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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Indeed, Let It Be Said: How Very Far We Have Traveled

It's a stunningly bittersweet day for this nation.

The sweet part is more than obvious. The first black man sworn in to the highest office in a land for so long tragically betraying its loud promise of freedom and equality.

Better late than never is, yeah, better late than never. I already had the electrifying thrill of seeing our new president speak, no more than about a hundred yards away, both times in Manassas, Virginia.

He is a mesmerizing orator. Obama speaks with a cadence reflecting the passion of a man who really does believe in the credo "Yes, We Can." This is going to be oh-so important in the coming days, weeks, months, years.

Because for this new, young president, it will take all the prayers, good luck, good effort, and good synergy to turn things around, from the utter mess that George Bush has created.

There are simply too many, many, horrendous facets of the Dubya Destruction Legacy but you could easily start with his outrageous environmental policy disasters.

The Washington Post reported that in Bush's so-called "midnight regulations" snuck in last month, he ordered the following changes:

1.) Concealed firearms now allowed in national parks. A new Interior Department rule allows an individual to carry a loaded weapon in a park or wildlife refuge — but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon, and if the state where the park or refuge is located also allows loaded firearms in parks.

2.) New rules for mountaintop-mining waste. A new rule from the Office of Surface Mining could ease the restrictions on what mining companies can do with the tons of dirt and rock they blast off Appalachian mountaintops to reach coal seams beneath. In many cases, this waste is dumped into nearby ravines, creating “valley fills” that be dozens of feet high. Previously, rules had barred most dumping within 100 yards of a stream, if the material would damage the stream’s water quality. The new rule would allow waste to be dumped in streams — if a company has no alternative, and if it tries to preserve the stream’s health “to the extent practicable.”

3.) Looser rules for air pollution from factory farms. A new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency exempts factory farms from a requirement to report hazardous air pollution — including ammonia given off by animal waste — to the federal government.

4.) Permission to burn toxic wastes as fuel. A new rule from the EPA allows companies that create hazardous chemical wastes in industrial processes to burn them as fuel in their own incinerators, instead of paying highly regulated incineration firms to destroy them.

5.) Loosened protections for endangered and threatened species. A new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would allow other government agencies to decide in some cases whether a project would harm an imperiled species, without having to submit to an independent scientific review.

6.) Easing restrictions on oil-shale drilling. The federal Bureau of Land Management has proposed allowing companies to drill for “oil shale,” which is oil contained in rock deposits, across the West. The bureau argued that the work would increase domestic oil production.

That would only cover probably one-tenth of one percent of the Bush Eight Year Train Wreck.

As far as everything else, domestic, foreign, or otherwise, the damage has been incalculable and has already been well-hashed over.

Why else, then, would this wretched, blithering oaf -- who THANK GOD is right now being shipped back to his Texas village -- be rated as one of the worst (if not THE worst) presidents in history??

The following, courtesy of a blogger identifying herself only as "Karen", provides a nice, albeit a bit succinct, summary of the "gifts" that George H. just kept on givin', and givin', and givin', with spectacular and relentless generosity:

He Failed to win the 2000 election.

He Failed to "unite".

He Failed to capitalize on the strong economy left by the previous administration.

He Failed to build on the ground breaking work in improving relations with N. Korea.

He Failed to listen to pre 9/11 terror warnings.

He Failed to find Osama Bin Ladin, the person behind the outrage that was 9/11.

He Failed to listen to all those who told him Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

He Failed to listen to all those who told him that Saddam didn't have WMD.

He Failed to understand the use and power of diplomacy to achieve anything!

He Failed the US army by lack of planning for "what happens later ...."

He Failed the people of New Orleans.

He Failed to protect the Constitution (his sworn duty!)

He Failed to recognize climate change and the need to address it.

He Failed the Office of the President.

He Failed the American people.

Now he gets rewarded by riding off into the sunset, receiving bags of cash for speeches, memoirs, etc.

Maybe he'll even take a few dancing gigs, too. Something that might even qualify him one day for "Dancing With The Stars." Some might recall Bush's little soft shoe shuffle while waiting for John McCaine early last year at the White House.

But it was the Bush Waltz in his 2007 Africa trip that really captured our hearts, folks! Yeah, well, almost. Anyhow, this painfully buffoonish but so very destructive man's only truly redeeming feature has to have been that self-effacing humor.

Now since he was appointed to office in 2000, in retrospect it seems altogether fitting that Bush really ought to have been installed as our National Court Jester, don't ya think?

Now that we're on the subject of misplaced performers, how about Ronald Reagan, that intellectual colossus but mighty fine performer, as National Cheer Leader??

I can only imagine the vocational possibilities for Bad Boy Billy Clinton, but we'll save that for another post. Let's finish up with some of Barack's stirring words today that brought tears to your eyes -- and don't tell me they didn't, cause I was sobbing brazenly.

"So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it. America....In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.

"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Like the other two Obama speeches, I was left in a contemplative mood. On this especially important day, I started to wonder about relevant sayings to apply to the spirit of our new leader.

Didn't take long.

Chinese proverb. Very simple, as they usually are. But so very, very sound.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with....a single step."

Let's go, Barack.