Tech Issues

The column is finally online. My apologies for the delay, and thanks to everyone who wrote to let me know about the problems.

Is the Pope Liberal in the Woods?

TP from Saint Louis points out:

I enjoy reading your columns, and always find your writing to be very insightful; however, I must respectfully disagree with you on this most recent column.

Your claims, “Except for Abortion, The Pope Was a Liberal,” and “If John Paul II were an American politician, however, he would be considered a left-winger,” ignore one important aspect of modern American liberalism: tolerance of homosexuality.

It’s true that the majority of the Pope’s positions on issues such as poverty, violence, education and health appear to be similar to those of people on the American left; however, his statement that homosexuality is part of the “culture of death” must not be ignored.

As for Bush and other Republicans co-opting the phrase, “culture of life,” it’s been suggested (during a blog discussion between others and myself on Americablog) that we on the American left should claim the “culture of living” — making the distinction that Democrats, unlike Republicans, are concerned with how a person actually lives and what opportunities they have between conception and death.

Of course TP is correct. The pope was conservative concerning homosexuality, which is damned unfortunate. The great strength of Catholicism has been its ability to adapt to changing times and mores, albeit a few centuries late, and I’d like to think that the church will ultimately come to the conclusion that what two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their own fucking business (pun intended) and in no way, shape, or form affects whether or not they are good people or sinners. We’ll also have women and married priests someday. In the meantime, however, we have to put up with stupidity.

Chris says:

Regarding this week’s column and related blog entries — I viewed the death of this pope in the same way that view the deaths of Reagan and Nixon, i.e., one less asshole on the planet. While I see your point in juxtaposing John Paul’s “culture of life” with W’s, I take offense to the characterization that the pope was “one of us.” This is a man that heads an organization that takes money from the poorest of the poor (especially in heavily-Catholic Central and South America) so that he can live in an opulence usually reserved for thuggish dictators like Saddam, then uses the power gained from this fleecing of the poor to preach the “immorality” of condoms to AIDS-ravaged Africa.

Chris’ is a valid point of view and not one that I question entirely. However, I do admire people who attempt to adhere to a consistent point of values and who are willing to change their minds when convinced via the strength of argument that they are mistaken. The Pope, unlike Ronald Reagan, did work at hard at trying to get it right, even if many of us believe that he ultimately failed. Hey, even Christ said he was a sinner.

And now a question:

Recently, a third report on 9/11 and the Iraq war was released, again blaming (for the most part) the CIA for it’s “intelligence failures.” Yet, I recall, prior to the war, lecturing the pro-war folks that I know on the fact that the CIA was saying that Saddam probably didn’t have WMD and if he did, he was highly unlikely to use them in any way that could affect the US. So why is the CIA sitting on their hands and not defending itself when these reports come out? Why did Tenet agree to take so much of the blame? I can see why the “independent” people that wrote the reports don’t go further to implicate the administration, but I just don’t understand why the CIA is willing to be Cheney’s whipping boy.

Short answer: They’re not. Many intelligence professionals are furious, livid, pissed, you name it, to be blamed for the Bush Administration’s decision to go into a losing war in Iraq. The CIA was the one agency that consistently told anyone who would listen that there was no proof after 1998 that Saddam had WMDs and that even the 1998 proof was pretty weak. But that’s exactly the point: no one WOULD listen. The Bushies decided way before they stole the 2000 election that they were going to invade Iraq (and probably Afghanistan). The decision to go to war never hinged on WMDs. WMDs were merely an excuse to sell the war because the American people generally don’t go to war unless they’ve been convinced that they’re threatened (see Tonkin Gulf, etc.)

Let’s turn this on its head: Had Bush known with 100% certainty that Iraq had WMDs and was threatening to use them against the United States, he would NOT have attacked Iraq unless there were good geopolitical and economic reasons for doing so. Sound crazy? That’s exactly the situation right now, with North Korea. And yet: no war.

Remember: the Iraq war never had anything to do with WMDs, so WMD intelligence is nothing but a distraction.

Anyway, keep up the good work — aside from that lapse of judgement regarding the pope’s character, I do enjoy all your stuff. 🙂

Jamie writes:

Thank you. As a Catholic who is politically very liberal, I would like to applaud you for your column “The Right and the Culture of Life.” I am driven crazy by writers on both sides who claim that Republican is synonymous with Christian, particularly Ann Coulter. I am also irked that Republicans are trying to claim him and that George Bush attended his funeral. I am relieved and encouraged to finally see a secular leftist acknowledge that Christianity and the GOP do not agree.

I was raised Catholic, served mass, the whole nine yards. And much of my liberalism came from priests preaching in my ultra-Republican community. One side note, though: many, many Protestants do not consider Catholics “Christian.” I only became aware of this phenomenon recently, but it’s fairly widespread among many right-wing non-Catholic Christians to separate Catholics as something else. Of course, as I like to point out, Protestants are the rip-off spin-offs of Catholicism, and Catholics have the original claim on Christianity. And when that doesn’t work with these morons, I ask them if they’ve ever visited a Catholic church. What are all those crosses doing up on the wall and over the roof if Catholics aren’t, um, Christian?

Anyway, Catholics who play with right-wingers are sell-outs. Conservatives would load them all on cattle cars if and when they get the chance.

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