Saturday, July 26, 2003

Something of a Military Mutiny Under Way in Manila
Rebel soldiers have occupied a major commercial complex and were holding foreigners, including Americans, hostage. Australia's ambassador to the Philippines was one of the hostages, but appears to have been released. There is no word about the Americans.

Troops who may be loyal to the government have surrounded the commerical complex. We will know more about how this shakes down tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Saint James the Greater
Before the evening slips by in utter indolence, I wanted to make note that today is the feast of Saint James the Greater, the patron saint of our parish.

James, of course, was the brother of John, and the son of Zebedee. He and John where nicknamed "the sons of thunder" by the Lord. James accompanied Saint Peter to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, and was the first of the Apostles to be martyred, in his case by King Herod Agrippa. His actual burial site is unknown, but tradition claims that his remains rest at Santiago de Compostela, which has been a major pilgrimage destination for centuries.

Thank you, Santiago, for many blessings bestowed on those who have sought your intervention over the years.

Deal Hudson Loved The Passion
Just read Deal's latest e-letter to his 50,000 closest friends in the world. He was at the Washington screening of The Passion, and found the movie incredibly moving, accurate, and not at all anti-Semitic. He thinks this movie could change hearts and minds and convert souls. That is what we have all been hoping for from this movie.

The favorable reviews I have read and heard from Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, and Deal Hudson almost have me looking forward to Ash Wednesday, the day the movie opens. I'm eager to see this movie, and to have it on DVD.

BTW, others have picked up on the statement that 20th Century Fox will very likely be the distributor, since it has a deal with Gibson's Icon Productions.

I can't link to the letter, but if you are not on Deal's list, leave a comment here with your e-mail address, and I will be happy to forward it to you.

It's A Shame They Won't Get the Max
Try to damage important government property, and interfere with our national defense, no matter how sincere your intentions are, and you ought to do very serious jail time.

Swinging sledgehammers at missile silos is not a legitimate way of turning swords into ploughshares. Before kingdoms can change, men must change.

US Troops To Be Positioned Off Liberia
The Administration is planning to station an unspecified number of troops off the coast of Liberia to assist in peacekeeping operations.

Diversions of strength like this away from areas where the US has a strong interest (The Americas, Europe, Korea/China, the Middle East) and to areas where instability has suddenly flared up point to the need for a numerically stronger US military, with more aircraft carriers, more divisions, more fighter wings than the current TO&E allows for.

Right now, we have low-intensity combat operations going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are helping the Philippine government deal with murderous Moslem rebels there. There are also secret, micro operations that could pop up at any time anywhere al Qaeda pops its head up. We want to have a credible military threat to both Syria and Iran in order to bring about changes in those governments that will work against the Moslem terrorist networks. North Korea needs serious watching to prevent it from invading South Korea. Deterring China from taking military action against Taiwan is a full-time job. India and Pakistan could at any moment engage in very deadly warfare (since both countries have nukes). And it is important that some forces be used to guard our borders, try to check Castro's Cuba, and provide a permanent garrison in Europe to counter possible Franco-German domination of that vitally important (from an industrial and technological standpoint) continent.

This is not a good time for humanitarian missions in places our interests do not dictate our involvement.

Bishop Timlin's Resignation Accepted
Domenico Bettinelli and Amy Welborn are reporting that Bishop Timlin, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, has had his resignation on reaching age 75 accepted by the Holy Father, and that Bishop Joseph Martino, an auxiliary bishop for Philadelphia, will replace him. The Scranton newspaper's on-line edition, Zenit, EWTN News, and the Vatican Information Service have nothing on this yet. Bishop Timlin has been one of the most conservative and effective in the American hierarchy.

Last year, a controversy did arise over his handling of Society of Saint John priests at the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter's Saint Gregory Academy. There were allegations of inappropriate homoerotic conduct by foreign priests there that Timlin apparently mishandled.

But on the positive side, the Diocese of Scanton has been healthy under Timlin's leadership, with decent priest recruitment, strong pro-life activities, and a healthy regard for orthodoxy.

One wonders why the Holy Father was so quick to accept Timlin's resignation, when a bishop far more seriously implicated in worse wrongdoing, Bishop Daily of Brooklyn, has also reached 75. If we sweep all the bishops who have mishandled pervert priests out, there will be virtually none left. If Rome just dealt with the 10 worst (Law, Daily, McCormack, Grahmann, Banks, Adamec, Mahony, Egan, etc.) then it is a much more manageable task, and would set an example for the rest. Picking Bishop Timlin for immediate retirement seems unjust, when there are much worse offenders still running dioceses (and a few past age 75).

Long Island VOTF Calls On Bishop Murphy To Resign
VOTF on Long island is calling on Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre Diocese to resign in the wake of the Massachusetts AG's report that inplicated him in the wrongdoing in the handling of pervert priests in the Archdiocese of Boston.

From a standpoint of purity, nobody associated with the administration of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1955-2002 should be holding any position of responsibility in the Church. But this is the real world. People, including members of the hierarchy and the diocesan bureaucracies make mistakes, commit sins, and still try to serve as best they can.

Bishop Murphy, while not blameless, was not the worst offender in Boston, by a very long mile. Bishop McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire has that honor. Bishop Murphy is not among those whose heads must roll for this.

So VOTF seems to be grandstanding in calling on someone rather remotely connected to the mess in Boston to step down. Now, if their local chapter was calling on Bishop McCormack to step down, I would agree. But I have not heard a renewed call for Bishop McCormack to step down.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

What Am I Reading These Days?
Mrs. F. just bought a small bundle of books to read while she waits to go back to school. And that has me thinking about my own reading.

While on vacation, I managed a re-read of my three favorite Patrick O'Brian novels, The Ionian Mission, Treason's Harbour, and The Far Side of the World. O'Brian is a joy to go back to again and again. And since he is dead, we shall have to content ourselves with going back to his best. There will be no more.

Before vacation, I started Mark Shea's Making Senses Out of Scriptures, but have had trouble getting back into it, despite Mark's engaging style.

The other night, I started a re-read, after about 15 years, of Cleveland Amory's The Proper Bostonians, which is full of lots of good anecdotes of Brahmin Boston.

The Irish have been busy making themselves the natural successors of the Brahmins here in Boston. After all, the stock is similar enough; moody, clannish folk from an island off the Northwest coast of Europe where it rains a good deal of the time. The Irish are manic/depressive where the English are melancholics. Successful Irishmen like lunch clubs and Harvard as much as the Yankees ever did. And the wing chairs at the Union and the Somerset Clubs suit Irish rear ends as well as Brahmin ones. So, I am enjoying Amory.

George Weigel's The Courage To Be Catholic is still on my to-be-read list, as is Peggy Noonan's When Character Was King. I want to read Ann Coulter's Slander, but it is not in the pile yet.

Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy I got 50 pages into, but have never had the heart to go back. I need something easier to read. Ratzinger, while I agree with what he concludes, is too dense for a blockhead like me. I don't have enough philosophy or theology to get through him.

Anyone know if Michael Rose is working on another blockbuster, perhaps blowing the whistle on "Catholic education" this time? It is time for Michael to stop fighting the "War of the Rose," and start offending another group of liberal Catholics.

I think there is a Sharpe novel I have not read yet, Sharpe's Prey. But Cornwell never detains me long. I whip through a Sharpe story in two days' time at most.

I've wanted to dip into Sir Alec Guinness' My Name Escapes Me for some time now. Perhaps I will.

But I also think something that is an intellectual challenge might suit me. When I am in a mood like this, I often kill it by dragging out Marcus Aurelius' Meditiations. Half-way through it, and I am cured of my studious inclinations.

I finished David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed, as far as it concerned New England, and greatly enjoyed it. The rest of the book I plan to get to eventually.

Peter Mayle hasn't had anything new since French Lessons. Perhaps the market for quaint books about the French is just not there in the US and UK now. Can't say I am surprised.

I am about to start a research project on Salem's Elias Hasket Derby, America's first millionaire. So I'll be doing a lot of specialized reading for the rest of the summer. But one still wants something beyond work reading, doesn't one?

Generally, I think it is fair to say that I am looking for some book by an author I like to grab me by the lapels and drag me to a chair to read it. I just don't know what that book is yet. I'll let you know if I find it. I am tired of this intellectually listless attitude towards reading I have fallen into lately. But what is there? Kirk and O'Brian dead. Up-to-date with Rowlings. Mayle and Rose silent as gib cats. Christopher Buckley's latest? Maybe. We shall see.

I Know He Is An Australian, But Couldn't the Pope Make Archbishop Pell the Next Primate of America?
If anyone could fill Cardinal O'Connor's shoes, it is Archbishop Pell. I'm sure the Church in Australia needs him, but we need someone like him, too.

Governor Jack Kemp?
Matt Drudge is reporting that Jack Kemp, who owns property in California, might consider a run for governor in the recall election. No story to link to.

Talk about someone whose career has disappeared almost overnight! Remember in the 1980s when the entire conservative movement thought that Kemp would be the annointed successor to President Reagan as titular head of the movement? Where did Kemp go wrong? I supported him initially in 1988, but wasn't too uncomfortable when he withdrew and then-Vice President Bush won. In fact, I went from President of Law Students for Kemp to President of Law Students for Bush in a single day (I was at BC, there was no competition, since the 4-5 conservatives in the school owed me fealty as President of the Federalist Society anyway).

Did Kemp kill his career by taking a cabinet appointment under Bush 41? Did he injure himself by his performance as Dole's running mate in '96? Or was it just association with the Dole ticket that threw him off track? Hardly anyone on the right thinks of him anymore.

Yet, back in the '80s, he was good. Can't argue with supply-side economics. It worked. He was anti-communist. And what we anti-communists said about Soviet communism was proven to be absolutely and chillingly right. He was socially conservative (pro-life, anyway). He is not a racist. He is against gun control. He seemed to have what it would take to unite the factions of the Republican Party and become its successful national standard bearer.

But after the Republicans took control of Congress in '94, he lost his way. I've interviewed him. I've heard him speak to small groups (YAF, College Republicans) in person a couple of times, and he is great in a small room filled with the faithful, or one-on-one.

But the times seem to have passed Jack by. His grasp of the issues today seems too much a prisoner of the issues of the 1980s. With regard to issues, it is as if he were stranded on the same desert island as another very good conservative of that period, whose career seems to be on the same trajectory, and who I also admire, Dan Quayle.

Kemp still favors a gold standard, something that bubbled in the froth of a giddy conservative movement in 1984. I was in favor of it then. But now, with 20 years of successful control of inflation via monetary policy under our belts, I no longer do. Jack does.

Part of the problem is that Jack is largely an autodidact on political/economic issues. His mind was not formed broadly, with an ability to see the nuances of a position, to accept half a loaf, to find a way that both sides get something they want out of a deal, to see that a solution that worked in one set of circumstances might not work so well in others. And once he is convinced of the rightness of a particular stance, no circumstance will change his mind. If I am not mistaken, Jack was against the Iraqi campaign, and on the side of the Buchananites (I may be wrong about that, and would be happy to hear that I am).

A bigger problem with Jack is that he demonstrated in the '88 and '96 campaigns that, though he is great with small groups of the faithful, he is not so great with a mass audience, or with TV. He is also going into this campaign, if he is going into it, without much in the way of money. Simon has much, much more money at his disposal. And Jack is an outsider. He represented Buffalo in Congress, not Orange County. Even if he has owned property in that state, and the people of California do not consider him a carpet-bagger, he has been away from the wars for a long time. And he has known no electoral success since he last ran in his old district in New York.

Can Jack Kemp put the pieces together again and stage an effective campaign to become Governor of California? Part of me hopes so. My friends and I were so sure, back in 1982 or 1983, that he would be President someday. I would like to see some of that old faith redeemed, and see Kemp take back the governorship of California for the GOP. But will it happen? I am not optimistic.

Pretty Grisly Stuff
The US has released photos of the bodies of Saddam's sons. Oddly Drudge has not run with them, yet. Fox has them up on its front page. I'm not linking to them, as I find the publication of such things somewhat offensive. Don't get me wrong. I understand the purpose (to convince the Iraqi people that these two evil men who have held sway over their lives and liberty for so long are, in fact, dead). For my part, I accept that they are dead, and grimly gratified. I don't need to see gruesome pictures of their corpses. I also don't want to gross out children or other sensitive individuals who may be reading this blog.

Famine Ship In Boston Harbor
The Jeanie Johnston, a replica of a ship that brought many seeking to escape the Potato Blight in Ireland to the US, will be at Rowe's Wharf until July 29th.

Jonah Goldberg Is Really Having An Impact
Jonah did not invent, but made popular, the almost-universal characterization of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." Yesterday, I put up a short and belated Bastille Day blog. This morning, I have ads for cheese atop my site. Talk about the French, Blogger gives you cheese ads. That is funny.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I Was Away For Bastille Day This Year
I didn't even get to see what Jonah Goldberg had to say about the French this year, a year in which they so richly deserve the opprobrium of the world for their imbecilic and contemptible behaviour regarding Saddam and his friends.

Even though it is 9 days late (almost 10), here is my offering for our French friends on their "great" national day:

The Roast Beef of Old England
original words by Leveridge (these are not the originals)

When mighty Roast Beef
Was the Englishman's food,
It ennobled our brains
And enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave
And our courtiers were good
Oh the Roast Beef of old England
And old English Roast Beef

2. But since we have learnt
From all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts
As well as to dance,
We're fed up with nothing
But vain complaisance

Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef

3. But now we are dwindled to,
What shall I name?
A poor sneaking race,
Half-begotten and tame,
Who sully the honours
That once shone in fame.
Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef

4. In those days if fleets did
Presume on the Main,
They seldom, if ever,
Returned home again,
As witness the vaunting
Armada of Spain
Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef

5. Oh then we had stomachs
To eat and to fight
And when wrongs were a-cooking
To do ourselves right.
But now we're a . . . .
I could, but goodnight!
Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef.

And the great Hogarth had this fine piece of contempt for French martial prowess and wealth.

For a more lengthy effort at French bashing, check my Bastille Day blog from last year.

Mel Gibson Has Screened The Passion In New York, Too
The reactions have been positive. One interesting way of looking at things from the linked article above. Twentieth Century Fox may well end up as the distributor of the movie. They have a deal with Gibson, and are said to be interested. And isn't 20th Century Fox Rupert's baby, or wasn't it at one time? I can't see Murdoch, or his former collegues, turning the nose up at something bound be be controversial like this.

Personally, I hope The Passion is a big hit. It has been a long time since Jesus of Nazareth. Since JON was produced for TV, perhaps I should say it has been a long time since the Greatest Story Ever Told. The story of Jesus, the Gospel story, even part of it, has not been told in a reverent way on the big screen in a very long time. Whatever you think of Jesus Christ Superstar, you can't take a rock opera by Lloyd Webber seriously as an exposition of the Holy Life. Everything I have heard tells me that Gibson's movie is that, a serious exposition of part of the Holy Life.

If the Gospel is thought to be anti-Semitic by some Catholics, then they have grown too sophisticated to retain the title. Saint John's Gospel, the source for a great part of the movie, is the inspired word of God. Gibson can't go wrong following it.

Mayhem In NYC Hall
A New York City Councilman has been murdered, and two other people have been wounded. The RINO (Republican In Name Only) Mayor is vaporing on about why anybody needs a gun.

Many people need guns. Many people like guns. More importantly, they have a constitutional right to own them. But, Mr. Mayor, nobody with a gun ought to be able to get into City Hall, especially since 9/11, in the aftermath of which you were elected. Sounds like the security arrangements Nanny Bloomberg signed off when he became mayor failed. Instead of wondering why anybody needs a gun, Bloomberg should be busting chops to find out how not one gun, but two (the murdered city councilman, according to reports, was packing, too) found their way into City Hall. Where were the metal detectors? Where were the vigilant police?

Bloomberg has been busy since he became mayor trying to be everyone's nanny (banning smoking with more rigor than he has ever shown in cracking down on potential Moslem terrorists in his city). Well, Nanny Bloomberg, you blew it, big time. Now there is someone dead, who ought not be dead. Vapor on about that.

This Just In
California will hold a recall election.

For now, the Democrats are standing firm with Davis, but I expect that to change. The important thing for that party is to hold onto the governorship. And the Clintons would very much like to bury Davis now, because if he somehow survives and thrives later, he would be a dangerous oppenent for Hillary in '08 (any governor of that state is a dangerous presidential candidate because of the money he can raise; the wonder of it is that only one governor of California has risen to the White House, and he a man who doubtless would have made it there whatever career path he had decided upon). Any incumbent governor with approval ratings in the low 20s is dead meat. It will not be long before a US Senator (Feinstein?) or someone else with a great deal of prestige is brought in by the Democrats as a white knight.

The Republicans? Rep. Issa is declared, has lots of money, and bankrolled the recall, but is an unknown outside his district (that is to 96% of California). Bill Simon may toss his hat into the ring. He was dirty-tricked over ethics matters that were really a tempest in a teapot, and would like to take his revenge. But does he have what it takes to stand his ground amid the shot and shell that will be tossed his way again? And then there is the 900 lb gorilla of California Republican politics, Arnold. Certainly some distasteful stuff will come out about Arnold's private life, especially his early private life. But he may be able to weather that.

Look, California has a lot of problems. The most glaring right now is incompetent leadership in its government, that has led it into a totally needless energy crisis, and a budget crisis of almost unprecedented dimensions. People there want leadership that will make the hard choices to avoid further tax increases. Only people who are not wedded to governmental interests like Schwarzenegger (and, yes, I've been calling him "Arnold" because I didn't want to be bothered looking up how it is spelled) and Simon could do that. I don't think too many people will care overmuch about how many young starlets Arnold dated when he was single, or about the phony ethics matters that marred Simon's run last year. I think Californians, now that they understand how bad the situation really is, want anybody but Davis. They will now have it in their power to get that.

California May Actually Recall Its Governor
The word on whether Arnold will run is contradictory. I hope he does. I respect his views. The fellow has a fine business sense. He has done much good work. He has been active in politics since before anybody ever heard of Gray Davis. I respect that. He may have the star power to win, which may be the shot in the arm the California Republican Party needs.

Whatever indiscretions about photos or affairs may be in his past, he probably can overcome them. Not everyone uses his best judgment early in his career. Heck, some of the photos of Ronald Reagan when he was young were almost cheesecake, for their day. Yet he had enough substance to make a fine governor and the best president of the last half of the 20th century.

Arnold may have been wild when young. President Bush certainly was, and had serious problems then. But he steadied himself and is something of a model for good behaviour for the last 10-15 years.

But evidence that the wildness carried on into Arnold's married life may be harmful. The Republican Party is not the party of libertines, after all. That is the other major party.

Let us see what the secret files that we know have been compiled by the Democrats (and perhaps by some other Republicans interested in the nomination) contain. I will keep an open mind. If the worst that can be said against Arnold is that he posed for some nude photos that homosexuals found interesting, or that he had numerous flings with numerous women before he was married, but that he not been egregiously wayward in his married life, then I doubt that it will be enough to stop him. Of course, his business dealings will get a very tight scrutiny from the opposition. Presumably, if he plans to run, those matters are squeaky clean. For his family's sake, I hope there is little more in those files than I have speculated on.

And, now that I think of it, Arnold should be on the list of prominent conservatives who are Roman Catholics.

Judge Bork Received Into the Catholic Church
Neighbor Domenico Bettinelli is reporting, based on a Washington Post columnist, that Judge Robert Bork, the most prominent conservative judicial theorist has been received into the Roman Catholic Church. He was born Jewish, I think. He married a Catholic, and was close with Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, both of whom are Catholics.

Shall we look over the list of prominent conservatives who are Catholic again?

Justice Scalia
William F. Buckley, Jr.
Paul Johnson
William Bennett
Pat Buchanan
Justice Thomas
Judge Bork
Peggy Noonan
Mary Ann Glendon
Senator Sam Brownback (entered the Church last year)
Rep. Henry Hyde
Gov. Frank Keating

And that is just the living.

Russell Kirk
Malcolm Muggeridge
J.R.R. Tolkien
Orestes Brownson
Hilaire Belloc
Evelyn Waugh
G.K. Chesteron
Cardinal Newman

Would all be on the list if still living.

Not a one of the living on the Bishops' Review Board, now.

Come on in, Rush, the water of the Tiber is refreshing!

An Interesting Graphic
The Appendix to the AG's (it is in Adobe Acrobat, and I can't link to it) report contains an interesting graphic that breaks down the pervert priests by graduating class from Saint John's Seminary.

Things started to get out of hand in 1949, with three graduates accused. The class of '53, had 5, the class of '55, 6, the class of '57, 7, the class of '60, 8, the class of 1963, 10.

From 1949-1975, 104 acused perverts graduated from the seminary. From 1976-1999, only 8. However, enrollment was much lower during that later period.

The Archdiocese of Boston: Over 1,000 Victims, Over 250 Perverts (Though Not All Priests) Over 60 Years
The magnitude is staggering, but we knew it would be. The news report in the Globe does not say anything we did not already know. I'm going to read the report itself.

Some Sound Advice From A Bishop To His Priests Regarding Liturgical Matters
Thanks to neighbor Domenico Bettinelli for the link. Bishop Robert Morlino of Helena, Montana is urging his priests to allow kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer and from the Agnus Dei until the Concluding Prayer is about to begin. Great.

The only thing that struck me as odd was the good Bishop's assertion that the alternative to holding hands during the Pater Noster is the orans position. Really? The only alternative? What about what most everyone who isn't under the influence of the liturgical reform bug does, keeping their hands folded in front of them in the traditional position of prayer? One wonders why this was ignored as an alternative to hand-holding, which Bishop Morlino rightly dislikes.

The norm at my own parish of Saint James is to stand from the end of the Agnus Dei until one comes back from Communion, and only then to kneel. I would love to see this changed to kneeling. Without a word from Father, I don't think ours is the sort of parish that will make a change like that, even though I think it would be more reverent. In fact, I am fairly convinced that no liturgical innovations would ever have gotten off the ground without a word of encouragement from the pastor at one point or another. Catholics generally don't just start doing something unless a priest tells them to.

I am gratified that hand-holding and the orans position during the Pater Noster have not caught on here, except for a few widely scattered individuals.

This weekend, we visited Mark Shea's Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle, and found both orans and hand-holding firmly entrenched. We were sitting fairly close to the front (a dozen pews back) and did not look back, but it seemed most everyone we could see was using one of the two positions (while we kept our hands in the traditional posture).

I have seen adults in the posture we teach children to pray in, with the hands pressed together and fairly high up on the chest, and the fingertips just under the lips. In fact, we saw an old fellow in Anchorage at Holy Family Cathedral doing it. But it is so exaggerated, it seems like an affectation. I don't denigrate anyone's sincerity if they use that position. It is just that it seems exaggerated to me in an adult.

Hands folded on the belly was good enough for the honest peasant folk in the painting, The Angelus. It is good enough for me. And it was nearly universal in my experience prior to the advent of the liturgical busybodies in, say, 1990 (that is probably too late a date, but I attended a mildly liturgically conservative parish in my youth, and these things penetrated more slowly).

Fall River Has a New Bishop
Yesterday, Bishop George Coleman was installed as the Fall River Diocese's seventh bishop. We wish every succes to Bishop Coleman in his ministry. May the Holy Spirit guide him in his decisions and the leadership of his flock.

Looks Like We Did Indeed Get Saddam's Murderous Sons
So much for the Hussein Dynasty. Now with only the old man holding out, and he with nothing to fight for but his own life, the end of the resistance in Iraq should be much nearer. The only negative is that much of the resistance is from Moslem fanatics from various parts of the world who have volunteered to attack Americans in Iraq. If it were all just Iraqis, it would all be just about over now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Men of the 101st Airborne May Have Just Accounted For Saddam's Sons
We'll know more after the DNA tests are done.

Ironic, Ain't It?
I checked the high temperatures for our vacation in AccuWeather. It was hotter in Anchorage during our vacation than here in Salem. Mrs. F. complains bitterly of the hot summers in Boston, and gets hotter weather when she returns to Anchorage after 4 years in New England than they had here. Of course, it was more humid here.

They Don't Make Us Eat It: We Do That Ourselves
Neil Cavuto has a great column today, carried by TownHall.com, on the effort to make the fast-food industry the next target of the plaintiffs' bar. I say a hearty Amen to Cavuto on this one.

Fast food has been one of the loves of my life. Yet McDonald's, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Taco Bell are not responsible for me not exercising. I shovelled the food in. I didn't exercise to get it off. The result: I am very round about the middle and have more chins than a Chinese phonebook.

And, while we are making shameful revelations, the fast food industry is not the only culprit. Godiva sells ice cream. So does most of the dairy industry, including local dairy superpower H P Hood. I am known for my ability to take down a half gallon for breakfast (though I have not done so lately). I also like foods that accumulate the calories like that sublime and mood-altering drug known as chocolate (taken daily and often in vast quantities here, including a box of See's truffles while we were in Anchorage). And cheese. What is more delightful than a great Vermont cheddar melted between slices of bread fried in butter with a hint of dijon mustard? Or Welsh Rarebit? Or, for that matter, bacon or sausage for breakfast? Or marinated sirloin tips, as we had last night?

Nope. The fast-food industry did not give me the 48-inch waistline I sport today. I did it. Not only did I relish the foods that pack on the pounds, but my level of activity would make a slug seem vigorous. And I have steadfastly avoided the foods that minimize the effect. Vegetables are nearly a stranger to my cuisine. When I eat them they are covered in a creamy or buttery sauce. About the only nutritionally bad thing I don't partake of is beer. I've had maybe two dozen beers in the 18 years since I could drink legally. So none of those 48 inches in my spare tire is the result of beer-drinking.

Can't blame the people who produce the stuff. The fault, dear Tom, lies with me, that I am fat.

Idi Amin Is Dying In Saudi Arabia
I doubt many will mourn him. I certainly shall not.

Paul Johnson, in the latest edition of Modern Times, at pages 533-535, gives a full account of Amin's unique reliance on Khadafy and the Palestinians to stay in power, his butchery, and ritual cannibalism (keeping body parts of certain enemies in a refrigerator to gain "power" from as needed). With a Ugandan population at the time only 5% Moslem, he managed to govern in the Moslem interest with the help of particularly brutal Palestinian bodyguards and executioners/torturers. Libya and Saudi Arabia have given this wretch refuge since his government collapsed back in the Reagan Administration. More shame of them for refusing to bring this tyrant to justice. Good-bye to bad trash.

God, of course, may yet make something of this brutal lump. I cannot.

Should We Offer Saddam His Control Over Iraq Back?
The bitching and moaning about the intelligence on WMD in Iraq has continued from the left. I don't care that the evidence so far has not supported that particular reason for geting rid of Saddam. The simple fact is that it was a necessary step in prosecuting the war on terrorism, a step that is having an impact even now on Syria and Iran. The president has the power to wage war as he sees fit. The Iraq campaign can only be understood as a part of a much larger effort. Whatever justifications were used for public consumption, the fact remains that this was an effort to drain the swamp in which al Qaeda flourishes. And it seems to be succeeding.

For those carping about the absence so far of WMD, answer two questions.

1) What part of multiple causality do you not understand? If an action is justified by A, B, and C (A being WMD, B being links to terrorism, C being human rights abuses) and B and C are fully proven to the satisfaction of any objective observer, as is the case here, and A does not pan out (or at least has not yet), you cannot claim that the action was not justified.

2) Since the WMD have not materialized, shall we invite Saddam to resume full power over the Iraqi government? No? Then shut up.

Good For Senator Hatch!
Senate judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch has announced that he will schedule hearings on four judicial nominees despite the fact that they were "blue-slipped" by Michigan's two Democrat senators. Under an odd Senate procedure, senators from the state with the federal judical vacancy have had the power to essentially prevent the nomination from being considered by the committee by "blue-slipping" the nominee.

Under the Constitution, the Senate is only to give its advice and consent to the nomination of federal judges. There is nothing in the Constitution that says or implies that the senators from the state where the judicial vacancy happens to be have any special status in regard to the nomination. The President makes the nominations, and the Senate as a whole must consider them, and approve or reject them on a simple majority vote.

It is good to see that Senator Hatch is throwing aside this extra-constitutional constraint on the President's ability to get a hearing for his nominees.

A Bloody Day In Monrovia
The government, which I am not sure can be believed, places the death toll in yesterday's fighting in Monrovia at over 600. It is a terrible shame that so many have died in the effort to rid Liberia of a failed and corrupt government (not that I know the would-be successors to be any better). Requiescat in pace.

US Marines are either en route, or there already to protect the US embassy, which took a hit in the shelling yesterday. They will also try to safeguard US citizens present there. The Administration is resisting efforts to send a larger body of troops to stabilize the situation. I believe they are correct in this. We have little interest in Liberia, besides history. Our armed forces are stretched thin, with low-intensity fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan continuing, as well as fighting in the Philippines. North Korea remains dangerously unstable. China's intentions towards Taiwan remain murky. We need troops on the Mexican border to keep out illegals. No, we cannot afford to commit serious numbers of troops to Liberia, or the Congo (where 5 million are said to have died in the civil war that has raged there for years). We have enough to worry about waging the war on terror. Even if we had the troops, we can't fix every problem in the world, unless it threatens international stability.

Grand Jury Report Due Tomorrow
Attorney General Tom Reilly will release a report on the grand jury investigation into the pervert priest crisis tomorrow. You can expect, as we reported yesterday, that there will be no indictments. However, I expect the report to offer some withering criticism of the Archdiocese and its leaders in the last 50 years. And justly so.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Why Gay Men Ought To Be Excluded From Ordination, Part 347
Catch the part about Shanley passing his victims around to other priests?

Requiescat In Pace
Last week, well-known Boston-area car dealer Ernie Boch, Sr. died. Boch was ubiquitous on television and radio in the 1970s and 1980s, since he advertised heavily, and appeared in his own ads. His famous tag line: "Here at Boch (Toyota, Oldsmobile, whatever) have no mortgages. To have the lowest prices, you must have the lowest costs. It's only natural...Come on down!". He was also a generous donor for many local causes. His son, Ernie Jr., does the ads now, and still uses the line that made his father a regional celebrity. Requiescat in pace.

Pizza Can Prevent Cancer!
Hello, Salem House of Pizza? Could you send over an extra large with extra cheese and pepperoni? Do you need the prescription number?

Cardinal Law Won't Be At The Installation Of Archbishop O'Malley
Undoubtably a very good thing that Typhoid Bernie stays away. There may be a time when he can begin to re-integrate himself in the public life of the Church. But that time is not now. His presence would mar the proceedings.

No Indictments For Archdiocese
Cardinal Law and the Archdiocese of Boston will not face criminal charges stemming from the grand jury's investigation into the handling of pervert priests by the Arhdiocese.

I am of two minds here. I would have liked to see some criminal punishment for the willful endangerment of Catholic children. With the hundreds of instances of molestation by priests over the last 50 years, it would have been fitting and proper to see those primarily responsible, Cardinal Law, Bishop Banks, Bishop McCormack, Bishop Daily, face a day in court, even if they were never convicted, or only pled guilty to minor charges. It would be just.

On the other hand, the Church in Boston needs to get this mess behind it. The settlement of the civil law suits is delayed in part because the insurance carriers have been hoping that the state would charge the Archdiocese, thus possibly allowing them to refuse to participate in the settlement on the grounds that the insured committed criminal acts, beyond the scope of the coverage. With the Commonwealth not indicting on this matter, it becomes much harder for the insurance companies to use this defense (harder, but not impossible). This will tend to get the pending litigation settled more quickly, and allow the Church here to really begin to heal. The wound may be badly infected, but at least it will no longer be openly festering.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Seattle and Blessed Sacrament Parish
The vacation was all too short. While we were around Seattle, we saw some interesting things, including what I took to be a functional B-17 (WWII vintage US bomber, used primarily in the ETO) at the Renton Airport, and one of our current aircraft carriers, together with its battle group, at anchor in Bremerton.

In answer to those who say the Novus Ordo Mass cannot be celebrated with beauty, dignity, and reverence, I have seen it with my own eyes. Saturday evening, we checked out Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle's University district. The celebrant was the priest who married us 4 years ago this week, when he was assigned to the cathedral in Anchorage (he is now prior of the Dominican community which staffs the parish). This is also the home parish of blogging colleague Mark Shea.

What a lovely old church, and what a lovely Mass!

I only have four minor quibbles (best to get those out first). The Tabernacle is in a side chapel, and the celebrant's throne is where the Eucharist should be (however, the side chapel is visible from most parts of the nave, which is much better than hiding the Eucharist somewhere in back).

The parish seems to have been indoctrinated in using the "hands up," or "Orans" position (or holding hands) during the Pater Noster (which I think should be reserved for the priest). The laity ought to kep their hands folded in the traditional "praying" position in front of them as they always did, until recently, in this area.

Communion under both species with several EECs, which of course is theologically unnecessary (and from the number of people bowing before receiving, it seems as if GIRM is being rigorously enforced: a sign of reverence is welcome, I just prefer to bless myself after receiving, and I prefer to receive on the tongue).

And they added a long strophe to the Agnus Dei, which we know is contrary to a ruling from the Vatican from last year. But the Agnus Dei was in Latin(!), as was the Sanctus, while the Kyrie was in Greek.

That said, what a lovely experience! This was one of the most beautiful Masses I have attended. The music was provided by a female soloist, and an 8-member male choir. All the singing was unaccompanied, and sounded almost like "cloister echo" Much of the Mass was in plainchant (in English). None of the music was done by Marty Haugen or David Haas. There were two hymns I was unfamiliar with because they were old ones that have fallen out of favor here.

The readings were done with care and were well-articulated. There was not too much chatter before Mass. The congregation was a reasonable cross section of society. Not all 60-somethings, as you see here in Salem. They conducted themselves with reverence and dignity.

A former pastor who is now doing missionary work in Africa gave the homily (sort of disappointing, since we wanted to hear Father Adams, who is one of our favorite priests). However, he did connect his discussion of the physical conditions of his new parish with the readings for the week. (and man, those readings were spot on for us here in Boston, as our new Archbishop is being installed this week: check out today's first reading and Gospel to see what I mean).

There was no glad-handing, no effort to turn the celebrant into the emcee of a TV talk show. No one was asked to introduce themselves to anybody, no one was asked if they were having a birthday, or if they were from out of town.

The setting was almost all that could be desired. The church was built in 1910 (12 years after my own parish's current church was built), and retains it's tall spire, pointed arches, side-shrines to various saints, stained glass featuring Dominican saints, confessionals, pews with kneelers (that are used), a communion rail (that, sadly, is not). The baptismal fountain is where it belongs (just inside the nave) and will not be confused with a jacuzzi by anyone. Blessed Sacrament features nothing odd or off-putting, though an unfortunate 1960s-1970s remodelling of the Sanctuary remains in place.

I would rate the physical plant of the church as not quite the thing (but close), as there seems to me to be a little too much interior brick. The floors were concrete slab. However, since a restoration fund was prominently mentioned during the Mass, we can assume that the floors will receive some appropriate covering. I have to rate the iconographic program and interior design of my own parish, Saint James here in Salem, higher from an aesthetic perspective. But Blessed Sacrament is in a better state of preservation, and seems to be a more active and vibrant parish. Though my Saint James rates higher aesthetically, I would almost kill to have a Mass as beautiful as Blessed Sacrament's here.

Folks who happen to find themselves in Seattle on a Saturday evening (5:45) would greatly profit from hearing Mass at Blessed Sacrament parish. It is a gem with very few flaws. It was wonderful to see this Catholic community come to this beautiful place to hear a Mass as close to the traditional as you can get. Don't believe me? Check out the parish's superb website (and take the virtual tour).

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