Saturday, October 19, 2002
A car bomb went off at the drive-thru of a McDonald's in Moscow, injuring seven, one critically. Russian authorities are investigating, but say that it is a terrorist attack without question. The bomb seems to have been packed with shrapnel to cause maximum casualties, which is a method favored by both al Qaeda and its Palestinian allies. The target was an American corporation, though all the injured appear to be Russians. Russia herself is busy fighting in Chechnya against rebels allied to al Qaeda. Fox News has more details here.
In a dispute between the US Navy, which owns and mans USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat (HMS Victory is older and still in commission, but is kept in permanent drydock), and the National Park Service over bus access to the area near Old Ironsides, and over funding security for the vessel, the Navy is closing her to tours beginning Monday.
As a security matter, it is obvious that buses should not be allowed anywhere near Old Ironsides. It should be utterly impossible for any vehicle to reach her without extensive preperation. A bus bomb could destroy her, and accomplish what the Barbary pirates and the Royal Navy could never do. I don't care who funds the additional security. But that needs to be resolved at the White House, as two departments are in conflict.
It is a shame to see that symbol of American naval prowess and source of national (and regional) pride closed to the public. This is the height of Boston's tourist season, so many tourists will be disappointed (last year she was closed for two months after 9/11). But her security must be the paramount concern. She is a legacy from our founding fathers (she was built during John Adams' term) and must be passed down by us, intact, to remote posterity, so that 400 years hence she will still be a source of pride for Americans.
Friday, October 18, 2002
I originally published this on June 7th, before most people knew Verus Ratio was around. It is worth repeating.
Friday is a Penitential Day
The collective "Yipee, yahoo" let out by American Catholics when our bishops did one of the least wise things they did in a period of madness after Vactican II- ending meatless Fridays- still echoes today. The removal of the constraint on eating meat on Fridays has been interpreted as a positive call to ignore this centuries'- old discipline. The concept of Friday as a day of penance has been lost.
Cardinal Law (I really chuckle when he is decribed as the "most conservative prelate in the US"- if true we are in serious trouble) in an interview some years ago was asked about some laymen who continue to observe meatless Fridays as a private penitential practice. He acted as though the idea had never occurred to him. Why would anyone impose a discipline upon themselves if the Church no longer required it? He eventually vouchsafed a qualified endorsement of the practice, but quickly added that he could not be expected to follow it, as it would impose an undue burden on the many hosts who entertain His Eminence on Fridays. Uh huh. Life as cardinal/archbishop of Boston has apparently agreed with Law. A comparison of photos from 1984 and 2002 show a gain of at least 75 pounds. I know, I have no room to kvetch on this score personally. But, even granted that...
Meatless Fridays are a scarcely noticeable burden. Take it from me. I've followed the custom for 5 years. I will yield to few in my love for chateaubriand, prime rib, bacon, steakhouse tips, chicken pie, etc., etc., etc. I also detest most seafood. I'm not a big vegetable-eater, either. Most Fridays, like today, I am barely cognizant of not being able to eat meat. It doesn't touch me. It doesn't qualify me for sainthood, not even close. It is just a tiny reminder.
Fridays were set aside as special in order to remind us of our sinfulness and need for God's mercy. Our nature is a fallen one. We are only redeemed through the sacrifice of the Lord. Sin is a reality, and so are the conseqeuences of sin ("the wages of sin are death"). By acknowledging that fact, we begin the process of individual reconciliation which culminates in the Sacrament of Penance.
But many do not wish to be reminded of the true nature of man. They hold what Thomas Sowell classified as the "unrestrained" view of human nature: that man is infinitely perfectible, that human nature is basically good, but is hindered by institutions like the Church and society. Needless to say, Christianity as it has been traditionally understood directly refutes this view. So it, and its expressions must be muted, and told to go away. We don't want any of your medieval pessimism.
For those who are wiser, and take the Faith seriously, try bringing meatless Fridays back into your family life. This time, it is not because you have to, but because it is a fitting and proper thing to do. But don't justify it on semi-vegan grounds, please. Try this, also. Every Friday, read the 51st Psalm privately. It may bring you to a deeper understanding of yourself, and God's mercy.
The tourists are pouring in. The vendors are setting up for the weekend. The Haunted Neighborhood is even advertising on the radio. Ghost stories in the historic houses owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, several haunted houses, the characters of the novel brought to life at the House of the Seven Gables, a street fair here on Essex Street, roasted pecans, fried dough (mmmm, fried dough), hot mulled cider, clowns, musicians, ghouls in costumes (though less than a few years ago) all await the curious.
Come on up, as long as you leave before 1:00 am on All Saints' Day.
You are just in time. The White Mountains are at peak. Central New Hampshire and the Lakes Region (which we prefer) are at high color. Medium color covers most of massachusetts, except here on the coast, where color is still low. And weather promises to be terrific, with no serious rain in the forecast. Pass the fresh cider and enjoy the experience.
I gave up on YACCS, after trying to just have them send a new set of HTML, only to find they are not taking new accounts. So comments here are now powered by Haloscan. One thing is slightly confusing. The Comment button goes with the blog below it, not above it as in YACCs.
Astonish me with your eloquence.
A bomb tore apart a bus in the suburbs of Manila. Al Qaeda's local affiliate Abu Savaaf is responsible. At least three civilized people are dead and the hands of these barbarians. Yesterday, bombs went off in Zamboanga City killing 7 and injuring 150. Al Qaeda's fall offensive against civilization continues.
Make time For Victor Davis Hanson's column on appeasement on National Review On Line. Hanson is a national treasure. His knowledge of and ready ability to draw parallels with classical antiquity is just the thing to draw strength from in troubled times.
CIA Director George Tenet is warning Americans that al Qaeda has the ability to launch an attack in the US, and that there is little the CIA or the FBI could do to prevent it. There are so many targets that not all can be defended. There is no political will to expel Moslems in the country illegally or to keep new potential Moslem terrorists out of the country, or to single them out for repeated intensive security checks.
The CIA together with the rest of the apparatus of the US government has not been very successful in shutting off the flow of money to al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia remains a major source of money for al Qaeda. Pakistan appears to have become a safe haven. Iraq and Iran provide logistical and intelligence support and money. Yemen, Somolia, and Algeria are chaotic and impotent governments where al Qaeda can flourish despite official disapproval.
There is much to do in the war on Islamo-fascist terror. We need to really get serious about protecting ourselves and draining the swamp in which al Qaeda flourishes, political correctness and playing nice with governments not vigorously determined to destroy al Qaeda, root branch, and seed, be damned.
The US bishops' policy on pervert priests has been rejected by the Holy See, in part because of concerns over the role of the lay review boards over the careers of priests, and due process concerns that seem to conflict with provisions of canon law. Cardinal Re, head of the Congregation of Bishops, signed the rejection and proposed a joint commission of US and curial bishops to iron out the changes necessary to gain a recognitio. As might be predicted, priests' groups are pleased, and victims' groups are outraged.
As someone who thinks the bishops' policy does not go far enough in certain respects, the Vatican's refusal to grant the recognitio is fairly unsurprising. It is curious that a conservative Vatican is taking liberal US bishops to task for being too conservative in responding to a crisis caused by their liberalism. That is, of course, a vast oversimplification of the situation. But I think it has some foundation.
It is more helpful, though, if looked at from the perspective of the bishops' individual responsibility. For years, in regard to pervert priests, the bishops have not done their jobs. Perverts were getting through the seminary system in large numbers even before the 1960s. Then, the perverts had to hide their "objectively disordered" orientation. But there was much winking at known problems. The bishops allowed their bureaucracies, their seminaries' faculties and formation and discernment staffs, as well as the theology departments of Catholic colleges, to be stocked with open dissenters and out homosexuals since the early 1970s. They opened the seminaries to homosexuals, despite Vatican orders to not do so (the orders were probably dismissed by most with an airy, "That was before Vatican II."), and an open homosexual subculture came to flourish in various seminaries, and in the priesthood. When confronted with the perverted acts of the perverts they let loose on the laity, they hid the evidence, and shuffled the perverts from parish to parish to keep them out of sight.
When the Scandal broke, the bishops found themselves under a microscope. They were being dragged through the mud daily in all the media. Instead of individually taking responsibility for cleaning up their seminaries, bureaucracies, and priestly ranks on a reasonable basis, they shifted responsibility for removal of priests to lay review boards and put in place a national review board of laity to oversee the policy. They adopted a zero tolerance policy that immediately suspends a priest with a spotless record if some drug addict makes baseless accusations against him, and treats him just like a genuine monster like Shanley or Geoghan.
It may be best to say that the Vatican is telling the American bishops to not hide behind lay review boards, and zero tolerance policies, and to actually take responsibility for cleaning up the mess they and their predecessors made. The process must be reasonable, and the rights of the accused protected. The Vatican demands that the American bishops each individually take responsibility.
The question is, are these pampered paper-pushers and glad-handers who are more concerned with their standing with the local media and political establishment than with their standing with Rome, whose spines are made of boiled linguine not bone, who take great delight in occupying the leading places in public gatherings and enjoying all the good things of life, are they even capable of taking responsibility and doing it in a reasonable way? Can they do it and stay this side of open schism?
The fact that curial bishops will take the lead, I would assume, in reformulating the policy is a good sign. There is infinitely more good sense on the best structure and governence of the Church in John Paul's left hand pinkie than in the entire US gathering of bishops. His immediate servants in the Vatican bureaucracy, reflecting the Holy Father's own solidly orthodox views, will do a much better job than any committee of US bishops could. The extraordinary delegation of Vatican bishops to deal with the American buggery problem also means that some effective policy will actually be put in place. I would have much less confidence if the Vatican had just left it to the American bishops to fix.
Once again, one is left reflecting on how the Holy Father has been so ill-served by his people here in the US on the selection of US bishops. In my limited acquaintance among priests, I could name a dozen simple parish priests who could do a better job administering the Church than the men who have been made bishops.
Oh yeah, and for those slightly-left-of-center Bostonians who have been daydreaming that Bishop Wilton Gregory would be named co-adjutor or successor to Cardinal Law, forget about it. He is apparently deep in the Holy Father's doghouse. So much so that he was made to stand up in Rome to face reporters while the Vatican was giving the cold shoulder to the policy of which he was a principle architect. You don't do that to people whose careers you are planning to foster. You tell them to stay at home, and spare them the odium. I don't think he will be named to a major see anytime soon, at least not by this pope.
Today the Church honors Saint Luke, the only one of the evangelists not to have been born Jewish. Luke was from Antioch, the second city of Roman Empire, was a physician who spoke Greek as his first language, and appears to have been a monotheist even before his conversion. He was a close associate of St. Paul. He accompanied Paul on much of his missionary work, and stayed by his side during his captivity in Rome. He appears to be the author of not just the Gospel of Luke, but also of the Acts of the Apostles. His prose style is considered the best of the four evangelists.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
I'm still waiting for Rate Your Music (YACCS) to e-mail me my forgotten password so I can restore my comments buttons. A chap could die of old age while waiting.
According to this article on the Fox News website, the Vatican will not give the US bishops' pervert priest policy even the conditional yes most sources, including Verus Ratio, expected. Instead, a joint commission of US and curial bishops will sit down and try to hammer out a policy that the Vatican can accept.
Vatican politics remain rather Byzantine. One wonders why the leaders of the US bishops' organization were called to Rome just to be given a slap in the face. The official reason for the rejection appears to be the lack of due process rights for accused priests. One wonders also, given the public statements by the Holy Father and his spokesmen, whether the absence of any solution to the root cause of the Scandal, homosexuality and dissent in the seminaries and priesthood, was also a cause for rejection.
We will know more early tomorrow.
Bishops Wilton Gregory and William Skylstad met with Pope John Paul II today. It is expected that some sort of conditional acceptance of the US bishops' policy on pervert priests will be announced tomorrow. The Boston Globe has more details here.
In yet another example of the reality that paper promises by dictators are meaningless, the North Korean government defiantly admitted that it does indeed have a secret nuclear program, despite an 1994 agreement with the Clinton Adminstration to not pursue nuclear arms. It is not clear if North Korea actually has a functioning bomb. The dangers of an insane and unpredictable tyrant with a bomb, even if it can only reach Japan and South Korea, cannot be over-stated. The US has forces in both countries. Moreover, both countries are steadfast US allies to whose fate the US is anything but indifferent.
Again, as with al Qaeda and Iraq, the Clinton Administration wasted our efforts and resources temporizing with and appeasing North Korea, while North Korea secretly worked against them. Neville Clinton, Lord Warren Halifax, and Lady Madeline Astor, call your offices. You have some explaining to do. On second thought, just slink into oblivion. We're too busy cleaning up the mess you left to listen to your justifications.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual report, The Military Balance 2002-2003, makes it clear that the Iraqi military is not in shape to resist the US. As you have heard elsewhere, the most significant resistance will come from the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard brigades. However, command and control have been improved, and the reaction of Iran is unclear. Saddam may well try to throw himself on Iran's mercy. Steps should be taken to prevent his flight there. The Washington Times carries more details here.
FrontPage Magazine carries Henry Mark Holzer's careful look at how the US government is classifying and treating the various traitors in our midst. Finally, the reasons behind the seemingly disparate treatment being given al Qaeda's American agents become clear. The President, armed services, and Justice Department are actually observing a carefully crafted set of criteria dictated by the US Supreme Court in the 1942 Ex Parte Quirin case. Those of us who have expressed frustration that the traitors are not being shot up with sodium pentathol and then given a permanent dirt nap may still be right. But at least there is method behind the government's seeming madness.
Frontpage Magazine carries NewsMax's coverage of Peter Schweizer's new book, Reagan's War, which contains damaging revelations that Jimmy Carter approached the Soviet Union through the agency of Armand Hammer and asked for changes in policies to prevent Reagan from being elected in both 1980 and 1984. Tip O'Neill also paid fealty to the Soviets in order to thwart Reagan.
I must admit that I've been surprised at collegue Mark Shea's use of the term Treason Party for the Democrats. Generally, I am to the right of most other commentators, but even I have not used that term for the Democrats. But if these revelations prove correct (and Schweizer's first book Victory, a view on how Reagan and Bush won the Cold War, was excellent and full of insight) then Treason Party is the only possible name for this bunch.
Writing in TownHall.com, Bob Novak speculates on Rhode Island's Senator Lincoln Chafee defecting to the Democrats should the Republicans pick up one seat in three weeks. Except in New Hampshire, New England's congressional delegation lacks genuine Reaganite Republicans. That is something that needs to be addressed over the long term.
On the same day it applied for an emergency appeal of the discovery order of Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, a single judge of the Appeals Court denied the Archdiocese of Boston's efforts to withhold personnel records of some 85 priests requested by plaintiffs' attorneys in the Shanley case. The Boston Globe has more details here.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
The absence of YACCS comments was my fault. In ditzing around to see if something I could do would bring Blogger back up (when I noticed others able to publish when I wasn't yet), I accidentally erased the HTML code for YACCS. Since I haven't dealt with YACCS since I installed the comments feature, I naturally didn't remember my password. So, while that is being sorted out there will be no comments. Sorry gang. Hope to have it back up by tomorrow.
This morning before daybreak, we undertook our daily walk to the train station. It was cool (though not as cold as yesterday). But it was utterly still. Not a leaf was moving. Rain and wind were in the forecast, but this morning around 5:30, we were enjoying the calm before the storm. I just looked out the window to see that it is pouring. I have heard the winds roaring for hours. Huddled figures scurry about their business on Essex Street in weather that would turn an umbrella inside-out in a second. I hear that ferry service to Nantucket and the Vineyard is not operating today.
Rain storms can be quite enjoyable if you have the luxury of being inside during them. They are wonderful opportunities for a bowl of onion soup or chowder, or a tankard of hot mulled cider. Comestibles like that keep one's "interior weather" serene when Mother Nature is making a hard day of it, and the market is down about 200 points.
And we need the rain. From July-September, we were short almost 3 inches from the average rainfall. And in mid-June, we had almost erased the accumulated precipitation deficit we suffered from last summer through last winter. An inch or two of rain in the middle of the week ought not to be chafed at. It ought to be appreciated as the gift that it is.
A Springfield, Massachusetts woman with facial piercings, who claims to belong to something called the Church of Body Modification, is suing for Costco for $2 million for firing her after she refused to remove the piercing while working. Costco's dress code sensibly banned "facial and tongue jewelry, visible tattoos, sweat pants, ripped jeans and open-toed shoes," none of which are suitable (sorry, Rod). The Globe has details here, though the story is slanted towards the employee.
Of course employers have a right to set dress codes for employees, especially if the employees deal with the public. This "Church of Body Modification" is nothing but a dodge to allow people who want to go about in public looking like freaks to claim they are being discriminated against because of their religion. Pot-heads have tried the same dodge. Bully for Costco. Let us hope the courts, somehow, are staunch in defending employers' rights in this regard.
Four parcel bombs were found (one after it exploded injuring 9) in Karachi, Pakistan. Offices of the Pakistani government were the targets this time. Islamic militants are responsible, again.
On this date in 1793, France's Queen Marie Antoinette was murdered by the Jacobins. For a long time, Queen Marie Antoinette has been defined by her enemies. Her popular reputation now is that of a frivolous libertine who deserved what she got. But that was not the view of her contemporaries not in the grip of the Jacobin fervor for destruction of religion, society, and order.
The great statesman, and founder of conservatism, Edmund Burke had this to say about Her Late Most Christian Majesty in Reflections On the Revolution In France:
It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy. 0, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.
EWTN has an interesting compilation of the pontificate of John Paul II by the numbers.
Pope John Paul II has:
" visited 301 of the 334 parishes in his Diocese of Rome;
" made 142 trips inside Italy, and 98 foreign trips, to 129 different countries, traveling over 740,000 miles;
" delivered over 3,300 speeches during his trips, and spent roughly 11.5 percent of his pontificate outside Rome;
" written 13 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, and 42 apostolic letters (including a new document on the Rosary, due for promulgation on the date of his 24th anniversary); " beatified 1,297 people, including 1,024 martyrs and 272 confessors, in 135 separate ceremonies; and canonized 464 saints (401 martyrs and 63 confessors) in 47 ceremonies; " held 8 consistories, at which he has created 201 cardinals, including 115 of those who are now eligible to vote in a papal conclave;
" convened 6 meetings of the College of Cardinals, and 15 meetings of the Synod of Bishops; " held over 1,430 private audiences with visiting dignitaries, including 944 visits with heads of state or chief government ministers; and " presided at over 1,055 public audiences, at which he has spoken to roughly 16,500,000 people
But the numbers don't even begin to tell the story of what John Paul II has accomplished for the Church, and for the cause of freedom. For that, I refer you to George Weigel's excellent biographyWitness To Hope.
It is official. The Holy Father has recognized 5 new mysteries, the Mysteries of Light, for those devoted to the Rosary to recite and reflect upon. EWTN has details here. The Mysteries of Light are:
1) The Baptism of the Lord
2) The Wedding At Cana
3) The Proclamation of the Kingdom
4) The Transfiguration
5) The Institution of the Eucharist
The document proclaiming the new mysteries is Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Zenit has it here.
As I have said, I welcome this extension of the Rosary since it relects the efforts of those serious about recovering from the damage done by misguided reformers in the last 40-50 years by emphasizing the centrality of Christ in the life of His Church. The Church could easily add The Temptation In the Desert, the Sermon On the Mount, The Parables, The Raising of Lazarus, and The Entry Into Jerusalem without any disrespect to the Rosary, and without causing chaos in private devotions.
Now it is time for the Catholic publishing industry and Catholic artists to come up with new artistic renderings and devotional aids of these new mysteries that blend seemlessly with the excellent ones in use for the existing mysteries (I have in mind the small St. Joseph publication on the Rosary that I have used since the early 1970s, the illustrations were also in a 1960s Missal my mother owned).
Pope John Paul has done much to strengthen the Faith. I view this as another step in that same process that has produced the Catechism. I just wish it had been released on October 7th, the anniversary of Lepanto. Making it public on the Pope's anniversary in office appears indulgent to me. It also tends to make the survival of this change past the pontificate of John Paul II less likely, since it seems to identify the change with this pope's will and personality more than it needs to be.
For the gripers, I suggest they remember what Burke said about the true statesman: he possesses the disposition to preserve combined with the ability to reform. This is Church statemanship at its best. The old is preserved, and new lessons are added for our consideration. And remember, it is a private devotion. You don't have to meditate on these new mysteries if you don't want to. If you so desire, you can stick with the existing ones, even though they are skewed towards the beginning and end of Christ's life on earth.
As for me, I will be looking forward to a new edition of the St. Joseph booklet on the Rosary. Let us hope that it incorporates the old illustrations and a similar format is used for the new ones. If change must be, make it as palatable as possible.
Mason Hammond, Harvard classics scholar, died this past weekend four months shy of his 100th birthday. Hammond was from the generation before Deconstruction, which still took classical scholarship seriously. During World War II, he helped the Army preserve surviving classical artifacts as we liberated Europe from the Nazi tyranny. His wife of 64 years died in 1999. The West has lost a significant scholar, and Boston, a gentleman. Requiescat in pace.
Today is, I think, D-Day for Cardinal Law on the $55,800.00 donation from VOTF to Cathoic Charities. The donation is sitting on his desk now. Will he have the courage to send it back, or will he find a way to accept this token, which would legitimize VOTF, and further undermine the Archbishop of Boston's authority to decide how Catholic Charities will operate? There is nothing in Law's background (keep in mind his handling of Ted Kennedy) to suggest that he possesses the intestinal fortitude to send the check back. He is under presure from the Catholic Charities board which is yapping at his heels and wants to swallow principle and take the donation. My money is on his finding a justification for accepting it. Given Law's half-baked method of handling VOTF chapters using Church property for their meetings, I would be astonished if he sent it back. I hope I will be astonished.
The Boston Globe has more details on Massachusetts Democrat gubernatorial candidate Shanon O'Brien's sudden change on gay marriage. She now says that, though she personally opposes gay marriage, she would not veto a bill legalizing it if it is passed by the legislature. This is one of the best reasons to vote for Mitt Romney. He opposes both civil unions and gay marriage, and would veto any bill legalizing either.
This is an astonishing application of the "personally opposed, but" position many candidates have on abortion to the sanctity of marriage issue. Abortion politics have made public figures even more adept at lying to the public. If a public official opposes some behaviour, they ought to veto legislation that would legalize it on priciple. But stands on principle are becoming a thing of the past.
For now, though, Massachusetts voters have a way of saying "No" to this particularly loathsome slithering. Vote for Romney, not O'Brien.
The Archdiocese for 30 or more years did the Shanley Shuffle, moving pervert priests from parish to parish, because they had no idea what else to do with them. Now, faced with litigation over the Shanley Shuffle, they are stalling on producing personnel records they are under court order to produce. Judge Constance Sweeney let the Archdiocese's attorneys know that she views its actions as a stall on discovery. The Boston Herald has more details here. Of course delay and stalling are part and parcel of the defense's tactics in all criminal and civil litigation. If you are going to end up shelling out money, later is almost always better than sooner.
But coming after its disreputable slitherings in the first batch of Geoghan cases (more were just filed) one would think that, as a matter of public relations, the Archdiocese would make an effort to be a model litigant, meeting deadlines with amazing promptness and completeness. Part of the problem is, of course, that the insurance companies, and not the Archdiocese, are the real defendants, and are really calling the shots for defense strategy. It is always the case in these matters that the Archdiocese's and "its" attorneys mouths may be moving, but the voice one hears is the voice of the liability carrier.
While the financial and legal interests as to the underlying facts and law are the same, the liability carrier and the Archdiocese have very different interests when it comes to public relations. The Archdiocese needs to present itself (whether it understands this or not is a good question) as a model of rectitude, or at least repentence. The insurer just wants to make the plaintiffs jump through every hoop it can possibly put up, in the hope that they will miss one. It is an age-old problem, and one that has never really been satisfactorily dealt with. As long as the real party in interest is the liability carrier, it will continue. That is the reason behind the Archdiocese's Shanley Stall. It makes it more understandable, but does not help the public relations aspect of it one bit.
Well, at least the two brief blogs I wrote this morning were not lost. Blogger is publishing, for now, but slowly. Don't be surprised if it goes down again. But now I notice the YACCS comments are down. If it's not one thing...
TownHall.com carries Jonah Goldberg's column today. He has it just right, I think, on the sniper/al Qaeda connection. It may not be, but if it is, it would not surprise anyone.
I know there are reports that the suspect in the sniper case is an "olive-skinned man," which fits in nicely with the argument that this is an al Qaeda operation. But before we jump to that conclusion, let us remember that these witnesses only saw the shooter, if the reports are correct, from a distance. People of Spanish, Greek, Italian, Portugese, maybe even French descent could be described as "olive-skinned."
A cautionary tale is helpful. On the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr, in his understandable anger and distress at the bombing, immediately branded the perpetrators "rag heads." Aside from the fact that the term is offensive and should not have been used at all (at least on the air), it turned out that the perpetrators were Americans, and not Moslems at all. So before we convict al Qaeda of this series of evil deeds (which admittedly they are perfectly capable of) let's find out a little more.
Whether this guy is al Qaeda or not, he is a terrorist. It would be very fitting if a legally armed citizen took him out at the scene of his next terroristic attack, both showing the efficacy of an armed citizenry, and perhaps showing al Qaeda that we are not a population of sheep to be harvested at their whim. Some of us can defend ourselves.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Shannon O'Brien, wholly-owned subsidiary of the public employee unions, has pledged to sign legislation legalizing civil unions in Massachusetts. One of the best reasons I have heard to vote for Mitt Romney for governor.
The Diocese of Brooklyn is being sued by 40 adults who claim they were abused by various priests between 1960 and 1984. Bishop Thomas Daily is named as a defendant. The Globe has more details here.
James Robbins, writing in National Review On Line, speculates that the sniper is an al Qaeda operative. Some things fit, and some things don't. But whoever he is, by disrupting life around the nation's capital in a time of war, he is furthering al Qaeda's objectives.
Talk Radio and television news have gone over board on sniper coverage. Whether this bastard is al Qaeda or not, this is just what he wants. The media is spreading terror and threatening to shut down suburban Washington, just as they did with the anthrax attack last fall. Where is the phlegm that Londoners showed the Luftwaffe during the much more deadly Blitz? Where is the determination to get on with normal life?
My advice to area residents? Pack heat. When you hear a shot, hit the dirt and return fire. Oops. They can't do that because they live in a part of the country with excessively restrictive gun laws, so they are basically unarmed in the face of this attack. Too bad. Scum like this don't take pot shots at people if they might be shot back at by 4-5 other people.
This holiday weekend was a poor time for foliage viewing. The weather was rainy and dismal until Monday. It is perhaps a good thing that our foliage is about a week behind schedule. Peak color is now just in northern New England. There is just moderate color in central New Hampshire, where we usually go, and coastal Maine. We still only have low color here in eastern Massachusetts. The maples in front of our windows are still green. Look for the peak in central New Hampshire next weekend, and in Massachusetts in about 10-14 days. So, if you didn't get to leaf-peep this Columbus Day weekend, you can still catch some nice color.
Our friends, cousins, and allies in Australia have suffered a tremendous loss in the bombing in Bali. Fox News reports that 200 Australians are still unaccounted for.
Every city and town in Australia appears to have people among the dead and injured. It is possible that on a per capita basis, Australia's losses on October 12, 2002 were greater than the US' losses on September 11, 2001. Two Americans are known to have been killed in the blast. This was very much an al Qaeda operation.
Monsignor Tony Doherty asked the congregation at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Sydney for prayers.
"Today the massive face of human tragedy has shown itself in our nation and in our city in a quite unprecedented way," Doherty said. "During these times of desperate uncertainty, when reports of the mayhem that is Kuta are confused and indefinite, we as a group in Sydney gather and pray with those who have members of their families and people they love traveling in Bali."
Prime Minister Howard is quoted thus:
"The word 'terrorism' is too antiseptic an expression to describe what happened. It's too technical, it's too informal. What happened was barbaric, brutal mass murder without justification."
Some Australians claim that their government's close ties to Washington are the cause of the attack. But they are wrong. Austalians vacationing in Bali were targeted because they are civilized European Christians. The entire West is engaged in a titanitc struggle with Islamo-fascist barbarism that loves nothing better than killing non-Moslems. They won't stop until we exterminate them, or there is an Islamic Republic of Australia. Time to get back to work on the former objective.
Our prayers and support reach out to the people and government of Australia in this time of loss at the hands of barbarians. May the souls of the departed rest in peace, and may the injured be all brought to speedy and complete recovery.
The Wasington Times thinks that control of the Senate is within the grasp of the Republican Party. But they are not reckoning on a loss in New Hampshire, which now seems probable. Also these polls don't factor in the last minute, "I'll vote for the woman," female vote we have seen in recent elections, which make even a 5-6 point lead untenable on Election Day for a male Republican if he faces a female Democrat. Shaheen should be helped by that, and Carnahan may be.
I can publish anything I want, but can't edit things for the time being. 'Tis better to have blogged and erred, than never to have blogged at all.
The crew of a Saudi airliner departing Sudan had to overcome an armed passenger who tried to hijack the flight. All 185 passengers and 19 crew were safe. This comes at a time when al Qaeda is mounting a series of attacks against a variety of targets across the world. The Boston Globe carries the AP wire story here.
This past Sunday, American historian Stephen Ambrose died on cancer at the age of 66. Ambrose in the last decade has been nothing if not prolific, though some of that high volume of output was made possible by unattributed paraphrasing of other sources. I first encountered Ambrose as a long-haired talking head on the excellent late 1960s mini-series The World At War. As the hair implied, at the time Ambrose was a left-of-center academic. His biographies of Eisenhower and Nixon were mostly unsympathetic. I had to read his The Rise To Globalism in my Diplomatic History class in college. One of his core ideas was that American racism and inordinate fear of communism inspired US foreign policy. That was fairly standard left-wing drivel of the time.
But Ambrose evolved to some extent. His work with World War II veterans took hold and re-directed his priorities. His proudest achievement was the foundation of the D-Day Museum, of which he was an early public advocate. He continued to work for the World War II Memorial. His greatest successes were D-Day, Pegasus Bridge, Band of Brothers, Undaunted Courage (a rare foray outside the 20th century),Citizen Soldiers, and Wild Blue. The last three were published in the last decade or so of his life.
During the last year, Ambrose was published in National Review, indicating something of a change of perspective. This summer, as he was struggling to complete a final work, his sloppy research and attribution habits became a public scandal in which he received much justified criticism.
But Ambrose will be remembered as the voice of the World War II veteran. In the popular mind anyway, he will be remembered as a StudsTerkel-like documenter of oral history, telling the story of the ordinary GI. He did much good in popularizing World War II scholarship. It is somewhat ironic that he died a couple of weeks before the release on DVD and VHS of the miniseries based on his book Band of Brothers.
Requiescat in pace.
FrontPage Magazine takes down Pat Buchanan's new rag today. Robert Locke tells us Buchanan and crew are out of their minds on Iraq. Ronald Radosh tells the Buchananites to wake up. If you find yourself agreeing with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Susan Sontag, Alec Baldwin, Barbra Streisand, etc. about anything, you are wrong.
Anglo-American comic genius P.G. Wodehouse was born on this date in 1881. It is time to come out of the closet: I am a huge P.G. Wodehouse fan, who has idled away many a summer afternoon with a Jeeves and Bertie Wooster novel. With their hyperactive combination of British public schoolboy slang and Hollywood and Vaudeville patois, and their manic pace, the idiotic adventures of Bertie, Freddie Widgeon, Bingo Little, "Barmy" Fotheringay (pronounced Fungy)-Phipps, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeleine Basset, Aunt Agatha and Aunt Dahlia, and, of course, the ever-present Jeeves, delight the heart and calm the mind. I was first introduced to Wodehouse's works via the Freddie Widgeon short story Goodbye To All Cats in high school. I was hooked from that moment.
But Jeeves and Bertie are just a part of the cast of characters that Wodehouse gave us. Ukridge, Mr. Mulliner, Lord Emsworth, and Psmith are not to be forgotten by anyone who delights in the English language. Jeeves and Wooster are just the most famous of Wodehouse's creations, in part due to the excellent adaptations by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie aired on PBS a few years ago. Wodehouse wrote almost 100 short novels (you can breeze through most of them in less than a day) as well as plays and screen plays and many, many short stories.
As a British subject, he was interned by the Nazis during World War II, and made some innocuous broadcasts for them, which caused some hard feelings in post-war Britain, though he said nothing in favor of Nazism or against Britain or the US. He settled on Long Island after the war and continued his astonishing literary production. He was knighted about a year before he died in the mid 1970s.
Need an antidote to a troubling and worrisome world? Treat yourself to a novel by Wodehouse. Sit back, relax, and let the inspired nonsense rule for a short time. You will be back for more. Check out this portal to enter the on-line world of P.G, Wodehouse.
Today the Church honors one of the great saints of the Carmelite order, Saint Theresa of Avila. Born in Avila in 1515, Theresa was precocious in her sancity. She showed evidence of desiring martyrdom at the hands of the Moors as a child. Denied that, she set up a hermitage on the family property. In 1534, she took her vows at the Carmel at Avila and found the order rather lax (visitors could be entertained in the nuns' cells). For some years, she tried to tread a middle path, but became convinced that she owed God her whole attention. From that time on, her life consisted of prayer, suffering, apparitions of Christ, and other ecstasies.
In 1562, she set out to reform the order by purging it of secular influence. She set up reformed Carmels throughout Spain. With the help of Saint John of the Cross, and Father Jerome Gratian, her reforms were spread to the entire order. She died at the Carmel at Alba in 1582. She is now one of the most admired of the saints. The Carmelite order owes her a great debt for her reform.
Father Roger Jacques, pastor of St. Joseph parish in Waltham, has been suspended from priestly duties by the Archdiocese of Boston until sex abuse charges from an incident which occurred 20 years ago, but has just become known, are investigated. The Boston Herald has the details here.
Thanks to Matt Drudge for the link. If you are shocked at the circumstances of this young London girl, 16 years old and pregnant 10 times in the last 4 years, don't be. It is only what is to be expected when religious values are taken out of the process of education. Liberals will argue that she grew up deprived of material advantages and was a victim of abuse. They will lament that she could not afford condoms, which would have made all right, or at least prevented pregnancy.
But the greatest abuse she suffered was not sexual, but the deprivation of her natural moral upbringing through a relentlessly secular education in the London schools. Traditional Christian values included in her education would have taught her (and her family before her; she was abused, presumably by a member of her family or her mother's connections) the value and desirability of chastity, the sacred value of innocent life, and self-respect. A poor education through indifferent state schools, where punching time clocks and obeying union rules mean much more than stimulating a love of learning and a life of the mind, deprived her of her last opportunity to find value in her existence apart from the role of community sex toy.
When liberals see stories like this, it is like manna from Heaven for them. Their basic approach to all is more. More government money spent on condoms, more public money spent on education (if possible directly to union coffers so they can help fund commercials for liberal candidates for office), more power for the teachers unions, more public service announcements, more government involvement in education, more moral and cultural relativism, more secular approaches to education, are the liberals' pat answers for situation like this. This is a great shining example, they will argue next time public money is being divided, of the need for more spending that benefits them. It would never occur to them that their influence in education is the cause of stories like this. They are why parents who can escape their malign influence are doing so through home schooling.
Monday, October 14, 2002
I am not quite sure what to think about the proposed new mysteries to the rosary. A significant part of me says, "Why can't they just leave something that has been around for 900 years alone?". We are not dogs who need to put our mark on everthing we see. On the other hand, I have often considered the rosary as it exists skewed towards the beginning and end of Jesus Christ's life on earth, with a big gap in which his ministry was not even touched upon. He has the words of everlasting life, but the rosary has never had anything to say about the milestones in His ministry. This change makes the Rosary more Christ-centered, which in my view is a good thing. One could easily add two sets of five mysteries to cover His ministry.
So while I don't like the idea of tying this to the Holy Father's 24th anniversary, which I think makes it too personal a connection, adding these mysteries is a good idea. I hope this move will inspire more devotional meditation and art directed towards Christ's ministry. That is where it belongs.
With a string of new terror attacks across the globe, one must ask if this is part of a coordinated al Qaeda offensive, or whether local operatives been given the green light to do what they can against American and Western interests. This is a summary of recent attacks:
*A sniper has been terrorizing Metropolitan Washington for the last ten days, killing 8 in 10 seperate shootings. Cities, towns, and roadways in and around the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland have been in a state of near panic for a week. Even if this is not an al Qaeda operation, it is certainly working to that organization's advantage.
*A massive bomb blast in Bali, Indonesia, killing at least two Americans, and a number of Aussies, Brits, Dutch, and Germans. At least 188 are accounted dead already. Indonesian officials have declared this to be an al Qaeda operation.
*A bombing at a bus stop in a city in the southern Philippines, killed 6. It is in an area where Moslem terrorists have been active in the recent past.
*A grenade attack by two men on motorcycle on a Christian church in Pakistan.
*Stepped-up attacks against the Russians in Chechnya by Moslem seperatists known to be linked to al Qaeda.
*An attack on a French-flagged oil tanker off Yemen that nearly sank the ship. US and French officials have determined that this was a terrorist attack.
*A shooting that killed two American soldiers engaged in military exercises in Kuwait by two individuals who seem to have had ties to al Qaeda.
*A shooting at a Hindu temple in Western India by unknown assailants, probably Moslems.
*Al Qaeda's Palestinian allies have begun new suicide/homicide bombings in Israel.
*Bin Laden's voice on an audio cassette promising more attacks on the US that will fill us with fear and cut our economic lifeline. There is a rumor that al Jezeera has a videotape of bin Laden for release this week. Bin Laden has a history of surfacing around the time major terrorist attacks take place.
Whether is is all a coordinated offensive is not clear. There does not seem to be a strategic or tactical goal behid the attacks taken as a whole, except the shooting of the American servicemen in Kuwait, the atack on the French tanker, and possibly the sniper shootings. These seemto be directed against the US and its ability to wage war against the Iraqi allies of al Qaeda. The other attacks are not related to one another in a way that contributes to a concrete goal. The only goal most of this has is to spread terror generally. But as Victor Davis Hanson has pointed out, al Qaeda does not necessarily operate along the lines of Western linear strategic thought. Perhaps just making its odious presence felt worldwide is enough for it. We should continue exterminating it as it shows itself.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Back in September, I did warn you that I would be blogging very lightly this holiday weekend. This is the peak of the foliage in New Hampshire and parts of Vermont and Maine. Sadly the weather has been dismal and rainy for two days. I should be able to get in a few comments tomorrow. I will certainly have something to say about the death and career of historian Stephen Ambrose, the Bali terrorist bombing, theGlobe article on lay responses to the Scandal, and anything else that comes up.
But I would be remiss if I did not note the birthday of one of the great world leaders of the last half century. Margaret Baroness Thatcher turned 77 today. Her firm leadership mirrored Ronald Reagan's here in the States, and in some ways paved the way for him. She took on the leftist unions, and broke their power. She stared down the IRA/Sinn Fein terrorists, and held them at bay. She cut taxes, controlled the money supply carefully, fought back against the Argentines in the Falklands, and was a dependable and steady voice for liberty, and Western preparedness and strength in the monumental and successful final phase of the clash of civilizations with the Bolshevik tyranny. She served longer than any 20th century British prime minister. In the end, she was not turned out by the British people, but by a cabal of very small men in her own party. She served Her Majesty, the Conservative Party, the British people, and the West magnificently.
Lately, she has been the voice of one crying in the wilderness, warning Britain of too close an entanglement with Europe. Sadly, her speaking voice has been stilled by several minor strokes within the last year. Her book, Statecraft, was published this year. Verus Ratio hopes that she will continue to be a beacon for liberty and the true interests of Britain and the cause of Western Civilization, at least through the written word, for years to come.
Would that the Republican Party could recruit some women with her grit and views to run for the Senate, and maybe more. But sadly, Margaret Thatchers are as valuable and rare as Ronald Reagans and John Paul IIs.