Saturday, August 17, 2002

Hold Onto Your Wallet
The movement to force the US government (us) to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves is picking up steam. There is a rally going on in Washington today. It is time, I think, to vow to oneself that any politician who might ever even consider being open-minded on this issue will never get one penny, one vote, or the time of day. As for me, on this issue, I am girding my wallet with alarms, garlands of thorns, man-traps and spring guns.

The babbling lunacy of such a proposal is too obvious to detain us long. First of all we already have reparations programs. They are called Section 8, Medicaid, SSI, Food Stamps, and worst of all, "affirmative action." "Affirmative action" already cries out to Heaven for repeal. Its manifest injustice to white people, and particularly white men, has been harming society far too long. It has provided society with generations of incompetent students, incompetent government workers, and, more recently, incompetent private sector workers. It has been depriving more deserving and more competent people with positions for too long. It has undermined the concept of merit, to the great detriment of society and its notions of justice and fundamental fairness.

Once admitted, where is it to end? For 50-100 years, Irishmen in this country were treated as slightly better than trash. Are their descendants entitled to just slightly less than the descendants of the slaves? How about those descended from those forced by the cruel circumstances of the times to come here in indentured servitude? How about the descendants of those forced to come here (especially to Georgia) as convicts of an unjust British Crown? How about the Polish people, for generations victimized by the so-called humor of everyone else (including blacks)? Shouldn't they get reparations too?

And should just the US taxpayer be held responsible at the bar? If I recall, a fair number of slaves came here during British colonial rule. Shouldn't Her Majesty's Government be joined as a defendant? Many Black Americans are descended in part from the people brought as slaves in French ships to the French colonies. The Spanish enslaved countless people, Black, Indian, etc. I am sure the Dutch brought Black slaves to New York, and perhaps other places, and acted as middlemen for other slave-producing ventures. Last but not least, how about the descendants of the African tribal leaders who originally sold their own countrymen into slavery? Surely they are the first actors.

And there are tens of millions of white people in the US whose ancestors came here long after slavery was abolished (including me). Why should I pay for what a bunch of WASPs did a hundred years and more before my grandparents left the "Aulde Sod"?

I utterly dismiss the idea that, just because they were white, my grandparents benefitted from the previous enslavement of blacks. This is a free country. Once slavery was over, those who chose to make something of themselves did so. Those who chose to remain shiftless layabouts have done so. They are the ones clamouring loudest for reparations.

Is there no end to the legion of people with their hands out?

If certain people find American society so unjust that they cannot go on without reparations, perhaps they should seek another home. Let us see if they gather the same level of comfort to themselves at the expense of others in Ghana, or Angola. As Ken Hamblin says, "Can you name a better country?" Bet they can't.

Millions for defense! Not one penny for reparations, ever!

Cat Nights
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the Dog Days are over. The Dog Star, Sirius, is prominent from roughly mid-July to mid-August (the Dog Days). During that period, the weather is usually the hottest of the year. It sure has been here, with 101 degrees on Tuesday or Wednesday and a heat wave for at least 7 days combined with vicious humidity. Ozone levels are dangerously high (and yes, humidity is the primary trigger for my asthma).

We have now entered the Cat Nights. According to ancient Irish legend, a witch could turn herself into a cat 8 times, and could return to her normal form. On the ninth attempt, she would be stuck in cat form (hence cats having 9 lives). August 17 was the legendary date when one found herself a cat for good.

Cats yowl more than usual during August (though our Gaspar has been quiet this year so far- he's been very quiet since we had him neutered), which is probably the origin of the legend. Traditionally, cooler sleeping weather comes in during the Cat Nights (if you can sleep for all the cats' yowling).

An Act of Desecration
The New York Post story about the couple having sex in Saint Patrick's Cathedral for a radio show's contest, while a running commentary was being broadcast, fills the heart with sadness. Coming as it does at a time when we hear of so many priests having abused the confessional and other parts of the Church/rectory structure for perverted sex acts just deepens one's sorrow, and anger, and outrage.

But for the continuous stream of pervert priest stories (which go beyond even this immoral act of arrogant disrespect) I could really go on a tear. But do I have enough outrage left to really rail against these cretins? Fine the couple and the "producer" $1000.00 each. Petition the FCC to suspend the station's license for 30 days, and justice will be done. Then, as someone said of the conspirators in the Lincoln assasination after they were hanged, "Let us hear their names no more."

Friday, August 16, 2002

The Crisis Continues
Yet another one. This time, a former altar boy is suing the Archdiocese of Boston. The fact pattern is even more maddening than usual. Paul Edwards, a disabled man now 30 years of age, was homosexually raped by Father William Cummings on a youth group trip to Radio City Music Hall in 1982. He woke up to find Father Cummings lying on top of him (they were sharing a room). At the time, Edwards was an altar boy at Sacred Heart parish, Newton.

Father Cummings won't be appearing in court. In fact, he hasn't been down for breakfast in quite a while. Father Cummings died of AIDS in 1994 (I've been waiting for one of these to pop up). The Archdiocese has offered to pay for HIV testing for all of Cummings' victims. This is new information to me. I had never heard of Cummings, let alone that he had accumulated a string of victims.

According to Edwards, Father Michael Smith Foster, from 1980-1985, repeatedly fondled him. Edwards alleges that Foster would invite him to his bedroom, tell him to strip off his "street clothes", and the two would lie down on the bed together, with Foster fondling Edwards.

Despite all this, there seems to have been something of a relationship of trust on Edwards' part towards Foster. In 1988, when Edwards told Foster about the rape by Cummings, Foster cautioned Edwards never to tell anyone about it. Foster is now Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, the Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese. He is the presiding judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal, which deals with annulments and matters of canon law.

I know. There are certainly some questions about the allegations. But Edwards is entitled to his day in court. If he can prove his allegations, Foster's priestly career should certainly be terminated with loss of pension. Yes, I would end a priest's career for this sort of fondling. You don't need penetration to be a pervert.

Will this never end?

A Contest for a Summer Weekend
This applies especially to radio listeners (and I am an addict, WBZ from 4:30 am -1:00 pm while I work, Rush 1-2, Howie Carr 3-7, Brudnoy 7-8, Hannity 8-11 or I fall asleep).

You know those long saccarine-sweet NARAL radio ads?

Can you name any radio or TV ad as annoying and nauseating as the NARAL spots?

Criteria: Respond by using the comments button below. I am the sole judge of the winner. Keep it short and pithy. Remember, I haven't watched network or cable TV for over 5 years, so I may not know what you are talking about if you choose a TV ad. Political candidate ads are an option. Winner will be announced Monday am.

Winning entry will be published on Monday.

Baseball Strike
Despite the optimism expressed the other day, it is likely that the baseball players will today set a strike date of August 30th. How deplorable! What a useless union!

Want to fix whatever is wrong with baseball? Get rid of inter-league play. Restore the divisional and playoff structure that was changed a few years ago (no more three divisions and a wild card). Send Milwaukee back to the American League. Get more imaginative with your marketing. Fine pitchers and batters whose performance makes them the equivalent of a human rain delay. Rip up the artificial turf. Keep the ball "juiced-up." Have the owners spend more money in the farm systems. Weed out the terminally ill teams like Montreal. Hire a real commissioner (George Will) and don't hem his power in with restrictions. Encourage the new Red Sox ownership to keep Fenway Park.

And make the Yankees play every game with 60-lb packs on their backs.

Smith v. Sununu
At National Review On Line, Bernadette Malone has a solid take on the Republican primary for US Senate in New Hampshire. She comes to the same conclusion I did last weekend. Bob Smith isn't entirely reliable, and probably would lose to Shaheen. Sununu is my pick.

The Holy Father In Poland
Pope John Paul II is visiting Poland this weekend, and is getting a jubilant reception in his native country. But, the BBC report I just looked at indicates that many are speculating that the Holy Father will take the opportunity of being in his native land, to announce his retirement. What was it Peggy Noonan wrote a few weeks ago about the Pope's vigorous WYD performance putting an end to retirement speculation? I think at the time I said she was underestimating liberalism's imperviousness to experience. I just didn't think I would be proved right so soon.

The Battle of Bennington
Today is the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Bennington (Vermont). After General John Burgoyne descended from Canada and took Fort Ticonderoga, he had something of a dilemma. With General Sir William Howe's army off to capture Philadelphia, there would no major force coming up the Hudson from New York to join him. Colonel Barry St. Leger's force coming from the west was hung up at Fort Stanwix (an excellent re-construction of which, with terrific exhibits, is in Rome, NY run by the National Park Service). The American Northern Army under Schuyler/Gates/Schuyler/Gates (depending on the mood of Congress) was in retreat before him. But, what to do?

Burgoyne's army was light on redcoats, and heavy on Indians and Brunswickers. In fact, he had under his command the entire Brunswick contingent. His orders told him to take Albany, though, without a junction with Howe, such a move would be pointless. His supply line from Canada was tenuous. Behind him, General Sir Guy Carleton, in command in Canada, was jealously stabbing him in the back at every opportunity, since he had been passed over by London for Burgoyne's command (Burgoyne was better connected than Sir Guy). His Indian allies were restless, and not dependable in a battle. Burgoyne had the only German cavalry unit in North America, the Brunswick Prinz Ludwig Dragoons who arrived in Canada the previous year with no horses, but encumbered with saddles and tack and wearing riding boots.

Meanwhile, alarmed at the growing British threat to western New England, New Hampshire (which claimed Vermont), Connecticut, and Massachusetts were rushing reinforcements to the Northern Army. Among the units hastening to join that army were New Hampshire militia under Bunker Hill hero John Stark. Stark had been passed over by Congress for promotion to Brigadier General, and had resigned his Continental commission in disgust. He acccepted New Hampshire's mandate, on condition that he would have the command, and that the expedition would be purely a New Hampshire matter.

Faced with tactical ennui, Burgoyne, having no better purpose before him for the present, and needing supplies, sent a largely German unit some 700 strong into western Vermont to find horses for the dragoons, and see if cattle and other potential supplies could be located. Maybe, he hoped, some loyalists would volunteer to join his small armed loyalist corps as well. The command went to Lt. Colonel Baum, of the Prinz Ludwig Dragoons, who did not speak English. He had all of the area west of the Connecticut River to search, with a highly immobile force.

Advanced elements of the two forces collided near Bennington (thought to be a supply depot) on August 14th. Baum realized he was badly outnumbered, sent a rider to Burgoyne for reinforcements, and began digging in over a very wide area. Burgoyne sent Lt. Colonel Breymann of the German Advanced Corps with another 600 Brunswickers, but their progress was slow.

On August 16th, Stark sent troops around Baum's flank. On their approach, Baum took them to be loyalists coming to join him. The American attack, led by John Stark crying, "We'll beat them by nightfall, or Molly Stark's a widow!", succeeded in wiping out the German positions piecemeal. When Baum was mortally wounded leading his survivors in a bayonet attack, his men surrendered en masse.

While the Americans were scattered rounding up fugitives, Breymann's force lumbered onto the field. A hot firefight ensued. But the Brunswickers had not brought enough ammunition, and began to run out. Breymann, though wounded, rallied his force, and skillfully extricated about 2/3 of it from the battle. Night made an American pursuit impossible.

Thus, John Stark won the Battle of Bennington for New Hampshire. Burgoyne did not get the supplies he dearly needed. The surrender at Saratoga was just two months away.

Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
Louis Farrakhan will be campaigning for Rep. Cynthia McKinney this weekend. And Jonah Goldberg is off communing with the rockfish in Alaska. I am sure he would have some choice comments.

An interesting blog, but an odd name: Cointelprotool.

On the subject of blog names, you might know that Verus Ratio was originally going to be Recta Ratio. In fact, that was the original URL and name. Though more correct Latin and appealingly alliterative, I opted against Recta Ratio because "recta" is just too close to "rectum" for dignity's sake. And, with what is going on in the Scandal, anything close to "rectum" was probably not a great idea.

So, give me a "C" for Latin grammar, and an "A-" for common sense.

And since I took Classical Latin, I "NP" (New Pronounce) the "V". It isn't pronounced "verus," but "Werus."

A Christian Weblog Manifesto?
I may be a little behind the curve this week, but I just got wind of the Jesus.Journal.com idea about a manifesto for Christian web logs. "Be led by a formal committee of progressive, open-minded Christians," sounds to me like the shortest road to censorship. Progressives are the least open-minded people on the planet. Just think what O'Sullivan's Law (all organizations that are not emphatically, aggressively, and determinedly conservative tend, over time, to become liberal) will do to this.

No thanks. I like the blogging experience just as it is, thank you. I don't think we need to be led by a committee, or by anybody. I don't want to be bound by a set code of conduct (other than don't libel anybody). Thumbs down, most emphatically.

Torricelli In Trouble
Recent polls show that scandal-plagued Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) has suddenly dropped 13 points behind challenger Doug Forrester. Even worse for Torricelli, his own ads are killing him. Of those who have seen Torricelli's latest ad, 49% have an unfavorable view of him, while 16% have a favorable view. The New Jersey seat, which Republicans had thought unwinnable just a few months ago, might just be winnable if current trends hold.

Survey of Priests
The Washington Post (and a thanks to Amy Welborn for the link, I don't regularly read the WP) carries a very interesting survey conducted last year of Roman Catholic priests. The primary focus of the article was on the question of the existence of a gay subculture in the priesthood. Among all priests, 19% said one clearly exists, while 36% said one probably does. Among priests aged 25-35, 47% (!) said the gay subculture clearly exists. Michael Rose, call your office. You have just been vindicated in part. Of priests aged 66 and older, only 3% said the gay subculture clearly exists.

A more cheering note is the attitude of seminarians. Some of this may be youthful idealism at work, but let us pray it sticks. Nineteen percent agree that the gay subculture clearly exists, while 26% said it probably does (which tells you something about 45% of seminaries today). The seminarians are more likely than older cadres to believe that ordination does convey a special status, and are less in favor of making celibacy optional. This confirms a trend we have noticed elsewhere, indicating that the reform of the seminaries in the mid-1990s, while incomplete, has had some beneficial effects. The younger the priest, the more likely he is to be orthodox. May their attitudes infect and change the hearts and minds of older priests and return them to orthodoxy.

For those who have been very critical of Michael Rose, saying that what he talked about was mostly fixed in the 1990s, take note. Forty-five percent of seminarians believe that a gay subculture exists in their seminaries and in the priesthood. Since they are the ones living in that environment, I will take them at their word. There remains much to repair in the seminaries.

"Whisky, yer the divil/ Yer leadin' me astray..."
Something different for a Friday prelude to the two slowest news weeks of the summer.

I would not mind a job like that.

By the way, the song lyrics in the headline are from a song that was popular with my grandfather's regiment from the Napoleonic Wars on (Connaught Rangers- the 88th Regiment of Foot-disbanded on Irish independence in 1922-my grandfather and at least one of his brothers served in it in World War I). The song dates to about the 1812 era.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Rod Dreher on Law's Testimony
Rod Dreher doesn't think Cardinal Law's deposition testimony will play in Peoria, or Pepperell. Yesterday, in a debate on the topic we were taking part in over at Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It, Rod indicated that he thought Law had perjured himself. I would need to go over the testimony line by line and cross check it against other evidence before coming to that determination.

Blogosphere Scoops Mainstream Media
Catholic World Report ran with the story on the Vatican's coming rejection of the US bishops' sex abuse policy yesterday. Since then, I have looked and looked at various "mainstream" outlets but have not found the story there. Since the story CWR went with was that the Vatican would reject the policy, not that they had rejected it, the media has declined to cover it so far. So those who are not tuned in to St. Blog's are still clueless on this important story. I guess we are the cutting edge.

Fitting the Template
Today's Boston Globe has more details on the career of Father Anthony Rebiero, who was suspended last weekend. Though not the grounds on which he was suspended, the allegations of sexual misconduct against an adult woman detailed here, and the Archdiocese's response just about perfectly fit the template we have seen used time and again on Shanley, Geoghan, etc.

I am sorry to see that the priest who baptized me, now Bishop Daniel Hart, played a less-than-heroic part in this matter.

The Assumption
Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother. This feast was celebrated in the Eastern Church by the 6th Century. By the 13th Century, it was regarded in the West as of equal importance to Easter, Christmas and Pentecost. But the dogma of the Assumption was not defined until November, 1950. Today is a Holy Day of Obligation.

Amazed At My Own Forgetfulness
Last week I reminded you that V-J Day was August 14th, and chided calendar-makers and the culture for letting the happy, and solemn, occasion slip from public memory. So, yesterday I dutifully forgot to mention V-J Day at all.

Fifty-seven years ago yesterday, the final articles of surrender were signed by Japan and the representatives of the Allies on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The surrender came days after the US dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and averted a U.S. invasion of Japan, which would have been a very bloody affair indeed.

Sadly, when I did a search for V-J Day material, almost all I came up with were photos of the famous kiss in Times Square. Yes, people were ecstatic with joy. Churches were crowded with thanksgiving services. And with good reason. The war, which had made itself so much an unwanted part of the lives of Americans was finally over. No more sad telegrams would be coming to American families. The war-time restraint and rationing could be lifted.

People who did not live through those times, I fear, have no basis on which to compare the experience to what we have endured. Our country has not had to undertake such a national crusade since then. If we fought World War II with both hands, everything else we have experienced since then was fought with one or two fingers, including the current war. And an argument can be made that in World War II even, we did not dedicate as great a percentage of the national wealth to fighting the war as many other combatants did.

Even though our country has just experienced the same kind of grief and rage that we felt on Pearl Harbor Day, the righteous indignation that filled us then with a, "terrible resolve" has not been sustained. The national resources have not been called into play as they were in World War II. Lots of people sported flags, but very few signed up. The fault lies in a green-eyeshade mentality at the Department of Defense, the unconquerable liberalism of the State Department, and the stupid refusal of the Transportation Department to be realistic on air travel safety.

Huge numbers of volunteers were not really wanted, because this war will be fought by small numbers operating secretly, and we don't want to spend the money to equip a mass army. A coherent foreign policy striking against Moslem terrorists worldwide has been foiled by the State Department's refusal to treat the Palestinian terrorists as what they are- just another branch of al Qaeda. The Transportation Department makes a great show of detaining and questioning small children and elderly congressmen with metal hips, but steadfastly refuses to let its screeners check, double-check, and triple-check men who appear to be of Middle-Eastern origin, for fear of being accused of "racial profiling."

If we had fought World War II with the same mentality, the surrender might have taken place in San Francisco Bay, aboard the Yamato.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Missed An Anniversary
I forgot to note the date (August 11, 1834) of the burning of the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, MA by a protestant mob inflamed by a sermon by an anti-Catholic bigot. Somewhere, in the back of the group memory of all Boston Irish, even if their ancestors came here much later as mine did, this atrocity is tucked away right next to the "No Irish Need Apply" signs. Historical memory is a vital part of what it means to have roots.

But let us never overlook the positive and fail to feel gratitude where it is due. In reading a biography of Nathaniel Bowditch a few weeks ago, I noticed a quote from Bowditch, then a man in his 60s and a Yankee, that he would gladly shoulder his musket to defend "those ladies" and their property. And the Catholic Church here in Salem was set up with some help and encouragement from a Congregationalist minister, Rev. William Bentley.

Our Peace-Loving Moslem Brothers At Work Again
This time, it is Indonesia which is the site of an anti-Christian pogrom. The scale is rather more dramatic than recent events in Pakistan. Whole Christian villages are being burned and their residents shot and hacked to death by members of the Laskar Jihad. Read commentary on the situation in Front Page here.

Remember, "Islam is a religion of peace."

The Crisis Continues
Another one. Brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, a Franciscan monk has been indicted and arrested on charges of abusing 6 boys in the rectory at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in East Boston in the 1960s and 1970s. Since DeBerardinis left Massachusetts for an extended period of time, the statute of limitations has not run out on these crimes.

The Vatican Isn't The AmChurch's Patsy
The Vatican, if published reports are correct, is about to tell the American bishops that they will have to do better on the sex abuse policy that they came up with in Dallas in early June. I don't think that the Vatican will be wrong to tell the bishops to do better.

Our bishops wanted to be seen to be doing something about a problem they were being reamed daily in the newspapers over. At the same time, they did not want to take the responsibility for removing pervert priests (that might make them unpopular with certain segments of the priesthood). So they set up inflexible rules that treat a priest who patted a kid's fanny 30 years ago as just as dangerous as Paul Shanley and John Geoghan. Then, they set up a lay review board to oversee the process and recommend certain offenders for defrocking (removing the odium even further from themselves). Looked at from this vantage point, we can see that the bishops' plan was a vast effort to evade responsibility.

On details, the handling of priest personnel matters via a lay review board probably does violate canon law. Other protections in canon law probably are also violated by the policy. There are flaws in that perverts who molest 16 and 17 year-old boys or adults with diminished capacities are not covered by the policy. Only perverts who seduce those under 16 were covered. The one-past-incident get out of jail free card that the policy allowed was deeply disturbing to many, including this commentator.

I don't necessarily think that a "zero tolerance" policy is a bad idea. But reason must be used on what constitutes the one-strike. We hear often about good, well-adjusted, high-achieving high schoolers suspended or expelled from school for having some sort of sharp garden implement in the trunk of their car (violating a zero tolerance policy on weapons and pointy things). Much the same thing would happen with priest sex abuse.

I have no problem with the proposition that a priest who seduced one 14 year old boy (and no one else) once 30 years ago does not belong in the prieshood. In fact, I could very well support that. I find the act so repulsive that I am willing to go that far. But what if the incident was far more ambiguous? What if it is not corroborated at all? Such factors as the presence of witnesses or physical evidence, contemporaneous reporting to someone (anyone), or the presence of more than one accuser must all be considered.

The greatest failing in the plan was that nothing in it dealt with the role of homosexuality and dissent in fostering a climate in which these incidents could take place and be winked at by the American church establishment. Without progress on that front, the problem will continue to fester for a generation.

It is probably a good thing that the Vatican will tell the American bishops to re-think the solution. What better solution might the bishops come up with? They could use their own reason to discern which sex offenders should be de-frocked, and forward the recommendations to Rome themselves. They could take the responsibility to boot homosexuals and dissenters and those who, through laxity, permit a culture of dissent to grow in the seminaries out of the formation process, and off the faculty and administration. They could act in the future in such a way that when an accusation is made, the first thing they do is alert civil authorities, and suspend the suspect unless cleared. They could rummage through their files, just as Boston is being forced to do, and figure out if they have priests on the staff who need to be dismissed. They could establish residences far from children for those who will not be defrocked in Rome, but might still pose even a small threat. They could take a hard and critical look at their own staffs, and purge the "non-Romans."

But that would be taking responsibility, and leading their flocks. They will probably do as little as they need to do to get a reluctant OK from the Vatican. There are few profiles in courage among the US bishops. Don't expect extraordinary things from this group. Expect as little action as is possible. Do expect carping at the Vatican, both from the bishops and their staffs (and the staff of the USCCB), and from VOTF-types and plaintiffs' lawyers.

I Was Right
The story is that the Vatican has rejected the "zero tolerance policy" approved by the US bishops as Dallas as violating pervert priests' rights under canon law. There will be more details later, but I am off for the library until after 5:00.

Guessing Game
Domenico Bettinelli has a story he is going to run with around 2:30 that he thinks will have us all buzzing. All he is saying is that it involves the Vatican.

I am morally certain it has nothing to do with the Holy Father's tenure in office. Bigger media fish would get that first. Besides, John Paul is going nowhere until he is called home.

It could be that Mother Theresa will be proclaimed a saint by acclamation. But I doubt it, as John Paul, who I think dearly wants to be the pope to canonize her, would still prefer to let the process go along according to established norms.

I also doubt it involves personnel moves. I doubt Law is off to a make-work position in the Vatican. If it was that, wouldn't it be delicious though, after he proclaimed to all who would listen in 1984 and 1985 that, "After Boston, there is only Heaven," again and again on speculation from the more lapdogish elements of the Boston media (think former sportscaster whose last name rhymes with "tooth") that he might be the first American pope? I think John Paul II will let him wallow in the mess that he helped make. I also doubt that any of the other American cardinals are being moved or demoted

My best guess is that it involves rejection of all or parts of the USCCB's policy on pervert priests. Total acceptance is expected and would not be news. Rejection, which more discerning observers have hinted at, would really start people talking.


Study James Robbins
James Robbins in National Review On Line has some solid insights into likely Iraqi strategy in the coming (?) war. I've found Robbins, T.M. Owens, and Victor Davis Hanson very reliable on the strategic and historical considerations at play in this war so far.

Robbins won big points last October when he co-wrote a piece with Dave Kopel touting their (and my) youthful experiences with the Avalon Hill, SPI, etc. boxed historical wargames that were available in the 1970s and 1980s, and how those games familiarized part of a generation of Americans (OK, us nerds) who did not serve in the real military (I'm in a re-created historic army, but that is as close as I've ever come) with strategy, tactics, logistics, the fog of war, and numerous other considerations that affect military operations. The real test of Robbins' and Kopel's claim is that military leaders testing a theory usually conduct kriegspiels, or wargames, that utilize rules not dissimilar to those used in the commercial games we own.

Yes I still have them. They were quite an investment at the time for a teenager, so I am very reluctant to part with them. But it has been an age since I dusted off Caesar-Alesia, Panzer Leader Panzer Blitz, Squad Leader, 1776,Terrible Swift Sword, Frederick the Great, Wellington's Victory, Napoleon At Bay, France 1940, The Guns of August, Atlantic Wall, Team Yankee, The Next War, Napoleon At War, The Campaign for North Africa, or The Arab-Israeli Wars. I get my military fix with re-enacting and collecting toy soldiers. The games take too much time for an adult. The video and computer games are all eye-hand coordination, and little strategy. But the boxed games did what Robbins and Kopel suggest.

Watch out Saddam. The kriegspielers are analyzing your every move.

Ames Department Stores Closing
Discount retail chain Ames, which bought out New England chain Zayre's in the early 1980s, and has been in bankruptcy since last December, will close all of its 327 stores in 10 weeks. Despite being the fourth largest retailer in the country at one point, (or perhaps because of it) Ames was not a great place to shop. The stores seemed disorderly, lacking in selection, and stocked with low-quality items. K-mart, which has similar problems, might very well go the same way.

The list of old New England retail names that have disappeared either through merger or going out of business is staggering. Here is a partial list: J.J. Newbury, Jordan Marsh, Caldor, Lauriat's Books, Ann & Hope, Lechmere, Zayre, Montgomery Ward, Gem, L. H. Rogers, Daniel Low & Co., S.S. Pierce (for consumers, anyway and the name is pronounced "purse", no matter what Kraft, which owns it now, says), King's Department Stores, A& P Supermarkets, First National Supermarkets, Mars Stores, Ceretani's Supermarket, Purity Supreme Supermarkets, Church's English Shoes, Levitz Furniture, Paine Furniture, and Bradlees. I am sure there are more I am blanking on right now. They have been replaced by the same things that have replaced regional chains nation-wide: Walmart, Target, Stop & Shop, Shaw's, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the Sports Authority.

Now, I like some of the "big box" chains. They are amazingly convenient. I enjoy the two bookstore chains (no surprise there) though I prefer a rabbit warren of a used bookstore, with comfortable chairs, lots of books to chose from, and classical music playing. There used to be such a place two doors down called Acorn Books. Even before I moved from my suburban boyhood home, I used to frequent the shop. It closed 6-7 years ago (3 or so years before I moved to its neighborhood).

But my allegience is to the old ways of New England. It will probably never happen, but I hope someday Macy's sees its error, and allows its Boston area stores to be called Jordan Marsh once again.

While I'm ranting about stores, do you remember the old Abercrombie & Fitch? I remember being dragged through it once as a child. It was a Manhattan upper-class sporting goods store featuring the very best in fishing tackle, golf accessories, picnic hampers. It closed in the 1970s. The name became available, and is now elevating a teenager-oriented mall chain that plays music way too loudly and goes in for smutty advertising. How the mighty have fallen.

Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe
Today is the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died at Auschwitz. Father Kolbe had an interest in science and in publishing. When the Nazis took over Poland, he was twice arrested, the second time ending up at Auschwitz. A selection of ten prisoners to be starved to death was being made in retaliation for the escape of a prisoner. When one of those selected protested that he had a wife and family, Father Kolbe volunteered to take his place. He could be heard leading the other prisoners in the starvation chamber in the rosary until his death. He was canonized in 1982, and is a patron saint of the mass media.

Cardinal Law: The Dog Ate it
According to Cardinal Law's deposition testimony released yesterday, the Cardinal/Archbishops of Boston have maintained a secret file for sensitive information concerning Boston-area priests since at least 1964. But when making personnel decisions, Law never availed himself of that file, but relied on the recommendations of now-Bishop Daily, now-Bishop Banks, and now-Bishop McCormack. So even though there was a lot of information concerning sex abuse allegations in the files, Law never saw it. When asked if he was blaming these subordinates, he said he was not (despite just having shifted the onus onto them).

This responsibilty-shifting is very interesting, since it seems to be a pattern. When he was diocesan vicar in Missouri, the bishop there had re-assigned a sexually abusive priest. There, it was the bishop's responsibility. Law had nothing to do with it. Here in Boston, it is the subordinates who are really responsible. Again, Law just signed the order.

Yesterday and today, Law is again being deposed in the Shanley case. For the forseeable future, Law is gong to be a professional witness, running the Archdiocese when the lawyers give him a break. But, on his own testimony, Law doesn't really run the Archdiocese. He just signs what his subordinates put in front of him.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Evangelization and the Jews
I've had a chance to read the Catholic Reflections part of the joint statement on covenants and mission. Let me first say that I have no theological training whatsoever. But those of us who went to law school have an enormous confidence in our ability to quickly master and discuss intelligently things we know absolutely nothing about, as long as they are not particularly technical or require math.

Let me next say that it would never occur to me to confront a Jewish person with his need to accept baptism. As William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote in Nearer, My God, the social situation, "the fragile solidarity of the surface we call civility," would keep me personally from ever doing such a thing. Religious talk, except among people who share views and faith, threatens that civility. But there are people who find this fulfilling. I do not think that in doing so, they are violating God's will.

That said, I find the Catholic Reflections thinly reasoned, highly selective in its choice of authorities cited, and ultimately wanting. It proceeds from the history of anti-Jewish prejudice and the laudable desire to deepen dialogue and promote amity between the two faiths, to a rejection of the most obvious and effective means of evangelization towards the Jewish people. It side-steps a great deal about what the Lord said about the uniqueness of the Christian faith and its exclusive salvific effect. It ignores what He said about just being a son of Abraham not being enough to gain eternal life.

The Catholic Reflections (I'll call it CR from this point on for the sake of convenience) relies almost exclusively on Vatican II documents and papal pronouncements since then. A reminder is useful. Vatican II repealed nothing that Catholics believed before the 1960s. The whole body of Church doctrine and teachings that pre-dated Vatican II is still in full force, unless specifically repealed. In selecting sources only after Vatican II, the writers are deliberately skewing the realm of argument in favor of the "ecumenical" imperative. A great number of the Vatican sources cited are not really on point, but are cited because they generally contribute to a trend that the writers profess to believe favors the action they intended to take.

The writers point to some laudable results of the post-Vatican II rapprochment between Judaism and Catholicism: interfaith dialogue, collaborative educational ventures, and joint theological and historical research by Catholics and Jews. I don't think CR's writers are arguing that these are endangered by maintaining evangelization efforts. I think they cite them to provide a context for what they intend to do, which cannot be characterized as anything other than an innovation.

The CR's writers are at pains to emphasize that God's covenant with the Jews remains in effect. This is probably true. But is the covenant between God and the Jewish people what the writers' claim it is- individually salvific? The old covenant was of a different nature from that consummated on Calvary. God's covenant was with the Jewish people as a whole. It implies, but does not promise individual salvation. On Calvary, Christ died for the salvation of all men, but with the direct promise that, "he who believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."

The two covenants, then are rather different in content. In fact, as Paul Johnson says in The Quest for God, they are somewhat mutually exclusive. The Jews claim that they are uniquely chosen by God, and that status remains in full force. Therefore, they are the arbiters of the authenticity of any claimants to the title Messiah. Since they have rejected Jesus of Nazareth's claim, he must be a false messiah, and the whole 2000 years of Christianity a gigantic sham. Christians believe that salvation comes through acceptance of the doctrines and divinity of Jesus Christ. Both cannot be right, and the stakes could not be higher.

CR's writers claim that the continued validity of God's covenant with the Jews is proven by the continued existence and "spiritual fecundity" of the Jewish people. But this just points to the essential difference between the two covenants. The old covenant was with the Jewish people, that He would be their God and they would be His people. They would enjoy a protected status here on earth (the Jewish people are highly to be praised for retaining their faith to the extent that they have, given the notable lapses in protecting them as a people, but let us not "be the God of God.")

Is longevity to really be the criterion for affirming the validity of the tradition? Hinduism and Buddhism are ancient creeds. Islam is only about 600 years more recent than Christianity. Does this make them equally valid? This argues against a point the CR makes later, that it is the Jews, and only the Jews, who enjoy this "equally valid covenant."

CR's writers acknowledge that evangelization is the mission of the Church, but deny that the direct means (proclamation and catechesis) is appropriate for the Jews. Citing to a Vatican document of 1991, CR notes presence and witness, commitment to social development and human liberation, Christian worship and prayer, interreligious dialogue, and proclamation and catechesis as equally valid means of evangelization. They call emphasis on proclamation and catechesis a "very narrow construal," of evangelization. Notice that, in the paragraph in which they do this, they stop citing sources. This is part of where the innovation comes in. They cite no authority for the proposition that interpreting evangelization as proclamation and catechesis is an impermissibly narrow construction. If there was valid authority for such a proposition, I am sure they would have cited it.

The best they can come up with is a speech delivered last year to a largely Jewish audience by Cardinal Kasper, whom I would characterize as a liberal, to the effect that evangelization is not properly directed at the Jews because they do not worship a false god.

The Church, the authors point out, does not operate any programs that direct proclamation and catechesis at Jews. Actually, the evangelical efforts of the Catholic Church for the last 50 years have been rather limited. The Church is desperately fighting to preserve Latin America as Catholic. It is fighting a losing battle in Africa in the face of Islam. In Asia, tiny Christian minorities are struggling for survival. This is a practical matter, not really a reason to justify evangelical inaction.

And failure to proclaim and catechize is nothing other than evangelical inaction. The other methods cited have some validity. But it is the "very narrow contsrual" that is the most effective and direct method. I would argue that many of the other methods cited are means to other ends. They don't end up bringing many souls to Christ. Edith Stein found her place in the Church, I suppose by observing the witness of Catholic apologists (reading their writings). But in closing off the most effective means, the RC's authors will make it that much more difficult for those brought up in the same tradition as Edith Stein to follow her example. Her path was not an easy one.

This sentence is troubling, "Thus, while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God." Is Christ's sacrifice and our acceptance of it truly essential or not? The authors are trying to have it both ways here, but end up essentially saying that Christ is not necessarily the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If Jews already dwell in a saving covenant, then they don't need Christ, which directly contradicts many things Christ Himself said. Essentially, the authors reject the uniqueness of Christianity for the sake of political correctness and not ruffling the feathers of a Jewish community worried over demographic deterioration.

Why so much argument for a USCCB proclamation, which has limited force and effect? Because, as a Catholic layman, I take the mission of the Church to make disciples of all men seriously, and think the Church should also. Allow me to quote Paul Johnson once again, " I would not be happy if I did not believe Christianity is ultimately committed to the evangelisation of all...so that the vast majority of the souls...will eventually be baptised and educated in my faith." I think it is this more direct approach that Christ calls the Church to. The Church in the US is, in my estimation, not just shirking its responsibility, but is, in this accord, justifying and institutionalizing that disregard for its responsibility.

The Document Itself
Can be read at this link. I'll read it over (I have to run to the library for a few hours) and comment further this evening. But my quick skim confirmed my views. I did note that the USCCB did at least recognize that evangelization is the mission of the Church, but then theologically weasled out of applying it to the Jews, on, I think, not very good grounds. As a lawyer, I am sure that an equally persuasive case can be made the other way from some of the same authorities. As a legal brief, it did not convince me on first skim.

As a practical matter, the Church herself has not been directing much in the way of evangelization at the Jews, or anyone else. If Jewish demographics are declining (I understand that they are) it is not because of the Church, but because of intermarriage with non-Jews. That argument is properly addressed not to the Church, but to the Jewish people themselves. I have a feeling though that the rabbis, like our Church in talking to the laity about contraception, will, unfortunately, be talking to the hand.

Law: We Returned Abusing Priest to Parish Work
The released deposition testimony of Bernard Cardinal Law revealed that in 1988, he returned Father Daniel Graham to parish work in Quincy, although there was an allegation that he has sexually abused a boy repeatedly. Law said he did that on advice of two subordinates (MCormack and Banks?). Of course, the parishioners were not informed about Graham's past.

More as it comes out.

Anger Could Save Your Life
National Review On Line's Rod Dreher reminds us that on September 11th, radical Moslems murdered over 2,000 Americans in New York City and at the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania. He points out that, as a nation, we seem to not be as righteously wrathful as we should be. The war has faded from our consciousness because we don't see it and can't really follow it on a map.

Sadly, I think he is right. We are conditioned to have a 30-second attention span. The murder of our fellow citizens was 11 months ago. Wounds heal, and we forget. The TV networks decided shortly after the attack to stop showing us the footage of the planes crashing and the World Trade Center collapsing. We must let the wound heal, but we must endeavor to keep the anger going. Anger, in this case is very healthy, because it is justified. Too casual an approach to this situation could get a lot of people killed. Also, to end the menace of Moslem terrorism, we are going to have to do some fairly nasty things to lots of people (sometimes women and children) who are not as well armed as we are. Anger can see us through that very difficult eventuality.

If the North Vietnamese had done this same thing to us 40 years ago, would anyone here have flinched at the clip of the South Vietnamese soldier putting his pistol to the head of the captured Viet Cong guerilla and pulling the trigger? We would have been too angry to do anything but nod grimly at it, and mutter, "served him right." We might then have had the will to see that war through to victory. If we had, maybe the Soviet Union would have collapsed a few years' earlier, as a result freeing its captive population and those of its satellite states that much faster and easing their suffering. The point is not to re-fight the Vietnam War, but to make the point that anger has its uses.

Radical Moslems killed lots of our fellow citizens who were peacefully going about their business in a nation at peace on September 11th. If they had the means, they would not scruple at killing us all. Remember that. Be angry about it.

"Make Disciples Of All Nations"?
According to this article in today's Boston Globe, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops signed an accord with Jewish groups in which the Church rejects the idea of converting Jews to Christianity. According to the document, the Church recognizes that the covenant between God and the Jews remains in effect, and that Jews, therefore, do not need to be saved by faith in, and works through, Jesus Christ.

In my view this is unwise, and terrible theology. It just dilutes even further the imperative for belief in Christ and His Church. The Church, in agreeing to this, is saying that it doesn't matter if you believe in Christ or not: we all get saved in the end if we are nice. This contradicts my understanding of some passages in the new Catechism which stress that yes, those who, for no fault of their own, are not able to hear the Gospel message, or are unaware of it, may be saved by leading holy lives. But this action says it is fine to reject Christ and his Church when you are aware of Their existence and not in any way restrained from becoming a convert. Even worse, the accord means that the Church will not do her job of making disciples of all men. She won't even try to bring people born in the Jewish tradition to Christ.

Isn't Jesus supposed to be the New Covenant for all men, including our Jewish brothers? Didn't the Covenant consummated on Calvary displace the old covenant? Is He not the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

To me, this sounds like an abdication of responsibility for the purposes of political correctness. Of course no one advocates forcing Jews to convert (or protestants, for that matter). Tolerance demands that we not do that. It is not a possibility in American culture anyway. So putting that forward as a justification is pure nonsense. What happened in Europe centuries ago between Jews and Christians has no bearing on the Church's mission. Conversion here is a matter of persuasion, not force. The Church is saying it won't even try to persuade.

Look at Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). She was born in the Jewish tradition, and converted through her own individual reading of Catholic teachings. What a wonderful addition to the Church she was! By not directing outreach to the Jews, we are making it more difficult for Jews to make a similar choice. Surely, her example would prompt us to be more persuasive and eager, (and more loving and considerate, too) in offering membership in the Church to our Jewish brothers.

The Church (I think) still says She is the best way to eternal life. So, in not gently offering our Jewish friends this better way, we are shirking some fairly strict responsibilities God Himself gave us. Fortunately, this is just the USCCB. It is not authoritative. Individual Catholics who do outreach to Jews can continue their work, until the Vatican tells them otherwise.

I have less and less confidence in the USCCB. Its leadership is reflexively politically correct and liberal. It has shown again and again, on nuclear disarmament, the US economy, on the Scandal, and here (and probably in hundreds of pronouncements that have quickly faded into insignificance) that its judgment is not to be trusted.

And some people want this same group to hold a plenary council on homosexuality and dissent. I think the outcome of that would be utterly pre-ordained. The only light in this situation comes from Rome, and from a few sensible bishops scattered across the country. Lord, preserve us from our own independence!

Monday, August 12, 2002

I Just Finished
Two books by Salem historian James Duncan Phillips. Pepper and Pirates, on the adventures of Salem ships in the Sumatra pepper trade (1795-1840), gives a good description of the process of the pepper trade (derived from an account by Nathaniel Bowditch, the hero of the children's book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch). It has some interesting and colorful (and often deadly) encounters between Salem merchantmen and malay pirates.

Salem And the Indies is a general history of Salem and its trade 1783-1815. It is an absolutely delightful read. Phillips loved writing about this period, and it shows in his work. Phillips was a Yankee aristocrat (an ancestor, Stephen Phillips, was a sea captain and merchant), and a curmudgeonly critic of the follies of the New Deal (he wrote these books in the late 1940s). Phillips was not just a Republican, but a Federalist, with all of Timothy Pickering's or Fisher Ames' distaste of Jeffersonian foreign policy on display. He tosses in some great digs at Jefferson's political descendants from time to time. It is fascinating to read how Salem changed over these 30 years, especially if you live, as we do, right in what was the heart of Salem's commercial and residential center.

If interested, you might find these books in a library, or perhaps through a search service offered by a used bookstore, or on-line though with the demise of Bibliofind.com (thanks a lot, Amazon) that isn't so easy anymore.

Transcript Day
Tomorrow, the transcripts of Cardinal Law's deposition testimony in the Paul Shanley case will be released. The press is lining up already. If there is anything particularly interesting, we will let you know.

Pass It On
Saw this over at Domenico Bettinelli's Bettnet, and liked the idea. Just passing it along. Remember the spontaneous Friday-after-September 11th candle vigils all over the country? This would have even more meaning.

"September 11, 2002 is soon approaching. On that day, please wear red, white and blue to work or school to show your support for those who lost their lives on 9~11~01 and to honor the heroes who worked to save them and the families left behind. At noon your time on September 11, 2002, no matter where you are or what you are doing, stop, put your hand on your heart, and say the Pledge of Allegiance out loud or to yourself and say a prayer for our nation."

A Greater Tribute

A Great Tribute
Here is a great tribute site in honor of Russell Kirk from Town Hall. It includes the text of many of his Heritage Foundation lectures, a biography, some audio clips, and a bibliography. Kirk was the primary definer of conservatism in American history.

Ever the Optimist
National Review's John Derbyshire dispels any optimism the summer weather and the weekend might have inspired. He discusses the possibility of a large growth in infectious diseases here.

George Weigel Makes Sense
TCR has a article from George Weigel, originally published in the Denver Catholic Register on July 24th, in which he spells out what he thinks the issues for the Church for the next twenty years are. He is right on. The issues: 1) orthodoxy, 2) restoring the Apostolic leadership mode among bishops, 3) the value of human life, 4) liturgy-why reform has emptied the churches, and 5) evangelization-why has the growth of Christianity flattened, and how do we reach out to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Our Honored Dead
The roll of Americans who have lost their lives in defense of our country has been increased by one. Sargeant First Class Christopher James Speer, assigned to the the Army's Special Operations Command, died of wounds received in battle with al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan two weeks ago. Sargeant Speer died protecting all of us. It is fitting and proper to pray for his soul.

There will be more, perhaps many more, brave young Americans who die in this war. This, as they say, is a different kind of war. There is no Omaha Beach to take, no Rhine to cross, no islands to hop. It will be a war that we here in the US will notice only as the bodies of our troops are brought back home. Because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence used to conduct this war, we will not know the details for many years, if ever. Even though this war (let us pray) will not intrude into our daily lives in the way other wars have, we on the home front must not lose sight of its objectives and purpose. This is a battle for survival for our country, our freedoms, and our way of life.

We must not let the deaths of these exemplary Americans deter or discourage us. If we are deterred and discouraged from prosecuting this war, then they surely shall have died in vain, and a truly barbarous tyranny will stalk the world unchecked. Instead, we must draw new purpose and resolution from their sacrifice.

Sargeant Speer, requiescat in pace.

Enos Slaughter Dies
Baseball Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, anchor of the Saint Louis Cardinals for 13 years, died today at the age of 86. Old-timers remember his scoring the winning run in the eighth inning of the seventh game of the 1946 World Series from first on a single. Of course, the victims were our own Boston Red Sox. He was on 4 World Series champion teams, and had a .300 career average. Requiescat in pace.

Sauce for The Goose
Common Cause was virtually silent when Bill Clinton rented out the Lincoln Bedroom to donors and Al Gore was tapping the riches of various Buddhist monks. But now that President Bush is shattering fund-raising records set by Clinton, Scott Harshbarger, head of Common Cause (and former Mass. Democrat Attorney General and unsuccessful candidate for governor) finds presidential fundraising "unseemly."

Radical Feminists For Abortion
Joel Mowbray has a telling profile of ultra-liberal Catholics For a Free Choice in Insight. Much of the ground was explored two weeks ago by Fox News, but Mowbray manages to flesh out details about how CFFC gets its money-Planned Parenthood, Warren Buffett, the McArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Ted Turner, Playboy, the Hewlett and Packard charities, and the Unitarian Church. He also emphasizes the anti-Catholic aspect of what Catholics For a Free Choice is all about, which Fox did not address. The head of CFFC is a former nun. Apostates make the most bitter enemies.

From Under What Rock Did This Crawl Out?
When checking out a piece by Joel Mowbray on Catholics For a Free Choice, I was amused to see a banner ad for a book by the president of the John Birch Society claiming that William F. Buckley, Jr. is not a genuine conservative, and that he has led the movement astray. I didn't realize the Birchers still existed. But the claim that WFB is some sort of liberal plant in the conservative movement, while not a new one, is utterly ludicrous. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, no one alive has furthered the conservative movement to such a degree as WFB has (a great deal of credit also goes to Russell Kirk, and Barry Goldwater, but they are no longer living).

Back in the 1950s, WFB distanced National Review, and the conservative movement in general away from the Birchers and their ridiculous conspiracy theories. So the JBS still exists, and still holds a grudge. They probably think I get marching orders from Peking, too.

Golden Gate Bridge Under Heightened Alert
Threats of terrorists crashing a plane into the span of the Golden Gate Bridge have prompted an even higher level of security there. The last alert came in July, after Spanish authorities recovered a videotape of several potential al Qaeda targets, including the support structures for the Golden Gate, the Statute of Liberty, Disneyland, and the Sears Tower.

This war will not end until we bury al Qaeda and all who support it. The hatred for us and our way of life cannot be stamped out with a simple military victory and the arrest of a few leaders and key organizers. How to accomplish that end is the hard part.

The Crisis Continues
According to the Sunday Hartford Courant, five men have alleged that former priest Felix Maguire, who served at parishes in West Haven, North Haven, Derby, Guilford, Marlborough, and Walcott in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s sexually abused them. Some of the victims were "troubled youths," and claim that Maguire gave them cash for sex. Several claim that Maguire had them watch pornographic movies with him. Almost all of the victims were 15 when Maguire allegedly abused them. The abuse spans Maguire's career. A criminal investigation was begun in 1984, but according to one police officer, it was dropped because it was just the word of a "troubled young man" against that of a priest.

It all sounds depressingly familiar, doesn't it?

President Reagan's Condition Worsens
According to today's Washington Times, President Ronald Reagan no longer recognizes his wife Nancy and other family members. His physical health, which had been good, is also reportedly beginning to slip. Our prayers for the Reagan and Heston families would be most welcome.

Rest In Peace
The body of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has finally been laid to rest. Requiescat In Pace.

Saint Clare
Today is the traditional feast of Saint Clare, though the reformed calendar would have us memorialize it on August 11th. Saint Clare was a younger contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi. Of noble birth, she, and eventually her mother and sisters all joined the Poor Ladies, as Francis' order was then called. Clare was the leader of the order under Saint Francis' patronage. Clare meditated on the Lord's Passion daily from midday to None, and on learning of the martyrdom of the first Franciscans in Morrocco, was with difficulty prevented from going to Morocco to make herself a martyr.

Late in life, she was so ill that she could not attend Mass. Miraculously, she could see the Mass on the wall of her cell. Because of that, Pope Pius XII made her patroness of television. She died in 1253, and was canonized in 1255. The Poor Clares, as the order is now called, are still active wherever the Franciscans are to be found.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Hatchet Jobs 'R US
The Boston Globe is notorious for its hatchet jobs on Republican candidates, especially conservative ones. I would almost say that their profile of Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) is the best example of damning with faint praise, and gross mischaracterizations I had ever seen, except that I remember a hit piece they did on 1980s Republican senatorial canidate Ray Shamie. When Shamie was first getting interested in politics, he attended 1 (one) meeting of the John Birch Society. By time the Globe was done with the "story," one would have been justified in thinking Martin Bormann had somehow slipped the bonds of Spandau and was running for US Senator from Massachusetts.

Don't get me wrong. I recognize the realities of the situation as well as anyone. I know the polls say Rep. John Sununu (son of President George-41-Bush's Chief of Staff) beats Governor Jean Shaheen, while Smith loses to her by a substantial margin. I know Smith almost lost six years ago to a guy who really did go by the name Dick Sweat. If I were a New Hampshire voter, I would take a long hard look at Smith's 100% ACU rating, and regret losing that. I would take some consolation from Sununu's 92% ACU rating. Then WFB's maxim about always supporting the "rightward-most viable candidate" would come into play. The polls say Smith is not viable. And we need every Republican vote in the Senate we can get.

But the Globe's hatchet job is so over-the-top that, were Bob Smith not a public figure, libel might well be an option.

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