Archive for September 2008

The Catholic Church is never this bad

September 22, 2008

Sarah Palin the lightweight VP choice of John McCain left the Catholic Church for the Assembly of God when she was 12.

The Huffington Post writes that the church’s preacher and Sarah Palin’s pastor  Ed Kalinins:  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.”

 

Kalinins also offered a nuanced view of foreign policy, preaching that 9/11 and the Iraq war were part of a greater struggle over Christianity, with Jesus playing an important role as a very exacting general:

“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.

Palin’s theology is jut as bad.

God apparently is still waging war in Iraq:

“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.”

Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright was a towering intellectual giant beside these folks.

Socialism for the rich

September 17, 2008

” Capitalism when its profitable and socialism when its losses”  or as my Bay St father used to say,”socialism for the rich, capitalism for the  poor.” Same song and same rape of the middle classes as the  bosses get the golden parachutes for their dirty work.

British writer Jeremy Seabrook who often writes for the New Internationalist asks:

Who’s to Blame for Market Failure? Clue: Not the Bankers

When money’s being made, the denizens of the financial system are responsible. In a downturn, it’s the collective ‘we’.

Now the free marketers like McCain are in full retreat. After 25 years in Washington as a Republican insider already tarred with the Savings and Loans scandal, McCain is going to fix this.

Poor Bush refers to to this debacle of greed as a “market correction.”and now the Republicans so dedicated to market mania and government inaction, now beg the government to act. all of a sudden we have :interference in the free market.”Having refused to bail out Lehman Brothers the US government has now ponied up $85 billion to save AIG, so let’s see $29 billion for the  Bear Stearns sale to JPMorgan in March, $100 billion apiece  for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, up to $300 billion for the Federal Housing Authority, That’s 900 billion. Let’s socialize that debt and give it to the people. We must protect the bond holders.

Now toss in the war debt.

What about The people?

What people?

Vote Republican. Vote for a guy who can’t turn a computer on, who voted for Bush 95% of the time and then head for Canada,

The All white Grand Old (War) Party

September 16, 2008

Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates at the Republican convention were black.

MMMMM.

I guess that’s what America looks like to the War Party.

Amazingly Bush captured a whopping 11% of the black vote in the election he stole. What were they thinking?

And the 36 who were seen at the Republican convention. Somebody should have interviewed them.

Unbelievably embarrassing for a national party.

The Great Deregulator is finally dead

September 15, 2008

With the collapse of Lehman Brothers, we have finally interred Ronald Reagan the Great Deregulator.

The worst president in US history (before GW Bush)according to Jimmy Carter, Reagan turned the Market into an idol and let the Greedmeisters have their way. Deregulation became the mantra of the day and suddenly capital had no checks and balances. It fled the community where it once was embedded.Jimmy Stewart (1946) the kindly bank manager of Its a Wonderful Life now saw money and mortgages leave the community, bought and sold with little control.

Reagan had no understanding of Original sin. Humans need constant checks. They are mortal and will cut corners.Hence, regulation. Carter the Baptist understood this. Reagan with his dopey optimism had no clue. The Market had become an idol, sacorsanct beyond criticism.

 

The Savings and Loans Scandal of Reagan/Bush was the canary in the coal mine.Billions lost and the people had to pay. Then Bush 2 acclerated deregulation. Despite his God talk W was a market idolator.

Now we have an extremely serious crisis and the genius and former head of the Fed, the Ayn Rand fan Alan Greenspan suddenly has feet of clay. Young economists want to take back his Nobel prize in economics.

Deregulation is dead. Never again will these financial institutions have their way.The horse bolted from the barn and they closed the gate much too late. In the end the poor people are saddled with the bill.

And Reagan has not been chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

The Body of Christ

September 10, 2008

 Deaths of Iraqis are hard to gage. They run from a minimum 600,000 to 1.5 million. Numbers here are irrelevant. Statistics are mere numbers  with their faces rubbed out and their humanity crushed, ignored or deemed irrelevant.

The Christians in the US White House need to understand the concept of the Body of Christ.

I  assume Arundhati Roy, the brilliant Indian writer (The God of Small Things)   is a Hindu woman.

She grasps the essentials here.

“Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq – mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods – are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs.”

Arrogant and bloated empires can never hear the cries on their margins or understand the ancient wisdom, “Vox victimarum, vox Dei” (the voice of the victims is the voice of God.

Sarah Palin, not a book burner

September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin asked the Wasilla, Alaska librarian what she would do if she as governor wished to ban some books according to the official minutes of the Library Board. When she was unsuccessful in eliciting her total suppor, she tried to have the librarian fired.The town erupted and incurious Palin backed off.

The mere raising of such a question poses severe problems. She seems to exhibit the narrowness of the fundamentalist church she belongs to.

Palin exhibits a good mind but is wholly out of her depth in most areas of governance. Watch every interview now as she sticks to the talking points McCain’s advisors have given her.

She was particularly embarrassing on her interview with Charlie Gibson the other night.Totally ignorant about NATO and the Georgian issue.

All war, all the time.More of the same Republican bellicosity.

 

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Olympics and SportsWorld

September 8, 2008

Well, the Olympics are over and let’s forget the insane path the Chinese are trekking to become a world superpower. Let’s put aside their cultural cheating and their obsession to be number one by sacrificing their young on the altar of competition.We’ve seen this already in the SportsWorld of North America—dumb athletes who have forsaken in the name of the market and/or celebrity their primary role as citizens and moral agents.

Witness the free pass the public hands these overindulged earthlings.In the end it renders them impotent and irrelevant as citizens.They have nothing of import to say—and don’t think they need to do the hard intellectual slogging  that democracy needs. Their overfed egos deludes them into believing they automatically have something valuable to contribute.

Mike Krzyzewski  the coach of Duke and the USA Olympic basketball team-“None of these athletes (has) a responsibility to be political. They have the responsibility to represent their country.” According to philosopher Mike representing their country overshadows everything. And then we have Dick Pound.The chief of the Canadian Olympic Committee told our athletes “If it is so tough for you that you can’t bear not to say anything, then stay at home.” 

This is the overwhelming ethos of SportsWorld—”you live in a parallel and more important universe where winning and competing renders everything else unimportant and secondary.”

Palin: an embarrassing choice

September 5, 2008

 

an April 3, 1996 article in The Anchorage Daily News that reported this:

Alaskans Line Up For a Whiff of Ivana 
Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana.

And there, at J.C. Penney’s cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist. 
“We want to see Ivana,” said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, “because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.”

Ivana Trump, the former Czechoslovakian Olympic skier who found fame and wealth as the wife of the New York tycoon, came to Anchorage Tuesday to push her line of perfume. 
More than 500 people waited as long as half an hour in J.C. Penney to chat with her and receive an autographed photo.

That was 1996. It was that same year — in October — when Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla. According to The Anchorage Daily News article reporting her victory, “the final tally was 617-413.” There are High School Student Council elections with more votes than that. She ran her campaign, and won, based on the precise GOP wedge strategies that John McCain, to this day, pretends to decry. As a Wasilla councilman put it at the time:

Palin offers no management qualifications, basing her campaign on the buzzword planks and the political might of the far-right Republicans. She obtained endorsement by the NRA. Why is the Republican Party so interested in local elections? Why is the NRA involved in such a contest? The three council seats up this year also saw challengers running on the basis of the Republican Party platform, using the same tactics. I would never suggest that an individual or organization refrain from participating in any election, but I had hoped this valley and Wasilla could avoid the nationwide tendency that sees such elections become more and more partisan. Bad enough that state decisions are made more often on the basis of party politics and in party caucuses. We don’t need that at the local level.

Time today reported the same thing: “While Palin often describes that race as having been a fight against the old boys’ club, [then-incumbent Mayor] Stein says she made sure the campaign hinged on issues like gun owners’ rights and her opposition to abortion (Stein is pro-choice).” 

The first thing Palin did after being elected was fire six department heads in the City, including the Police Commissioner and the librarian. As The Anchorage Daily News put it: “the newly elected mayor of Wasilla has asked all of the city’s top managers to resign in order to test their loyalty to her administration.” It added:

She’s also been criticized by the local semiweekly newspaper for a new policy requiring department heads to get the mayor’s approval before talking to reporters. An editorial in The Frontiersman labeled it a “gag order.”

In January of 1997, Palin seemed actually to lie about what she did, as the same paper reported:

Palin said she planned to meet with [Police Chief Irl] Stambaugh and [librarian Mary Ellen] Emmons this afternoon. She also disputed whether they had actually been fired. “There’s been no meeting, no actual terminations,” she said. Stambaugh’s response was to read part of the letter given to him.

“Although I appreciate your service as police chief, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment. . . . ” 
If that’s not a letter of termination, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation about Palin yet appeared in the Time article linked above — that one of the very first things she did after being elected Mayor was pressure the librarian to ban books which she found offensive in some way:

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

Does anybody remember The Keating Five?

September 5, 2008

Under investigation 1990

Obama and Biden call John McCain “my friend.” Not good enough. Will they remind Americans  of McCain’s role in the biggest American scandal the Savings and Loans debacle of the the late 80’s? Charles Keating was one of the drivers behind the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loans boondoggle and he had McCain as his defender in his back pocket.

Keating poured $112,000 into McCain’s  campaigns, fundraised for him,cut his wife’s family in on his deals. He flew McCain around the country, took him to his pleasure dome in the Bahamas.

All before McCain admitted he had seven homes  and a rich man is anybody with $5 million dollars.

McCain should have been dead political meat 20 years ago.

However, a hypercapitalist country acts like a memory eraser and the ad machines succeed in T.S. Eliot’s phrase to keep people “distracted from distraction by distraction.”Living in the constant presence is deleterious for a serious democracy.

Labour Day 2008

September 1, 2008

Halifax Labour Day 1949

When the Irish hit the shore in America they immediately headed for the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party. This coalition lasted for 140 years before many made too much money and shifted to the right to protect their investments.

During these years one of the major feast days was Labour Day.

In Canada the trend was similar. In a Protestant country Catholics were frozen out of the corridors of power and were huge supporters of the reigning Liberal Party.

Labour Day was also a secular feast here in Canada.

The Canadian Bishops, men of the Vatican Council, were ardent supporters of labour and produced many outstanding Labour Day statements in the 70s.

Even during the reactionary papacy of John Paul ll,the Polish pope weaned in the shadows of Nazism and Communism supported Labour unreservedly.In 1981 he wrote his greatest encyclical Laborem Exercens, defending labour and championing those who do the work over the products they made

Here he wrote: the primary basis of the value of work is man himself. 

Sinve humans are made in God’s image, absolute dignity is their birthright. Justice is a cardinal virtue. John Paul says:

Commitment to justice must be closely linked with commitment to peace in the modern world. 

Foremost among the “social questions” was the growing gap between the developed world and the undeveloped world

The disproportionate distribution of wealth and poverty and the existence of some countries and continents that are developed and of others that are not call for a levelling out and for a search for ways to ensure just development for all. 

This must mean labour and living wages are an absolute necessity.

As we walked  on Labour Day today, we saw but one priest and no bishops.They should have been front and centre in reminding the country of Labour’s dignity and its precarious position.

Archbishop Collins should have been right in the middle of the Filipina and Latina hotel workers.It would have been a marvellous way to show solidarity with  not only Labour but his fellow Catholics. Alack and alas the “social question” is not high on the agenda of today’s bishops.

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