Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 22, 2005

Billmon: 04/22

V.  End Game


IV.  Stormy Weather


III.  The Good German


II.  Unintentional Irony


I.  Indecent Exposure

.. So it occurred to me that maybe the media megamonsters are trying to deposit some journalistic capital in the First Republican Bank of Congress, in hopes of being able to write checks on it when and if the FCC launches its crackdown. Who knows? Sucking up to the Bible fedayeen with a little prime time rapture might also pay dividends down the road. ..

Posted by b on April 22, 2005 at 6:18 UTC | Permalink


"interest in extending indecency rules to cable and satellite providers"
Exactly, just when did the Congress cancelled the 1st Amendment?

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Apr 22 2005 7:12 utc | 1

9/11 changed everything.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 22 2005 7:36 utc | 2

Jeez Louise (Lasser)--

Now I know why our small time fixers up here in Canuckistan are in a fix at the moment.....they didn't follow the Rovian lead make it all legal/all profitable/ all the time before they started the extortion.

Posted by: RossK | Apr 22 2005 8:00 utc | 3

Fines for Indecency?? Sounds like a great idea to me...

Let's see we could start by fining the Cardinals for the Indecency of selecting a woman-hating, pedophile coddling Pope.

We could fine Congress for the Indecency of giving tax cuts to the rich.

We could fine........

Maybe we could put together enough to fund an actual democratic movement in our country.

Anyway, as you were saying....for anyone here who gets their internet over a broadband connection, when that number hits a critical mass the internet will no longer be governed by the Must Carry Rules of the FCC that cover phone lines; rather it too will be governed by the rules covering Cable, so the ramifications are, for our purposes, infinite...

But personally, the sooner they stop smearing naked, or semi-naked female bodies everywhere as male sex objects the freer I'll feel. It's just the flip side of the coin of the reactionary Catholics hatred of women. Enough of this patriarchal war over our bodies, thank you very much. One of the main concerns of the women's movement was space in which we were free to define ourselves apart from being objects of male desire. Now, we can't even pick up a goddamn newspaper w/out seeing a female in a bra in the front section. Patriarchal mass "culture" space has become a virtual no-go zone for women, unless suitably numbed or divided against oneself.

Posted by: jj | Apr 22 2005 8:04 utc | 4

Speaking of obscenity,Is">">Is Big Pharma soon to sponsor "Long Days Journey Into Night" at a theater near you? Or perhaps GM, which just lost $1B, would like to sponsor "Death of a Salesman"??

Posted by: jj | Apr 22 2005 8:29 utc | 5

Is Billmon channelling Rude Pundit?

Posted by: Ferdzy | Apr 22 2005 12:17 utc | 6

Perhaps the chief beneficiary of this decency thing is the porn industry itself--bankrolled, of course, by large corporations like General Electric. Absent the soft turn-on of the current TV fare, folks will merely spend more of their hard-earned funds on Private Gold and Kara's Adult Playground. The folks here referred to are chiefly the fedayeen themselves: 35% of the women in the Baptist Church are hooked on porn (or so I've recently read), and this trend is wrecking right-wing marriages. The right wing, as always, is interested only in trashing the symptom of the disturbance, not in treating its source, and this particular disturbance itself tells us a thing or two about the far right's bizarre obsession with "family values"--little more, perhaps, than an aimless effort to tame the rising tide of porn.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 22 2005 12:50 utc | 7

What is with the US and porn anyway? You seem to combine insane prudery with an insatiable appetite for porn. Very strange.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 22 2005 12:54 utc | 8

Not so strange at all Colman, if you look at porn as a titillating substitute for forbidden pleasure.

Posted by: rapt | Apr 22 2005 13:35 utc | 9

If people lose their HBO (a AOL-Time-Warner company), then you might see an actual revolution!

Posted by: doug r | Apr 22 2005 13:43 utc | 10

Bush and Blair porn for sale on ebay*

*not safe for work, if you have eaten in the last 24 hours and if you have a mental health illness history.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 22 2005 13:48 utc | 11

One concrete idea that the new FCC chairman has mentioned in public is to bring back the old "family hour" -- essentially turning the 8pm-9pm slot into a commercial dead zone for the networks five days a week.
Does that make any sense at all in these days of Tivo and other DVRs? They seem to be envisioning everyone gathered around the family TV in the evening for good, wholesome fare, the kids in their jammies ready for bed.

Likewise, the whole set of parental controls, v-chips, domain lockouts, content filters, etc. falls apart when most houses have high-speed broadband and gigabytes of storage. All it takes is one kid in the local high school whose parents don't do all that stuff and who is willing to set up file sharing with his friends. If I were a bit younger (well, maybe 45 years younger), I'd be creating a Paypal account and a system of file sharing with encryption (true parental lockout) to provide a needed service to my buds AND make a bit of coin on the side. Let a thousand Heffners bloom!

Posted by: Bob Munck | Apr 22 2005 13:48 utc | 12

Who knew that corporations could be so politically naive.
They need to join forces and threaten the Rove that for every legislative threat they receive they'll pay the other gang (Dems) more.
But that would require strategic thinking.

Posted by: Scott McArthur | Apr 22 2005 13:50 utc | 13

Is Billmon channelling Rude Pundit?

Nah, he's way too polite and respectful.

You seem to combine insane prudery with an insatiable appetite for porn.

I think the "insane" part just about covers it.

They need to join forces and threaten the Rove that for every legislative threat they receive they'll pay the other gang (Dems) more.

First the other gang has to demonstrate it has some kind of clue about how to win an election.

Posted by: Billmon | Apr 22 2005 15:31 utc | 14

First the other gang has to demonstrate it has some kind of clue about how to win an election.


Whose weed are they smoking anyway?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 22 2005 15:58 utc | 15

You know, I thought we were making a real improvement by switching terms from "mainstream media" to "corporate media." But it occurs to me that this term may not really capture the problem. "Corporate media" could simply suggest that the media is just in the business as another business from which to profit, and so relentlessly abandons more and more of its role as the 4th Estate. Under this view, the problem seems a kind of mechanical and relentless historical logic that cannot quite be fought in realistic ways.

What if the problem isn't actually corporate per se, isn't actually driven by corporate logic but by motivation on the individual level? What I mean is, we hear all the time about the weakening of nation state entities, but why doesn't anyone point out the weakening of corporate entities? These media companies are just one of many forms of companies that are driving themselves out fo business. Where is the money going? To highly mobile managers.

What if the proper term is something more like "hijacked corporate media." I've heard "pirate media" and liked it, but it doesn't quite communicate that the corporation is not only attacking society but attacking itself as well. It doesn't make clearly the auto-destructive methods by which a culture of free-floating managers is weakening all institutional hosts. I would like to be very clear that these actions are not merely hostile, they are attacks from within.

Sure Dems and Repubs can have family food-fights, but when we discover that the rotten tomatoes are filled with worms, that might show common cause to stop.

Possible reasons not to pursue this logic: Although it helps explain the neo-con vogue for calling everyone else traitors, terrorists, and criminals, history gives reason to wonder if the terminology would not simply be appropriated in racist ways. I consider this a good reason to avoid some terms like "worms" and "disease".

But why is everyone so anxious for national security now? Probably not 9-11. It's probably deeper. Those so called red states are just as afraid as we are that all our institutions have been hi-jacked by lopsided individualism, we just disagree on what counts as sociopathic individualism. The evidence may be on our side, especially if we start showing that it is money decisions not cultural ones that are hijacking and scuttling both governmental and corporate institutions.

Halliburton? Enron? CNN?
Hi-jacked corporations.


What percentage of corporations would go from deficit to profit if no executive received more than 25 times its lowest paid worker's salary? This is a simple question. Does anyone know a quick way to estimate the answer?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 22 2005 17:50 utc | 16

Re corporate media

The managers at the top of the heap, and the ones trying to get there, are, at the core, nihilists, with the exception that they feel their own personal rank over others, and control of the rent economies, gives their life meaning, and makes them superior.

Yes, the nihilist ego managers are destryoing institutions from within, and, they either don't care or don't know any better. The key is they have no competition to check them. The "left" is trying to refight and relose the last war it lost. The conservative wage slaves don't have a clue about real power and rent economies. The economic theorists are so lost in number fantasies all they have done is aid and abet the nihilists.

Posted by: razor | Apr 22 2005 18:17 utc | 17

"I realized that she (Sophie Scholl) was the same age as me, and I realized that she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. At that moment, I really sensed it was no excuse to be young and that it might have been possible to find out what was going on."
-- Traudl Junge, Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary

Question: Who has more of a conscience, Hitler's secretary or the pope?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 22 2005 19:20 utc | 18

Re The Good German:

The "futility of resistance" argument is one I might accept from almost anyone in any walk of life, except someone who wants to be the world leader of a major religion that has always recognized the futility of human resistance to evil, but mandated it nevertheless.

Posted by: bcf | Apr 22 2005 19:29 utc | 19

The courage and principled resistance of Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst, among others, in the bleakest of times permit more of a basis for optimism about the human condition and its potential for dignity and redemption than a thousand Joseph Ratzingers. Thanks, Billmon, for reminding us.

Posted by: Ben Brackley | Apr 22 2005 19:29 utc | 20

Billmon. Powerful reading. Thanks.

Posted by: beq | Apr 22 2005 19:32 utc | 21

The "futility of resistance" argument is one I might accept from almost anyone in any walk of life, except someone who wants to be the world leader of a major religion that has always recognized the futility of human resistance to evil, but mandated it nevertheless.

Good point, bcf. And the problem is not primarily a question of what J.R. did at the time (though, I think, that is an issue when picking a Pope), but of the rationalizations of his behavior at the time. How does he propose to be the moral voice of his church if he doesn't adequately acknowledge his own deficiencies and failings during one of the most horrific periods in human history? Unfortunately, in Ratzinger's mind, "moral relativism," "permissiveness" and "liberalism" are more to blame for this than individual human failings of people like himself or the abuse of power by totalitarian institutions that assert the exclusive rightness of their vision.

Posted by: Ben Brackley | Apr 22 2005 19:48 utc | 22

My imagination today is in nauseating free fall, and I have these visions of JR walking around the conclave trying to reassure people that he's a regular guy, pretzels and all. Do you think they do the kind of Skull and Bones thing with pictures that keeps those boys in line once they're all grown up and powerful?

Maybe the H Jugend record is the key qualification of vulnerability that put his vote totals over the top.

Well, the signs are clear for all to see. Now, how do you fight the cognitive dissonance well enough to keep your memory?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 22 2005 20:21 utc | 23

I did not know aboutthe White Rose. Thanks Billmon.

Regarding the new post about weather services, I recommend this book: Gasping by Ben Elton, a novelette about the commericialisation of air (all his books are worth a read actually. DeAnander should especailly like Gridlock)

Posted by: Jérôme | Apr 22 2005 20:44 utc | 24

How many of us here would have the bravery of Die Weiße Rose movement?

Rhetorical question.

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 22 2005 20:52 utc | 25

Unfortunately, in Ratzinger's mind, "moral relativism," "permissiveness" and "liberalism" are more to blame

When I heard that he had made these claims, my first thought was, "how dare he." My second thought was "He didn't really join against his will" .....

Posted by: bcf | Apr 22 2005 20:55 utc | 26

Coming soon: Santorum sponsors bill to close all public libraries, as they "unfairly compete with Borders and Barnes and Noble." Shortly thereafter all public transit systems are forcibly shut down to end their "unfair" competition with taxi companies and private car ownership. The next bill prohibits spending tax dollars on police and fire services, as they compete with private security and alarm companies... and the post office is deemed illegal as it competes with Fed Ex and UPS.

But this will not be enough for the neocon cadres: they've tasted blood. Shortly thereafter, ideological warfare erupts w/in the wingnut party -- as the hardline Marketistas try to pass legislation prohibiting home cooking, potlucks and church socials (competing unfairly with restaurants); campfire singalongs (competing unfairly with MTV); and consensual spontaneous sex in or out of marriage (competing unfairly with for-profit porno and prostitution).

The church/family ideologues put up a good fight, but after the Night of the Long Infomercials the battle is pretty much over. Do-gooders operating free walk-in clinics in poor areas are busted for competing unfairly with HMOs, and volunteering is generally criminalised. All churches are forced to incorporate as businesses and charge membership fees. Soup kitchens and charity bake sales become underground operations, organised by smart-mob text messaging on short notice. A new AATF (Anti-Altruism Task Force) is formed under the aegis of HSAcorp (the world's largest private security contractor -- now hiring!) to locate and disperse these subversive events.


NewsFlash April 2008: As elderly Hettie Mae is led away in plastic cuffs, the saucepan of chicken soup and plate of sandwiches she was carrying to a sick neighbour are photographed by private security personnel as evidence: by not charging for this service she was subverting the market paradigm, and will be remanded for re-education. Cut to stock footage of the magnificent new Charles Graner Memorial Re-Education Facility, co-sponsored by KlaxoSmithKlineKitchenSink and FoxDisneyNewsCorp....

Cut back to the AmericaMall NeighborGood (TM) commercial residence block where the arrest took place. Neighbour James Raleigh is receiving the fat book of discount coupons awarded by HSAcorp to citizens who report "suspicious altruistic behavior."

"I started to suspect something when she went over there for the third day in a row," he says. "But I'd had my eye on that old lady for a while. She offered my kid a glass of lemonade once when he had been cutting my lawn on a hot day, and she never charged him for it. I docked his lawn-cutting pay to teach him not to accept stuff from strangers without paying and getting a receipt. And from then on I kinda kept an eye on her. Can't have that kind of thing going on in a decent neighbourhood. I'm not even sure it was even proper branded lemonade -- she might have made it herself from her lemon tree. I noticed she never seemed to throw out the fruit from her trees like you're supposed to."

Raleigh gestures disapprovingly at the run-down corner lot with its old-fashioned productive fruit trees, where 85-year-old Hettie Mae has lived since long before the privatisation of this block of Liberal, Kansas. "Of course we all grow proper no-fruit, allergy-free ornamentals -- only from Syngenta and Monsanto -- like our contract says. Producing your own food is cheating the system. But the old lady wouldn't listen. I hope they bulldoze that place. It sets a real bad example for the kids."

Raleigh's son Andy grins up at the camera impishly. "Eeee-yew!" he mugs for the cameraman, sticking his tongue out. "I can't believe I mighta drank something that came right off a tree -- gross!"

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 22 2005 21:33 utc | 27

RE: Stormy Weather...
so Santorum wants local emergency managers and to be subject to the private market in order to learn about potentially life-threatening weather conditions? Because it's not just tornadoes that kill people, sometimes it's as mundane as an extended heat wave or an inch of rain in an hour. Not to mention the small businesses like farmers who rely upon free weather forecasts.

Just another local tax increase courtesy of national republicans.

Posted by: dirtgirl | Apr 22 2005 21:35 utc | 28

How many of us here would have the bravery of Die Weiße Rose movement?

One never can be certain of course, but their example is certainly more worth emulating than Pope Ratzinger's.

I am certain however that if I could muster enough courage there would be others as well, because based upon the comments and the stories I've read here over the years, there are many others here far more braver than I.

Posted by: bcf | Apr 22 2005 21:41 utc | 29


"suspicious altruistic behavior."

funny enough to cause me to go to
your website;
great photo montage w/ GIMP
interesting booklist
wonder when you find time to breathe


Posted by: han_shan | Apr 22 2005 22:48 utc | 30

Unless I've missed something, it looks like this is as close as we come to an Earth Day thread. I'm running out the door so will just link to my diary at Kos on Democracy Now's Earth Day Outrage. Back later.

Posted by: liz | Apr 22 2005 23:11 utc | 31

background info on AA story:>Some Like It Hot

investigative journo on Exxon-Mobil funding of think tanks that obfuscate or pooh-pooh climate change research. our old friend the Unadmirable Crichton plays his part.

how 'bout an earth-day thread b, j?

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 22 2005 23:23 utc | 32

DeA -- good stuff.

Reminds me a bit of Camazotz from the children's book A Wrinkle in Time. Which really belongs on everyone's shelf, actually.

Posted by: Lisa B-K | Apr 23 2005 0:21 utc | 33

But this will not be enough for the neocon cadres: they've tasted blood. Shortly thereafter, ideological warfare erupts w/in the wingnut party -- as the hardline Marketistas try to pass legislation prohibiting home cooking, potlucks and church socials (competing unfairly with restaurants); campfire singalongs (competing unfairly with MTV); and consensual spontaneous sex in or out of marriage (competing unfairly with for-profit porno and prostitution).

What's funny about this (in the usual sick sort of way)is that Man Dog isn't trying to shut down the National Weather Service -- in fact his corporate clients get the info they sell to the public FROM the NWS. They're the classic parasitic middle men, and what they want isn't the libertarian paradise, it's a protected monopoly on the distribution of government-funded, government-created data.

In other words, it's the kind of legislation Mussolini or Juan Peron would have loved. So it's the perfect metaphor for the corrupt corporatist quasi-fascist movement the modern Republican Party has become.

Posted by: Billmon | Apr 23 2005 1:05 utc | 34

They're the classic parasitic middle men, and what they want isn't the libertarian paradise, it's a protected monopoly on the distribution of government-funded, government-created data.

So potlucks will be permitted, but only processed industrial food from sealed factory containers can be served...? hell, we're already there with halloween candies and school lunches. And we can have campfire singalongs, but only of coyrighted music, and each participant will have to pay a licensing fee. Not so far from current reality either.

Following the middleman notion: we get to keep our cops, but we can't talk to them except through a private/corporate dispatch service. We get the benefits of our publicly funded health and medical research, but we can only obtain it by going through layers of middlemen... no, wait,>that's already happened.

Maybe the weirdness of late finance capitalism is what happens when the biomass of middlemen exceeds the biomass of real producers by some arbitrary factor... [side thought -- awarding State monopolies to privileged favourites and sycophants is an old Imperial tradition...]

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 23 2005 1:24 utc | 35

Geez, the truth finally spills out...Billmon hasn't been reading his Orwell carefully after all. He didn't understand that Unca Miltie's "Free (the) Market" is doublespeak for Fuck the Market and Steal/Piratize the Commons.

I heard someone call a radio program last night. Her brother-in-law is a member of the max-elite Bohemian Club. She said they're openly delighted about events, they've succeeded in carrying out their plans - at least open to their sister-in-law. He says - Yes, they've taken all the money, but it's theirs now. They don't care in one bit about what happens to the country, or society. They've all got hideaways to move to all over the world - it's their money, they deserve it & tough luck for everyone else. No, I am not making this up - it was on commercial radio last night, the local abc affiliate.

Posted by: jj | Apr 23 2005 1:47 utc | 36

how 'bout an earth-day thread b, j?

.. hopefully for open-minded rational discussion rather than a gush of rhetoric about the evils of industrialization.

Posted by: DM | Apr 23 2005 1:58 utc | 37

Ben B: And the problem is not primarily a question of what J.R. did at the time (though, I think, that is an issue when picking a Pope), but of the rationalizations of his behavior at the time.

Come on, if The War President could be AWOL from even his cushy stateside alternative military assignment during Vietnam, what wrong with a Pope who claims to have been a reluctant participant in Hitler's little war?

Posted by: Marie | Apr 23 2005 2:11 utc | 38


I don't get it. With so many things to criticize this Pope about, Billmon takes the bizarre route and focuses on J.R.'s brief compulsory service in the Hitler Jugend and the Wehrmacht.

So, Billmon, are you saying that anyone who spent time in the wrong army at the wrong time should never succeed to position of authoroty or influence. Extrapolate this out a bit. If you think the Iraqi war was immoral or wrong or whatever, as many do (and as do I), should we be concerned about the future positions to be held by our US fighting men and women (volunteers no less)?

What can we say about Vietnam? Was it an immoral and wrong war? And if so, again, should we be concerned about Kerry, Gore and others who volunteered to fight in such a war?

As a Catholic, I am not a fan of this Pope, and my defense of his wartime past is more of defense of the many who fought or fight in the wrong army at the wrong time.

Posted by: jg | Apr 23 2005 5:51 utc | 39

Thing is, calling bullshit doesn't always call bullshit. Some times calling bullshit is bullshit.

Out of all the bars in all the world why did she have to walk into his?

Out of all the cardinals in all the world why did they pick a Bavarian who was a Hitler youth? It was not even an issue. And now, someone has gone and compared fighting in the Vietnam war to being part of the Nazi war machine. I call bullshit, not, that there is much point in it. Moral relativism is blather in the hands of the sincere. Moral relativism in the hand of a Catholic defending the pope from the historical record is repulsive hypocrisy.

Posted by: razor | Apr 23 2005 6:00 utc | 40

Moral relativism in the hand of a Catholic defending the pope from the historical record is repulsive hypocrisy.

Particularly ironic since Pope Benedict the latest seeks to ban all forms of moral relativism.

(Isn't the line "Of all the gin joints...?"

jg -- I don't think that Billmon was saying what Ratzinger did during WWII while in his teens in and of itself disqualified him. What seems to be missing in him is that it led to a moral and profound awakening in him. That seemed to come later when he was repulsed by the left in the sixties. His alignment with Opus Dei only tends to reinforce that he is not uncomfortable with facism except the form practiced by the USSR.

Posted by: Marie | Apr 23 2005 7:55 utc | 41

"someone has gone and compared fighting in the Vietnam war to being part of the Nazi war machine"

For a Cambodian, Loatian, or Vietnamese villager dodging B-52 strikes, the Nazi war machine was of little concern during the late 1960s and early '70s. You see those folks had another country's war machine to worry about. Therefore, if you think that R.J. was a cog in the Nazi war machine, then I guess you would have to conclude that Gore, Kerry, McCain, Hagel, Oliver Stone et al were cogs in an American military machine. Would you not? This requires you to look at the Vietnman war from the perspective of a Cambodian, Loatian, or Vietnamese, which of course many do not when discussing such things.

My point is not to defend R.J., specificallly. My defense of his wartime past is more of defense of people who are caught up in the wrong army at the wrong time fighting for the wrong cause and who are not undecent merely for getting caught up in same. Furthermore, I think focusing on R.J.'s WWII past undermines the serious criticisms, of which there are many, that can be leveled against the man.

Posted by: jg | Apr 23 2005 8:28 utc | 42

If Ratzinger demands absolutism in morality, his own inability to martyr himself in resistance to the nazis must be driving him crazy. Yes, Virginia, christianity means you've got to die for your principles. Once, such devotion was celebrated.
Given what he knows now, with the wisdom of his age, would he have stood up against the nazi machine? If not, he is not leadership material, he's just another little german boy.

Posted by: Just a passerby | Apr 23 2005 9:04 utc | 43

WW1, WW2, Vietnam, The Hundred Years War. All the same. A government defines an enemy and markets it to the masses, hyping patriotism, nationalism - and the evil, godless other. The masses buy it - every single time - and run off to murder for honour, glory, king or country. In reality, they murder for resources or leibensraum as they fill the coffers of the merchants of death - those that originally marketed the war. The masses don't realise this or don't care, instead taking comfort from the greatest marketing angle they've been fed - Gott mitt uns or dozens of virgins await or that they'll sit with god in paradise.

My father fought in WW2, but before he got to slaughter Germans, he was guarding them in a camp outside Kingston Jamaica. He came to know them as people just like him, convinced by their leaders that it is neccessary to kill. He hated the leaders, not those "doing the job their government convinced them to". He also hated his job so much that it turned him from a practising catholic into an atheist. And a socialist. And alcoholic (as were all his surviving buddies - one of whom I remember going slowly insane from the nightmares and the drinking).

I think that is the point being made, that this Ratbastard appears to be more revulsed by the cultural upheaval in the 60's than by his own actions during WW2. This man is supposed to the epitome of morality and he DOWNPLAYS what he did with "didn't fire a shot because of an infected finger" or that he eventually deserted - plenty did when they saw the writing on the wall, including the rabid ones to avoid retribution.

His lack of moral outrage at the 30's thru 40's smacks of approval to me.

Posted by: gmac | Apr 23 2005 12:38 utc | 44

jg - Nice example of why the right can beat on the left and Georgie is in power.

To defend the moral absolutist Pope, jg has now postulated as fact that serving in the Hitler youth and then in the military, is the equivalent of Oliver Stone serving in Vietnam. Out of all the wars in all the worlds, if one could choose, there would be no difference between serving as a Hitler youth and serving in the Vietnam war - or in defeating the Nazi war machine, evidently. jg claims America in 1969, is indistinguishable from Germany in 1944. The hell it is. And jg claims that no one who serves is accountable because they are cogs in a machine, which, assumes another fact not in evidence about the Pope, and seems a rather anti Jesus position.

To defend the Pope jg uses what the right calls 'blame America.' This is exactly the kind of thing the Pope bitches about.

It is a very revealing choice to use "blame America" to defend the Pope, or, more accurately, to defend the disdain the cardinals showed by picking this particular cardinal to be Pope, because this choice announces that ultimate moral issues and accountability, issues like whether it is appropriate to have a former Hitler Youth as Pope, since, as some have forgotten, Germany was a genocidal states that was exterminating long times enemies of the Church with Church complicity across much of Europe - are irrelevant to them. The election of this Pope is an announcement of the exercise of secular power at odds with divine commands. Not that this is news. By contrast, just this week China is organizing riots against Japan because the dwarf barbarians are still denying what they did to China in their textbooks. Never forget, unless its more convenient, then rationalize, with ones God given powers to support whatever the Church hierarchy orders.

jg works to thrice defeat the forces for simple human decency.
Once in defending the selection of a Pope who upholds the authoritarian tradition at the expense of higher moral standards, once in the use of moral relativism to equate service in the American military with service in the Hitler youth, and once in making the very arguments that incapacitate the left and strengthen the no accontability authoritarian tradition the Pope supports and which has an abysmal record on human rights.

Posted by: razor | Apr 23 2005 14:49 utc | 45

jg Therefore, if you think that R.J. was a cog in the Nazi war machine, then I guess you would have to conclude that Gore, Kerry, McCain, Hagel,

Yes and they too shouldn't be considered for the position of a world religious/moral leader. Denouncing the US activities in Vietnam and his participation in it made Kerry different from the other three and maybe it was a moral awakening for him. However, it wasn't as deep as what would be needed for a moral leader given his more recent pride in having served in Vietnam and vote for the IWR.

Posted by: Marie | Apr 23 2005 16:23 utc | 46

razor, you have completed misconstrued my argument, whether it was intentional or through your own lack of intellect I haven't a clue. I will say this: Plodding through your last commetn, my logical postulate still stands quite nicely. As I have stated, I am not a fan of this Pope (please try and pay attention) and my argument is this: "My defense of his wartime past is more of defense of people who are caught up in the wrong army at the wrong time fighting for the wrong cause and who are not undecent merely for getting caught up in same. Furthermore, I think focusing on R.J.'s WWII past undermines the serious criticisms, of which there are many, that can be leveled against the man."

BTW, I am bleeding-heart liberal who merely enjoys logical arguments and good writing. Someithing that Billmon mostly delivers, except in this very obvious case. I remember when Billmon's comment threads were a place for reasoned debate and not just a Fan Club. /sigh

Marie: Thank you for your coherent comment. Perhaps your interpretation (i.e., the lack of an "awakening") is an accurate interpretation of Billmon's criticisms of the Pope's wartime past. I am not so sure. It seems a straight up: a person I don't like was a former German-soldier, lets use that bit of knowledge to paint him as an evil bastard. R.J. may be an evil bastard, but serving in the Hinter Jugend and Wehrmacht is certainly not proof of it.

"Denouncing the US activities in Vietnam and his participation in it made Kerry different from the other three and maybe it was a moral awakening for him. However, it wasn't as deep as what would be needed for a moral leader given his more recent pride in having served in Vietnam and vote for the IWR." Shouldn't this read "as deep as what I would needed for a moral leader" or are you the arbiter of what constitues levels of morality necessary for certain positions in the world?

As an aside: Clinton is an intereesting example of someone who avoided Vietnam on issues of morality and yet when it came time to do the right thing after attaining his goal in life did nothing in Rwanda. I guess morality can awaken as well hibernate within person.

Posted by: jg | Apr 23 2005 18:20 utc | 47

I went clear once I saw your invocation of Clinton. You are exactly who I think you are and you parse only to mislead.

Posted by: razor | Apr 23 2005 19:32 utc | 48

As much as I admire Probst and the Shcholls for distributing the leaflets and speaking up at their trial if you read through the article Billmon links to you'll come upon this:

"Their publication took place periodically between 1942 and 1943--interrupted for a few months when Hans and his friends were temporarily sent to the Eastern Front to fight against the Russians."

Apparently even Hans Scholl, the rare hero Billmon contrasts with Joseph Ratzinger, did not refuse some sort of compulsory military service on the front.

Posted by: Haukur Þorgeirsson | Apr 23 2005 20:34 utc | 49

razor (way upthread)--

Re: Why.

Perhaps a more important question is not 'Why did they pick him' but rather 'Why could they not?'


OK, but let's see if we can find the end of your pretzel...

Specifically, is there any evidence that the Pope-elect was involved in any significant acts of resistance whatsoever?

Re: channeling (way, way, way upthread)...

I always thought, perhaps, that it was the other way around (ie. that RP was suckin' the fumes off the Whiskey Bar floor and repackaging them as high octane Rudeboyeurism).

Posted by: RossK | Apr 23 2005 21:22 utc | 50

jg -- first note that my comments specifically considered criteria for a moral/religous leader. Second, no single act should be considered in isolation. Third, I give more weight to more recent acts than those done at an earlier stage in one's life because they are more likely to reflect where the person is now.

All lives have a narrative -- and some are more difficult to read than others. Ratzinger's does not seem to be one of the more difficult ones. He didn't oppose authoritarianism in his youth nor to any great degree since then. In point of fact, during the past couple of decades he as actively embraced it. As such, he still carries baggage from WWII and it is fair game. As razor pointed out up-thread, affiliation with a horror on earth, regardless of how reluctant or limited was the participation, should exclude an individual from consideration for a moral leadership role. Active and lifelong rejection of that early affiliation, along with all the similar new forms of it that came into existence after it, may change the equation, but only for the most extraordinary of human beings. Again, Ratzinger falls way short of that test.

On Kerry -- hate to say this but he has an historical pattern of flip-flopping. I tend to accept that he was authentic in his rejection of the War in Vietnam when he left the Navy. That was something he seemed to hold as a deep principle all the way through the vote on the Gulf War. However, the man who surfaced and voted for the IWR and then spent two years reminding everybody that he was a war hero while at the same time running away from his anti-war past as much as possible was not an easy narrative to read. Who knows -- maybe all that time he spent with McCain in the 1990's or maybe simply natural declines in testosterone levels led him to more value the young man who signed up for the Navy than the man who came out of the Navy. wouldn't presume to know who the real Kerry is -- but as I weight recent acts more, I can only conclude that he embraces militarism far more than he would have some of us believe.

On Clinton -- I have no way of knowing if he rejected Vietnam for moral issues. So many men spouted that sort of rhetoric at the time and as soon as their own butts would no longer be on the line, they became rabid warhawks. Clinton can talk religion but he doesn't walk the talk very well. Taking any action in Rwanda required immediate action. No time to take polls, consider the political consequences. Only a leader with deep and profound principles could have acted to quickly enough to make a difference. As I don't view Clinton as even such a hot politician, much less someone with strong moral values, he acted much as should have been expected. He had years to consider the problems in the Balkans. A moral position would have had us in there helping when Bosnia was under attack during GHB term in office. Should also add that moral leadership from politicians isn't enough; they must also be effective political leaders. Just look at how someone like Carter who has stronger morals than just about any American President could so easily become compromised in office.

Posted by: Marie | Apr 23 2005 21:39 utc | 51


I don't think Ratzinger was involved in any "significant acts of resistance". He was drafted. Later he deserted. He was, what, 17 years old?

The point is that very few Germans indeed were involved in "significant acts of resistance" and even those who were, like Hans Scholl, did not necessarily openly defy the government by refusing military service.

Try to put yourself in this man's shoes. You're 16 years old. Your country is on the losing side of a war and is under heavy air strikes. You're drafted into an air defence battery. You don't particularly like your government but you don't know a fraction of the atrocities they have committed. You're probably not keen on living under Russian occupation. You render unto Caesar. Later, seeing that the defence is futile you decide that you don't want to kill and you don't want to die. You desert.

Does any of this make you a hero? Probably not. Does it make you a villain? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: Haukur Þorgeirsson | Apr 24 2005 1:40 utc | 52


Why didn't the cardinals pick a cardinal who was more on the, say, heroic side? More on the, say, turn the other cheek side. More on the, say, Samaritan side?

That is what is seems inquiring minds want to know. There doesn't seem to be a good answer, as in, an answer that reflects well on the cardinals and their priorities. Why isn't the pope up to a Caesar's wife standard? Caesar Borges aside. Inquiring minds want to know.

One wonders what some care about. It seems, for some, obedience to authority comes first and last, even when the acts taken are contemptible. The recent episodes are familiar.

Posted by: razor | Apr 24 2005 2:28 utc | 53

Thank you Haukur.

However, even with that explanation I do not see any equivalency, moral or otherwise, between the actions of the two men at issue here.

Posted by: RossK | Apr 24 2005 3:44 utc | 54

"I went clear once I saw your invocation of Clinton. You are exactly who I think you are and you parse only to mislead."

Razor, I can't believe someone that reads Billmon and hangs out here is really this clueless. You want my bona fides? I post on dkos under the same moniker and have since the Fall of 2002 (check out my posts) - I was regular at Billmon back in the comment days. I donated more money in the last cycle (all to Democrats, including Kerry).

I said I am bleeding-heart liberal - not a blind Democratic partisan, therefore I can look at the Clinton administration and see its faults (and coming from my political perspective - there were many) quite clearly. I vote and donate to Democratic candidates, but I don't look at them and their actions through rose-coloured glasses on [you should try taking yours off - the view is not great, but better to see the reality - don't you think?].


"He didn't oppose authoritarianism in his youth nor to any great degree since then. In point of fact, during the past couple of decades he as actively embraced it. As such, he still carries baggage from WWII and it is fair game."

This is quite a logical leap. Are you saying that R.J.'s positions on church doctrine, which are basically the same as John PaulII's, are a product of baggage from WWII to some great degree. Are you saying R.J. is an authoritarian because of his affiliation with horror? Come on, that is ridiculous. Given that the Catholic Church is an authoritarian organization and not a democracy - have you ever considered that this where his beliefs come from? Given PJP's war times expereince, hnd how do you explain PJP's authoritarian nature?

Posted by: jg | Apr 24 2005 3:45 utc | 55

I think the point is that JR affiliated easily with horror because he seems to be a lifelong authoritarian. And this passion for authority rather than justice seems wrong for a spiritual leader. WWII was just one of many object lessons in how badlythings go wrong when we defer to authority. Is JR made of anything else but this 'worship' of authority?

Remember, God rebuked Job, but he would not forgive any of Job's friends unless Job prayed for them. We seem to have acquired a Pope who is like Job's friends, a man of impotent spirit.

Yes, if he cannot quite bring himself to see that he has always been free, he is a slave. So, who does he work for now that his human masters are dead?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 24 2005 7:04 utc | 56

With III. The Good German you're saying the only good German is a dead German?

Posted by: Ellen Hogan | Apr 24 2005 9:17 utc | 57

More on Ratzinger's wartime experiences

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 24 2005 12:06 utc | 58


Thank you for that, but sense it doesn't adher to Billmon's opinion of the current Pope - I am sure it will be dismissed summarily around here.

Billmon was sadly way off base in his Nazi angle of the current Pope. Shame really because he typically formulates arguments coherently and with a solid foundation.


Given that Billmon said in anothe thread that it was a shame that R.J. didn't take a Russian tank shell - you might be on to something.

How the intellectual mighty have fallen?

Posted by: jg | Apr 24 2005 15:00 utc | 59

jg -- Are you saying that R.J.'s positions on church doctrine, which are basically the same as John PaulII's, are a product of baggage from WWII to some great degree.

First, that isn't what I said. I said that his WWII baggage was fair game because he hasn't subsequently made any effort to distance himself from facism, only communism, and there is a two are not synonomous. You may find it acceptable that excuses (all young men were forced to serve and I didn't do anything all that bad anyway) for one's behavior absolve them of all responsibility for it. Excuses are different to me than explanations for one's behavior. Regret, sorrow, renunciation and vowing to work to insure that more young people are never put in such a position in the future is not what Ratzinger has done, and what should be expected of a moral leader. Germany at a national level has come closer to that than Ratzinger has.

Second, you imply that Ratzinger was a follower of JPII -- whereas, it appears to me that Ratzinger's role under JPII was not merely influence. Power in the Catholic Church was consolidated in the Vatican under JPII and Opus Dei grew in power during the same period. Both reversed the trends that existed before JPII. Then factor in what was done to the Liberation Theology movement in Central America. LT was in direct opposition to the facistic governments that had controlled this region for decades. Ratzinger was to JPII what Cheney is to GWB, and Opus Dei is to the Vatican what the NeoCons are to the Bush Administration.

Authoritarianism is the root of all forms of facism. Facism neither began nor ended with Nazi Germany. It went on for decades in Spain under Franco under which Opus Dei flourished, not in opposition to Franco but in collusion with him. Hierarchical institutions will always contain an element of authoritarianism --- then it's merely a question of degree. Ratzinger's preference for more and not less demonstrates his orientation.

But again, of all the choices available to the Cardinals for the moral leader to the Catholic Church, why pick the one who demonstrated a lack of moral courage as a youth and has done nothing since then to demonstrate that at a deep spiritual level that he changed?

Posted by: Marie | Apr 24 2005 17:09 utc | 60

...I don't particularly care whether its fair or not to bring up Ratzo's fling with the Hitler Youth. My only regret is that he didn't have the guts to follow his little friends to the bitter end. Maybe he would have gotten in the way of a Soviet tank shell.

Posted by: Billmon | April 19, 2005 08:48 PM | #

So readers need to understand that posts like The Good German are exercises in careless rage.

Sophie Scholl, too, was a "good German," if by this one means any child who was a member of the compulsory Hitler Youth. The other leading members of The White Rose, of whom her brother, Hans, was one, were "good Germans" as well, if by this one means having taken up arms for the Third Reich - which they did, on the Eastern front. So many, many "good Germans." What any of them might have lacked in enthusiasm, what they might have failed utterly to possess in the way of individual agreement, the State made up for in compulsion.
Nazi propaganda, like all propaganda, continued to the end to implicitly acknowledge the desirability of persuading men's minds, of the advisability of convincing argument or exhortation; but the indispensible key to "success" of the totalitarian regime lies always in enlsaving men's actions - removing men's minds from the equation altogether. This is the source as well as the mechanism of all its offenses against mankind. This is the horrendous circumstance in which "good Germans" like the Scholls and the Ratzingers found themselves.

Whatever one's estimation of the Catholic Church and its present leaders, it is good to keep in mind that the days in which the Church could deal with men by force, by the method of compulsion, are long gone. Whatever its faults or errors or crimes, and whatever the extent of its influence, it cannot compel the unwilling to take part, to sacrifice or suffer, to violate conscience or well-being, upon pain of imprisonment or death. Helpless victims are not delivered to it by ecclesiastical courts. It cannot command anyone's obediance; it cannot enforce any element of observance; it has no automatic or unconditional claim to anyone's support or adherence. On the contrary, the Church can only seek the assent and assistance of those who are free to withold these entirely. In this sole respect, it is more Enlightened than any present government I know.

Posted by: Pat | Apr 24 2005 17:31 utc | 61

Pat - by the standards you lay out, the rightwing churches in the US are also "enlightened." Sorry, propaganda and appeals to following the will of God are in the long run more powerful than forced enslavement. Slaves always know that they aren't free. Most Catholic women don't recognize that they are second class citizens. Totalitarianism on steriods as in Nazi Germany, the USSR and other countries during the 20th Century is not the dividing line between freedom/democracy and facism/authoritarianism. Most countries in the world still fall on the authoritarian side of the divide and most religions play a role in maintaining the status quo.

Posted by: Marie | Apr 24 2005 18:24 utc | 62

Marie, Catholicism's chief, perhaps insurmountable, problem lies in its ever-diminishing appeal to and influence upon thoroughly secularized, modernized, freedom-oriented Westerners. It is its growing, practical irrelevance, as well as theological opposition, to the status quo of Western liberalism, materialism, and self-interest that, for good or for ill, defines it. (And whether it is for good or ill I leave to Catholics to debate.)

The authoritarianism that concerns me is not that of an institution -in this case, the RC Church - which hasn't the power either to force its whims and wishes on the unwilling or to make them pay for the priveledge; my concern is with the one institution that can and does: the government.

Posted by: Pat | Apr 24 2005 20:22 utc | 63

Even in its weakness, Pat, the Church should encourage us to do the right thing, if only by example. But I'd be very surprised if this pope were ever to stand up against the U.S.Government, say, at those moments when our government practices its intimidations. Take the death penalty. is this pope prepared to denounce a sitting president who has repeatedly exploited the country's barbarous penal systems to enact his sadistic fantasies (to say nothing of OIF, Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo Bay)? I can't believe that he is. I see no signs of courage in this pope--not in the first seventy-eight years of life, anyway. I mean, he purges dissenters from the church, and then, in a lurching exercise of Germanic charm, solemnly announces that he plans to be anyone currently included, we're left to suppose! I don't exactly despise the man, but I find his play for high office to be smarmy and semi-senile. He's a most agreeable pope for the Bush household and its gruesome retinue.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 25 2005 4:00 utc | 64

On another topic, Pat, I'd like to run something past you for a little reality testing. It's about those "friendly fire" episodes in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we either blow up a wedding-party out of the clear blue sky, or kill the Italian Calipari with a well-positioned, if poorly-informed, highway patrol. My theory is just this: in addition to all the land-net communications going back and forth between our fighting units on the given terrain, might there not be a supplementary system of command-communications operating in a more distant quarter? Could the highway patrol, for example, have received a command from some dude sitting at a console in CENTCOM, reading a lot of fresh "information" provided by an overhead sattelite? This hypothesis, if pertinent, would clarify a lot of anomalies.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 25 2005 4:22 utc | 65

DeA: Night of the Long Infomercials - ROTFLMAO.

You couldn't make it up dept, pt 94 (UK division, this weekend during a national election campaign):

*disclosure of Posh n Becks' childcare arrangements deemed by judge to be "in the national interest".

*attorney-general's legal advice to Blair in run-up to Iraq war in March 2003 still protected by "legal confidentiality":

The suspicion that Lord Goldsmith drastically changed his legal advice in the space of 10 days has grown to near-certainty in the aftermath of the war, not least because Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a senior Foreign Office lawyer who quit in protest, said so in her resignation letter. ...

Despite everything, however, the Government has consistently refused to publish the 13-page document. It has clung to the principle of legal confidentiality..."

Posted by: Dismal Science | Apr 25 2005 12:47 utc | 66


While thinking about the first post, I'll respond to the second.

Could it have been a set-up? Almost anything is technically possible, I suppose, but almost anything is not likely. How important was Callipari to the Americans? Had the Americans made ominous noises to the Italian Govt. about the money it was shoveling into the accounts of racketeers with its unofficial policy of ransom payment? Were dire warnings delivered? Were veiled or open threats made - "Cease and desist, or else"? As I understand it, it was the Italian people, not Coalition or US Govt. officials, that Berlusconi felt pressured to convince, after the last big-ticket hostage release, that their own government was not lining the pockets of criminals.

Was Callipari, and the business he conducted, actually important enough to the Americans to make murder attractive? More importantly: If the Italians were, by way of presaging noises as well as any suggestive anomalies, given reason to strongly suspect that the Americans had murdered one of their own - a war crime all the more heinous because fratricidal - then what would be the worst consequences? Certainly not the loss of Italian troops. Berlusconi is going to have to redeploy a significant number before the elections next year anyhow, and OIF won't suddenly collapse without them. But it would collapse - suddenly, completely - without the use of Italian air bases. And not just OIF, but CENTCOM's entire, 25-country theater of operations. OEF and scattered South Asia operations, the Horn of Africa Task Forces, headquarters in Qatar and Doha - all of these require continuous air support conducted in and out of the Italian Peninsula. In the event of a serious war crime committed against an Italian national - an officer of the Italian government, no less - in an Allied theater of war, Berlusconi would have every reason and legal standing to deny us the fruits of defense treaty commitments and basing rights. (And I'm leaving out here a probable domino effect throughout the Coalition that would just reinforce the loss of American assets in Italy.) Was Callipari, in any way, worth risking all that?

I don't see how.

Posted by: Pat | Apr 25 2005 20:35 utc | 67

alabama, Pat

It's all academic now anyway:

U.S. clears soldiers in Italian agent's Iraq death

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. investigators have found that American troops who shot dead an Italian agent at a Baghdad checkpoint on March 4 committed no wrongdoing and will not be disciplined, an Army official said on Monday....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 25 2005 21:38 utc | 68

I'm with Pat on this one.

Billmon's heros also joined the Hitlerjugend, so there is no difference here.

Sophie Scholl war – wie ihr zweieinhalb Jahre älterer Bruder Hans Scholl – zunächst nicht in Opposition zu den Machthabern orientiert und gehörte dem Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) an. Der Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) und der oftmals dazugezählte, strenggenommen aber davon zu trennende Jungmädelbund waren die Abteilungen der Hitlerjugend. Hans Scholl war wie seine Geschwister gegen den erklärten Willen des Vaters zunächst ein begeistertes Mitglied der Hitlerjugend und nahm Führungsposten im Jungvolk der Hitlerjugend ein

And BTW, Billmon could at least take notice of their ages.

Sophie was 21 in 1942, her brother was 23. They were adults and students and could make a choice.

Ratzinger was 14 years old when he WAS FORCED to join the Hitlerjugend. How much did you know about politics, when you were still in ground school? Consider also that the the whole education system was geared towards blind obedience.

He deserted in 1944, when he was seventeen. You see, Ratzinger made the choice to resist at an earlier point in his live than the Scholls!

It's sad that both the Whiskey Bar and Moonofalabama are going from Reality-based into Hate-based Land.

Posted by: MarcinGomulka | Apr 26 2005 19:33 utc | 69

Very helpful, Pat--and I thank you for this. I had no clue that those Italian airbases were so important. I can't believe that Calipari was actually targeted by the Americans: when the patrol laid eyes on the car itself--a quite presentable one--they could tell right away that something was very wrong. I also doubt that their commanders on the ground, who were alerted to the progress of the vehicle (or so we've been led to understand), would have given a signal to shoot. But this isn't to say that the patrol didn't get a signal of some kind--an ill-informed signal originating outside the local loop--some kind of "default signal" overriding the local information.....I also differ slightly with my Italian friends on the figure of Berlusconi: he's certainly tough and smart, and he always wants to survive, but he's also a proud man who bonded with Calipari in person. We can write this off as a mark of irreducible naiveté on my part, but I truly believe that it matters.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 26 2005 19:58 utc | 70

MarcinGomulka, I certainly don't hate Ratzinger, I just don't trust him. Maybe I'm wrong about this. We'll see.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 26 2005 20:00 utc | 71

Rather superficial commenting on the new Pope. Try at least to digest his Habermas debate and stop judging a 78 year old for what he did or did not do when he was 14. I wish I could see you resistance record in early High School


Posted by: Kai | Apr 26 2005 23:00 utc | 72

I (and probably most here) am not judging the pope at 14, but the example he continues to set now. The argument is laid out very cleanly by Jeanne at bodyandsoul.


Clearly, when Ratzinger and his brother (who is also a priest) say that anti-Nazi resistance was "impossible," they're lying. And it's not an insignificant or harmless lie. Denying the option of resistance insults, indeed, denies the existence of, a lot of people who made far braver and more difficult decisions than the Ratzingers. Failing to exhibit extraordinary courage is human and understandable. Denying the extraordinarily courageous their due is shameful. Denying moral agency is surely unworthy of a man who would be pope.

The Ratzingers lie about this because if they admit that moral choices were involved, they'd have to explain their choice. In fact, I would suggest that anyone who cared about moral agency would recognize the need for self-reflection, for either admitting moral failure, or asserting moral principles. I can think of many possible explanations, but none of them fit well into black and white morality.

It is not a good sign when the pope lies because he figures no one will notice. But read Jeanne - she has thought the matter through with more rigor than I.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 26 2005 23:33 utc | 73

Oops, follow this link. It will take you to the top of Jeanne's post.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 26 2005 23:35 utc | 74

Headlining the article ..the German Shepard .. is Sun Tabloid Level. My question about your line of thinking goes towards the ingenuity. Has any of those "late born" judges of 14 years olds been living under a dictatorship? Or is this an intellectual exercise in a safe harbor???

Posted by: Kai | Apr 26 2005 23:47 utc | 75

BTW two more famous German Hitlerjugend Members:Habermas und Günter Grass. Following her logic ... who shall care about their later works.

Posted by: Kai | Apr 26 2005 23:55 utc | 76


Captain Stan is going to take the ship away from here.

Time to leave now Kai!

Bring Ratzo along if you want to, as a pet.

Posted by: Zev | Apr 27 2005 1:52 utc | 77

Great Comment, overpowering logic!!!!!!!!! Congratulations

Posted by: Kai | Apr 27 2005 17:22 utc | 78

What is it about critical thinking that offends your sense of logic?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 17:31 utc | 79

john ross - Pope Ratzo and the Hucksters of Death
[warning: may be considered offensive by those easily offended. OTOH, you may experience a few laughs along the way...]

Perhaps the only consolation for humanity in this catastrophic appointment is that, at 78, Benedictus XVI is the oldest pontiff to be selected since the 18th century. Like many of us old people, he sometimes loses track of where he is at – often mixing up the 21st century with the Middle Ages. On the eve of the Cardinals' conclave, he stirred souls by dissing godless Communism, apparently unaware that the Berlin Wall had come down in 1989.

The new Pope's selective memory loss is cited by critics reviewing Ratzinger's autobiography, which seems to omit an uncle who was in the concentration camp business and important Nazi slaughters of dissidents near his hometown in Bavaria. Nor does the volume mention his ties to Bank of Vatican insider Roberto Calvi, found dangling from London's Blackfriers Bridge in 1984.

It is not known at what level of the living dead the new pope functions – he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1991 and his health is not robust. Moreover, stocks of virgin blood stored in the Vatican basement have been greatly diminished by prolonged efforts to keep John Paul II "alive."

Posted by: b real | Apr 27 2005 17:50 utc | 80

Bodyandsoul continues to explore why Ratzinger concerns us:

After fully investigating ourselves, we have come to the conclusion that we are innocent.

And infallible.

Does this article sound like it's about the US military investigation into torture in Iraq, or about Ratzinger on his guilt? Actually, it's about both.

Ratzinger's problem IS ours. To argue that we are unqualified to discuss this meaningfully would appear to be a sophisticated way of choosing to give up. Sorry, no.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 17:57 utc | 81

Isthatlegal .org clarifies Ratzinger's quote:

First, several sources attribute the view to the pope not that "resistance was impossible" but that "open resistance to the Nazis was futile." I refer here to articles I found on Westlaw: One, entitled "Vatican's 'Humble Worker' Has a Will of Iron," appeared in The (Edinburgh) Scotsman on April 20, 2005; the other, entitled "Pasts Imperfect?", appeared in Newsday on April 18, 2005.

This is a significantly different, and far more defensible, assertion than the "resistance was impossible" comment attributed in some sources to him and in many sources to his older brother Georg. There can be no doubt that open resistance to the Nazis was destined to be futile--certainly through most, if not absolutely all, of Hitler's reign.

Actually, the "open resistance was futile" version was the first one I heard, but I thank Eric for sourcing the quote and opining on it clearly. However, I disagree. This is not a quote from Ratzinger's childhood, but from after all his maturation into a theologian and enforcer of the faith. For a man who now claims to be the authority on God's will, I find this idea that resistance to evil could ever be futile absolutely shocking. No, let me be precise.

This sounds like blasphemy.

Or if you don't give a flying run at a doughnut hole about blasphemy - it is a thought worthy of a politician, but not of a seeker of truth, any truth.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 18:16 utc | 82

"Or if you don't give a flying run at a doughnut hole about blasphemy-"

What's On Jesus' iPod? (Mark Morford)

But oh, what a revelation it would be, could the world see just what's on Jesus' iPod, see the holy playlists, get an idea what the savior listens to when he's, you know, dancing, or working out, or building a new deck for Mary, or washing his dad's Caddy (Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World", always). What a revelation would be at hand, what a new understanding we could glean.

Posted by: beq | Apr 27 2005 18:56 utc | 83

Yum. Thanks for the barsnack, and let's just quote some Morford syllogism.

Jesus knows this Big Obvious Secret: All music celebrates God, because God is merely another word for life and life is merely another word for "hot divine energy force" and "hot divine energy force" is merely another word for, well, "Steven Tyler." So there you go.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 27 2005 19:17 utc | 84


Dead comms are an old, familiar problem to land-based forces (well, perhaps not so familiar anymore, just old) but the cancellation of a local signal by a distant one? I've never heard of it happening, and I've no idea if it's possible or likely with the current systems. Do you?

Sometime during Desert Shield/Storm I was reading a newsletter published by a group of civilian contractors then working in Saudi Arabia and in it I came across this bit of grim humor: "Friendly fire isn't." I think that says it all.

It appears as though Calipari made one serious mistake. (Is it wrong to point out the mistakes of the dead? Not at all. After Action and Incident Reports don't omit mention of screw-ups or failures on grounds that the dead themselves committed them - and for good reason. People really do get themselves and others killed. WE do, anyway.) Calipari didn't inform, didn't coordinate with, the Country Team. He didn't even inform the MNF's senior Italian officer or anyone on that individual's staff so that they might initiate coordination on his behalf. Why is that coordination important? There's a standard choreograph put in play (Calipari would be familiar with it) in instances such as that one, akin to the procedure for a passage through friendly lines on a battlefield. Calipari and his driver would be informed of every checkpoint - to include, most importantly, that temporary one - along a predetermined route; at the same time, every checkpoint would have, beforehand, the make and model of Calipari's vehicle, its plate ID, and the number, names, origin, destination, and business of driver and passengers. Some of this would be verified on approach and the rest on arrival at each stop, and every checkpoint would confirm and convey to the next. It keeps everyone reasonably safe and on the same sheet of music. (Safe, except on those stretches of road where one has, unfortunately, to drive like a bat out of hell to avoid nasty surprises - which everyone does).

But I've not read anything that would suggest that Calipari was a reckless man - a "just wing-it" kind of guy - so maybe the absence of coordination wasn't a mistake. Maybe it was a condition of Giuliana's release. There would be good reasons for that. While it's only a possibility, I wouldn't be surprised if it had been the case.

Further speculation: The driver, caught off guard and thoroughly alarmed, thought he was arriving, not at a fixed, friendly checkpoint (it hadn't been there in previous experience, had it?) but at one of the "checkpoints" set up by highway bandits or mujahedeen, in which case SOP is keeping your foot on the gas and getting through or around it as best, as fast as, you can.

Posted by: Pat | Apr 28 2005 6:19 utc | 85


Posted by: bob | Jan 30 2006 15:16 utc | 86

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