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Monday, March 31, 2003

Interesting evidence about the Baghdad market bombing.

Jed Babbin reports there's no impact crater:

We inventory such things, and one of ours didn't go there. All of those we launched, dropped, or fired are accounted for, and it's pretty clear that none hit the market.

* * *

The folks at No Such Agency apparently have a picture of the spot the bombing occurred, and there's one really telling piece of evidence. Or rather, there isn't. There's no crater in the ground. I didn't do very well in college physics, but I am pretty sure that a 500 or 1,000 pound bomb--far less a bigger one--which is falling at several hundred miles an hour, is gonna make a big hole in the ground when it hits, and a much bigger one when it explodes. The crater left by bombs of that size are usually at least ten feet deep and twenty or thirty feet across. In the Baghdad bombings, there are no craters.


I've also heard that both bombings were, remarkably enough, in Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad.
Grim reports related to our POWs.

Shallow grave with four mutilated bodies discovered near torture "hospital" now held by Marines.

At least one of the bodies of the four American soldiers discovered in a shallow grave was "brutalized and mutilated," Pentagon sources revealed yesterday.

The corpses were unearthed in the vicinity of the "hospital" at Nasiriyah where U.S. Marines found evidence that the Iraqis had operated a torture chamber.

Military officials are now investigating whether there is any connection between the hospital and the fate of at least 12 members of a U.S. Army mechanical unit that disappeared last Sunday.

* * *

"We're not sure who it is [in the graves] at this point," said Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

U.S. forensics experts and mortuary personnel are now trying to determine the identities of the dead soldiers. But officials fear the worst.

Inside the hospital, the shocked Marines found bloodied pieces of an American female soldier's uniform. Her name badge and American flag were missing.

Now, investigators believe that the hospital was a den of horror rather than healing and was used by the fanatical Feyidah militia as a staging area and headquarters. Inside, the leathernecks found one room that was equipped with a bed and a car battery, indicating that it was used to electrically torture prisoners.


The Iraqis are refusing to let the International Red Cross see the American POWs.

Jed Babbin at NRO connects the tragic dots:

The reason is almost certain. Many have been tortured and killed. We don't know if any are still alive.

Keep praying for them and their families.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Good News from...............France!

No, there isn't a radon problem here. Why do you ask?

A few pieces showing that the spirit of resistance is not quite dead in Petai--er, Chirac's France.

No, not all Frenchmen are in the bag. Novelist Pascal Bruckner, philosopher Andre Glucksman and filmmaker Romain Goupil published a letter in Le Monde supporting the overthrow of Hussein (the translation is a little spotty, but you get the idea).

Doctors Without Borders founder Bernard Kouchner, while generally speaking opposed to the war, supports the overthrow of Hussein.

Even a prominent member of Chirac's party, Alain Madelin, called for France to support the U.S. position on Iraq:

In a move that surprised many politicians, Alain Madelin, a former minister of industry and member of President Jacques Chirac's conservative party, challenged the prevailing mood in Paris by calling for support of Washington and its war plans.
In what appeared to be an answer to those members of the European Parliament who last week brandished placards saying, "No War," and "No war for oil," Mr. Madelin said:
"The United Nations has never distinguished itself by an ability to act. Our place today is at the side of the Americans to free the Iraqi people.
"Iraq's liberation would give the region hope for more freedom and prosperity," he added. "It would put pressure on authoritarian regimes, induce the Palestinians to abandon terrorism and open the way to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian problem."


Finally, an example of cultural resistance, in the heart of Vichy Paris.

The spirit of the Maquis lives on.

[Thanks to Mark Cameron for the heads-up.]
Al Reutera gripes about media bias.

Irony...overload...must get...antidote..........

Ah, that's better. You see: it's pro-America media bias that's the problem. Welcome to Bizarro World. This from the "news" service that doesn't use the term "terrorist" and says al Qaeda is "allegedly" behind the 9/11 attacks. Note that there apparently isn't a problem with al-Jazeera cheerleading for jihad, or circulating death porn for the Arab street:

I have confirmed that the Al-Jazeera tape, all twelve minutes of it, is merely an excerpt of the hour-long version being shown regularly in Egypt and elsewhere. The short version shows the interrogation of some U.S. soldiers and the defamed dead bodies of others. The longer version includes all that, plus the murders and later abuse and mutilation of the bodies. Apparently, the whole thing is out there on the internet.

Nah, no problem with that. Reporters wearing flags: that's the real atrocity!

Enjoy Mr. Spiegelman's alternate universe commentary. Just make sure you have a salt lick handy--a mere grain will not suffice.
Fr. Joseph Wilson has loosed the cannonade.

Against the peaceniks of the Diocese of Brooklyn:

Fr. Wilson received the following message today from an official of the Brooklyn diocese:

"Please include this in your Mass announcements this Sunday: "'Everyone is invited to a Mass for the Restoration of Peace at Holy Trinity Church on Tuesday at 5PM. Father Latona, the Pastor, will be Celebrant.'"

Well, that did it. Fr. Wilson, who has just had it with pious peacenikery in this time of great peril, sent out the following fax to all the parishes that had received the first:

"Faithful Sons and Daughters of the Church are invited to Saint Luke's Church on Monday evening, 7:15PM, for a Mass, Holy Hour and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, imploring the intercession of our Lady of Lepanto for the safety of our armed forces. The Holy Rosary, which once turned back those who would destroy Christian civilization, will be prayed before Mass."


[Via Rod Dreher]

Friday, March 28, 2003

Good (!) News from Canada--Part II.

Premiers of Alberta and Ontario speak out in favor of the United States.

[As to the rest of the story, it appears that the Triple L loudmouth did indeed say "So did," and not "Screw." Given the article's description of his history of boob-like, vaguely anti-American comments, such confusion is understandable.]
Good (!) News from Canada--Part I.

Canadians plan large rallies in support of the United States over the next few weeks. The planners are more than a little cheesed with Chretien's government:

One of the group's unofficial slogans -- "the voice of the heretofore silent majority" -- means for Ms. Tabb "being able to give meat to that voice. I want to send a message to the current [Canadian] government that they are misrepresenting many people and to the U.S. government that Canadians are being misrepresented."

Ms. Tabb, who is married to a Canadian and a landed immigrant, said she just recently hung her U.S. flag at her home, and was wondering, only half-seriously, if she would soon find "eggs on my window."

That sort of tentativeness had no place at yesterday's meeting. As speaker after speaker said, "We're proud of our relationship with the United States."

Mr. Cooper said he was most embarrassed by the anti-American tone in the country. It's one thing, he said, for Canada to decide not to send troops to fight alongside Americans. "So send field hospitals then," he snapped. "Send medical aid. Send a message of support to our friends."


Bravo! And more importantly: thanks.
Why no mass uprisings?

The surprising answer is, in part, that we are actively discouraging them:

In recent months, the U.S. war planners have been discouraging the Iraqi population from any uprising and trying the keep the Iraqi opposition forces off the battlefield. At a summit in Ankara earlier this month, Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush’s special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, firmly declared Washington’s “no uprisings” strategy to the Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni Iraqi opposition leaders. “The lesson Tommy Franks got from the Afghan campaign last year is that it is risky to work with indigenous groups. He does not want to do that again,” one insider told me. As the thinking goes, uprisings across the country would not just “complicate” the military planning, but turn off potential allies inside the regime by stressing the exiled Iraqi opposition’s role. That, in turn, might alienate both alienate the Sunni elite in Baghdad and Iraq’s military commanders who might switch sides as the operation unfolds.

So the United States is set to liberate Iraq without the participation of Iraqis? Precisely, it seems.

“We were told that the coalition forces do not want to see any uprisings in major cities,” said a leading member of the exiled opposition group Iraqi National Congress who took part in the meetings in Ankara. INC has a vast network of informants in the southern areas of Iraq and in and around Baghdad, but its leadership, now based in northern Iraq, had no formal contact with CENTCOM until the fifth day of the war, when a CENTCOM liaison officer finally arrived at the group’s headquarters in the northern city of Suleimaniye.


Like the decision to leave Iraqi state TV on the air, this sure looks like a mistake. Hopefully, just like the decision to end IrTV's broadcast day, I hope it gets reversed soon. It makes no sense to adhere to this policy, especially when it's being turned against us by the Fedayeen.
Is "Just War" doctrine headed for a "developmental" tune-up?

As in developing into pacifism? If you listen to Archbishop Renato "America is Pharaoh" Martino, the answer is a disturbing "Yes." According to the WSJ's William McGurn:

Of far more concern, at least to papal admirers such as yours truly, is that the war statements appear to reflect not simply a disagreement over Iraq but a strain in John Paul's thinking that sits uncomfortably with 1,500 years of Catholic teaching on the legitimate use to force--a teaching, moreover, that asks not when authorities have the "right" to use force but when they have the obligation.

John Paul's unease over the state's use of force was perhaps first evident in his earlier treatment of the death penalty: that while it may be acceptable in principle, the state now has alternatives that make it all but impossible to justify in practice.

The linkage is not only mine. In recent interviews, Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, explicitly says that classic just-war teaching may now be headed the way of the death penalty. When the National Catholic Register asked the archbishop if he meant by this that "there is no such thing as a just war anymore," his answer was unequivocal: "Absolutely."
The pope has not gone this far. But neither has he repudiated the more fantastic claims by Vatican officials.


What's next? "Developments" regarding the [former] right/obligation to defense of self, family and others?

After all, there is no real logical distinction. It's at times like these I am haunted by the words of C.S. Lewis:

In this essay, “Christian Reunion” (Christian Reunion and Other Essays, ed. Walter Hooper, London: Collins, 1990 p.17 at p.19) Lewis stated that:

"The real reason why I cannot be in communion with you [Roman Catholics] is not my disagreement with this or that Roman doctrine, but that to accept your Church means, not to accept a given body of doctrine, but to accept in advance any doctrine your Church hereafter produces. It is like being asked to agree not only to what a man has said but also to what he is going to say."


[Link via Amy Welborn.]

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Only female POW is Catholic.

Shoshana Johnson's mother says she made sure her daughter had her Rosary with her:

[Stone] Phillips: “You know her better than anyone. What do you think she’s doing to help her get through this?”
Eunice Johnson: “She is praying. She’s praying everyday and every time. And that’s gonna get her through. She’s asking God. I know... I know in my heart because she had a rosary with her. She forgot it. This was the day that she was being deployed. And she called me and she said, ‘I left my rosary, you know, on the dresser upstairs in my house.’ And I had to go back home and get it. So, I’m hoping that she has that rosary with her.”
Phillips: “Her faith is important—
Eunice Johnson: “Yes.”
Phillips: “— to her?”
Eunice Johnson: “Yes. And I know she’s praying... When it falls night time in Iraq I think of her in a little cell by herself and it’s dark, it’s black. And there’s no kind of communication so that’s where I know that she’s communicating with God.”


The Johnsons say they haven't told Shoshana's daughter that her mom has been captured.

Pray for all of our POWs and their families.
At the intersection of Woodward and Tikrit: Hussein and Detroit's Chaldeans.

I strongly recommend this excellent WSJ article from yesterday's first page about the complex but generally deteriorating relationship between Saddam and local Iraqi Catholics:

Sacred Heart Church on Seven Mile Road is the church Saddam Hussein built.

In 1980, Reverend Jacob Yasso flew to Baghdad and met with Mr. Hussein, who wanted to help Iraqi Christians who had come to America. That year, Mr. Hussein sent $1.5 million to cover the church's debt and build a social hall and day-care center.

Last Friday night, 450 parishioners gathered at Sacred Heart for a service. They prayed for Mr. Hussein's overthrow. They also prayed for a miracle -- that loved ones who disappeared in Iraq during the dictator's reign would be found alive after the war.

Father Yasso says more than half of the parish's 1,200 families have missing loved ones in Iraq. The 70-year-old Iraqi-born priest says he decided Mr. Hussein was "evil" in the years following his meeting with the ruler, as newcomers to his church told their stories about the regime. "I shook his hand in 1980," he says. "Now, he is the devil."

* * *

Detroit's Iraqi community, the largest in the U.S., is made up mostly of Chaldean Roman Catholics, who began arriving here a century ago. Chaldeans, a non-Arab ethnic group who speak Aramaic, constitute about 5% of Iraq's population. About 15,000 Detroit Iraqis are Shiite Muslims, members of Iraq's majority religious group. Most of these Shiites fled Iraq in recent years to escape persecution from Mr. Hussein, who leads the secular Baath Party but is a member of the Sunni Muslim minority. Starting in about 1982, the U.S. viewed Mr. Hussein, then fighting a war with Iran, as a strategic partner. U.S. efforts to maintain relations with him continued until he invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Until recently, many of Detroit's Chaldeans and Muslims feared speaking out against Mr. Hussein, frightened of reprisals against their relatives in Iraq. Now, emboldened by the war, they're more vocal. Several Iraqi-American groups say they plan to seek a full accounting of their missing loved ones after the war. They envision open trials, input from U.S. law groups and Internet databases cataloging the missing. They're also debating whether lower-level officials in Iraq should be held accountable for the disappearances they oversaw.

* * *

As Iraqis here become more outspoken, some simmering tensions within the community are surfacing. Members of the Iraqi Democratic Union of America, a longtime anti-Hussein group of Chaldeans based in suburban Detroit, say several thousand local Iraqis have supported the dictator over the years. If those people are invited to help in reconstruction, the Democratic Union and other activists say they will protest. Still, Nabil Roumayah, an officer in the group, says he is forgiving of church leaders who took Mr. Hussein's money early in his regime, "when not a lot of people saw through Saddam."

Those who knew of the regime's tyranny often kept quiet. Souad Mansour, 52, says she was scared to mention publicly that her brother and sister disappeared two decades ago. Family members in Iraq, she says, "always told me, 'Don't open your mouth in America, because they'll kill us.' " Now, the former Kmart clerk clutches black-and-white photos of her missing siblings, Tamader and Khalid, and speaks of her brother's sharp intelligence and her sister's green eyes.

Tamader was abducted from her engineering job in 1979 after she criticized the regime. Khalid, a college student who Ms. Mansour says had compared Mr. Hussein with Adolf Hitler, disappeared a year later. Ms. Mansour believes that if her siblings weren't killed early on, they were murdered in recent years to ease prison overpopulation.

Rumors about the missing are common in Detroit's Iraqi community, with some members saying the people who've disappeared may emerge as bargaining chips by Mr. Hussein's regime. For many people, the uncertainty over loved ones can be debilitating. Among Detroit's Iraqi Shiite refugees, many of whom were tortured themselves, "a sizable number are suffering from extreme emotional depression," says Hassan Jaber of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.

Father Yasso often counsels refugees who are new to Sacred Heart. He says a mother and daughter-in-law told him they had asked to see their loved one in an Iraqi jail. A few hours later, authorities knocked on their door. "You asked to see your son? Here is your son," the mother was told. The man had been chopped into seven pieces. Another body part was given to the wife. "Here is your husband."


If, for some reason, you needed any further reason to pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters, you now have it.

To end on a "stranger than fiction" note, ABC-7 here reported last night that Saddam's charitable endeavors amongst local Chaldeans earned him the key to the City of Detroit from then-Mayor Coleman Young (scroll down to click on the story, which requires RealPlayer to access).

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Hockey and the War, Part II.

Wayne Gretzky recently made several comments supporting the war in Iraq. Apparently this got some Edmontonian's panties in a bunch, leading to a "U$ Lackey" graffito on the Gretzky statue.

Earlier this week, Gretzky praised Bush as a great leader, saying he backed him 100 percent. However, Gretzky also shied away from criticizing Canada's decision to stay out of the conflict.

"The reality is, you know, the people we should be concerned about are the people fighting in Iraq, the people who are there on the missions,'' Gretzky said Tuesday.

"We shouldn't be worried about what entertainers or athletes or Wayne Gretzky or Don Cherry says. It's immaterial.''


Luckily for the vandal, Dave "Cement Head" Semenko wasn't around to see it happen.
Official Warning: The next person who tells me a Polish joke gets punched.

According to this story, Poles are dogged supporters of their troops, the United States and the war to overthrow Saddam.

Poland recently sent 200 soldiers to Iraq, including highly trained special GROM forces, the equivalent of the British SAS and SBS. So far they have been active around Umm Qasr and are working to prevent war saboteurs from blowing up oil installations on the coast. I know this because the exploits of GROM are being followed obsessively by the local media. There was practically a national celebration when Donald Rumsfeld singled Poland out at a news briefing, saying the United States was "especially grateful for the involvement of the armed forces of Great Britain, Australia and Poland." When Major-General Victor Renuart announced Monday that the GROM forces in the Gulf had been "very active and excellent," it too made national headlines. As of this evening both statements are being repeated hourly on the news, and run without pause on Polish rolling news bars. The pride is palpable.

* * *

The support for the boys in GROM is reflected in the general coverage of the war. Polish news is unwavering in its support of the progress of the troops. Local commentators constantly emphasize that the United States is making a conscious decision to run a humanitarian campaign to avoid both Iraqi civilian casualties and casualties among their own troops. There is respect for the way the Americans are fighting, a sense that they are doing a difficult job while trying to cause the least "collateral damage" possible.


There's even an envious swat at Canada:

Yesterday at Warsaw University I asked a local student why Poland was so supportive of the United States. "Which other country is going to spend US$340-billion on defence every year -- Europe? France? Never!" he said. "Every time something serious happens in the world the United States is expected to sort it out." As ever, I was mistaken for an American, but when I told him I was, in fact, Canadian his tone changed. "Your country can afford to be anti-war -- you are right next to the U.S." he said. "I really don't understand Canada," he continued. "I wish we could cut Poland off the map and put it where you live. Canadians are spoilt. It is the luckiest country in the world."
Welcome to St. Eero Catholic Community.

The "renovation" of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit has been completed.

Here's a photo sampler. Can you tell what's new?

Er.

It was designed by a disciple of Finnish architect Eero Saarinen named Gunnar Birkets. Mr. Birkets is not Catholic, and his stated goal was to bring the Gothic cathedral into the modern world. Precisely the wrong approach, as I see it.

I'm going to see it in person before I say more.
America's Vatican-Conferred Badge of Honor.

Strangely enough, I beginning to think that the ferocious criticism of America regarding the war coming out of Rome is actually a sign of favor.

Bear with me. Ponder this: What other nation is the recipient of such ferocious criticism? Who else has been called "Pharaoh"? The answers--no other, and no one.

Only America.

Consider the savage Russian campaign against the Chechens. Vatican condemnations? Zilch. Why? Well, it can't antagonize the Russians over genocide in Chechnya--that would cause Moscow to deny passports to our priests. And you can permanently flush the slim hopes of a pontifical visit to Russia under those circumstances.

What about China? Plenty to criticize there: the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Tibet, the continuing occupation of territory taken from India during the 1963 war, the brutalization of various other ethnic groups. Don't get me started about forced abortions, either. Response from Rome? Crickets. Why? Well, protests would lead to the underground Church taking it on the chin, and a sharp limitation of contacts with the Patriotic Church, too.

What about the assorted/sordid Muslim tyrants and their atrocities? Saddam Hussein got the kid glove treatment from Rome. Ditto the Syrians, whose head optometrist Bashar Assad trotted out the-Jews-as-Christ-killers canard in the presence of the Pope, who did not respond. Why? Well, confronting such tyrants means the dhimmis will pay for it.

But America....America will do nothing to its Catholic minority. Its government will not respond with anything other than mild unofficial irritation--if that. Therefore, that makes it a country Rome can denounce with impunity. It's a safe nation to criticize.

Since it seems that Rome only berates those who won't cause trouble for the faithful, we as Americans ought to feel honored by that. Wear it with pride.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Hockey and the War.

Yet another strange intersection. For those of you unwashed heathens unfamiliar with the NHL, there is a Saturday evening tradition amongst Our Neighbors To The North™ called Hockey Night in Canada. HNIC is the Canadian national campfire, (sorta) uniting the country around the national pastime. Three games are broadcast, depending upon region: in Quebec, the faithful watch the storied Habs, in Ontario, the Maritimes and other parts slightly west, the viewers are subjected to the also-storied but hapless Maple Laffs (1967!), and heading out to the Pacific region, the folks get the even more hapless Canucks (who are actually a very good team this year).

But all viewers are united in watching a regular feature of HNIC: Coach's Corner. CC features the flamboyant and outspoken former Boston Bruins coach, Don Cherry. He of the three-inch starched collars, Cherry weighs in on multiple subjects around the game, playing off accomplished straight man and would-be voice of reason, Ron MacLean.

To call Don un-PC would be an understatement. He is a vocal proponent of fighting in the game, arguing somewhat persuasively that it keeps the dirty players honest. He also lambastes the presence of European players in the game, arguing that, by and large, they aren't tough enough to play the North American game. This has changed somewhat of late, and Cherry has admitted that he admires some of the gritter players from Europe. He has even smacked American players around, but this is largely done for nose-pulling humor, as it's pretty clear he thinks the Yanks play the game right (having learned it from Canadians and not, say, the Finns) and play almost as well as the Canadian lads do.

Nothwithstanding his occasional razzing of Americans (it peaks, not coincidentally, around the Winter Olympics and the Canada Cup), he genuinely likes America and Americans. It was pretty obvious that it was good-natured razzing, especially considering that his late wife Rose was American, and he spent his best run coaching here in the States.

Moreover, he even likes our foreign policy, and expressed his anger about Canadians booing the Star-Spangled Banner and failing to support their friends to the south on last week's Coach's Corner:

The popular Coach's Corner segment began with Cherry commenting on Montreal Canadiens fans booing the American national anthem last Thursday before a game against the New York Islanders.

Cherry, wearing one of his signature flamboyant ties -- a sparkly one in the colours of the American flag -- did not initially want to get on the topic of war, but after MacLean told him that: "everybody wants to know what you think," Cherry reluctantly complied.

Cherry began his near-seven-minute tirade by apologizing to the U.S. on behalf of Canadians, saying that "years of pride went down the drain" with the Montreal fans' behaviour on Thursday.

The Coach's Corner tandem did not agree on the war in Iraq.

Cherry berated MacLean about being neutral on the subject, then slammed the Canadian government for its "lack of support to our American friends."

"I hate to see them go it alone. We have a country that comes to our rescue, and we're just riding their coattails," Cherry said.


Listen to the whole thing here (March 22 broadcast). What is interesting is that CBC does not say that the majority of the communications they received about the segment were negative. Given that the Ceeb had perfect motive and opportunity to do so, I think the omission is telling. Even the ombudsman said there were only a "handful" of complaints. Perhaps there's more support for the U.S. up north than we're hearing about.

The only question I have is this: Where can I get that necktie?

[Link via Damian Penny and Relapsed Catholic.]

Monday, March 24, 2003

Next, they'll fly the Man United fans over to Paris on holiday.

"And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here...."

The Sun, the fiery pro-American and anti-French British tabloid, commissioned a daring--and decidedly unique--daytime raid on a French military vessel moored in the Thames.

[Link via The Corner.]
More Unilateralism.

Elite commando unit from Poland has engaged in combat in Iraq:

The Defense Ministry had denied that GROM (Thunder) special forces were involved in combat, but on Monday it confirmed their participation after dailies splashed photographs of the soldiers in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where U.S.-led troops are battling pockets of Iraqi resistance.

* * *

GROM is an SAS-style commando unit which has seen recent action in Afghanistan. It is one of the few highly trained units in Poland's armed forces, which are mostly underfunded and still rely on outdated Soviet-era equipment.

Poland, a NATO member whose government has supported the tough U.S. line against Baghdad, sent 200 troops to the Gulf in what they originally said was a supporting, non-combat, role.

The Reuters photographs showed masked GROM soldiers taking prisoners, scrawling graffiti on a portrait of Saddam and posing with U.S. Navy Seals holding up a U.S. flag.

"These photos shouldn't have happened," said Szmajdzinski. "The next time it will definitely be with the Polish flag."


It makes me wonder how much more under-the-table help we might be getting.

[Link via Clayton Cramer, whose sentiments are spot on.]
There is no moral difference between terrorists with capital cities and terrorists without them.

None. Too bad Catholic officialdom is incapable of understanding this.

This was the Hanson family, incinerated on the way to California on September 11, 2001. Sadly, the first time I ever heard of them was through James Lileks' powerful essay. Take a good, long hard look at the Hansons, smiling for a family Christmas picture.

It caused me to tear up, for some reason.

If you can't understand the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terror, I have precious little insight into how I can persuade you. I'm not talking about the connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, nor the connection between Iraq and terrorism in the U.S., though such evidence exists for those who have ears to hear.

No, this connection is of a different sort. It is visceral. It is one that screams that men who put other men who oppose or offend them into industrial shredders are--like those who incinerate toddlers--terrorists, pure and simple. The sole difference between such terrorists and the Al Qaeda brand being that the shredders are terrorists fortunate enough to squat on resources sufficient to build palaces by the dozen and send official representatives to be courted by a hundred-plus nations around the globe.

It is the similarities are far, far, far more important. The most obvious identity between the Baathist shredders and the bin Ladenist slashers is that neither group is fit to share the globe with civilized human beings, let alone possess or develop weapons that can butcher human beings by the thousands (or orders of magnitude worse). Imagine what evil Qusay or evil Uday could do with a nuke. If that possibility doesn't make you shudder--well, bluntly, you need a swift kick in the ass.

Frankly, I have lost my ability to understand those who persist in making the distinction between Saddam and bin Laden.

For my co-religionists who flog such distinctions, especially moral equivalence-promoting prelates like Cardinal Etchegaray and Bishop Gumbleton, I have little to say. Such men are spinning moral compasses and have to be disregarded accordingly. The official silence on atrocities against Americans (or Israelis, Cardinal...) makes their pronouncements worthy of contempt. Frankly, the official Catholic solicitude for the Baathist tyranny is one of the most infuriating aspects of the past few months. The fact the national socialist regime in Baghdad allows Catholics to celebrate Christmas makes it indistinguishable from its annihilated Berlin cousin. Such sops offered to beleaguered Chaldeans shouldn't convert the regime into a dialogue partner, for the love of God. Don't the people of Iraq, Chaldeans included, deserve better? Just how does the Vatican think non-Christian Iraqis are going to look at their Christian compatriots once this is over? "Wow, your leaders were such a help, Ahmad. A real voice for freedom. About that representation in a federalist state...."

The invective over Iraq is, sadly, Eurospeak. It is morally indistinguishable from the oily dissembling of a de Villepin or Chirac. I have filed it away in the appropriate location. It will take buildings crashing down in their cities--killing those they love--to wake them up.

Perhaps. I fear even that won't suffice....

No matter. When it comes down to it, the tut-tuttings of a Gumbleton, Martino, Etchegaray or protesters who toe the same line will not deter the likes of bin Laden or the Husseins or the Kim dynasty, the last of which is reportedly watching the war with concern. The platitudes will not protect my wife, daughter or son. The treacly interfaith prayer meetings will not bring them back if they are killed.

The force of allied arms can't bring back anyone either. But it can do a damn sight better of protecting them from all kinds of terrorists.

Even those that have U.N. seats.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Religion of Peace Update.

American Muslim soldier questioned in grenade attacks on officers of the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait.

According to an expert on Fox News, of the 12 Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military, 8 or 9 are products of the strict Wahhabi fundamentalist brand of Islam.

You know, the kind that birthed bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

I'm beginning to think that the problem with the Oprahfication of Islam by American public policymakers post-9/11 is that a lot of them might actually believe it.
Details about the Missal quoted below.

The Missal measures 2.75" X 4.25", and has 128 pages. The cover is a durable (obviously!) black leather. It is titled My Military Missal, and the cover also indicates that it was "Edited by Father Stedman for All Branches of the Armed Forces." Fr. Joseph Stedman was apparently the Director of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood in Brooklyn, New York. It was issued in December 1942, and is appropriately dedicated to "Our Lady of Victory and Queen of Peace."

The Missal itself is pretty comprehensive, containing seven (abridged) orders of Mass from the "Missale Castrense" which were used by Catholic chaplains in all of the Armed Forces. Citing St. Pius X, it encourages--wait for it--"active participation" in the Mass.

In addition, there is a weekly catechism reflection on the Creed (which would have mortally offended Fr. Feeney on the question of extra ecclesiam nulla salis) and Sacraments, and a large selection of Catholic Prayers. The last item includes repeated injunctions to learn the act of Perfect Contrition, for sadly obvious reasons.

Finally, the back cover is truly remarkable: it functions as a bas-relief Rosary, complete with a cross and full set of raised "beads."

I stumbled across it on eBay, of course.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Now, time for a liturgical palette cleanser.

Yes, it's a break from the war, but it'll still probably make you fighting mad.

James Lileks offers us his invaluable perspective on modern church architecture, complete with photographs:

Nearer My God to Mies.

"Or, the Savior in the Grey Flannel Robe: Postwar Church Architecture." More proof that Lileks is one of the geniuses of our time:

Post-war churches faced a dilemma: how to look like a house of worship while looking modern? You might say "that's only a dilemma if they thought churches had to look modern to attract believers," and you'd be right. There was no good reason churches had to cast off a thousand years of tradition and start dressing up like bank branches, but that's exactly what they did. The Depression and the War had done away with the old architectural vocabulary, and the triumphant rise of the Modernists meant that even churches would now be bent to the rationalist's lathe. (Or T-square.)

Preach on, Brother Jim!
From the Mass in Time of War (Tridentine).

A little over a year ago, I purchased a Second World War missal issued to Catholics in all branches of the armed forces. It contains the order for several different Masses, including the "Mass in Time of War." It seems fitting to post selections from it, as the Mass offers plenty for careful reflection . That, and my hidebound side is certain that if it was good enough for our grandfathers and grandmothers, it should be good enough for us. As a note, the Missal uses the Douay-Confraternity revision, but I don't know of a site that offers that version (as opposed to the "regular" Douay-Challoner revision).

The Opening Prayer:

O God, who bringest wars to naught and shieldest by Thy Power all who hope in Thee, overthrowing those that assail them, help Thy servants who implore Thy Mercy; so that the fierce might of their enemies might be brought low and we may never cease to praise and thank Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle is Jeremiah, 42:1-2, 7-12 (the "king of Babylon" reference seems especially fitting):

42:1 Then all the captains of the warriors, and Johanan the son of Caree, and Jezonias the son of Osaias, and the rest of the people from the least to the greatest came near:
42:2 And they said to Jeremias the prophet: Let our supplication fall before thee: and pray thou for us to the Lord thy God for all this remnant, for we are left but a few of many, as thy eyes do behold us.

42:7 Now after ten days, the word of the Lord came to Jeremias.
42:8 And he called Johanan the son of Caree, and all the captains of the fighting men that were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest.
42:9 And he said to them: Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel, to whom you sent me, to present your supplications before him:
42:10 If you will be quiet and remain in this land, I will build you up, and not pull you down: I will plane you, and not pluck you up: for now I am appeased for the evil that I have done to you.
42:11 Fear not because of the king of Babylon, of whom you are greatly afraid: fear him not, saith the Lord: for I am with you, to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
42:12 And I will shew mercies to you, and will take pity on you, and will cause you to dwell in your own land.


The Gradual is Psalm 76 (Douay numbering):

Thou art the God that alone dost wonders: Thou has made Thy Power known among the nations. With Thy arm Thou hast redeemed Thy people, the children of Israel and of Joseph. Alleluia, alleluia. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God, and defend me from them that rise up against me. Alleluia.

The Gospel is Matthew 24: 3-8:

24:3 And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world?
24:4 And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you:
24:5 For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many.
24:6 And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places:
24:8 Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows.


Finally, from the Secret:

Be appeased, O Lord, and look upon the Sacrifice which we offer: that it may deliver us from all the evils of war, and establish us under Thy sure protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

National Review goes nuclear on the "paleoconservatives."

Apparently, David Frum's launch codes have been authenticated in this tour de force. The blast radius is substantial.

It's safe to say the grad student gaggle over at Lew Rockwell will be in a snit for years. Take a look-see at who the LR Catholics have been locking shields with lately:

Fed up as they were with the Second America, however, the paleos felt sure that they spoke for the First America with an integrity the traditional conservatives, let alone the neos, never had. [Sam] Francis in particular scolded NATIONAL REVIEW's conservatives for their isolation from America's "grassroots." He chose an interesting means of illustrating his point: "Of the twenty-five conservative intellectuals whose photographs appeared on the dust jacket of George H. Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, published in 1976, four are Roman Catholic, seven are Jewish, another seven (including three Jews) are foreign-born, two are southern or western in origin, and only five are in any respect representative of the historically dominant Anglo-Saxon (or at least Anglo-Celtic) Protestant strain in American history and culture (three of the five later converted to Roman Catholicism)."

A forthright statement worthy of the Know-Nothings or the American Protective Association. For some reason, Francis is cited with much approval by contributors at LR. Keep that in mind should you be taken with the notion of linking to the site.

Then, Frum reports, there's the hatred of America, the conspiracy-theorizing, and (of course) standard-issue obsession with the Jeewwwwws. Yes, it's a concoction more potent than ipecac.

David Frum has a history of these blistering essays, having issued a similar declaration of war against Pat Buchanan and his Amen Corner in the pages of The American Spectator in the early 1990s (back when TAS was still tabloid-sized and sported brightly-colored covers--I miss those). I'll have to dig it out of storage in the attic. What struck me most were the angry letters to TAS in response, often bluntly anti-Semitic in content.

National Review has also not been reticent about smacking around "conservatives" who go beyond the pale, having started this process by breaking with the John Birch Society in the early Sixties, and dumping Joe Sobran in the late '80s.

This is another welcome example of the magazine's refusal to heed the motto "no enemies on the right."

Looks like it's time to subscribe.
Lest we forget.

The Iraqi people have done nothing to deserve Hussein or this war. Check this blog often.

God bless and protect them.
Your one-stop shop for military rumor needs.

The sometimes-right, but always-fascinating Debka File. When they are right, they are spot-on.

When they are wrong... Well, it's still gripping fiction.
They are even more shocked and saddened Blair survived.

Saddam's defense lawyers--the law firm of Chirac, de Villepin & Petain, P.C.--are angry that others are calling them on their antics.

Awwww. What I wouldn't pay to be a fly on the wall of this meeting, too:

Tony Blair will tomorrow meet President Jacques Chirac for the first time since the bitter row erupted over the French threat to veto any new United Nations resolution on Iraq.

The two will be attending the European Union summit in Brussels and their encounter is likely to be a difficult one.


I love the British knack for understatement.
About that seemingly endless popping noise heard around London yesterday...

It was the sound of Labour party whips cracking relentlessly, ensuring Tony Blair would survive, and more easily than expected.

A doffed cap for Iain Duncan-Smith and his Tories, too: all but 15 of the Conservatives voted in favour (yes, yes, I know--the Anglophilia is showing) of toppling Hussein.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Time to Boycott Amazon.com

Why? Oh, simply because the company offers a warm and affirming paean to child molestation as one of its selections.

Clayton Cramer, the Second Amendment scholar and relentless gadfly who helped spearhead the downfall of academic fraud Michael Bellesiles, has the scoop here and here. Mr. Cramer explodes Amazon's tedious arguments (italicized) in the second "here" link (Cramer's comments in bold):

------------
Thank you for writing to Amazon.com with your concern.

Let me assure you, Amazon.com does not endorse "Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers." Simply because we sell a book does not mean we agree with the ideas it contains. If you will look at our site, you will see that we have posted a review of the book by one of our editors which is highly critical of the ideas expressed in Mr. Riegel's book.

Please know that, contrary to rumors that have been circulating around the Internet, this book is not a "how-to" manual for molesting children. The author simply expresses his point of view about what he feels are "misunderstood" relationships between men and boys.


Of course, it doesn't have to be a "how-to" manual for molesting children. Most molesters don't need any instructions. They need justification and rationalization to let them get past their guilt feelings about what they do. That's why people like Father Shanley, a Catholic priest and child molester, played a part in founding the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

We believe that people have the right to choose their own reading material. Our goal is to support freedom of expression and provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any title they might be seeking.

My goal is not to do business with an organization that distributes child molester self-justification materials. There's a lot of material out there that I wouldn't buy, and wouldn't think very highly of someone who did buy it. But if someone wants to buy Hustler, or whatever passes for pretentious erotica, that's their bad taste. Distributing and selling stuff that encourages child molesters to think of themselves as the next identity group, in need of understanding, patience, and acceptance--that crosses the line.

That selection includes some titles which most people, including employees of Amazon.com, may find distasteful or otherwise objectionable. However, Amazon.com believes it is censorship to make a book unavailable to our customers because we believe its message to be repugnant.

Censorship is something that the government does. Private organizations are not censors when they choose not to associate themselves with depravity.

While we do not censor items from our web site, I wanted to reassure you that Amazon.com does not promote these kinds of titles.

How gratifying. If Amazon.com didn't offer it, there are molesters out there would have one less source of reassurance for their depraved indifference to the suffering of others.

---------------------
Amen, Mr. Cramer. Looks like Amazon doesn't get my business anymore. But it is about to get my viewpoint.

Why not offer yours, too?
Tony Blair.

People used to say he was the British answer to Bill Clinton (now there's one helluva question!). Well, I suppose you could say he's like Clinton, only with principles he will not sacrifice at any cost.

Which is to say, not like Bill Clinton at all.

In any event, go read his speech to the House of Commons today.

Go. Now.

Hat tip to Jim Cork, whose blog I can read again.
Relax, America!

The Worm has turned. In the event of Iraqi chemical or biological weapon use, France has our back.

What a relief.

Fetchez la vache. Let the cow-launching begin.

If there is a more breathtaking example of cynicism in modern foreign relations, please let me know. I can't think of a one.
Of Corks and Blogs.

Bill Cork has been on fire lately. Too much good stuff to link to: just go there and start scrolling. Well, here's one I'll single out: an Eastern Catholic bishop has essentially issued an interdict against American soldiers from his diocese fighting in the war against Iraq. Bill outlines a potential conflict with other Catholic episcopal authority on that one, and the problems with the bishop's letter in general.

However, technical difficulties have prevented me from visiting Jim Cork's blog over the last two days. Jim gave up coffee for Lent, which I have to salute as an act of fortitude. However, I can't see how it's going because I keep getting "The page cannot be displayed" messages.
This is one of those times when it is difficult to be Catholic.

Archbishop Renato Martino assails my nation with rhetoric rarely employed against Nazi Germany:

"If a son asks you for bread, you do not give him a stone," and added: "To a people who for 12 years have been begging for bread, preparations are being made to drop 3,000 bombs on them!"

"It is a crime against peace that cries out vengeance before God," the archbishop said. "Let us pray so that the Pharaoh's heart will not be hardened and the biblical plagues of a terrible war will not fall on humanity."


Consider that carefully. According to a high member of the Curia, we're Pharoah and our actions deserve God's vengeance. Really, your Eminence?

Weigh that Old Testament invective against the thunderous silence employed by the Vatican regarding the monstrous brutality of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, as reported by Welsh Labour MP Ann Clywd:

“There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein’s youngest son] personally supervise these murders.”

* * *

Another witness told us about practices of the security services towards women: “Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped . . . women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation.”

* * *

For more than 20 years, senior Iraqi officials have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This list includes far more than the gassing of 5,000 in Halabja and other villages in 1988. It includes serial war crimes during the Iran-Iraq war; the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds in 1987-88; the invasion of Kuwait and the killing of more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians; the violent suppression, which I witnessed, of the 1991 Kurdish uprising that led to 30,000 or more civilian deaths; the draining of the Southern Marshes during the 1990s, which ethnically cleansed thousands of Shias; and the summary executions of thousands of political opponents.


Given the one-sidedness of the rhetorical fury employed by the Archbishop, apparently the Lord is just fine with Iraqi atrocities and development of weapons of mass destruction. He only gets exercised when someone tries to put paid to the tyranny. Riiight.

When I converted to Catholicism in 1999, the Holy Spirit pushed me on to a path involving an enormous amount of study and prayer. It was not easy, but more about that later (possibly). It still isn't. Slanted moral sermonizing like this makes it even harder. Still, from my studies on all things Catholic, I have to admit that I came across mention of a figure in Catholic theology who would be sanguine about a hellish tyranny but outraged by its end.

Oddly, though, I've never seen this creature called "God."

This unending, biased stream of Eurospeak out of the Vatican, coming from almost exclusively from European curial prelates and dressed with Catholic tinsel, ensures that it will be very difficult for me to ever again take seriously Rome's pronouncements on foreign policy issues.

And, God forbid, should America suffer a hideous WMD attack during the war with Iraq, I guess we know where we can file the prayerful solicitude of Archbishop Martino.

After all, such would be "God's vengeance" in His Eminence's book.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Make up your mind.

Isn't it odd that the rest of the planet shrieks at us for "unilateralism" when it comes to the issue of the disarmament of Iraq, but positively demands it on the question of the disarmament of North Korea: "You talk to Crazy Kim, Uncle Sam."

It makes sense, but only if you regard it as a strategy which supports whatever hobbles America the most. Whatever approach America tries--that's the wrong one.

The fix is in.

Far from ensuring a restrained America operating only within the context of carefully-regulated international institutions, it promotes the growth of a sullen isolationism which prefers to take its ball and go home. At least until the next catastrophic assault on the country which leaves thousands or millions dead.

In which case (God forbid), the world would see a truly unilateral America. As Leon Podles noted at Touchstone's blog (scroll down to March 8, 7:12am):

The United States has behaved with enormous restraint, but war brutalizes. We destroyed German and Japanese cities in our fury at being dragged into the war, even though our own civilian population was untouched. How would we respond with 20 million Americans dead?

Speaking of Lane Core....

Here's one from the "Waaay Behind the Curve Dep't."

If you haven't yet, go read his fascinating article "On the Edge of Forever."

You'll be glad you did.
Patrick Sweeney on "Just War" and Iraq.

Go. Read. It.

Thanks to Lane for the heads up.
Francophilia: It'll be stone dead in a moment.

For the time being, it's stubbornly clinging to life over at the shared blog.

I still feel like using the Elvis Channel Changer whenever I see The Vile Pin's face on news broadcasts, though.

And I'm perilously close to heeding my inner Limey and describing narrowly-cut fried potatoes as "chips."

Friday, March 14, 2003

Our _______, the French.

Anger at Saddam's diplomatic shields is rising throughout the Anglosphere.

1. Dig them up and bring them home, says Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite:

A Florida congresswoman introduced a Bill on Capitol Hill that would allow the families of Second World War dead to dig up their bones and take them home.

Ginny Brown-Waite said that her American Heroes Repatriation Act 2003 was a response to constituents’ concerns that their fathers and grandfathers were lying in “unpatriotic soil”. She said: “The French don’t seem to remember that if it wasn’t for America, they would be speaking German.”


2. The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing has a blunt message for Paris.

3. Australia's tough-minded PM is blasting Chiraq:

In the toughest attack by an Australian leader on France since it held a final round of nuclear testing in the Pacific in the mid-1990s, Howard accused Paris of manipulating the Iraq issue in a game of diplomatic one-upmanship against the United States.

"It doesn't seem to me that France's first priority is to find a peaceful solution" to the Iraqi crisis, he said.

"I think her first priority is to position France vis-a-vis the US and I think that's a pity."

"I regret to say the French are playing a spoiling role."

Howard, who hit out at France repeatedly in interviews and public speeches Friday, said the French position was illogical because it welcomed the minimal progress made by weapons inspectors in Iraq while condeming the threatened use of force that led to their deployment.

If US and British troops now massed on Iraq's borders went home, "does anybody really believe the weapons inspectors would then continue to get cooperation from Iraq?," he asked.


4. Finally, reporting from Britain, it appears Franco-British relations are at their most hostile since Waterloo:

Chirac’s stubborn stand sparked a bitter war of words between Britain and France. Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed Chirac had brought war closer by easing the pressure on Saddam to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

America also tore into the French leader, accusing him of giving succour to his “friend” Saddam.

But it was Mr Blair, who has worked round the clock for a peace deal, who was most furious.

He claimed the “unreasonable” French had wrecked hopes of winning a second UN resolution to show the world’s desire for a concerted effort to tackle Iraq.

In a brutal put-down, Mr Blair’s official spokesman said: “France rejected our tests before Iraq. Enough said.”

He accused Chirac of turning his back on a commitment to disarm Saddam when he supported the last UN resolution in November.

The spokesman said: “This is poisoning the diplomatic process.

“It’s clear what we meant when everyone — including France — signed UN resolution 1441.

“When we warned Saddam would face serious consequences if he failed to comply, we didn’t just mean more weapons inspectors.”

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was “extraordinary” that France was prepared to vote no to any proposal, regardless of its content. He said: “Without proper consideration, the French government has rejected these proposals.

“We will continue to work for a peaceful end. But this obviously makes that process more difficult.”

* * *
The row plunged Britain’s chilly relationship with France into a deep freeze. Experts feared it could take years, even decades, to rebuild the shattered entente. Tory foreign affairs spokesman Alan Duncan said: “They have been hypocrites on the second resolution from the start.”

Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, accused Chirac of “inhabiting a box with Saddam”.

In a ferocious attack on Paris, he said: “They are in effect giving comfort to Saddam Hussein.”


5. War appears to be very near:

The Queen was put on stand-by last night to give official royal backing to war on Saddam.

Tony Blair ordered the monarch to cancel Monday’s visit to Brussels in order to invoke the Royal Prerogative needed before troops go into action.

She will rubber-stamp the move at an emergency War Cabinet meeting on Monday.

MPs will be given a chance to vote in a special debate on Tuesday — but by then the war is expected to have started.


6. Even if some of the Labour MPs are wobbly, the Tories appear to have stepped into the breach:

Iain Duncan Smith signalled yesterday the Tories WOULD support war without a second UN resolution.

Ex-Army officer Mr Duncan Smith said a new resolution was “less likely than at any time before”, making military action more likely.

Asked about the Tories’ stance he said: “We have always made it clear it was a very good idea to get that second resolution. But a second resolution, whilst important, is not absolutely vital because 1441 authorises military action for the UN if Saddam does not comply.”

The Tory leader spoke out after Downing Street talks at which Tony Blair told him the French had “threatened to veto almost anything that is put forward”.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Reid Collins on Elizabeth Smart and the passing of "Town America."

Thanks be to God for a happy ending. But Collins, the former CNN correspondent, poignantly observes that this couldn't have happened a few decades ago:

That a beautiful teenage girl could be kidnapped from her comfortable home in an outrage that generated hour after hour of television coverage and galleys of newsprint and yet be spirited around the nation for nine months without being noticed is a measure of the great disconnect that is now the community of America.

Within the lifetimes of a lot of living citizens this could not have happened. I refer to the Town America which has now passed, a town in which everybody knew everybody else, or at least knew somebody who did, knew more perhaps than was comfortable for some, but in that skein of knowledge produced something that went with the town, security.

No widow then could lie dead for weeks in an apartment, unnoticed. No child, veiled or not, could be escorted through the city unremarked. The idea that humanity was nobody's business was an alien thought, only naturalized over recent years. In hard times, work-seeking men would gather in hotel lobbies looking for rides from travelers in the hope of finding "something" in the next town. They would get rides, too, aided by hotel clerks who would button-hole salesmen checking out for the road.

* * *

Over time we shall hear all of it, or some of it. The best information is that the abductor took Elizabeth that night up into the hills above the Smarts' home. Whether Mitchell's alleged woman companion, Wanda, was with them then is not known. There were other reported travels, to San Diego, California, perhaps to the East Coast. And there are photos of the trio taken at functions in Salt Lake City over recent months. But, nobody called.

Nobody, that is, until the nosy couple on State Street, who stopped the car, got out and looked, defying all the modern tenets of isolate living: judge not, know not, look not. It was bad luck that Elizabeth Smart was gone so long. She had faded from the screen.
Amy Welborn raises an excellent point.

Commenting on the Rod Dreher piece below, she writes:

What most people are missing here is the role of regional synods and national bishops' groups. Throughout the history of the church, these groups have played an important role in keeping bishops in line - deposing them at times, et. Of course, there's a negative side - aka Gallicanism, etc..

But on the whole for great portions of church history, that was the level at which the strong-arming and disciplining of bishops took place. It's not Vatican II that stripped these groups of any substantive role - it's been happening really since the late 18th century, and then took a very strong turn during this pontificate.

Rod-bashers need to explain their logic on this: The present pontificate has completed the long process of taking responsibility and power away from regional and national bishops' groups. Which leaves the power in the Vatican. But...then this is power that isn't to be used?

Doesn't make sense.


Any response? Seems to drop the ball back in the Vatican's court, doesn't it?

My other thought was that this might put the kibosh on the entire Plenary Council idea floated by several bishops last year.

"Who are you people?!"

To quote a line from my daughter's favorite idiot box entertainment, SpongeBob Squarepants.

Methinks I've detected an uptick in traffic to these parts. My comment boxes, usually uncontaminated by actual comments, are starting to fill up.

I'm not sure where you're coming from (OK, I have a suspicion), but welcome!
Behold the Family Picture, pre-D3. And here's the Prince of Wales, born February 24, 2003.

For first timers, here are my Greatest Snits on everything from the Liturgy to Hockey to Deer Hunting:

AmChurch to Catholic Men: Pffthpt!
Pagans, Liturgists and the Transcendent.
Chamberlain's Chaplain (Bishop Gumbleton of Detroit).
Bishop Gumbleton vs. America.
The intolerance of the Liturgy People.
The ever-growing, ever-so-diverse peace movement.
"Eruzione shoots...He scores!!!"
Bible Corner.
Roe attorney revives eugenics.
You down with OCP?
John Kerry--Personally Opposed, but....
Peter Singer and 9/11.
America's Greatest Ex-President and North Korea.
Daniel Goldhagen and Jack Chick.
Getting Fitted for My Lidless Eye.
Gorby & Me.
I hunt deer. Theoretically.
Court opinions in rhyme--and worse.


Take a look around. Have a seat. Slap the host around--but I suggest that this be done verbally.
Note to Mark at "Minute Particulars."

Sports Analogy Alert!

In these parts, we remember the "Laimbeer Flop" quite fondly.

Quite fondly indeed.

Actually, a better analogy would be to Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson. Sure, Vinnie would clang a few in a row, but once the shots started to fall: lights out. The scariest streak shooter in the history of the NBA.

I guess the difference between us would be that one of us thinks Rod's bricking his shots and the other thinks he's draining them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Immorality of Containment.

Walter Russell Mead brilliantly sets forth the argument that containment is worse than war in today's Washington Post:

The Gulf War killed somewhere between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, of whom between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians.

Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year. Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5.

Each year of containment is a new Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein is 65; containing him for another 10 years condemns at least another 360,000 Iraqis to death. Of these, 240,000 will be children under 5.

Those are the low-end estimates. Believe UNICEF and 10 more years kills 600,000 Iraqi babies and altogether almost 1 million Iraqis.

Ever since U.N.-mandated sanctions took effect, Iraqi propaganda has blamed the United States for deliberately murdering Iraqi babies to further U.S. foreign policy goals.

Wrong.

The sanctions exist only because Saddam Hussein has refused for 12 years to honor the terms of a cease-fire he himself signed. In any case, the United Nations and the United States allow Iraq to sell enough oil each month to meet the basic needs of Iraqi civilians. Hussein diverts these resources. Hussein murders the babies.

But containment enables the slaughter. Containment kills.


RTWT.
Swearing off HMS Blog.

Mark doesn't post there enough to make it worth the needless rise in blood pressure. All of the pontificating of late about who is/is not an orthodox or "sincere" Catholic because of their stands on the war or social issues is turning the place into a cyberpapacy on the order of Petersnet.

If you are into that sort of thing, enjoy.

My Disgustometer has shorted out.
Major Ralph Peters, U.S. Army (Ret.)--Part II.

That was Monday. He took a day to reload. Today, the Major MOABs the French:

Thanks to Jacques Chirac, Saddam Hussein and his generals now see hope where there is none. At least some of those who would have surrendered readily will now fight. Saddam will pull every possible trick to excite world opinion against the United States, including staged atrocities. And our troops will have to kill men who otherwise would have surrendered. Some of our own fighting men and women will die in the process, all because France has led the Iraqi regime down the garden path.

Of course, France will abandon Saddam in the end. But we must make no mistake about French culpability for the ultimate casualty figures. This is not a mere diplomatic tiff. At the highest levels of government, the French know what they are doing, at least tactically (their strategy is a dangerous, pathetic muddle). We cannot allow a French betrayal in so important a matter to go unpunished. If there are no consequences for French complicity in the deaths of young Americans, there will be no future for American diplomacy in Europe.

* * *

The French would love to prevent the war in the Gulf, thus setting themselves up as the champions of tyrants everywhere and of Arab tyrants in particular. But Paris realizes there is really very little chance of deflecting Washington. So their essential goal is to complicate matters, to vilify America and to make the United States pay the highest possible price for any success it achieves, while remaining ready to capitalize on any American failures.

When the war in Iraq ends with a decisive American victory, Chirac will put on his little C'est la vie smile and insist that our differences were nothing but a disagreement between old friends, something one must expect in our complex world. Meanwhile, he and his closest advisers yearn for a bloody American defeat.

Nothing would please Chirac more than thousands of dead American soldiers inside the borders of Iraq, with Saddam alive and defiant. If this war goes badly, Chirac could have more American blood on his hands than does Osama bin Laden.

* * *
Readers may note that I have not even raised the issue of recent reports that French firms continued to help Iraq improve its armaments into the early weeks of this year. Although one of the many reasons the French do not want us in Baghdad is that they don't want us going through Iraqi archives and uncovering the extent of their complicity in Saddam's defiance of sanctions, the material aid French firms may have provided to Iraq is a trivial issue compared to the moral and diplomatic encouragement Paris has given Baghdad.

Ultimately, this grotesque resurgence of French "diplomacy" will fail. France is weak, ill-defended and hated in Africa and much of the Middle East with a quiet hatred that goes far deeper than the topical anti-Americanism so much in evidence. Nor will its attempts to glorify itself at America's expense provide France with any security. The terrorists will not reward France for its pandering; on the contrary, I expect we shall see a major terrorist strike in France this year. The French do not merely live in a bad neighborhood - the bad neighborhoods live within France. The French are bribing their executioners in the expectation of mercy.

We may hope - and pray - that the war against Iraq will be swift, with low casualties. But every American who dies in this war will have a French diplomatic bullet in his or her body.


The Major closes with this tagline identifying himself:

Ralph Peters has canceled his orders for 2000 Bordeaux. And he will cancel his support for the Bush administration if it does not punish France for its betrayal.

Amen and amen.
Major Ralph Peters, U.S. Army (Ret.)--Part I.

This gentleman is nothing short of magnificent. First, buy this book--right now. Yes, a little dated, as it was written right about the time the panicked cry of "The Japanese Are Coming!" was at its peak. But it is still a magnificent story about the complexities of war, brotherhood, and why victory in conflict goes not to which side has the best equipment, but rather which has the best men. Add to that cogent observations about the worldviews of the Russians and Middle Easterners, and you have a ripping good dystopic war yarn.

With this background, enjoy the wicked pen of the Major as he takes out the Eurotrash:

The sorry truth is that Europeans love to cry over corpses, but won't lift a finger to prevent the killing in the first place. They shake their heads over the Holocaust, though their parents were happy enough to pack the local Jews off to Auschwitz.

* * *

Was there ever an African dictator the French didn't adore? The Dutch criticize America's military as trigger-happy, but their own troops didn't fire a shot in defense of the Muslims of Srebrenica, who they had been tasked to protect and whose slaughter was the worst single massacre on European soil since the end of the Second World War.

When I served in Europe in the '70s, Chairman Mao prefigured Viagra in his effect upon the European Left. Of course, the Soviet Union remained noble and virtuous until the end, its failure to construct heaven on earth explained away by American scheming and malevolence. Today, Europeans dismiss their historical guilt toward Jews by insisting that Israel is as bad as Nazi Germany - a Big Lie worthy of Hitler and Goebbels - while cheering on Israel's genocidal enemies.

* * *
We must accept the world's jealousy as a given and must not become distracted by attempts to placate European racists who refuse to set high standards for governance in developing states. Indeed, nothing so abets tyranny and oppression today as French and German condescension toward black, brown or yellow populations - and their unspoken conviction that nonwhites remain inferior.

* * *
Our natural allies are those who either have pioneered democracy, such as Britain, or who have struggled long and hard for their freedom - Poland, Hungary, Spain and so many others who suffered under Communism or fascism.

Saddam looks very different to a Romanian or Latvian than he does to a German or a Frenchman. The Frenchman sees a tantalizing business proposition, while, as a friend of mine serving in the Gulf remarked, "The Germans can't help loving Saddam. He's a dictator with a mustache . . ."

Beyond Europe, America's efforts to face down tyrants are resisted by - surprise! - tyrants. The United Nations never had the strategic relevance its partisans insist Washington's liberation of Iraq will destroy. We should not seek to harm the U.N., but we cannot prevent it from slashing its own wrists.

We Americans can expect neither gratitude, understanding nor support from the baroque regimes of France, Germany and their fellow travelers. Chancellor Schroeder? Bill Clinton without the moral fiber. President Chirac? The mouth of de Gaulle, the soul of Petain, and the morals of a pimp. Humanitarian Belgium? Yeah, just ask the Congolese. The European anti-war movement? Necrophiliacs licking the corpse of Josef Stalin.


Read the whole marvelous thing.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Justin Katz on La Deuxieme Affaire Dreher.

[I think I was the first one to call the furor over the first Dreher WSJ article L'Affaire Dreher. So, I can't help myself--my wife is a French teacher and offered her expertise. I think it's rather catchy. Apparently I'm the only one who thinks so, but....]

Mr. Katz lays bare the essential argument of the anti-Drehersards:

It occurs to me that Catholics of my general position, which may include Rod Dreher to some degree, are finding ourselves attacked from both sides, and by the same people. On the one hand, we are accused of a variant of the Americanist Heresy, as when Popcak so vehemently criticizes the exercise of some meager influence on Rod's part through free expression of his opinion. On the other hand, we are accused of wanting the Pope to play emperor and "micromanage" the American Church. Taken together, if they are not just contradictory assertions growing from inadequate consideration, these criticisms act as an ideological box with the effect of insisting that our heads remain bowed and our lips sealed. Taking this strategy, elements within our Church who are clearly acting in contravention to the Church's moral resolutions would be free of pressure from both below, among the laity, and above, from the Vatican.

All together now: "Read the whole thing."
The Vatican's UN Fixation.

Domenico Bettinelli is spot-on:

The UN has been a breeding ground for every type of anti-Christian, immoral group to try to impose its will on the world and society. The Church herself has been attacked on the floor of the General Assembly. Every tinpot dictator and thug uses the UN to gain respectability in the world community. I don’t understand why the Vatican continues to invest so much credibility in the UN to get anything done. The Catechism and the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, do not specify what constitutes “an international authority with the necessary competence and power,” but it is certainly not the UN.

I hate to sound cynical, but maybe the reason for favoring the UN is the virtually-insurmountable barrier it poses to those who seek its blinkered "approval" for the use of force. Frankly, I find it impossible to understand why the imprimatur of the likes of such brutal regimes as China and Syria, both of which continue to impose their wills on other nations (Tibet, Lebanon), magically confers legitimacy. It strikes me as a deeply, deeply weird and legalistic analogue to ex opere operato applied in the international relations arena.

They Should Know.

Rwanda's President and many of its people disdain the U.N.'s diplomatic approach to Iraq:

"If it was simply a choice between war and peace, then the automatic choice is peace," he [President Paul Kagame] told reporters. "But if it is a choice between war and weapons of mass destruction, ...then I would say that war is a better evil than the alternative."

Maryland-sized Rwanda and its 7 million people may be a tiny piece of the African continent, but the hundreds of thousands of its people slaughtered during 100 days of 1994 - minority Tutsis and political moderates from the Hutu majority - lend its voice special weight.

"The history of the United Nations is punctuated by spectacular and tragic failures in many places, and a good example is right here in Rwanda," said Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a cab driver. He survived the genocide by hiding for two months in a pit latrine as soldiers massacred people in his neighborhood.

Had a Rwandan rebel force not intervened as the Security Council debated whether a genocide was indeed under way, "then the tragedy here would have been even greater, and I might not have survived," Sagahutu said.


Food for thought. By the way, I don't think I've seen a more preposterous headline for a news story in some time, given how quickly it was refuted by the content.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Some Thoughts About "Lightning Rod" Dreher's Latest.

As expected, much criticism of Rod's allegedly unrealistic take, some even going so far as to question the sincerity of his Catholicism. This post over at HMS Blog is typical of the genre. It also misses the point.

Yes, indeed, we've been well and truly pounded with (by?) Vatican II's teaching on collegiality. All bishops as brothers, each bishop a sovereign--the vicar of God in his own diocesan fief; the bishop is not the Pope's subaltern, etc. Odd that the Pope's primacy of jurisdiction tends to get lost in these tub-thumpings about collegiality, but the essential point is undeniable, and duly noted.

And it is completely, utterly irrelevant to Rod's point, as I understand it.

Actually, all of this talk about the limited power of the Pope with respect to his awful brother bishops ironically tends to emphasize, not diminish, Rod's comparison.

After all, Rod's thesis is that the Vatican has relatively little ability to affect the relevant parties with respect to war with Iraq, but is moving heaven and earth in sending clerics to remonstrate with the various parties, strongly stating the Church's moral positions on just war and war in general. Whereas, Rod notes, unlike the case of Saddam Hussein, the Pope does have the ability to do something about the internal governance of the Catholic Church. But the Vatican is mute with bishops who are backsliding already, seven months after Dallas and its increasingly empty promise of reform.

In reply, Rod's critics point out that Vatican II ecclesiology leaves the Pope with relatively little ability to affect the relevant bishops with respect to stonewalling, strong-arm tactics, and the harboring of perverts.

Uh...OK. Why the fire alarm for the former and the inertia for the latter?

Fine. So wholesale removal of mini-Borgias like Mahony, Adamec and Grahmann is not an option. The same facts obtain with respect to the Church's influence on the likes of the Iraqi regime and the U.S. government. So why not try the same cajoling fire brigade approach with the crisis in the American episcopacy? Why not send a Papal envoy to the respective bishops for at least a little "fraternal correction"? Or calling them on the carpet in Rome for the same?

Frankly, the "Romanitas" argument (which spins the passivity of waiting until the offending and offensive parties reach retirement age or die as a wise strategic maneuver) is getting old, thin, and phony.

And none of the Rod-bashers can explain how it is good for the Church.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Rod Dreher. The Catholic Church. The Wall Street Journal.

Quite the potent cocktail. Once again, St. Blog's should be buzzing for the next month or so.

Rod has another WSJ article, this time comparing the proactive Vatican efforts against the war to the hands-off response to the Scandals.

Defenders of Rome have said it is arrogant of Americans to expect a bureaucracy that oversees a billion Catholics world-wide to pay much attention to the mess in the American church. That excuse is no longer valid. We now see that when they want to, the pope and his men can drop everything and focus relentlessly on a single issue they deem gravely important. Plainly, Rome does not see the sex-abuse crisis as a priority.

To be sure, an Iraq war threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, hence Rome's understandable level of concern. That said, it is instructive to note that on a matter in which it has no direct ability to affect events, the Vatican is consumed by two-fisted activism. But on the priesthood crisis, where Rome's direct intervention could do a world of practical good, the Holy See operates largely hands-off.


As always, there is more nuance than reflexive Rod-bashers will ever acknowledge.

Blow the whistles! To the trenches! St. Blog's Flame War II--La Deuxieme Affaire Dreher--is about to begin.
That's My Boy!

The first official picture of the newest member of the Price Family can be seen here.

Yes, I know: thank heaven he looks like his mom.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Ash Wednesday Links.

First, to the Archdiocese of Detroit, which links to Pope John Paul II's Message for Lent 2003. There's also a very interesting devotion called The Stations of the Resurrection, which I'd never heard of before. It also has Lent fasting laws, observances and even a few recipes (salmon quesadillas!).

Finally, there is the official Archdiocesan Prayer for Peace, which quite appropriately remembers what the military and law enforcement do for us in wartime:

Prayer for Peace

Most merciful and compassionate God.
Father of Peace.
You call us to live as your sons and daughters.
Open the hearts and minds of people that
we might work together for an end to violence
anywhere in our human family.

May our prayers and penance and whatever
suffering we endure, help us to become
instruments of your peace and healing.

Protect all who give their lives for freedom
and keep us from harm.

We ask all this through the intercession of
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Mother of your
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God
forever and ever. Amen.


Don't miss Mark Sullivan's Ash Wednesday post, which contains prayers and a drool-inducing recipe for clam chowder.

[The recipes are brutal for a guy whose "food" intake for the day has consisted of Maxwell House French Roast.]

Finally, Karen Hall at Disordered Affections has a nice collection of links from around St. Blog's.
Maybe I'll Just Buy Some Used Pretenders CDs Instead.

Übercrone Hynde was even worse than originally reported:

"Have we gone to war yet?" she asked sarcastically, early on. "We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on." Later she yelled, "Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!"

When a crowd member responded to that inflammatory statement, Hynde stormed the mic, roaring, "Shut your face!" Glaring, she held out the mic toward the fan as longtime drummer Martin Chambers stood up behind her, ready to rumble. "You come up to the mic and say something, smart guy," she snarled. "What do you want to talk about?"


Oh, Miss Chrissie--the perfect icon of the brain-donor left. Wrinkled, morally diminutive, spewing hateful, content-free drivel--then screaming "shut up" and using intimidation to silence opposing views. Lovely. Hope you're playing weddings real soon, honey. Which, at the rate your concert venues and record sales are currently shrinking, should be round about October. However, I am willing to concede that "[g]etting rid of the economic (expletive) this country represents" would have one salutary side effect: it would drastically reduce CD sales.

"We deserve to get bombed."

Really. Well, why don't you "step up to the mic" and preach it to those outside your excuse-making fan base? Tell it to the families of these people. Or this young woman. Or to the daughter of this man, who will never know her dad. Or to the Hanson family. Oh, I'm sorry, you can't--they were killed on their way to Disney World. And, according to the recently-disinterred Ms. Hynde, they deserved to die.

In other words: if people have to start shutting their faces, I have a nomination for who goes first, "smart gal."

One parting thought for the fading rock singer and her band:

Pull!