Sunday, January 26, 2003

Chamberlain's Chaplain.

He's the Rev. Thomas K. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

First the good: (1) He's absolutely, transparently sincere about pursuing peace. Second, despite his open devotion to Call to Action (click on "Biography"), he seems to generally, but not always, focus on peace issues. Third, he unloaded some fine old (pre-1962) Catholic biblical commentaries (his signature is on the inside covers) at a used bookstore, which I snapped up at a deep discount . He probably abandoned these books in favor of the latest in "the assured results of critical scholarship." Bluntly, I think the one "assured result[] of critical scholarship" is agnosticism, but his loss is my gain. Fourth, he came to our parish for confirmation, and was genuinely irritated by the fact that too many of the kids did not know the basics of the Catholic faith.

But, alas, he is emblematic of the problems with the "peace" movement: there is no moral compass. There is simply the vacuous chant of "peace, peace" when there is no peace. It is Christianity at its worst: playing the feeble chump for tyrants and making excuses for them, all the while spewing platitudes.

The January 24, 2003 issue of The Michigan Catholic is a case in point. The archdiocesan paper for Detroit, its cover story was the report of the bishop's trip to Iraq, continued on page 10. The trip was made with a group of family members of victims of 9/11 and assorted others.

You see where this is going, don't you? Moral equivalence lives:

The trip was also different than any other previous trips, Bishop Gumbleton said, because of the accompaniment of the Peaceful Tomorrows group, made up of those whose family members had been victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "Try and get a sense of what it meant to them...they suffered such grievous losses and then they went into the homes of families that had been bombed by U.S. planes," he said.

"There was a common weeping, and a profound sense of loss and grief," he added. "It was powerful to experience the loss between these four and the others who experienced their loss. It makes the suffering of the people in Iraq so real. It puts a human face on those we're about to destroy."

See Gumbleton's oh-so-subtle point? "We're no better! We're terrorists, too! We're terrorizing these people! We--huh? What? Saddam? Saddam who? Dictatorship? Multiple wars of aggression? Weapons of mass destruction? Huh? Why are you changing the subject?"

Astonishingly, for a two-page article dealing with Iraq, there is exactly one--ONE--mention of Saddam Hussein.

The question arises as we saw it would, 'Aren't you simply being naive? You're being used by the government of Saddam [Hussein] for his purposes,'" [Oakland County businessman Rudy] Simons said. "I turn that question around and say to those, 'Are we not being naive not to understand that if this war starts, then thousands will certainly die, not only innocent civilians but also our soldiers, young men and women?"

Way to not answer the valid question, Rudy. I'll do it for you: "YES" on both counts--being used by Mustache and his gangster regime, and for the mind-staggeringly simplistic naïveté. Unfortunately, the article doesn't indicate what product businessman Rudy sells, so I can't tell you how to boycott it.

But that's it for a discussion of Saddam. The article's disconnect from reality is hard to explain, but here is what is not addressed: No mention that Iraq is a police state which has committed and continues to commit horrific atrocities. Nada on the question of WMDs. Zilch on Saddam's sponsorship of terrorism. No mention that there's the very real possibility that these people they met were not "U.S. bombing victims" after all, but rather people put up to it by the police state. Ever heard of a Potemkin village, Rudy? Evidently not. It never even mentions the U.N. resolution which led us to this point. I thought the "peace" crowd was supposed to be big on the UN, too. Hmmm. It's like these twits travelled to Nazi Germany in 1938, but paid no attention to German rearmament, the re-occupation of the Rhineland or the bullying of Czechoslovakia. How adrift from reality are you when you can't make the barest mention of the nature of the regime? Never mind.

Well, at least the Bishop thinks something should be done, right? Like sanctions?

Oh, hell no:

Efforts to stop the sanctions must continue and must be done with an urgency, he [Gumbleton] said. "We must all tell each other that this war is wrong and can never be justified. Tell others that this war cannot be undertaken," he said. "Try to work and stop the sanctions and give the people of Iraq the chance to live!"

Just what precisely Bp. Gumbleton suggests should be done is never described in the article. Apparently, Saddam is to be gently reasoned with, cajoled, abjured and, if absolutely necessary, subjected to the mother of all tut-tuttings.

Returning to reality, the final insult is that the source of the problem can be verified by interviewing the right Iraqis. Say, one of the millions of people living there and doing quite well, even under sanctions. The catch is these people live in the North where Saddam can't get at them--under the watchful eyes of the USAF and RAF:

The Azad pharmacy in Sulaymaniyah is stocked with medicines. So is the Shara pharmacy next door. In the cool early evening hours, the street bustles with shoppers, some of whom drift inside. They hand over prescriptions, pay the equivalent of a few cents, and walk out with antibiotics for their wives or medicine for their children. Down the street, shops sell watermelons, cheese, vegetables, and meat. Even the liquor stores have large inventories. Mazdas and Mercedeses are becoming more common on the newly paved roads; in the wealthier areas, it is not uncommon to see BMWs. Sony PlayStation has become the latest craze, even among housewives. None of which would be particularly noteworthy, except that Sulaymaniyah is in Iraq.

* * *

Sulaymaniyah, a city in northern Iraq with approximately 500,000 inhabitants, tells a different story. Indeed, across a crescent-shaped slice of northern Iraq, the picture is the same: The shops are stocked, and the people are eating. Northern Iraq lives under exactly the same international sanctions as the rest of the country. The difference here is that local Kurdish authorities, in conjunction with the United Nations, spend the money they get from the sale of oil. Everywhere else in Iraq, Saddam does. And when local authorities are determined to get food and medicine to their people--instead of, say, reselling these supplies to finance military spending and palace construction--the current sanctions regime works just fine. Or, to put it more bluntly, the United Nations isn't starving Saddam's people. Saddam is.

* * *

That attitude applies to military operations, too. Some in the north do criticize American bombing in the south, but only because they think it does not go far enough: They want a sustained military campaign to remove Saddam from power. People here also vigorously support the American- and British-enforced no-fly zones that protect the north's independence. People in Dohuk, just five minutes from Iraqi government lines, visibly relax when they hear Allied sorties flying overhead. They understand that the real menace to their well-being--and to that of their fellow Iraqis--isn't international pressure. It's the dictator to the south.

Would that useful idiots in Roman collars could learn the same.
To Answer the Previous Question...

David Warren at the Ottawa Citizen offers the following evidence for the prosecution:

At the least, I know the Americans are sitting on copies of Saddam Hussein's actual orders to prepare nerve gas attacks against U.S. troops, complete with atropine and chemical suit inventories -- only three weeks old. (The BBC now has these, too.) They also have Saddam's instructions for attacking U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf. They have satellite photographs showing Iraqi ground movements at locations before and after U.N. inspections. They have logged information they gave to Mr. Blix's inspection teams, and which they failed to act upon. They have intercepts of conversations between Kofi Annan and Tariq Aziz.

Savor the last two sentences. Warren notes that we are indeed at a historic juncture:

Opinion polls show that the whole world, including Americans, would feel decidedly more comfortable about his going into Iraq if Mr. Bush had U.N. backing. To be charitable to world opinion, I think this is because there is very little real appreciation of what goes on in there -- of the degree to which the U.N. is itself not an embodiment of noble ideals, but more simply the corrupt and dissimulating reflection of its largely illegitimate and despotic membership.

And next week is the crunch. I expect we will come to look back on this as we do now upon the League of Nations in its last moments -- the League's failure to act on Abyssinia, and so forth, in the gathering clouds of World War II.

The U.N. has manoeuvred Mr. Bush into a position where he cannot advance towards Baghdad without pushing them over. It follows he will push them over -- and let the world know why. As I see it, we have reached the end of the road, either for Mr. Bush or for the United Nations. I expect Mr. Bush to prevail; but if he doesn't, I'll tell you. I expect Mr. Bush to be blamed for the convulsion that then seizes the U.N., but in the longer run I think it will be seen that the U.N. killed itself.

I suspect the funeral service will be poorly-attended.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Is the UN Irredeemably Evil?

What other conclusions are we to draw from this report, in which Blix's Blind Mice become accessories to the murder of an Iraqi:

About 40 minutes later, another Iraqi man stopped a U.N. vehicle outside the headquarters pleading "Save me! Save me!" in Arabic, according to the U.N. The man, apparently unarmed, forced his way into the driver's seat of the stopped vehicle, as an Iraqi guard struggled to pull him out, while an unfazed U.N. inspector watched from the passenger seat.

Appearing agitated and frightened, the young man, with a closely trimmed beard and mustache, sat inside the white U.N.-marked utility vehicle for 10 minutes, AP reported. At first, an inspection team leader sought help from nearby Iraqi soldiers, but the man refused to leave the vehicle as the uniformed men pulled on his sleeve and collar.

"I am unjustly treated!" he shouted.

Then U.N. security men arrived, and they and Iraqi police carried the man by his feet and arms into the fenced compound, journalists said. The man was turned over to Iraqi authorities at a government office adjacent to the compound, U.N. officials said.

Iraqi officials said they had no information on the incidents.

Of course the Iraqis have no information on the incident. The man has officially ceased to exist, and is being tortured to death with his family as we speak.

In unrelated news, the inspectors report little progress in securing unmonitored interviews with Iraqi scientists....

The seeking of "permission" from the United Nations has officially become an obscene farce. We need the say-so of people who cheerfully turn over would-be defectors to a police state? And what was in the man's notebook, anyway? Something that might impede the Blix Fix?

No, we don't need the permission of the assorted police states, totalitarians, tyrants and appeasing effetes whose presence drives down property values in eastern Manhattan.

Why bother? On average, they don't have the moral sense God gave sharks.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Saddam's Son Promises to Inflict Casualties on American Civilians in Event of War.

Uday Ceauces--er, Hussein promises worse than September 11:

"Because if they come, September 11 which they are crying over and see as a big thing will be a real picnic for them, God willing," Uday said....

Not smart. Not remotely smart. First of all, don't hint at a use of WMDs while in the next sentence saying you don't have them. Just goes to show that the Husseins have survived through brutality more than smarts.

Second, such an attack ensures the gloves will come off, and that the Hussein crime family (and much of Iraq)becomes a strictly past-tense phenomenon. Americans will demand it, and they will receive it.

Ever see Deterrence? Someone in Baghdad should--soon.
The Grim Reaper's Vanity Plate.

This is a good one: South Carolina Senator proposes compromise in license plate dispute.

Memo to PP hired gun: Senator Altman understands you just fine. BTW, whatever happened to "choice"? If you don't want the license plate, don't buy one. Hypocrites.

We're considering changing our residency to South Carolina just so we can vote for Senator Altman.
Culture of Death Watch

Or Death of Culture Watch. Works either way.

Speaking of eugenics, a story about our hidden past. One that many of our educated barbarians would be perfectly comfortable returning to, apparently. "Say what you will about Hitler...." [Link from Mark Sullivan]
The forced sterilization policy was (surprise, surprise) upheld by our Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), which includes the infamous quote by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Wesley Smith at NRO reports on the decay of medical ethics, with a developing trend in medical experimentation on living patients. "Say what you will about Josef Mengele...."

Finally, Rod Dreher reports on Hollywood's latest love-in with nihilism, The Hours. "Say what you will about abandoning your family...."
Many Thanks for the Blogrolls!

To Mark Shea, Shawn McElhinney, and Lane Core--Thank you for your kind references to my Hallmark greeting to neo-eugenicist Ron Weddington.

Also, long overdue thanks to those kind enough to refer to or compliment my blog about AmChurch and Catholic men:

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick at Verus Ratio;
Steven at Flos Carmeli;
Edward Trumbo;
Mark Sullivan;
Zach Frey (whose patience with Blogger is epic);
Greg Krehbiel;
Mark Cameron (glad to see he's still able to blog regularly); and
Doug Sirman (from whom I borrowed the phrase "dumber than a box of hair").

And thanks to the "blogless," too: Kappellmeister, Stephanie, Ellen, Robin Shea, Thomas Tucker (I thought you had one), and James Deery.

For those of you new to this blog: yes, I'm usually this irritable. You see, my phaser's "stun" setting is increasingly unreliable. Hence the carnage and devastation.

"But they were all bad," to quote a line from the last great Ahnold movie.

I haven't succumbed to the dark side, though: here's proof.

Try the archives. Kick the tires. Enjoy the beer (but not the last two bottles of Molson Export--they're mine).

America's worst governor gets a warning from his bishop: Repent.

"As your bishop, I have to say clearly that anyone – politician or otherwise – who thinks it is acceptable for a Catholic to be pro-abortion is in very great error, puts his or her soul at risk, and is not in good standing with the church," Weigand said. "Such a person should have the integrity to acknowledge this and choose of his own volition to abstain from receiving Holy Communion until he has a change of heart."
* * *
Weigand praised Monsignor Edward Kavanagh, during the Mass. Last month Kavanagh refused to allow Davis to deliver gifts to St. Patrick's Orphanage unless he renounced his abortion-rights views.

"I'm unapologetically pro-choice and I'm not changing my position," the governor responded, according to The Bee.

Excellent work, Bishop Weigand. I still think something more punitive should be in the works, but it's an excellent and necessarily public first step.

Episcopal leadership is not entirely absent in the U.S. How long before we can expect Roger Cardinal Mahony to follow suit? Hint: breath-holding is not an option...

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Roe Lawyer Praises Decision For Helping to Cull The Herd.

No. Really. Seriously. I kid you frickin' not.

An anencephalic pantload of smug protoplasm named "Ron Weddington" weighs in on Roe. Still more sad proof that of all the ailments afflicting humanity, cranial-gluteal impaction is the hardest to cure.

Time to break out the fiskin' stick. Italics represent the firings of the pantload's brain stem.

But for Roe v. Wade, millions more children would have been born into poverty, where they would be greeted by Congress and the state legislators who failed to provide money for day care, health care, education or job training.

My dad has a word for this sort of 'argument.' It rhymes with "coarse bit." Let's see: You mean that they would have been brought into a nation where federal spending has never been reduced since the advent of "The Great Society"? They would have been born into the most generous nation on earth in terms of charitable giving?

So, if she can't get into Head Start, the kid's better off dead? Noted.

Millions more would have joined the ranks of welfare recipients and the homeless, the populations of prisons, prostitutes and drug addicts.

Not to mention lawyers.

Pantload ignores the high probability that millions more would have been brilliant, productive members of society, like doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, etc. Perhaps amongst the lost there was even a miracle-worker who could have cured Ron Weddington's cranial-gluteal impaction.

Note the positive: it's always gratifying to see a moral idiot of his magnitude calling prostitution an evil. Progress of a sort. I guess.

All that, simply to pander to the religious beliefs of a minority who persist in claiming that a collection of cells, without reason or awareness, is human life with something called a soul.

Ah, yes. The religious card. Pantload shakes his totem at the sky, warning his frightened tribesfolk about the Dark Ones who threaten them: The Theocracy! Cheap, stupid, and wrong. Which pretty much sums up his letter.

Just like "a collection of cells, without reason or awareness" nicely sums up Weddington himself.

As co-counsel in Roe v. Wade, I applaud the determination of J'Vante Anderson, the young woman in your article, to break the cycle of teenage mothers. But if her vow of abstinence fails, I hope that she can fall back on abortion, for her future and ours.
Austin, Tex., Jan. 20, 2003

Well, of course he's a lawyer. Only a lawyer can spew high-velocity BS like this with a straight face. Before Roe, I suspect Weddington handled head trauma cases--after all, you can't hide what's inside. It would certainly explain a lot. Then he graduated to bogus constitutional law, and now eugenics.

Here's the beginning of the article Weddington refers to, describing the determined Ms. Anderson:

J'Vante Anderson is 16, the age her mother was when she had her first child. Growing up in one of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods, she has seen the cycle: teenage girl has baby, drops out of school, goes on welfare and raises a child who in turn becomes a teenage mother.

"I want to break that cycle," she said, her turtleneck perfectly coordinated with her pink velvet jeans. "I have a life, and I do plan on living it." She does not believe in abortion, so she is choosing abstinence.

God bless her. Take a look at the picture of Ms. Anderson, too: she's African-American. So, just what is he trying to say? Sounds an awful lot like "just enough of us, way too many of you." As in "you people." The people some don't like sharing a drinking fountain with. So much for the liberal's solicitude for the underdogs in American life. Now, Pantload tells us that it's just as well that "their" numbers are kept down. You just know she would produce another criminal/prostitute/junkie, right? The Grand Dragon of the KKK nods in enthusiastic agreement. I have a new slogan for NARAL/PP:

"Choice: Making Racism Fashionable Again."

Note also that Pantload is mute about the jerk in the next paragraph who uses it for birth control. So much for it being pro-choice but not pro-abortion. He clearly endorses the latter position. With relish.
Roe, Thirty Years and a Day Later.

Here are several representative links (I'd love to give precise credit, but they come from all over the place--Mark Shea, Amy Welborn, and HMS Blog, to name three):

First and foremost, the good workers over at Rachel's Vineyard, helping women victims every day.

Then there are the stories: heartbreaking, stupefyingly horrific, courageous, and striking.

Christianity Today provides a helpful historical overview of the abortion wars.

Also at Christianity Today, Guy M. Condon offers sound advice in structuring pro-life arguments.

Is there a Fish-Slapping Brigade? If not, consider this a call for volunteers, armed with the largest sturgeon money can buy: Proud 'daughters' of Roe do Elizabeth Bathory one better.

Finally, in a powerful essay today, Amy Welborn explains why we fight.

I told my daughter and my son how much I loved them yesterday. My son is due to be born on March 9, 2003.

How many like him (yes, at his age and development) won't get that chance?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

"There are very few places that could compete with the level of depravity...."

North Korea's bona fides as a member of the Axis of Evil are firmly established in this MSNBC report. My wife sent me this link, asking "How is this different from the Nazis?" How, indeed?

“All of North Korea is a gulag,” said one senior U.S. official, noting that as many as 2 million people have died of starvation while Kim has amassed the world’s largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons.
“It’s just that these people [in the camps] are treated the worst. No one knows for sure how many people are in the camps, but 200,000 is consistent with our best guess.

“We don’t have a breakdown, but there are large numbers of both women and children.”

Then there are the actual atrocities themselves, worthy of a Mengele or Heydrichs:

Under a directive issued by Kim’s father, North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, three generations of a dissident’s family can be jailed simply on the basis of a denunciation.

Soon Ok Lee, imprisoned for seven years at a camp near Kaechon in Pyungbuk province, described how the female relatives of male prisoners were treated.
“I was in prison from 1987 till January 1993,” she told NBC News in Seoul, where she now lives. ”[The women] were forced to abort their children. They put salty water into the pregnant women’s womb with a large syringe, in order to kill the baby even when the woman was 8 months or 9 months pregnant.
“And then, from time to time there a living infant is delivered. And then if someone delivers a live infant, then the guards kick the bloody baby and kill it. And I saw an infant who was crying with pain. I have to express this in words, that I witnessed such an inhumane hell.”

Biological warfare experimentation on prisoners occurs:

Soon also spoke about the use of prisoners as guinea pigs, which a senior U.S. official describes as “very plausible. We have heard similar reports.”
“I saw so many poor victims,” she said. “Hundreds of people became victims of biochemical testing. I was imprisoned in 1987 and during the years of 1988 through ’93, when I was released, I saw the research supervisors — they were enjoying the effect of biochemical weapons, effective beyond their expectations — they were saying they were successful.”
She tearfully described how in one instance about 50 inmates were taken to an auditorium and given a piece of boiled cabbage to eat. Within a half hour, they began vomiting blood and quickly died.

Even the prison guards can eventually take no more:

Prison guard Ahn’s memories are, like the others’, nothing short of gruesome. Every day, he said there were beatings and deaths.
“I heard many times that eyeballs were taken out by beating,” he recalled. “And I saw that by beating the person the muscle was damaged and the bone was exposed, outside, and they put salt on the wounded part. At the beginning I was frightened when I witnessed it, but it was repeated again and again, so my feelings were paralyzed.”
Moreover, said Ahn, beating and killing prisoners was not only tolerated, it was encouraged and even rewarded.
“They trained me not to treat the prisoners as human beings. If someone is against socialism, if someone tries to escape from prison, then kill him,” Ahn said.

Of course, there are the inevitable American bougeois leftist idiot a******s (a/k/a "ANSWER") who think this hellhole is just dandy:

...[T]he [October DC] demonstration was essentially organized by the Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s “socialist system,” which, according to the party’s newspaper, has kept North Korea “from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.”

Thank Stalin for that! I can't imagine what would happen to the North Koreans if Kim Jong Il were to end up taking the Ceaucescu retirement plan and his poor proletarians were subject to such corporate horrors

[Second link via Mark Sullivan]
"I Should Have Known" Dep't.

Mark Sullivan blogged about the Crisis OCP article almost eight months ago.


Monday, January 20, 2003

The Anti-Abortion Views of Margaret Sanger.

No, there's not a gas leak here.

In an excellent book review essay, David Tell unearths this bombshell about Planned Parenthood founder and birth control apostle Margaret Sanger:

On the evidence in "The Woman Rebel," the real reason Sanger declined to advocate abortion, notwithstanding the law's flexibility and what she took to be the procedure's safety, is that abortion appalled her.

She turned women seeking abortions away from her clinics: "I do not approve of abortion." She called it "sordid," "abhorrent," "terrible," "barbaric," a "horror." She called abortionists "blood-sucking men with MD after their names who perform operations for the price of so-and-so." She called the results of abortion "an outrageous slaughter," "infanticide," "foeticide," and "the killing of babies." And Margaret Sanger, who knew a thing or two about contraception, said that birth control "has nothing to do with abortion, it has nothing to do with interfering with or disturbing life after conception has taken place." Birth control stands alone: "It is the first, last, and final step we all are to take to have real human emancipation."

However, the evidence also indicates that one could hardly call Sanger "pro-life." She had a low regard for "inferior" breeds of humanity that would not have been out of place at a Klan rally. Nevertheless, it explains PP's brief song-and-dance about Sanger's abortion attitudes.

Tell also posts this disturbing quote from a young woman who had an abortion:

And there is "Crissy," a high school student whose story leads the book, so pitiably confused about her experience that she is willing to consider the possibility that her own life, too, should have been interrupted in utero:

"If I ever have [a child] I want it to have the best that I could possibly give it, with a father and mother who love it. I was an unexpected child that perhaps shouldn't have been born. But since I'm here, I'm going to strive to make things better. [Planned Parenthood has] given me a chance to live and make my life the way it should be. Thank you."

"To me, this letter says it all," Feldt offers. But she does not elaborate.

Indeed, it does "say it all": 30 years of unfettered "choice" has taught children that life is so valueless that they wonder whether or not their parents should have had them in the first place. God help us.
Peggy Noonan on the Democrats and Abortion.

I think she has this part of the issue nailed:

The Democratic Party, in contrast, has exhausted its great reasons for being, having achieved so many of them during the past 75 years. The Democrats often seem like the Not Republican Party, no more and no less. It is composed not of allied groups in pursuit of the same general principles but warring groups vying for money, power, a louder voice, the elevation of their particular cause.

The one thing they agree on, that holds them together and finances their elections, is abortion. The abortion-rights movement packs huge clout in the party; it can make or break a candidacy with contributions and labor and support. It has such clout that at the 1992 Democratic convention the party wouldn't even let Gov. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a popular liberal from a state with 23 electoral votes, give an afternoon speech. He was officially a nonperson at his party's convention because he was pro-life. The Republicans, on the other hand, still have arguments over abortion. Whether pro- or anti-, it is understood you are not banned from a convention podium on that basis. The Republicans can still have a conversation, albeit with occasionally loud voices. But better a loud voice than no voice at all.

[Link via Amy Welborn.]
Now He's Doing Snail Mail.

The latest from "Osama."

I doubt he's still alive. Now would be the perfect time to issue incontrovertible photographic proof that he isn't air pollution or otherwise reached room temperature: "I have survived the worst the Crusaders could throw at me and...[spends next 21 hours listing every Muslim grievance since 632 AD]." The propaganda value of that would be inestimable.

Instead, consider the downward spiral: From videotapes, to e-mail, to audiotapes, to mailed unsigned essays of Unabomber length.

What next? Communiques via Aldis lamp? Fatwas by semaphore?

He's dead. Or so mangled that pictures of him would be the opposite of inspiring. Either way, it's a good sign.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

You Down With OCP?

Well, you know me.


After all, I heard "Gather Us In" and "Here I Am, Lord" at Mass today. Apparently, ours is a wicked, wicked parish in need of the scourging only horrible liturgical music can offer.

Haugen & Schutte. Kinda like Hall and Oates.

Only somehow worse.

And who foists Marty 'n Dan on Catholic parishes? Why, the folks at OCP: the Oregon Catholic Press. This article offers as good a reason as any why the Diocese of Portland should be forced to sell OCP's physical assets to the Navy for use as a gunnery range. Or sell it to the Southern Baptists, who would actually publish honest-to-God praise music, and not material more suited to failed Peter Paul & Mary cover bands.

Decisions, decisions. I say pick whichever would be less comfortable.

OK, a little harsh. But only until you read the article. Learn why your average Catholic liturgy is far below average. Thanks to the interlocking publications offered by OCP, North American Catholics get a standardized product menu: McMass™. Try a "sacred meal" with Hurd and extra Conry.

Also, the article offers insight into those who are adding sequins and rhinestones to the Mona Lisa that is the Mass. People like OCP's Political Officer/Editor Michael Prendergast, who explains Why The New Order Is For The Betterment Of All And Wreckers Will Be Re-Educated:

What about the other option of splitting up the Masses according to style, so that those who like traditional music can have their own Mass and the people who compose for the OCP can have theirs? Prendergast rejects this. Whether the style is traditional, contemporary, folk, or even "rock," Prendergast says, "everyone in the parish has to be exposed to it." And what if a pastor just doesn't like rock and other contemporary styles? Prendergast says, "I would talk to the [chancery's] Office of Worship about him." I asked whether that means he would turn this poor priest in to the bishop. His response: "I would try to arrange for him to attend a workshop on liturgy."

"Everyone in the parish has to be exposed to it." Rather like your children and chicken pox, isn't it? I have to admit it's worked on me: I'm pretty well immune to its charms. Then there's the matter of turning in the hapless priest to the Liturgy Police. No doubt once Fr. Smith had the rat cage strapped to his face, all sense of taste and reverence would be erased, and he would indeed profess his undying love for Big Brother and the Inner Party's NewLit.

Read it and be enlightened.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Everybody Loves Patricia Heaton.

Or at least you should.

I gave you one reason on Wednesday.

Well, here's another (unfortunately, you have to pay to see the whole thing). [Link via Mark Shea]

And here's yet another.

Too bad there's not a 24-hour Everybody Loves Raymond channel.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Turn Up the Hair Dryer to "High," Senator.

That way I won't have to listen to USDA Certified, Grade A BS like this from folks like the elegantly-coiffed Senator from Massachusetts. Yet another nominally Catholic politician explains why his faith never manages to leave the church with him on Sundays. Do these guys get talking points memos on how to neutralize their Catholicism? It sure seems like it's coming from the same playbook:

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry says that "as a Catholic" he has "enormous respect for the words and teachings of the Vatican." But Kerry says that to "represent all the people" he can't be bound by church doctrine. Kerry's statement says that's part of President Kennedy's "lasting legacy."

Let's consider each statement in turn.

1. "'[A]s a Catholic...'"
Defined how? No, seriously. When is someone going to call these guys on this: how can you call yourself Catholic when you reject so many vital Church teachings? Anyone in the media? Anyone?

2. "[H]e has 'enormous respect for the words and teachings of the Vatican.'"
At the outset, note the artful use of the term "Vatican" instead of "Church." Very well done--less off-putting to Catholics who profess to love the "Church" but despise its teaching authority. Carroll, McBrien, Steinfels, Maguire & Co. surely are applauding that. But see No. 1 above.

Next, could you give us an example of "words and teachings" that you have actually followed in your public life? Or at least one time when you have said that "As a Catholic, I must/must not do _____", and it actually correlated with a teaching of the Church? Cue Jeopardy theme.

3. "Kerry says that to 'represent all the people' he can't be bound by church doctrine."
First of all, the Republicans and Libertarians in Massachusetts will be delighted with your declared commitment to represent them. Ditto the anti-war types you brushed off in approving force against Iraq. Ditto everyone in Massachusetts who is on the opposite side of one of your votes in the Senate chamber. All will be pleased to hear of your resolve to henceforth "represent all the people." Good luck in your efforts.

Secondly, if you can't at least occasionally adhere to Catholic moral doctrine while representing the second most Catholic state in the nation, when are you going to do it?

4. By JFK's "legacy," Kerry probably means Kennedy's Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association regarding the separation of church and state. Kennedy's speech is a mixed bag, as the following paragraphs indicate:

Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith--nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.

Whatever else it said, Kennedy's speech to the Protestant pastors made no promise that he would abandon basic Catholic morality upon being elected President. There were many problems the observant Protestant elites had with Catholicism, but generally speaking, the stern morality preached by the Church was not on the list. Rather, the speech was intended to reassure twitchy Protestants who assumed Catholics scanned the skies for the Pope Signal, or awaited their nightly drop of subversive orders from the Jesuits, that such was not the case. Note the reference to "outside pressures," for example.

Consequently, I can tell the Senator's JFK invocation from Shinola. The major problem with Kerry's interpretation is obvious: it permanently concedes the right of a Catholic politician--and only a Catholic politician--to be guided by the teachings of the Church to the amorphous "duty" to "represent all the people." Instead of leading, a Catholic representative must forever be lead on issues that affect morality.

Why only Catholics? Well, consider a recent example: the enthusiasm of Mormon politicians for stem-cell research. As the article indicates, this enthusiasm is entirely a product of Mormon theology. But in John Kerry's World, while a Mormon Senator is fully welcome to base policy decisions on his church's theology, a Catholic must demur--"foreign potentates," and all that. Got it.

It's getting tiring, but it looks like the only way these nominal Catholic politicos are ever going to be stopped is when the faithful organize and are instrumental in defeating one at the polls. "Defeat" and "loss of power" are truly the only "words and teachings" these Catholic representatives are going to listen to.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Speaking of "Limited Reprisals."

Has there ever been any movie that has aged as badly--and as quickly--as Rob Reiner's The American President? Not that it was good when it came out: a gooey agitprop morality play in romantic comedy drag, it lionized the Clinton Presidency and did everything but force Richard Dreyfus' thinly disguised Bob Dole character to walk around with horns and a pitchfork. The best thing about it was that it inspired a hilarious SNL review by Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton:

Norm MacDonald: "An American President", Rob Reiner's new film starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, opened in theaters last week. Here with his review is "Update" movie critic and 42nd President of these United States, Bill Clinton.

President Bill Clinton: Thank you, Norm...thank you, all. Rob Reiner's latest film tells the story of a young, idealistic president, who has not only a hostile Congress and a nasty Republican contender to deal with, but also has to raise a 12-year-old daughter on his own, because, you see, his wife is dead. I love this movie!

Norm MacDonald: You really liked it that much, Mr. President?

President Bill Clinton: Norm, from the moment we learn the premise about the young president with the dead wife, the viewer just falls hook, line and sinker. I mean, Rob Reiner has tapped into what must be every young American's fantasy: to grow up, to become President, to have your wife die, and be left with the trappings of the office free and unattached. [ laughs ]

Norm MacDonald: Was there anything you didn't like about the movie, Mr. President?

President Bill Clinton: Well, I thought some of the performances were unconvincing, particularly Martin Sheen as the President's Chief-of-Staff. He's done better work.

Norm MacDonald: Uh-huh. And what did you like best about the movie?

President Bill Clinton: The dead wife.

Believe it or not, the movie has managed to become much worse. Why? Leaving aside the movie's bias, the thing that kills it today is that it had a hidden expiration date: September 11, 2001.

I had the displeasure of stumbling across it a week ago when it was on one of the Turner channels. The scene that was showing was the first date of President Michael Douglas (like the character's name matters) and Lobbyist Bening, thoughtlessly interrupted by a Libyan-sponsored terrorist bombing that killed American soldiers. In short, an act of war. The "response" was fully Clintonian, a bombing of the Libyan intelligence headquarters at night. After hours, because that would kill the least number of people, you see. Even the terror masters have to get some regular shut-eye.

This is done even though the only people being killed there are the cleaning staff. We'll show you: you declare war on us and we'll whack your janitors. Check and mate! Of course, President Mike agonizes over it, calling it the "least noble thing he ever did," or some similar horse guano. The statement is true, of course--but for reasons the writer (Aaron Sorkin, creator of "The West Wing") did not intend. Wow, what impressive leadership. I almost laughed out loud at that point. More hilarious is that the movie then depicts President Mike moving on to the "important" stuff. You know: gun control, environmental policy and wowing the pants off Annette Bening. A perfect summary of Bill's eight years in power.

The Libya scene sums up the utter wrongheadedness of Clinton's response to terror, starting with "reprisals" that ensure the safety of the very people who killed yours. It further serves as a window on the minds of the "peace at any price" left, who gobbled this stuff up at the box office.

In short, it's become a cringe-inducingly awful scene in a film that was not particularly good in the first place. I would be surprised if it's being shown ten years from now. If it is, I'll still be hurling the same derisive laughter at it.

[Revised 1/17/03]
"We've been about this for a dozen years."

Bill Cork offers several salient points about just war principles and Iraq:

We've tried sanctions--and the pacifists complain.

We've tried talking--and gotten nowhere.

We've tried limited reprisals--and he has laughed.

And we are told we have still not exhausted peaceful means.

Twelve years folks. How much longer do the advocates of "peaceful means" suggest we play this game? What other approaches do they recommend we try that have not been attempted in the last twelve years?

The silence is deafening.

As they say, "read the whole thing."
The Hard Lot of a Pro-Life Democrat.

An essay worth your time.

Via Mark Sullivan, who also recently posted an excellent piece comparing abortion to slavery that you should read, too.
The Best Rivalry In Sports Is Renewed Tonight.

Avs-Wings. Or, why the Prices won't be able to get rid of their TV. All you need to know: These two teams have won five of the last seven Stanley Cups. For those of you unfamiliar (!) with this storied rivalry, here's a good overview. That article was written at the outset of last year's Western Conference Finals, a best-of-seven classic that the Wings took 4 games to 3.
Gentlemen: On the Count of Three...




Predicted Spin: "See! The Iraqis Don't Have Any Weapons of Mass Destruction!"

The empty warheads are the proof!

Sure. And those carrier task forces chugging toward the Gulf are going there to enforce boating regulations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

"Not An Oxymoron" Dep't. has a profile article about the gutsy women at Feminists for Life. [Link via Greg Krehbiel]

It's a reasonably balanced piece, except for the need to let the NARAL spokesflunky have the last word. That, and the ironic use of quote marks surrounding "feminists" in the title. After all, I don't think the writer would care for me to refer to him as "'Journalist' Dean Schabner" or "'Reporter' Dean Schabner."

Make sure to check out the FFL website. There's very good stuff there, including a conscious effort to point out the efforts of the dwindling number of pro-life Democrats. Plus, if you need any further endorsement, have mine: I donate cash to this organization.

And, to end the blog on a note that ties into an earlier theme: I'll bet you didn't know that FFL's Honorary Chair, actress Patricia Heaton, is...

...wait for it... ex-Catholic. And not in the loopy liberal sense, either: she's a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. No watered-down Reformed thought there--they take their Calvinism straight. AmChurch loses another one.

Oh, well. At least we still have Teddy Kennedy, Gray Davis, Jennifer Granholm....
Crisis Magazine Plug, Part II.

Then there's this brilliant piece by National Review's Kathryn Lopez about the Church losing its young members.

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt offers his explanation for going to conservative Presbyterianism:

He argues, "The American Church...needs a reformation." But, he despairs, "none is even remotely close to occurring." Hewitt points to the new cathedral in Los Angeles as "the perfect expression of the American Church today—so sterile it could be an air conditioning plant and designed to please non-Catholics with the taste of the leadership."

Hewitt describes his move from Roman Catholicism to Presbyterianism as partly positive and partly negative. He considers himself an "ex-pat, obliged to move to a Protestant expression of faith because I experience God’s presence more easily and more conclusively as a Presbyterian and began to do so over a dozen years ago." Presbyterianism works for him in ways Catholicism no longer did. "The Presbyterian confessions and order of worship are very left-brain and made me into a much better Christian," he says.

But some of the reasons for Hewitt’s move were direct reactions to problems he saw in the Catholic Church. Hewitt says, "The American bishops literally drove me out. I could not read the paper without muttering about their inanities. James Malone, the bishop of Youngstown, my bishop, who confirmed me, sputtering about nuclear weapons and poverty"—all this while Hewitt worked in the Reagan White House.

"These silly men," Hewitt complains, "issued reams of nonsense and met and met and met even as the liturgy collapsed into incoherence and the preaching dissolved into eight-minute homilies on the need for love. There was also the problem of the Responsorial Antiphon. It would almost always cause me to either laugh or grind my teeth. Is there a worse collection of ‘music’ anywhere? And the Christian Rite of Initiation, and the revamped Sacrament of Reconciliation—all of it just another set of committee reports from priests and nuns bored with the old Church. I could go on, but my guess is that you have heard it all before."

Hewitt concludes, "There is enormous energy and talent within the American Church which might over the years genuinely renew it and rebuild it. But I need God on a much more immediate basis."

Indeed. Read the whole thing. For the most part, these men weren't lured out--they were driven away, and for a multitude of reasons most of us see every week. Dispiriting, but necessary, reading.

P.S. Did you notice this?

"'Is there a worse collection of ‘music’ anywhere?'"

If so, I haven't heard it. Thankfully.
Crisis Magazine Plug, Part I.

A good article by Russell Shaw about responsible, orthodox lay involvement in the Church. It contains a nice overview of the development of the clericalist mindset in the U.S. over the past century and a half. It also illustrates the uphill battle orthodox Catholics are facing, and why Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz deserves a red hat:

Two incidents in Dallas last June at the time of the American bishops’ panicky, media-driven meeting on sex abuse illustrate this problem’s dual nature. First, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tapped two progressives—Margaret Steinfels of Commonweal and Scott Appleby of Notre Dame—to speak for the Catholic laity to the assembled hierarchy. In response, the incorrigible Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, remarked on EWTN, "I have better things to do with my time and money than to listen to Margaret Steinfels." Second, when conservative Catholics attempted to schedule a panel discussion of the bishops’ meeting at a parish in a nearby diocese, the chancery let it be known that the gathering wouldn’t be welcome on church property. Catholics United for the Faith moved the session to another diocese, where it took place in the auditorium of an independent Catholic school before a standing-room-only crowd of concerned, understandably angry laypeople.

Taken together, these incidents reflect two unpleasant facts relevant to the future of lay involvement in Church decision-making. One is that the clericalized bureaucracy controlling the administrative machinery of the Church seems to be partial—perhaps without even noticing it—to progressives and dissenters. The other is that these unself-consciously arrogant officeholders often give orthodox Catholics the back of their hand.

As If There Isn't Enough Crap On TV Already.

Oh, joy.

Medea Michelman & Co. are going to be clogging Michigan airwaves with PSAs for the Culture of Death.

I guess this means "Jackass" is back on the air.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Re: Absence of Blogging.

It has been prompted by a number of factors, first and foremost being my father's scheduled stomach surgery.
He made it through with no complications, but won't be released until Thursday.

I may post something soon, but we'll see.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Unitarians Thank...Something...For Abortion.

Via Rod Dreher at The Corner:

"January 23, 1973, is a landmark in the history of women's struggle for freedom and equality. On January 19, 2003, the Women's Alliance of the First Unitarian Congregational Society will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that was handed down on January 22, 1973. The celebratory worship service, officiated at by the Reverend Carlton Veazey, will begin at 11 a.m. at the First Unitarian Church, located at 50 Monroe Place, on the corner of Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place. The Women's Alliance presents a Reproductive Choice Sunday worship service every year in January. For additional information, call the office at (718) 624-5466."

Emphasis added by yours truly. And you thought Molech worship was dead.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Return of the King News.

If you thought the liberties Jackson and Crew took with The Two Towers were problematic, check out this.

[Link via The Corner.]
OK. So What Kind of Liturgical Music Do You Like, Anyway?

Commenter Stephanie reasonably asks. Well, the flip answer is anything that doesn't have an Oregon Catholic Press copyright, but that's not an absolute rule. There are some nuggets in that songbook. You have to pan for days to find them, but they are there. And, as an aside, much of the music I complain about would not be particularly objectionable outside of the liturgical setting, either. I also respectfully disagree with those who argue that congregational singing has no place at the Mass. I attended a music-free Mass last year in Arlington, Virginia. The lack of music was due to the sudden illness of both cantor and priest. Very jarring experience.

Ultimately, I use what I call the Air Supply/America/Christopher Cross Test. If I can imagine one of those artists doing a straight cover of the song, it doesn't belong at Mass. If I can't, then it's probably OK. Greg Krehbiel put it nicely when he said he was tired of the gooey "Good Morning, Yahweh" repertoire. It's music that suggests we aren't so much praising God as being willing to shake His hand.

But that still doesn't quite answer the question. Frankly, I'm beginning to realize that I was somewhat spoiled, coming over from a Methodist background. I love virtually anything by Charles Wesley, for example. Similar works by Catholics, like "Faith of Our Fathers," or much by Omer Westendorf ("Sent Forth By God's Blessing") are generally quite singable and orthodox. If it's "punchy" and sounds like a hymn ("Jesus Christ is Risen Today," "Immaculate Mary"), generally it works.

Hope that helps give you an idea of where I am coming from.

[More blogrolling and acknowledgments later.]
The Irreligious Left.

Very interesting, if brief, Weekly Standard article about a recent study finding that (quelle surprise!) the Democratic Party has become the party of unbelief. The study offers valuable statistics about the power of this unreported voting bloc:

"As secularists have grown more numerous, they have become an important Democratic voting bloc. In 1992, three out of four voted for Clinton, while religious conservatives chose Bush by two to one. Today, say Bolce and De Maio, secularists are as large and loyal a Democratic constituency as organized labor: In 2000, both 'comprised about 16 percent of the white electorate, and both backed Gore with two-thirds of their votes.'

Another striking finding is the intensity of many secularists' dislike of conservative Christians--vastly greater than any dislike of Jews or Catholics discernible in the survey data from the University of Michigan that the authors analyze. 'One has to reach back to pre-New Deal America,' they write, 'when political divisions between Catholics and Protestants encapsulated local ethno-cultural cleavages over prohibition, immigration, public education, and blue laws, to find a period when voting behavior was influenced by this degree of antipathy toward a religious group.'"

Also noteworthy is the media blackout on this phenomenon:

"The New York Times and Washington Post ran 682 stories about the GOP and evangelical or fundamentalist Christians between 1990 and 2000. During the same period, they ran 43 stories identifying secularists with the Democratic party."

But there's no media bias or anything. That's just conservative paranoia.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Many Thanks for the Blog Roll!

Right back at ya.

Several folks have kindly linked to my AmChurch/Catholic men essay below. All are well worth scrolling through in full (how's that for an imprimatur?):

1. Patty over at Pdawwg--I especially enjoy her interpretation of what Raelian really means in French. Although I have a suspicion that my French teacher wife might toss some cold water on that one.

Speaking of the Raelians, after viewing the yellowed grill of spokesbeing Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, I would have thought that the first person the cultists cloned would have been a dentist. Oy!

2. Fellow Michigander Dean Esmay over at Dean's World. I agree 100% with his take on Barbershop. Ironically, I rented it New Year's Eve, and laughed my butt off watching it on New Year's Day (after the Wolverines beat the Gators). Cedric the Entertainer's Eddie is one of the great comic characters I've seen. Very, very good film. See it.

3. G. Thomas Fitzgerald at Verus Ratio. All sorts of good stuff from a fellow Mark Shea comment boxer, but I will clip-and-save this quote about vegetarianism.

Finally, thanks to Xavier and jesus gil for their compliments.

Apologies to anyone else I may have missed. Let me know, and I'll add it to the list.

BTW, I'm having trouble with my Blogger template. All together now: "Really?" I tried to add links Friday, and was unsuccessful. I'll keep working on it.

Watch this space.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

And it's November.

  I look forward to making some kind of effigy of 2022 and setting it on fire on December 31.  Things have steadified, to coin a term. My so...