Friday, January 16, 2009

The Last Chapter

Oh, Bush! What a truly abject performance last night, in your farewell address. It was a little like this (with apologies to Jack Horner):

Little George Bushy sat on his tuschy
Eating his Humble Pie;
He put in both thumbs
And pulled out a few plums
And said, What a good boy am I!

There you were, Bush, a little person on the big screen with your little coy, little self-satisfied, little snarky smile, in a rosy world of your own imagination. Who would have thought, listening to you, that you had brought us a needless war that cost tens, no, hundreds of thousands of lives; an American city still devastated by nature and your subsequent callous neglect; an economy in freefall with millions of your fellow-countrypeople losing their nest-eggs or their jobs; a world that looks askance at the country you were never fit to govern? No, Bush, your words put a new complexion on those hackneyed rose-tinted glasses. They added a whole new level of meaning to the ability to keep looking on the bright side. So much for good intentions!

Here's the question, Bush, to which we really need to know the answer: do you really know the truth? Have you simply decided to disguise it in the best way possible? Or is there something in your mind that prevents you from seeing it? Do you actually believe yourself what you're trying to persuade the rest of us to believe?

I have honestly not been able to answer this question (it's really only one.) Perhaps it doesn't matter. I look at you, Bush, and I see a sad little boy trying hard to stay afloat in waters that are much too deep and dangerous for him. I have always seen you that way. A little boy, never quite fully adjusted to the real world and clinging to a few Big Ideas as though to a life raft. It's a sad reflection on our culture and the state of our education that we allowed you to get this far out of your depth. It's the ultimate manifestation of the syndrome that unfortunately bears my name: the Peter Principle, which holds that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." How true, Bush. How true.

One of the big questions now, for your successor, is whether to investigate your incompetence and your inexcusable exploitation of power for political gain; and, if necessary, to prosecute your crimes, and those committed in your name. I have tended to side reluctantly with those who say that there are more important, desperately pressing issues--issues that will prove all the harder to solve without bipartisan support. However--no doubt you read this piece in this morning's New York Times, Bush? Or maybe not-- Paul Krugman's column, "Forgive and Forget?", was most persuasive. He argues a good case, indeed.

No matter, the time has come to say farewell. You will become, as you say, an "American citizen" again and the worst harm you'll be able to wreak upon the country, we hope, will be in the voting booth. There have been times, as well you know, that I have been angry with you, Bush. And the truth is that I still hold a lot anger for the things you have done, and am unable to come to terms with this anger unless you, in turn, are able to acknowledge and accept responsibility for them. And believe me, Bush, I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, all I can feel for you at this point is pity--and even pity is a stretch.

So, farewell, Bush. Our daily intercourse concludes with this last entry. I wish you... well, I wish you enlightenment and, with it, in the spirit of the Buddhist teachings I have come to embrace, eventual release from whatever suffering you feel.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Reminder

The Bush Diaries has recently morphed into The Buddha Diaries. Please check us out there.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Budget Proposal

(As posted in The Buddha Diairies.)

Trading "The Bush Diaires" for "The Buddha Diaires" did not mean, of course, eschewing all expression of political opinion. I just don't plan to spend so much time in that arena.

Yesterday's release of the Bush budget proposal needs some response in these pages in view of its distinctly un-Buddhist approach to national and international priorities. It seems clear at this point in time that the military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned us all those years ago has triumphed, and that the reverse Robin Hood budgetary philosophy of the Bush administration is to be aggressively pursued in flagrant denial of the wishes of the American electorate when they returned a Democratic majority to both houses of Congress. The profligate generosity extended to the military, in the form of budget increases, and to the very wealthy in the form of tax benefit extensions is matched only by the mean-spirited parsimony when it comes to the poor and the oppressed. On the global front, the dismissively short shrift it gives to the most urgent problem facing our planet--the stabilization of our environment--is mind-boggling.

So where is the compassion? Where is the mindfulness of well-established realities? Where is the recognition of urgent problems needing resolution? I am left with the bleak hope that the power to which this sadly ovine country has entrusted a president apparently bereft of a human heart and the requisite listening skills to govern is not, now, such that even the Congress of the United States in unable to thwart it. The Bush budget proposal is an arrogant kiss-off to every basic humanitarian value, and a shameful statement about our country to the world. Its unambiguous message is that we care more for the acquisition of needless weaponry and excessive wealth than we do for the well-being of our own people and the survival of our species. It is, in a word, disgraceful.

Monday, February 05, 2007


... The Bush Diaires has morphed into The Buddha Diaries. Please visit us there! Cheers, PaL

Friday, February 02, 2007


This morning's news of death and disaster in Central Florida due to tornado activity coincides with the larger news that accompanies the concurrent release of the United Nations report on climate change. We have too long chosen to remain deaf to the signals from our planet with the result that the damage caused by our negligence is now, according to the scientists who contributed to this study, basically irreversible. The harm we have inflicted on our little corner of the universe is surely no more than an infinitessimal blip on the cosmic radar screen; but to us, the human species--well, Florida is likely to prove but a minor foretaste. Even Katrina, with all her deadly force, may look like a tempest in a teapot when compared with what the Earth has in store for us, her unruliest inhabitants.

The UN report makes clear that the effects of our industrial and post-industrial consumption and our burning of the fossil fuel resources that enabled it may last for centuries to come. Whether the human species will survive its own mindless improvidence and greed remains an open question. We pride ourselves on the knowledge we have gained about the planet we are given to inhabit, but surely our ignorance is far greater. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose, it matters little to the universe--perhaps even to the planet itself--whether this one troublesome species survives. We have contributed already to the extinction of so many others, and the world keeps turning inexorably, shrugging off the loss and adapting to the change in ways of which we humans seem incapable. Our minds are prisoners of old ways of thinking, old conceptions of what it is we need--and what we need is always more than what we have. We seem fated to strive for the "growth" and "progress" that will assure our downfall.

Until we learn that there must be some limit to our grasping, until we learn tolerance and patience for the needs of other humans and of other species, we will continue down this path toward eventual destruction. We need to be more mindful that it is our actions that contribute to the creation of the world we live in; and our actions, should we all finally agree to make it so, that can begin to reverse the disastrous path that we have chosen.