Mission accomplished.

January 24, 2009

This is another brilliant piece of writing by Bill Marvel, about whom I have enlightened my readers in an earlier post.  This column appeared in the January 19th edition of the Conway Daily Sun, and it is nothing short of brilliant.  Enjoy!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
by William Marvel
Conway Daily Sun
Monday, January 19th, 2009

Tomorrow ends one of the gloomiest epochs in American history.  The most cynical, selfish, and shortsighted presidential administration in 220 years will conclude just as it began, with most of the country’s population opposed to its occupation of the White House.  Now others must begin the enormous task of reparing the pervasive damage George W. Bush has done to our environment, our economy, our international prestige, our future, and our national spirit.

Our deliverance does not come without further volleys of Republican hypocrisy.  Republicans who lambasted Al Gore for his legal challenge to the close results of the Florida election now put their last hope in a legal challenge to the close results of the Minnesota election, straining to at least delay any increase in the Senate’s democratic majority.  Republicans who declared Bush’s one-percent margin a “mandate” in 2004 now belittle Barack Obama’s 53-to-47 percent victory as “not that significant” – studiously forgetting that Abraham Lincoln’s resounding 1864 triumph barely gleaned 55 percent of the popular vote, and that Andrew Jackson’s legendary landslide of 1828 only reached 56 percent.

Although he shows little regard for history, and even less knowledge of it, Bush appears belatedly concerned about his historical image.  To resuscitate his miserable environmental record, for instance, he lately transformed many leagues of the Pacific Ocean into national monuments – but only because the energy tycoons of his coterie have no practical means of exploiting the resources there.  Meanwhile, he spent his final days in office auctioning off mining and drilling concessions in some of our more precious domestic preserves, sacrificing historical and natural treasures for the sake of a few more months of fossil-fuel pollution.

In order to prevent embarassing revelations about the president or his associates, the Bush administration routinely disregarded the Presidential Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, or any other law that might provide incriminating documents.  E-mails conveniently disappeared, in flagrant violation of federal statute, and in many instances their deletion represents the destruction of criminal evidence.

This unlawful secrecy ensnared even the pension records of the last surviving veteran of the Civil War.  Half a century after his death the Department of Veterans Affairs should release his records, but that requires a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.  I filed such a request two years ago – but, six years into the Bush presidency, I was informed that there was a six-year backlog of such requests.  The old veteran’s pension file probably doesn’t hold very dangerous insights into the workings of the Bush-Cheney cabal, but letting more innocent FOIA requests accumulate by the thousands effectively buries the really damaging information.

Democrats, to their eternal discredit, assidiously avoided every opportunity to prosecute a president who smirked his way through innumerable offenses far more serious than hiding an extramarital affair.  Were every American truly equal under the law, Bush should have been impeached two years ago for violating federal statutes against domestic wiretapping and torture.  Bush and Cheney might even have been handed over to the Hague for war crimes.

Instead, hand-wringing Democrats cringe at the thought of “putting our country through such an ordeal,” just as they did in 1974.  That didn’t stop ruthless Republicans from frivolously impeaching a Democrat, and the Democrats’ perenial cowardice about impeachment only allows those Republicans to resume the attack with all the self-righteousness of the unindicted.  They are doing just that, too, by ballyhooing the investigation of one dubious Democratic governor to make the public forget Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Scooter Libby, Ted Stevens, all the pardoned Reagan-era criminals whom Bush re-appointed, and countless other Republican scoundrels.

Bush ultimately betrayed almost everyone.  His rapacious economic and foreign policies horrified even the traditional conservatives of the Republican party, including his own father.  Under the dishonest guise of compassionate conservatism, his cronies cultivated the worst elements of the Republican base.  Bush leaped blindly into the abyss of neoconservatism.  He enthusiastically embraced the apocalyptic world view of his fellow biblical literalists, whose primitive lunacy and enforced ignorance mirrors that of their fundamentalist Muslim counterparts.

Through their failure to control the renegades who hijacked the party, and their willingness to accept reckless leadership in return for electoral victory, Republican leaders forfeited any further claim on the loyalty of the American public.  Their party now represents almost no one but corporate hyenas, chauvinistic imperialists, and religious fanatics.  Those deplorable constituencies are all personified by that swaggering monument to unearned who starts back to Texas tomorrow afternoon.

William Marvel lives in South Conway.

Yes, I suppose we can.

November 6, 2008

Well, it looks like we managed to pull off the unthinkable.  I wasn’t sure the good ol’ U. S. of A. could do it, but we actually elected a black president.  Imagine that.

And I’m happy to say that I got off my NOTA horse long enough to cast my vote for the guy.  Because, when I stepped into that booth, what I realized is how much I didn’t want McCain/Palin to win the damned thing.

I even got choked up during his acceptance speech Tuesday night.

I know, I know, I sound like I’m going soft here – I’m not, really.  But something about the historical magnitude of this week’s election is really hitting me hard – not quite what I expected from myself.  During Obama’s acceptance speech, I really felt myself being inspired and proud to be a citizen of this country, in a very profound way – not in a flag-waving tailgate-party sort of way, but in a deeper sense of connection to an ideal, to a promise of things being better.

I thought McCain’s concession speech was very gracious, even in the face of his supporters booing rather loudly when McCain stated that Obama would, indeed, be our next president and that we should all support him.  It was a glimpse of the old McCain, the moderate and distinguished gentlemen that many more of us may have voted for if he hadn’t tried to appeal to the worst imbeciles of the Repug base by choosing the hick Barbie doll demagogue as his running mate.

I fear for Obama, though.  Even here in the back-woods blue state of Maine, we’re already seeing racist reactions to his election.  Kids like these are probably just repeating what their more insidiously racist parents are saying, and I think the school is right to step in – but I fear that 1st Amendment battles will start springing up everywhere.  “Is it not someone’s right to express their racism in a vocal way?” etc. etc.  I think we’re going to have to get used to this type of hair-splitting.

But, for now, I have to admit that I am looking forward with eagerness (and a healthy bit of usual skepticism – hey, I wouldn’t be me without it!) to an Obama presidency.

Suspend the bullshit.

November 2, 2008

Here’s what I heard spoken today between a 14 year old girl and an adult at a public library this morning:

Girl: I’ll be glad when Election Day is over, but I’m really scared.

Adult: Why?

Girl:  I’m really scared about Obama getting elected.

Adult:  What’s so scary about that?

Girl:  Well, because if he gets to be president, he’ll suspend the Constitution.

I swear on my life I am not making this up. 

I had to try so desperately to keep from not only opening my mouth and causing a scene in a public place, but from actually striking this girl in the face.

Of course, I can’t believe that she actually came to this absurd conclusion on her own.  She’s obviously just repeating what her parents’ have been saying.  But what is crazy is to think that someone actually came UP with this shit.  My feelings about Obama aside – how do these bomb-shelter-in-my-backyard wackos actually dream this shit up?  Have they lapsed in the war on drugs, partaken of said chemicals, and dreamed of a dystopia where a Democratic president is somehow endowed with a power to do something as Earth-shattering as suspend the fucking Constitution?  Obviously these talk-radio junkies didn’t do their homework before they started spreading this kind of bullshit around.  Do you have any idea what would actually take to suspend the Constitution?  Not only would you have to have all branches of government involved, but there would have to be a mandate sent all the way down and enforced through local law enforcement.  These conservative wackos are just grasping at straws because their old fuddy duddy and his Barbie doll running mate are lagging behind in polls and they’ll spread any lies they can just to smear the black guy.  (Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t give 2 shits about the aunt’s immigration status.)

There’s definitely something in the water at this girl’s house.  I just hope the aquifer ain’t too deep.

Shitty jobs for America!

October 14, 2008

So great that I had to share.  Check out this video, faithful readers!
The Onion rules!

Obama Promises To Stop America’s Shitty Jobs From Going Overseas

No confidence = no vote.

October 4, 2008

I think it’s official, folks – none of the bastards are getting my vote this fall. 

I can’t believe that these fuckers who are supposed to be REPRESENTING us – the 75% of us who categorically rejected this bailout in polls – actually pushed this bailout bill through in record time.  My blood pressure has been sky-high all day long.  It’s clear to me now that it doesn’t or won’t matter a damn WHO is elected – because, no matter who it is – Democrap or Repug – they will do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, whatever the mighty dollar and the lobby of this interest or that instructs them to do – and all of it will be over the backs of us poor working class stiffs.  No matter who is president, there will be bullshit wars, bullshit deficits, bullshit shortages in money for things that matter the most – healthcare, education, etc. etc.  Obama is a good talker, but that’s ALL he is.  He would’ve gotten my vote if I’d decided that the whole “democratic” system was even worthy of my participation.  But I can’t vote for anyone who, for example, urged support of this 700 billion dollar fleecing of Main St., and who also categorically opposes things like gay marriage.  I would expect as much from a neo-con like McCain, but Obama?  What is it about blacks and gays?  Why can’t they commiserate and share in each others’ struggles?   Does he really believe that marriage is for people with different private parts, or is he just saying that because many people think that, too, and he’s just looking for votes?  Either way, it’s despicable, and he doesn’t deserve my vote.  Whatever.  I’m done.  I’ve had it.  Actually, I probably WILL show up to vote – but it will be to check off the empty boxes and write NONE OF THE ABOVE in huge block letters (as big as the little golf pencil will allow, anyway). 

I apologize that this is not the most coherent of my posts – but I had to get this out of me in one fell swoop with no editing, or I wasn’t going to get it out at all.   I want to hear from others out there who are as fed up as me.    I think WE are the ones who will make a difference – not these assholes who are begging for our precious votes.

Jesus, build me a pipeline!

September 9, 2008

Scary, scary shit.   Check these videos out (courtesy of my subscription to richarddawkins.net).  What follows is excerpted from the article on RD’s page.

Reposted from:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/02/palins-church-may-have-sh_n_123205.html

Three months before she was thrust into the national political spotlight, Gov. Sarah Palin was asked to handle a much smaller task: addressing the graduating class of commission students at her one-time church, Wasilla Assembly of God.

Her speech in June provides as much insight into her policy leanings as anything uncovered since she was asked to be John McCain’s running mate.

Speaking before the Pentecostal church, Palin painted the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord.

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,” she exhorted the congregants. “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

Religion, however, was not strictly a thread in Palin’s foreign policy. It was part of her energy proposals as well. Just prior to discussing Iraq, Alaska’s governor asked the audience to pray for another matter — a $30 billion national gas pipeline project that she wanted built in the state. “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that,” she said.

Palin’s address, much of which was spent reflecting on the work of the church in which she grew up and was baptized, underscores the notion that her world view is deeply impacted by religion. In turn, her remarks raise important questions: mainly, what is Palin’s faith and how exactly has it influenced her policies?

A review of recorded sermon by Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God since 1999, offers a provocative and, for some, eyebrow-raising sketch of Palin’s longtime spiritual home.

The church runs a number of ministries providing help to poor neighborhoods, care for children in need, and general community services. But Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war “contending for your faith;” and said that Jesus “operated from that position of war mode.”

It is impossible to determine how much Wasilla Assembly of God has shaped Palin’s thinking. She was baptized there at the age of 12 and attended the church for most of her adult life. When Palin was inaugurated as governor, the founding pastor of the church delivered the invocation. In 2002, Palin moved her family to a nondenominational church, but she continues to worship at a related Assembly of God church in Juneau.

Moreover, she “has maintained a friendship with Wasilla Assembly of God and has attended various conferences and special meetings here,” Kalnins’ office said in a statement. “As for her personal beliefs,” the statement added, “Governor Palin is well able to speak for herself on those issues.”

Clearly, however, Palin views the church as the source of an important, if sometimes politically explosive, message. “Having grown up here, and having little kids grow up here also, this is such a special, special place,” she told the congregation in June. “What comes from this church I think has great destiny.”

And if the political storm over Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright is any indication, Palin may face some political fallout over the more controversial teachings of Wasilla Assembly of God.

If the church had a political alignment, it would almost surely be conservative. In his sermons, Kalnins did not hide his affections for certain national politicians.

During the 2004 election season, he praised President Bush’s performance during a debate with Sen. John Kerry, then offered a not-so-subtle message about his personal candidate preferences. “I’m not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person, I question your salvation. I’m sorry.” Kalnins added: “If every Christian will vote righteously, it would be a landslide every time.”

Months after hinting at possible damnation for Kerry supporters, Kalnins bristled at the treatment President Bush was receiving over the federal government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. “I hate criticisms towards the President,” he said, “because it’s like criticisms towards the pastor — it’s almost like, it’s not going to get you anywhere, you know, except for hell. That’s what it’ll get you.”

Much of his support for the current administration has come in the realm of foreign affairs. Kalnins has preached that the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq were part of a “world war” over the Christian faith, one in which Jesus Christ had called upon believers to be willing to sacrifice their lives.

What you see in a terrorist — that’s called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what’s going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You’re worried about getting hurt? He’s called us to die. Listen, you know we can’t even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. … I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say “war mode.” Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he’s like the good shepherd, he’s loving all the time and he’s kind all the time. Oh yes he is — but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.

As for his former congregant and current vice presidential candidate, Kalnins has asserted that Palin’s election as governor was the result of a “prophetic call” by another pastor at the church who prayed for her victory. “[He made] a prophetic declaration and then unfolds the kingdom of God, you know.”

Even Palin expressed surprise at that pastor’s advocacy for her candidacy. “He was praying over me,” she said in June. “He’s praying, ‘Lord make a way, Lord make a way…’ And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m gonna do, he doesn’t know what my plans are, and he’s praying not, ‘Oh Lord, if it be your will may she become governor,’ or whatever. No, he just prayed for it. He said, ‘Lord, make a way, and let her do this next step.’ And that’s exactly what happened. So, again, very very powerful coming from this church.”

In his sermons, Pastor Kalnins has also expressed beliefs that, while not directly political, lie outside of mainstream Christian thought.

He preaches repeatedly about the “end times” or “last days,” an apocalyptic prophesy held by a small but vocal group of Christian leaders. During his appearance with Palin in June, he declared, “I believe Alaska is one of the refuge states in the last days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to the state to seek refuge and the church has to be ready to minister to them.”

He also claims to have received direct “words of knowledge” from God, providing him information about past events in other people’s lives. During one sermon, he described being paired with a complete stranger during a golf outing. “I said, I’m a minister from Alaska and I want you to know that your wife left you — you know that your wife left you and that the Lord is gonna defend you in a very short time, and it wasn’t your fault. And the man drops his clubs, he literally was about to tee off and he dropped his clubs, and he says, ‘Who the blank are you?’ And I says, ‘well, I’m a minister.’ He says, ‘how do you know about my life? What do you know?’ And I started giving him more of the word of knowledge to his life and he was freaked out.”

Kalnins has, of course, preached on a bevy of topics ranging from humility to “overcoming bitterness.” But the more controversial remarks reported above were not out of the norm, appearing in numerous sermons spanning the four years of available recordings.

As for Palin, her views on these topics is more opaque. In the wake of the controversy over Jeremiah Wright, a debate has raged about whether political figures should be held responsible for the comments of their religious guiders. Clearly, however, Kalnins, like many national conservative religious leaders, sees Alaska’s governor as one of his own. “Gov. Sarah Palin is the real deal,” he told his church this past summer. “You know, some people put on a show…but she’s the real deal.”

Here’s an idea – let’s completely disassemble both the Democratic and Republican parties. And, for good measure, the Greens and the Libertarians and every other political party fighting tooth and nail for ballot access in this country. Make everyone run as an independent. Everyone gets a fair shot. Let’s level the playing field, so that we are voting for a candidate, not for a party. No more DNC or RNC. Let’s get back to the idea of “whoever gets the most votes wins,” not “whoever is left over from the nearly meaningless primaries race and has the slickest and most well-funded campaign wins because the American people who bother to vote are blinded by their allegiance to a political party.”

This is what I’m sick of – people who just as quickly as they can shit will move their zealous allegiance from one candidate to another for the sake of the Party. So, it really doesn’t matter WHO we put on the ballot, does it? There is a guy who lives near me who is so ultra-Republican, whose lawn and vehicle are completely covered in candidates’ signs, stickers and such (we all know people like this), and who I sincerely believe would vote for a poodle if one were nominated for the GOP ticket.

Many people here in the blogosphere and in my day to day life know how I am torn about whether or not to take part in the political process anymore. Some of these people, in their efforts to sway me one way or the other, try to extol the virtues of either Obama or McCain – and I know damn well that these same people would be just as fervently extolling the virtues of Romney or Clinton or (fill in the blank) or (fill in the blank) if the primaries had turned out differently than they did.

Maybe it’s because I don’t like religion or sports, but I just don’t get the whole herd mentality – and I’m afraid you dyed-in-the-wool pols seem to have it just as badly as the religious wackos and those annoying Red Sox fans that surround me up here in New England. Change the starting line-up of any baseball team, for instance, and people will still “love their team”. Why? Because they’re all wearing the same stupid looking jerseys? The ballot seems to be no different – just throw some name on there of some distinguished Senator, so long as they have an (R) or a (D) after their name.