Saturday, April 30, 2005

Terri's Final Hours: An Eyewitness Account - by Fr. Frank Pavone

Terri's Final Hours: An Eyewitness Account - by Fr. Frank Pavone. This is difficult but required reading. Hat tip: Amy Welborn's open book

St. Benedict, ready for prime time

I'm not a big fan of reality TV (or any TV, for that matter). But the show mentioned in this article by Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph sounds cool Read more . . .:
Five men, ranging from an atheist in the pornography trade to a former Protestant paramilitary, have found their lives unexpectedly transformed in the latest incarnation of reality television - the monastery. . . .The five underwent a spiritual makeover by spending 40 days and 40 nights living with Roman Catholic monks in Worth Abbey, West Sussex. . . . [The participants] faced the challenge of living together in a community and following a disciplined regime of work and prayer. By the end, the atheist, Tony Burke, 29, became a believer and gave up his job producing trailers for a sex chat line after having what he described as a "religious experience."

See the full article for more details.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Lexington school calls cops on dad irate over gay book

The Boston Herald reports on a disagreement at a Lexington school. Read more . . . David Parker, 42, complained because his six-year-old son took home a school storybook on families that used gay parents as one of the examples. The school officials refused his request to be notified whenever same-sex households were discussed with his son in school, Parker refused to leave, and the school called police and had him arrested.

I'm a little surprised that a man that age was driven to anger and became hostile in this fashion. Did it really blindside him? Did he really think that public schools would be more accommodating to his, ahem, "unenlightened" views?

Update: Michelle Malkin chimes in. While I can sympathize with the desire to make Mr. Parker a hero, do these actions make the point many of us would like to see made? Isn't this a little "late to the party?" The public school system has fallen and can't get up. How is this going to rouse the corpse?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Zarqawi's laptop

Apparently a raid that nearly resulted in the capture of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did have one rather large payoff: we got his laptop. From this, our intelligence agencies have confirmed that he's working on recruiting and expanding his network outside Iraq. They now believe he is far more of a threat than Osama Bin Laden. He's reaching out to Ayman al-Zawahiri, for example.

No word on whether Zarqawi is a Mac guy or a PC guy.

Free Yosef Azizi Banitrouf and Reza Alijani

Reporters Without Borders reports that a reformist Iranian Arab journalist Yosef Azizi Banitrouf was arrested in a raid on his home on 25 April. It also demanded the release of dissident journalist Reza Alijani who has been in prison for two years and whose health is very bad.

"[Reporters without Borders] strongly deplore[s] the arrest of Banitrouf, who was simply expressing his personal opinion in articles and in interviews given to other newspapers. . . . As soon as a journalist speaks out in Iran, the authorities crack down, either by closing the paper concerned or throwing the journalist in prison. "

Matthew Yglesias, slip sliding away

It was only a year or two ago that Senator Santorum was ridiculed for suggesting that "discovering" constitutional protections for sodomy (e.g., Lawrence v. Texas) and gay marriage would be a slippery slope to, inter alia, state protection of polyamorous relationships and "marriages." Matthew Yglesias, a prominent voice in the blogosphere, is now openly championing polyamory rights Read more . . .
Probably if everyone in the United States circa 1960 had known that taking modest steps in the direction of feminism would, in fact, lead during their lifetimes to the legalization of sodomy, to gay men marrying each other, to a small but growing number of fathers staying home to take care of the kids, to legal abortions, etc., etc., etc. the public woud have overwhelmingly rejected those early steps. But the poo-pooers won the day, the people did not believe, and now majorities support most of those developments, and all signs are that the unpopular cause of gay marriage will grow more popular after some generational turnover.
Now I think it's just great that the slope has slipped as far as it does, and hope it will slip more. So I have mixed feelings about the pragmatic political necessity of convincing people that the slope will not, in fact, slip. But it seems to me that gay marriage probably will lead -- not as a matter of metaphysical certainty, but just as a matter of banal causal fact -- to some kind of legal recognition of polyamorous relationships at some point down the road. And I think that's fine.

Hat tip: Sara Butler.

(Not-so-)straight laced at Instapundit

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit links to this disturbing article on featuring "examples of a body modification practice known as corset piercing," a new trend in fetishism. Two rows of piercings are made in the skin. Hooks or eyelets are put in. They are then laced up to look like a woman's corset. (Warning, the photos may be a bit bracing.) Reynolds writes: "Whatever turns you on, I always say." Is it really that difficult to call this insanity by its proper name?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BBC'ing the light

BBC News runs these stories of hope from Iraq (formerly Quagmire Central): "Two years after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, marking the fall of the city to US-led forces, BBC asked seven Iraqis for their thoughts on how life has changed for them since the conflict.
Here are their stories."

Inspirational. Hat Tip: Arthur Chrenkoff

President Bush, Saudi dissidents are watching

The New York Post reports on President Bush playing kissy face with Saudi Prince Abdullah -- literally:
Read more . . .
President Bush yesterday held hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and took him on a stroll through a field of bluebonnet flowers at his Texas ranch in a pitch to get the Saudis to pump more oil. They embraced and traded air kisses on both cheeks after the prince, clad in flowing robes, arrived nearly 30 minutes late for his second visit to the Bush ranch in Crawford.

It would be nice if President Bush remembered this passage from the book he said he was reading a few months ago, Natan Sharansky's The Case For Democracy:

Deceiving Ourselves

In Saudi Arabia, one can definitely be arrested or imprisoned for expressing one's views. While many people who grew up in liberal democratic societies would regard life in Saudi Arabia as oppressive, can it be said that the people of Saudi Arabia, who appear to agree with the prevailing ideology, live in fear? Aren't the Saudi Arabians simply living according to their age-old traditions? Though no one could claim that Saudi Arabia is a free society, does that necessarily make it a fear society?

This question assumes that the people of Saudi Arabia agree with the policies of their regime. But how do we know that? Because of what Saudis say publicly? Can we assume that what people living in a fear society are willing to say publicly is a true expression of their beliefs? The books of dissidents describing how Saudis flying to Europe hurry to change into their Western clothes while still on the airplane and adopt different modes of behavior when they are abroad are enough to convince me that Saudi Arabia is steeped in doublethink. Even if these stories only refer to the Saudi elite, the process of internal decay, when more and more people are conforming to a world they no longer believe in, is clearly under way. We must always keep in mind that the public statements of those who live in fear societies are motivated by fear. If we fail to recognize this, we will only be deceiving ourselves.

I'd like to think that President Bush isn't going wobbly on us. But we could use a little toughness with Abdullah. So could the Saudi dissidents that we should be counting on to begin democratizing. Oil production really isn't as important -- not at the cost of missed opportunities for those struggling for freedom. That's really expensive oil -- too expensive. As Sharansky writes, any security we buy from tyrants like Abdullah is illusory.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Politics, philosophy, poetry, and Providence

John Paul II's final book, Memory and Identity : Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium, examines national identity, the role of the state, and the future of Europe. Drawing on history of Polish national identity, the late Pope sees both nations and the Church as proper repositories of memory, memory being that which makes possible the expression of identity. Read more . . . Europe is in danger of losing that notion of identity, of becoming unrecognizable to itself, of losing the humanism that Christianity has helped it to attain. The dangers in the West are not limited to obvious totalitarian movements like communism and fascism, but include more insidious forms of moral and spiritual decay. These are fruitful ideas to consider when thinking about the current Church, and Pope Benedict's choice of the name of the patron of Europe indicates that he and John Paul shared an enthusiasm for the importance of the continent right now.

In reflecting on intellectual history, John Paul attempts to fuse objective, realist traditions (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas) with subjective, personalist ones (Augustine, Descartes, Kant, phenomenology). He makes a good effort to treat modern thought respectfully, calling attention to the good within Kant and the Enlightenment while also acknowledging their excesses and defects. These passages make him sound very much like Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor.

This last book in some ways is a good introduction to Wojtyla the intellectual, integrating his personalist philosophy, his political views, his poetic and dramatic visions, and his ecclesiology in one conversational book. Buy a copy and read it.

Listen to the Flower People

It's too easy to pick on junk science reporting, but you must check out this article on beautiful celebrities and Inuits doing their "traditional dance" to highlight global warming. It typifies the way the media genuflects before the altar of pseudo-scientific faith. Read more . . .

I am currently reading State of Fear, Michael Crichton's latest novel (currently ranked 97 there) which derides the threat of global warming, the shrill subculture of its proponents, and the hyperbolic fear-mongering employed to cow us into submission. One could be forgiven for reading the Newsday article and thinking that it was a parody. It has details that only a satirist could have thought of, like this:

From the air, photographers were able to see the humans spell out the words: "Arctic Warning: Listen." . . .

"Global warming is an abstract concept to most people; we know it's happening, but we can't really visualize its effect," [Jake] Gyllenhaal said. "Unfortunately, the Inuit people put a human face on global warming, they are literally melting away. They are the canary in the coal mine."

It's practically Spinal Tap's "Listen to the Flower People." Yes, Gyllenhaal did suggest that we, as a people, lack sufficient visualization skills. And yes, he did say that the Inuits are "literally melting away." I'm not literally laughing until I wet my pants, and this idiocy does not literally make my head explode.

What are the augurs that show the Inuits to be the "canary in a coal mine" of global warming, the signs that show that we are in the End Times of Perpetually Liquid Ice Cream?
  1. Caribou are heading north (no reference provided)
  2. It is "possible" that seals are headed for extinction (ref: "World Wide Fund for Nature," an obviously unbiased source)
  3. The arctic ice will be completely melted at the end of this century (reference: somebody called "Natural Resources Defense Council," say, that doesn't sound like they make money from scaring people, does it?)
So, I’m listening, and what I hear is "Amen" from the choir. And the ringing of cash registers. And self-important movie stars patting themselves on the back. Jake Gyllenhaal actually talks about "visualiz[ing]" global warming. I am not making this up. We don't even get a photo of Selma Hayek in the article, who is at least easy on the eyes. The relevant science here isn't mathematical climatological models, it is the psychology of mass hysteria.

This is a news article, not an op-ed. The real shame about this silly noise is that it distracts us from being properly mindful and vigilant about our environment and our responsible dominion thereof. We should not ignore our communal and commercial waste. But we do need to get a grip.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Jay Cost: Be Not Afraid of Hillary

On, Jay Cost wonders why Republicans are so concerned about Hillary. He finds it indicative of a great weakness in her political skills that everyone, left and right, is reporting on her attempts at positioning:

This is the sign of a bad politician. All politicians do the same things. They all change their views. They all move with the political currents. They are all flexible and pragmatic. What differentiates the good politician from the bad one is that you never notice that the good one is pragmatic. A good politician is as smooth as a well-aged, single malt scotch. Hillary is a bad politician. She is like that bottom shelf blended garbage the ABC sells for $12/handle.

Dancing Ox has written something similar on this blog, I believe. Maybe he's right. I'm still not letting my guard down.

Boxer drops abortion vote

Cause for guarded optimism - Boxer Drops Abortion Vote: "Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Thursday that rather than risk defeat, she decided not to seek to repeal a law that made it easier for healthcare organizations to refuse to provide abortions and related services."

I say "guarded optimism" because we talking about only making it easier for those who choose not to cooperate in evil to follow their conscience, not about actually restricting a malign practice. Boxer in effect sought to make it mandatory for hospitals to perform abortions. So much for "choice."

Also check out the last paragraph. Note that, following the script, the pro-abortion forces don't feel they need to worry about being defeated in the legislative process -- they're confident that they "will prevail in courts" where they couldn't in the legislature.

We need sane judges now.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Two Resign Over U.N. Oil-for-Food Inquiry

New York Times reports that two investigators in the "Oil-for-Food" probe have resigned because they think the final report played kissy face with Kofi: "Two investigators with the committee studying corruption in the oil-for-food program have resigned in protest, asserting that a report that cleared Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion operation was too soft on the secretary general, a panel member said Wednesday."

Sullivan Alert Level

Because you asked for it! A clear monitoring system for Andrew Sullivan's fragile emotional well being!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Power Line: Planet of the Apes

Powerline Blog reports on an AP story that quotes some scientists to view the studies on apes as leading to insights in human nature, insights that might have utopian implications. John Hindraker demurs: "It's extremely unlikely that anything that could be observed about the bonobo would cause me to believe in the perfectibility of human nature. It's interesting, though, to contemplate the quest for insight into human nature via the apes in the context of news coverage of the selection of Pope Benedict. The conventional view is that religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, represents a backward, primitive way of looking at the world, and especially at human nature, compared to modern, progressive science. But who do you think has a more sophisticated understanding of human nature: Cardinal Ratzinger, the new pope, or the researcher who believes that studying bonobos can enable humans to construct an 'ideal world'?"

'The Maustro' admits connection to `Koreagate Man'

'The Maustro' admits connection to `Koreagate Man': "U.S. federal prosecutors are on the hunt for Park, who was charged on Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with allegedly accepting million of dollars from the Iraqi government while operating in the U.S. as an unregistered agent for Baghdad."

Tongsun Park!?!? Excuse me, I blinked. When did the trail in the Oil-For-Food scandal suddenly jump to this relic from the 70's Koreagate scandal? It's like tuning into a classic rock station by accident, only with scandals.

Brian Anderson on Air America radio

Since we've struck the red-hot iron with a Coulter discussion, I'd like to continue on to the topic of a conversation that Mr. T. and I recently had: Air America Radio. Here is Brian Anderson's take: "Air America's left-wing answer to conservative talk radio is failing."

Anderson is the author of South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias which has been getting some press lately (It's #61 on Amazon as I type this). I haven't had a chance to read it and form an opinion. Chapeau tilt: Instapundit.

MoDo has dibs on Nazi-baiting

Is Maureen Dowd the first to slur Benedict XVI as a Nazi?: "The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. "

Does MoDo get a prize for being the first to call Benedict XVI a Nazi? Ratzinger was 14 when he was conscripted into the Nazi youth group. He was later in the Wehrmacht. He deserted in '44. There's no evidence that he was ever devoted to Nazism.

Waiting for MoDo to do the piece in which she mentions that Senator Byrd in the KKK for many years. As "Kleagle." As an adult. For years. Under no external compulsion whatsoever.

[Update: MereComments on Touchstone blog has a good summary of Ratzinger's history, including this on the WWII years: "Of course, this is all nonsense. Ratzinger, like all German boys was considered a member of the Hitler youth—and (did they tell you?) he resisted and skipped meetings. He was drafted into the army, which is what you would expect, and deserted, though was later kept, briefly, as a prisoner of war. His father, by the way, was a known dissident."

Fr. Dick Explains It All for You

Did you see NBC's "Today" program this morning? Father Richard McBrien was on, of course, to explain the new pontificate for us. But he was uncharacteristically surly -- and then suddenly he burst out in a rage over being "misquoted" in his embarrassing statement about then-Cardinal Ratzinger's homily on Monday. (In case you missed it, Father McBrien had said: "If Cardinal Ratzinger were really campaigning for pope, he would have given a far more conciliatory homily designed to appeal to the moderates as well as to the hard-liners among the cardinals.") Well, suddenly he told the co-hosts that, for fear of being misunderstood, he was swearing off ever talking to the media again. From now on, he said, he would only SING his sound bytes. And he had come prepared this morning to sing his take on Benedict's pontificate. Then a curtain parted, and -- I couldn't believe it -- there were the old St. Louis Jesuits at their instruments -- reconstituted for the occasion, three of them in leisure suits, one in clericals. As Father McBrien took the microphone, the guy at the piano started playing the opening chords to Al Stewart's "The Year of the Cat." Father closed his eyes and sang:
In a morning from the Dies Irae,
at a conclave where they turned back time,
he came chanting "Cum ecclesia sentire."
Then he slaughtered a mime.
He came out of the Sis-
tine in a vestment pris-
tine, looking papal in his pointy hat.
No need to ask for an explanation
'cause I'll tell you where we're at:
The Years of the Rat (dee dee dee, dee dee dee).

Swiss paper holds out hope for Buddy Christ

Catch the last three paragraphs of this round up of Swiss opinion: "The canton Valais paper Le Nouvelliste says it is likely that the new Pope will surprise everyone. It adds that during the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s he was considered 'open to reform'.

Reform is at the top of a wish-list which Blick presents to the new Pope. 'We want a Pope who will engage in dialogue... a Pope with the courage to doubt and question himself... a Pope who will defend the poor and... who will do away with discrimination.'

Finally it hopes the new Pope 'will not be obsessed with sex'. 'Constantly harping on about sexual morality suffocates the liberating Christian message of love and hope,' it argues."

Providence Journal does both "Empire Strikes Back" and "Buddy Christ"

Pope tropes in Providence:
Rhode Island Catholics, whose numbers make the state the most Catholic state per capita in the country, yesterday expressed strong but mixed opinions on the selection of conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany as the new pope.

Some praised Ratzinger, regarded as a disciplined keeper of Catholic orthodoxy, as someone who will guard church teachings.

Others criticized the choice, saying the 78-year-old Ratzinger is too doctrinaire, and that the church needs more of a shepherd to unify the faithful. ["Empire Strikes Back"]

But one prevailing thought mentioned by Rhode Island Catholics yesterday was that the elderly cardinal may just be a transitional pope, who will lead Catholics for the next 5 or 10 years, making no drastic changes, while the church considers its priorities for the next millennium.["Buddy Christ?"]

(See "Two Storylines" post.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Megan Basham on Polygamy on National Review Online

Megan Basham on Polygamy on National Review Online: "On March 3, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff and Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard held a joint summit in St. George, Utah, to deal with allegations of abuse, molestation, incest, and fraud coming from within the twin border cities of Hildale and Colorado City. Approximately 10,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) reside in the country's largest polygamist communities and for decades (thanks to a disastrous police raid in 1953) have remained largely beyond the short appendages of local law. The government offensive on the area that was then called Short Creek turned out to be a public-relations nightmare in which the press depicted the state as a malicious invader that ripped screaming children from the arms of their parents and separated loving husbands from their devoted wives. The event was defining enough that even 52 years later Goddard made a point of opening the conference by calling the Short Creek raid a 'shameful mistake' and asking polygamists present to 'let the past be the past.' From that time on, both Utah and Arizona's tacit polygamy policy remained 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

Two storylines to watch for in the media on Pope Benedict XVI

  1. "Hardliner" takes reins, The Empire Strikes Back, score another one for the Evil Repressive Church.
  2. Cardinals selected an older man, a transitional pope, does this mean the next pope will be the one who remakes the church in the image of "Buddy Christ"?

Keep your eyes peeled.

Habemus papam

"Joseph Ratzinger will be Pope Benedict XVI"

"A-List" of blogs from an "A-List" of rightie bloggers

Right Wing News has an interesting "A-List" of favorite blogs by prominent conservative bloggers. James Taranto and Glenn Reynolds are among the blog authors who were polled.

Monday, April 18, 2005

TIME Magazine: Ms. Right

John Cloud has a good piece on the Right's favorite rhetorical bombthrower, Ann Coulter (subscription or newstand code required).

High academic standards

MIT nerds pull a "Sokal": "In a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference."

Read the rest here.

Hat tip: Evan Sable.

"Border is right problem, 'Minutemen' wrong answer"

I haven't really been following the "minuteman" project controversy. USATODAY weighs in on the issue in an editorial. Their conclusion: while illegal immigration is a real problem, these ad hoc citizens' border patrols can't solve the problem.

That seems obvious. Their real intent is to apply political pressure to the President and Congress, to embarrass them by showing that independent citizens are willing to make more of an effort to enforce immigration laws than the federal government. The President's approach (which USA Today supports) is to give more of a carrot (the "guest worker" program, for example) to encourage legal immigration. Maybe. At some point, though, does enforcement also have to be beefed up? And don't forget that the Mexican government directly abets illegal immigrants, helping them to avoid interdiction. Should Bush be applying diplomatic pressure to President Fox?

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri code

Huge news for classical scholars: "For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed."

Saturday, April 16, 2005


A great story is sometimes like an iceberg. The largest, most significant parts are below the surface, submerged, invisible in the text of the written account. Take David Kirkpatrick's story in The New York Times on Senator Frist's support of Christian conservatives in their battle for the judiciary, specifically against the use of the filibuster to derail devout Christian judges:

Asked about Dr. Frist's participation in an event describing the filibuster "as against people of faith," his spokesman, Bob Stevenson, did not answer the question directly.

"Senator Frist is doing everything he can to ensure judicial nominees are treated fairly and that every senator has the opportunity to give the president their advice and consent through an up or down vote," Mr. Stevenson said, adding, "He has spoken to groups all across the nation to press that point, and as long as a minority of Democrats continue to block a vote, he will continue to do so."

Please note that when writing about the press conference, Kirkpatrick did not state directly just what question was put to Stevenson. We are to take on faith that the spokesman was evasive (although Kirkpatrick is careful to imply that the spokesman was shifty without actually saying it explicitly).

When citing conservative activist Tony Perkins, Kirkpatrick writes:
"The issue of the judiciary is really something that has been veiled by this 'judicial mystique' so our folks [conservative rank and file] don't really understand it, but they are beginning to connect the dots," Mr. Perkins said in an interview, reciting a string of court decisions about prayer or displays of religion.
Please also note that Kirkpatrick does not see fit to indicate the string of court decisions to which Perkins objects. That might be helpful here in deciding what the conservative case is. (I guess we should be grateful that Kirkpatrick did not imply that this Tony Perkins also had the lead role in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.)

He ends the piece with a Schumer press release:
'The last thing we need is inflammatory rhetoric which on its face encourages violence against judges.'
Please, remind me again -- who's been encouraging violence against judges? Was Senator Kennedy looking to incite violence against Judge Bork almost 20 years ago when he suggested that Bork was looking to bring back segregation? Maureen Dowd's magic ellipses have their counterparts in these submerged stories on the front page. Does that make the Grey Lady to be the Titanic?

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Just finished The Aeneid. Will blog it later (yes, you've read it before, but I hadn't, so go easy on me).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blogging will be light

from me for the weekend. Taking a small trip with the family.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Eric Scheske's mandate

The Daily Eudemon has a nice follow-up to the Times's "man date" silliness. Unlike the Girlie Men of Thumos, Eric Scheske now has worries about his marriage:

But here's our biggest concern: The examples they site of activities that don't count as "man dates" because they're too manly–going to bars, exercising together, and attending sporting events–were three staples in Eric Scheske's courtship of his wife. Any chance he married a lesbian? The New York Times has him quivering.

And he suspects he'll be sleeping on the porch tonight.

So Eric's marriage may lack a mandate. Or "man date." Er, or the man-woman equivalent of a "man date" which would be -- a romantic "date"? Or would that have been a date with no romantic tension? Oh, this business has us tied up completely in knots. How ever did we get along without the Times?

ScrappleFace Satire

ScrappleFace: Kerry Sends Legion of Lawyers to Monitor Pope Vote: "'While I never let my faith interfere with my politics,' said Mr. Kerry, 'I have a duty to make sure that my church doesn't impose a litmus test -- religious or otherwise -- on the papal candidates. If the Cardinals were to elect another extreme, dogmatic conservative, we would know that all of the votes have not been counted.'"

I heard that a party of unscrupulous orthodox Cardinals have distributed leaflets to all the cool, progressive Cardinals informing them that their conclave is next month. Those swine!

Why I'm leary of married Latin rite priests

Because Nick Kristof thinks it's a good idea. That's it.

Childish? Petulant? Silly? Maybe. You be the judge.
Kristof begins his op-ed on the subject: "Here's my prophecy about the next pope: He will allow married men to become priests."

Kristof begins fretting about the lack of clergy. Kristof has never explained why he thinks it's a good idea that the Church grow, so his advice is suspect. At the end, he indicates that his agenda goes further: "Ordaining women would also be an excellent way to provide a new source of clergy. . . One of his successors as pope will surely apply those precepts of equality to the church itself and allow the ordination of women. . . . " He hasn't mentioned openly active homosexual priests, but would that provide a new source of clergy as well? If that step is taken, why not sacramental gay marriage? In principle, priestly celibacy is a matter of Church discipline and obedience, but it's not clear that such discipline is not still needed.

Side note: if Frank Rich is going to cry about his supposed right-wing "culture of death" every time that it becomes news when a woman is starved and dehydrated to death, can we begin referring to two new phenomena: the Catholic "laity surplus," and the mainline Protestant "laity shortage"? This frames the real state of the world: explosive growth in Catholicism and universal diminishing of modernizing Protestant sects.

Kenneth Woodward at the Times

Kenneth Woodward nails it in his opinion piece at the Times on press coverage of papal matters: "In retrospect, two errors made consistently in interregnum papal journalism stand out. The first is how often the press has overlooked lines of continuity - how the innovations of a new pope were usually prefigured by his predecessor. Pius XII began planning a council before John XXIII convoked Vatican II; from his own writings we know that John's spirituality was of a more conservative kind, and it seems unlikely that he would have embraced all the changes that some progressives claimed were in his 'spirit.' Likewise, it was the cautious Paul VI who abolished the Latin Mass in favor of the vernacular and gave sanction to liberation theology. And it was John Paul I - not his illustrious successor - who first dropped the papal 'we' to speak in his own voice.
The second mistake the press tends to make is labeling any new pope as either conservative or progressive. The job of a pontiff is to conserve the patrimony of faith; 'progressive' is often a matter of style rather than theology or politics. "

Woodward: "Progressive, Conservative, or Rock Star?"

R.I.P., Andrea Dworkin

Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin is dead. Apparently she had been ill for some time. David Frum has a nice short piece on her, managing to find a bit of common ground. R.I.P.

Update: New York Sun has an obit here.

Does Frank Rich "get" literature?

It's not clear where Frank Rich should be in the Times format. Originally a theater critic, he was writing op-ed's for a while. The paper moved him back to the Arts section, where he insisted on continuing to write political op-ed's. Now they've moved him back to the opinion pages, but in a fourteen paragraph piece, eight paragraphs deal with movies (The Passion), TV series ("CSI" and "Revelations"), and novels (the "Left Behind" series), while two others deal with FOX News. So should be back on "Arts"? Not if this piece in any indicator.

Rich is in a bit of a bind. He's a dependable supporter of abortion, "death with dignity," and other progressive causes. It's clear that the phrase "culture of death" rankles him, because that makes him out to be the guy who backs death. So this column marks his attempt to commandeer the language.

So what does Rich mean by the culture of death? "Mortality - the more graphic, the merrier - is the biggest thing going in America." This is a pretty slender insight, if you can call it that. Americans are obsessed with death, and the stories they tell in novels and movies and the news they are interested in are all about death. Hmm. This new "culture of death" explains so much. Americans are fascinated by death, so they turn out entertainments with death in them, such asThe Passion.

And Quentin Tarantino movies.
And Hamlet.
And The Aeneid, The Iliad, and The Odyssey.
And The Tale of Genji.

Everyone, everywhere, at all times is interested in death. It's one of the most universally human preoccupations imaginable. How can a theater critic not know this?

And did Rich object to Ted Koppel reading of a list of names of soldiers who died in Iraq?

Rich also grants this about Pope John Paul II: "If there's one lesson to take away from the saturation coverage of the pope, it is how relatively enlightened he was compared with the men in business suits ruling Washington." Ah, relatively enlightened. If only he could have been absolutely enlightened, like, say, Frank Rich, he'd have understood this whole "culture of life"/"culture of death" business so much better.

Monday, April 11, 2005

They say Bush has no man date

This curious piece in the New York Times "Fashion and Style" section last weekend: "Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman. Dining together across a table without the aid of a television is a man date; eating at a bar is not. Taking a walk in the park together is a man date; going for a jog is not. Attending the movie 'Friday Night Lights' is a man date, but going to see the Jets play is definitely not. "

Confession time: I have been on many "man dates." In fact, I have been on "man dates" with other contributors to this blog. (I'm a old-school nerd who never really followed sports, and I'm about as careerist and business-minded as grape jelly. ) Before this, I never would of thought twice about this. Now, I feel . . . dirty somehow.

I just don't know if I feel that way because the Times seems to think there's something odd about this, or because I inadvertantly became trendy many years before my time.

Unitarian Jihad

Brother Treefrog affirms us in our okayness and sends us this link.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Excellent blog

I reviewed Matthew Lickona's book a couple of days ago. His blog is worth visiting.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Burning Question

When Bishop John Shelby Spong dies, will four million people throng Newark? Maybe Christianity needn't "change or die."

[UPDATE from Mr. T.: Great minds think alike.Uwe Siemon-Netto notes: "'We need a visible church, and the Catholic Church is it. The pope is the leader of all the world's Christians,' agreed Robert Benne, a Lutheran theologian heading the Center for Religion and Society in Salem, Va.

'When in the history of the world did 4 million people ever show up anywhere voluntarily?' asked Benne. 'Who on the other hand would come for a funeral of Bishop (John Shelby) Spong?'"]

Swimming with Scapulars

Confession time: I don't often read personal-experience columns, think pieces, meditations, or reflections. And in my most sexist moments I classify book-length collections of these with chick-lit. When I find such books written by men, I assume that they're marketed to my wife. (She, by the way, agrees and confirms my hunches by comparing the contents of mags aimed at women with mags aimed at men.) All that said, I find I am enthralled by an outstanding new book, Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic by Matthew Lickona. The author's a thirty-something dad and remarkable storyteller. He's a smart journalist, but he doesn't wear his erudition on his sleeve. Instead it's caught up in the stories -- of his adolescence, his dealing with a homosexual come-on, his marriage, his bumpy transition to fatherhood, his work, his discovery of a friend's stash of bondage porn. There's nothing of the pietistic harangue here, nothing syrupy or over-spiritualized, no theological tsk-tsking of an over-clericalized androgynous layperson. Instead, we encounter a real feet-on-the ground, normal-male, living-in-the-word, lay spirituality. This book is so unusal that it's startling. I'm having trouble putting it down, and I had to drop in to tell you about it.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Fundamental change in Asia?

ABC News: U.S. Pushing Japan to Boost Military Role: "In the most sweeping re-examination of the U.S.-Japan security alliance in years, Japan and the United States are negotiating a military realignment that could move some or all of the nearly 20,000 Marines off the crowded island of Okinawa, close underused bases and meld an Army command in Washington state with a camp just south of Tokyo.
But something even more fundamental may be at stake.
With its own military spread thin, Washington appears to be trying to use the talks to nudge Japan out from under the U.S. security blanket and make Tokyo a much more active player in global strategic operations."

This is huge. Japan had decades of history as a militaristic nation, dominating east Asia. Post-WWII, Japan was of course completely neutralized, forbidden to rearm. Is this changing as part of an effort to restrain the North Korean regime?

More on Bill and Bill and the putative priest shortage

National Review Online has a nice take on the hubris of President Clinton and Bill O'Reilly: "Thankfully for the Catholic Church, the Bill Clintons and Bill O'Reillys of the world will not be in the Sistine Chapel choosing a successor to St. Peter. " Article goes on to say that worldwide, there are considerably more priests than 40 years ago.

Classy man

Bill Clinton shows again why we love him: "Aboard Air Force One on the way to Italy earlier this week, Clinton said John Paul was 'like all of us - he may have a mixed legacy,' pointing to controversy over the pope's efforts to centralize church authority in the Vatican, to tamp down 'liberation theology' movements, to promote conservative doctrine and to oppose discussion of female or married priests. "

"Like all of us." Does everyone have a mixed legacy? Gandhi? Albert Schweitzer? Mother Teresa?

It's not a stretch to suggest President Clinton is thinking of his own administration's record. So like him. Every question put to him in the end becomes a question about him.

Shameless editorial distortion

Here's how the Times starts their latest salvo against Bush on Social Security:

Imagine this: On his next trip to Japan, President Bush visits the vault at the Bank of Japan, where that country's $712 billion in United States government bonds is stored. There, as the cameras roll, he announces that the bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, are, in fact, worthless i.o.u.'s. He does the same thing when he visits China and so on around the world, until he has personally repudiated the entire $2 trillion of United States debt held by foreigners.

Mr. Bush rehearsed just that act on Tuesday, when he visited the office of the federal Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va. He posed next to a file cabinet that holds the $1.7 trillion in Treasury securities that make up the Social Security trust fund. He tossed off a comment to the effect that the bonds were not "real assets." Later, in a speech at a nearby university, he said: 'There is no trust fund. Just i.o.u.'s that I saw firsthand."

Consider the following:
  1. A man borrows $500 from his friend, and he writes an I.O.U. to his friend. His wife goes to his friend's house and announces that the I.O.U. is worthless.
  2. A man gambles away $500 from his savings account, and he writes himself an I.O.U. His wife has an argument with him and says the I.O.U. is worthless.

Aren't these two entirely different scenarios? Is the Times editorial board dense, or are they being willfully obtuse here? There is no trust fund -- there is a commitment by the govt. to fund social security from funds that they don't have. There is a huge difference. A bond is an asset for the holder, and a liability for the issuer. When the holder and the issuer are the same, it is both, and therefore neither.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Go, Peggy, go!

Peggy Noonan has a wonderful apprection for John Paul II and what he meant for Poland and for the rest of us. Closing quote: "They say he asked that his heart be removed from his body and buried in Poland. That sounds right, and I hope it's true. They'd better get a big box."

Anti-americanism in France

The Telegraph has this review of Philippe Roger's The American Enemy.

Lawrence, gay marriage, and polyamory

Remember that Andrew Sullivan and other advocates of gay marriage assured us if gay marriage became the law of the land (most likely by judicial fiat), polyamory (the current favored term for polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, group marriage, and the like) would not necessarily follow? That those who claimed polyamory would follow were alarmists? One argument was that there was not a large "pro-poly" constituency. If you think that's true, check out the conversation that's occurring here on this blog, or just google "polyandry."

It's hard to see how it could be otherwise. Gay marriage advocates who draw the line at polyandry (or contraceptive incest) are, by their own logic, only ascending to their proper place entitled by their civil rights when fighting for marriage, but then pulling up the ladder behind them when other groups make similar claims.

Also, the size of the constituency shouldn't matter if we're talking about ethical principles.

From Lawrence v. Texas:
"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. 'It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.' Casey, supra, at 847. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."

From Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upon which Lawrence relies):
"These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."

Reading these cases together, and positing (as courts in Massachusetts and California have) that the right to marry is central to personal dignity and autonomy, it becomes difficult to see why polyamory should be any different.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jonah Goldberg on JPII and the papacy

The always witty and perceptive Jonah Goldberg gives his perspective as a non-Catholic. He also traces the salutary effect the church has had on political culture in the west: "It was only in modern times, best symbolized by Napoleon crowning himself emperor of the French, that this external [religious] authority was firmly rejected in favor of his own will-to-power. It is no coincidence that Napoleon is widely considered the first modern dictator." Read it all.

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum has a personal remembrance of Poland, Communism, and the Pope. in today's Washington Post: "My husband, 16 years old at the time, remembers climbing a tree on the outskirts of an airfield near Gniezno where the pope was saying Mass and seeing an endless crowd, 'three kilometers in every direction.' The regime -- its leaders, its police -- were nowhere visible: 'There were so many of us, and so few of them.' That was also the trip in which the pope kept repeating, 'Don't be afraid.'"

Vivid, worth reading. (Applebaum is also the author of a comprehensive history of the Soviet gulag system.)

WSJ says Sandy Berger got a fair sentence

Wall Street Journal editorial today says Sandy Berger's sentence was fair. They're essentially calling it a victimless crime.

I'm actually ok with the sentence. The comparison with Martha Stewart is telling more because Stewart was clearly the victim of a zealous prosecutors than because of any supposed coddling of Berger. (On the other hand, I think Berger has demonstrated that he is not to be trusted with secret documents and don't think he should ever get the security clearance back.)

It's more the media silence on it that's frustrating. When a former National Security Adviser destroys documents and lies to cover it up, that should be a story. Instead it gets buried in the Times and other papers.

Certainly Tom DeLay wishes he got this kind of a free pass from the press.

Weird take on the Schiavo case

Ran across this: in my journeys with Google: "Schiavo Case Proves Marriage Amendment Leaders are Anti-Marriage" on the website

The writer, a self-described "Christian Polygamist," claims that Fox, conservative web sites, talk show hosts, and others, are really "liberals" who want a nanny state, as demonstrated by their refusal to contenance both euthanasia and group marriage. Obviously, we were trampling Michael Schiavo's rights as a de facto poly.

I'm speechless.

The Dante Club

Read Matthew Pearl's novel The Dante Club a week or two ago at the urging of my good friend Levi Asher. It's a fun mystery. The premise is that the first American translator of Dante, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and his literary fellows (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. and others), in the course of their translation work become aware that a serial murderer is patterning his crimes after scenes from Inferno. The catch is that Dante is largely untranslated on these shores -- making Longfellow and Co. themselves prime suspects, a fact which, if revealed to the police would incriminate them and put their beloved (as yet unfinished) translation in jeopardy. So poet/intellectuals must turn sleuths.

It's a well-written piece of historical fiction, drawing on the real life successes and tragedies of these nineteenth century figures and set against a country still in exhaustion from the terrors of the Civil War. Pearl actually does work on (unlike, say Dan Brown) to flesh out his characters. Details like the tragic deaths of Lowell's and Longfellow's wives add richness, and Boston and Cambridge are vividly depicted.

On the other hand, the solution to the whodunnit seemed a tiny bit of a cheat. (But I won't give any spoilers.)

Pearl is a member of the current day successor to Longfellow's "Dante Club," the Dante Society of America. Knowing the little I know about both Dante and Longfellow's time, the novel rang pretty true.

An enjoyable way to pass the time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sandy Berger's crime - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - April 05, 2005

Sandy Berger's crime - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - April 05, 2005: "Martha Stewart went to jail for lying to federal investigators. But for lying after stealing highly classified documents from the National Archives -- in an apparent attempt to alter the historical record on terrorism, no less -- former Clinton national security adviser and Kerry campaign adviser Sandy Berger will get a small fine and slap on the wrist. "

Martha Stewart is a great comparison.

Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds

No whine before the Times

The New York Times interrupts this mourning period ... to let an ex-priest vent his long-repressed resentments. It seems that -- despite ample evidence to the contrary -- all the good priests got passed over in the John Paul II era. This from the same guy who opposed leprechaun-like Irish monks to the dour St. Augustine in his collossally stupid *How the Irish Saved Civilization.* Hasn't he ever read the Irish penitentials? Yeesh. I do have a feeling that Father Cahill never got the reverence he thought he deserved in his clerical days. He'll get it now from the Times, as long as he plays a good "Uncle Pat."

UPDATE: Hat tip to Eric Scheske.

Why is Krugman afraid of Florida House Bill 837?

Paul Krugman rails against Florida's academic freedom act, which just passed the Florida house: "Think of the message this sends: today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party. . . . political pressure will nonetheless have a chilling effect on scholarship." What is Krugman talking about here, what is this threat to civilization? It's Florida House Bill 837, entitled "An act relating to student and faculty academic freedom in postsecondary education." Ooh, academic freedom -- scary! What does the bill propose? That students and faculty not be discriminated against on the basis of political or religious beliefs. Those radical theocratic Republicans! This means that you can't harass a student because she holds Christian beliefs . . . or Jewish ones . . . or Muslim ones . . . or atheist ones. Yep, that's theocracy in action.

For my readers, I've reproduced the pertinent provisions of Florida HB 873.

Section 1. . . [S]tudents have rights to a learning environment in which they have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion, to be graded without discrimination on the basis of their political or religious beliefs, and to a viewpoint-neutral distribution of student fee funds . . .

Section 2. . . Postsecondary student and faculty academic bill of rights.

  1. Students have a right to expect a learning environment in which they will have access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects they study. In the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, the fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives should be a significant institutional purpose.
  2. Students have a right to expect that they will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects they study and that they will not be discriminated against on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
  3. Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.
  4. Students have a right to expect that freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience of students and student organizations will not be infringed upon by postsecondary administrators, student government organizations, or institutional policies, rules, or procedures.
  5. Students have a right to expect that their academic institutions will distribute student fee funds on a viewpoint-neutral basis and will maintain a posture of neutrality with respect to substantive political and religious disagreements, differences, and opinions.
  6. Faculty and instructors have a right to academic freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own and should encourage intellectual honesty, civil debate, and critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.
  7. Faculty and instructors have a right to expect that they will be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in their fields of expertise and will not be hired, fired, denied promotion, or denied tenure on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
  8. Faculty and instructors have a right to expect that they will not be excluded from tenure, search, or hiring committees on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
  9. Students, faculty, and instructors have a right to be fully informed of their rights and their institution's grievance procedures for violations of academic freedom by means of notices prominently displayed in course catalogs and student handbooks and on the institutional website.
Section 3. The Chancellor of Colleges and Universities shall provide a copy of the provisions of this act to the president of each state university. The Chancellor of Community Colleges and Workforce Education shall provide a copy of the provisions of this act to the president of each community college.

That is truly frightening stuff.

Seriously, one can debate whether such legislation is wise or necessary. But Krugman's parade of horribles boils down to largely ad hominem attacks against people who disagree with him. He complains that university professors will not be able to teach evolution, which seems a far stretch. The teachers are required "a posture of neutrality with respect to substantive political and religious disagreements, differences, and opinions." Evolution is a matter of biology, and it succeeds as a theory with regard to empirical evidence alone.

In other news:

"1789 -- AP: Princeton University professor Paul Krugman warns that the sinister so-called "Bill of Rights," with its expansive first protection for "the free exercise of religion," will lead to the nation becoming a 'damned theocracy.'"

Chavez, "Fidel Lite"

New York Post on Venezuela's Chavez:

"According to Gerver Torres, a former Venezuelan government minister, Chavez's 'main motivation now is to do everything he possibly can to negatively affect the United States, Bush in particular . . . trying to bring together all the enemies of the United States.'"

Monday, April 04, 2005

Matthew Yglesias gets it right on polls and American chauvinism

I may not see eye-to-eye with Yglesias about much, but he hit it dead on in this post: "Am I the only one who thinks running polls on what American Catholics think the next Pope should say about various sex-and-gender issues is a bit weird? The idea that that could be relevant seems to misunderstand the nature and purpose of the Church hierarchy in so many different ways to be a bit hard to comprehend. The whole point of the set-up is that public opinion doesn't matter in this way. And even if the Cardinals are going to worry about what their flock thinks, why should they care in particular about what Americans think. There are a whole lot of Catholics out there in the wide world."

(Matthew Yglesias: Polling Run Amok)

Why Zimbabwe is not Ukraine

Christian Science Monitor editorial on the grim situation in Zimbabwe. "In Zimbabwe, half the country is on the verge of acute hunger, and the official HIV infection rate is 27 percent."

Injustice continues in Zimbabwe

The New York Times -- Hundreds Protest Mugabe's Victory in Zimbabwe's Election: "JOHANNESBURG, April 4 - Hundreds of supporters of Zimbabwe's political opposition marched in Harare today to protest what they called the fraudulent victory of President Robert G. Mugabe's ruling party in Thursday's parliamentary elections."

Zogby contradicts the CW on Schiavo and American opinion

Zogby International: "Polls leading up to the death of Terri Schiavo made it appear Americans had formed a consensus in favor of ending her life. However, a new Zogby poll with fairer questions shows the nation clearly supporting Terri and her parents and wanting to protect the lives of other disabled patients.

The Zogby poll found that, if a person becomes incapacitated and has not expressed their preference for medical treatment, as in Terri's case, 43 percent say 'the law presume that the person wants to live, even if the person is receiving food and water through a tube' while just 30 percent disagree."

The poll numbers are even more extreme in other questions. Check the rest here

Sandy Berger Guilty, Suffers Wrist Inflammation

ScrappleFace: Sandy Berger Guilty, Suffers Wrist Inflammation

ScrappleFace always says it best.

Terri, Can You Hear Me?

If the Who's Tommy were written today, I imagine it would be much shorter. The poor lad would be judged to be completely unreceptive, the tests the doctor gave would show no sense at all, they'd tearfully administer an overdose of morphine in the middle of "Sparks," and Tommy Walker would go gentle into that good night.

Been thinking about Tommy a bit (yes, I'm a 70's adolescent stuck in the body of a middle-aged man). Pete Townshend's songs rely on the tension between presence and absence for someone who is disabled, the recognition both of that inwardness and our shared tendency to abuse those inward beings, those others, whether they have speech impediments, are mentally retarded, or just socially awkward or shy. Quiet, insular instrumentals ("Sparks," "Underture") suggest secret inner spaces. Kant wrote about the "ding an sich," or "the thing-in-itself," as opposed to "the-thing-for-us," the thing as it appears ("phenomenon"). Tommy is the person-in-himself, all interior with no surface. Oddly enough, the album is strongest when it stays with Tommy during his imprisonment in his self. Now, the Schiavo affair and the speculation on the passing of the pope indicates that interior experience has no value. Only the phenomenonal is worthy, persons who are persons-for-us. Tommy makes the transition from inward being to phenomenon -- he becomes a "Sensation." Yet blindness remains.

Dealing as it does with disability, Tommy shows disability as a metaphor for the human condition. Tommy is blind, deaf and dumb, but so are his parents, his tormentors, his followers, and his audience. The real blindness is caused by a kind of narcissism that blinds us to the truth about ourselves and makes true invalids, true slaves of us. A quest for freedom runs through everything on that record, and, like George Orwell and Pope John Paul II, the songs assume a deep connection between truth and freedom. Orwell wrote that all freedom begins with the freedom to say that 2+2=4. Roger Daltrey sang that "freedom tastes of reality."

It's impossible to see how Tommy could be a hit 30 years later, since he insists on making us see things about ourselves to which we'd rather remain blind.

Papabili on parade, 1978 edition

The usual speculation on the next pope is all over Time Magazine. Why do we read this? (We must read it, because they keep printing it.)

Last time Time picked the papabili, before Wojtyla's election in 1978, they came up with this short list:
  • CORRADO URSI, Archbishop of Naples
  • SALVATORE PAPPALARDO, Archbishop of Palermo
  • GIOVANNI BENELLI, Archbishop of Florence

the long list included:
  • Giovanni Colombo, Archbishop of Milan
  • Anastasio Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin
  • Antonio Poma, Archbishop of Bologna
  • Ugo Poletti, Pope's Vicar in Rome
  • Giuseppe Siri, Archbishop of Genoa
  • Pericle Felici
  • Sergio Pignedoli
  • Sebastiano Baggio
  • Paolo Bertoli
  • Jean Villot
  • Aloisio Lorscheider
  • Eduardo Pironio
  • Johannes Willebrands
  • Basil Hume
Wojtyla? Unmentioned, unknown.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

JPII and war

The Anchoress asks: "Just how vehemently DID John Paul oppose the Iraq war? Are the media presenting this issue fairly or accurately?" She has an interesting discussion there.

Ignorance is Strength at the Times

The New York Times is not content at the death of a man for whom they obviously had little use and even less understanding. They must also deface his memory and rewrite his passing in this editorial:

The death of Pope John Paul II came at a time when Americans have been engaged in an unusual moment of national reflection about mortality. The long, bitter fight over the unknowing Terri Schiavo was a stark contrast to the passing of this pontiff, whose own mind was keenly aware of the gradual failure of his body. The pope would certainly never have wanted his own end to be a lesson in the transcendent importance of allowing humans to choose their own manner of death. But to some of us, that was the exact message of his dignified departure.

I'm chalk-full of "stark contrasts" for the Times:
  • Terri Schiavo was starved to death; Karol Wojtyla died peacefully of natural causes.
  • More than a decade before she was starved and on more than one occasion, Terri was denied routine treatment for infections; the pope received antibiotics to treat sepsis shortly before his death.
  • Terri had her feeding tube pulled; the pope took nutrition through a nasal feeding tube before his death.
  • Terri was in no pain; the pope's suffering was visible every day for years.
And what to make of the confused conclusion? For "some" (of the editors, I guess) the pope's last act is somehow an act of advocacy for euthanasia. He was a man who insisted on being visible as he physically degenerated from a vigorous, vital pastor who loved both physical activity and conversational companionship at the start of his pontificate to a trembling, humble, pitiable elder, stooped, unable to walk, finally silent. He in no way chose "death with dignity," the favored euphemism for killing the sick and disabled. Had he been the "choosing" type, perhaps he would have called for assisted suicide in some spectacular way, perhaps a week earlier on Good Friday in order to have the faithful associate him with Jesus Christ. Fortunately, the pastor of the universal Church was not cut of the same cloth as the editorial board of the Times.

Instead, he submitted to suffering on its own terms, accepting life as a gift of the Divine. In doing so, he followed Christ in the way of the cross. "Death with dignity" was not for Christ,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Slow Newsday? Schiavo Case Evolved Into Huge News Story

As James Taranto at Best of the Web would write, You Don't Say!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Last Words

Vatican: Pope's last words for his young followers: "'I looked for you, now you have come to me, and for this I thank you'"

R.I.P., Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II

What did you do during the war, Daddy?

This priceless bit of hatred comes from the delightful Hans Küng:

With his "internal policies," this Pope betrayed the council numerous times. Instead of using the conciliatory program words "Aggiornamento - Dialogue and Collegiality -- ecumenical," what's valid now in doctrine and practice is "restoration, lectureship, obedience and re-Romanization." The criteria for the appointment of a bishop is not the spirit of the gospel or pastoral open-mindedness, but rather to be absolutely loyal to the party line in Rome. Before their appointment, their fundamental conformity is tested based on a curial catalog of questions and they are sacrally sealed through a personal and unlimited pledge of obedience to the Pope that is tantamount to an oath to the "Fuehrer."

Would it be uncharitable of me to suggest that Küng, who grew up in neutral Switzerland during the greatest conflagration of the twentieth century, shielded from any consequences of that calamity, might choose his words more carefully when speaking of a man who chose the way of the cross in an underground seminary in the blackest heart of Nazi oppression?

It's got a good beat, and I can dance to it

One of the challenges of contemporary parenting is fighting off the onslaught of the pervasive musical dreck that is targeted at little ears. By dreck, I mean it's devoid of artistic, poetic or spiritual value. As for naming the, ahem, artists, (performer is more accurate) I'm sure you know the litany of names: Brittany Spears, Christine Aguilera, Ashley Simpson, and so forth. Honestly, however, I don't really care to catalog those artists whom I wish to keep from my kids. My personal ethic is simply to avoid FM radio at all costs. (Except for college radio when I'm alone in the car and near a college.)

Rather than taking the negative tack, I've taken a route that has been far more interesting and fun than I originally expected. I've been looking for artists that meet my criteria or expand it. I've done this now for several years and have come across a few bands that both my kids and myself enjoy: Sixpence None the Richer, Switchfoot, Jaci Velasquez and Plumb come to mind. Jump5 is a great energetic band for kids. Being that artistic merit is a continuum and not binary, I allow my child's indulgence in less enriching fare, such as Hilary Duff (acceptably platitudinous) Cheetah Girls (jam packed with cliches! At least it's not tawdry). Then there's Lindsay Lohan, who I am afraid has sailed over the precipice to the dreck side. Since I don't count on this material to come to me, I've been using "Focus on the Family" "Plugged In" web site, for both music and movie reviews. has also been good in finding common artists. I also beg people for ideas on new music. (Hint, hint)

This Easter, the Easter Bunny (a.k.a., Mrs. DancingOx) brought our girls what appears to an album that fits most of the criteria above, "Room to Breath" by ZOEGirl. It's an uneven effort overall and the lyrics are less poetic than I'd like but where it errs, it is at least safe (i.e., poor, not vulgar, poetry) This doesn't appeal to me musically but the girls are loving the music.

I'd love to hear from others on kid-friendly music and resources for the artistically starved parent.

HBO: Hugs for the Benefit of O'Franken

HBO is airing Left of the Dial, a documentary of the auspicious birth, early scandals, and subsequent vindication of Air America Radio. The overtly liberal talk radio network is one year old, so how anyone can possibly know that Air America is going to be a success is beyond me. Judging from the preview, the documentary is a puff piece, a love letter to Franken to encourage him to fight the good fight.

Does anyone out there remember a major media outlet filming and broadcasting a fawning story of, say, Rush Limbaugh's trials and tribulations? Limbaugh's had decades of undeniable success, as opposed to a single year of mere survival.

The previews of the documentary make it seem like a David and Goliath story. Those who read the NY Times Magazine's piece on the launch will remember a scene in which media professionals from virtually every major outlet -- broadcast, cable, newspapers, magazines -- donated time and expertise to help plan and launch AA. David? Yeah, right.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Chemical attack plot

Chemical attack plot
: "U.S. officials say a terror suspect imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay is a former Iraqi soldier and al-Qaida member who plotted with an Iraqi intelligence agent in August 1998 to attack the American and other foreign embassies in Pakistan with chemical weapons, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press."

Sandy Burglar gets slap on wrist for destroying documents

Apparently there was nothing inadvertant about the former NSC director's security breach: "Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business. "

For this action, he must pay a $10,000 fine along with a loss of his security clearance.

Oh, the security clearance is only suspended. Three years. The Cut-Up will have access to top-secret materials again in 2008.

Rhode Island Pro-Life Democrat Leaves Race After Abortion Debate

No matter what Hillary says, this is what faces would-be national Democrats who buck their party on abortion. Jim Langevin will not be running against pro-abort Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee.

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