mention in his speech of the critical issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans today?

~ Now that McCain has signed on to the religious right’s sanctity of life mantra will he do what Bush did not do and advocate for eliminating the death penalty? Does sanctity of life preclude initiating unjustified wars? Does the sanctity of life mandate healthcare for all?

~ Rudy Giuliani said by refusing to use the term “Islamic Terrorism” liberals are trying to not insult terrorists. Giuliani’s speech at the Republican convention was very similar to his presidential primary campaign – an insult to almost everyone with a brain stem still intact.

~ Were the very aggressive tactics by law enforcement and the arrest of 300 protestors and journalists in St. Paul during the Republican convention legitimate security measures or a step backward for free speech and peaceable demonstration?

~ I have made a strong effort to find something I like about Sarah Palin and I have been successful! She does not have the drippy Southern drawl of Senators Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Kate Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), y’all.

~ At his sentencing last week Jack Abramoff said he was not a bad man while acknowledging that he did many bad things. Metaphysical gymnastics aside, Jack, you are a bad man. You facilitated the American democratic process becoming another used Potty Trainer on EBay. Your actions enabled child labor and child prostitution to continue to flourish in Guam. You cheated your own Indian casino clients. Jack, you really are a very bad man that your clan would call a goniff (Yiddish for crook). Perhaps in another lifetime you can come back the mensch (Yiddish for decent person) that you so eagerly exchanged for coin and influence.

~ If Alaska withdraws from the United States is Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination null and void? There are two ways that the U.S. could lose its 49th state. The least likely is through secession. Recall that for a number of years Palin’s husband was a member of the Alaska Independent Party (AIP), the political group urging that Alaska cede from the U.S. Less of a long shot, at least in the short term, is the northern part of Alaska joining the Arctic Ocean as its waters rise dramatically from the effects of global warming. Since neither event is likely to occur before November 4th we can only trust that her candidacy is voided at the ballot box.

* Yea though they walk through the Valley of Hypocrisy - Do you share the inspiration generated by so many of the Republican leaders who urge the path of righteousness? Cynics will recall David Vitter cheating on his wife by engaging prostitutes but, he was an exception. And so was Larry Craig’s toe-tapping in an airport men’s room. Rudy Giuliani gets a free pass for having had an affair – he is from cosmopolitan New York City. And he did wind up marrying the affairee. Only a few people remember that John McCain dumped his first wife for heiress Cindy so this does not count. Do not despair. We still have former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who, thank all that is holy, just released a YouTube video defending traditional marriage. Perhaps Newt’s example will enlighten us as to the meaning of traditional marriage: Newt abandoned his cancer-stricken 1st wife. When his pastor criticized him for not supporting his two children, he left the church. Newt divorced his 2nd wife after cheating on her with the Congressional aide who is now his 3rd wife – all the while excoriating Bill Clinton’s tryst with Monica in the Blue Dress. As Tevye sang out in Fiddler on the Roof, TRADITION!

* It is time to get serious – We have seen and heard a great deal about the Republican ticket of McCain and Palin. Much of it has as little merit as the publications one finds at supermarket checkout counters with headlines like: “Loose 30 Pounds in 30 Minutes.” “Exclusive – Gynecologic X-Rays of Hollywood Stars.” “Rosie O’Donnell’s Secret Vacation on Pluto.” What does deserve our attention is an article by NY Times writer Frank Rich who offers an analysis of the Republican Dream Team. Like a seasoned surgeon Rich dissects the incompetent vetting of Palin by the McCain campaign, the absurd braying that McCain is a maverick capable of changing the Washington he has helped create and the danger to America of putting Palin in a position to be president of the U.S. This is a must read for anyone who cares about America’s future leadership.

* I repeat myself – Last week I commented that Sarah Palin is George Bush in high heels. On Thursday night VP candidate Sarah Palin had her first real media interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson. Palin was asked real questions. For those who believe she is prepared to lead America and who think she will be any different on foreign policy than George Bush I suggest this link that provides a video segment of the interview. Actually, Palin is ballsier than Bush. He only attacked Iraq. Palin is ready to go after Russia.

* Be careful what you wish for - What can women expect from Sarah Palin? Palin-appointed Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon slashed the budget for sexual assault exams and began charging the city's victims. The city budget documents demonstrate Palin read and signed off on the budget cuts. A year later, alarmed Alaska lawmakers passed legislation outlawing the practice. Alaska lawmakers are not the only ones who should be alarmed.

* Quote of the Week – In an email received from Kathryn Kolbert, President, People For the American Way she commented, “I think James Fallows had it right when he said that the decision to pick Sarah Palin was a signal that the McCain camp was embracing Karl Rove's base-motivating strategy and Religious Right leaders have reacted with a fervor that is hard to overstate. Clearly the pick of an anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-science extremist wrapped in a folksy hockey-mom package has fired up the base in ways that even McCain's pledge to pack the Courts with right-wing judges has failed to do.”

I suggest that for anyone who does not want four even worse years than we experienced under the Bush administration it is time to put the remote down and become active – volunteer to get people registered to vote and become affiliated with any of the myriad organizations working to explain to fellow citizens what is at stake. America’s future depends on all of us. We have seen what occurs when our future is left solely to the politicians.

* A one-sided triangle – The Department of the Interior has responsibility to collect about 10 billion dollars in royalties for exploration rights on government land from the oil and gas companies. An Inspector General’s report revealed that more than a dozen Interior employees with responsibility for collecting these funds were busy collecting their own royalties from energy companies. The gifts included meals, golf outings, ski trips, sports tickets, sex and drugs. In the news reports one could find the usual hand-wringing about the lack of responsibility exhibited by public payroll drones. We all were relieved when Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne expressed the requisite outrage.

What is missing from this scenario? The culpability of Kempthorne and the oil and gas companies themselves. These were not employees responsible for dusting the filing cabinets and emptying the trash cans. These were a select handful of federal workers responsible for billions of dollars. Where was the oversight by the Department of the Interior? For Shell, Chevron, Hess and Gary-Williams Energy what is their egregious offense? Drugs, sex and gifts used to screw over the American tax payer. And the world shrugs. Is there any conscious human being in our government calling for these companies to loose their leasing rights or to prosecute the executives behind these bribes? Some of the Interior employees have rushed to retirement. Is anyone seeking to revoke their pensions? Untold numbers of our prison population are there for being drug users. Will the Interior employees be prosecuted? Will Dick Kempthorne resign in disgrace? Is my tainted bouillabaisse acting up again?

* "What is left when honor is lost?"
Publilius Syrus, First Century BC


Anonymous said...

Previously I've enjoyed reading about right-wing nuts such as Pastor John Hagee or Pat Buchanan and now the newest Sarah Louise Palin. How a feisty chick like her is so ignorant is unfathomable, but even worse than ignorance is her astonishing lack of virtue, of knowing the difference between right and wrong. I honestly do not get it, do you Stephen?

During the less than 2 months we have until we step into that voting booth, I'm gonna high-foot it to the Jenkintown PA office of the Obama-Biden campaign and do everything I can to defeat a would-be administration that fails to address the concerns of the common man or woman - jobs jobs jobs - which the McPalin war-mongerers are happily oblivious to. Yes, won't she look cute in a flak jacket?

I keep promising myself not to spend too much time on her but your readers may enjoy Dick Cavett's recent rant on her in the Times:

I was particularly dismayed to hear about the corruption in the Interior Department because I - perhaps erroneously - equate them with our national park system founded by the great TR.

How can we cheat and lie when we have charge of the Grand Canyon? How can you look at a lake or a tree or a songbird and not aspire to the highest ideals possible?

Sign me, RZD still naive after all these years

Sue Katz said...

I haven't been on vacation and I haven't eaten anything rotten, but I must admit to a growing nausea that this nightmare is going to continue and continue. Thank gawd for writers like you, Stephen, for somehow succeeding in injecting wit into this bleak period of our lives.

Anonymous said...

I would like to volunteer to be your wing man when you attend the next conference at the Wasilla Bible Church. If they can give me a full head of hair and return me to feeling like I am 35 years old again I want to see what else the Republicans have up there sleeves.
Cowboy Al