This Must Not Stand!
October 6, 2013

This morning NPR/KQED did a program on the Vietnam Wall. I caught some of it. I get emotional over that time. People I knew died in that war. Their names stand on that massive black granite. That was my time, my youth. It sticks with me. It sticks in my throat. It brings tears to my eyes today. And I look at the country today and I think ‘What did they die for?’ Never mind that it was a misbegotten war. At bottom those men fought not against some vague Communist threat, but for a vision of America as a good, decent place where the ideal was equality and fairness for everyone, a place where everyone had a fair and just chance to make their life into whatever they wanted.

No more.

The country has become a cesspool of vile and ugly politics and greed and hatred. The politicians have sold their souls to the rich and the rich want everything else too. They want to live with their boot on the neck of the poor, of the workers, of the middle class. They degrade education so they won’t be challenged by people who can think, so they can provide a steady stream of mindless drones for their minimum wage jobs.

The men who died in Vietnam didn’t die so the Koch brothers and their kind could turn America into a fascist fantasyland. They didn’t die for Exxon to pollute the land and the air and the water for obscene profits. They didn’t die for a bunch of Tea Party ignoramuses and bigots to corrupt the political process with their ignorance and hatred.

But that’s where we are today. It is disgusting. This isn’t the America any soldier died for. This is an America of lies and greed and deceit. This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by small-minded men and women who trade in lies and greed and deceit to feather their own nests at the expense of every working man and woman, of every man and woman struggling to make a good and decent life for their family, of every man and woman battling for a decent education and a fair chance to build the life they want.

This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by hatred, by racism, by bigotry against the poor and the disadvantaged, by the hatred, the racism, and the bigotry of a small group of politicians and rich men who care nothing for the country and whose every thought they direct at taking everything they can get their manicured, soft hands on, taking everything they can from the poor, from the workers, from the people who made it possible for the rich to wallow in their excesses of wealth.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

If it stands there will be blood in the streets, there will be wailing in the nights, there will be a genuine war that will make the bloodbath of the American Civil War look like a picnic, the draft riots of that time like afternoon tea on the lawn, and from abroad people of other nations will see an America writhing in madness and insanity. And all so a few people, a handful of rich people and their kneeling servants in Congress, in every political system in America, can get for themselves more, and more, and more.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

It must not.

In the name of every man and woman who has died or been torn up fighting for a proud vision of a free and democratic America, this must not stand.

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Feeling Trickled On By The Bush Economy?
September 20, 2007

In today’s Globe Kimberly Blanton writes that the real estate market is booming if you’re rich:

Sales of single-family homes priced at $1 million and above have surged 9.6 percent so far this year, compared with a 5 percent decline in sales of homes under $1 million, according to Warren Group, a Boston publisher of real estate data and news.

It’s all part of the diabolical conservative plan to remake America. Create and cater to a class of rich and super-rich, reduce the middle class to a bunch of whimpering wimps constantly on the edge of bankruptcy, and let the working poor and the poor collect the trickle of crumbs to be had in serfing for the rich people.

It appears to be working. The Bushies are buying multi-million dollar homes, the working people can’t afford rent or mortgages and live in dread of getting sick and losing what they’ve got, and Bush’s only answer is to drag the country deeper into wars that will kill off more working poor and middle-class people, while the rich don’t have to pay taxes, don’t have to send their kids to Iraq, don’t have to apologize, don’t have to sweat getting sick, don’t have to lift a finger (except that one in the middle that they show to the rest of us all the time) because Maria the maid does all the work, and they sure don’t give a damn about the future of the United States.

We didn’t end welfare. We just took the money from the people who needed help and handed it to the rich people. That’s the Republican way. Rob the poor to support the rich.

Yowsah!

If I Were A Terrorist…
August 6, 2007

If I were an Islamic terrorist, not just a common street bomber, but a leader, a strategist, what would I be thinking  these days?

My strategic goals:

  • Islamic states throughout the Middle East and South Asia.
  • Weakening, if not destroying, United States military power
  • Enfeebling, if not destroying, democracy in the U.S. and Europe, but primarily in the U.S.

To establish Islamic states, I would need an enemy common to all Islamic people.

That’s simple enough. There is A) the West, and B) America.

The U.S. is a major military power, relying on high tech, highly organized armies. These can be bled into impotence by guerrilla forces. Draw them into a battle where they will suffer the death of a thousand cuts.

How? A major attack on one of their cities would likely work, and would be guaranteed to work if a right-wing government is in power. Conservatives historically seek power and destroy democracy. The further right the better. And the weaker the leader the better. A weak leader is easy prey for power-hungry subordinates.

If I were a terrorist, I would now consider myself successful.

I brought down a major symbol of American power, the World Trade Center. I was lucky enough to have an incredibly weak and poor American leader in George W. Bush, and have come to consider him almost an equal partner in my plan to bring down the United States – he and his party of morally and ethically corrupt Republicans, who seek permanent power and thus contribute to the coming collapse of their country.

I have drawn their armies, with virtually no effort on my part thanks to the megalomaniac arrogance of Bush, into a war they cannot win, a war which  bleeds them to collapse, which tears apart the United States politically, which drains it economically.

I have partners working closely with me to destroy civil liberties in the United States. They have already suspended one of the most powerful tools of democracy, one of the foundational tools of Western liberty, the right of habeas corpus. They have effectively suspended provisions of their vaunted Bill of Rights, the latest effort being the revised wiretap law. Bush has aggregated to himself dictatorial powers in executive orders and in signing statements that deny the validity of laws passed by Congress. Bush and the Republicans, aided by weak Democrats, have given me all this, and they have, by practicing torture, by imprisoning without cause or justice thousands of innocent people, by slaughtering other thousands of innocents, given me recruits and recruiters in vast numbers.

And I have tens of millions more partners in the United States. I have all those citizens who blithely go on shopping while ignoring the rise of tyranny; citizens who have decided that ignorance is bliss, that biased news is real news, not that they can tell the difference anymore. I have all those citizens who don’t vote, and those who stupidly accept that voting machines proven to be easily compromised are okay because the people in power say so. I have all those citizens who can’t be bothered to read a book, who can’t be bothered to question what they see on television news, who think people shouting over each other is news, who believe everything they see and hear in political commercials. America is populated by herds of humans who fail the simplest tests of knowledge, who have no ability to think critically, who want only to be led, to be told what to think, what to buy, where to go, and where to stand while the ax comes down. 

Let me not forget those citizens who cheer their blind, thoughtless, arrogant right-wing politicians who offer, as a solution to the problems I create, the nuclear bombing of my holy cities; who offer as a solution to the flood of illegal immigrants seeking escape from problems created in part by the United States the wholesale arrest and repatriation of these millions of people; who offer as a solution to terrorism the constant drumbeat of fear and the wholesale repression of dissent and criticism.

These citizens, and the Republican party, and the cabal headed by Bush and his puppetmaster Cheney, are my greatest weapons, my most powerful allies. If I can keep them in power, I can destroy the United States.

One more attack should do it, should drive the final nail in the coffin. One more major catastrophe. Perhaps exploding a major dam. Perhaps a suicide squad melting down a nuclear power plant. Perhaps a chemical refinery near a major population center. Perhaps assassinating some Supreme Court Justices or Cabinet officers.

The Republicans and the Bush Administration have given me the power that will allow the Americans to bring themselves to their knees. I barely have to do anything more.

And if they capture me, or kill me, so what? I will be with my God, and another will take my place. And another will take his place if God calls him. I know in my heart that the United States will not stop destroying itself, will not stop its policies of destruction and slaughter in the world, will not rein in its corporations as they despoil the world and ravage populations and create more hatred. The United States is like a blind, enraged elephant loose in a village. Its only weapon is rage and massive power. It will destroy all around it in the stupidity of rage, and then it will fall as the villagers rise up and reclaim their home.

The villagers will feel some pity for such a beast, but the people of the world will feel none for the blind, ugly thing that the United States has chosen to become.

If I were a terrorist, the United States would be my best friend, my greatest helper, and when it has exhausted itself and lies helpless before the world, I will feel no pity, no compassion, no sympathy. One does not pity evil.

But I am not a terrorist. I am a citizen of the United States watching my government and my people destroy what was once the hope of freedom, of liberty, of democracy in the world, watching them follow blindly, stupidly, the plan for their destruction laid out by brutal, calculating men in far lands and in Washington.

I no longer weep.

I vote. I watch. I read. I write.

I wait.

In time, if the time comes, if I am able, I will rise up to reclaim my country from fascism, or whatever -ism the tyranny will be named. My comrades will call me a patriot. The powers in Washington will call me a terrorist. They will fail to understand that dissent is patriotism in its highest form, and that fighting a tyranny on one’s home soil is the highest form of dissent.

And in time, in time, they will fall.

It is my deepest hope that from that fall will rise the America that is in my heart, that lies in the heart of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the America the world needs, the America that the world looked to for so long as a sane harbor of reason, of democracy, of liberty.

But for now America is a long way from sanity, from reason, from democracy, from liberty. A long way.

The Grumpy Lion Answers Your Questions
July 31, 2007

Well, actually, no.

But once in a great while I feel the desperate need to clarify what the Lion is about. Why another snarky little blog that gets fifty readers a day, and in the great scheme of things doesn’t contribute all that much meaning to the great conversation of democracy…

Next question…

In part, I got tired of trying to write letters to the editor, only to come up against the competition of hundreds or thousands of others trying to break through to the editors, and seeing that when a letter does break through, the editors, who can’t write nearly as well, butcher the prose.

In part, I hate what Bush and the Republicans have done to this country. That whole bunch comprises some of the most despicable people in this country ever to rise to prominence in politics, in the press and the media, in business, in the law. And I had no voice. A vote is not a voice when the electoral process is corrupt. A vote is not a voice when the press lies and distorts, and kowtows to power. So, to keep my blood pressure at an acceptable level and preserve my health and sanity, I write here.

I don’t bring any new information. I don’t break new ground. I don’t investigate. I do read the Boston Globe every morning, with an orange marker in hand and a note pad and pen next to the paper. I read pretty much everything, and as I read I note the stories that engage my attention, that engage my outrage. It may be a quote buried in the story. It may be the whole story. And then I write, I write fast and hot, as if fighting a daily deadline like I used to do at the old Cape Cod Standard Times long ago.

I realize that in the great conversation of democracy what I do doesn’t amount to much. Maybe someone will get a different take on an issue because of what I say here. Maybe not. But I want to be part of that conversation. I refuse to allow the wingnuts and psychotics, the Bushes and the Rices and the Rumsfelds, the Giulianis and Romneys and McCains, to dominate the conversation, to take from me the right to speak my mind, the right to live as a free American, a real American who believes in freedom and liberty for all, not just the moneyed few and their yes-men, not just the haves and have-mores, as Bush defines his base of supporters.

If one word I say, if one sentence I write, contributes to bringing Bush and Cheney, Rice and Gonzales, and all the rest of them down; if I contribute in any way to making these people accountable for their crimes, for their brutality, for their studied destruction of the Constitution and the rule of law on their way to creating an American tyranny, then I will have done my part as a free citizen of a free nation to preserve and recreate an America, the real America, that lives in the deepest heart of true patriots.

That’s why there’s a Grumpy Lion. That’s why I write.

Sometimes I need to remind myself.

Thanks for your patience.

Homeland, Schomeland!
July 18, 2007

What is this nonsense about ‘the homeland’? As in al Qaeda may attack the homeland.

Nazis had a homeland. Fascists in Italy had a homeland. Russians under czars and communists had a homeland, or a motherland, or was it fatherland?

The whole homeland meme is more bullcrap created by the moral and ethical failures who inhabit the White House and the Republican Party, including the brain-dead, pathetic Texas killer and his boss, Cheney, the wannabe Stalin of America.

People in homelands march in lockstep to the orders of psychotic dictators.

This is America. The United States of America, and the United comes from calling a dictator a dictator, from telling the mentally jackbooted marchers and their cheap, smelly patriotism to go to hell, and to take their propagandists in the press with them. And making it stick.

The sooner we throw these Congressional suck-up Republicans and Bush and Cheney and their sycophants back into the gutters they came from, the sooner we can dump this homeland nonsense and get back to being the United States of America.

Sopranos Ending Cowardly; Globe Bereft of News
June 11, 2007

Apparently The Sopranos ended with a non-ending ending last night. Not having watched the show, ever, which might tend to color my impressions, I find the ending cowardly. The Globe’s reviewer, Matthew Gilbert, wrote:

Essentially, show creator David Chase, who wrote and directed the episode, left the ending up to us, the viewers. Before anything major happened – before Tony, Carmela, Meadow, and/or A. J. got shot in retribution for the death of New York mob boss Phil Leotardo, the screen cut to black. The silent black screen seemed to last forever.

…It was the kind of artful, bold, and thought-provoking move that has defined the show and made it TV’s best drama.

Artful, my butt. Please. The guy couldn’t commit to an ending. Instead he decided to keep the talk alive, and obviously the Globe fell for it because they put the story at the top of the page. Chase copped out, he reneged on his contract with the viewers to tell the whole story of Tony Soprano.

And the Globe reneged on its contract to provide relevant, significant news. Today’s front page stories: A TV show (as above); home costs too high; little kids playing violins (large photo); the job problems of married academics; Jews living in a New Hampshire town; and nothing new at Guantanamo.

No mention of Iraq. No mention of Afghanistan. No mention of today’s Senate debate on a criminal Attorney General. No mention of a faltering economy. No mention of climate change. No mention of the distortions the Republican candidates consistently proffer. In fact, except for the story on housing costs, and a Guantanamo story that fails to address the central issues there, the front page is pretty much fluff.

There’s certainly nothing there to engage or inform the citizenry in the core debates and discussions essential to the functioning of American democracy, indeed, to the survival of democracy in America.

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