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Tag Archive: AP

“Libyans don’t want anyone but Gadhafi. He gave us loans.”

Posted: Saturday, February 26, 2011 (8:50 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Saturday, February 26th, 2011:

From an AP story by Maggie Michael and Ben Hubbard, as posted on boston.com this afternoon:

Supporters in about 50 cars covered with Gadhafi posters drove slowly around the square, waving green flags from the windows and honking horns. A camera crew filmed the procession.

A taxi driver, Nasser Mohammed, 25, was among those who had put a picture of Gadhafi and a green flag on his car.

"Have you heard the speech last night?" he asked. "It was great. Libyans don’t want anyone but Gadhafi. He gave us loans."

Mohammed said each family received 500 Libyan dinars (about $400) after the start of the protests, plus the equivalent of about $100 credit for phone service.

The idea of a clown like Qaddafi being able to buy the support of citizens for $400 per household (on a loan!) is mind-boggling, given the outrageous criminality that his regime has inflicted on the people inside and outside Libya both in recent days, and for more decades than Nasser Mohamed has been alive. With news today that he is arming such stooges from military depots to repress their fellow Libyans, the scene becomes gut-wrenching. It was depressing enough knowing he could buy mercenaries to come in from other African countries to terrorize the citizenry, but this…

It’s hard to read of the cravenness of Qaddafi’s cheap shills without wondering where the rancor roiling the U.S. over the past week or so might eventually end up. Granted, we’re a long way from the governing class handing out weaponry to their bought stooges in order to hang onto power in the face of a fed-up resistance movement, but it’s not hard to see a shadow of the same dynamic at work as the beneficiaries of government largesse-by-proxy circle the wagons against those who demand an end to corruption.

The protesters who are demonizing reformers like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with Hitler, Mussolini, or Mubarak (!) characterizations are pleased to fancy themselves stateside brothers-in-arms of the protesters in the Muslim world, standing up to autocratic dictators; but the truth of the matter is that they themselves represent the entrenched power of cozy governmental corruption and inside deals, and they are showing themselves more than willing to subvert legal and ethical norms to protect their privilege. As with Qaddafi’s Libyan stooges, it is a Faustian bargain they cut, but it can be hard to see that when you know you have a chance to be in on the loot today.

The smoking gun we’ve been looking for

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 (10:56 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Tuesday, January 18th, 2011:

Priestcraft hysteria breaking out in an AP article by Shawn Pogatchnik, as published on Boston.com this evening, relating to the release today of a 1997 letter allegedly implicating the Vatican in a “cover up” of clerical sexual abuse:

Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, [Apostolic Nuncio Luciano Storero] wrote.

Catholic officials in Ireland and the Vatican declined AP requests to comment on the letter, which RTE said it received from an Irish bishop.

Child-abuse activists in Ireland said the 1997 letter demonstrates that the protection of pedophile priests from criminal investigation was not only sanctioned by Vatican leaders but ordered by them.

"The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican’s intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," said Colm O’Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Joelle Casteix, a director of U.S. advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, described the letter as "the smoking gun we’ve been looking for."

Sigh. It really is sad – pathetic even – watching this persistent group of “watchdogs” trying to nail the Catholic Church – and especially the Vatican. Casteix is right, though: a smoking gun is exactly what they’ve been looking for, and looking for… If it wouldn’t be such a cynical thought on my part, I’d have to wonder if they wouldn’t in fact be delighted to find one.

Bishops, of course, have no punishments to impose outside the confines of canon law, so I’m not sure the poor writer of this article has even the most basic grasp of the subject he is trying to enlighten the world on. But the sources he quotes (anonymously or not) should really have been given the opportunity to read the “smoking gun” letter before they embarrassed themselves with this kind of silly hyperbole – not to mention slander. I mean, I can only assume they didn’t read it, right?

Not that a mere dissociation of fact from accusation will get in the way of another round of priestcraft hysteria, mind you… But isn’t it interesting that all the publications I found promoting this story this evening printed small jpegs of the letter, instead of actually printing the contents of the letter? Hmmm… [Update: The New York Times included a full-sized, readable PDF of the letter with their article – credit to them, but they did dust off that magical “defrock” vocabulary, so I call that a wash ;-)]

The reality is that the letter advised the bishops that certain specifics of their proposed policy did not comply with existing canon law, which therefore might well produce the “highly embarrassing” result of a guilty priest having his canonical (not criminal!) punishment overturned on appeal, on account of a technicality. This is roughly the equivalent of a high court advising a legislature that a piece of draft legislation was unconstitutional and unenforceable, and therefore needed to be reworked in order to achieve its goal. Smoking gun… Oy vey!

Since left-wing tools like the AP only want to provide the public “information” that will agitate them to support the “progressive” agenda (like, discrediting the Catholic Church), the rest of us who care about life on this tender planet need to somehow pick up the slack. Here, then, is the actual text of the letter, for anyone more interested in facts than hysteria:

Dublin, 31 January 1997

Strictly Confidential

Your Excellency,

The Congregation for the Clergy has attentively studied the complex question of sexual abuse of minors by clerics and the document entitled "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”, published by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee.

The Congregation wishes to emphasize the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force.

The text, however, contains "procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.

In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature".

Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many of the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these Policies.

For these reasons and because the above mentioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document, I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations the Congregation in its regard, underlining that in the sad cases of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop.

Asking you to kindly let me know of the safe receipt of this letter and with the assurance of my cordial regard, I am

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+Luciano Storero

Apostolic Nuncio

To: the Members of the Irish Episcopal Conference

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

Benedict XVI on Condoms & Gigolos

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 (4:08 pm), by John W Gillis


Benedict XVI, quoted on the possible justification of condom use in an upcoming book by German journalist Peter Seewald: "Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times," as excerpted in today’s L’Osservatore Romano:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

Boy, is this likely to grow legs! The AP has the story, and the Boston Globe is spinning it with the headline: “Pope: condoms can be justified in some cases”.

No doubt, this comment will be welcomed by many on the left as a kind of Trojan Horse (couldn’t resist!) introducing contraceptive mentality into the Church’s moral reasoning, beginning with an interpretation that asserts the comment “condones” condom use in some situations. But by the same logic, we could also say that the pope is condoning male prostitution, at least in some circumstances.

Of course, neither claim would be true. What Benedict said is not very remarkable at all. He is merely indicating that evil comes in degrees of complexity, and one may find the path toward the good entails several steps of reasonable yet still deeply flawed standing, before reaching something that could be identified as an objective moral good.

BenedictXVI kids This may appear to be an acceptance of the concept of embracing a lesser evil, but it really proposes just the opposite: the embrace of a lesser good. There is an important distinction in the subjective sphere between choosing a recognized evil – no matter how “lesser” – and choosing to mitigate evil, even according to a consequentialist calculus. Nonetheless, the limits of subjective understanding do not provide a license for suppressing the reflective critique of objective reality, especially in the realm of moral truth. The contraceptive use of condoms is still objectively immoral, as is prostitution – male or otherwise.

Despite what folks are bound to encounter ad nauseum in the mainstream press over the coming days (not to mention from the dissident wing within Catholicism), Church teaching has not changed. One can always hold out hope that the coming kerfuffle will prove to be an occasion for many to come to see the Church’s moral doctrine to be not so much a set of prohibitions as a guide to genuine personal and communal fulfillment, both now and forever.

For a perspective on Benedict’s teaching on condoms in Africa commendably lacking in hysterical short-sightedness, see medical anthropologist Edward C. Green’s much-discussed WaPo article from March 2009.