Friday, November 29, 2002

The Our Neighbor to the North Dep't.

In a long overdue development, Mark Steyn has a website.

And, on a related note, I bring you the Chretienizer! Try Anglais as it is spoken by Canahdah's technically bilingual prime minister.

[Both links via Midwest Conservative Journal.]
For everything in life, there's a Monty Python reference.

Henry Kissinger has been appointed to head the 9/11 Commission? Uh...

Mickey Kaus explains in part why it's a bad, bad idea.

Christopher Hitchens files the prosecutor's brief.

And now for something completely different:

Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
You're the Doctor of my dreams,
With your crinkly hair and your glassy stare
And your Machiavellian schemes
I know they say that you are very vain,
And short and fat and pushy
but at least you're not insane.
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
and wishing you were here

Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
You're so chubby and so neat
With your funny clothes and your squishy nose
You're like a German par-a-keet
Alright so people say that you don't care
But you've got nicer legs than Hitler,
And bigger t--s than Cher
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
and wishing you were here

Strange, that.

Right now I'm reminded of a James Lileks Bleat about coffee, good and bad.

I know what he's talking about: I've been getting the good, grind-it-yourself stuff lately. Let me put it this way: Caffe Coppa is heroin. Maxwell House is methadone. A bitter, oily methadone, to boot.
What do you get when you cross Neville Chamberlain, Jack Chick, and one of the more radical (!) members of ACT-UP?

You get a shrill, intolerant little man named "James Wagner."

Precisely what is it about him that grates?

Is it the mirror-cooing "Why, hello you brave beautiful man!" narcissism?

Is it yawn-inducing, puling leftism?

Or is it the multiple endorsements of the murder of Mary Stachowicz?

Decisions, decisions.
Speaking of Nicolas Cage.

Wow. I didn't see this coming.

What a stunner.
"I'm Castor Troy!"

A creepy development in medical science, as reported by Britain's Independent.

Just think of the possibilities. Then shudder.

A lot.
Too early to be up and blogging?

Not when you have a toddler whose internal clock is set to Newfoundland time!

And you live in Michigan.


Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The "Blue" Origins of Thanksgiving.

One of the more common images of this most American of holidays is of a brown-clad proto-Bostonian with a buckled hat and a blunderbuss. Given the origins of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, perhaps a more appropriate image would be of a blue-clad soldier with a slouch cap and a Sharps rifle. You see, it was not until the middle of the Civil War, via a proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, that Thanksgiving became a national holiday, observed on the last Thursday of November. On October 3, 1863, the President decreed:

"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

Strong stuff, and highly unlikely to be repeated in this, the era of "National Journeyman Plumber Appreciation Month"-style pronouncements.

"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

This language practically begs the ACLU to seek a permanent injunction. You won't even hear stuff like that from most pulpits these days.

Even more interesting is the effect of the President's call for thanksgiving: during the same week as the first national observance, the Union won one of the more boggling--dare I say miraculous?--victories of the entire war: the three-day battle of Chattanooga. In particular, the victory at Missionary Ridge bears mentioning in this context: it was a spontaneous frontal assault on an entrenched position, done without orders, and it succeeded with minimal casualties. After Missionary Ridge, the Confederacy, with two catastrophic exceptions, remained on the defensive in the West, and the "theatre of war continued to contract" until Appomattox.

In this time of war, it is fitting to remember both the origin of the holiday, and the reliance our ancestors placed in Almighty God during our nation's worst trial. We need to do the same.

God bless you and yours, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.
The Acceptable Prejudices of the "Enlightened."

There is nothing quite so bracing as the assumptions and stereotypes held by America's elites, deployed out in the open and without guile. Professor Douglas Laycock wrote this gem about a fellow law professor's open prejudice toward her inferiors (in this case, gun owners) in 1991, and it remains a relevant--no, required-- read. Needless to say, it's one of my favorite law journal articles.

Moreover, it goes a long way toward explaining the likes of Zampolit Dickerson and Commissar Aho. Here's some excerpts to whet your appetite:

"Among the educated classes that have been most sensitized to the dangers of the most widely condemned stereotypes, other stereotypes and prejudices flourish. Respected academics and journalists, and respected journals who pride themselves on their tolerance, publish extraordinary statements about groups that have generally failed to engage the sympathies of intellectuals....

"One group that can still be safely insulted is the seriously religious. Fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Catholics remain fair game in many circles. Michael Smith has collected numerous antireligious passages in Supreme Court opinions, one of them a quotation from an anti-Catholic hate tract.

Suzanna Sherry, writing in the Michigan Law Review, equated fundamentalist legislators with racist school boards: "There are still racist school boards in a nation that generally finds racism intolerable, fundamentalist legislators in a nation that rejects a national religion, and so on." The skillful parallelism of the sentence packs powerful implications...."

I won't spoil the gun owner anecdote for you. Share and enjoy.
Shining Path Columnist Stays the Course.

Brian "Baader-Meinhof" Dickerson shrugs off criticism, burnishes his halo, and quotes a local bobo who cites Carl Sagan as scripture:

---------Begin Excerpt-----------
"I plead guilty to the crime of hyperbole, Richard [a letter writer who pointed out the obvious].

But my point was a serious one. Read what another Free Press reader has to say

There are two groups struggling for power in both the Middle East and the United States. One group believes that we solve problems by applying reason and considering history and experience. The other group believes the answer to all problems is found in their holy texts. Since 9/11, I'm less inclined to sit quietly while others declare that their religion is the ultimate authority on how God wants the world to be organized.

In "The Demon-Haunted World," Carl Sagan refers to science as a candle flickering in the darkness of the ignorance that threatens to envelope us. Whether we think of the candle as science or reason or tolerance or open-mindedness, those of us who are dedicated to protecting its light feel threatened.

It doesn't matter what a group calls itself or what religion it represents. It only matters that they are trying to extinguish the light by claiming that the answers to all human problems are available in their religious texts and no further discussion is necessary. Yvonne Aho, Clarkston."
--------End Excerpt---------

Actually, Mr. Dickerson, you should have pled guilty to the crime of hack writing. That, and perhaps involuntary mindslaughter. After all, both columns are remarkably uncontaminated by use of the reason you claim to revere.

My IronyMeter™ quickly overloaded. Here's the problem: in defense of tolerance, Aho and Dickerson embrace intolerance. In defense of reason, they resort to emotional sloganeering. In defense of secular progress, they ignore Zyklon B, collectivized agriculture (read: engineered famine), and the other gory "achievements" of the 20th Century, at once the most secular and bloody in human history. It's remarkable that such "reasonable" people are incapable of making even the slightest distinctions on issues of religion. All religions are equally awful, even though the skies have been unaccountably free of Oakland County Republican evangelicals piloting planes into the Renaissance Center.

It's a demon-haunted world, all right: haunted by the demonized opponents that exist only in your feverish imagination.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Free Press Columnist Mails One In.

Compares pro-life Republicans to suicide bombers, the Taliban. Here's my response:

"Dear Mr. Dickerson:

In your column "Republicans battle over party's soul," you certainly telegraphed to the readers which faction should be regarded as Mephistopheles. Two references to the pro-lifers as the Taliban, one as "suicide warriors" (BTW, the correct term for the latter is "terrorists." Hell, even Reuters, the home of craven "objectivity," calls them "militants," not "warriors"). The infuriating thing is the gratuitous ease with which you tossed the descriptions into an otherwise interesting column about political infighting. Second nature, eh? It apparently bothered your editor not at all, either. Come on--I've read you enough to know that you can do better than "mail it in" cheap shots.

Can I expect future references to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or (closer to home) Lynn Rivers as members of the Khmer Rouge?
Something tells me that holding my breath for this development would be fatal.

Your rhetoric is precisely what turns social conservatives off to politics. It no doubt earned you congratulatory back-slapping from your fellow liberals in the Freep biosphere, but it also revealed you to be more intolerant than those you tried to lampoon.

To conclude, here is the Taliban in action (scroll down to the third and fourth pictures).

This is what suicide "warriors" do.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think that McMillan, Gosselin and the rest of the Oakland County conservatives have done anything like that.


Dale Price"

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

One day I'll grow up and write like James Lileks.

And while I'm dreaming, I'd like the MegaMillions numbers, too.

Anyway, here's the master's latest offerings on everything from the improper use of beach balls to Wacko Jacko. Especially the Weird One:

--------Begin Quote-------------
"He is now, officially, the World’s Creepiest Man-thing. Those horrid eyes transplanted from a carved-up Bambi, the mini-butt cleft chin, the Uglaut nose that’s peeling like cheap wallpaper. He’s a slow-motion shapeshifter. All this we knew, but now we know he’s crossed over into sheer madness.

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, what’s not wrong? The towel over the face suggests that the Jackson Facial Rearrangement Project proceeds anew on the pliable flesh of the newborn. The very existence of an MJ offspring makes one shudder - I’d rather chew off Aunt Selma’s corns with my incisors than think of that unholy thing having carnal relations. (At least Bubbles got the night off.) The maniacal expression suggests that he will be consuming this tidbit as soon as he lurches back into the shadows. But holding your kid over a balcony with one hand - well, that’s the thing parents have nightmares about doing. For God’s sake! I duct-taped Gnat to my chest just to climb the stairs."
-----------End Quote--------------

Heather concurs, having advised me today that if I pulled a similar stunt:

"I don't know if I'd divorce you for holding our child like that; I might just outright kill you. As in, push you off the balcony (after I took the child back from you, of course)."

Sensible woman, my wife.
A look into a port-a-john.

With all sorts of things bobbing about: the unexpurgated journals of Kurt Cobain.

Dave Grohl had all the talent in that band.
Pretty much explains that whole "Pon Farr" thing.

Leonard Nimoy' religious photography causes a stir in the Detroit Jewish community. Area rabbis were thinking "Shekhina" would be, well, different:

-----------Begin Quote---------
"His mission was to present Shekhina, his new book intended as `an intensely personal` exploration of `the feminine aspect of God` to the Jewish Community Center's Book Fair. Which sounded swell to Jewish community leaders at first.
`Originally we thought the book was supposed to be about a Jewish journey,` says Rabbi Paul Yedwab, of West Bloomfield's Temple Israel. `How exciting that would be to have Leonard Nimoy talking about his Jewish journey.`
The excitement peaked after the book's October release -- and the discovery that Nimoy's feminine God-figures were beautiful nudes wearing ritual prayer items.
`The linking of Jewish ritual items and naked women wasn't part of the initial calculation,` Yedwab said wryly."
------------End Quote------------

A compromise was reached, but Mr. Nimoy's eyebrow is still arched:

"'Narrow-minded and fearful,' is the way Nimoy characterized the Detroit book fair solution."


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Since I've become a father, I've gotten ticked off about some things much more easily.

Like the fact far too many idiots still have legal custody of their children.

When you have the mindset that a child is a status accessory like a Lexus or an annual trip to Cozumel, bad things can happen. Take a look-see at the current condition of American society, for starters. When you're an eccentric reclusive multi-millionaire who sleeps in an oxygen chamber, has a chimp for a best friend, lives in a place called "Neverland" and spends millions to make molestation charges go away--well, worse things are in the offing.

Norm MacDonald said it best in a 1996 SNL News Update:

"And, yes, it is true, Michael Jackson is going to be a father. Already he has hired an entire staff of nannies, nurses and extra bodyguards, which hopefully will protect the child from Michael Jackson."

Apparently it's not working.
Life on the Catholic Fringe.

From Amy Welborn, a link to a story about a Catholic "sedevacantist" group, complete with a full-blown cult of personality. Interesting, weird and unnerving--the Branch Davidians with rosaries.

A splinter of this group, located at Mount St. Michael in Spokane, Washington, was featured in a 1995 This Rock magazine article about sedevacantism, and contained a few more details about "Bishop" Schuckardt. Apparently, Schuckardt called himself "Pope Hadrian VII," claiming to have been crowned by the Blessed Virgin herself in a vision.

Nice work if you can get it.
Sounds about right.





Which Firearm are you?
brought to you byStan Ryker

Monday, November 18, 2002

I have three theories regarding "deer."

1. They are mythological creatures, akin to griffons and sphinxes. They do not really exist, and therefore cannot be the targets of a successful hunt. Alas, this theory is subject to refutation on three grounds. One, the large number of vehicles sporting what appeared to be "deer" carcasses as I drove down I-75 yesterday. However, this could be explained by the fact that I was driving on minimal sleep and suffering from extreme "buck fever." The second argument is stronger: my father bagged a "deer" Friday afternoon. However, this is not conclusive, as the size of the creature in question prompted speculation that it might actually be a hitherto unknown breed of collie instead. Third, my brother claimed to have identified and shot at a "deer" late Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, he missed. More on that later.

2. "Deer" exist, but unaccountably go extinct in every place I go hunting.

3. "Deer" exist, and are not "extinct" in my hunting grounds, but are actually more technologically advanced than mankind, having developed what are commonly referred to as "cloaking devices." These cloaking devices allow them to roam about at will, undetected and undetectable by hapless hunters equipped only with 4x40 scopes.

After careful consideration, I'm leaning toward number three.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

I love animals. They're delicious!

I'm off [you knew that--ha, ha] for the next three days. I'll be joining 700,000 fellow Michiganders (including my father and brother) in a quest for deer.

Yep. Me and my 12 gauge. Canny sportsmanship at its finest. At least theoretically: I haven't bagged a buck yet (or a doe for that matter). In fact, I and my brother might have the only PETA-approved hunting expeditions on earth (we're tied at zero deer). IOW, in Michigan, "Wait'll next year!" applies to more than just the Detroit Lions. Anyway, it should be fun regardless of the number of antlered animal carcasses draped on my Buick for the ride home.

Say nice things to my hunting widow while I'm gone. She'd especially like your input on this tricky parenting/pastoral issue. For that matter, so would I.

Buck fever: Catch it! See you Sunday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Bishops pass abuse policy.

I'm not so much interested in discussing the nuts and bolts of it. That's been done elsewhere. Short take: it's better than nothing, but I think the major flaw is a lack of mandatory reporting. That, and it doesn't say word one about dealing with bishops who don't hold up their end under the policy.

No, it was the vote--with seven dissents--that caught my attention. The quoted dissenter was Evansville's Bp. Gerald Gettlefinger, who complains that it doesn't allow for a rehabbed one-time offender to return to parish ministry. To which I can only say: Good. Cardinal George rightly notes that the faithful have no reason to trust the discretion of the bishop on this one. In reality, this is the only sensible pastoral decision. There's no way I would entrust her or her brother (due in March '03) to a maybe-rehabbed, maybe-not sex offender.

Moreover, I've questioned Bishop Gettlefinger's odd judgment in the past. This extends to the decisions made regarding retention of parish priests (scroll down to "Imprisoned for Receiving Child Pornography"). I have no cause to believe it's any better now. Now, I'd just like to know who the other dissenters and abstainers are.
Start Scanning The Apocalypse of St. John. Now.

Foreign Service officers dissing Europeans! Liberal Academics quoting Kipling! Next thing you know, a columnist from The Nation will be defending the U.S. war effort. Oh, wait....

This story (via Instapundit) is an eye-opener. The Kipling quote is from "Tommy," a superb poem about the abuse of British soldiers by the very people they were protecting. It is very apt. In fact, Kipling is getting more relevant by the hour. Here it is in full:

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!


And Sammy ain't a bloomin' fool, either.

Hilarity from the Onion.

Marxists' Apartment a Microcosm of Why Marxism Doesn't Work.

For me, the instant the fact that the Cold War was over (and the Good Guys had won) fully sunk in was when I saw Gorbachev's 1997 Pizza Hut ad. In 1990, he commanded the world's largest military force and nuclear arsenal, both aimed at the U.S.--which, in Marxist demonology, remains the embodiment of repressive, exploitative corporate evil. Seven years later, he's...pitching pizza...for an...American...corporation....What I still don't fully understand is why my head didn't explode right then and there.

Marxism and its true believers are increasingly just targets of mockery. The Onion piece is good evidence of that. In fact, mockery is probably the best weapon against the birkenstock bolshies and their gradually-slipping white-knuckle grip on the academy, culture, and media. Sorry, guys: you don't even inspire much anger anymore--just a derisive guffaw. That's starting to sink in everywhere now, and it has to sting. If nothing else, it's clear that the Marxist vision, with its mountain of skulls, sure doesn't inspire conversions: your average "peace" rally or National Council of Churches conclave smells like a Ben Gay factory exploded nearby. Reality will even reach their academic strongholds one day, right after "The Sixties People™" pass from the scene.

As Michael Ledeen would say: "Faster, please."

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Think of it as pastoral outreach to the massage parlor community.

Dallas bishop Charles Grahmann refuses to remove priest who admitted to abusive behavior (registration required), despite a recommendation by his co-adjutor bishop. Moreover, the masseur in this case apparently has "issues":

"Father Alvarez acknowledged 'inappropriate contact' with the Houston-area man and was told to resume counseling about 'boundary issues' that he'd previously undergone voluntarily, diocesan Chancellor Mary Edlund said."

"Resume counselling." Oh, yeah, great idea. Especially since it worked so well the first time. Although I have to acknowledge that grabbing another man's privates after he's come to you for help certainly qualifies as a "boundary issue."

This is par for the course for the leadership in Dallas, who in April took a hard line against two priests who failed to implement background checks for church workers. Here's the tough talk about the two errant priests:

"'What I hope would happen would be that pastors realize that bishops couldn't be any more serious about wanting this policy followed," Sister Walsh said. "I think that's the message that comes from this ... we mean business.'"

Uh-huh. They sure do mean business. The bottom line? Priests who don't do background checks on the bookkeeper and maintenance man get fired, but one who fondles a vulnerable parishoner during "counselling" gets continued tenure and "counselling" about "boundary issues." Got it.

Let's see: looks like we can strike "appointment of co-adjutor bishop" from the rapidly-shrinking list of Ways To Make A Bishop Do His Damn Job.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Personal interlude.

These are the Official 2002 Price Family Christmas Photographs, heavy on the beautiful baby girl. Actually, both girls are beautiful, and I don't deserve either one.

I guess that's why it's called "grace."

[Update: I changed the link, which quickly went bad. Heather says this one might last longer.]
A little dinner music.

It took two thousand years, but someone finally figured out what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass needed. The anamnesis of Jesus Christ, the re-presentation of Calvary--was missing something.

It wasn't enough that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, became present, body and blood, soul and divinity, during the liturgy. That the veil between heaven and earth was lifted, that the second person of the Holy Trinity, the redemptor mundi, deigned to visit His creatures, was insufficient. No sir! Something was still missing.

That something was musical accompaniment by an accordion and a triangle. Instead of being present at the food of the Cross, I felt like I was waiting for my order of fettucine alfredo. "Sir, your 'sacred meal' will be right up! But first, 'The Sounds of Venice!'" I also obtained a profound insight into the psychological utility of putting a severed horse's head under someone's bedsheet. Alas, I also recognized the daunting logistical difficulties in pulling off such an operation.

Nevertheless, it was a sign of great hope for Catholic liturgy. Yes, indeed: the sitar 'n cowbell crowd can rejoice that their hour is near.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Dennis Miller on George W. Bush and the End of the Wocka Wocka Porno Guitar Era.

Miller nukes Clinton and the liberal mindset on The Tonight Show. Here's a taste, but read the whole thing:

"Dennis Miller: “I want to congratulate my President. I think he had a great day. I think George Bush is a good man.”
Leno: “Yeah? He did a fine job.”
Miller: “I think, I think he’s a good man and I think he’s done a fine job in these last two years. I don’t think he’s a great man but I would prefer that our President would be a good man because great men tend to believe they're great men and then they end up not being great men any more. I like Bush because he seems like a regular decent guy. And you know what? He’s a big picture guy. Which just shocks me. Because when he first came into the office I think many of us thought that he was the sort of guy who watched television one pixel at a time. But uh, shockingly he’s proven himself to be a big picture guy. I like his sense of humor. At least I hope it’s his sense of humor. I uh, sometimes think it’s Norm Crosby’s sense of humor. But uh, I think the thing I like most about him is that he’s not Clinton. I just think he’s a decent guy. I mean, you know...”
Miller: “I’m telling ya when I watch those, the videotape of the retarded kids playing uh, tee-ball on the White House lawn, on the field that he built for them.
Leno: “Yeah.”
Miller: “And I juxtapose it with Clinton and the wocka-wocka porno guitar of the Clinton administration. I just like Bush, he makes me proud to be an American again. He’s just a decent guy.'"

If only more of Hollywood would wake up...
I'll bet you didn't know the NCCB had a Self-Parody Subcommittee.

Neither did I. But evidently it does, and one of its members issued a statement. (Thanks to Amy Welborn--scroll down to "The Buck Stops Where?").
Good Michigan Political News.

Looks like Republican Mike Cox won the attorney general race. If it holds up, and it should, that makes the first time since 1954 that a Republican has been Michigan's AG.

Cox was endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan, which had an excellent election cycle, governor's race notwithstanding.
The World's Greatest Hockey Team Gets Its Due.

The Detroit Red Wings meet the President. The Wings were impressed. In the local news broadcast, when asked whether he preferred visiting the White House during a Democratic or Republican administration, ever-diplomatic (scroll down to "Judge, Jury and Executioner") forward Darren McCarty said "Oh, Republican. Easy."

It fits. Violent reputation notwithstanding, hockey players have always been the most sensible of pro athletes, especially after September 11.

Finally, a parting thought for Colorado Avalanche fans: neener, neener, neener.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Thoughts on 24

Inspired by the NRO article. My television viewing has been on the decrease ever since our internet access began. Then came Maddie, and I've seen the spew from the receiver in a different light ever since. I'm much more inclined to keep it off now. Now, I've basically budgeted my limited viewing hours for a select few shows, VHS (and now DVD) rentals, and news/special event TV. Babylon 5 was a viewing staple until Sci-Fi decided to move it from 7pm to 5pm. Now I never see it, unless I happen to have the day off. [Sci-Fi was one of the easy compromise channels for Heather and me--B5 and the shaggy-mutt likeable Invisible Man were our equivalent of must-see TV]. Fortunately, the DVD revolution has not passed B5 by.

Last year, a new show entered the can't miss list--Fox's 24. For the unitiated, the premise behind the show is a "real time" telling of an action-thriller story based upon the exploits of Jack Bauer, an agent for a fictional federal "Counter Terrorism Unit." One minute of show time means Bauer has one less minute to foil the terrorist plots of his adversaries. The conceit is that it plays out during the course of a day, hence "24."

Bauer is superbly played by Kiefer Sutherland, who deserved, but did not get, the Best Actor Emmy last year. Instead, it went to Michael Chiklis (yes, a talented actor, but...) on a critics' favorite and wildly overrated sex-n-violence craptacular called "The Shield."

Last year's drama centered on an assassination attempt being made against U.S. Senator and Presidental candidate David Palmer, who is also well-portrayed by Dennis Haysbert. As the story unfolded, it was clear that the assassins were also going after Bauer, his wife and daughter. Added tension was provided by the fact that there was a mole inside CTU assisting the assassination plot. As it turned out, the assassins were genocidal Serb nationalists attempting to avenge an assassination attempt gone wrong against their leader, Victor Drazen, played by Dennis Hopper. The attempt killed Drazen's wife and daughter, but not Drazen himself, as originally had been thought. The attempt had been approved by Palmer's Committee, and carried out by Bauer--explaining the revenge targets. Ultimately, the plot was foiled by Bauer, who killed Drazen, but lost his pregnant wife, who was killed by the mole. The last episode was some of the best television I have ever seen, but the series as a whole was also markedly intelligent, with the exception of the ill-advised amnesia subplot (I refuse to say anything more about it). Villains made intelligent decisions, were often successful, good guy characters also made intelligent choices, etc., and Bauer....Well, Bauer was a revelation--an action hero forced to rely more upon smarts than bullets (although there were plenty of the latter), doing so while "on the clock." Plus, the moral quandries he was put into--ordered to shoot a co-worker by the original assassin, who could verify it through witnesses, he complied: though quick wits ensured she would survive, albeit with devastating consequences. Then he had to carjack an innocent waitress into helping him. And so on.

This year's edition ratchets up the moral stakes considerably: the opening story features a terrifying torture scene, carried out using a disturbingly efficient machine where the victim is strapped in, his feet and hands kept in bags of fluid to help facilitate the torture. The torturers are Asian, as is the victim. The victim finally breaks, and utters information to the torturers, one of whom runs quickly to another room. We learn then that the torturers are "the good guys," members of the South Korean military, who inform their American colleagues in the room that Middle Eastern terrorists have a nuclear weapon.

Which they intend to detonate in Los Angeles.


Ripped from tomorrow's headlines, eh? Palmer, now President, is informed, and calls the still-grieving Bauer back to duty. Bauer initially refuses, until he sees a young mother walking down the street with her happy toddler son. Then he goes back to work. A shooting and an implied beheading follow, plus there's an unnerving subplot involving a man of Arab descent who may (or may not) be a terrorist.

As I said, what makes this year's model of 24 compelling and disturbing is the moral questions it asks about the price we are willing to pay to win the war on terrorism. Do we condone invasions of other people's privacy--especially if they're of foreign origin? Torture? Illegal detention? Threats of nuclear annihilation against other nations that support the terrorists? Even the deliberate killing of admittedly rotten people unassociated with the terrorists, if it gives us an advantage? All this has occurred in the first two episodes of the season.

24 has given me considerable reason to think, and discomfort with the answers. The real world resonances can't be ignored. Start watching now--You can still catch up.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Good Catholic news. For a freaking change.

I was going to post excerpts from the excellent Flawed Expectations book. Frankly, however, I'm taking a break from this work. It's making me mad enough to want to hit things/dissenters with a shovel, which can't be good.

Instead, read this blogged essay by George Weigel over at Shawn McElhinney's site (archive function isn't working). Your urge to swing lawn implements should be minimal.
Paranoia the destroyer.

A commenter over at Mark's implied that I'm big on conspiracy theories. I can only think of one example of this, and it was at the other blog. It had to do with the radioactive freighter that was stopped on the anniversary of 9/11, and the odd absence of media coverage. I can't recall any other examples, to be honest. Perhaps my memory's bad.

Am I "conspiracy-minded"?

Or is that just what THEY want you to think?
Blogrolling, Part II.

Many (and belated) thanks, too, to Lane Core at The Blog from the Core for his comments on my Lidless Eye piece [hmm--Lidless Eyepiece...]. His blog is becoming a regular stop for me. I couldn't agree more with his commentary on the Reflections document. Take a look.
Blogrolling, Part I.

Thanks to Mark Shea for the kind reference. It is true, after all: except for the fillings, I am fully natural.

While you're here, take the comment boxes for a spin and make yourselves at home! Just make sure you drink the Budweiser. The Molson Export's mine...
Post-Election Musings.

Or, keep the Motrin coming.

First of all, it was much, much closer than the exit polls indicated. The Free Press (a/k/a Jen's Amen Corner) poll in particular was a star-struck cheerleading fantasy, projecting a sixteen point win. Looks like it will settle at 4-5 percent. The Detroit News exit poll said 8 percent, and appears a lot saner as a result.

The good news? The Republicans maintained control of the state Senate and House (take a look at the victorious candidate in District 88 and call your local postulator ASAP--if that ain't a miracle, I don't know what is!). It's not going to be easy for her to govern. All together now: Awww...

Unfortunately, the drool-catcher factor might cost the Republicans the attorney general seat, currently a dead heat. 27,000+ normally Republican votes went to the candidate for the always-relevant United States Taxpayers Party. That's the margin in this case. Way to go, guys! Just imagine--a Democrat could be enforcing the tax and property laws for the next four years. Looks like that protest vote really will pay off.

Emphasis on the word pay.

And now, time to take the Archdiocese of Detroit out behind the woodshed. Frankly, its handling of Granholm deserves an "F" grade. No unequivocal statements about Granholm, other than to describe her as "'a caring and loving person who tries to be as faithful as she can in her life.'" Well, that's sure going to sway the confused Catholic on this issue! "Even the Cardinal says she's doing the best she can...", followed by the sound of a Granholm chad being punched out.

Then there's the thoroughly clerical response to the priests' letter supporting Granholm on abortion. You don't answer a trumpet blast challenge with a tweet from a dog whistle. It was a public scandal demanding a public response from the Archdiocese. It never came. Handling it quietly in-house was a stupid, stupid idea. It's a different context, but see Boston, Archdiocese of. How many more Catholics did the silence of the Archdiocese sway to Granholm?

Finally, don't get me started on Catholic harassment of pro-life advocates (scroll down to the entries for 11/3). It doesn't get any worse than this: priests calling the police on people supporting Catholic beliefs. Some priests desperately need instruction and punitive discipline, but again, don't expect anything to come from the Archdiocese regarding this outrage.

In a closer-than-expected race, a determined effort to place Catholic consciences in turmoil would have made a difference, as it did with the Archdiocese's aggressive and vocal opposition to the assisted suicide proposal in 1998. The proposal was buried by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. In 2000, Archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath rightly shrugged when told about opposition of Catholics to the voucher proposal backed by the Church: Unlike assisted suicide, vouchers were "not a Catechism issue," and Catholics could (and did) disagree in good conscience. Well, Ned, abortion sure is a Catechism issue, and one emphasized by the American bishops. Can you explain why the Archdiocese didn't do much about the election?

No effort to engage the Catholic conscience was made here, and the lingering question is, "Why not?" That question is going to echo for the next four years.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

All is not quite lost in Michigan.

The Legislature is still solidly Republican, and looks to stay that way. If the GOP takes the Attorney General's office (and despite early returns, which are from overwhelmingly Democratic Detroit, the race is a dead heat), then Granholm's going to be awfully lonely in Lansing.

And her freedom of action will be very limited. She won't be able to govern at all without Republican cooperation, so she won't be able to do much on the abortion issue, apart from vetoes. Even then, she could get overridden.

And if she follows through on her promise to "tweak" the tax system that funds public education in the State....Can you say "one-termer"?
Election Links.

1. National

NRO's The Corner has regular national updates.

Ditto The Weekly Standard, which is promising coverage and analysis as the returns come in.

Of course, the Drudge Report is a good one, but it was extremely difficult to access on Election Night 2000, due to web traffic volumes. The same could happen tonight. What's nice about Drudge is that he's not constrained from revealing exit poll numbers, which are usually very interesting.

Finally, there's the merry band of rebels over at Fox News, who ought to be encouraged as much as possible.

2. Michigan.

The Detroit News has solid coverage.

The National Right to Life Committee has helpful guidance, as does Right to Life of Michigan.

Finally, vote for this guy, not someone who, while personally opposed to racist violence, does not support laws which restrict lynching.

Oops. I meant "someone who, while personally opposed to abortion, does not support laws which restrict abortion."

Pardon the mistake.

Monday, November 04, 2002

"Lafayette, we are outta here!"

My wife is a French teacher, so I'll try to keep the lid on. Lunging forward...

Someone please remind me why tolerate these clowns, humoring them in their pretensions to international relevance. If there are a more duplicitous bunch of scheming crapweasels on the world stage, I haven't heard of them. France's record in the military/diplomatic arena since 1815 has been one of consistent miscalculation, a demonstration of preening arrogance wedded to boggling ineptitude. It is a litany of failure unmatched by any of the other major powers during the past two centuries, a history of never being both right and effective on a major international issue. Consider this list: Waterloo, the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, appeasement of the totalitarians, the six-week collapse in 1940, Vietnam, the Suez, Algeria, withdrawal from NATO, the building of the Osirak reactor, the arming of various oppressive Arab regimes--you get my point. The only trust the French inspire is a firm faith that something is going to be screwed up beyond all recognition.

Now, in a strategy that reeks of "and maybe the horse will learn to sing," the French government wants to reform Saddam Hussein. Get him all gussied up with a real parliament and everything. In other words, we have a rabid wolverine on a fraying leash, and Chirac thinks the best solution is to send him to obedience school. During which time the Iraqis will allow the genially clueless UN weapons inspector/pushover Hans "Clouseau" Blix to inspect all of the pit toilets he wants.

Hoo, boy. In addition to being strong circumstantial evidence that they've started adding antifreeze to the champagne, it's also completely reckless. The only thing this will do is give Hussein the margin he needs to finish work on his bomb.

What's even more telling is that it is another example of a naive, arrogant Western politician who thinks he "knows" and "has an understanding" with a dictator. We've seen this before: Chamberlain at Munich, FDR with "Uncle Joe." In reality, Chirac knows squat about how to "handle" Hussein, and will do no better. He should be cut off at the knees for his pains.

Before we lose a city.
Newly-discovered blog.

It's a beaut: A Catholic Point of View. Magnificent artwork, constantly updated. There's no blog like it. Take a look.
Hire this man!

If you haven't seen it from Mark Shea's, I strongly recommend that you read this proposed political ad from fellow Michigander, Zach Frey. Zach's one of the handful of bloggers (along with Mark and Doug Sirman) that I've actually met in real life. He and his wife are fine folks and generous hosts, to boot. Plus, he gave me a lot of helpful technical blogging advice when I was just getting started, which I eventually implemented--more or less. Now you know who to blame...

Scroll down to take a look.

It reminds me of the sad joke: "A liberal is someone who believes it's OK for a teenager to have an abortion but not a cigarette."
Hear ye, hear ye.

I installed Haloscan's comment software during my break. Seems to work.

So far.
Getting Fitted for my "Lidless Eye."

Well, not really, but I've been thinking about part of Fr. Neuhaus' explanation of why Rome does not drop the hammer on the bishops. This paragraph is what I've been stewing over:

"There is an exaggerated fear in Rome of a formal schism in the Church in the U.S. It is thought a more direct or heavier hand might provoke that. As you know, many of the Lidless Eye People would welcome that. Rome would not, and I think for very good reasons."

I agree with the first sentence ("exaggerated fear"), even though I think the way he phrases it is very interesting ("formal schism"). Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but the way it's phrased allows for an argument that sections of the Church in America are already in material schism. In any event, a formal schism isn't going to happen for any number of reasons, starting with a lack of intellectual leadership, along the lines of a Von Dollinger. No, most dissenters prefer to stay inside the Church, clogging the toilet and setting fire to the furniture, rather than leave. After all, that way you can pose as the brave free-thinker, challenging "the Inquisition" in the name of liberty, and earning secular kudos and regular media appearances. If you leave to join your fellow believers (?) in mainline Protestantism, you end up being just another Spong in the asylum, good for one article in go-blind typeface on page 38. See Fox, Matthew.

The last two sentences are what have gotten the synapses firing (Ed.: About time!). Why would a formal schism necessarily be a bad thing? Shortly after I read Fr. Neuhaus' discussion of the topic, I had the occasion to go book shopping at a local Catholic outlet. In the midst of policing my increasingly-mobile 14 month-old daughter ("What are you eating?!" has become a staple of my vocabulary), I came across and purchased this happy missive on the condition of Catholic religious education in the wake of the release of the Catechism in 1992. Prognosis: all the happy talk about the imminent demise of liberal Catholic dissent, and its replacement by vibrant orthodoxy, is so much whistling past the graveyard. The "Spirit of V2" crowd are firmly entrenched in diocesan bureaucracies, and are fiercely resisting authentic teaching, especially the Catechism. Flawed Expectations is painfully well-documented, and an instructive, infuriating read. I'll post nuggets later.

All of which brings me to the point: what would be so wrong with a few of the more "progressive" bishops filing out of the Church and taking the materially schismatic dissenters with them? I know that the Church would reject this on the basis that it has to care for all of its "sheep," especially the most wayward ("My, what long teeth you have!"). But isn't their presence inside the Church causing immeasurably more harm to the other sheep? Are the sheep edified by the abortion views of an Anthony Kosnik? Are the unrebuked tantrums of an Anne Doyle helpful to the Church's witness? Yesterday's first reading from Malachi is still echoing in my head, especially 2:7-8. How many are the dissenters causing to stumble? How many bitter ex-Catholic fundamentalists have they created?

The reason can't be a fear of the power of the dissenters. If so, I have a terse response: Look at the Old Catholics. Can you remember the last time you ran into one? Didn't think so. The course of a hypothetical "progressive" schism is pretty obvious: within a year of donning the fool's motley of liberal Protestantism, the schismatics would destroy the apostolic succession by conferring orders on women, and thereafter fragment into various increasingly radical bodies racing each other towards irrelevance, belting out "Sing a New Church" as they sprint along. Many of the disillusioned would return to the Church, chastened by the experience.

And what about the Catholic Church in America following such a schism? Ultimately, wouldn't the Church's evangelical witness, its witness to life, its doctrinal truths and authentic worship shine forth more brightly if the shadows cast by the dissenters were elsewhere? Sure seems like it would to me. Am I missing something?

I await any responses. Meanwhile, I'll be dispatching my Nazgul and summoning my legions of Easterlings, Haradrim and Corsairs...

Saturday, November 02, 2002

The "religion of peace," near Ground Zero.

This is from reader Patrick Sweeney:

"I am a speaker for the Catholic Evidence Guild New York Chapter. The mission of the guild is public speaking on the Catholic faith.

We were only a mile away from the World Trade Center site. We were out on 10/5/2002. My topic on "Christianity and Islam" was interrupted by a Muslim who objected to the claim, which I would think was self-evident, that there was a religious motivation to the 9/11 attacks.

He said their cause was not Islam but "injustice". Since the 9/11 attackers were not Palestinian but Saudi Arabs, I wondered where there was injustice. The answer is a simple as "God has promised the world to Islam. Convert or die."

In the mind of the person I was speaking to "peace" was "the triumph of Islam" and "justice" was "law according to the Koran". The conclusion is there is no peace in New York without Islam's triumph here (not merely freedom of worship). There is no justice in New York without our rights defined according to the Koran.

I live next door to a Muslim and live among many Muslims and speak to them often about their faith. There’s an active Islamofascist movement in the United States--I may have even spoken to a member of a “cell” of them. But for me the long-term problem is that there’s a passive acceptance of them among the mainstream Muslims. It boils down to a question of a good end (the promised triumph of Islam) pursued with an evil means (war and terrorism). The history of Islam shows that military conquest is a laudatory and legitimate in their view.

The Islamofascist movements here and throughout the world are not fringe movements like the KKK or American neo-fascists but numerous, well-funded, and deadly. So for me, the question of whether Islam is a religion of peace is as irrelevant as the question of whether Hitler was a Christian or not in 1939. The war on terror must be fought and won."


The GOP Garbage Squad.

Nine awful human beings whose views are unworthy of the slightest respect. Especially after caterwauling about spending money on Ukraine, no...