Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Give Me Those Old Time Family Values! It's Good Enough for...who?

It's like shooting decoys, isn't it?

There's Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla. 16th Dist.), Duke Cunningham (R-Calif. 50th Dist.), now Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) joining grand hypocrisy parade that includes Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Pastor Ted Haggard (who's now completely cured(R) of his homosexual tendencies and cocaine addiction), Henry Hyde who was still having “youthful indiscretions” when he was 41-years old, almost-House Speaker Bob Livingston (who now-Sen. Vitter replaced in the House), Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay and a host of others.

I will be fair. We’ve had Wilbur Mills, Wayne Hays, Jim Traficant, Dan Rostenkowski, Gary Hart and William J. Clinton amongst others. But I do not recall any of them preaching as long, loud or ostentatiously about the sins of others as have the Republicans noted above.

Isn’t it more than a little hypocritical to rail against Hollywood while electing George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono, Fred Grandy and Arnold Schwartzenegger to office? I can’t be the only one to have noticed that. Or how about derailing Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential candidacy because Republicans would never support a divorced man only to embrace Ronald Reagan and, more recently, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich?

There’s a story I’ve been telling for years to illustrate the difference between Democrat and Republican politicians. You see both of them will brazenly enter the church vestibule during the service and pry the poor box off the wall. As they’re trying to escape with the fruits of their theft the sexton and some men from the congregation give chase. They catch the Democrat and Republican thieves and drag them back to the church to display their shame to the congregation.

When the Democrat is so presented he’ll actually be ashamed. He’ll return the stolen money and even turn out his pockets to add his change to the haul that’s now in the hands of the congregation. The Democrat will confess his crime and accept his punishment. He will counsel troublesome children in the Sunday School on ways to avoid his failings, not just capture, and will wash dishes at every church supper for the next 6 months or more. He will show up for his penance regularly and on time.

The Republican, however, is a different creature entirely because he’s utterly devoid of shame. This captured Republican will break free of his captors and with great theatricality will throw himself on the altar. He will make a great show of begging for the forgiveness of god right there in the holy of holies. Then he’ll rise quickly, wipe away the crocodile tears and shove his way to the pulpit still clutching that poor box. He will then preach a sermon on how god has forgiven his sins and wants him to keep the money because, when he spends it in the saloon/brothel/casino/Internet porn site that he so vociferously decries, it will help the economy, improving the economy for every member of the congregation – so he claims – in ways that clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving drink to those who thirst, succoring the sick or imprisoned could never do. He will equate succor with suckers and, while the congregation stands there, gape-mouthed in amazement and confusion, he’ll slip away with the poor box.

Yes, they’re both thieves but I will gladly take the repentant thief over the self-righteous one any day. There’s far less hypocrisy in the former than in the latter.

If there is a god with a sense of humor I think it's he who gave us Larry Flynt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just Wondering II

Given the testimony of former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona yesterday that he was required to mention Dubya positively at least 3 times per page in each speech he gave I wondered how many mentions per page did Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong or Pol Pot require?

We wouldn't want a mention gap for our American dictator/monsters when compared with their peers now would we? That happens and the terrorists win...or something.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Surprise! Surprise?

For over a week now since the failed car bomb attacks in London and in Glasgow we have been hearing an endless stream of blather from people shocked that the fanatics involved in this terrorist plot were doctors. We seem unable to grasp the idea that dangerous fanatics can be educated individuals.

First, anyone who has ever been to an institution of higher learning, including some of those with great reputations, knows that learning does take place there but on a much narrower scale than the student enrollment would indicate. The vociferous objection of a student shill for the neo-fascist Young America Foundation at Roger Williams University who was required to watch An Inconvenient Truth should be signal enough that one can lead fanatical whores to learning but can't make them think.

Still the surprise that the bombers in Britain and Scotland are educated professionals is utterly foolish. That fanatics can be educated professionals really ought to be obvious to anyone. We have a government rife with them here in the United States. At least four of them sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. One only needs to cite Dartmouth graduates P.J. O'Rourke and Dinesh D'Souza as evidence of why the terrorists in the British Isles are simply one expression of of a phenomenon one can see any day if one tunes in Fox News.

I must be fair and acknowledge that some of the surprise is justified on cultural grounds. In the U.S. we have our ideologues (e.g. Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, etc.) who will engage in utterly insane acts because of their fanaticism. However, far more common in our corporate society are the outright whores. O'Rourke and D'Souza, Ann Coulter, Andrew Sullivan, Tony Snow and the like are far less motivated by ideology than they are by money. The right-wing extremist foundations and the plutocrats that sponsor them pay good money to get the unthinking and unswerving loyalty of those folks. Thus we're lulled by the idea that these verbal terrorists will undergo a Huffington-esque change of heart and direction should the wind and the money that flies upon it blow from an opposite pole. Being mercenary ourselves we find it hard to understand that these doctors would set their car bombs and participate in the attacks without being paid very well for their trouble.

Still our shock that terrorists bent on destroying the prevailing order might be educated indicates our ignorance of their motives and of our own history. After all, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Monroe were all highly educated gentlemen. And not very far from home there's the example of Fidel Castro, a doctor.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Just Wondering I

I was just wondering in an apocalyptic mode. You see, I recall that the late (far too recently late) Jerry Falwell and the isn't-it-past-time-that-he-was-late, Pat Robertson sat down together on September 13, 2001 and blamed...well, let's quote Falwell:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Then there's jailbird/jailhouse convert Charles Colson. He's a great fan of apocalyptic thinking that jives with his ultra-right-wing extremist politics though no great fan of laws or the U.S. Constitution. Chucky offered when asked if Hurricane Katrina were god's judgment on New Orleans, "'
Did God have anything to do with Katrina?,' people ask. My answer is, he allowed it and perhaps he allowed it to get our attention so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again."

The neo-fascist and far-from-Christian Robertson a few months later warned the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: 'If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city,....'" for throwing out a Board of Education that tried to establish CHRISTIAN fundamenalist fanaticism as that towns religion and teach it in their schools.

So what got me wondering was that Texas has provided us with a number of "the Lord's annointed" such as George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, former Senator Phil (It's just a coincidence that my wife was on the Enron Board of Directors) Graham and current Senator John Cornyn. It's the state with the best(?) record of meting out divine justice in the form of capital punishment to those who offend against god's commandments. Yet for all this "righteousness" it's rained in Texas for more than 40 days and 40 nights and there's not a word about god's judgment on Texas from these pillars of CHRISTIAN fanaticism.

So I was just wondering how that could be?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Glorious Fourth

The 4th of July, America's national day, the day on which we celebrate the independence of our nation, tends to descend into the wallow of militarism, jingoism and xenophobic triumphalism yet it never fails to move me deeply. I am, at ground, an American patriot but I use a definition of patriotism rather different from that prevailing amongst my countrymen, their definition being more in concert with the definitions of Dr. Samuel Johnson and Ambrose Bierce. As an illustration of my concept of patriotism, let me quote a Republican.

Carl Schurz was a German liberal who was forced to flee his country after the revolutions of 1848 collapsed. He settled in Wisconsin and became a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln. In 1862 he resigned his post as Ambassador to Spain and took a commission in the U.S. Army. After the war he was President Andrew Johnson's emissary to report on conditions in the South. He later was a Senator from Missouri. He was Interior Secretary under President Hayes and still later moved to New York where he became a distinguished writer and editor. In short, Schurz's history is one that might well define patriotism. So, without further ado or comment, let me quote him on this 231st 4th of July:

”Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.”