Archive for August 2008

Deregulation kills

August 29, 2008

 

The Mike Harris Tories were a nightmare aberration in Ontario, the deadly enemies of the common good. Sadly many like Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement have resurfaced in Ottawa plying their noxious trade of freeing capital from any regulation.

One remembers with horror the Walkerton disaster where the failure to protect the common good in this case the water supply killed a number of people and left many with debilitating illnesses. All in the name of allowing public safety to be compromised in the name of cutting red tape and allowing corners to be cut. Another horrific example was highway safety where a particularly oafish cabinet minister allowed trucking firms to “police” themselves. Again a number of innocents killed by flying wheels. Then came a blizzard of inspections on major highways with the predictable results that over 80% of transports  had serious deficiencies.

The listeriosis outbreak is simply the latest example.

The deadly bacteria was not caught in the workplace but in the dying.

And the Harrisite minister Tony Clement spent a week in Denver at the Democratic convention as Canadians continue to die

Inspectors pointed out that businesses were increasingly allowed to “police” themselves. 

Original sin lives. Humans are weak. People will cut corners when they can. Government vigilance in the name and cause of all is a constant necessity

Clinton and Truman: on whoredom

August 26, 2008

When President Truman retired from office in 1952, his income was substantially a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year.  Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking  them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. 

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, ‘You don’t want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale!’ 

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, ‘I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.’ 

Richard Nixon of all flawed presidents refused to cash in on being an EX;

Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Hilary Clinton “lent” her campaign over $10 million dollars. Political offices are now for sale. And nobody has abused the office of President more than Bill Clinton, the man who squandered his many gifts and eight years when he could have done something substantial. Clinton has made close to $100 million cashing in on his abused presidency. James Carroll of the Boston Globe said this today of Clinton: “Clinton proved exactly what kind of person he is not so much when he committed indiscretions with the young Monica Lewinsky, but when – “I did not have sexual relations . . .” – he showed himself ready to destroy her. Not merely flawed, Clinton is utterly lacking in character. That he is still a celebrated figure among Democrats mortally compromises the party.”

His “3rd way” has been a disaster for the poor and a lousy model for another very flawed PM, Tony Blair.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, ‘My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!’

Doc Martin:the Boot

August 24, 2008

You have to love the Irish wit.

Irish writer Paul Durcan wrote a poem about the new archbishop of Dublin (2003) Diarmuid Martin part of which is worth quoting. After the distinguished Irish theologian Enda McDonagh invited the highly respected but proscribed moral theologian Charles Curran  to speak at  a dinner honouring the former. Martin flexing his episcopal muscle  banned Curran. Martin, a Vatican bureaucrat and Roman insider had been absent from Ireland for 30 years and in typical Roman fashion was imposed on the people of Dublin.

McDonagh is too much a gentleman to tell Martin to get stuffed but Durcan let him have in print.So he writes,

 

 

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Martin,

Known to party faithful as Doc Martin the Boot,

Ratzinger’s man in Dublin, the enforcer’s enforcer,

A virtuoso of the Ratzinger faction,

Comrade Archbishop Dr Martin, a responsible member

Of the 500-strong Central Committee of the Vatican Politburo,

On we go! Backwards! Mao Man!

Archbishop Dr Martin is a Great Leader of Post-Modern Ireland.

A week later Archbishop Dr Martin achieved a spectacular double

By extinguishing two theologians with the one put-down

In dissociating himself from the celebratory conference organised

To honour Ireland’s long-serving, long-suffering, conscientious

Professor of Moral Theology, Fr Enda McDonagh,

And at the same time also denouncing the principal guest lecturer,

Fr Charles Curran of the USA.

From his Kremlin palace in Drumcondra, Doc Martin the Boot issued a

ukase:

“Rev Charles Curran . . . has been declared

By the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith

As not suitable and not eligible

To exercise the functions of professor of Catholic theology.”*

Archbishop Dr Martin is a Great Globaliser of Post-Modern Ireland

Who has spent much of his life not in Ireland

But in Rome, wining and dining and defining

The finer points of the diplomacy of dogmatic authoritarianism

And promoting the creed of globalisation.

While Ireland was suffering thirty years of sectarian fratricide

Archbishop Martin was shepherding in the shadows in Rome.

Straighten up, Boot, straighten up and when you get into bed tonight,

As you squeeze into your night-frock,

Whatever you do, don’t be individualistic!

God have mercy on you if I catch you being individualistic.

If I catch you being even an eenshy-weenshy bit individualistic,

I’ll defrock you and throw you back into the River Tiber

Where you can boot away the rest of your individualistic days.


Ireland and “the faithful” certainly have changed.

3 more dead Canadians-no just wars

August 22, 2008

3 more dead Canadians in Afghanistan; thousands of Afghanis killed

He was reckoned a Conservative president who rejected the dropping of the A bomb on Japan but he had seen war from the inside an he despised it. Dwight Eisenhower said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” Yet the folly continues and the obtuse leaders like Bush and Harper keep sending the poor to die in lands which rightly see us as Occupiers no matter how pristine our stated intentions.

 

Every gun that is made, every warship launched,

every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense,

a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,

those who are cold and are not clothed.

The world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers,

the genius of its scientists,

the hopes of its children…

This is not a way of life at all,

in any true sense.

Under the cloud of threatening war,

it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

 

Dwight D Eisenhower

Fr Emmanuel Chas McCarthy challenges Catholics

“The historical Constantine is covered in blood, but it is other people’s blood. The historical Jesus is covered in blood, but it is His own blood. The crown is always covered in blood, but it is the blood of someone else. The cross is always covered in blood, but it is not other people’s blood. Constantine and Christ, crown and cross,symbolize incompatible approaches to life in thought, word and deed, as well as, two quite contradictory revelations of God and God’s will.

When the Churches’ leaders and the Churches’ memberships make the choice to follow the way of the historical Constantine, they ipso facto simultaneously make the choice not to follow the Way of the historical Jesus. I am not sure the words exist to make it any clearer than that.”

Tommie Smith Olympic champion

August 21, 2008

That intrepid CBC reporter Mark Kelly reclaimed an important cultural memory for all of us.He  interviewed Tommie Smith 40 years after his raising the Black Power salute in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. It was the fist heard round the world in that ugly summer of discontent.

For the amnesiacs among us Smith was the first man in Olympic history to win a gold in the 200 metre race under 20 seconds.When he hit the podium he raised his gloved fist in the Black Power salute in effect ending his commercial life and enraging the rednecks in America.

Smith knew what he was doing. His defiant gesture was a powerful way to make a statement about his country still reeling after the assassination of the black Moses, Dr. King. His attitude—why should he run in Mexico and crawl at home. It created howls of outrage but the brother made his pojnt and made his bed at the same time.. He and his fellow black Olympian John Carlos who also raised his fist became non persons shut out of any endorsements and subjected to almost perpetual vilification.

Smith was and is an admirable man, an athlete who saw the bigger picture unlike the majority today who have no interest in becoming critical citizens but simply indulged and pampered athletes  ready to cash in as individuals on their day in the Olympic sun.

Pete Seeger: China needs you

August 19, 2008

One thing I learned in my multi-ethnic neighbourhood was  that people are people and stupid crosses all boundaries.

Now I am ready for China to implode over the next 30 years of rapid economic growth.

The latst proof is the national reaction  Olympic athlete Liu Xiang’s pull out of the 110 metre hurdles.His sin was getting inured and letting the team (China) down.

The blogsphere has it all—tears of sadness, rage,anger-and of course instant vituperation of the free market poster boy whose image keeps hectoring his fellow Chinese to get hip and drink Coke and wear Nike.

Where have I seen this picture before?

Fat assed couch potatoes srtirred up by the ad culture to invest emotional and psychic energy on a pampered athlete.People paid thousands to cheer on the national hero then when he was injured they turned on him.

Why should they feel so deflated?

The capitalist system has well trained them to to hop on board the Vicarious Express.Get your kicks out of consumption,false gods and nationalism.

Pete Seeger, where are you?

China needs you.

Matty- “the Christian gentleman.”

August 13, 2008

Summer is always baseball season for me. I even read the box scores daily seeing who is doing what for the Red Sox.And now that Canadian Jason Bay is an integral part of the team it is even more reason to pay some attention to “the national pastime” as the Americans call it.

My interest is always more than wins and losses and in fact I do not much care for the latter. I think a lot about the sociology of baseball, why it developed, the role it played in people’s lives.

And today I think of Matty.

100 years ago Christy Mathewson was the most famous man in America.He single handedly took baseball from the outhouse to the penthouse. He was the hero middle America was waiting for. His arrival in New York in 1900 coincided with the rise of advertising and the growing need for heroes who measured up to “Christian ideals.” Hard to fathom now but the age of muscular Christianity was still afoot. Matty was every mother’s dream in an age when baseball was looked upon as a thug’s game.

College educated, a church-going Baptist and an incandescent talent, Matty was worshipped all over America.In 16 years with the Giants he won 373 games and had 4  thirty game seasons.Handsome and a large man for his time Matty was  a superb athlete, a serious reader and well liked by his team mates. In general he was venerated as a “Christian gentleman.” He is one of four athletes immortalized in the Sports Bay of the world’s largest church, St. John the Divine in New York.

Grantland Rice the dean of American sports writers said this of Matty: “Christy Mathewson brought something to baseball no one else had ever given the game. He handed the game a certain touch of class, an indefinable lift in culture, brains, and personality.’” 

In this age of the juicers when heroes are in short supply, it’s nice to think of a man who lived a century ago who embodied integrity and decency.

I believe one of the reasons people get emotional about Mathewson is his tragic end. He went over in 1918 to WW l and was gassed in a training exercise. He died in 1925 at age 45 because of complications.

The jazz pianist Dave Frishberg memorialized Matty in 1985 in the song of the same name

You were great Matty

There’s not a soul who would deny you were great…

You deserve the trust and faith we placed in you…

And your name will echo down the hallowed halls of fame

I’d swear that God had sent his right hand man to see us through

And it was you, Matty

Sweeney and Zabelka: Nagasaki Day

August 9, 2008

 

”I took no pride or pleasure then, nor do I take any now, in the brutality of war, whether suffered by my people or those of another nation,” Charles Sweeney  wrote. ”Every life is precious. But I felt no remorse or guilt that I had bombed the city where I stood.”To the  end  Sweeney vigorously defended his actions and the US decision to drop the second bomb on Nagasaki. He ridiculed all who questioned the decision.

Historians today question the necessity of both bombings.Consensus was that they were really dropped on Russia, as a warning for the post War world. Japan had been defeated and secretly had sued for peace. The small man Harry S. Truman, desperately attempting to follow the giant FDR thanked God whose wisdom gave the bomb to the USA. What a theology. What a catastrophic decision. Unnecessary thought Eisenhower and Admiral William  Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff. The latter was on the mark when he said,” the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. . . . My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

Contrast Sweeney’s defensive reaction  with George Zabelka the Catholic chaplain who never ceased apologizing for this heinous act which mass murdered so many and ushered in the nuclear age.

The fact that forty-five thousand human beings were killed by one bomb over Nagasaki was new only to the extent that it was one bomb that did it. To fail to speak to the utter moral corruption of the mass destruction of civilians was to fail as a Christian and a priest as I see it. Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened in and to a world and a Christian Church that had asked for it-that had prepared the moral consciousness of humanity to do and to justify the unthinkable.

Springsteen as secular shaman

August 6, 2008

Bruce Springsteen has internalized the Catholic sacramental vision. As a kid in a New Jersey Catholic grade school and with plenty of opportunities to grasp the idea of invisibilia per visibilia, Bruce apprehended the power of the Incomprehensible Mystery—midnight mass, stained glass windows and the choir singing with joy. Above all a Sacred Story second to none. He intuited the unseen Holy showing up in the visible world, the divine in the mundane, the transcendent in the immanent. Try friendships, laughter, sunsets, Mozart and babies for starters.

The utopian vision of Jesus (Land of Hope and Dreams) embraces all—particularly those who are heavy laden and weary. Beginning again is always an option for the Divine Lover who greets us with open arms (Luke 15:11-26). Often describing his concerts as “rock and roll baptism”, Springsteen’s hope is to bring some relief to people, to get them to think in new ways and to challenge his own country to put flesh on the bones of Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty—”Give me your tired, your poor…”

On this train there is room for “saints and sinners, losers and winners, lost souls “etc. Looks like the church of the big tent to us.

Land of Hope and Dreams

(Bruce Springsteen)

 

Grab your ticket and your suitcase

Thunder’s rolling down the tracks

You don’t know where you’re goin’

But you know you won’t be back

Darlin’ if you’re weary

Lay your head upon my chest

We’ll take what we can carry

And we’ll leave the rest

 

Big Wheels rolling through fields

Where sunlight streams

Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

 

I will provide for you

And I’ll stand by your side

You’ll need a good companion for

This part of the ride

Leave behind your sorrows

Let this day be the last

Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine

And all this darkness past

 

Big wheels roll through fields

Where sunlight streams

Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

 

This train

Carries saints and sinners

This train

Carries losers and winners

This Train

Carries whores and gamblers

This Train

Carries lost souls

This Train

Dreams will not be thwarted

This Train

Faith will be rewarded

This Train

Hear the steel wheels singin’

This Train

Bells of freedom ringin’

This Train

Carries broken-hearted

This Train

Thieves and sweet souls departed

This Train

Carries fools and kings

This Train

All aboard

 

This Train

Dreams will not be thwarted

This Train

Faith will be rewarded

This Train

Hear the steel wheels singin’

This Train

Bells of freedom ringin’

 

 

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Political mine field of Cardinal O’Malley

August 4, 2008

From all angles Boston’s Archbishop seems to be a quick learner—a nice change from the pompous Cardinal Law who flew a little too close to the sun and GW Bush. Law  loved the trappings of power and all that came with them. The Franciscan O’Malley clearly is uncomfortable with them. Acts like a Franciscan selling off his mansion and generally mirroring an authentic clerical lifestyle.

But there is one area he appears quite dumb and that is in his understanding of politics. Apparently O’Malley cannot understand how RCs can vote Democrat! Wow. So that leaves the war party and the bash the poor party as the only choice.

No party approximates God’s reign and the Democratic Party sure has lost its link with the poor and working class. Blame 3rd Way Billy Clinton for that. The Dems indeed are pathetic and Nancy Pelosi as House Leader is an embarrassment. The only authentic Democratic voice (besides Ted Kennedy)  still in touch with ordinary people  at the national level has been Dennis Kucinich who wants to impeach the hapless Bush. But the Republicans as vehicles of the Gospel! Madonna mia!

Cardinal  O’Malley, best be silent when it comes to opinions like this. Particularly in Boston

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