February 13, 2007

THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS, A LITERARY BONUS AND AN ONION


Caption: This is him.

The more you learn about President Bush's proposed federal budget, the less there is to like.

Here is a fairly detailed but still readable analysis from the American Friends Service Committee's
Washington Office.

Here's the intro:

The federal budget is the ultimate embodiment of our nation’s priorities and direction, a roadmap of our shared plans as a society. What will our tax money buy? What are the moral mandates we share? What are our national aspirations today? What are our intentions with regard to future generations?

The Fiscal Year 2008 budget request released by the Administration this week offers a troubling response to these questions. The request seeks the highest level of military spending in two decades – even before supplemental funds for current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are taken into account.

It includes supplemental FY07 war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan that would bring the annual expenditure for those conflicts to a level more than five times higher than the entire State Department budget for the same period. It proposes cuts to essential programs that help children receive health care and elders pay their heating bills, while spending billions for a “virtual fence” on our southern border.


And that's just the intro.



SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL, here's another Brothers Karamazov moment brought to you by Dostoevsky. It involves the retelling of an old Russian folk tale about "a very wicked old woman" who never did a single good deed in all her life.


Her guardian angel was desperate to think of some way to rescue her from the devils who threw her into the lake of fire. He finally told God that he once remembered seeing the old woman pull an onion from her garden and give it to a beggar...


And God said to him: Well, take that onion and hold it out to her in the lake, let her catch hold of it and pull, and if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.

Well, the angel held out the onion and told her to pull herself out.


And he began pulling her cautiously and was on the point of pulling her out when the other sinners in the lake, seeing that she was being pulled out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was terribly wicked and she began kicking them. 'It's me who's being pulled out,' she said, 'and not you. It's my onion, not yours.'

You can probably guess the end. The onion broke and she fell back in.


Moral of the story: methinks the big boys need to do a better job of sharing the onions and stop kicking people down. The rest of us probably should too.


GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED