Friday, December 07, 2007 


No, he doesn't look sinister at all.

It is of course terribly easy to look on in horror at the various political vagaries surrounding the American presidential campaign, but that doesn't stop it from being similarly amusing. As long as those it involves then don't become president.

What then are Mitt Romney's, emerging as a Republican front-runner alongside Rudy Giuliani, favourite books?

“What’s your favorite novel?” is a perennial campaign question, the answer to which presumably gives insight into leadership.

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist.

A spokesman said later it was one of Mr. Romney’s favorite novels.
Asked about his favorite book, Mr. Romney cited the Bible.

That would be Romney, a Mormon, selecting as his favourite novel a book by the founder of Scientology and general fraud L. Ron Hubbard, he who formed his own religion in order to get stinkingly rich. Still, that's at least more honest than Joseph Smith and his "visitations" by the Angel Moroni, which just happened to lead to him being able to keep more than one wife. He also seems to be somewhat hedging his bets in selecting the good book as his favourite work of strictly non-fiction, over the less inspired Book of Mormon. Even if you were being charitable towards the more lucid moments of say, Job or Revelation, and decided to ignore that Job is essentially an almost meaningless parable which just showcases how useless belief in God essentially is, and that Revelation has some stunning imagery and elements of allegory as long as you dismiss the interpretations of it as any sort of prophecy, you'd be hard pressed to consider it as any great work of literature. It is however a masterpiece compared to Battlefield Earth, or indeed any of dear L Ron's output.

As well as choice of books, Romney made a lacklustre attempt to channel the spirit of JFK in delivering a speech on how his faith would in no way influence his decisions were he to be elected, the irony being that he was forced into making it because of the Christian right's views on Mormonism. In doing so he actually inferred that the current interpretation of the division of church and state was too rigid, which in a nation where politicised religion has never been more powerful ought to start alarm bells ringing. It also gave birth to this staggering quote:

"Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom."

Even if we accept that some of our ideals or norms and values originate in Christian theology, it is laughable to claim that freedom requires faith to continue, while it is willfully blind to ignore the tyrannies which have been imposed through the ages of the basis of religion. The current ones might be more associated with Islam, but even the briefest knowledge of history gives examples of the past atrocities carried out in the name of Christianity.

Speaking of which, it's not much of a surprise to learn that the CIA decided to disobey orders to hand over all related evidence to the 9/11 commission, instead deciding to destroy two taped sessions of state-sanctioned torture:

"The tapes posed a serious security risk," the CIA's director, Michael Hayden, told agency employees in a statement yesterday. "Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the programme, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaida and its sympathisers."

And not of course allow for prima facie evidence of the legally questionable practice of water-boarding to emerge, nor for the men responsible to be brought to account, who have now been helpfully pardoned and given protection from prosecution. The United States remember, does not torture. It just doesn't get caught doing it, or it lets its sub-ordinates do it instead. Whilst all the Democrat presidential candidates have condemned the use of torture in the "war on terror", the only Republican front-runner to do so is John McCain, who was himself tortured during his captivity in Vietnam. Two others with no chance of winning, the libertarian Ron Paul who has strongly denounced it, and Alan Keyes, who has tied himself in rhetorical knots, have been the others to join him. Our friendly Bible thumper Mitt Romney, meanwhile, called instead for Guantanamo to be doubled in size.

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