Friday, September 22, 2006

The United States of Torture

I, for one, am glad our President can now torture and murder prisoners at his own discretion. It makes me feel safer. At this point only a few more domestic terrorism scares and the death of 86-year-old Pro-Terrorist Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, stand between American criminals and torture! Who wouldn't want to see John Mark Karr tortured and murdered for whatever it was he claimed he did but didn't really do this week? It's the catharsis that counts, dammit! He's a creep and I want to see him fry! If we'd only allow secret evidence in American trials, we would have our disgusting revolving-door-prison-industrial-complex system! Yes, I can't wait until they televise the first electrocutions from Guantánamo Bay! President Bush is right: those silly Geneva Conventions are quaint and outdated, as is the even older and more outdated Bill of Rights. Those passé rules put the rights of terrorists and other accused criminals above OUR right to live free of crime, and it's time we put a stop to it!

President Gets Big Win In Quest For Torture Powers

A tentative deal between the White House and dissident Senate Republicans on the interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists has been announced. The compromise legislation clarifies acceptable interrogation techniques and outlines military commission procedures. It will likely pass both the Republican-controlled House and Senate just in time to drive home the "Republicans = Strong On Terror" theme so vital to our electoral system.

With a major GOP rift apparently closed, the Corporate Media spent all day playing up the unity-and-goodwill theme. This quote from Sen. John McCain is typical: "We're all winners because we've been able to come to an agreement through a process of negotiations and consensus." You're all winners? Really? Because the details—not to mention the crowing from the White House—indicate that Bush has scored a major victory while the Senate cravenly slinks away, barely able to save face. By focusing solely on the provisions over which the two sides disagreed, the Corporate Media overlooks sickening areas of GOP agreement.

The New York Times explains the compromise: the Bush administration agreed not to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, an international treaty. In return, the senators agreed that the War Crimes Act, a domestic law, will be rewritten to define what constitutes "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. As for less serious violations of the conventions ("those lying between cruelty and minor abuse"), the senators agreed Bush will be given the authority to judge the "meaning and application" of the Geneva Conventions.

Yeah, that's a good idea... because Bush has certainly shown such a clear record of restraint in these matters thus far.

In short, the deal seems to grant Bush the exact same "I want to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions" powers that he initially asserted, only now the Senate has simply changed the name. The Washington Post indicates that this wording change may have been all that McCain wanted from the beginning: the "biggest hurdle" in negotiations "was convincing administration officials that lawmakers would never accept language that allowed Bush to appear to be reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions."

Presidential counselor Dan Bartlett certainly views this "compromise" as nothing of the sort: "We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there."

Ahh, the scenic route to torture. It's almost Wadsworth! Yes, poetic turns of phrase like this inspire the human spirit, right? Methinks it's time for a senatorial torture haiku:

President Bush pleads:
"I lust to waterboard them!"
We smile and cave in...

As for the other main point of contention between the White House and the Senate "rebels" —that the accused should have access to secret evidence against them— the Corporate Media is pretending that the senators made more headway. Evidently defendants will be allowed to see secret evidence in "summary or redacted form." Of course, the extent of the summary and redaction goes unspecified, just like everything else in this "deal," which is rather unconscionable to anyone with respect for the rule of law. Most people would clearly recognize that: "America hereby sentences you to death because we have evidence that shows you ██████ on ████ with ██████" is pretty disgusting and fundamentally unAmerican. Evidently Senators McCain, Graham and Warner (and their acquiescent fellow Republicans who didn't even pretend to put up a fight) don't know unAmerican fascism when they sign off on it.

Rather typically, President Bush is already trying to wiggle out of even this minor concession by claiming that OTHER Republicans in the House of Representatives want to deny Bush's prisoners access to the secret evidence against them. How can President Bush possibly say no to the House's demands, regardless of the deal he just signed with the Senate to do exactly that?

Brilliantly played, sir.

Unfortunately the Corporate Media doesn't even bother to mention one of the biggest problems with this already gutted "compromise" legislation: even before negotiations began, both the administration and its Senate opponents had provisions in their respective bills to strip detainees of their right to file an application for a writ of habeas corpus. Apparently the goal of EVERYONE involved is to turn the prison at Guantánamo Bay back into a legal black hole that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over.

This entire rebellion was purportedly about President Bush's power to rewrite international human rights treaties that the United States is legally bound to obey. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner cast themselves as Republican moderates who opposed this blatantly illegal move by the White House. Now we see that they are nothing of the sort, and that this entire "principled struggle" has been an elaborate Three Card Monte game designed to make the Republican Party seem principled, fair, and rational when it's nothing of the sort. The losers of this shell game are the accused terrorists, the American constitution, the American people, the rule of law, and every citizen of the world.

In essence, this deal merely codifies the current, sickening, and illegal status quo: that President Bush can illegally kidnap, imprison, torture and kill any citizen of any country, for any reason he likes, and that his decisions are final and cannot be reviewed by the Federal Courts. The only difference is that now President Bush has Congress's tacit approval for his worldwide reign of terror.

That's some compromise, guys. Have fun explaining that one to your grandchildren when they asked what you did to prevent the destruction of Democracy in America.

This abdication of responsibility by the Senate means that 2 of the 3 branches of American Government have signed off on abduction, torture and murder as routine anti-terrorism tools. The last objecting branch, the Supreme Court, is now the last bulwark against an Imperial Presidency with these powers. Justices Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer, Stevens, and Kennedy ruled on June 23rd, 2006 that the President did NOT have these powers. Alito, Scalia, and Thomas voted to let the President torture, try and execute these prisoners according to his own whims. John Roberts sat out the vote because he had previously been part of a federal appeals court that had ruled earlier in the case that Bush could do anything he wanted to. So, in essence that vote was truly 5-4.

The only thing that stands between us and the Dictatorship of an admitted Torturer now is the health of 86-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens, a man already 9 years beyond the 77-year average life expectancy of a wealthy white male in the United States. If Justice Stevens dies between now and January 20, 2009, expect President Bush to pack another right-wing religious zealot onto the court to replace him. Then Emperor Bush will have all three branches of government fully behind him and his disturbing need to torture.

I sure hope you people are voting Democrat this November.

UPDATE - Someone wrote to say I'm overstating the case. His contention is that Bush doesn't claim this power over any citizen in the world, only over terrorists actively involved in attacks on the United States. That's what the Corporate Media wants us to believe, but it's not true. Bush has unilaterally redefined his own rules to include not only accused terrorists, but also anyone suspected of funding or even merely "supporting" terrorism. Because he's the only person who has the power to decide what "supporting" means, this is, in essence, self-granted Carte Blanche to abduct anyone, anywhere.

Bush is currently holding 14,000 people in Afghanistan and Iraq, most of whom the military freely admits are innocent of any crime. Bush has admitted that the CIA is operating several illegal prisons throughout the world. The European Union estimates that at least 100 citizens have been kidnapped off the streets of Europe since 9/11/2001 by the CIA. Several of these kidnapped people were innocent (if not the majority of them), and a small trickle of them have been released from Bush's Torture Chambers after several weeks, months and even years of pointless torture.

Anyone, anywhere is a target at any time, should Bush or his countless underlings decide that they might be involved in Terrorism. That's all it takes: an inkling.

The writer's second contention was that Bush isn't trying to kill the Guantánamo Bay prisoners, but merely to sentence them to long terms in prison. I'm sorry, old son, execution is EXACTLY what Bush's Justice Department argued Bush had the right to carry out in Gherebi v. Bush, before the 9th Circuit Court. To quote the presiding judge: "Indeed, at oral argument, the government advised us that its position [that the Guantánamo detainees had no access to the federal courts or writs of Habeus Corpus] would be the same even if the claims were that it was engaging in acts of torture or that it was summarily executing the detainees."

Summarily executing the detainees. Read that sentence again. Who was the last American President to advocate summary executions of prisoners based on secret evidence? Oh, right, there wasn't one. Ever. Perhaps the President is confusing The Constitution with The Night and Fog Decrees?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bush Administration Appointees Perform Jobs Correctly, Protect Oil Companies

Once again, we see that the business of Government is business. Why can't Democrats understand that the Republicans won the elections of 2000, 2002, 2004 & 2006 (thanks, Diebold!) and that therefore we get to say or do anything we want with the country?

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 — Four government auditors who monitor leases for oil and gas on federal property say the Interior Department suppressed their efforts to recover millions of dollars from companies they said were cheating the government.

The accusations, many of them in four lawsuits that were unsealed last week by federal judges in Oklahoma, represent a rare rebellion by government investigators against their own agency. The auditors contend that they were blocked by their bosses from pursuing more than $30 million in fraudulent underpayments of royalties for oil produced in publicly owned waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The agency has lost its sense of mission, which is to protect American taxpayers,” said Bobby L. Maxwell, who was formerly in charge of Gulf of Mexico auditing. “These are assets that belong to the American public, and they are supposed to be used for things like education, public infrastructure and roadways.”

The new accusations surfaced just one week after the Interior Department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, told a House subcommittee that “short of crime, anything goes” at the top levels of the Interior Department.

In two of the lawsuits, two senior auditors with the Minerals Management Service in Oklahoma City said they were ordered to drop their claim that Shell Oil had fraudulently shortchanged taxpayers out of $18 million. A third auditor, also in Oklahoma City, charged that senior officials in Denver ordered him to drop his demand that two dozen companies pay $1 million in back interest. And in a suit that was filed in 2004, Mr. Maxwell charged that senior officials in Washington ordered him not to press claims that the Kerr-McGee Corporation had cheated the government out of $12 million in royalties.
These "auditors," are, of course, traitors to the Administration and should be purged. And we now what's REALLY behind their claims of fraud:
On Wednesday, Interior officials denied that the agency had suppressed any valid claims and implied that the auditors simply wanted a share of any money recovered through their lawsuits.

“If these auditors believed there were fraud and or false claims on the part of the companies they were auditing, they should have followed the proper procedures,” the Interior Department said in a written statement. “Instead, they opted to pursue private lawsuits under which, if they prevail, they could receive up to 30 percent of the monies recovered from the companies.”

In defying their own agency, the Interior Department’s auditors sued the oil companies under a federal law, called the False Claims Act, that was created to allow individuals to expose fraud against the government. People who successfully recover money for the government in such cases are entitled to a portion. A losing company is required to pay triple the amount of recovered money as well as back interest — potentially more than $120 million in the cases brought by the auditors.
You see? They just want the money. Not to punish these companies for cheating the country, but to enrich themselves. Crazy lawsuits like these are why we so desperately need Tort Reform in this country. So a few oil companies forgot to pay a few paltry million dollars in owed fees, and so a few Republican appointees covered up for them... why should Kerr-McGee have to pay triple damages now? I mean, they advertise on Fox News, for goodness' sake! How is the brave mouthpiece of America's President supposed to stay in business if the government keeps suing their advertisers? Only a trial lawyer could love laws like these.

More Fake Satanic "Evidence" of Evolution Discovered

So-called scientists in Eithiopia have unearthed more fossil "proof" of the Evolution of humans. When is everyone going to realize that those bones are fakes planted by Satan to lead us astray? The Bible says the world is only 6,000 years old... so how could this child's bones be 3.3 million years old? Poppycock.

Scientists are still painstakingly extracting the fossilized bones from the surrounding stone, but they have already made striking discoveries, dramatically reinforcing the idea that the creatures were a transitional stage between apes and humans. Although they had legs like humans that enabled them to walk upright on two feet, they also had shoulders like gorillas that may have enabled them to climb trees; although their teeth seem to have grown quickly, like chimps' teeth, their brains may have matured more slowly, like those of humans.

"This confirms the idea that human evolution was not some straight line going from ape to human," said Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution. "The more we discover, the more we realize that different parts evolve at different times, and some of these experiments of early evolution had a combination of humanlike and apelike features."

The child's species, Australopithecus afarensis , lived between about 3.8 million and 3 million years ago and is among the earliest known forerunners of modern humans. It has long played an important role for scientists studying evolution, in part because of the well-preserved remains of Lucy, an adult discovered nearby in 1974.
Ehh. That doesn't prove anything. Why don't these guys just realize that it's a deformed ape corpse from 100 years ago and just move on? If they keep pushing their radical pro-evolution agenda, we're going to have loose some of the Christian Warrior Children from our Jesus Camp loose on them with sharp sticks and clubs to teach them a lesson about lying about God's creation. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust... nowhere does the Bible say anything about dust to fossilized monkey bones.

Who Says That Senatorial Debate is Dead?

Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin put on a funny performance on the floor of the Senate yesterday morning. They were responding to charges by Republican Senate majority leader Bill Frist that the Congress hasn't been able to get anything done because the Democrats (who aren't in charge) won't allow him to get things done. Go here to read about their amusing rejoinder and here to see .

Christian Madrassas

Have you heard of the upcoming film Jesus Camp? If not, you're in for a treat (and by "treat" I mean "projectile vomiting"):

This country will only be truly safe from Satan when we've brainwashed our children and trained them to kill the unbelievers and queers amongst us:

Michelle Malkin Loves Terrorists

Michelle Maglalang Malkin has shown her true colors and joined forces with The Terrorists. She feels that the poor terrorists are being treated unfairly, that their imprisonment is illegal, that their trial was unfair and rigged, and that their inevitable executions are an outrage.

Oh, but wait... she doesn't mean The Terrorists that the Bush administration is holding without trial at Guantánamo Bay, or The Terrorists for whom Bush is setting up kangaroo courts and eventual executions. No, Madame Malkin means the GOOD kind of terrorists: Christian Terrorists.

Seems our Mistress of Interments is angry because three convicted Christian terrorists in Indonesia were convicted in a court of law "of masterminding a massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso." Now these Christian Terrorists Warriors are due to be executed despite, as Michelle claims, "grave doubts raised over the fairness of the trial."

The hypocrisy and comedy of her stance here are blindingly hilarious. Malkin is, of course, the daughter of Asian immigrants who made her bones in the Right-Wing Conservative BlahBlah Talking Heads Club by publishing a poorly-researched screed defending the illegal, racist, and pointless internment of American-born Japanese during World War II. Malkin has been among the most vocal and vituperative of reactionary Republicans in her constant defense of our illegal prison in Guantánamo Bay, the executions Bush wants to hold there free of judicial restraint or review, and the President's policy of executing Islamofascists wherever they may be found.

Suddenly, though, Michelle has changed her mind about The Terrorists and their rights to a free trial. She links to this article from Asia News which reports that the three convicted Terrorists' lawyers will now attempt to:

take their case before the International Criminal Court in Geneva, as per a human rights convention ratified by Jakarta, to safeguard the three men’s right to life and to denounce irregularities of Indonesian trials.
So... suddenly the Right Wing now realizes the entire point of the International Criminal Court in Geneva, a court that they have spent the last decade attempting to undermine and to make our soldiers and politicians immune from prosecution by? But what could turn Malkin around about America's need to be immune from international prosecution, an issue she feels so strongly about? Oh, right, the accused are CHRISTIAN terrorists.

Michelle's big complaint is that The Terrorists the Christian Freedom Fighters "were convicted by a trial riddled with illegalities, like witnesses who were not listened to and evidence that was rejected by the court."

Crazy. An irregular trial where witnesses aren't listened to and improper evidence was used? That actually sounds like an improvement over Bush's "military tribunals" and his rules which will allow secret evidence to be used to convict the accused without an opportunity to review it, where "evidence" obtained by torture will be admissible against the accused, where the accused can only use lawyers and translators cleared by the military (which is taking more than 2 years in some cases), and where the General in charge of the tribunal can shut it down at any moment (should, say, it look like the accused is about to be exonerated). That Indonesian trial sounds downright fair by comparison.

This sudden concern for the human rights and due process of accused Terrorists seems oddly contradictory for Malkin and her crowd who normally equate support for the rule of law with being pro-terrorist. I suppose the fact that these Terrorists read from the Bible while killing innocents makes them better than Terrorists who read from the Koran whilst doing the same thing.

As Glenn Greenwald brilliantly puts it:
I wonder what it is about this case that makes Michelle and Gateway Pundit so concerned for the Rights of Terrorists when normally they mock those who express such concern? What's different here? Do Malkin and her comrades want to protect terrorists more than innocent people? Sure seems that way. And just look at how brutal and inhumane Muslims are -- convicting people of terrorism despite evidentiary irregularities in their trial. That is the Evil we are battling in our War of Civilizations.

Maybe the U.S. Government could intervene on behalf of the convicted Terrorists and insist that even accused terrorists have the right to a fair trial and due process, and that it is inhumane and barbaric to impose the death penalty after convicting them of terrorism without first giving them a trial free of any irregularities. A fair trial prior to execution is, after all, a universal value -- even for Terrorists.

We have great moral authority in the world to make that point and I'm sure our protest would go over really well and Indonesia would do what it could to ensure that it was meeting our high standards of justice before proceeding with the execution of these Terrorists. Or maybe we could use our influence with the International Criminal Court in Geneva to advocate for greater protections and a fair trial for these convicted Terrorists.
My sentiments exactly. I only wonder if Malkin is even capable of recognizing just how stupid her stance on this issue truly is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crazed Madman Calls For Enemy's Oppressed Citizens to Rise Up, Kill Their Rulers

But Which Crazed Madman was it? It's truly difficult to tell them apart at times, what with their undying devotion to the regional and global supremacy of their respective nations, their blind fealty to religious folklore and legends, and their absolute disregard for the will of the citizens that each individually leads.

President Bush had nothing to say at the United Nations today... or at least, nothing that would convince anyone that his intent isn't to go to war with Iran. During Bush's 25-minute speech before the UN General Assembly he made it clear that he's dead set on war, that he has no desire to talk with his enemies, no proposals for negotiation and no initiatives of any sort, except to name an envoy to Sudan. I'm sure that Genocide will dry up the moment that guy gets there.

Bush's message to the people of Iran was interesting. The United States, he said, respects their country. "We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization." The problem is "your rulers," who "deny you liberty" and seek nuclear weapons. Then came the sucker punch: "We're working toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom." This statement reveals his contempt for diplomacy: in one sentence he advises consultation and negotiation, but in the next, he encourages Iranians to rise up and kill their leaders. Why would anyone even bother meeting with him when his ill intent is so clear? This is, of course, his true desire: to appease Americans nervous about a new war with platitudes and nice-sounding words, all while deliberating angering the Iranians who will see past the smile to the knife clutched behind his back. Bush's game is to threaten Iraq: while the Europeans hold out the olive branch of negotiations, he stands behind them with a club -- the last resort should diplomacy fail.

The real question now is where on Earth Bush plans to get the troops necessary to invade and conquer Iran? According to the new issue of Time Magazine, a "prepare to deploy" order has been sent out to U.S. Navy submarines, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers, and two mine-hunting ships. The chief of naval operations, the nation's top admiral, has ordered a fresh look at contingency plans for blockading Iran's oil ports.

These aren't the actions of a man determined to let diplomacy proceed apace. They look decidedly like the actions Bush took in threatening Saddam: "If you don't let us inspect your country for nukes, we'll go to war. Oh, you will? Okay, we'll inspect. Ooops, guess what, you've got not no nukes, so now we're definitely going to war with you because we know it's safe to do so." That particular game works once. The second time around, the person on the receiving end of those threats knows not to let you in to inspect because then you'll have proof that they're defenseless and you'll invade. The lesson has been taught, but it wasn't the lesson Bush wanted to teach.

Still, though, for threats like these to carry any real weight, they have to have force behind them... and at last count, our military is broken, unable to muster even a single division to attack Iran. I guess Bush could just declare Mission Accomplished II and move our soldiers from Iraq over to Iran, but then who's going to protect us HERE? (Because we wouldn't be fighting them over THERE, see).


Stop Complaining, Your Votes Never Mattered in the First Place

So fancy-pants professor-types at Princeton have discovered easy ways to rig Diebold voting machines, eh? Well, not to worry. You really didn't have much of a choice in 2004 anyway... I mean, Yale Skull & Bonesman class of 1966 or Yale Skull & Bonesman class of 1968? The average voter has a wider variety of canned lima beans they can buy. Sure, you could get all worked up over a theoretically rigged election, but why bother... don't you know that new episodes of CSI premiere this week? Just go back to sleep, citizen... there's nothing to get excited about here.

What The Abortionists Do

Parents kidnap daughter to have abortion
Sep 18, 4:54 PM (ET)

BOSTON (Reuters) - Police charged a Maine couple on Monday of kidnapping their pregnant 19-year-old daughter, who was bound with rope and duct tape and bundled into her parents' car to force her to have an emergency abortion.

Nicholas Kampf, 54, and his wife, Lola, 53, were arrested on Friday in a New Hampshire parking lot after their daughter Katelyn escaped by persuading her parents to untie her so she could use a Kmart bathroom. A court affidavit said her parents chased her out into the yard after an altercation, grabbed and tied her hands and feet together. Her father then gagged her and carried her to their Lexus and they drove toward New Hampshire.

"The case facts are somewhat bizarre," aid Mark Dion of Maine's Cumberland County Police Department, which is involved in the investigation. "It is a bit of a shock." He said the Kampfs, who were arraigned in New Hampshire's Salem District Court on Monday on kidnapping charges and held on bail of $100,000 each, appeared to have been angry that their daughter was pregnant by a man who is now in jail.

Once away from her parents, the teenager fled to a nearby store and telephoned police, who later found the parents driving around the parking lot, searching for their daughter. The teen was found in a "hysterical" state, police said. "Inside their car, it is my understanding they found duct tape, severed rope, a knife, scissors, a .22 caliber rifle and a loaded magazine for that weapon in the pant pocket of Mr. Kampf," said Dion.

Although abortion procedures are available in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the Kampfs wanted the procedure done in New York state, Dion said.

"It appears that the parents concluded or were informed that given the term of her pregnancy that service would not be available to them in any of the northern New England states but that it might be available to them in New York state," he said. He declined to identify the stage of the teen's pregnancy.

If convicted, the Kampfs face 7-1/2 to 15 years in prison.

See? People who love abortion love it SO MUCH that they kidnap ordinary, god-loving Christian folk and force them to abort their full-term babies. It's sinful. Thank goodness George Bush was sent by Jesus to stack the Supreme Court full of zealous believers who will overturn America's routine murder of embryos. Uh, except for those hundreds of thousands of embryos destroyed every year by the people who do In Vitro Fertilizations... banning IVF would be political suicide for Bush and he knows it.

Jeff Gannon, Part Deux... Only Fancy-Like!

I couldn't blog earlier about this because I didn't have the full White House transcript, but one question just leapt out at me while I was listening to Bush's "animated" press conference last Friday:


Q Thank you, sir. Polls show that many people are still more focused on domestic issues, like the economy, than on the international issues in deciding how to vote in November. And I'd just like to ask you if you could contrast what you think will happen on the economy if Republicans retain control of Congress versus what happens on the economy if Democrats take over?

THE PRESIDENT: If I weren't here -- first of all, I don't believe the Democrats are going to take over, because our record on the economy is strong. If the American people would take a step back and realize how effective our policies have been, given the circumstances, they will continue to embrace our philosophy of government. We've overcome recession, attacks, hurricanes, scandals, and the economy is growing -- 4.7 percent unemployment rate. It's been a strong economy. And I've strongly believed the reason it is because we cut taxes, and at the same time, showed fiscal responsibility here in Washington with the people's money. That's why the deficit could be cut in half by 2009, or before.

And so I shouldn't answer your hypothetical, but I will. I believe if the Democrats had the capacity to, they would raise taxes on the working people. That's what I believe. They'll call it tax on the rich, but that's not the way it works in Washington, see. For example, running up the top income tax bracket would tax small businesses. A lot of small businesses are subchapter-S corporations or limited partnerships that pay tax at the individual level. And if you raise income taxes on them, you hurt job creation. Our answer to economic growth is to make the tax cuts permanent, so there's certainty in the tax code, and people have got money to spend in their pockets.

I've always felt the economy is a determinate issue, if not the determinate issue in campaigns. We've had a little history of that in our family -- (laughter) -- you might remember. But it's a -- I certainly hope this election is based upon economic performance.

Who asked such a nice softball lob for the President to knock out of the park? Well, it turns out that it was The Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon! Seems he makes a practice of asking exactly such easy slam-dunk questions. He might not be advertising for sex on the internet, but he's no less a right-wing press whore than Jeff Gannon.

Isn't Democracy fun?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pope Issues Non-Apology 'Apology'

ROME, Sept. 17 — Pope Benedict XVI sought Sunday to extinguish days of anger and protest among Muslims by issuing an extraordinary personal apology for having caused offense with a speech last week that cited a reference to Islam as “evil and inhuman.”

“I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address,” the pope told pilgrims at the summer papal palace of Castel Gandolfo, “which were considered offensive. These were in fact quotations from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought,” the pope, 79, said in Italian, according to the official English translation. “The true meaning of my address,” he said, “in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.”

The Pope is in trouble for quoting criticism of the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said in a debate with an unnamed Persian philosopher "show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The Pope isn't naive... he opened his speech with this comment and closed with another reference to the same writings.

There are two pretty astounding highlights to this "apology." FIrstly, it's nothing of the sort... the Pope simply said he was sorry that people took offense at his comments. That's the functional equivalent of saying "I'm sorry that you feel bad that I cheated on you, honey." You're not apologizing for for having sex with your wife's best friend... you're just feeling sorry that your wife feels bad after finding out about it. Similarly the Pope isn't apologizing for a hate-filled speech, he merely regrets the reactions to said speech.

The second astonishing highlight of the Pope's "apology" is that his original speech singles out Islam for belief in spreading the faith at the point of a sword while pretending that Catholicism has no similar past. Doing so conveniently allows Pope Benedict to re-history his own faith, neglecting to mention such gems of theological history as, oh, The Crusades, for instance, which started with the Jews, then looted Christian Byzantium on the way to attack Palestine. All to carry the word of Jesus to the heathens at swordpoint. What about the Spanish Inquisistion's forcible conversions of Spain's Jews and Muslims? Evidently, it never happened. Such pretense also covers up the conquest of Central and South America which was carried out by Catholic countries for gold and the glory of the Catholic Church... conquests in which Jesuits from the Vatican often ordered any native who wouldn't convert to the mother church to be exterminated. The Pope also seems to have forgotten that not only was HE a Nazi, but also his entire church played pattycake with Hitler and the Nazi Regime all through World War II. Lastly, the Pope seems to have forgotten the fact that as a powerful Cardinal under Pope John Paul II, he singlehandedly smashed the Liberation Theology movement of the 1980s which sought to stand up to earthly dictators in Central and South America... because those Dictators were contributing to the Catholic Church even while they tortured and killed the Church's believers. Double points for hypocrisy!

The Pope said what he did on purpose and with a specific goal: to further divide the world's people along religious lines. In doing so, he once again gives the dictators of the Middle East something to whip their citizens up into a frenzy about other than the shitty conditions that their dictators force them to live in.

Congratulations, Pontif, you get the Divide-and-Conquerer of the month award!