Saturday, June 07, 2003

Another Reason Why The Episcopalians Are Not Quite Ready To Come Back To Rome
New Hamphire's Episcopalians have elected an openly gay minister, V. Gene Robinson, as their new bishop. Now I know people will object that there are plenty of gay Catholic bishops. Probably true. But they are not out of the closet. If they were, they would no longer be bishops. It will be interesting to see if the national organization of Episcopalians has the fortitude to stop this. I doubt they will. Women bishops, openly gay bishops, divorced bishops. That is were we end up by fiddling with the celibacy requierment of the priesthood, and it is unacceptable.

Better to police the ranks of the priesthood, screen out the homosexuals whose orientation is discovered during the formation process, and weed out the ones who slip through and cause problems later on a one-by-one basis than to give in to those who want change in the structure of the priesthood (and not just pre-emption of the ordination of homosexuals and vigilance).

Look where openess has gotten the Episcopalians: ordaining men (and women) with known deviant proclivitites, and then having to face the prospect of openly pink bishops, while the doctrine of the Episcopal Church still holds that practising homosexuality is gravely sinful. And the doctrine, coming down to us from the New And Old Testaments, is immutable. Christians are not liberal Supreme Court Justices, free to read into and out of sacred Scripture whatever is convenient for the temper of the times.

The Real Start of Summer
Some people date the start of summer from the Memorial Day Weekend, others from the Summer Solstice. I consider summer to have begun when the air conditioners go in the windows. That was yesterday. Yesterday afternoon was just hot enough to be unpleasant if you were in the sun too long and had no refreshing breeze. So, though today is cooler and rainy, and what passed for a spring was fairly cold, raw, wet, and miserable, summer is here in Salem at last.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Florida Moslem Woman Cannot Wear Veil for Drivers' License Photo
The judge's decision makes perfect sense to me.

If she is such a strict Moslem woman, she shouldn't be driving a car anyway.

Massachusetts Democrats To Power Their Convention With Wind Power
Talk about a target-rich environment. A comedian could have a field day. Hot air, gas, etc. powering a Democrat convention...

I Noticed In the Store Today
That the DVD for the latest James Bond movie, Die Another Day is out. It is a little pricey, at $25.00, and you really had to suspend disbelief pretty hard in one or two places, as I recall from seeing it in the theater last Novemeber. Most of the older movies in the franchise are available on DVD for $10-$15.

I'm now kicking myself for buying the whole series on VHS two years ago, even though they were only $6-$10 each, because we are now in the process of converting our collection to DVD (not physically converting, just replacing the VHS copies with DVD, and replacing the home-made VHS copies first), a process which, at the rate we are going, should take about another 9 years. By the time we are done, how much do you want to bet that there will be a new format beginning to dominate the market? How many more copies of Star Wars will I have to buy in my lifetime to keep up with the available technology?

The Lavender Mafia & Allies On the Offensive?
There is supposed to be a major effort by the gay lobby to disrupt Masses this Sunday (Pentecost Sunday).

Mark Shea's site was defaced yesterday apparently by someone sympathetic to the gay movement.

Amy Welborn's content disappeared for most of the day yesterday.

Blogger's own in-house trolls have been amusing their undereducated psyches by posting ads for gay wedding packages on my site.

Obscene and scatological remarks were left in the comments boxes of several St. Blog's sites, and signed "Mark Shea."

Cardinal Mahony's mouthpiece just decided to play smash-mouth with George Neumayr, who has been a major thorn in "Right-On Rog's" side.

Am I a conspiracy theorist because I think there might be a connection between at least some of these items?

Maybe Google ought to just clean house at Blogger.

The Old Game May Be Over, But What Has Replaced It?
Victor Davis Hanson, writing his weekly column for National Review On Line describes how Europeans, Saudis, and terrorists gamed the US before September 11th, and tells us that it has all changed. But I don't see much evidence of change around the world. In fact, the US is scurrying to get back to the comfort of the old rules.

June 6, 1944: Lest We Forget
Fifty-nine years ago our fathers, grandfathers, and in some cases great-grandfathers, Americans, British, and Canadians, stormed ashore on the beaches of the Normandy coast to end Hitler's murderous tyranny and to liberate Europe. German resistance was fierce. Despite air superiority and naval bombardment, Allied losses were high.

This is the after-action report of Company A, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, which assaulted the westerly sector of Omaha Beach, the scene of the worst fighting:

"As the first men jumped, they crumpled and flopped into the water. Then order was lost. It seemed to the men that the only way to get ashore was to dive head first in and swim clear of the fire that was striking the boats. But, as they hit the water, their heavy equipment dragged them down and soon they were struggling to keep afloat. Some were hit in the water and wounded. Some drowned then and there... But some moved safely through the bullet fire to the sand and the, finding they could not hold there, went back in to the water and used it as cover, only their heads sticking out. Those who survived kept moving with the tide, sheltering at times behind underwater obstacles and in this way they finally made their landings.

Within ten minutes of the ramps being lowered, Company A had become inert, leaderless and almost incapable of action. Every officer and Sergeant had been killed or wounded... It had become a struggle for survival and rescue. The men in the water pushed wounded men ashore, and those who had reached the sands crawled back into the water pulling others to land to save them from drowning, in many cases only to see the rescued men wounded again or to be hit themselves. Within twenty minutes of striking the beach Company A had ceased to be an assault company and had become a forlorn little rescue party bent upon survival and the saving of lives."

Isidore-of-Seville.com maintains one of the best D-Day sites, with links to 32 first-hand accounts, links to tons of photos, the excellent maps from Cross Channel Attack, the official US Army history of the June Normandy fighting, and a section on the movie Saving Private Ryan.

I would normally recommend a visit to the National D-Day Museum site, but I have tried it twice this morning. It insists on reformatting my browser, which has caused my computer to freeze and crash twice already this morning.

For those looking to buy something for the kids to recreate the Normandy fighting on a manageable scale (and for collectors like me) Forces of Valor is coming out with a new line of 1/32nd scale vehicles and figures supplementing the excellent variety already available from 21st Century Toys, Conte Collectibles, King and Country, and W. Britains.

Now Blogger Has Gone Too Far
It was bad enough having lawyers advertising for clients (something that, as a lawyer myself, I despise), and not just any ambulance chasers, but the lower-than-dirt bottom-dwellers who are still trolling for new pervert priest victims so they can cash in on the Crisis in the Church. Now they've polluted my site with Gay Wedding package advertising. Who knew that there was an industry capitalizing on the perversions of some people, and the consistently misguided activities of these same folks? What do I get next, NAMBLA advertising? Or maybe people selling products for those who like to get intimate with farm animals? Drug paraphanalia? Pornography?

Well my satisfaction is that I don't think there are too many customers for this unadulterated garbage reading my site.

I can say this, I don't pick the ads. I can also recommend that you boycott the advertisers you see here, until we see some decent products and services advertising here again.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I Have Said Nothing About the Whole Jayson Blair Thing
Nor do I have any interest in the resignations of the editors today. Does anyone seriously think the NYT will have conservative editors (or staffers, for that matter) because of it? Will the outrageous bias of the Times change because of it? No. The new editors will be just as liberal. The staff will stay as liberal as ever. Perhaps the paper will be a little more careful about outright fraud. But the slant will stay liberal.

Life is too short to waste reading liberal commentary disguised as news (or liberal commentary, period). It is an intramural liberal problem. I am utterly indifferent to the situation. I wish The New York Times, and its local subsidiary, The Boston Globe more problems than they can bear.

Watch Fox News. Read the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Read National Review On Line. For straight news, read the Washington Times and Fox News On Line. That is truly all the news that one needs to know.

As I Said Yesterday, Reason C Has Been Proved Beyond Our Worst Nightmares
Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem has a very important blog up, with many links, concerning the recent discovery of a mass grave near Kirkuk, in which about 200 Kurdish children were apparently buried alive by Saddam's henchmen. So, since Saddam either destroyed his WMD, hid them very, very well, or got them all off to Syria, or Iran, or al Qaeda, we should offer him his palaces back?

I Just Want Both Juan and Evita Clinton To Shut Up And Go Away
Mark Levin at National Review On Line has an excellent take on the latest product of the Clinton spin industry.

The Wealth of Nations
Today is also the birthday of Adam Smith, the theoretical founder of modern capitalism. I hate to pour cold water on the Christian socialists' and Distributivists' fantasies, but capitalism was alive and well and sactioned by the Church in the 11th century. It was not the byproduct of the Protestant Reformation or a Northern European development. It existed in Catholic Europe and was practised by Catholics, not just Jews. Doubt me? Check out the works of the late historian Henri Pirenne, who has researched extensively the economic history of the medieval period, and who I studied thanks to Bill Daly and the late Sam Miller at B.C.

Adam Smith was, however, the first man to describe the process by which wealth is created in ways modern man can understand. His work brought down, not all at once, but eventually the old merchantile system, and remains a stout bulwark against the socialists' follies.

Three cheers for the Invisible Hand!

Saint Boniface
This is the feast of Saint Boniface, the Englishman who led back old "Roman Germany" to Christianity, and was martyred while trying to extend the Faith to "barbarian Germany." We need more saints with axes hacking down pagan temples, as Boniface was depicted in one of my grammar school history books.

Ann Coulter's Column On the WMD Imbroglio Is Terrific
Reprinted at FrontPage Magazine.

A Really Good Question
A great question that comes to mind after linking to both Improvised and Dyspeptic Mutterings below is why Blogger gives them good, decent Catholic stuff in their banner advertising, while I get bottom-dwelling shysters (one step below personal injury lawyers in my bestiary of the legal profession) trying to bilk the Church out of few more million by dragging up a few more sex abuse victims at this late date. Kathy Shaidle isn't the only one who can cry a river.

Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It! (the permalink wasn't working when I tried to link to the blog itself), noted the news item about Barry Manilow walking into a wall and breaking his not inconsiderable nose.

The stuff that appeared in the comments were priceless.

It will probably do irreparable damage to my reputation that I even know what these songs are, but the tunes being filked are, Mandy by the terrific Dale Price of the wonderfully-named Dyspeptic Mutterings:

Oh Bandage/
You came and stopped even more breakage/
Then I threw you away/
Oh Bandage...

I don't know the name of it, but I surely know the song filked by Dave Pawlak of Improvised:

You know I can't smell without you/
I can't smell without you/
I can't snort and I can't sneeze/I'm findin' it hard to do what I please...

And this classic filk of I Write the Songs from Mark himself:

"I ride the sogs that bake the whole world sig!"

Knowing stuff like this is the price of growing up in the 1970s.

Amy Welborn's Site Is Being "Improved" By Blogger, Not a Hacker (Though the Effect Is About the Same)
So, naturally, all her content has disappeared. I wonder if this will happen to Recta Ratio eventually. Given the "great job" Blogger has done maintaining sites, maybe I had better back up my content.

Red Sox Beat Pirates
No, this is not a headline from the first World Series of a cantury ago. The Red Sox swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in a doubleheader yesterday.

I Love Father Joseph Wilson's Insights
If I could prevail upon the Holy Father to make him the next Archbishop of Boston, I would. If I could prevail upon the College of Cardinals to make him the next Pope, I would. I just wish, and this is a fault I also have, that he would master the art of breaking his written thoughts into somewhat shorter paragraphs. More people would read his works, and that would be a universal blessing.

This Pretty Much Sums Up Where My Thinking Has Been For Some Time
The question that hangs in the air over the Catholic Church in America remains, "Big tent, or little tent?". Should we stay a huge, almost dominant, at least in this area, force with millions of folks who, though they were baptized, received First Communion, and may even get married in the Chuch, are in no sense practising Catholics, don't support or follow the moral teachings of the Church, don't believe in the Real Presence, have no prayer life worth speaking of, and are, in every sense, Catholic in name only? Or should we, not cast out, but let fall by the wayside the half-hearted by demanding more of them, exhorting them to true belief, and while praying for them and trying constantly to evangelize them, concentrate the Church's attention on those who practice the Faith, don't dissent from the moral teachings of the Church and support the Church?

I tend towards the "little tent" theory, that it would be better to have 100,000 devout Catholics in Greater Boston than 2 million half-hearted ones and the 100,000 demoralized by efforts to accomodate the Church to the other 1.9 million. And recognizing that the smaller body is, in fact, the Church, you might be surprised how many in the larger body decide over time, with the help of constant exhortation, to join the devout core of the Church.

Saint Peter Canisius agrees with me.

"Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church's enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith."

While We Are Looking At Commencement Speeches
Michael Novak at Ave Maria College offered some excellent incites into what the Catholic university should be, can be, sometimes is.

Senator Santorum At Christendom's Commencement
Senator Rick Santorum came in for some unjust criticism from liberals on his views on soldomy laws in relation to the pending Supreme court litigation. Santorum offered on May 17th some further good advice to the graduates of Christendom College.

I want to challenge each and every one of you to be a radical, to be a rebel, to rebel against the popular culture. Your task will not be an easy.

You must overcome the temptation of silence; the temptation of silence in the face of frequent hostile common opinion. As Catholics you must summon the courage of your convictions, which must be continually nourished by prayer, Mass and spiritual direction, and to speak and to live the Truth....

I want to close by again congratulating all of you, your parents, and their incredible achievement by reading in full Brownson's words upon which I ask you to reflect on this beginning day: "Ask not what your age wants, but what it needs; not what it will reward, but what, without which, it cannot be saved; and that go and do; and find your reward in the consciousness of having done your duty, and above all in the reflection that you have been accounted to suffer somewhat for mankind."

Given who the young people who attend Christendom are, and how they have been instructed, there is a fair chance they will live up to Santorum's exhoration. Let's hope so.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Light Blogging Today
Sorry about that. A backache that has had me away from the keyboard most of the day combined with a slow news day (well, slow if you are not Martha Stewart, or deeply interested in the Molly Bish story, I suppose) to limit entries. We'll see if we can do better tomorrow.

If They Were Catholic, It Would Be More Evidence of Disrespectful Post-Vatican II Liturgy
The offenders this time were Episcopalians. Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem has unearthed photos of an Episcopal "Beach Liturgy" in California. A surf board for an altar! One of Mark's commenters had it right. Reality has become more of a mockery than satire can ever hope to lampoon.

O Tempora! O Mores!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Holy Father Goes About His Business Very Differently Than I Would
In case you have not guessed it in the last year, I have a deeply idealogical nature. I am primarily interested in the carrying into operation and success of ideas I am generally in agreement with. To that end, since one political party, the Republicans, embrace in a general sense what I stand for, I am also a party man.

If I were in a position to appoint men to life-time tenured positions of influence, I would use that power to put men whose views were extremely similar to my own in every post. Thus if I were President of the US, my federal judges would all be intellectually high-charged Reaganites like Bork, Scalia, and Thomas, with the very best, youngest, healthiest, and most reliable going to the US Supreme Court.

If I were Pope, I would see the appointment of new bishops and especially new cardinals as a tremendous opportunity, not a challenge. Each diocese that became open during my tenure as Pope would be filled by someone I could rely on to carry to his diocese my program for reform, my brand of orthodoxy, my views of the world. I would take care to have lists of idealogically acceptable orthodox candidates ready at hand for any vacancy. To accomplish that, I would have to have sources of information in every country, in every diocese, quite independent of the bishops. That way I would not be dependent on my bishops or my nuncios for lists of likely new candidates for bishop. As soon as a vacancy occurred, calls would go out to 3-5 men to hop the next flight to Rome to have an interview with me. I would take pains to be sure that the bishops I appoint would be my representatives to the diocese, not the world's representatives to Rome. They would be my men doing what I view as the Holy Spirit's bidding, and not anyone else's.

As for the members of the College of Cardinals, the guys who would eventually pick my successor, I would stack its membership so carefully and well that it would be inevitable that my successor would follow in my footsteps in every important way. I would not see my work undone by the appointment of a liberal Pope to follow me. I would leave nothing to chance.

If one of my appointments managed to mess things up in a way I did not forsee when I appointed him, I would either demand his resignation, or accept it with alacrity so that I could appoint as his successor someone even more in tune with my thinking. I would not view vacant sees as burdens, but as opportunities. I'd already have a short list of good reliable men ready and a successor would be named within days. I would certainly not leave spots in the College of Cardinals open long. It would probably be highly beneficial to the performance in office of my bishops if they knew I viewed them as entirely fungible instruments of my will (the Holy Spirit's will, after all), and that, if they screw up, I will have a better man in their place in a few days.

So I really don't understand why the Holy Father, a man with a mission to reform the reform and bring the Church back to a sense of reverence and obedience, would ever refuse an offered resignation or would take any long period to fill any vacancy that might arise. Every Cardinal he can appoint makes it more likely that his successor will carry on his work. Every bishop he can appoint is a new opportunity to force the reform of the reform into each diocese (and often it is "forcing" as the institutional Church in the US in particular seems very happy with the "butterfly and Kumbaya" emphasis of the 1970s). These are opportunities that are too good to pass up. Why dither over them?

When a moral half-wit like Bishop O'Brien offers has resignation, just say, "Ah, too bad that didn't work out. Well I have to accept it of course. Have a drink. Want a cigar? Have you given any thought to what you want to do with the rest of your life? Well you ought to, you know. By the way, I expect to have your successor in your residence in about 10 days, so you had better start packing. Give me a call when you are done and we will see if there isn't something we can have you do around here or in the US. Thanks for serving the Church for so long. Remember, 'This, too, must pass.' Don't judge your whole life or career by this failure. We hope that God is very forgiving. The important thing is getting to Heaven in the end. Perhaps not being Bishop of Phoenix will help you get there. 'All nature is but art unknown to thee./All chance, direction which thou cans't not see./All discord, harmony, not understood./All partial evil, universal good./And 'spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,/One truth is clear; whatever is, is right." Good luck, my friend. Do give me a call in about a week, and I'll tell you who is replacing you, and the timetable for vacating your residence. Thank you again. I know this wasn't easy. But it is all for the best. And I'll put in a call or two to make sure no criminal charges are filed. I'm sure there is an important contributor to that DA's campaign who is also a very loyal Catholic. I'll do my best."

Further Information On Bishop O'Brien's Deal
Thanks to Amy Welborn for the link.

Remember I said yesterday that I would rather have seen O'Brien resign in disgrace or be prosecuted criminally, or both than see the office of bishop damaged?

Well it turns out that the deal he struck puts limitations on the office of bishop (and not just the wretched Bishop O'Brien, but his successors as well) that Rome must find utterly unacceptable, and that may well be unconstitutional as well.

In particular, O'Brien, 67, promised to delegate his authority in sexual abuse cases to two new administrators: a "moderator of the curia" -- roughly equivalent to a chief of staff -- and a "youth protection advocate." According to the agreement, they are responsible for reporting allegations to the police and enforcing the diocese's sexual misconduct policy.

Romley said that if O'Brien, or his successors as bishop, intervene in the handling of priests accused of sexually abusing minors or the priests' alleged victims, the prosecutor's office has the right to reopen the case and bring criminal charges.

"I've got the hammer over his head forever. He signed on behalf of the church," Romley said in a telephone interview.

Some Catholic lawyers, however, questioned whether O'Brien had the right to sign away the powers of the bishop's office, and whether such an arrangement would be constitutional.

"A bishop of the Roman Catholic Church does not have the power to permanently redefine the powers of a bishop. He can agree himself not to do something, but he can't bind his successors to do something that is contrary to Roman Catholic canon law," said Patrick J. Schiltz, dean of the law school at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

"A specific plea agreement would not necessarily raise a constitutional problem. But an agreement that carries beyond Bishop O'Brien, that applies generally to the office of bishop in that diocese . . . is starting to edge toward the constitutional line if not going beyond it," said Douglas W. Kmiec, dean of the Catholic University law school in Washington.

And several sources are reporting that O'Brien offered his resignation to the Holy Father who refused it. I really wonder in what context the resignation had been offered. Was it offered diffidently, couched in terms that made it seem that O'Brien thought resigning might be the noble thing to do, but that he really knew no one else could better do the job than he could? Or did he tell the Pope that he had really, really messed up, that it was all his fault, and that there was no question that the diocese would be better off under a new bishop? How a resignation is presented to a superior who has no other knowledge about what is going on than what the underling tells him often makes all the difference in getting it rejected. I suspect O'Brien, as Law probably did last April, made it seem that he was being noble offering to fall on his sword though it wasn't really warranted, rather than genuinely seeking to put aside an office he is unworthy to hold.

I've said before that the Holy See needs an intelligence network so that it does not have to rely on the bishops' self-serving views of how things are going in their dioceses. It needs independent information to make an informed understanding of what is going on in every diocese. That way, when a bishop comes to Rome as O'Brien did and half-heartedly offers to step down for the good of the Church, the Holy Father will know whether he ought to reject it because the bishop is being too modest or overlooking his own achievements, or whether he should say, "Yes, you really are quite a turd. I would have demanded your resignation if you had not offered it. Get out of here."

Monday, June 02, 2003

The WMD Flap
A lot of angst is being wasted about the failure, so far, to find WMD in Iraq. To some extent, the Administration put itself in this position by emphasizing that as a cause for the Iraq campaign. But in fact, the Iraq campaign is impossible to conceive without September 11th and the fear that Iraq, being an outsider rogue state, would materially aid al Qaeda or similar groups, and has a history of doing so. In fact, it was just part of a larger war, a war that may take us to Iran next, or Syria, or Libya, perhaps the Palestinians (and North Korea and Cuba have earned places on our dance card). Notice these are all-except for Iran-former Soviet client states, these rogue nations of the post-cold war world. Believe me, I'm on board for whatever it takes to make sure another September 11th, or worse never happens to this country.

That said, I have been at a loss in understanding the Administration's public justifications for the Iraq campaign (I call it a "campaign" because, in my view it was just one part of a larger war, like the North African campaign, the Italian campaign, the Northwest Europe campaign, or the Pacific Island campaign were parts of World War II). For better or worse, we can't deny that the Administration staked its claims to the WMD wagon much more so than to Iraq's ties to terrorism and its flagrant abuse of human rights. Often before the war I blogged my belief that the WMD justification, involving as it does the agency of the UN inspectors and the Security Council, was an iffy justification. Iraq's ties to terrorism by themselves justify the campaign. In fact, that was why we went into Iraq. I admit that the President and Secretary Powell did mention this other reasons.

A quick exercise in logic. We go to war for reasons A, B, and C. All three reasons are sufficient by themselves for going to war. A has not yet panned out, but may later. B seems to be fully proven. C is proven beyond our worst nightmares. Why do people continue to insist that A must be proven or the war was unjustified when B and C each fully justify it? What is it about multiple causation that they don't understand?

But in selling the Iraq campaign to the public and to world opinion, it certainly sounded like WMD were the critical issue. If they were not, what was the months' long minuet we danced with the UN and France all about? Was it just stalling for time while more munitions rolled off the assembly line and diplomatic ducks were put in a row? Probably. Our unfolding response to September 11th was worked out in the immediate aftermath of that event (in the smoking remains of the Pentagon on the afternoon of that day, according to some).

Since so much evidence of Iraq's ties to terrorism have turned up (Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, al Qaeda operatives found in Baghdad, Salman Pak, etc.) why has the Administration not been forthright with the American people in just saying, "This is all about drying up the swamp in which al Qaeda lives." Period. On that alone, 80% of the American people would support whatever it takes, wherever we have to go to exterminate al Qaeda.

But if Iran or Syria is next, I don't understand how the Administration is going about it. One would think that the Administration would be aggresive in its public stance. Troops would be kept in the area for use later rather than sent home (no matter how well-deserved the homecomings are). The public would be steeled for the inevitablity of conflict with these rogue states, even if it takes time between campaigns to re-arm, even if we actually hope to resolve them through covert actions, espionage, propaganda, financial pressure, diplomatic maneuverings, and only the threat of force.

A pattern has begun to develop. We were attacked. We took a little time, and set up the termination of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Once that was done, the country relaxed, the Administration seemed to turn to the next target slowly and ponderously. A vast effort was made to galvanize public opinion on the WMD issue ragarding Iraq. The build-up to the Iraq campaign was treated like a seperate war, when, in fact, it was just part of the larger effort. Then finally, when we could not really get all the support we wanted, we went ahead with what we had to do. Now that Saddam is out of power, we are relaxing again. The troops are going home. Even though more rogue governments need to be dealt with before we are more secure. Are we just taking another breath and re-arming again? If so, for how long? And where is the high-level pressure on the next targets? Because of the stop-start nature of the war effort (attack Afghanistan, wait a year, attack Iraq, wait...) people are not connecting these efforts as part of one unfolding response to 3,000 dead Americans at the WTC. But whether they perceive it as such or not, or whether it is sold to them as such or not, it is.

Why is the Administration not making the case to the American people that we are in the middle of a huge war on terrorism? Why is there no national mobilization for this war? We are fighting it with a very small army, while we are cutting the size of the armed forces (one of the aircraft carriers that fought in the last campaign is going home to be de-commissioned!). Wouldn't the war be a lot easier to fight if we spent enough for the military resources to fight on several fronts at once? Two or three more divisions and two or three more air force squadrons and two or three more aircraft carriers would seem to be essential to doing all that we need to do. Our air and sealift capacity is dangerously low for the sort of global effort we find ourselves undertaking. We made a mistake by not having enough of our own people on the ground in Afghanistan. We repeated the mistake in Iraq, where we were dangerously close to the safety margin because we went into it without as many troops as we could have used. Does the Administration really think it can fight this war on the cheap if it just does it a little at a time? Do they think the American people have that long an attention span? Is Rumsfeld a Republican protege of McNamara, who fights his wars with green eyeshades on? The American people would not begrudge our armed forces the resources to do a more effective job. Why won't the Administration ask for those resources in a forthright way?

Every once in a while, the President says something that gives a hint of what is going on. He did so on the USS Abraham Lincoln, when he connected the Iraq campaign to the war on terrorism. But he is far from universal and consistent clarity and making the true scope of our effort plain to the American people. Basically I think he needs to be more candid. He needs to say clearly in a major address something like this (and over and over again afterwards):

"Victory in Iraq has been achieved. But our country still has a huge job ahead of it. We will do whatever is necessary to clean-up the world neighborhood and leave al Qaeda no government that will cooperate with it in any way or for any reason. Today I am putting on notice the rulers of Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, and Yemen that their days of cozy relations with anti-American terrorists are over. Either we will have direct evidence that there are no ties between these governments and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, or these governments will be no more. My government shall be the sole judge of the compliance of these nations with this condition. If we are not satisfied, we shall take whatever action we deem appropriate, up to and including armed conflict, with or without the approval of any other nation or nations. The days of the dictatorial rogue states are over. It is time for governments responsible to the people to replace them, governments that would be astonished at the idea of aiding international criminals. We will do all in our power to bring such goverments into existence and end the rogue regimes that threaten our security.

We have ample justification for armed conflict with each of these governments now. Whether we go that route or not depends on them. But one way or another, whether it requires the use of our armed forces or not, the roots and sources that foster al Qaeda and its affiliated groups will be destroyed. These governments, as they exist today, will not stand. This national effort shall not cease as long as I am President, as long as a sane man occupies the Oval Office, and will be combined with intelligence and law enforcement efforts throughout this country and throughout the world to thwart terrorist attacks either from the intelligence operatives of these hostile goverments, or from independent terrorists operating with or without the cooperation of hostile governments.

The world changed on September 11th. I wanted to be a President known for advancing education. But my duty under my oath of office requires that I be a wartime president. I will not leave a mess for future presidents to deal with. I will, with the help, prayers, and support of the American people, fulfill the terms of my oath of office, so help me God."

Man, if GWB said that to a national audience, he would be more popular than money.

Why doesn't someone around him tell him to articulate our ongoing war aims in terms something like that, and involve the American people in the war effort more, by making it plain that there is a single sustained war effort going on. They will understand it, and accept the cuts needed in other programs to fund it. That would make the inconvenience of travel and the anxiety of the constantly changing alert levels more supportable. If we saw that the government was making an effort to put more men under arms, to have both numerically more military resources and better ones, they would understand this war effort much better. Yes, this war is different from World War II and every other war. But national mobilization, even on a somewhat limited degree, is necessary to bring public opinion along.

As it now stands, I doubt that the President will be able to muster the support of a majority when he decides the time has come for a showdown with Iran or Syria. He will have my support for that, or for North Korea if it is deemed necessary to do that first. But the way the Administration has handled the public relations part of the war effort to date will make it very difficult to bring along a majority. People have a short attention span. You can't go on indefinately taking out one rogue state a year with the ultimate justification resting on September 11th. At some point, people forget that horror, the memory recedes, other concerns come to the fore. If the economy does not rebound more strongly than it currently appears set to, President Bush may be replaced in 2005 with a Democrat every bit as feckless and useless as Bill Clinton (John Kerry, most likely). Then what will become of this vital national effort?

Mr. President, steel the American people to strike now, strike hard, strike relentlessly, strike on more than one front at once! The war effort may not go into hibernation for the 2004 elections. Quicly set up the next target that must go. Time is not on our side.

Blogger Celebrates My First Anniversary
By putting ads for bottom dwellers trolling for new sex abuse victims they can use to pry money out of the Catholic Church's hands on my site. We are most seriously annoyed.

Phoenix Bishop Admits Wrongdoing, Puts Self Out of Loop On Sex Abuse Allegations
Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, the bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, has signed an agreement with the local county attorney in which he admits wrongdoing in covering up sex abuse allegations, and agrees to essentially take himself out of the process for dealing with future allegations.

This agreement is considered tougher than the one signed by Bishop McCormack in New Hampshire. While getting O'Brien out of the process of dealing with new allegations is probably a good idea, it would probably have been better brought about by his resignation and replacement by a bishop not under the control of the Lavender Mafia and with a clearer idea of what is really in the interests of the Church. Better to change the personnel than to damage the office of bishop.

The Passion Under Attack From the Same Folks Who Gave Us Reflections On Covenant and Mission
Archbishop Chaput is defending Gibson's efforts.

I have not seen the movie yet. Neither have the critics. The most significant fear is that a graphic portrayal of Christ's suffering would ignite hatred for Jews. Have these folks seen the last hour of Jesus of Nazareth recently? It's fairly graphic, and true to the Gospels, just as Gibson's work is. How about The Day Christ Died, based rather loosely on Jim Bishop's book? Less graphic, but it is derived from the same sources (reading the four Gospels) as Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish leaders do not come off well in either account, or in The Greatest Story Ever Told. Yet you don't hear criticism of those films.

The Passion may be "Saving Private Ryan graphic." OK. We are adults. We can deal with that. And every Christian should understand that whatever suffering they see on the screen, Christ died for our sins. Our sins led Him to the cross. The Jewish leaders of first century Palestine may have been the instigators of the specific act of crucifixion. The Roman troops (probably Syrian auxiliaries, really) may have done the deed itself. But anyone who takes that as a reason to hate Jews, or Romans, is a fool. Remember that our sins caused Good Friday, much more so than any of the specific actors of the original Passiontide.

They seem to be criticizing Gibson for relying on the Gospels, which is what Christians are supposed to do. They fault him for not treating the Gospels with the liberal interpretation that leftist judges use towards the US Constitution. Gee, he went by the Book, and that makes him "heterosexist" (why, because he didn't portray Christ as gay?) sexist (why, because he didn't portray Christ as female?) anti-Jewish (why, because he follows the traditional Gospel line of placing the responsibility for the initiative to execute Christ on the Jewish leaders?).

The USCCB and its agencies are riddled with corruption and rot, the detritus of the failed post-Vatican II reform movement. They would not know genuine reform if they tripped over it. Take anything coming from that body and its subsidiaries with much skepticism. And that includes its taste in movies. They said little about the sacrilege of The Last Temptation of Christ. They think The Passion, which is a devotional work, is the worst thing possible. They are fools or worse. They ought to be ignored.

Massachusetts Bishops' Letter
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross a few homosexual activists stood up and walked out when the presiding priest mentioned the bishops' letter in his homily. Don't know if they were regular attendees at the Cathedral (or even practising Catholics) or not. I suspect not.

The letter was distributed at our parish along with the bulletin, in which there was contact information for our state rep and state senator and a notice urging parishioners to contact them to ask their support for the defense of marriage. Our pastor does not preach a homily between Ascension Thursday and Labor Day (or whenever the weather ceases to be uncomfortably hot), so we did not hear about it from him.

I found the bishops' text to be highly moderate. They made no mention of the Great and General Court's shameful refusal to act in constitutional convention on the legislation in the last year. It quoted extensively from the US Bishops' pastoral letter on same-sex marriage. It did not even go as far as the Catechism in criticizing homosexuality.

Some folks just don't want to be reminded about what the Church has taught about homosexuality. They sense that, in the popular culture, the tide of opinion is with them, and that they can mock the Church for holding steady to her beliefs with impunity. Maybe in the popular culture. But not here.

Blogging A Year Today
This is the first anniversary of my blog. I had thought of marking this milestone by reposting some "best of" blogs today, but decided against it. Mrs. F. and I are taking a week's vacation next month, and I'll leave some "best of" blogs up then, instead. Although it has been a "summer-slow" news weekend, I'll just do regular blogging today.

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