Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi triggered outrage from Italy’s political left on Sunday with comments defending fascist wartime leader Benito Mussolini at a ceremony commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
Speaking at the margins of the event in Milan, Berlusconi said Mussolini had been wrong to follow Nazi Germany’s lead in passing anti-Jewish laws but that he had in other respects been a good leader.
“…the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany rather than opposing it,” he said.
“As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and exterminating Jews,” he told reporters. “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well,” he said, referring to laws passed by Mussolini’s fascist government in 1938…
Berlusconi’s comments overshadowed Sunday’s commemoration of thousands of Jews and others deported from Italy to the Nazi death camps of eastern Europe. They were condemned as “disgusting” by the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which is leading in the polls ahead of the February 24-25 election.
“Our republic is based on the struggle against Nazi fascism and these are intolerable remarks which are incompatible with leadership of democratic political forces,” said Marco Meloni, the PD’s spokesman for institutional affairs.
Antonio Ingroia, a former anti-mafia magistrate campaigning at the head of a separate left-wing coalition, said Berlusconi was “a disgrace to Italy“…
“We must be very careful to ensure that these sparks, which recur every now and then, cannot bring back tragedies which humanity should not suffer again,” outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday.
Berlusconi has always been the sort of opportunistic pig who would grovel for support from the bigots and racists still powerful in corporate Italy. Mussolini didn’t hesitate to imprison and torture jews – but also gypsies, members of the socialist and communist opposition, ordinary democrats who spoke out against his alliance with other fascists ranging from Horthy in Hungary to Hitler in Germany.
That he spent a portion of the national budget on infrastructure is only a symptom of a cunning swine – not largesse doled out to a needy populace. He did little more than the Mafia has ever done within their own fiefdoms. Criminals and gangsters who practice sufficient diplomacy to provide rationales for collaborators.
The 2012 election campaign season is still young; the battle will grow only more bruising. And voters will become increasingly turned off. But, in America, we get only two choices, and often are left voting for what we believe to be the lesser of two evils.
Friends in Europe and elsewhere often lament their own forms of government which foster countless parties and voices, and create much noise and chaos. Ironically, in America, which we like to argue is the greatest democracy in the world, we are limited to just two choices: a Republican or a Democrat.
And voters are tiring of it. Some 40 per cent of Americans today identify themselves as political Independents – a record. Just 29 per cent say they’re Democrats, down seven points from 2008, while the proportion saying they’re Republicans has fallen to 27 per cent…
The middle, which rejects both parties, is growing but the question is, what to do about it?
The nature of power is to hang on to it all costs. And that’s what Republican and Democrat parties have done. The maze of rules and cost of getting on to the ballot in 50 different states is daunting to any potential third-party candidate for president – by design…
A bold and innovative group, calling themselves Americans Elect, had a big idea: make it possible for anyone with basic qualifications to run for president by overcoming the hurdle of ballot access…
But a funny thing happened on the way to the circus. The deadline for candidates to qualify came up last week, but nobody much showed up. A former congressman and Louisiana governor, Buddy Roemer, led the list of declared candidates but failed to attract the 10,000 online votes required to meet the basic threshold.
So, if everyone is so fed up with the two-party system what went wrong with this bold experiment? Some argue that it would have had a better chance in a contest without an incumbent president, as that means one side is too locked in. The technology that made it secure also made it difficult to vote. And perhaps too much personal information was demanded when people registered to join in…
Yet Americans Elect has at least sown the seeds of possibility. And if America endures four more years of what we’ve been seeing lately from our two parties, and things continue getting uglier between Obama and Romney campaigns, someone may have an even better idea. It’s America after all. You’d think we could come up with something new, every couple of hundred years.
I lived through the campaigns immediately after World War 2 to ensure the wondrous 2-party system be enshrined as the best in the world. The possibility of nationwide 3rd Party tickets was in the front of every political machine’s eyeballs. The panic, perjury and patriotic balderdash of the Cold War and McCarthyism put an end to it all.
Not that the propaganda has ever ceased. It gets trotted out as part of every war to save democracy. From the Civil Rights Movement through opposition to Bush’s War in Iraq we are always told that our only savior is the other guys. Whether we’re trying to affirm civil rights for all Americans – or protect racism with the Southern Strategy.
The clowns in charge of agitprop never stray from Sophistry 101 = the answer lies between the two extremes. Which is meaningless when you only have one extreme. And even with two even divisions, reality may only lie with one analysis.
So far, most everyone tries to start from the top down — and fails. So far, Americans say they’re independent – and vote for one of the TweedleDeeDum parties or no one at all.
The paratroopers had their assignment: Check out reports that Afghan police had recovered the mangled remains of an insurgent suicide bomber. Try to get iris scans and fingerprints for identification.
The 82nd Airborne Division soldiers arrived at the police station in Afghanistan’s Zabol province in February 2010. They inspected the body parts. Then the mission turned macabre: The paratroopers posed for photos next to Afghan police, grinning while some held — and others squatted beside — the corpse’s severed legs.
A few months later, the same platoon was dispatched to investigate the remains of three insurgents who Afghan police said had accidentally blown themselves up. After obtaining a few fingerprints, they posed next to the remains, again grinning and mugging for photographs.
Two soldiers posed holding a dead man’s hand with the middle finger raised. A soldier leaned over the bearded corpse while clutching the man’s hand. Someone placed an unofficial platoon patch reading “Zombie Hunter” next to other remains and took a picture.
The Army launched a criminal investigation after the Los Angeles Times showed officials copies of the photos, which recently were given to the paper by a soldier from the division.
Which means no one is keeping an eye on the course of war at the grunt level.
“Not intended to be a factual statement.”
The now-infamous statement from Sen. Jon Kyl’s office was released after he said on the floor of the U.S. Senate that abortions represent “over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
It turns out that the actual number is 3%, a mere rounding error of 87%. But it was presented to the American people and enshrined in the Senate Record as a means of arguing that Planned Parenthood should be entirely defunded in the current budget.
This has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with the disproportionate influence of social conservative activists.
Their most compelling argument is that the American people don’t support federal taxpayer money paying for abortions, which is true — and why federal funding of abortion has been banned since 1976.
But the facts are inconvenient, and so they are ignored. Instead, talking points taken from talk radio are repeated until they take on a life of their own and eventually get the validation of a U.S. senator.
The news wasn’t that Kyl made a mistake; it was his staff essentially acknowledging that in the current hyper-partisan environment, facts are a secondary concern, even on the floor of the U.S. Senate, even when they are paraded as statistics. The important thing is to scare the hell out of people so that they remember your political point and pass it on.
In this absurd spin cycle, there’s one dependable place to look for sanity: satire. And on cue came Stephen Colbert, who took Kyl’s statement as a challenge and dialed it up to 11.
Using the Twitter hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement, Colbert unleashed a steady stream of Jon Kyl mistruths with the requisite denial. Among my favorites:
• Jon Kyl developed his own line of hair care products just so he could test them on bunnies.
• Jon Kyl can unhinge his jaw like a python to swallow small rodents whole.
• Every Halloween Jon Kyl dresses up as a sexy Mitch Daniels.
• Jon Kyl sponsored S.410, which would ban happiness.
• Jon Kyl let a game-winning ground ball roll through his legs in Game 6 of the ’86 World Series.
• Jon Kyl once ate a badger he hit with his car.
This crap is properly called “lying”. That it is done for political gain and later followed by a rationale acceptable to politicians and fools – does not make it acceptable behavior. We all complain about the lack of ethics, the duplicity and deceit of Congress – but, this deliberate distortion of fact by the fiction of bigots is inexcusable. And anyone who does excuse it is as guilty as the salaried liar who invented the propaganda.
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan”
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
The pastor of a small Florida church said Tuesday he will go ahead with his plans to hold a Koran burning this week, despite warnings by the US commander of the Afghan war of violent reactions in the Islamic world.
Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida, said he had given “serious” consideration to the concerns expressed by General David Petraeus over plans to torch a Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, but said he would proceed anyway.
“We are taking the general’s words very serious. We are continuing to pray about the action on September 11th,” he said. Nevertheless, he said “we have firmly made up our mind” to go ahead with burning the Muslim holy book…
In a statement, Petraeus expressed concern that the planned torching of the Koran would be a propaganda coup for Islamic extremists.
It’s a true measure of how little integrity opportunist politicians demonstrate on occasions like this. Anyone hear the Republican Party stand up for troops and other Americans abroad versus these fundamentalist nutballs? Not when bigotry represents an important quality of the party line.
Who do you think owns the votes of fanatics like this?
The medical journal the Lancet has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine following his remarks about condom use and HIV.
The attack — which also said that the pope did not know what he was talking about and had put millions of lives at risk — followed his statement last week during a visit to Africa that the use of condoms increased HIV infection rates. This was later amended by the Vatican, which said that condom use merely increased the risk of transmission.
The pope’s remarks, made to journalists on a flight to Cameroon at the start of his visit, overshadowed his trip and provoked condemnation from health and aid agencies, as well as protests from the UN and the governments of Germany, France and Belgium.
Today’s Lancet editorial said the Pope’s statement was “outrageous and wildly inaccurate“. It added: “By saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/Aids, the pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine.
“Whether the pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear … When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/Aids worldwide.”
Good thing The Lancet editors don’t read the crap fountaining from the head-holes of American bible-thumpers. They’d have to increase the size of their publication just to keep current.
Thanks, K B