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01 August 2008

Forgiveness, or Revenge, the dish best served cold / Pay now with Forgiveness to buy a decent Future / Bush's Legacy

National Museums Liverpool
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Liverpool UK

'The Tree of Forgiveness'
Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1882
Accession Number LL3635

After the conquest of Troy, Demopho├Ân stayed at the Thracian court where Phyllis, the king’s daughter, fell in love with him. They agreed to marry but he had first to return to Attica. He delayed there so long that Phyllis doubted he would ever return and killed herself. The gods turned her into an almond tree which here the penitent Demopho├Ân is embracing, to find the tree suddenly blossoming and Phyllis reappearing to him.

As so often with Burne-Jones, violent sexual passions — love, betrayal, remorse and forgiveness — are visualised within the context of myth and within an abstract linear design of great sophistication. This greatly enhances the expressive power of the story’s climax.

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Jim Olson said ...

"Who the fuck wants to go to Beijing, China to spend their money to help these creeps show off their repressive police state?"

I'll tell you who. None other than George W. Bush. A sitting American President has not attended the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in a foreign country in years. But not ol' Georgie Porgie. Nope, he's gonna waste your tax dollars flyin' on Air Force One with a bajillion Secret Service to go to China, to attend the opening ceremonies.

But there is no money for proper armor, or food aid for the hungry, or money for bridges or schools.

Wednesday, 30 July, 2008

Oh, and just in case you are mistaken, FUCK GEORGE W. BUSH and the enabling horses he rode in on whose names are Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, Rove and Cheney.

Thursday, 31 July, 2008


I am having this very troubling feeling that I have contaminated you with my vulgarity and my anger. If it ever becomes an issue for you, please feel free to blame it all on me. The Bob made you do it. You fell in with Bad Companions. Community gossip about that accusation could haunt me like a colorful and entertaining compliment.

There's an alternative possibility that it isn't really my fault, it's Bush's. I'd feel a lot less guilty if that was what's going on here.

One very personal difficulty I have with some of what I understand about and see of Christianity is the emphasis on the virtue of Forgiveness.

Am I supposed to forgive Bush? For the torture? For Guantanamo and the suspension of due process and habeas corpus? For the lies that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, of Iraqis, and of my neighbors' kids in uniform? For the thefts, often lawlessly and in secret, of our individual freedoms and privacies?

Do you feel pushed into the Forgiveness Corner? How will you handle that? How will you balance that? Should we balance that?

Our instincts certainly are not screaming for Balance.

I'm asking with [ Sincerity: ON ]. Because South Africa and Czechoslovakia had to grapple with this question, and the transition leadership realized that Forgiveness for the most grievous and cruel acts of the old regime was necessary to move forward to a progressive new world without getting stuck in a (well-deserved) cycle of Revenge.

And a very natural human response to 8 years of Bush will be the Desire For Revenge. And those who choose that response will sincerely believe it's Righteous.

And they're right.

But it can also be foot-shooting, and be an obstacle for everyone's right to move to and live in a Better Future.

Forgiveness aside, there's the question of Bush's Legacy. Be happy in the Legacy he's solidly and permanently engraved for himself and his administration in granite.

You never goaded him to act the way he acted, it was all his idea. If anything we begged and screamed at him not to do the things he did.

But how he will be remembered, as a human being, as a president ... this is a lock. The first pairing, the nearest and most obvious, is to Nixon.

But really he has made his presidency the equal of Warren Harding's (1921-'23).



The most infamous scandal of the time was the Teapot Dome affair, which shook the nation for years after Harding's death. The scandal involved Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall, who was convicted of accepting bribes and illegal no-interest personal loans in exchange for the leasing of public oil fields to business associates. (Absent the bribes and personal loans, the leases themselves were quite legal.) In 1931, Fall became the first member of a Presidential Cabinet to be sent to prison.[10]

Thomas W. Miller, head of the Office of Alien Property, was convicted of accepting bribes. Jess Smith, personal aide to the Attorney General, destroyed papers and then committed suicide. Charles Forbes, Director of the Veterans Bureau, skimmed profits, earned large amounts of kickbacks, and directed underground alcohol and drug distribution. He was convicted of fraud and bribery and drew a two-year sentence. Charles Cramer, an aide to Charles Forbes, committed suicide.

No evidence to date suggests that Harding personally profited from these crimes, but he was apparently unable to stop them. "I have no trouble with my enemies," Harding told journalist William Allen White late in his presidency, "but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!"[11]


Worse; Harding was just dumb, he was not also cruel and malicious, and not even noted for any penchant to lie. He did not amass enemies who made it their life's work to destroy him or remove him. He elicited pity and embarrassment and disappointment.

(He didn't need enemies to destroy him. Harding did all his own self-destroying, and finally died on a re-election train tour to California.)

It is odd that Bush has made such a kindergarten distortive joke out of the word and out of the concept of Evil. He has called whole swaths of humanity Evil, dismissing them as beyond the civilized pale, and beyond discussion or exploratory negotiation.

And yet, where would the Evil-o-Meter point most violently in our times? How often would the Radio Shack Pocket Evil Detector start buzzing and whining and ululating in the Bush White House? Where and when in our times has Sparky, the Evil-Detecting Dog, gone to alert and begun barking most ferociously?

His is quite the Advanced and Certain Legacy, years before the Bush Library opens its doors.

"I have made of my life excrement," says the German judge and great law scholar in his war crimes cell in "Judgment at Nuremburg." (Screenplay by Abby Mann, the judge was Burt Lancaster.)

Bush has made his life toxic, radioactive (with long half-life) excrement. Two wars in Asia, and all the miserable Sequelae to these particular Liars' and Scoundrels' Wars (Congressman Lincoln's phrase for Polk's Mexican War.) The plight of their veterans in Bush's military and VA hospitals.

"Yes, you'll be remembered
You'll be remembered very well
And if I live a long life
Oh, the stories I can tell ..."

-- Arlo Guthrie,
song about Nixon

A few tips and guidelines about this Forgiveness business would be appreciated. How do you forgive a creep like this, and his cabal of lawless rogue scoundrels?

Should you? Cui bono? -- who benefits from forgiving this creep, besides the creep himself? Is forgiving most of what Bush has done, with malice aforethought, the price we must pay here in the Present to try to buy a more decent and more stable and more lawful Future? Must we Forgive Bush Now to give our kids better schools and healthcare and a life without American wars? Do we need to forgive now, so our women and men in uniform can come home safely to their sweethearts and families over the next ten years?

Are Truth and Reconciliation proceedings in our Future? There's a lot of Anger out there. That's a resource which could be tapped to generate a Lot Of Trouble for the next decade. The path to ponies and clean air and peace and justice and straighter kids' teeth and more teachers might have to take a detour around the righteous lust for Revenge -- "a dish best served cold."


Abbas said...

here's a little idea where Jim can direct his anger the most.

Mike said...

I was raised in a very Catholic family, so I know a little bit about this whole "forgiveness" thing. I can't count how many times my parents talked about it. Still talk about it. I've grown to feel that forgiveness should be coupled with repentance. I'm not sure if that's a "Catholic" view, and really, I don't care. I'm not seeing repentance here, so forgiveness isn't likely to make a showing either.

Personally, I think they should put all these charges on hold for the time being, wait until GWB is out of office, and then start the proceedings again. Even if every last one of these people are convicted, they're just going to get pardoned in the end. Wait until the pardon ship has sailed, and then throw every last one of them in the brig.

Jim Olson said...

I'm all for forgiveness, and I sometimes use this blog and others to vent my spleen when I can't elsewhere in my life. I am sorry if I have offended anyone.

Certainly, GWB and his minions deserve forgiveness. But the scale of the calamity and atrocity that they have perpetrated on the world demands at the least a fair accounting of their actions.

Perhaps it will even be decided that some of them should spend some time in our penal system, perhaps not.

But as people in South Africa discovered, Truth and Reconciliation are inseparable. We must name the crimes before there can be any forgiveness or pardon. To pardon this President and his administration before there is a real investigation into what happened, and some real, tangible steps to correct it on the part of the next Administration, short-circuits the path to a real fix for what is wrong.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Oh PLEASE, you certainly haven't offended ME, and I can't imagine you've offended anyone else -- except maybe Bill O'Reilly at Fox.

Click on abbas' link in his comment above, verrrrry interesting site.

Yes, what remains of the Bush Plan is clearly:

1. Leave office with No Truth.

2. Spend the rest of his life in total denial about the damage he and his cronies have done.

3. Leave a historically massive Mess for other people to have to try to clean up.

Is it possible he did all this sober?

Jim Olson said...

1. Glad you're not offended.

2. Ref: previous post, it's not your fault, it is GWB's fault.

3. O'l Georgie Porgie must be drinking. It's the only answer.