Friday, January 17, 2003

Speaking of England
Everyone should see this outrage, which John Derbyshire at National Review On Line's The Corner, told us about. Tony Martin is a political prisoner held for protecting his property from intruders. In many US states, he would not have been charged. In many others, the prosecutors would have allowed him to cut a pleas deal. In others he would not have been convicted. In still others, he would not have done time. There is no showing, as fair as I can see that Martin was familiar with the intruder, and that there was any sort of pre-existing personal malice involved. This was defense of Martin's home, and perhaps of his very life.

In August 1999, English farmer Tony Martin shot dead a burglar who had broken into the isolated farmhouse where Martin lived. Martin was convicted of murder, later reduced to manslaughter. His bid for parole was just turned down. The parole board gave the following reasons for turning down Martin's request. (1) He is "a danger to burglars." (2) He is "not up to speed with the 21st century" and thinks that "things were better 40 years ago." (3) He has refused to feign remorse. I have not made this up.

Derb also dug up information on an address to write Martin, and a website of a support organization.

To send cards & letters of support to jailed English farmer Tony Martin--the one refused parole because he is "a danger to burglars," the address is: Tony Martin, c/o H.M. Prison, Highpoint South, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 9YG, England. There is a support group with a website here. Martin got over 7,500 Christmas cards.

A Blogger Fired for Blogging
Iain Murray of the superbly named Edge of England's Sword blog has been fired for blogging on company time. Iain says he had permission from his prior supervisor to blog. He did not take as much time as smokers did with their breaks. His new supervisor gave him no warnings of disciplinary proceedings. At times like this, when companies are looking for reasons to lighten the payroll, this can happen. But I hope Iain finds new work quickly. May the Edge of England's Sword grow sharper yet. Isn't it a shame we don't get paid for what we produce?

Just A Reminder
A short piece I did last year that no one seems to be interested in publishing.

Last night, one of those unusual occurrences that grabs the attention happened in our house. Another age might have called them miracles, or feared them as omens. The fact that this took place on the eve of Ascension Thursday might have been seen as full of meaning and dread. But to us, they are just gentle reminders that God abides within the Catholic home and family. We can explain these circumstances, and therefore have lost our fear of them. But even with our scientific knowledge, we know that the Lord works through science, sometimes in ways that astonish.

There is nothing at all unusual about the crucifix in our bedroom. It is fairly large for an item of devotion for the home, but not so large as is customarily used in church. The cross is wood, black in color, 28 inches high. The Corpus is about a foot tall made, I believe, of some form of plaster, in an off-white pallor, representing Christ dead upon the cross (His side has already been pierced, though "blood" still flows from the wounds of His hands, feet, and side). The "INRI" is also made of the same whitish plaster, and is fairly elaborate, as if a fancy scroll was unrolled and nailed up over the head of the Lord.

The crucifix has been in my possession as long as I can remember. I think it was a baptismal gift from my Irish grandmother. I've had it, then, for almost 38 years. I believe she had owned it, and another similar one that I disposed of after my uncle's death 9 years ago, for some years before she gave it to me. It is probably at least 50 years old. It may even have come with her from Ireland (she came to this country in 1922). During my ownership, it has always hung in my bedroom.

I can't say that I have always taken the best care of it. It has a crack or two, and a few chips here and there. One of the cracks I can account for- my move to Salem 41/2 years ago. Once every few years, I have attacked it with a feather duster around Palm Sunday, when I would change the palm tucked between the Corpus and the cross. When I got married almost three years ago, my wife gave it a thorough cleaning, astonishing me by showing how white the Corpus actually was (I had thought it was naturally a sort of brownish grey). She was fairly disgusted by how much grime I had allowed to accumulate on it. What can I say, except that I was a bachelor?

The style of this crucifix was once popular among pious Irish families. It is not nearly as painfully graphic a representation of Christ's suffering as one would see in the Escorial. Irish piety has tended over the millennia not to stress the pain of the Christian experience as much as the Spanish have. After all, the original conversion of Ireland was accomplished with very little martyrdom. The Church in Spain was persecuted under the Roman Empire at the time of its first conversion. Spain later had to be won back to the Faith with a long and bloody struggle. Ireland has had its tribulations since then, but then so has Spain. There is no anguish on the Lord's face in my crucifix. He is at peace, and has sagged down upon the pedestal to which His feet are nailed (which is plaster painted to resemble wood).

Few people hang such crucifixes today. Heck, almost no one in my generation hangs a crucifix in the home at all. If a crucifix is hung in the Catholic home today, it is usually a smaller one. Christ is often depicted now in His risen appearance, robed and triumphant, even upon the cross, as if Easter happened without Good Friday. People don't want to be reminded of even the amount of pain the Irish were willing to embrace, let alone the emotionally disturbing agony the Spanish depicted with reverence. Representations of the crucified Lord are often now monochromatic, often silver or gold colored, rather than realistic. It is symbolic of how far we have distanced ourselves from the painful experiences of life and faith, how little we are willing to tolerate suffering. The agony of the cross is embarrassing to us today. It vaguely reminds us that often we do not get our way, but must accept unpleasantness for a greater good. Very few in our selfish world want to do that, or be reminded that it is sometimes necessary.

I should not imply that I have always shown the crucifix its proper reverence. My wife did clean it up some years ago, as I said. We have revived the custom of veiling the crucifixes and saints' images in our house with purple cloth during Lent. If I don't make it to Stations on a Lenten Friday, I sometimes read them silently kneeling before it. And the palm is switched out every year. Maybe once or twice a year, I glance up at it and am reminded of Christ's sacrifice for my benefit (among others). But most of the time, the crucifix is just hanging there. I am ashamed to admit that I don't make any particular effort to pray before it. I usually pray silently, with my eyes shut, and facing whichever way I happen to be oriented.

But last night the crucifix caught my attention rather dramatically. My wife and I had said goodnight and turned out the light. Lately I have been falling asleep before finishing my prayers. Last night, just to get through my prayers before becoming oblivious to the cares of the world, I sat up on the side of the bed, facing the crucifix. For some reason, before reaching for my glasses (without which, especially in the dark, everything beyond a foot from my face is blurry almost beyond recognition), I opened my eyes. Just as my hand touched my glasses, something caught my attention.

The Corpus was glowing.

I blinked a few times, and focused my eyes on it, expecting the glow to disappear. It didn't. I watched it intently for what seemed like 2-3 minutes, but was probably closer to 30 seconds. How curious, I thought, that the ambient light would make the Corpus glow. I almost dismissed it and got into bed, but thought better of it. After watching it for a about another minute, and looking around to see if a beam of light was shining on the crucifix, I decided I was not imagining it, and that it was worth calling my wife's attention to. I wanted to know if she saw it as well.


"What?", she asked sleepily. She had almost fallen asleep.

"Sorry to disturb you, but I'd like you to look at something. Don't turn on the light."

She sat up and asked what she was supposed to see in the dark.

"Please look at the crucifix."

A brief hesitation.

"It's glowing."

OK. We are either in mass delusion territory, or something odd is going on. At least I'm not cracking up alone.

We both looked at it for a while. Eventually, we both got up, and walked up to the crucifix. The Corpus was indeed glowing. Oddly, the "INRI" wasn't glowing, though made of the same plaster.

"Has it ever done that before?"

"Not that I've ever noticed."

She walked to the windows, to see if light was somehow coming through the crack between the curtains. It was, but was not shining on the crucifix. Holding them closed had no effect on the glow. The door to the bedroom was open, as we have no children, so that the cat can come and go as he pleases without scratching on the door. But the entire floor was dark. Even the computer monitor in the study next door was off. There was a red glow from the power strips in the study, but the glow on the Corpus was greenish. A small green light showed from the keyboard, but was too small to be causing the whole Corpus of the crucifix in the next room (15 feet away) to glow.

We turned on the light to see if it had any effect. Once the room was bathed in light, we couldn't see a glow. Once we shut the light off, we could see that the Corpus was still glowing.

We sat on the side of the bed, and looked at it for a few seconds. Just as the mind had begun to move beyond curiosity to mystical explanations, reason reasserted itself. Hers, not mine.

" I think it's the new lighting."

Oh yeah, the lighting. Last weekend, I switched out the soft white bulbs for the new energy-saving twisty bulbs, the kind that use 15 watts of electricity, but supposedly give off as many lumens as a 60 watt soft white bulb (actually, I find them slightly dimmer). They are fluorescent. The bedroom overhead light, with two of those bulbs, had been on for hours before we went to bed. Never before has the crucifix been in a room with fluorescent lighting.

Neither a miracle, nor an omen. Just the unexpected effect of fluorescent lighting on old plaster. Why did the Corpus glow, but not the "INRI"? Probably because of its smaller size, and because it doesn't have the greenish tinge that the Corpus has. Our minds set at ease by the explanation, we rolled over, and went to sleep. This morning (I wake up around 4:30, when it is still quite dark), the glow was gone. Checking the label on the back, I found that it is a "Luminous Crucifix", which is supposed to glow when exposed to light. Apparently, it needs sunlight or fluorescent light to become luminous. It has never glowed before that I ever noticed. I must have known at some point that the crucifix was supposed to glow. My wife, who saw the back of the crucifix last probably knew this at one time, too. We had just forgotten it, since it had never glowed before.

Though the glow was perfectly natural, I concluded before falling asleep that it was a small reminder of Christ's continuing presence among us, of His special concern for the Christian family and home. Not dramatically, with trumpets, but with a gentle nudge, Christ reminded us of His presence, and the efficacy of His guidance. The physical world exists through Him. He doesn't need a dramatic miracle to recall us to our duty to worship and pray.

He may also have intended to remind me to clean the crucifix again. I'll start that now.

Jonah Goldberg Points To Something Andrew Sullivan Unearthed
"There is on the one hand the America of the New Deal, of Jimmy Carter, and even, more or less, of George Herbert Bush [sic] ... But there exists today as well … a second America… a troubled and disturbing America, where pluralism is above all a mask for special interests, a Christian America (Ashcroft), bursting with revolvers (Cheney), arrogant (Rumsfeld), imperial (William Kristol), racist (Trent Lott), opportunist (Condi Rice), partisan (Karl Rove), the America of spying and denunciation (Poindexter), of conspiracy (Elliot Abrams) ... of a rotten Enron-style capitalism, of the unlimited death penalty — the America, in a word, of George W. Bush. This symbolically Texan and overweeningly aggressive America wants war, cheap oil, and, incidentally, the crushing and total humiliation of the Palestinians: in a word imperial domination in its purest form. A short-sighted nationalism and capitalism, which scorn the have-nots, are its raison d’être ... Europe, sooner or later, will have to separate itself from the new America ... The fact that America, the eldest daughter of the Enlightenment, has become 'a threat to itself and the entire world,' as Anatol Lieven explained a few weeks ago in an article for The London Review of Books, is a very worrisome reversal of affairs." - Patrice Higgonet, professor of French history at Harvard University, quoted in the French paper, Liberation, January 3.

It would be hard to find anti-American leftism more concisely represented anywhere. As Jonah points out, a Harvard professor of French History. Perfect.

Kerry the First Mass. Pol To Officially Reject Church Guidelines
Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link. The Boston Globe, which seems to be sluggish updating on Fridays, had nothing on this on the Boston.com site as of a few minutes ago.

Watch the parade of liberal Democrats reject the teachings of the Church to win the favor of NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, CFFC, etc. Too bad Bruskewitz is not the Archbishop of Boston now. We would have some much-needed excommunications.

Saddam: US "Will Be Defeated At Gates of Baghdad"
Yesterday was the twelfth anniversary of the start of the "mother of all battles." Mother of All Routs is more like it. The use of chemical or biological weapons aside, this effort will be even easier. Whistling past the graveyard is one of Saddam's favorite pastimes. Tweaking the tail of tiger about to devour you is what passes for bravado in the Moslem world.

Saddam will not accept exile. He knows that after a year or two, his Arab benefactors would have him quietly done away with if he did accept their hospitality or protection somewhere in Africa. It would be just as he did unto Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who had accepted Iraqi proctection and was murdered by Saddam's agents last year in Baghdad (a suicide with 5 bullet wounds).

Partial Birth Abortions Up 300%
The survey from the Alan Gutmacher Institute released earlier this week also indicated that the number of partial birth abortions has increased by 300% from four years ago.
So, while the number of surgical abortions overall are declining, the most heinous practice, which equates with infanticide to even the most detached observer, is soaring. The legacy of Bill Clinton, who protected the barbarous practice.

Big Dig Milestone
This weekend, a 21/2 mile tunnel connecting the Massachusetts Turnpike and Logan Airport will open. It only cost about a half milion dollars per foot. And, because of the heavy federal aid for the project, we all paid for it.

On January 17, 1781, a small American army led by General Daniel Morgan defeated a small British army under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.

The appointment of Nathaniel Greene to command the Southern Department of the Continental Army after Horatio Gates disastrous defeat at Camden at the hands of Lord Cornwallis, the British commander in the South, changed the face of American strategy. Cornwallis after Camden had been on the offensive, rapidly gaining tenuous control over South Carolina. Instead of directly confronting Cornwallis as Gates had done, Greene decided to play Fabius to Cornwallis' Hannibal. He would play cat and mouse with Cornwallis and avoid major battles. Guerilla fighters like Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and General Pickens would harass and wear down Cornwallis by attacking his line of supply and communications and his isolated garrisons, while terrorizing loyalists into inaction. In January, he took the unusual step of dividing his force in the face of a superior enemy, and gave Daniel Morgan about nine hundred militia, continentals, and cavalry. Cornwallis divided his force too, and sent the impetuous and fairly ruthless cavalry officer Tarleton with some of the best light troops in his army, a total of about a thousand including two light six pounder cannon, after Morgan.

Morgan fled before Tarleton, but at Hannah's Cowpens, with his back to a river, he stopped and waited for Tarleton. Morgan had a plan. He would arrange his force in two lines. The militia would hold a first line, with instructions to fire two rounds at the advancing British, and withdraw in good order. The continentals would hold a firm line to the rear, behind the crest of a hill. Morgan had his cavalry on both flanks in reserve.

Tarleton came up to Morgan's position after a forced night march. His force consisted of the light companies of three British regiments, his own loyalist force called the British Legion (a mixed force of light cavalry and infantry), a badly under-strength battalion of Fraser's Highlanders (71st Regiment of Foot), and the single battalion of the 7th (or Royal Fusileers) Regiment of Foot, which consisted of new recruits on their first service. Had any of the units under Tarleton been at authorized strength, he would have had more than 3,000 men. But so many British units had been detached to hold lines of communications, and recruits and replacements so few and far between, that he could muster less than a third of the forces he might have. The two gun crews completed Tarleton's force. Despite the state of his men, tired after a night's forced march, Tarleton did not give them a rest. He did not use his artillery to bombard (and demoralize) the militia. He had his force deploy into line directly from the route march column, and sent them headlong at the American line.

Morgan's militia did what was asked of them. They took a serious toll of Tarleton's force (many were backwoodsmen and veterans of the fight at King's Mountain the previous autumn, and were, unlike New England militia, were armed with accurate, if slow-loading, rifles). Then they withdrew in decent order. Seeing them withdraw, Tarleton sent his reserves in.

The continentals held firm. The militia rallied and put presure on Tarleton's flank. Then Morgan's cavalry struck the flanks of Tarleton's force. Tarleton allowed himself to be Cannaed. The half-trained 7th gave up. The Legion's infantry fled. Fraser's Highlanders, abandoned by their comrades, were cut down where they stood. Tarleton and some of his cavalry tried a counter charge to allow the rest of the army to rally, but were turned back by Morgan's cavalry under William Washington (a cousin of George Washington). The guns were abandoned. Tarleton eventually made it back to Cornwallis' army with a band of not more than 300 fugitives. American casualties had been less than 200.

The American victory was quite a jolt to Cornwallis, and a boost to American public opinion. The years 1779 and 1780 had not been a good one for the American cause. The loss at Camden was joined by mutinies in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey regiments of the Continental Army, and the treachery of Benedict Arnold. The new American states were near financial collapse. The French alliance had not yet born fruit, as the joint American-French attack on the British garrison at Savannah had been a disaster. Another joint operation aimed at Newport, Rhode Island had similarly failed in 1778.

By his impetuousity Tarleton not only crippled Cornwallis' ability to know what Greene was up to, but encouraged Greene to greater boldness by materially altering the balance of forces in the south. With a slight numerical superiority, a 100% superiority in artillery, a leavening of good experienced troops, a set piece engagement on open terrain should have resulted in at least a tactical victory for "Butcher" Tarleton. Properly handled, his troops should have won. But the cavalryman was too impetuous to wait and prepare a victory. Because of the forces Tarleton lost at Cowpens, Cornwallis had to fight at Guilford Courthouse two months later at a significant numerical disadvantage, and won only a bloody tactical victory.

Cowpens, such a little-known battle, has had an interesting film career. In the Alan Alda comedy ( I know, but guys I know from re-enacting were extras) Sweet Liberty, it is the battle the Alda character wrote about. In The Patriot, it is the climactic battle, though Cornwallis and Nathaniel Greene were not present in real life, and the Tarleton (renamed Tavington, and played very well by Jason Issacs) character is killed in the movie.

In real life, Tarleton was a man with a reputation. His father was a wealthy merchant, and intended his son for the law. But the American War broke out, and young Tarleton wanted a military career, not a legal one (like Patrick Ferguson, and John Simcoe (and, later as a re-enactor, G. Thomas Fitzpatrick). Jason Issacs also was trained as a lawyer, but opted for an acting career.

Tarleton boasted that he had killed more men, and lain with more women than any other officer of the British Army. London wits said the word "raped" ought to be substituted for "lain." Banastre Tarleton lived on, became a general and a member of Parliament, took up with the discarded mistress of the Prince Regent, and in 1808-1814, conspired to take over the command of the army in the Iberian Peninsula from Wellington. What a disaster that would have been!

Charles Krauthammer, in his column at TownHall.com, takes the Bush Administration to task for appeasing North Korea. Theoretically, I agree. but practically, until Saddam has been dealt with, what else is there to do. We lack the resources (and the political will from the South Koreans) to beef up our forces in the Korean Peninsula just now. Let us hope that the President is planning to deal with North Korea and force them to back down after Saddam Hussein is defunct. After Iraq, if any regime on earth needs to have the living snot beaten out of it, it is North Korea.

Negative Action
TownHall.com carries the syndicated columns of National Review Editor Rich Lowry on the ridiculousness of the goal of "diversity" in education (or the workplace), and National Review On Line Editor Jonah Goldberg on the University of Michigan quota system (he also touches on the sudden discovery of "diversity" as a justification for quotas). Michelle Malkin agrees, but reminds us that both Governor Bushes have pushed quota systems in the state colleges of Texas and Florida.

Cool Stuff Sold By Neat People
FrontPage Magazine is offering a tee-shirt for $15.00. It has a head-on view of an F-18 Hornet, and the motto, "Peace Through Superior Firepower."


Regime Change
Writing for today's FrontPage Magazine, Angelo Codevilla reminds us that Middle Eastern terrorist causes will continue no matter how many of their minions we round up or kill. To end the scourge, we need to efface from the globe the regimes that provide anything other than a quick bullet to terrorists.

Human causes are embodied, flourish and die, in regimes – leaders and institutions. Sacrifice for lost causes exists in novels more than in reality. Hence winning any war means defeating the enemy’s causes by doing away with the regimes that embody them.

The very existence of Arab anti American regimes inspires the persons who perform terrorist acts. Ridding any regime of its anti American causes is beyond our power. Trying to co-opt the causes of anti American regimes is counter productive. Nor can depriving a regime of “weapons of mass destruction” disable it from embodying and inspiring terrorism.

Once Nazi Germany was wiped out, Nazism was no longer a serious threat. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, communism lost its vitality. To get rid of Moslem terrorism, we need to replace the governments of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and any others that are not uniformly unsympathetic towards Moslem terrorism (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?).

The role of Saudi Arabia cannot be overstated:

Since then, mixing fear of radical Arabs with ever more contempt for the West, they have used some of the oil money to turn Wahabi Islam from a curio of the Arabian Desert into trouble for the world.

We should use them for our immediate ends, then be rid of them. One of the best ways to undermine Saudi Arabia is to wholeheartedly develop domestic oil production. Oil from Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, the waters off Florida, and the lands of "friendly" regimes like Russia (and Venezuala after the Chavez regime falls) should be used to the utmost to cut into Saudi profits and curb Saudi generosity to terrorists. This is a national security issue, not an environmental issue.

Speaking of Founding Fathers
Benjamin Franklin, not my favorite of the Founders, was born on this date in 1706. In his days as publisher of Poor Richard's Almanac, he said much that was useful, demonstrating by quaint aphorism the American urge to get ahead. His inventions were important. But in later years, his political judgment was quite faulty. On his staff as an ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War, he harbored what historians now know were two British spies, and defended them against the suspicions of John Adams. He let his image in France as a rustic American Voltaire (no great thing in my opinion) go to his head. His contributions to the constitutional convention were negligible. He ranks with Jefferson and Aaron Burr as one of my least liked Founders.

But happy 297th birthday nevertheless.

Deconstructing the Deconstructionists
Writing for FrontPage Magazine today, Erick Stakelbeck takes on two radical, race-obsessed historians and their efforts to undermine the public image of the father of our country.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Guidelines For Catholic Office Seekers
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued new guidelines reaffirming that Catholic office holders may not seperate their personal views on morality from how they vote on pro-life issues.
If some of our Democrat congressional delegation did more than circular filing such directives, the congressional balance on life issues would be substantially more favorable. In Massachusetts alone, the votes of Kennedy, Kerry, Markey, Tierney, Meehan, Capuano, etc. would be changed. But of course they will not be. When these people go on bended knee, it is to the leadership of NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, CFFC, not to the Holy Father.

Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.

Material Breach ?
UN weapons inspectors have found in "excellent condition" 12 warheads for 122mm rockets (rockets that have a range of under 30 km, tactical or grand tactical weapons) that are designed to deliver chemical or biological agents. Iraq has said that it destroyed all such warheads. It did not disclose the presence of these weapons in its "comprehensive" report. The warheads were found in a facility built in the late 1990s, and are of a type imported by Iraq in the late 1980s.

Obviously, if the UN found 12 such warheads, there are a great many more that Iraq has secreted.

If our troops are likely to find themselves in an NBC combat environment, I think the best option, though risky, is to take out the leadership of the Iraqi government and military in the first few seconds of a more comprehensive attack, leaving local units without national leadership. We might avoid sustained combat that way, and get a quick surrender. With Saddam, his top generals, and the leaders of his government liquidated in the first few minutes, there might be no need for extensive fighting at all.

Means are the issue. Missile strikes are a haphazard prospect. Command elements in hardened bunkers may survive the strike. Commando raids are costly in American lives, and could come up dry. You will recall that during the war in the Western Desert, the British Long Range Desert Group staged a commando raid to kill Rommel (the Keyes Raid). He was not at his headquarters at the time. Almost all the raiding party died. Saddam is known to move around a lot, and to have several look-alikes, as you may recall from 1991. Neither alternative is pleasant. But a staged set-piece offensive may mean lots of GIs having to fight in the cumbersome and questionable NBC gear in a hot climate.

Let us hope that our military leadership has a solution that will work and not be too costly.

God protect the members of our armed forces during the coming war.

Jonah Goldberg Has Lost It (Again)

British Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor In Trouble For (You Guessed It) Endangering Children With Abusive Priests
Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear about a Catholic bishop somewhere in trouble because he insists on pushing for immediate de-frocking of any priests he finds out have engaged in homosexual acts or abused anyone under 18?

Nasty, Sordid Stuff in the Martin Frankel Trial

The Devil In Mrs. B?
Frankly, I am not a big believer in demonic possession. Satan has so many more fruitful opportunities to lay snares for and tempt the faithful that I don't think he has much need of actually taking possession of an individual to perform parlor tricks (although, on a mass-scale, it could explain the existence of the Democrat Party). This is particularly true of a middle-aged wife and school teacher. The people who think they are possessed are mostly suffering from some sort of psychological disorder. Of course, psychological disorders are tools wielded by the devil for his purposes.

But a middle-aged Connecticut woman, who was refused an exorcism in 6 dioceses in three states, is protesting the absence of an exorcist in Connecticut (there are only 10 Catholic exorcists in the country, most of whom, I would imagine, are busy in California ministering to hysterics).

The (reasonable) position of the Hartford diocese on this one:

''People often have psychological problems when they think they're possessed by a demon, said the Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the Hartford archdiocese.

''I can tell you that exorcisms in church are rare, and before the church would jump to any conclusion, every logical call would be made to look for probable cause,'' Gatzak said

Let Us Hope the Democrats Remain Frustrated On This Front
Ann Coulter, in her column carried today at TownHall.com, discusses the Democrats' urgent need for a new terrorist attack they can blame on President Bush.

Bob Tyrell Plays Devil's Advocate (I Hope) on Medicating Kids
This quote is really good:

Just the other night, I attended "About Schmidt," a movie starring Jack Nicholson that was advertised as a movie that would make me laugh. It turned out to be a tedious regurgitation of all those novels beginning somewhere in the 19th century whose mission it was to lecture us on the mindlessness of middle-class life. Perhaps there is something to it. Perhaps middle-class life is mindless. All of the middle-class members of the audience sat in quiet reverence. I left halfway through. Had I been happily drugged, I might have stayed. Nicholson appeared to be happily drugged.

Victor Davis Hanson On the Anti-Americanism of Our "Elites"
FrontPage Magazine carries this important VDH piece, originally written for Commentary, in which he diagnoses the rampant anti-Americanism of our cultural "elites." Sadly, he sees no remedy for it. He ends with a wonderfully-worded comparison of the anti-Americanism of today with the ennui and lack of patriotic spirit of later Romans.

The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but of something happening within that was not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier Romans knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the alternative, and why their culture had to be defended. Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared.

Like Rome, our greatest enemy is not the barbarians on the borders, but the enervating and dispiriting influence of our own decadence. Over time, it will sap our will to deal with external threats. It is happening at an alarming rate.

VDH is always worth reading.

President Bush On Quotas
Fox News carries the text of President Bush's announcement that the Administration would oppose the racial quota system at the University of Michigan's Law School.

The Adminstration's decision is welcome news to liberty-loving Americans who believe that government (a state university in this case) ought not to impose burdens or bestow benefits on any of its citizens on the basis of race. I think this is the "neutral principle" that one can derive from the 14th Amendment based on the intentions of its framers and the evil they sought to remedy with the Amendment. I think the "color-blind" characterization of this neutral principle ought to be universally observed. Let the content of one's character, or better, the content of one's brain be the determining factor for hiring, promotions, government contracts, and admissions in both public and private institutions, not the color of one's skin.

Schultz On Current Crises
Donald Lambro, carried in today's Washington Times, discusses several foreign hot spots and the level of US commitments with President Reagan's Secretary of State, George Schultz.

France May Send Troops, Ships, Planes To the Persian Gulf
The French Ministry of Defense is preparing to send France's only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, and a mixed division of up to 15,000 troops, as well as up to 50 combat aircraft, mostly Mirage 2000 fighter bombers to the Persian Gulf. French policy seems to be to be prepared for war with Iraq, while officially opposing it. The Washington Times article had this interesting tidbit on French public opinion in 1991:

On the eve of the 1991 war against Iraq, 79 percent of the French were against it, but after the first air raids of the conflict made it clear the allies would win, polls showed that 67 percent supported military action.

By contrast, only 77% of Frenchmen oppose this war now, so it is relatively popular.

Most likely, the French will beg off from sending the ground troops, citing their current troop commitments in Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, and the Balkans. If the French naval forces are sent, they will cooperate with the British fleet currently en route.

Truth to tell, the US and the UK don't really need the French troops to get the job done. The US doesn't really need even Britain's direct help, though it is always good to have up-to-date experience fighting alongside the forces of our closest ally.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Odds & Ends
Kim Il Sung is still dead. Kim Jong Il is still insane.

Tests are underway at the postal facility that serves the Washington branch of the Federal Reserve for anthrax. Some items have tested postitive for anthrax, but authorities are not sure if it was a false positive or not.

At least 30 vials containing bubonic plague are missing from Texas Tech University Health Services in Lubbock, Texas. We don't know if they have been stolen or not.

Tom Daschle and the Senate Democrats are trying to pull a coup de etat. They want 51-49 funding and committee levels, when the norm has been that the majority party gets 2/3 of the funding.

U-Mass President, and fomer long-time Massachusetts Senate President Billy Bulger collapsed at the funeral of boyhood friend Will McDonough. Bulger's brother Whitey Bulger is a vicious Irish mafia killer who has been in hiding for 7 or more years and is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List right after Osama bin Laden. Billy Bulger is under subpoena from a congressional committee looking into the FBI's handling of mob informants and from plaintiffs in civil lawsuits.

San Francisco has re-classified pet owners as "pet guardians."

John Derbyshire at National Review On Line says the US is just posturing, and will not attack Iraq or depose Saddam, despite the fact that this kind of build-up without using it would be unprecedented (except for the Berlin Blockade).

The Gong Show is planning a comeback (among the many reasons I'm glad we don't watch TV programming).

I heard this briefly this morning at WBZ, but have not been able to find written confirmation anywhere. There was a report of a fire at the Sacred Heart parish, Malden rectory. I don't think anyone was hurt, but how much do you want to bet that my baptismal records went up in flames?

Any more cheery news, I'll be sure to pass it along.

Update: At least they found the bubonic plague vials.

Casting Suggestion For The Prisoner of Azkaban
While most of the speculation is on who will replace the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, there are a couple of other parts to fill for the third Harry Potter movie. Mrs. F. and I watched the A&E Ivanhoe the other night. Check it out and tell me that Roger Ashton-Griffiths, who played Prior Aymer, would not be perfect as Wormtail. By the way, I love Robert Hardy, but was he right for the part of Fudge? I tend to think of a less effective figure, like the 1930s British cabinet minister Sir Kingsley Wood. As for Dumbledore, I still prefer Ian McKellen or Peter O'Toole. I don't like the idea of Michael Gambon, which has been floated lately.

While we are talking about casting issues (though not Harry Potter) after watching the A&E Ivanhoe, tell me that Steven Waddington (Ivanhoe) should not have been cast as Jack Aubrey in the coming Master and Commander, instead of Aussie thug Russell Crowe.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Is due out June 21st. And it is long. If I heard the chap filling in for Paul Harvey today correctly, it is longer than the Goblet of Fire. J.K. Rowling seems to have been bitten by the same bug that got Tom Clancy. The symptom is the inability to produce a novel of under 400 pages. I am, nonetheless, looking forward to it, since The Goblet of Fire left us at a very interesting crossroads in the plot. Dumbledore is sure to be sacked from Hogwarts. Voldemort is back and sure to make his presence felt, with the help of the Death-eaters (and the Dementors?). I read the first four books a year ago, after seeing the first movie. It is not the greatest literature ever, but it is engaging.

North Korea Working on A Missile That Could Reach Alaska and Hawaii With a Nuke
Am I the only one tempted to do unto the North Koreans what Israel did to Iraq's nuclear program?

Surgical Abortions Down
A study by the Alan Gutmacher Institute says that the number of abortions had declined in 2000 from 1996. Massachusetts had a 26% drop in those four years. But we are probably only talking about surgical abortions. RU486 and similar drugs are probably taking up the slack. And even one abortion that is not required to save the life of the mother is too many.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, we have 22 more minutes of daylight now than we did on the first day of winter. In a month, we will have an additional hour and 9 minutes of daylight each day. But for now, the sun is still rising after 7:00 am and setting before 5:00 pm.

I Loved Gary Aldrich's Column This Morning
TownHall.com carries Gary Aldrich's column this morning. I loved Aldrich's take on the agenda of the homosexual movement. How do we fight back? Hire former Boy Scouts. Affirmative Action for Scouts says a lot. And you get a good employee in the bargain. And maybe the homosexual movement will get the message, so that the "love that dares not speak its name" but has since tended to never shut up may once again hold its tongue in public.

Glad To See People Taking Notice
There has been an elevated amount of discussion over the last few days of the deplorable tendency to medicate away the behavioural problems of children (especially boys). Today, Joel Mowbray discusses it in a column carried at TownHall.com. Last night, Michael Savage was deploring it on the radio. There was a news report featuring a study I did not quite catch last week on the topic. Accurate statistics are hard to find, but something between 5-10% of boys are probably currently on Schedule II drugs to control their behaviour. Shame on the doctors who are acting as pushers, and the parents who go along with it because it is easier.

People have to face the fact that rambunctious behaviour is natural, for boys especially. What boys need is firm discipline, the sort that only an active and intelligent father and mother, ready to swat a young behind while its owner is contemplating which trespass to commit, can administer. Rules, structure, order, immediate unpleasant consequences, and dispassionate justice must all be present in a child's upbringing. Parents who "can't control" their kids are not trying. They are using improper methods that have become all too prevelant since Doctor Spock. Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Dewey, and Spock were wrong, fundementally wrong in their view of human nature. Children are not little angels developing towards goodness naturally. Parents are not to just step back, keep the kid fed, clothed, and educated, and let the child's natural goodness grow.

Children are little barbarians who need to be curbed, brought to heel, instructed, and civilized before they are fit for civil society. They need strong, parentally-designed structures of family life, re-inforced by the more exacting teachings of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, to develop properly. Parents who do not understand this reality, or refuse to accept it, are not just doing their children a terrible disservice. They are damaging society as well. And the damage is not just the short term annoyance of having to deal with foul-mouthed, loutish teenagers hanging around, playing vile rap music, and making trouble. The damage also takes the form of those children, when they become parents (probably far too early and without benefit of marriage and family) not knowing how to properly bring up their children. Remember what Burke said about society being a contract between the living, the dead, and those not yet born? He was right. And his dictum applies to the family as well.

The goal of parents should be to form and to mold based on correct perceptions of the child's aptitudes, rather than to just let the child "be himself." Parents are not there to be the child's friend. They are there to guide his progress in life. It is a life-long task. It does not end when the 18 year-old heads off to college. The view that a parent's job is done on the kid's 18th birthday (whoopee, sell the big house, retire, and head for Florida!) is part of the cultural selfishness that says drugging the children when young so that they behave in class is acceptable.

Selfishness is the cardinal societal problem of the early 21st century. Yes, some people do spend time performing the corporal works of mercy on strangers. And that is not a bad thing. But the chief vocation of most adults is to be parents. And taking up that vocation selflessly and for life is antithetical to most of the trends in society. Ironically, some of those same families who are so quick to pack a sack of groceries or write a check for the local homeless shelter are harming their children by not living up to their vocation. They can do both. But they must tune out today's popular culture and pop-psychology to do the parenting job properly. The will to do that can be found in the Church's teachings and devotions, if you look hard enough and understand them properly. The key is understanding the parenthood is a vocation, not a hobby.

On a related topic, EWTN News cites CWNews.com report on a Canadian judge who is under fire for calling the selfishness of divorce, "abhorrent."
Judge Al Chrumka of the Provincial Court of Alberta told his courtroom that he finds it "abhorrent" for couples to have children and then refuse to find a way to avoid splitting up and damaging the children's lives irreparably. "That parties who decide to have children together should split for any reason is abhorrent to me," he said while sentencing a 25-year-old separated mother to 9 months' probation for locking her unattended children inside a car on a hot day.

The judge made the statement after both separated parents complained about the challenges of parenting during their testimony. He added, "They have a responsibility to the children and to each other to make sure, for whatever reason they may have gotten together, not to separate."

Hear that man. Couples who marry should stay together no matter what, even if the liberals in the Church give them the easy out of annulment. The broken homes that result from easy divorce are a major contributing factor in why children grow up without discipline and order in their lives. And just because it worked out for one or two couples does not make it any better. It is a terible prcedent for other married couples. Self-actualization is not the goal of life. Salvation is. Commitments to marry and stay married ought not to be broken. If that was the societal expectation, so many social pathologies, including drugging kids to make them behave, would fall away.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

K-Lo On the Invisible Line
Kathryn Jean Lopez' Crisis article on young people who leave the Church, and sometimes come back, is now available to nonsubscribers.

Homemade Bomb Discovered At Paris' Sacre Coeur Basilica
For information on Sacre Coeur, go here.

The Networks Have Pulled the Plug On the Voter News Service
Someone more effective will have to step up to give us election day exit polls. VNS failed miserably, but there is no excuse, in this day and age, to have to wait until 2:00 am or later to get election results.

Sheryl Crow Is Yet One More Blithering Idiot In the Entertainment Industry

The UN Inspectors Want 10 More Months
No. We'll have everything in place to rid the world of Saddam Hussein as the next stage of our war on Islamo-fascist terror in 5-7 weeks. Don't want to keep the lads waiting around in the desert interminably. It would be bad for morale. While we have the forces in place, we might as well use them to make the world a better place. World opinion? They will bleat! And they will get used to it after it is done. Undoubtably they will find many a useful bargain in free trade with the new Iraqi government.

Liberal Episcopal Tyranny
Ad Orientem's Mark Sullivan picked up on Adoremus' reporting of the edicts of Bishop Ryan of Monterey, CA to the effect that there is to be, in his diocese, no kneeling after the Agnus Dei and after Communion, and that all congregants must hold their hands up in the Orans position during the Opening Prayer, the Post Communion, and during the Eucharistic Prayer (I assume also during the Pater Noster). Mark poses an interesting question. What would you do if faced with a bishop mandating this nonsense? Oh it's the stuff of liberal liturgists' dreams. And most Catholics have an enormous capacity to absorb this stuff, like a baby taking his pap. Obedience to the local bishop, when the local bishop is at odds with edicts coming from Rome as well as at odds with the traditions of the Church? Or rebellion? Give me traditional practices, or give me the nearest Indult Mass!

Invalid Baptisms Performed In Quebec
A Quebec diocese has discovered that almost 300 babies were invalidly baptized because the laywoman officiating had the parents say a blessing while she poured water over the infants. Both have to be done by the same person. Priests usually learn how to properly baptize while they are in seminary. The more the Church has to depend upon laypeople to do these things, the more of these problems will surface, just because the laypeople, on the whole, will not be as disciplined and well-informed as someone who has been through the seminary process. Even a monster like Paul Shanley knows how to baptize properly. Though, I wouldn't want him around my children.

The Guilt of Abortion
Marvin Olasky, in a column carried at TownHall.com today, discusses the guilt caused by the act of abortion, and looks at a new book, From Conception To Birth. The thirtieth anniversary of the invention of a constitutional right to murder the unborn is next week.

The Whole Civilization Is a Giant Gomorrah
Rod Dreher, writing for today's National Review On Line, tells us that wholesale depravity, based on television, is rampant all over the country, even in the heartland, and has been for a while. Mrs. F. and I must have led rather sheltered lives. No sex toy parties here. We do use British-style crackers as party favors at Christmas, but they have just the usual joke, paper hat, and plastic trinket, no vibrators, sex cream, or wife-swapping manuals. With MTV, Sex In the City, and reality shows identified as leading the way to moral relativism and collapse, I mean to blog one of these days on why we don't watch TV, and haven't for over 5 years. But I have to be in the right mood for that essay.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Joe Lieberman Is Running For President
Cue the crickets.

Bishop Banks Tries To Justify the Unjustifiable
There is still room on my list of bishops who must go. If Banks keeps it up, he could make the top 5 the top 6.

The Queen Hospitalized For Knee Surgery
I sympathize with Her Majesty's problem.

Knee Progress
Well I can limp along, for a limited time. Stairs are a problem (and our townhouse is on the 3rd and 4th floors of our building). It is still very swollen, and needs ice every few hours. I keep it elevated most of the time. I can bend it to 90 degrees in a sitting position now, but not past 90 degrees. I have already started the most rudimentary of the rehab exercises, tightening the quad muscle and holding it for ten seconds. I will start more of the all-too-familiar rehab routine in the next few days.

North Korea Is Insane, But We Knew That Already
Bill Buckley has a good take on the North Korean situation in his column carried today on Townhall.com.

Joe Foss: American Hero
Oliver North today, in a column carried at TownHall.com offers a moving tribute to World War II ace, South Dakota Governor, and long-time NRA president Joe Foss, who died recently.

Plough Monday
Plough Monday was the official, if ceremonial and theoretical, back to work day after Christmas. It is always the Monday after Epiphany. This year, it falls rather late, as late as it can, in fact, because Epiphany itself was a Monday.

But was it really back to work? Accounts from the late medieval period indicate that ploughmen went from house to house with the plough collecting money to pay for a candle to burn in the local parish church year round-beside a plough (these were called plough lights). The idea is to obtain a blessing for the coming year's crops.

The ploughmen were decorated with ribbons and paint. As they went from house to house, in some places they collected not just money for the church's plough light, but food and drink in exchange for performing some sort of play, probably a rough Saint George and the Dragon. Do I need to spell out to my regular readers that this is yet one more New Year's luck visit ritual? Add it to the list: souling, trick-or-treat, wassailing, carolling, wren boys, John Canoe, Plough Monday. They sometimes also held plough races on this day. In 1848, the custom was described by a source quoted in today's Forgotten English calendar as "falling into desuetude."

Early January in northern Europe is no time to be ploughing fields, usually. The fields are often snow covered now. In fact, there was little to do except care for the livestock, have seeds ready, and prepare farm implements for use in the coming year. European winters are a little more temperate than ours in New England. By late February, when we are still buried in snow and it is too cold to be outside for long, in Europe, the snow has usually broken up, and the first flowers start to pop up. Even so, the "labor" of Plough Monday and the days following it was not usually high intensity. It was more theoretical than real.

My Story, With Differences, Told By Someone Else
Mark Gauvreau Judge, writing for FrontPage Magazine, tells a story that is very familiar to me. It is his own story of how his Catholic education failed him, but how he found the Church on his own. He was even born the same year that I was, and educated at the same type of tony Catholic schools I was. He was in suburban Washington. I was in suburban Boston. He received his watered-down Catholic education at Our Lady of Mercy, Potomac, Maryland, Georgetown Preparatory School, and an unnamed Catholic college (Georgetown? Catholic University? Gonzaga?). In my case it was our Lady of the Assumption, Lynnfield, Saint John's Preparatory School, and Boston College. Thomas Merton was a large influence in Judge's return. I would not describe Merton as a significant influence on me (haven't even read any of his works).

But still, our stories are very much the same. We were both products of "excellent" Catholic schools that, from the fall of 1969 when we entered first grade (I didn't do kindergarten, my parents were somewhat over-protective of me) at least had decided to water down the Catholic content of their curricula to the point that, aside from wearing uniforms, having religion class when it could be worked in, having Holy Days of Obligation off, and attending Mass once in a while, and stations on the Fridays of Lent, and saying decades of the rosary as the nun/principle lead over the school's intercom system, there was nothing particularly Catholic about it. When religion could be worked in (in a time crunch it was always the first to go, even before the utterly pointless Friday afternoon art classes, most of which were spent with crayons and paper), it was thin stuff. Lots of Bible reading. One year (7th grade) the nun who taught us religion (one of 3-4 left in the school at that time) read a long story to us over a few weeks about the apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima. The materials we used already had that, "Jesus was nice. Be like Jesus, and be nice," quality to them. Nothing distinctively Catholic about it. Sure, we could tell you who Moses was, and Noah, and Abraham, and could recount the broad outlines of the Christmas and Easter stories, but we knew nothing about the differences between Catholics and protestants (the kids who went to public school). The Baltimore Catechism method had been abandoned a decade before we arrived at OLA, and no adequate replacement had (has) yet been found.

High school religion? Well, we had one semester of it as freshmen, and my class, at least, was genuine Catholicism, a brief chance to catch up on a few of the things Catholic kids should know by rote (seven sacraments, seven last words, the virtues, the deadly sins, the marks of the Church, etc). But no one took it seriously. Sophmore year, our semester of religion was all psycho-babble. We read a book called Dibs: In Search of Self, a rather pointless exercise, and were taught by a 60s retread who often quickly charged into class long hair billowing out behind him, and started things off with, "let's rap." I am happy to say he was an object of universal mockery. Junior year, formal religion class was done away with altogether. Instead we had an encounter-group type retreat one weekend in the second semester. And in our senior year, we took one semester of comparative religion. Mass was said in the tiny chapel daily. No one I knew went. On holy days of obligation, Mass was in the theater. I went once or twice, preferring to go with my parents in the evening. The chaplain was a notorious rock & roll Mass type, whose sermons were sure to be full of "relevent" allusions (and illusions).

Things have only become worse in our Catholic schools. I know. Mrs. F. teaches in one. I hear the stories daily. We have copies of the text books they use sitting around the house. The religion text is lamentable. Fortunately, Mrs. F. is used to improvising. She can't just start using the new editions of the Baltimore Catechism (not if she wants to keep her job), but she has given her class something of a Catholic spirit by teaching them about the rosary, having them dress up as saints on All Saints Day and deliver reports on their saint, and doing stations with them (which seems to have fallen out of practise at the school before she arrived there). The environment has become more PC than it was even in my school days. The curriculum has been watered down further. Kids getting to third grade don't know what a rosary is. They have never been told about sin, Hell, judgment, purgatory, the devil, because, in the words of one lower grade teacher, "The priests (what priests, how many years ago?) told us not to scare the kids with that stuff." Mrs. F. has her work cut out for her. Lord bless her for trying. Like me, and like Judge, she is entirely self-taught on Catholicism. Most of the other teachers know far less about the Church than she does. Some of the teachers are not even Catholic. And they have to teach religion somehow. The year the kids spend with Mrs. F. is regrettably a short stay, a mere drop of water in the pond of their education. The mediocre and poor quality of the rest of it is bound to overwhelm what little good she can do in one year. These kids, like so many before them, will grow up knowing just about nothing about the Faith. No wonder young people don't go to Mass on Sundays.

Catholic Schools Week is two weeks away. The most devout parents who can are homeschooling their kids. Think about that as Catholic Schools Week draws near. Catholic education has become so standardized and secular that Catholic parents have to home school if they want rigorous standards and genuine Catholic devotions and practises passed on to their children. Think long and hard about that.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Edmund Burke: Founder of Modern Conservatism
On this date in 1729, Edmund Burke was born in Dublin, the son of a lawyer. Burke's father was Church of Ireland, while his mother was Catholic. Burke and his brothers were brought up protestant, his sister, Catholic. Caricaturists latched onto Burke's half-Catholic family in later life, and often lampooned him as a Jesuit. A sickly child, Burke was sent away from Dublin for five years to his mother's Catholic Nagle relations, where his education began. On his return to Dublin, his health became problematic again, and he was sent to a school run by Quakers in Ballitore, County Kildare.

In 1744, at the age of 15, he was enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin. Two years later he wrote to his friend Richard Shackleton (an ancestor of Sir Ernest?), "Believe me, Dear Dick, we are on the verge of Darkness and one push drives us in-we shall all live, if we live long, to see the prophecy of the Dunciad fulfilled and the age of ignorance come round once more...is there no one to relieve the world from the curse of obscurity? No not one-I would therefore advise more to reading the writings of those who have gone before us than our Contemporaries..." Solidly conservative outlook and foreboding, coupled with a sense that the modern world has nothing of merit to offer, at the age of 17.

While still an undergraduate, Burke had completed a draft of his Philosophical Inquiry Into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (published in 1757). Burke graduated in 1748, lived on at Trinity for a few months (he may have been considering a career as a don), and then moved to London to read law at the Middle Temple.

We know little of Burke for the next nine years. Like so many others before and after, he found the law unsatisfying. He met Jane Nugent, another product of a "mixed marriage" and married her in 1757.

Burke first gained public notice with the publication of A Vindication of Natural Society in 1756. It was a response to Bolingbroke. The world of letters, the world of Johnson, Garrick, Reynolds, Goldsmith, Hume, and later Smith, Sheridan, Gibbon, and Boswell was now open to him. Starting in 1759, he became deeply involved in the writing and publication of the Annual Register. It would be a part of his life for more than 30 years.

But it did not pay enough to support his household (he was housing a brother, a cousin, as well as wife and son). So Burke became secretary to William Hamilton, who in 1761 was appointed Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Breaking with Hamilton later, he entered the orbit of Lord Rockingham's faction of the Whig Party. In July, 1765, the Rockingham Whigs formed a government with Burke (now an MP) as private secretary to Lord Rockingham. As such he was the government's man of ideas, its chief whip, and effectively party manager. He was badly paid for all his efforts. And the Rockinghams did not manage to stay in office long. Burke's first speeches in Parliament were in favor of repealing the Stamp Act, and won great praise.

The growing crisis in America gave Burke a cause, though the fall of the Rockingham Government left him just an opposition member of Parliament. George III, a stubborn man of limited talent, was determined to save money by having the Americans pay for imperial defense. He and his advisors used the Whig tools of pensions and political jobs to control a majority of Parliament (they were not actually Tories; no one on the inside of English politics in the 1760s and 1770s considered himself a Tory, except Samuel Johnson, and he was never inside) to pass legislation aimed at that. When stopped by American protests, George III decided to make it a matter of principle, rather than simply canvas respectable opinion in America as to how America should pay its share of the imperial burden. The result was increasing coercion, violent rebellion, and, finally, armed conflict.

Burke opposed the government of Lord North (North was an Irish peer, not an English peer, therefore he was able to sit in the English House of Commons) and the "Party of the King's Friends." He saw the path George III was on as potentially disastrous, and said so in many eloquent speeches. He was not in favor of an American Revolution, but opposed government policies he felt would lead there. Once the war had started, he remained in opposition, arguing for a quick settlement on terms favorable to the Americans, for England's commercial advantage.

But there was also some pro-American idealism in Burke. He had considered taking up residence in America during a low ebb in his fortunes in the 1750s. He had unsuccessfully applied for the postion of London agent for the colony of New York in 1764. He saw George III's policies towards America as harsh and arbitrary, and said so.

The years of the American Revolution were difficult. Burke lost his seat as MP for Wendover, was given a seat by Rockingham as member for Malton (a rotten borough), then was offered one of Bristol's two seats. As member for Bristol, he could be independent of Rockingham, but he could also lose his seat in a popular election. He bought the country estate called Gregories, near Beaconsfield, but nearly lost it due to the speculation in East India Company stock of his cousin Will Burke. In fact, Burke was nearly ruined. And the scandal spilled over into his public life as well. To make matters worse, the electors of Bristol turned him out of office on account of his postions on America, and he had to accept Malton again from Lord Rockingham (and held the seat until he resigned from Parliament in 1794).

With the fall of the North Ministry after Yorktown, Rockingham was back in office briefly, and made Burke Paymaster of the Forces, a positon many had greatly enriched themselves from. But Burke was honest, and earned little from a position rife with corrupt possibilities. In any case, the rise of a Tory Government under the Younger Pitt jostled Burke out of office once more.

Back in opposition, Burke busied himself for most of the 1780s with the impeachment trial for corruption of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India, who had lined his own pockets there, but no more so than most other colonial administrators. In truth, Burke waged a years-long vendetta against Hastings, oddly in alliance with sinks of corruption like Charles James Fox and Lord North. In the end, the House of Lords threw out the impeachment, though it may have been just. Burke seems to have realized that the effort against Hastings was unpopular, but persisted in it for year after year on principle.

Burke achieved true greatness in his reaction to the French Revolution. It was natural for Englishmen to view France as a hopelessly despotic government, tyrannical and arbitrary, where a rich king lorded it over a starving population and was eager to export despotism, and Catholicism to England by force. Naturally enough, most Englishmen thought the Revolution a good thing initially. Burke had his doubts, and published them in Reflections On the Revolution In France in 1790.

The Reflections is the third founding document of modern conservatism (the first two being the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers), and the most explicit. Here we see laid out the theoretical framework in which conservatives would continue to operate evermore. The whole of the Reflections may be found on line here, though I think something this lengthy is best read in book form.

From the Reflections, Russell Kirk derived what have come to be known as the six canons of conservative thought:

"Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience."

"Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems;"

"Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a 'classless society'."

"Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and the Leviathan becomes master of all."

"Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters, calculators, and economists' who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs."

"Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress."

Burke's prose is not particularly suited to sound-bites (unlike Samuel Johnson's) but here are some brief excerpts:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

"To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections."

"In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority."

"It would be well if gentlemen, before they joined in a cry against any establishment, had well considered for what purpose that cry is raised."

"Liberty without wisdom, and without virtue is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint."

"Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it."

"A politician, to do great things, looks for a power, what our workmen call a purchase; and if he finds that power, in politics as in mechanics, he cannot be at a loss to apply it."

"You think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature."

"Good order is the foundation of all things."

"If prescription be once shaken, no species of property is secure, when it once becomes an object large enough to tempt the cupidity of indigent power."

"A revolution will be the very last resource of the thinking and the good."

"Your mob can do this [pulling down and destroying social institutions] as well at least as your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest hand is more than equal to that task. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out ... No difficulties occur in what has never been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all the wide field of imagination in which they may expatiate with little or no opposition."

"Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure -- but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence, because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."

"We owe an implicit reverence to all the institutions of our ancestors."

And of course, the famous apostrophe regarding Queen Marie Antoinette:

"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."

While Burke remained a Whig, he won Pitt over to opposition to the French Revolution. George III was kind enough to put past differences behind them, pension Burke (who desperately needed the money) and recommended that all gentelmen buy and read Reflections.

Burke spent his last years despairing that Fox, the unscrupulous champion of the revolutionary cause in England, would prevail. His only son, Richard, died of consumption shortly after taking over his father's seat at Malton. So convinced was he that revolution would come to England, and so conscious was he of his role in opposing it, that he requested that his body be buried in secret, lest English Jacobins defile it. He died on July 8, 1797 at Gregories, which his widow had to sell to pay their debts.

The Scandal By the Numbers
Fox News reports on a New York Times survey on the Scandal. The glaring, huge number that leapt off the page at me was that 85% of the priestly sex abuse was directed at boys, the vast majority pubescent and post-pubescent boys.

I have beeen challenged on the 85% homosexual figure in several places. I got the 85% figure from the Dallas Morning News back in June. So the 85% figure has held up over time, and the Pravda of "progressive" causes is now admitting it. So much for all of the nonsense about it not being a homosexual problem, coming from people who either are running interference for the homosexual movement or are looking to push some pet cause (like married priests, or women priests, or openly homosexual priests, or more lay involvement in the running of the Church).

Eighty-five percent makes it preponderantly a homosexual problem. The Vatican is, at its own glacial pace, working on a new binding order that homosexuals should not be ordained or allowed into seminary. One would think that an order like that would take hours to promulgate, not months. But, whatever the pace, when promulgated, it will eliminate in the future the lion's share of these abuse cases to the extent it is vigorously enforced.

Another statistic of note is that 1.8% of the men ordained as priests since 1950 have been accused. I have also argued the "small number of priests" issue with others. Less than 2% of any population is small by every definition I know. It is not insignificant, but it is small.

Most of the abuse that has been reported occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, the era of "anything goes" in the Church.

Somewhere between 325 and 400 priests have resigned due to the Scandal.

Half of the priests accused of abuse were accused of molesting more than one child, and 16 percent were accused of having five or more victims.

Twelve hundred priests across the country have been accused. Boston accounts for about 1 in 10 of those. That does not count our subsidiary dioceses of Fall River, Worcester, Manchester, Providence, and even Springfield, all well within Boston's orbit and influence. The ten percent figure is way out of proportion to Boston's share of the US Catholic population. So the problem is disproportionately a Boston problem (because our seminary and Archdiocese were out in front in favor of "progressive" causes and social theories even back in the 1950s).

The newspaper reported that 63 priests were accused of abuse in the 1950s, and seven in the decades before. Two hundred fifty-six priests were accused of abusing minors in the 1960s, 537 in the 1970s, 510 in the 1980s and 211 in the 1990s, the newspaper said.

Eighty-five percent of the abuse is homosexual. Most of the abuse happened after the Sexual Revolution was in full swing, in fact when it was at its peak (before AIDS). Only 1.8% of priests are accused of sexual abuse. Facts are a hard thing to argue with, especially when supplied by the enemy itself (NYT).

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