Friday, April 29, 2005

Pope's Old and New

In this week's issue of Black Commentator I weigh in on the Fox News Pope. There is more here on John Paul and here on Benedict, the Hitler Youth and the Vatican, a subject that is strictly verboten in the corporate media.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Microsoft, Gay Rights, and the Right Wing

There is nothing like an old fashioned butt kicking to change someone's mind. For years Microsoft supported a Washington state gay rights bill but last week decided not to resume support when the state senate voted. (The bill didn't pass). Needless to say, gay rights activists and anyone with common sense was angry and said so. Now Microsoft is flip-flopping. Bill Gates now says, "Next time this one comes around, we'll see." Hmmm. Not exactly a commitment, but that is not surprising.

It seems that Century Strategies, lobbying firm of Ralph Reed, Christian right wunder kind, gets $20 grand a month from Microsoft. Nothing substitutes having an in with the powerful.

This sordid episode raised the issue of boycotts against Microsoft. How does a PC user boycott Microsoft? Just asking.

Monday, April 25, 2005

No to Abortion, Yes to War

So says Pope Benedict XVI.

There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

This came straight from the mouth of Cardinal Ratzinger when he put American bishops on notice that Bush should be president instead of John Kerry. You can read the entire letter.

So, killing Iraqis so that Halliburton can keep its cash cow may be OK. It seems that Catholic politicians who advocated the monstrosity of occupation can still take communion.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Social Security Con Game

All the seats at the table, however, are reserved for whomever the corporate media decides is fit to sit there. And there is an etiquette that must be observed: You can never say that those in power are liars and thieves. Which is why the straight-up truth rarely enters into the American political conversation. The truth about Social Security and Medicare is, the Bush Pirates’ goal is to destroy both programs, leaving the population at the total mercy of the “marketplace” – a euphemism for, rich people and their corporations.

Glen Ford at Black Commentator tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the Social Security swindle. Read the text here, and listen here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Pope Supported Bush

When Kennedy ran for president in 1960 he went to great lengths to deny that his religious beliefs would make him subservient to the Catholic church and not the U.S. constitution. The church backed him up and all was well for decades.

Those days are a distant memory. The new pope personally worked to get Bush elected when he said that communion should be denied in ". . . the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws." That meant Kerry of course. The story is here.

Did I mention that Benedict was a member of the Hitler youth?
Hitler Youth Pope

I have a suggestion. When considering Germans for prominent positions, make sure they are 60 or younger. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI. Here is the official story of his youth in Nazi Germany.

In his memoirs, Ratzinger wrote that he was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.

Against his will? Yeah Benedict, whatever. In any case, Mark Morford has the money quote.

Very old school and drab, a real lover of repressive, bitter, orthodox doctrine. No fun at parties. Catholic in chains.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

American Terrorists Ten Years After Oklahoma City

Have you ever heard of William J. Krar? You should have. Krar was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison for possessing the following: a sodium cyanide bomb capable of delivering "a deadly gas cloud," 100 other bombs, bomb components, machine guns, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and chemical agents.

The media are doing their usual lousy job of telling you what you ought to worry about. Timothy McVeigh was not the last American terrorists. There are many others still at large.

Krar and his associates were found out because of a mislabeled package, not because the FBI or any other law enforcement agencies were on the case the way they should have been. Read here and here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

An Undiplomatic Diplomat

"Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel -- throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats."

John Bolton is Bush's nominee to be U.N. ambassador. He already said that the U.N. was a "fiction" and it didn't matter if the place blew up. Now we find out that he is violent too. Read about it here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Debt Slavery

"Some single parents who manage to avoid bankruptcy themselves would have a harder time collecting child support and alimony. When noncustodial parents are forced to declare bankruptcy under Chapter 13, rather than Chapter 7, the repayment plan diverts some of their limited income from child support and alimony to credit card debts."
Gotham Gazette

Today the House of Representatives voted to make us slaves of corporate America. Here is the roll call. How many reasons are there to hate the Bankruptcy Bill? Black Commentator gives us a few and there is more at Debt Slavery.

Is it time to flee yet?
Debt Slavery

"Some single parents who manage to avoid bankruptcy themselves would have a harder time collecting child support and alimony. When noncustodial parents are forced to declare bankruptcy under Chapter 13, rather than Chapter 7, the repayment plan diverts some of their limited income from child support and alimony to credit card debts."
Gotham Gazette

Today the House of Representatives voted to make us slaves of corporate America. Here is the roll call. How many reasons are there to hate the Bankruptcy Bill? Black Commentator gives us a few and there is more at Debt Slavery.

Is it time to flee yet?
Israel Bulldozes Palestinian Homes

Life imitates art. Ariel Sharon is living up to his bad cop role. Israel continues to bulldoze Palestinian homes.
Bush and Sharon
I for one am quite sick of the Bush/Sharon good cop/bad cop routine. So is Ariel Sharon loves being the bad guy and Bush loves to pretend he is scolding him for being bad. We jut have to sit and wait to see if Bush gives his buddy the go ahead to attack Iran.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Let Them Eat Bombs

"Iraqi children simply refuse to be better nourished, healthier and less inclined to die. It is truly baffling."
Terry Jones

The humor may be bitter, but so is the reality.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"There is no United Nations."
John Bolton, Bush nominee to represent the U.S. at the United Nations

John Bolton in his own words.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to Black Commentator

The twin evils of corporate dominance over civil society and racial oppression – and the ghastly horror of war – leave no room for ambivalence about the duties of decent citizens who are also journalists: they must fight the powers that be.

I am very grateful to Glen Ford and Peter Gamble for giving us all Black Commentator. In an age when the corporate media does ever increasing damage to our society, they chose to speak truth to the powerful. They also gave me the opportunity to write for BC.

Thank you Peter and Glen.
The Unrighteous at Prayer

The worst murderers on earth have converged on the Vatican in an effort to look good. Who do I mean? Why world "leaders" of course. They have the power to kill large numbers of people and they use it.

Bush the elder began the process of killing Panamians and Iraqis. Clinton didn't lift a finger to save Rwandans from genocidal massacre. Dubya has the blood of 100,000 Iraqis on his hands, as does his partner in crime Condi Rice. Is it just me or do her eyes look demonic in this photo?

Fortunately, they can't fool God. My only comfort is knowing that he will deal with them all in his own good time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fascism Watch

Is it time to flee yet? If Canadians and Americans need passports to visit one another it may well be.
When Bush was Anti-Catholic

When it was politically convenient and necessary, Bush made common cause with the Catholic-haters of Bob Jones University. Afterward, he looked to make nice with Catholics.

You wouldn't know it now that Bush is planning to go to Rome with bells on to say farewell to the Pontiff. Read all about it in a great piece from David Corn in Common Dreams.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Legacy of John Paul II

It is probably impossible to get any objective reporting on the legacy of the late Pope. I personally find it difficult to know what to say about him. A Pope is respected by many outside of the Catholic Church for the simple reason that he is Pope. The Pontiff is a world leader by virtue of his position alone. It doesn't really matter what a particular Pope does or doesn't do, he will get his props, so to speak.

Also, it is considered impolite to speak ill of the dead, especially the recently deceased, and especially recently deceased religious leaders. On the other hand, we should always be dedicated to the truth, even if that truth makes the dead look bad. In the spirit of truth I will try to express my feelings about John Paul II.

Before I criticize John Paul I have to point out that he was an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.

Pope John Paul II, January 27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri

Opposition to the death penalty is still unpopular here in the United States. It takes great courage to speak against it. Even a Pope has to be careful about endorsing compassion. It just isn't the American way.

On the other hand, while millions die of AIDS, the Vatican continues to condemn condom usage and insists that condoms don't prevent HIV. Here in America any one who wants to use condoms has no trouble getting them. That is not true every where. Vatican opposition to condom use it quite literally killing people.

It is also worth repeating that Pope John Paul II crushed the liberation theology movement, especially in Latin America. Because of his fear of communist influence he did nothing to save the lives of his own priests and nuns whose lives were endangered by their activisim.

He might have saved Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero from being assassinated. This transcript from Frontline tells part of the story.

GIANCARLO ZIZOLA: [through interpreter] When Romero went to the Vatican for his meeting with the Pope, he was forced to wait many days before he was received because the Vatican did not want him to speak to the Pope. And this caused him a great deal of pain.

MARIA LOPEZ VIGIL, Activist, Author: [through interpreter] I saw him in a state of shock. The first thing that he said to me was, "Help me to understand why I've been treated by the Holy Father in the way that he treated me."

GIANCARLO ZIZOLA: [through interpreter] When he finally met the Pope, he showed him photographs of murdered priests and mutilated peasants, and the only response Romero got from the Pope was that Romero had to find an agreement with the government.

MARIA LOPEZ VIGIL: [through interpreter] I am never going to forget it's in my mind the gesture that Monsignor Romero made when he was explaining that to me. He did this gesture. "Look," he said, "that the Holy Father says that the archbishopric must get along well with the government, that we must enter into a dialogue. And I was trying to let the Holy Father understand that the government attacks the people. And if I am the pastor of the people, I cannot enter into good understanding with this government." But the Holy Father was insisting.

I am still seeing Monsignor Romero making that gesture like wanting to things to converge that cannot converge.

Rev. JON SOBRINO, Liberation Theologian: [through interpreter] When Romero told him that the that the church was being persecuted in El Salvador, John Paul said to him "Well, well, don't exaggerate it." And he said to Romero, "You have to be very careful with communism." The result was that Monsignor Romero was very upset. He left the Vatican in tears. It was a sad interview, very sad.

MARIA LOPEZ VIGIL: [through interpreter] It was an injustice. Monsignor Romero did not deserve that.

NARRATOR: One month after his disappointing visit with the Pope, while he was celebrating Mass in San Salvador, Archbishop Romero was murdered at the altar. The assassins were known to be members of a rightwing death squad. Those close to Romero said that he always knew that one day he would be killed.