This is what the seller of one kind of Indulgence looks like.
And here’s the purveyor...
...of another brand.
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines “Simony” as:
"...'a deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual of annexed unto spirituals'. While this definition only speaks of purchase and sale, any exchange of spiritual for temporal things is simoniacal. Nor is the giving of the temporal as the price of the spiritual required for the existence of simony; according to a proposition condemned by Innocent XI (Denzinger-Bannwart, no. 1195) it suffices that the determining motive of the action of one party be the obtaining of compensation from the other.
Simony was a massive, disgraceful chapter in the history of the Catholic Church: one that dwarfs even the modern priest molestation scandal, and one of the main causes of the Protestant Schism.
Jot it down; there might be a quiz later.
As we strap ourselves into barrels of whiskey and go over the falls into a New Year, I’ve got that feeling in my gut. Maybe you do too.
That fast-dropping, free-fally, contents-are-definitely-shifting sensation of events reordering themselves into something new and alien and breathtaking, so while we need to reflect and celebrate the year that is passing, we also seriously need to get ready for one King Hell Bitch of a ride in the next. Or at least I do.
There is a certain kind of subsonic, “How dare these bastards!” white noise aroar in the land.
All year, edges have gotten harder, and the “Let’s all play nice” voice (that had for years come almost exclusively from the Left since the Southern Strategy Party of Atwater and Gingrich and Limbaugh decided that the lowest, most hateful, most divisive road was the only one that was going to win them the White House) has all but vanished.
Or, put another way, when my sweet-and-even-tempered Mom wants these cocksuckers publicly flogged off the continental shelf, and then the pockets of their turncoats stuffed with neutronium, and then the lot of them sunk into the Cayman Trench…something fundamental in our democracy has malfunctioned. Some vital organ in the body politic has died…having been very carefully and deliberately poisoned by the Republican Party.
And now that the check-and-balance smoke detectors have failed, more than half the country is screaming for someone to call 9-1-1…and the rest are demanding that we all go back to bed.
The same people who so loudly and lavishly screamed “Bring us Barabbas!” while Clinton was being persecuted now smirk and fart and pick their toes as the Dubya declares war on our basics rights and freedoms.
Because they wanted it this way. There can be no other possible answer. If the GOP were for one minute as serious about small gummint and bringing Presidents to book for any infraction whatsoever a their lavish and very public pronouncements, they would be storming the barricades around Cheney's Undisclosed Location right this minute.
But of course all we hear from the Right is…silence. Where once there was a hue and a cry and a bellow demanding Smiting Justice that filled up the 24/7 news cycle, now there is a vast, deafening and Very Conspicuous Silence.
Because Republicans have no use for Democracy.
Their President has lied about matters of War and Peace…and they have shrugged.
Lied in ways that have gotten thousand killed, has bankrupted our nation and pissed our moral treasury away into the deserts of a distant land…and they have sneered, “We won. Get over it. “
Been an accessory to the outing of an undercover agent for pique and spite…and they giggle and call her a bitch.
And now their President has bragged about breaking the law in order to spy on United States citizens. Can’t even be bothered to run it past a rubber-stamp of a court after the fact.
And lied about it – repeatedly – on teevee.
And that’s what makes this a genuine crisis moment. Because George Bush was given every single fucking thing he ever asked for to fight his war.
A prostrate press.
A rechargeable “Get Out Of Jail Free” card to be played like an ace of trumps over and over again on the fatal lies he has told.
A free pass on his failures. And his pettiness. And his psychotic detachment from the real world and actual events. And his various, slurry, dry-drunk embarrassments. And his anti-Lou-Gehrig record as the Laziest, Most Vacationingest President of All Time.
A bigger monetary blank check than almost any man in history.
The most undisputedly formidable military in history.
The most lavishly funded intelligence-gathering system in history.
A One Party Government.
And, on September 11th, 2001, the boundless sympathy and eager willingness on the part of the majority of the human race to stand with him and go wherever he led fell into his lap as the towers came down.
And not only has he fucked all of that into the ground and turned every surplus he ever touched to debt and ruin and hatred, but now comes the worst and most dangerous phase of any alcoholic’s spiral downward.
Now come the peevish complaint that it was not enough.
Now comes the Eternal Drunk and Tyrant’s Lament that he needs MORE.
Now that the gates that held the Executive Branch in check from being the Dictatorship that Washington always feared have been almost completely removed…Dubya begins busily takes his sledgehammer to the floor boards and door jambs, arrogantly asserting that any slight impediment to any whim of his being fiated into existence the moment it pops into his head means the Terrorists Will Come and Kill Us All.
For any lover of Democracy, the sight of a President publicly and proudly wiping his ass with the Constitution and demanding unlimited, unchecked Power is a nightmare. And yet for the Republicans who cheer him on, and slash and slander any who stand in his way, this is their Greatest Wet Dream Come True.
Because if you are still a Republican and are not taking-to-the-streets furious about what Bush is doing, then you are indeed exactly what we believed you all were all along. Just a bunch fascists. Not-so-closeted totalitarians who need to stop pretending that you view checks and balances and due process as anything other that useless obstructions on the road to whatever anti-Democratic fantasy of Corporate or Christopath Manifest Destiny you believe you are living out.
Which is why the feeling of zero-gee. Of a loss of any sense of local verticals or direction.
Because in Iraq – or, really, anywhere outside the contiguous 48 States – the 2004 elections were really about Republican’s signing a mile-high stack of Indulgences to be cashed in whenever Dubya got caught doing things he aught’nta.
Republicans will always put loyalty to Party above their country.
Like Lot in Genesis, when the going gets tough and the mob is outside, they can always be relied on to shove the Constitution and the Bill of Rights out the door and tell the hordes to go ahead and rape them. Rape them ‘til they bleed, beat them ‘til they pass out and then kill ‘em, if they want. Just leave the Dear Leader and his conies alone!
This from Genesis 19:8:
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
That’s the GOP in a nutshell:
Protect the Leader.
Fuck the Country.
And reelecting these criminals was supposed to be the magic Political Indulgence that made it all sinless in the eyes of God and the Founding Fathers.
Dubya has cashed them over Iraq and Katrina, Plame and Sheehan and Schiavo, which were each catastrophic in their own way, but to the vast “Fuck Everyone But Me” wing of the GOP – those who genuinely don’t give a shit about anything (except their tax cuts and guns) for anyone or anything outside their immediate family circle or neighborhood – they were incidental or, at worst, minor inconveniences.
For this wing of the party, 2005 was just another year of Blah Blah Blah.
Dead brown people? Dead Iraqis? Dead soldiers? Sorta dead chick in Florida. Dead city.
Hey, I’m not brown, I don’t live in NOLA, I wasn’t stupid enough to volunteer for the Army, and I don’t give a shit how many million sand niggers we have to slaughter to keep prices at the pump low.
Fuck. Them. All.
But exactly as “State’s Rights” was the figleaf behind which slaveholders and their ideological descendents hid (and still hide) their real agenda, so the fable of Small Government is the Bell Curve/”Atlas Shrugged” beard the “Fuck everyone but me” Republicans wear to hide their raging, misanthropic hatred of the rest of their species.
And when it was all outward facing – other people in other states, classes or countries getting screwed with an axe-handle – well it was all cool for school.
But now it’s the citizens of the United States this Administration has decided to make electronic war on. Now the guns are swung around, and Dear Leader is giddily firing into the wheelhouse of our own nation and daring anyone to stop him.
Citizens who are supposed to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects”. Now it isn't some faraway "other" that's on gibbet, it's the central tenant of Limited Government itself into which Dubya has casually shivved his Vorpal sword.
2006 will be the year when Dear Leader comes galumphing back to his “Fuck everyone but me” base – the bleeding Constitution in his teeth.
2006 will be the year he drops his prey proudly at their feet, expecting their praise. Expecting them to honor the fine print of the Indulgences they rubber stamped for him in 2004.
2006 will be the year when they either finally react in horror at what their creature has done in their name, or shout out, yet again, “Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
The year when the GOP must finally stand with Dubya or with Democracy.
Because he has left them no third choice.