Saturday, March 15, 2003
Today is also the Ides of March, and the anniversary of the assasination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. In 1781 on this date, Cornwallis won the bloody battle of Guilford Courthouse (NC), about which I may blog at greater length later.
Friday, March 14, 2003
Monday is March 17th, so in Greater Boston, this is Saint Patrick's Weekend. City and state workers have Monday off, not for Saint patrick's Day, but because March 17th is also the anniversary of the British evacuation of Boston in 1776. And if you want to believe that is the real reason it is a holiday in the City of Boston, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
Partying for Saint Patrick's Day has a long and bibulous history.
In 1759, the Irish-born officers of the garrison of Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia held a party for the other officers. The bill of fare included:
parsnips and potatoes
2 buttocks of beef
501/2 lbs cabbage
a leg of mutton
541/2 lbs sirlion of beef
a hind quarter of veal
2 apple pies
and 17 Pounds, 11 shillings worth of lemon punch and various wines. Seventeen Pounds would be about the wages of a worker for an entire year. It was reported that the feast day was marked with "the greatest mirth and good humour." It must have been, because a few days later, the diarist John Knox reported that all sorts of provisions had become scarce at Fort Cumberland.
During the American Revolution, John Peebles, a grenadier officer in the Black Watch reported that the festivities among the Irish officers of the New York garrison were "dedicated to the Saint, and the bottle, or the Saint for the sake of the bottle."
Tons of Irish music groups are performing in this area this weekend, because of Boston's heavy Irish population. One of my favorites, the Makem Brothers (Tommy Makem's sons), are appearing with their Da in Melrose tomorrow night.
This is a good time to distinguish what is, and what isn't, authentically Irish:
Corned beef and cabbage
My Wild Irish Rose
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Back bacon and Champ
The Parting Glass
The Minstrel Boy
The Rakes of Mallow
We will have to think of some ways to pay back France. A start may be to find out where the leaders of the French government have secreted the money they have recieved from Iraq over the years, and release the details.
The Shameful Thirteen Are:
Senators Biden of Delaware, Cantwell of Washington, Collins of Maine (the sole Republican in the group), Daschle of South Dakota, Dodd of Connecticut, Durbin of Illinois, Harkin of Iowa, Kennedy of Massachusetts, Landrieu of Louisiana, Leahy of Vermont, Mikulski of Maryland, Murray of Washington, Reid of Rhode Island.
That is 12 Democrat Catholics, and 1 Republican Catholic who voted the pro-abortion position. You should add Kerry of Massachusetts to the pro-abortion Democrats. He missed the vote because he was campaigning for President elsewhere.
Let the names be forwarded to the Vatican. Let the excommunications begin. If they won't stand with the Church on this basic issue of infanticide, the butchery of innocent babies, they are not Catholic. A man cannot serve two masters. One cannot be pro-abortion, or vote in favor of those who are, and Catholic.
And if the Church is serious about what it has said regarding the responsibilities of the Catholic politician, then it should start the excomunications, or forever cease to lecture on this subject. Let us hope the Vatican has the intestinal fortitude to stand by its convictions.
We may start taking out targets that present themselves even before launching the invasion.
One has to ask oneself, what benefits are there for Saddam by standing entirely on the defensive? A pure defensive posture means inevitable defeat at the hands of a persistent attacker who has the resources to defeat you. Everybody knows this. Wellington had success on the defensive in Spain and Portugal because the French armies lacked the ability to destroy him. Ditto Stalin against Germany in 1941-1943. But both Wellington and Stalin eventually won by switching to the strategic offensive when the balance of forces allowed. You might say the same for Washington at Yorktown. The logic of that position is universally understood. Why do you think Lee invaded the Union? Because he knew that pure defense meant inevitable defeat.
It is true that Saddam is no soldier, despite his penchant for wearing uniforms. But he must be gambling that offensive action, in the form of strikes against Israel (to bring Israel in against him) gives him some benefit, perhaps depriving US forces of the bases they need via popular revolt in Kuwait, etc. Israeli participation against Iraq has an outside chance of accomplishing that. And Moslem opinion would be inflamed against Israel even if Israel responds to utterly unprovoked chemical or biological attack on it.
Otherwise his position is hopeless. The Iraqi army lacks the capacity to carry out offensive operations, except for limited local offensives.
His only hope is that the US has miscalculated and not sent enough force to overwhelm his resistance quickly. We could be slowed by natural and manmade river obstacles in the approach to Baghdad, or by destruction of oil fields, etc. Some Iraqi resistance from prepared positions along the route to Baghdad can be expected. Then, if the US blitzkrieg stalls, he might be able to turn world opinion against us via atrocity stories, exploitation of the existing peace movement, a collapse of the British government, the UN, and any other mechanism that comes to hand. If we get stuck in house-to-house fighting around Baghdad, then the opportunities for Saddam multiply.
His goal: Delay the US until the factors listed above force a humiliating withdrawal by the US, which leaves him in power over even a "rump Iraq" that is shorn of the northern and southern no-fly zones. That is a "win" for Saddam.
Our goal: Destroy resisting Iraqi units even before the ground forces come up with them. Prevent Scud attacks on Israel that Israel would have to respond to. Minimize the effects of Saddam's scorched earth policy regarding the oil industry. Keep the tanks on the move for Baghdad. Once in the vicinity of Baghdad, try to take it by coup de main, all at once. If that fails, hang back, isolate the city, and consolidate our hold on the rest of the country. Smash any guerilla resistance that presents itself. Starve Baghdad into submission. We should get an Iraqi goverment-in-exile up and running as soon as possible. Win the public relations war.
We have a lot to do, and fewer troops to do it with than in 1991. But we can achieve these goals. Iraq's ground forces are also weaker numerically than in 1991. And while our forces are numerically weaker, they have much more firepower than they did in 1991. Iraq has a lot less firepower.
For Iraq, the ground forces are its only hope. It's naval and air units can only hope to shoot down an allied plane or get off a lucky successful missile strike on an allied ship. The level that they can achieve is basically what American Indians would recognize from their history as "counting coup." They could cause embarassment, and perhaps a little discomfort. But they can achieve no decisive results.
And the balance on the ground is lop-sidedly in our favor with regard to training, discipline, equipment, morale, doctrine, and (hopefully) professional planning, intelligence, and logistics.
In released deposition testimony concerning Salem's Father James Foley, Cardinal Law testified that the allegations against Foley were absolutely unique in his experience (Foley is accused of fathering more than one illegitimate child with a woman, and then, when the woman was dying of a drug overdose, not calling on emergency services, in fact leaving the woman dying in her apartment, and only coming back hours later and then calling for an ambulance). Nevertheless, Cardinal Law said he delegated the handling of the matter to Bishop McCormack, and had nothing more to do with it.
Odd, if a situation is so unique in his experience, that he would just leave the matter with a subordinate, and never inquire into it again.
And then there is the pastoral letter written to encourage Father Robert Burns, a priest from Ohio accepted to work in the Archdiocese despite a history of sexually exploitive behaviour, after more trouble in Boston. No such letter to Burns' victimes were in the files.
A day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Well, even under the modern rules, it is supposed to be a day of abstinence.
After yesterday's snow, and a cold day today, our weather is supposed to turn mild. Day-time highs are supposed to be above freezing Saturday-Thursday. Can it be that the groundhog had it right, and that Spring is coming 6 weeks after Candlemas?
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Thomas Mackubin Owens, writing for National Review On Line, has penned an excellent survey of how geography will effect the operations.
The US Senate, by a 64-33 vote, passed the ban on partial birth abortions. The House is expected to follow suit. President Bush is determined to sign the legislation. The law will, of course be challenged in the federal courts, where liberals have the upper hand. Will it withstand that challenge? That will depend upon what is in the legislative history, how it is worded, and on the arguments in the courts in which it will be debated. Let us hope it holds.
But some clever blogger got to it first.
Mark Steyn, in a column written originally for the National Post starts the North American version of the song, Why Are We Waiting? in today's FrontPage Magazine. Steyn says it well. The arguments are exhausted, and exhausting. Time to let the tanks rolls. It would be merciful for all of us to just get it over with.
The French just stabbed Tony Blair in the back by rejecting his new proposal out of hand. The Brits should be angry enough at the duplicitous Frogs to give Blair the support he needs to just say, "Go." And that, together with the arrival and shaking down of the last equipment we need, should be the last hurdle.
The New York Times Magazine features a profile by Christopher Noxon of Mel Gibson (Registration required).
It is pretty clear that Gibson has inherited some pretty toxic stuff from his father. But to the extent that he is open to accepting the sincerity of those with somewhat different views, there is hope for him. Maybe someday he might be open to an approach from someone within the Church, but on the right of it, like the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
These groups strike me as so much like the religious equivalent of the John Birch Society, or the Perotistsas. They are happy to spin their conspiracy theories, and hurl defiance at the structure of the Church. But they are not responsible. They understand nothing, and care less, for the realities of governing a Church with the scope of the True Church.
If they don't get their way on something, (just like many Perot voters regarding Bush 41's tax hike) they are quick to leave the reservation and say "the establishment" is completely corrupt and illegitimate. They would rather be "pure" than have influence which they can use to guide others to their way of thinking. They fail to make the essential compromise of democracy, accepting less than 100% of what they want.
The Right, both religious and political, has too many people like that. It is a shame. There is a conservative reform agenda in the Church today. Orthodox Catholics have a tough job ahead restoring a sense of the sacred in Catholic worship and practise in the teeth of a liberalism that dominates from the bishops' bureaucracy to the local parish council level. We could use some allies in that fight.
But the Holy Family types are off in their own fantasy land, maintaining their own "purity," and of no practical use in getting Tabernacles put back behind altars, getting the music minister to play traditional hymns instead of Haugen and Haas, in getting the parish's CCD to adopt a curriculum with some meat to it, in preventing a traditional church from being wreck-o-vated by a liberal pastor or parish council, maybe even getting a little more use of Latin approved. They won't make common cause with those whose practical views on spirituality and devotions are not all that far from theirs (and that includes the Holy Father, Cardinal Ratzinger, and the Latin Mass order he has approved, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter). Heck, for them even the schismatic Pius X Society is too liberal to deal with.
But one must admit that they are dangerous allies. They carry with them some noxious ideas, like anti-Semitism. And for them, it is part and parcel of their faith. We have seen the negative side of some people who have come over from these groups recently. It is a curious thing that the "lidless eye" types, as Mark Shea calls them, also seem to be doctrinaire Buchananites. You see the religious and political aspects join.
Well, pray that the Holy Spirit works in their hearts and minds to bring them back into the fold of Holy Mother the Church, and that they check their anti-Semitism at the door.
The British Army is an old and established firm. It has defeated its enemies on countless battlefields. Our best wishes for them, whether the battle is against the Iraqi Republican Guard, IRA terrorists, or anti-fur activists. Here are the lyrics for one of the songs to which British troops have marched since the 1740s, The British Grenadiers:
Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,
Of Hector and Lysander, and some of Meltiades.
But of all the world's brave heros, there's none that can compare
With a tow row row row row
To the British grenadiers
Now none of these ancient heros ever saw a cannon ball
Or knew the force of powder to slay their foes withal,
But our brave boys do know them and banish all their fears
With a tow row row row row
To the British grenadiers
Whenever we are commanded to storm the palisades
Our leaders march with fusils and we with hand grenades
We hurl them from the glacis, about our enemies' ears
With a tow row row row row
To the British grenadiers
The God of War was pleased and great Bellona smiles
To see these noble heroes of our British Isles
And all the Gods celestial, descending from their spheres,
Beheld with adoration
The British grenadiers
Now let us crown a bumper and drink a health to those,
Who carry caps and pouches and wear the loup'ed
May they and their commanders live happy all their years
With a tow row row row row
To the British grenadiers
Animal rights activists are pestering the British government about the bearskin caps of the Guards regiments. The bearskins have been worn for ceremonial purposes since after the 1st (Grenadier) Guards helped defeat the advance of Napoleon's Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo in 1815. In fact, the Guards regiments had bearskins for their grenadier companies from 1768.
Now it is a fact that much of what we see on the uniforms of the Guards is no longer what it seems to be. Synthetics are widely used. Those buttons and badges are largely plastic now. Leather belts? No, synthetic. Are the red jackets all wool? No, it wrinkles too easily, so there is a polyester content. We once shared a dressing room with some Guardsmen for a public performance. They were astonished to see that all the things on our uniforms were real; natural fibers, metal, and not cheaply stamped out stuff, either. So it isn't too surprising, PC concerns being what they are, that people would be looking for an alternative to the bearskin caps. After all, if everything else is fake, why not the bearskin?
The problem has been that the government has not been able to find a suitable alternative to bearskin. The alternatives that have been tried are all not quite the thing. Either they don't work in wet weather, or in certain electrical circumstances, or they don't hold their shape. Nevertheless, the animal rights types will push to end the use of bearskin.
Re-enactment units use bearskin for their grenadiers routinely. While I have never been a grenadier (I'm a shade under 5'8", which is way too short, even for an officer) or a fusileer, who wear a bearskin 2 inches shorter, I have tried on a bearskin cap. They make you feel top-heavy, and give the wearer a headache, but look really good. Grenadiers have to lavish attention on their caps to keep them looking nice, brushing them at least weekly, and carrying them in specially made containers.
That the Guards get their bearskin from culled Canadian black bears makes not the slightest difference to the animal rights Nazis in Britian. The unreasoning hysteria of their position is typical of the left both there and here. "Wear bearskin? Evil. Evil. Evil." So another tradition will soon pass away under presure from the left. Why does it seem that this same story has played itself out time after time over the last 40 years?
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Temps hit the low fifties today, and there was much rejoicing. But it might snow tomorrow.
He took two bullets in the stomach, and one in the back, and is fighting for his life.
Update: The AP is reporting that Djindjic has died of his wounds. Requiescat in pace.
Gee, go figure. The guy is recovering from prostate cancer surgery. He just made it known that he is not the least bit Irish after all. In fact he is Jewish/Brahmin, not Irish/Brahmin as everyone in Boston has thought for 30 years. And he is running for President. Can't see why he didn't want to appear with a bunch of half-witted Massachusetts Irish Democrat hacks at a Saint Patrick's Day breakfast, and be present for some merciless jokes, can you?
Gibson is bankrolling the construction of a Mission-style church in Malibu for 70 or so members of the Holy Family group, which, as we all know by now, is a schismatic Catholic group that does not recognize Vatican II or the authority of the Holy Father.
You can say what you want about this group and Gibson's attachment to it. But I give Gibson a lot of credit for putting his money, and his career, where is beliefs are. And if they could only get past certain things, Gibson and his ilk are potentially powerful allies in restoring a sense of the sacred in the Church. So I am inclined to treat them with some respect. Maybe someday soon, a universal indult will allow the Latin Mass on a much more liberal basis, and Gibson and those who think as he does will be reconciled to Holy Mother the Church.
Of course they don't. They are foreign nationals who are not residents of the US, own no property here, and are being held outside the US. They have no constitutional rights at all. Nor are they covered by the Geneva Convention. They are land pirates, not soldiers of a state. They have no legal rights whatsoever that the US is bound to respect. They will be treated humanely, but pumped for whatever information they have.
The question is, what to do with them when our national objectives have been met. Setting them free might just provide the nucleus for the war to start all over again. The war against non-Islam is in their minds and hearts. They have no recognition of final defeat just because some states (even Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya together) have been toppled or just because Osama bin Laden will be dead, or even all the top leadership of al Qaeda. These guys are not like the SS, who ceased to be a significant threat once Germany was totally defeated and Hitler dead. They don't need a state to cause havoc in the civilzed world. They will carry the war back to their homelands, or wherever they go, with them.
Lobotomies all around? It may be necessary. If we can't take the rage against us out of their minds, remove part of the mind. Horrible? Yes. But much less horrible than having The Empire State Building blow up 10 years from now, or have a dirty bomb make Lower Manhattan uninhabitable for 10 years, or see the White House or the Capitol destroyed. War is a harsh thing. This sort of war particularly so. Better this small cruelty as soon as their potential usefulness to us is at an end than to be on the receiving end of their cruelty later.
Today's Washington Times reports that Saddam Hussein intends to carry out various attacks on Iraqi civilians, and blame them on the US/UK. He may also use chemical weapons on civilians, and deliberately put them in harm's way. There was the report last week about Iraq buying replicas of US and British uniforms. Also, consider the number of US duds that Iraq undoubtably still has from 1991. Will they be used as agents of disinformation to make it look as if the US is committing atrocities in this conflict? Steel yourselves for this sort of crap. Better off to ignore any claims coming from Iraq once the shooting starts. The government, at a higher level than Secretary Rumsfeld, ought to caution Americans thus at the very start.
I just heard part of a debate in the House of Commons. The WBZ newscaster indicated that Prime Minister Blair was vowing to stay the course and remain firm. But what I heard was rather different. He evaded Ian Duncan Smith's (he's the lacklustre leader of the Tories) question about what the govenment would do in the eventuality that the Security Council resolution was defeated or vetoed. All he said was that he thought it was important that the will of the international community remain firm. But what if the "will of the international community" has the consistency of boiled linguini? Not at all clear there.
Maybe John Derbyshire has been right all along. Maybe Rumsfeld was right about this, too.
Michelle Malkin, in her syndicated column carried at Townhall.com, reminds us about the diffidence of our supposed friend and ally to the South, Mexico.
But the lead for Ryan Anderson O'Donnell's FrontPage Magazine piece about A.N.S.W.E.R. was intriguing ("Traitors, Commies, and Jew-Haters, Oh my!").
The NYT does not like Gods & Generals. However, J.P. Zmirak, writing for FrontPage Magazine, does.
Howie Carr's Boston Herald column on U-Mass (and former State Senate) President Billy Bulger is really "in the zone." But then, this sort of thing is writing to his strengths. I'm glad that I was not the only one appalled to see Bulger testifying against Governor Romney's plans to consolidate the grossly bloated Massachusetts higher education system, while refusing to testify before a congressional committee looking into ties between his mass-murdering brother Whitey and the FBI.
Attorney Eric McLeish's office released the deposition transcript of Father Eugene O'Sullivan, accused of molesting boys at St. Agnes parish, Arlington, in 1984. O'Sullivan testified that, after the allegation was made, the Archdiocese sent him to the therapists and then packed him off for the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ, then headed by Bishop Theodore McCarrick, now Cardinal McCarrick. O'Sullivan testified that McCarrick was informed of the allegations against him. Indeed, McCarrick's spokesmen agree that then-Bishop McCarrick knew all about O'Sullivan's past, but agreed to employ him anyway. You see, the therapists said he was OK.
And was cordial, smiled a lot, and gave them nothing. He refused to lift the ban on new VOTF chapters, and refused to accept the $35,000.00 check VOTF offered. And he was right to do both. The next Archbishop will deal with both, and hopefully rather sternly. VOTF needs to be put down. It has served its purpose by playing some role in getting rid of Cardinal Law. Now it is time for that misbegotten entity to be quietly terminated.
Today is the traditional feast of Saint Gregory the Great, perhaps the greatest Pope after Peter. Although he died on March 12, his feast has been moved to September 3rd.
One dictum of his that I am fond of quoting (misquoting, I am sure), especially in this time of scandal in the Church is:
"If the truth be scandalous, it is better that the scandal become public than that falsehood be taken as the truth."
Today is the Lenten Ember Wednesday, a day traditionally dedicated to fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Ember Days are on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and occur once each season. In the first full week of Lent are the Lenten Ember Days. After Pentecost comes the Whit Embertide. In September comes the Michaelmas Embertide. And in early December is the Advent Embertide.
The custom of reserving two days in a week for fasting and prayer goes back to the very early Church, perhaps before the writing of the Gospels. The Church added Saturday as an Ember Day probably before the conversion of Constantine. Before 500, it had become common to hold ordinations on Ember Saturday, because ordinations were supposed to be preceeded by a period of fasting and prayer.
Although Ember Days have fallen into desuetude, it is a good thing to be aware of them and observe them to the extent that we can, as doing so not only celebrates our continuity with sacred history, but with our own ecclesiastical tradition.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Sometimes the headline says it all.
Lift Every Voice and Sing
"The Black National Anthem"
Written by: James Weldon Johnson
Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
Can't say that I think much of the concept of a different national anthem for black Americans. In fact, I think it is a deplorable sign of national disintegration. And there is way too much of self-pity in it. How about an Irish-American national anthem in which we can whine about the potato blight and "No Irish need apply" signs? Or an Italian-American national anthem which whines about being stereotyped as gangsters and "spaghetti-vendors?" And on and on.
It is deplorable that any Catholic school, which is supposed to promote patriotism and the Faith as well as educational excellence, would encourage such nonsense just because most of the students are black. Pandering and political correctness run amok.
Neighbor Domenico Bettinelli has several great posts today on issues regarding which I don't have much info in front of me. Domenico has so much good stuff there, I'll just send you to him for coverage of those issues today.
Bishop Lennon is going to meet VOTF's leader. Domenico sets the right agenda for our Apostolic Administrator.
Bishop Adamec of Johnstown-Altoona says he is cooperating and isn't threatening any priest who testifies with excommunication (despite massive evidence that he is not cooperating with authorities, and is threatening priests who testify with excommunication).
He is following the Archdiocese's Scandal-oriented Stations of the Cross. Since I can't kneel properly (knee still recovering from the dislocation) I did Stations at home with Saint Alphonsus Ligouri's version on Friday, so I missed it.
And he covers the charges of racism against the Archdiocese for closing black inner-city schools, and raises some good questions about the "black national anthem (?)" and over-emphasis on black culture at those schools.
I'm going to have to do some research on the "black national anthem."
The Air Force is considering taping the test of the new version of the Daisy Cutter for the psychological effect the video may have on Iraqi troops. But since the new 21,000 pound bomb is not available in the theater of operations, and will not be until later this year, it is unclear what effect it would have. It is expected that the bomb will produce a mushroom cloud similar to that of a small nuclear device. The original 15,000 pound Daisy Cutters (BLU-82) were used to clear helicoper landing zones in Vietnam. Eleven of them that were still in the inventory were dropped on Iraqi forces in 1991 (mostly to clear minefields). A further half dozen or so were used in Afghanistan on cave complexes.
There are tactical problems with deployment of the BLU-82. It is so large it can't be dropped from any of our bombers or fighters. It has to be pushed out the open doors of a C-130 transport. That means that the area they are going to be dropped on has to be fairly clear of SAMs or AAA (anti-aircraft artillery). Those problems with the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst) are mutliplied by its 40% larger size than the BLU-82.
I don't understand why having 50 or 60 of these devices ready for employment in Iraq now has not been a huge national priority. It is a disgrace that these are not now ready for employment. Heads should roll.
Forget the UN, already. Just do it! It needs to be done, and it needs to be done fast. There is no benefit to be gained by waiting.
And there is much danger: North Korea and China could take advantage of delay, Saddam could get lucky with his research or production, he gets more time to prepare his defense, US troop morale will suffer from the long delay, American public opinion becomes more hard to count on with each day, oil prices soar with delays, and the equities markets are being murdered by uncertainty.
And Saddam just gave us a tremendous excuse: he targeted one of the U-2s working with the UN inspectors. Add that to the drones and the chemical-ready cluster munitions, and we have justification enough to unilaterally declare Iraq in violation of the conditions of the 1991 cease-fire. In other words, Saddam gave us a legitimate casus belli. Let us make use of this gift.
Bill Bennett's comments on why it is time to liberate Iraq, carried by National Review On Line.
Another of the former Boston priests who has failed to address sex abuse problems in his own diocese, Bishop Daniel Hart of Norwich, CT, has had his resignation accepted by the Holy Father. Hart turned 75 last August. Hart's name came up as a cover-uo figure in Boston as a regional auxiliary bishop, as well as in Norwich.
And yes, Bishop Hart, when he was Father Hart, not only baptized me, but was a family friend who also officiated at my brother's wedding.
Hart will be replaced by Portland Monsignor Michael Cote, age 53. I know nothing about Cote's views beyond the platitudes and praise of friends cited by the Globe. There are no clues that mean anything to me in his CV. We do wish his episcopacy success.
What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the casket.
They put his left leg in... and then the trouble started...
Three victims of Father Birmingham are headed to Rome to see the Holy Father. Except, they have no appointment. They have not been granted an audience through official channels. They are just going to show up in Rome and expect the Holy Father to see them.
Can you say, "publicity stunt?"
''It is very difficult to get an appointment with the pope, and to go to Rome without already having had an appointment arranged is really a waste of time,'' he said. ''It just doesn't happen that way.
''Everybody in the world wants to meet with the pope,'' Reese said, ''and, especially now with his health reduced, he simply can't see everybody.''
He is correct. But at this point, the philosophical or theological niceties matter not. It is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon. In fact, the sooner the better.
CWN reports that canonization dates have been set for twelve new saints.
Pedro Poveda Castroverde (1874- 1936), a Spanish priest and martyr, on May 4;
Maria Maravillas de Jesus(1891-1974)-- nee Pidal y Chico de Guzman-- a Carmelite nun; on May 4;
Jose Maria Rubio y Peralta (1864-1929), a Spanish Jesuit priest and martyr; on May 4.
Angela de la Cruz (1846- 1932)--- nee Maria de los Angeles Guerrero Gonzalez-- a Spanish nun and founder of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross; on May 4;
Genoveva Torres Morales(1870-1956), a Polish nun and founder of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Holy Angels; on May 4;
Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587-1651), a widow and founder of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge on Mt. Calvary; on May 18;
Jozef Sebastian Pelczar (1842-1924), a Polish bishop, founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on May 18;
Urszula Ledochowska (nee Julia Maria), a Polish nun and founder of the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony; on May 18;
Maria de Mattias, a Spanish nun and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ; on May 18;
Daniele Comboni (1831-1881), an Italian bishop and founder of the order that bears his name: the Combonian missionaries; on October 5; Arnold Janssen 1837-1909, a German priest and founder of three religious orders; on October 5; and
Joseph Freinademetz (1852-1909), an Italian priest, of the Society of the Divine Word; on October 5.
The Washington Times'
Bill Gertz reports this morning that Iraq is recruiting individuals to launch attacks on Kuwaiti and Saudi oilfields. Of course, we, the Kuwaitis, and the Saudis are preparing for that threat. But even a great defense won't be able to stop everything that might be thrown at it, especially suicidal attacks. Iraq will also sabotage its own oil fields as its forces are driven back from them.
The Portugese government has asked the right question, and found the right answer.
The Portugese Foreign Minister quoted in the UPI wire story:
"Let us suppose Portugal, proper or its archipelagos, faced a threat, who would come to our rescue? The European Commission, France, Germany?
"I think it would be NATO who would come to our rescue, in other words, it would be the U.S., no one else would defend us. For instance, during the 1996 mission in Bosnia, operations took place with the support of 20 satellites, of which only one was European," and the remainder belonged to the U.S.
"If we were attacked, is that what they would offer to defend us? How curious is this: in Bosnia, when we were called to send soldiers urgently to that region, the U.S. had C-17 and C-130 planes, and France leased ferry boats, which during the summer are employed in tourist services to Corsica.
"Is this how we are supposed to project our forces in Europe? Are they planning to defend us with ferry boats? I cannot envisage the European Commission protecting us from an attack in which highly developed weapons were employed," the foreign minister said.
I think the headline is enough to show the absurdity, and the evil, behind such sentiments. Jewish groups are rightly condemning Moran's remarks.
Monday, March 10, 2003
After a week of exhibition baseball, the Boston Red Sox are 5-6. Is it going to be a very long season here in Boston? One must admit that the new ownership has not exactly had a "Steinbrenner-effect," pumping a huge amount of cash into acquiring all-star quality players who would make the team dominant in the American League East. In fact, it looks very much like more-of-the-same. No dynasty seems to be in the making down in Fort Myers. At best, they will cobble together a team that may be able to compete. But they will not dominate.
No, not for the Iraqi campaign, but for the release of the DVD of Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, an excellent argument against appeasement, and oh, so timely.
Fox News' online poll says 69% did not watch. I was one of them. After all, we don't watch TV, anyway.
We were reading this extensive essay by Camille Paglia on the religious impact of the 1960s. Rod Dreher gushed about it in the Corner, so we checked it out. On the whole, Paglia's views are unsound. She has much to praise about the 1960s' impact on religion. I don't. Frankly, I think Western society would be much better off if the 1960s (except for the Civil Rights movement for black Americans) had never happened.
And yes, I include the things done in Vatican II's "spirit" since it ended, in the list of things of '60s things that ought never to have happened. I accept the Council itself as valid, as required. But I don't like many of the things done in it's name. The "spirit of Vatican II" is as destructive to the Faith as the "penumbras emanating from the privacy concerns of the Fourth Amendment" is to American constitutional jurisprudence. Interestingly, Paglia does not mention it, or virtually any other aspect of mainstream Christianity, in her essay.
The essay is a study of cults, gurus, the self-help industry, and Asian influences on Western spirituality, as well as the impact of drugs, the sexual revolution, and rock music. Paglia did a nice job tying so many things together. In reading the essay, I was reminded of what the Duke of Wellington said about someone writing a definative history of the Battle of Waterloo, "One might just as well try to write the history of a ball; who danced with whom, when." Indeed the various elements of "1960s spirituality" interact with each other in remarkable ways. Some of the intellectual foundations go back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but come to life with the generation of Rousseau and Voltaire, and were Americanized by Emerson (never thought Emerson was particularly sound).
Had it been written from a Christian perspective, this essay might have become a good precis of what had, for me, been terra incognita: the vast field of "non-traditional spirituality." Paglia's presentation had elements of critical thought, and was good at showing how so much of this connected (though she did not footnote it). It could have been a great history of what I view as a tremendous evil to be resisted, fought against, avoided, and shunned at every opportunity.
Paglia regrets that the forces behind '60s spirituality destroyed themselves with drugs. Well, I regret that, too, but only in the sense that I regret that anyone does. In fact all that she describes is a vast negative on the American scene, full of self-destructive tendencies.
What she does not discuss is the impact this is having on the Church, as New Age formulations, modes of thought, and other influences try to work their way into Catholic worship and thought. Well, since she is not a Christian, one would not expect her to concern herself with that. But it is coming in through the seminaries.
What one takes away from the essay, though Paglia wrote in praise of '60s spirituality, not in condemnation, is that there are huge chunks of popular culture and "popular spirituality" that are not benign at all, but fundamentally unsound. Narcissistic self-absorbtion, too much openess to influences foreign to traditional Western thought, making money out of others' quest for some sort of spiritual grounding, denial of authority and tradition all feed these growing institutions (all of which, with the possible exception of the Unification Church, belong to the "religious left").
We are past the "youthful rebellion" of the Baby Boomers like Paglia. They are old and established now. And the establishment they have fashioned is a very unsound one, in places evil in and of itself, and rooted in sand. In a Burkean sense, we are left by them in a situation where a gneration has failed to fulfill its obligations in the multi-generational contract of human society. They have failed to pass on the traditional culture they were exposed to, intact, to their children. The West has seen nothing like this since the French Revolution. And that is not a happy precedent.
In case you missed this link from Drudge over the weekend, some Iraqi soldiers attempted to surrender to troops of the British Parachute Regiment conducting live-fire exercises near the border. Since active hostilities have not re-commenced, the Paras did not think they could accept the surrenders. So they sent the bedraggled Iraqi soldiers back to Iraq, to who knows what future.
Now I doubt that the entire regular Iraqi army is in such bad shape. I think they will put up more resistence than this. These could, of course, have been plants to make allied troops think they will face no determined opposition once the campaign begins. But it is just possible that word of what we have in store for the Iraqi army has been handed down from these guys' older brothers. Some doubtlessly want no part of it, and will be looking for TV crews to surrender to.
Over-confidence is dangerous. It is best to go into this thinking all the Iraqi troops will put up a good fight, and even that the civilian population will take up arms against us. It probably won't happen, but it is best to be ready for it.
Update: It occurs to me that the Brits could have accepted the surrender, since, technically, a state of war persists between Iraq and the allied coalition, since the 1991 Gulf War was not terminated by a peace treaty, but only a cease-fire. So those Iraqis were sent back to possibly face a firing squad for no good reason.
Allow me to recommend this series, written by a layman of, I think, the Diocese of Rockville Center (NY) over a period of years. He had visited numerous local churches, and recorded his impressions of the Masses he experienced. He saw the gamut, very liberal parishes, and conservative ones. The variations he saw were quite eye-opening. He is an aficianado of good Masses. His reflections are worth considering.
He shares many of my prejudices: despises guitars at Mass, wants to see the Eucharist centered in a Tabernacle behind the altar, likes dignified, traditonal liturgical music, likes a traditional church over a modern one, does not like people joining hands or raising their hands to the priest's position during the Pater Noster, does not want to have to introduce himself to anyone before Mass, does not like touchy-feely signs of peace, wants to be left alone to pray in private after Communion, wants to be able to kneel, generally wants the sacrifice of the Mass to be celebrated in a dignified and traditional manner.
He has left an interesting historical record. He tells us much about how the Mass is said in various parishes in the US. You could easily get lost in his "reviews." You could start with his reviews of Masses for the First Sunday of Lent. That is how I started.
At least that is what it looks like surfing the usual sources at 5:30 am on a Monday.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
The benighted French have been saying that the policy of the US with regard to Iraq and Islamo-fascist terrorism generally is a "cowboy policy." We are the prisoners of our own iconography, they claim. We are addressing 21st century problems with the solutions of a 19th century gunslinger.
OK, for the sake of argument, let us accept that we are a cowboy nation with a cowboy philosophy.
The question then becomes (since the French perception is based on Hollywood creations) which cowboy are we? Cowboy movies are not all alike. They have a great variance of themes and views of right and wrong. I recall reading a lengthy review of Unforgiven, in which the reviewer compared Clint Eastwood's character to Achilles. Just as the movies vary, so do the characters in them.
Are we the vicious killer Angel Eyes, played by Lee Van Cleef in The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly, sadistic, and waiting for an opportunity to kill again for profit and fun?
Are we Shane, played by Alan Ladd in the movie of that same title, who has done a bit too much killing in the past, but is willing to stand up to help those who need him?
Are we Gary Cooper in High Noon, who knows that law enforcement at the point of a gun is a dirty, thankless job, not unlike being a dustman, but one that must be done if the filth isn't to overwhelm us?
Are We John Wayne in The Shootist: someone who just wants to be left alone, but must continuously defend himself? Or the very different John Wayne of Rio Bravo, who decides to stay and fight to help a friend, though he has nothing to gain in the fight?
Are we the Clint Eastwood character of Unforgiven, looking for one last opportunity to cash in on gunslinging prowess (the French are pretty obviously English Bob, who talks a good game, but when push comes to shove does not have what it takes)?
Other suggestions are welcome, but my vote is on Gary Cooper in High Noon (the only movie in the list that I have never watched, though I own a copy).
We are now getting advertising from the very interesting AmericanCatholic.org site. This is a good place to turn for basic information on the Faith. It was originally run by the Franciscans.