Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is Pope infallible when advisors blamed for gaffes?

Some recent coverage of the Pope's visit to Africa and the controversies swirling around him points to advisors who aren't doing their jobs.

"Obviously there was a failure there somewhere in the Vatican," he said. "That's where he needs very good, competent advisers.

"Pope Benedict was very hurt by the reaction to all this and he apologised if it was due to any mistake on his part.

"In the best organised business or institution things can sometimes go wrong. I saw some comments by the Vatican information and press officer and he also was saying that they need to get their act together on this."

But if, by a decree at least a hundred years old, the Pope is infallible, and if, by this dodge, the Vatican asserts the Pope depends on advisors for information, then does this mean his advisors are also infallible?

So far in his short term, Pope Benedict has admitted to having worked for the Nazis during WWII, has reinstated a prominent Bishop who is also a Holocaust denier into the church, and has blamed the availability and use of condoms for the spread of HIV/AIDS in the continent of Africa. Before his papal appointment, Benedict was the head of the Jesuits, and the highest authority of the arm of the Vatican that enforced doctrine, formerly known affectionately as the Inquisition. No further proof is needed that the Catholic Church is an institution no longer connected with reality, nor relevant to the world today. It's possible that in the tenth century, when the world was mired in the Dark Ages, the Church had some vitality and purpose. Since then, and like so many other organized religions, the Vatican has been a reactionary force espousing nothing but an evil scorched earth retreat back into those heady, nostalgic times. The current Pope epitomizes and embodies this sorry state of decadence and institutional putrescence.

Let's do the world a favor and consign this pope to the same news coverage we give to skinheads and the Taliban.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Welcome to the world of foodstamps, gentlemen

The American taxpayers, represented again by Congress, is up in arms about the recent granting of hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses paid to the executives at AIG after their company was bailed out with hundreds of billions of US taxpayer dollars. The new chairman of the board said they were under contractual obligation to pay the execs, and they had no other choice. Congress is infuriated.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pope moves over to Dark Side

The Pope, the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, is visiting Africa this week, and yesterday he reaffirmed his church's opposition to and denunciation of condom use, and simultaneously showed himself and his church to be evil and promoters of genocide.

It's been pretty easy to smile and let pass the odd things our recent pontiffs say. They're old-fashioned and prudish, but they've been such sweet avuncular men that it's just not possible to be too critical. But this is the twenty-first century, and the pope is in Africa. AIDS is a pestilence that rides on the wind of ignorance, superstition, and bad information. AIDS/HIV infection are raging throughout the world today, developed or not (look at the recent statistics from Washington DC which found more than 3% of adults were infected), rich or poor. Anything that can be done to slow this devastating scourge should be done, and anyone who stands in the way of slowing the spread is evil, wicked, and genocidal

If you think of the world as categorical as a Bosch painting-- good and evil, heaven and hell, them and us-- then perhaps there's some credibility in insisting on abstinence and monogamy in the Third World as the only way to stay safe and healthy. If you don't think of the world that way then it's time to call a spade a spade, stop promoting ignorance, and tell people sex spreads infection, and it's possible to stop the spread with simple and effective means. Insisting on abstinence or death (which is, at it's core, what the pope is espousing) is not an answer.

As for the pope, perhaps his twisted teaching should be relegated to the same dark cellar we keep the anti-progressive teachings of wahabists, the taliban, televangelists, and the practitioners of santeria. The catholic church does wonderful work helping people in need-- both physical and spiritual-- throughout the world. In this case, however, they need to be stopped and called out for what their teaching truly accomplishes-- the evil sowing of death among their followers!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How to get rid of Mexican druglords

In case you haven't been watching the news, our neighbor Mexico has an epic problem with drug lords. Murders, kidnapping, intimidation, protection rackets are all thriving and growing at an incredible rate. Police and judges are being murdered with impunity in the streets. The police commissioner of Juarez (I think that's where he was) resigned in the last couple of days because of a threat to kill one law enforcement official every 48 hours (two were actually assasinated) until the commissioner resigned. So he did. The country's mess is even being called "a grave security threat to the United States" by officials here.

As we all wring our hands and shake our heads, let me inject one little tid-bit of reason into the discussion. The US could bring an utter and complete collapse of the whole Mexican Drug Lord problem in a year or less with just one stroke of a pen. And it wouldn't cost any money. How? By decriminalizing marijuana. Pot grows perfectly well in the US. If it were decriminalized, American agriculture could grow enough pot to supply the whole country in just one season. And with a couple of million tons of the good stuff flooding the market, the price would drop through the floor, thereby cutting off funds for the Mexican bad guys to buy weapons and to pay their thugs. I'm not saying this would make them good people, just that it would remove their ability to acquire the ordinance to create mayhem. Additionally, this would keep a lot of money in this country, and it would keep a bunch of hapless American potheads out of jail, where they can contribute to society instead of costing us all money. Additionally, a legitimate market for the product would allow some basic quality control, and most likely be a new source of taxes. Right now our illegal market is funding some of the most evil and vicious criminals in the world. One quick change to the law will divert those funds back into our own economy, and leave the criminals scrambling to find another source of income (think cigarettes, Jose... $75.00 a carton represents some serious upside profit potential!).

Do I think this will happen? No! But I want to toss out the idea, because it should be considered when the Department of Homeland Security insists the only way to address the security threat caused by the narco-trafficers is to invade Mexico, or to take other military action. Gringo dollars are the main source of funding for the trafficers' war chests. Gringos are getting their pot, one way or another. Why not let Farmer Brown grow and sell it to his neighbors. It's way better than sending the Marines into Tijuana and Juarez, Jalisco and Oaxaca and Michouacan. It will be a great new tax revenue source for hard-strapped state governments, and it might even keep little Timmy the neighbor's kid out of jail. Think about it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More shocking news

According to a report from the Pew Foundation,
a report released Monday by the nonprofit Pew Center on the States at a time when one in 31 adults in the country is in prison, on parole or on probation.
more than one in 31 Americans is either in prison, on parole, or on probation. That's over 3% of the population! Can it be that America has become so strict and exacting that one in thirty of us just can't cut it in our society. Can this question even be asked without implying a tolerance for crime and criminals?

Many of those people, especially the ones who are incarcerated, have committed horrible and repugnant crimes, and show little indication that, if free, they wouldn't repeat their acts. It's not unjust, in other words, that they should be in prison. A crime, however, is just an exclamation point in the whole paragraph that comprises a person's life. No one starts out a crook. The fact that one in thirty of us could slide, jump, or be pushed into a life of crime indicates to me there may be problems in our society as a whole. Perhaps there are not enough opportunities to pursue a meaningful and successful life outside of crime. We hear the term "making bad choices," without bothering to examine whether any "good choices" were available, and how we might make it clear there are good choices.

This is a limp discussion because I don't really want to try and justify so many frankly horrible crimes. I also don't want to blame society for the acts of a terribly damaged few. But I think it's worth the effort to try and think through the implications of what kind of society we have, where three percent of its citizens are in deep trouble with the law. I don't have an answer, but I don't believe this can possibly be a good indicator. Understanding this situation may be our only hope to thrive in the future.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Haha... conservative blowhards sputter

In a recent address to reactionary yuppies, the new de facto head of the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, huffed and puffed through a catalog of tired and discredited conservative nostrums, actually bringing the crowd to its feet several times as he enmerated the inalienable rights listed in the preamble to the Constitution, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Limbaugh carefully pointed out an error the press made in taking something he said out of context, while deftly side-stepping the same practices made by the conservative press.

And Limbaugh, like many conservatives, is holding up support of the Iraq war as a litmus test of national loyalty, as if that war has not already, for years, been discredited and shown to be a shameful, useless and utterly failed enterprise brought on by former president Bush's tentative grasp of history, geography, and international relations. Hey Rush-- it was a bad idea, justified by paranoia and lies, carried out in an atmosphere of clueless myopia, whose results will be decades of crushing debt, mistrust from former allies, loss of international status, and a Constitutional system seriously injured.

Then there's the $750 billion bailout package that recently passed Congress, which has every conservative hyperventilating and grasping their chest. Have they forgotten the $750 billion bailout package that passed less than six months earlier that was earmarked solely to the banks and brokerages and insurance companies on Wall Street? The one that didn't work except to give some end-of-life respite to the likes of the executives at AIG and Merrill Lynch and CitiCorp? If the current administration aims a bit lower with the dollars to relieve the distress, it should not be a surprise.

Finally, and this is not likely to be heard by this high-decibel wheezing gas bag, but it needs to be repeated for all the Bushists who love their mantra of what makes America great-- Freedom and Democracy. Listen up! The majority have spoken. If Rush wants to shove through the failed conservative agenda of unbridled greed coupled with pious disregard for the "less fortunate," he needs to convince a majority of citizens that his course is right. But that won't happen-- unfortunately perhaps-- because after 30 years of Reaganomics, and eight years of slash and burn Cheney/Bush fiscal policy, the overwhelming majority of Americans consider themselves among the less fortunate, and will vote that way. And that's the definition of democracy. Sorry Rush, but that's he way it is.