Archive for February, 2008

Would You Give McCain A Job?
February 29, 2008

John McCain is wandering around America interviewing for a chance to be President of the United States.

The people are his potential employers.

Every other phrase out of his mouth is ‘My friends”.

Would you hire someone who, during his interview, constantly called you ‘My friend’?

Would you trust him with a five dollar bill or your daughter?

Lest we not forget:

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb Iran!

We’ll be in Iraq for a hundred years.

He’s a sleazy, corrupt, violent old man offering old ideas and discredited prescriptions.

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‘…no one even knew we was ever here.’
February 27, 2008

At the end of the powerfully violent film of the vibrant life of the Gangs of New York, two survivors of the brutal bloodletting of the Civil War draft riots, Amsterdam Vallon and his girl Jenny Everdeane, stand in a small cemetery looking across the river at New York City, and Amsterdam, played by Leonardo di Caprio, says in voiceover, “And no matter what they did to build this city up again, for the rest of time, it will be like no-one even knew we was ever here.”

I admit to never seeing the movie entire, having watched bits of it now and then, and being put off by its garish ambience, but the other day I did see a fair bit of it, right through to the last scene.

The view across the river shows the city growing and changing from 1860 to the advent of the World Trade Center, while the little cemetery where lie buried the characters of the story overgrows with weed and flower, the named stones rotting away until little is left but a patch of weedblown ground.

Vallon’s last words saddened me beyond measure, and have resonated every day since. They feel like a haunt that is beyond redemption and will forever hang around, lurking in the dark corners of my rooms, staring at me with doomed eyes. When I look in those eyes (I think they are brown and dull) I see, what else, myself, and everyone I know.

I don’t know anyone whose name and deeds will live on in history books or stories or even in government archives. I know no one famous, though I can claim to have worked a stage with a couple of actors who have gone on to work regularly in Hollywood films, whose images and voices will carry on until the last film is dust.

I know only people who live a life, who go to the bathroom, who brush their teeth, eat too much or not enough, work forty more or less hours a week, hope to get laid, love their pets and get annoyed at them, sometimes get drunk, sometimes say stupid things, sometimes say and do wonderful and unexpected things, but who will never do great things, will never have their names carved in other than tombstone marble, will never speak great words that move a nation, or a city, or a town, or a village.

I know no one whom the future will even know they was ever here.

I live one of those lives, not terribly different from those others in some respects, vastly different in others and cursed by a mind that sees darkly. Many of them will live on in their family’s memories, until they are no more than a name on a rumpled piece of paper tracing a family genealogy. That’s not my likely fate, since I am the end of my line. Hundreds of years in Sicily and Italy end with me, probably here on Cape Cod. My name might be the one up in the corner of the paper, barely legible, with no descendants, of whom someone might say, “And who was that?”, to be answered by, “Nobody really knows. He’s just a dead twig on the tree.”

No one will even know I was ever here.

Franz Wright catches the scent of such melancholy in his line ”Moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.”

It’s not that I feel sorry for myself, at least not for my present self. I’m alive. I’ll die, probably alone, though I’d like to think that I’ll be struggling to read one of the classics through dimming vision when I go. I’ll have regrets at the end. Along the way I’ll try to do things I enjoy, though at times I despair of discovering what those things may be. Death is a pragmatic matter. I’m afraid, yes, but I’m not there yet, and when it’s done there won’t be an I to care or regret or despair.

But the thought now that in time no one will even know I was ever here still manages to claw into my heart and tear at the fabric of my mind. There won’t be an I to care, but I care.

I want to be remembered, godammit. I want not to have passed by this earth with so light a tread that I might as well have been a bit of breeze, unseen, barely felt, and then gone.

I want to scream at the night sky, “Remember me. Mark me. Don’t leave me alone.” Once, in a younger body, I did that, or something akin to it, on a frozen field in midwinter in Rhode Island. What stars weren’t blinded from existence by the lights of civilization gave me no sign.

The stars have remained silent all that time. I still look at them, in awe and despair, but it’s not their fault. Few people know the stars’ names, fewer still their ancient names, but everyone can still see the stars, whatever their names.

Not so with us. We will not go on, not in flesh, not in memory, not in time, no matter how loudly or silently we cry out to live longer than the memory of stars.

For the rest of time, it will be like no-one even knew we was ever here.

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Olbermann Says Scary Words From Bush et al On Telecom A Fraud
February 26, 2008

Last night Keith Olbermann at MSNBC’s Countdown noted that late Friday night, after all the scary Bush people tried to scare everybody about the wiretap telecom debate in Congress, the Administration announced that the final telecom company had agreed to continue illegally wiretapping everybody in America.

So Bush and his homeland security clowns are once again revealed to be political fearmongers, lying to the people in order to push their political agenda, which is alien to everything America theoretically stood for before January 20, 2001, which must go down as the blackest day in American history.

The Lion couldn’t pass up mentioning that, despite being on sabbatical.

Sabbatical!
February 25, 2008

Break time!

Coffee break!

Long coffee break!

Time to rest the brain fluids!

Nap time!

Whatever. The Lion’s gonna snore instead of roar for a little while. Donations of comfy bed linens and women are welcome.

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Must Read: How Republicans Hacked The Justice Department
February 23, 2008

The March issue of Harper’s Magazine has an essay by Scott Horton, a New York City attorney and regular contributor, detailing how, and how profoundly, the Republicans have corrupted the Justice Department to serve the Republican Party’s electoral and ideological ends. It’s a damning indictment.

If you’re a subscriber it’s available online at the Harper’s site. If not, it’s the March issue. Read it at the library, buy it at the bookstore, but read it.

John McCain Keeping You Safe From Lobbyists: They All Work For Him
February 22, 2008

Apparently McCain not only beds lobbyists, or gets into bed with them, he owns a bunch, or they own him. In any event they’re running his campaign.

Mr. Straight Talk. Mr. Honesty. Mr. Integrity.

How about Mr. Sleazy Hypocrite?

Is it possible that the Republicans have absolutely no one with any integrity or character who isn’t a religious fanatic or a blatant ideologue?

Of course, that would sort of fit with what they’ve done to the country the last several years.

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Serbs Attack U. S. Embassy. U. S. Outraged. Oh me oh my! McCain benefits.
February 22, 2008

Today’s Globe naturally carried the story of the mob attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade yesterday. But the story in the newspaper and the story online aren’t the same, so The Lion’s quotes won’t necessarily match up.

From the newspaper story by Slobodan Lekic of the Associated Press:

At least 150,000 people rallied in Belgrade, waving Serbian flags and signs proclaiming “Stop USA terror,” to denounce the bid by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority to create their own state out of what Serbs consider the ancient heartland of their culture.

Protesters burned American flags and the mob that attacked the embassy tore down the US flag there. Crowds ransacked a McDonald’s, looted stores, and fought with police in front of other diplomatic compounds in a display of the resentment seething in Serbia over the secession of what has been its southernmost province.

And from the online story:

“I’m outraged by the mob attack,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to the United Nations. The UN Security Council condemned the attacks.

But why Zalmay, why?

The Lion understands that under international law and custom, the host country is obligated to protect embassies and the like. The Serbs didn’t do that.

On the other hand, how is it that the United States and the other countries which have been involved in the area since the war there, could not have anticipated the violent reaction to Kosovan independence and not prepared for it at all levels, from Embassy security to conducting serious diplomacy in the region?

To voice so-called outrage at a virtually inevitable occurrence makes the Americans look like fools. (Okay, The Lion notes, as so often before he has noted, the Americans pretty much have been fools for the last eight years.)

If the Americans intend to go mucking about in other people’s politics, they had better get some smarter people into government, people who actually know what goes on in the real world and are prepared intellectually to work with the real world. That qualification would pretty much leave out everyone in the Bush administration, which sees the world through a narrow ideological lens that ignores at least ninety percent of reality.

Given the ferocity of feeling in all levels of Serbian society and government over the Kosovo issue, yesterday’s events were predictable. So predictable that the embassy staff stayed away, leaving only a small group of Marines in place.

That the Serbs would be reluctant to provide Embassy defense, given the significance of the issue, shouldn’t have been too hard to figure out. Nobody was listening in the West, and the lack of protection sent a nicely packaged message about how deep feeling runs about Kosovo.

And yet, we have White House spokestwit Dana Perino:

White House spokesman Dana Perino criticized Serbia’s government, saying the embassy “was attacked by thugs” and Serb police didn’t do enough to stop it.

Were they thugs before they attacked or after they attacked? The Lion suspects a good many of them were angry cab drivers, waiters, working people. But Perino’s job is to look pretty and to whine and lie on behalf of George Bush.

And of course the State Department, under the control of the most ineffective, useless, and incompetent Secretary of State in modern times, chimed in:

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States warned Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic that it would hold them personally responsible for further damage.

Sure. The Americans are good at warning people, accusing people, blaming people, and making laughable threats. What does Sean intend to do? Sue them in small claims court? Garnish their wages? Nobody in the United States government in the last eight years has accepted responsibility for the horrors the Americans have unleashed on innocents, but smash up part of an American embassy and you’ll be held responsible for every brick. Whaddya say, Sean, let’s waterboard the bastards until they pay for the bricks?

In fact, none of the countries whose diplomatic buildings were attacked have any cause to complain. Having spent so many years there and to not have recognized the powerful dynamics of the Serb-Kosovo situation speaks poorly of them all. To whine about it marks them as incompetent and ineffectual.

On a final  note, The Lion can’t help but think that the whining of the United States is intended for the domestic political audience. After all, the Republicans and the Bush administration have been living off of demonizing foreigners for years, if not decades. To call the Serbs thugs is simply feeding raw meat to the know-nothings comprising the Republican party. It could well be an intentional strategy to convince the Americans to vote into the White House another incompetent, ideological, and corrupt President, named John McCain.

McCain Denounces Bush, Courtesy Of Obama
February 21, 2008

In today’s Globe, in the Campaign Notebook, Senator John McCain denounces Senator Barack Obama “for saying last summer that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes in Pakistan against Al Qaeda.”

McCain goes on to say that he wouldn’t do such a thing.

“There’s ways of working with leaders of other countries, and the one thing you don’t want to do is embarrass them,” McCain told reporters. “So I announce tomorrow, by the way, I don’t care what the Pakistani government and people feel, I’m going to go bomb Pakistan. That’s just not the kind of way to conduct foreign policy and national security policy.”

This from the fellow who cheerily and publicly sang ‘bomb bomb bomb, bomb Iran’. But unilateral covert strikes in Pakistan are just what Bush and his buddies have been doing. And hardly subtle, either.

So is Johnny Boy, after sucking up to Bush and the Cons for so long, now denouncing Bush and his policies? If he’s going to criticize Obama for suggesting actions that Georgie has been doing for a while, then he’s got to come out and slam Bush with at least as much vigor.

In the same Notebook, John ‘McTorture’ McCain encourages Bush to veto a bill that forbids United States personnel to inflict waterboarding and other tortures on prisoners of war. Of course, he voted against it before he chose to be for it.

Since he believes, along with virtually all Washington Republicans, and a good part of the country, that torture works, that torture virtually guarantees the extraction of information, perhaps he would be so good as to confess what information he gave to his torturers in Vietnam.

C’mon Johnny, where’s that straight talk you consider yourself so famous for? Torture works. You were tortured for over five years. What did you give up, McCain?

Make a clean breast of it, Johnny. What did you say in Vietnam? And how many times did you bang the little lobbyist who had business before your Senate committee? And how much money did Keating give you?

John McCain, just another squeaky clean Republican lusting for power.

Guantanamo Trials Rigged – Acquittals Not Allowed, Says Former Chief Prosecutor
February 20, 2008

Yes, the Guantanamo trials are phony. Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor at Gitmo, tells all. Acquittals are not allowed. He resigned in protest. Read The Nation article.

You knew it was true. But there’s the smoking gun.

The military comprises war criminals.

The administration comprises war criminals.

Bush and the rest are war criminals.

Welcome to America, land of war criminals, home of torturers.

The sickness brought onto this country by Bush and the Republicans seems to have no end to it, no depths to which it will not drag the nation.

And now the Republicans offer John McCain, who offers more of the same, for a hundred years, a man with neither principles nor integrity.

It’s time to end this affront to the nation.

Castro Says Bye-Bye; Bush And The Right Wing Have Orgasms
February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro is hanging up his political career as chief revolutionist and dictator of Cuba.

Whoop dee do.

The Lion is, of course, being sarcastic. Castro has been out of commission for almost two years. Cuba has survived just fine. The country didn’t collapse. No fool invaded them. They have political institutions in place to carry on without the bearded one.

But George Bush, the psycho boy king of America, taking time out from being swamped by the adulation of Africans who have been gulled into thinking he is their savior, had this to say:

President Bush, traveling in Rwanda on a tour of African nations, greeted the news by saying that the resignation should be the beginning a democratic transition in Cuba that would lead to free elections. “The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty,” he said.

Mr. Bush called for Cuba to release political prisoners and to begin building “institutions necessary for democracy that eventually will lead to free and fair elections.”

Yeah, the United States is going to do for Cuba what it did for Iraq and Afghanistan, is that the message, George?

The Lion would advise the people of Cuba to get out the guns, because the incompetent ideologues of the Republican Party want to screw over Cuba just as they’ve screwed over everything else they’ve touched.

The hypocrisy of Bush and the Republicans crowing about bringing democracy to the world while they do all they can to destroy it in the United States must boggle any intelligent mind.

If the Cubans want to do something about democracy, they could make a good start by invading and reclaiming Guantanamo and releasing the political prisoners held there wrongly and unjustly by an administration gone insane with fear and power. 

But whatever the Cubans do, they need to do it themselves. The United States doesn’t need to throw itself into, or get sucked into, another useless, pointless war. It needs to take care of its own people and institutions, which have been savaged by Republican ideology, incompetence, malfeasance, and criminality.

As for the hard-line Cubans in Miami and elsewhere, they have shown no inclination to fight Castro. They’ve sat on their butts for fifty years, whining about what they lost, performing macho posturing, and expecting the United States soldiers to bail them out and die getting back their lost estates and money. Whatever one might think of Castro, he got a gun and he got some men and he toppled a corrupt dictator. We’ll never know what he might have made of Cuba if the fools in Washington had acted towards him with more sense than ideological fear and stupidity.

We, and the people of Cuba, can hope that someone puts restraints on the Big Fool in the White House this time.

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