Saturday, December 01, 2007

The end of world? Dinesh D'Souza and the Pope fill us in.

Just a quick glance at the Inquirer today should pretty much confirm for any visiting alien from outer space that the human race is doomed. No need to invade or wipe us out with some sort of space bug. We'll do it all by ourselves, you have only to wait.

Several articles pop out as indicators of our impending self destruction.

The first one is a news item about angry Sudanese protesters marching in the streets of Khartoum calling for the death by firing squad for a British teacher who allowed one of her students to name his teddy bear Mohammad. Naturally, the Sudanese government is cynically fanning the flames as a ploy to keep the UN from deploying peace keepers to Darfur so it can keep its genocide of those infidel Darfurians going. Here we have yet another example of a ruling elite exploiting ignorance and superstition to manipulate the masses.

Much like the Catholic Church, which is in the news again. AP reports the Iron Pope Benedict XVI has issued another encyclical. Boy, haven't you just been chomping at the bit for another encyclical? This time around the Pope is decrying the evils of atheism. The French Revolution and the proletarian uprising in Russia, he writes, are both examples of atheism run amok. Although the former Hitler Youth acknowledges that those upheavals were the result of deep injustices at the time, according to the AP story, humans thinking they could make a paradise on earth without the help of God was "both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice."

Needless to say, the hundreds of years of religious wars in Europe, the Inquisition, the plundering of weaker nations around the globe in the name of God and all the child abuse were the work of a merciful God.

This is my favorite part of the story, though:

"The Rev. Robert Gahl, professor of ethics at Rome's Santa Croce University, said the Pope's message was 'tremendously relevant' for today's materialistic societies 'where people put hope in science and medical cures.'"

Yeah, what has science or medicine done for you lately? As the Pope says, "We must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world is not in our power. Only God is able to do this." The fact that the Church has been responsible for much of the suffering of mankind for a millennia or so should make anyone thing there's anything that can be done about it. It's all a part of God's great plan. Just wait for the big bearded guy in the sky to fix everything. In the mean time, keep the money coming because they've got a bunch of expensive legal bills to pay off.

By the way, speaking of the Inquisition and the fallacy of relying on science for salvation, right wing crackpot Dinesh D'Souza writes that the heresies of Galileo are still under review. I thought Pope John Paul II had finally gotten around to admitting that the Earth revolved around the Sun about 460 years later (better late than never, I guess,) but apparently D'Souza isn't convinced.

The crux of D'Souza's argument is that the whole Galileo being forced to recant under pain of torture thing is liberal hype. All these atheists out there like liberal Christopher Hitchens are saying the Church mistreat Galileo. D'Souza writes, "I intend here to reopen the Galileo case to expose the atheist argument as completely misguided."

See, the Church just wanted to make sure "the science" was right before jumping to any hasty conclusions. You know, just like the Bush administration these days. They don't want to go crazy with this Climate Change thing until it's got "the science" right.

It was all a bug misunderstanding. The Pope was a big fan of science and so was Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. D'Souza writes, "Bellarmine proposed that, given the inconclusive evidence for the theory and the sensitivity of the religious issues involved, Galileo should not teach or promote heliocentrism."

It was all Galileo's fault that this whole thing happened. He brought it on himself by goign to Rome.

Get it right, liberals.

What I find funny is that D'Souza's article is very similar to an article from Catholic Answers.

D'Souza writes:

"Contrary to the claims of Sam Harris and others, Galileo was never charged with heresy and never placed in a dungeon or tortured. After he recanted, Galileo was released into the custody of the archbishop of Siena, whose terrible punishment was to house him for five months in his own episcopal palace. Then he was permitted to return to his villa in Florence. Although technically under house arrest, he was able to visit his daughters at the Convent of San Mattero. The church also permitted him to continue his scientific work on matters unrelated to heliocentrism, and Galileo published important research during this period."

Catholic Answers writes:

"In the end, Galileo recanted his heliocentric teachings, but it was not—as is commonly supposed—under torture nor after a harsh imprison- ment. Galileo was, in fact, treated surprisingly well. As historian Giorgio de Santillana, who is not overly fond of the Catholic Church, noted, "We must, if anything, admire the cautiousness and legal scruples of the Roman authorities." Galileo was offered every convenience possible to make his imprisonment in his home bearable. Galileo’s friend Nicolini, Tuscan ambassador to the Vatican, sent regular reports to the court regarding affairs in Rome. Many of his letters dealt with the ongoing controversy surrounding Galileo."

Very weird. It's almost like he just changed a few words here and there. Read the whole article and you'll see what I mean.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catholic sewer:

On November 26 the Inquirer published an Op-Ed by Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, a Delaware educator and victims' advocate. Sister Turlish wrote that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was basically giving sexual predators a pass by working to block legislation in Pennsylvania's state legislature that would lift the statues of limitations on priests who abused hundreds of children over the past 40 years or so.

She writes that she finds it "unconscionable that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia apparently is still of the opinion that sexual predators and abusers should not be held accountable." Unconscionable, perhaps, but not unbelievable. Judging from the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which spelled out in painful detail the decades of cover-up orchestrated by the Archdiocese to shelter its priestly pedophiles it really should come as no great shock. Cardinal Justin Rigali's initial statement on the report that good Catholics shouldn't read it because he didn't "think it's of value to families," should give some hint to the state of denial the church is in.

In today's Inquirer the Archdiocese responded to Turlish' article in the Letters to the Editor section. Donna Farrel, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese (i.e. media flak), writes:

"The Archdiocese opposes expanding civil statutes of limitation for several reasons, including that the alleged offenders have died, potential witnesses and administrators have died, and files may no longer exist." [Because, perhaps, the church had them destroyed?]

Reason enough, why sue dead "alleged" abusers? Better just to contact the Archdiocese' "victim assistance coordinators" because the church has a great track record of helping victims of its priests.

Besides this legislation is patently anti-Catholic. There are all kinds of abusers and rapists out there, why pick on the poor Catholic church? Don't listen to the "secular media" on this issue. And remember, Rigali wrote in response to the report, "We must also pray for the members of the clergy who have perpetrated the abuse."

And don't worry about the fact that the church spent decades shielding child abusers from the police and used every means at its disposal to undermine the efforts of victims families to protect their children from the very church they entrusted their safety to.

The Grand Jury report spells out why this legislation should be passed and why the church is fighting so hard to keep it from happening . . .

"Dozens of priests sexually abused hundreds of children . . . Philadelphia Archdiocese officials – including Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol – excused and enabled the abuse . . . the law must be changed so that it doesn’t happen again. Some may be tempted to describe these events as tragic. Tragedies such as tidal waves, however, are outside human control. What we found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and defiled it . . . But the biggest crime of all is this: it worked. The abuser priests, by choosing children as targets and trafficking on their trust, were able to prevent or delay reports of their sexual assaults, to the point where applicable statutes of limitations expired. And Archdiocese officials, by burying those reports they did receive and covering up the conduct, similarly managed to outlast any statutes of limitation. As a result, these priests and officials will necessarily escape criminal prosecution. We surely would have charged them if we could have done so."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

David Horowitz and Hamas on the same page, at last.

It's good to see W.'s and Condi's peace gambit at Annapolis the other day has created a consensus between the opposing sides, of sorts, in the debate about the Arab/Israeli conflict.

In an urgent email from the desk of David Horowitz he states that he is not happy with this whole Annapolis thing. He writes:

"Secretary of State Rice has been out-Clintoning Bill Clinton by shuttling between capitals in the Middle East in an attempt to cut a piece of flesh from a frontline state in the war on terror. Once again, in a replay of what happened eight years ago, the U.S. hopes against hope that bribery and concessions will turn them Palestinian wolves into doves and that diplomacy will make them agree to live side by side with a state, Israel, they believe is inhabited by pigs and monkeys."

In order for Horowitz & Co. to fight these Islamo-fascists he's requesting a
"tax deductible donation of $50," or more, to combat the threat presented by Bush and Rice to Israeli.

On the other hand, from the Palestinian side we get this take from Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri:

Abbas has committed a crime by pledging to follow the road map . . . Resistance will continue against the occupation by all means. We have heard too many false promises . . . Bush has failed to deliver anything for the Palestinians during his presidency . . . He is completely biased towards Israel." [Reuters]

Now, if we could just get these two to sit down everything would work itself out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Troops forgotten?

Peter Baker has an interesting article in today's WaPo. It seems a new poll is out and apparently Americans are of the mind that things are going better in Iraq.


"Nearly half of Americans, or 48 percent, believe that the military effort in Iraq is going well, up from 30 percent in February, and 43 percent agree that U.S. forces are making progress in defeating insurgents, also up from 30 percent."

Therefore, Baker writes, the debate within the beltway is turning more towards things other than Iraq, like Iran, spending, health care and the economy. Iraq is old news, it seems. Baker says, "At their Oct. 30 debate in Philadelphia, the word 'Iraq' was used 44 times, but the word 'Iran' came up 69 times."

In fact, if things keep going so swimmingly in Iraq for W.'s surge, this might give the GOP a leg up on Democrats next year in the elections. If the Republicans don't have to go into the general elections with W.'s war hung around their necks and Patreaus is able to keep his promise of bringing some 30,000 troops home by July (he really has no choice due to the strain on the Army) Baker writes, "The fall general election could be played out against the backdrop of troops coming home."

How convenient! And if there's any kind of attack on the "Homeland" between now and then Rudy should be a shoe-in.

One thing we might to keep in mind about Iraq is that while the situation there is looking somewhat better compared to the flaming gates of hell it has been over the past two years, we have still lost 844 troops this year, so far.

And this is to say nothing of the physical and emotional damage that has been inflicted on our returnijg troops that we'll be living with long after Cheney has had his 8th heart attack and W. is comfortably into retirement happily pulling weeds with Barney.

USA Today reports:

"At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY. The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327."

And the Army is really doing their part to step and help these troops out (on the cheap naturally.)

An ongoing NPR series reports:

"New Pentagon figures released to NPR show that since the United States invaded Iraq, officers have kicked out far more troops for having behavior issues that are potentially linked to post-traumatic stress disorder than they did before the war.

NPR asked the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps to disclose how many troops have been discharged by their commanders in recent years and why. The Marine Corps has not provided statistics. But an Army chart, which NPR recently received, shows that since the United States invaded Iraq:

— Commanders have discharged almost 20 percent more soldiers for 'misconduct' than they did in the same period before the war;

— Commanders have discharged more than twice as many soldiers for "drug abuse" (a subset of the "misconduct" category);

— Commanders have discharged almost 40 percent more soldiers for 'personality disorder.' In all, the Army has kicked out more than 28,000 soldiers since the war in Iraq began on the grounds of personality disorder and misconduct."

And then there's this:

"-- Some of the 2,600 Minnesota National Guard members who spent 16 months in Iraq say their tour of duty made them shorter, at least temporarily, and doctors say that's because the 60 to 90 pounds of gear they carried likely caused their spinal discs to compress." [postbullitin]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The snarling Russian Bear is back!

Wow, Vlad "the Impaler" Putin is really going overboard with the crazy talk these days. I know he's trying to drum up a big victory for his One Russia party in palriamentary elections this Sunday, so he can then justify his taking over as Prime Minister, but gee wiz.

AP reports:

"President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of pressuring respected international monitors to stay away from Sunday's parliamentary elections, a decision that hurts the credibility of balloting that is expected to bolster his power."

Vlad said, "According to the information we have, once again this was done at the recommendation of the U.S. State Department, and we will take this into account in our relations with that country. . . These actions cannot disrupt the elections in Russia. Their aim is to delegitimize the vote, but they will not achieve this goal" [MT]

Yeah, that charge has a lot of credibility. He kind of forgot he part where his government went out of its way to make sure the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors would find it impossible to do their jobs.

The International Herald Tribune reported on Oct 31:

". . . Russia formally declared its intention to cut sharply the size of the mission that will monitor its parliamentary elections in December, and European officials refused to agree immediately to the change. Russia had already made the work of this year's mission difficult by delaying the invitation to the monitoring group, and the group says this has prevented it from carrying out preliminary work. On Wednesday, the group, the monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said it had received the invitation, but it included unprecedented restrictions."

Meanwhile, just to make sure nothing goes wrong, the AP reports Vlad is making sure everyone votes, whether they want to or not:

"With the Kremlin determined to see a high turnout in Sunday's election, many Russians say they are being pressured to vote at work under the watchful eyes of their bosses or risk losing their jobs. They say they also are being told to provide lists of relatives and friends who will vote for United Russia, the party of President Vladimir Putin. United Russia is expected to win handily. But Putin has turned the parliamentary elections into a plebiscite on his rule, and the Kremlin appears to be pushing for nothing short of a landslide."

How very Soviet!

Of course, this all election rhetoric -- we hope. Vlad saying that Russia's military has to be rebuilt so that "no one puts his runny nose into our affairs," is all just for domestic consumption, right? We'd better hope it is. Now that Vlad has got that Sakhalin II deal wrapped up and about 402.2 billion in foreign currency reserves [RIA], he can pretty much what ever the hell he wants. The greenback having lost half its value in the past seven years has led to the biggest default in history so if he wants his bombers to buzz Guam or London, what are we going to do about it?
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