Friday, April 29, 2005

A Reflection On Relativism

Lileks has once again waxed philosophical. In this instance, he takes a look at a movie review which sees equivalence where none exists.

Of Doctrines And Options

Daniel Henninger of the WSJ takes an interesting look at how Ronald Reagan's "tearing down the wall" of the Fairness Doctrine led to the rise of conservative media, and ultimately how this has led to the siege mentality of the Democrats.

The Fairness Doctrine was a federal regulation, dating to 1949, which mandated "contrasting viewpoints" from broadcasters. In reality, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that incumbents got "free" TV coverage across their terms while challengers got crumbs. The Fairness Doctrine was also an early nuclear option: If a local broadcaster's news operation made the local congressman or his party look bad, Washington could threaten to blow up his broadcast license.

Ronald Reagan tore down this wall in 1987 (maybe as spring training for Berlin) and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination.


Liberals now marvel at the energy and output of the conservative "movement"--the talk shows, the think tanks, the blogosphere. No need to wonder; they compressed the rocket fuel for the inevitable explosion.


For Democrats, judicial philosophy is a cultural Armageddon. Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy have turned the Senate into a Branch Davidian compound. No one in the liberal cult is allowed to leave, including the hostage nominees--unless they recant their conservatism. How many Senate Democrats plan to be in this bunker when Bill Frist's ATF squad detonates the "nuclear option"?

Time was, "choice" for conservatives mainly meant accepting one's lot in life. Now they have options, lots of them.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I've Joined The Exodus

Away from using Internet Explorer as my browser. Switching to Firefox has been completely painless. I highly recommend it. Web pages load much, much faster, and there is unparalleled control over blocking pop-up windows and nuking animated ads. Plus Firefox is an honestly written application that does not tinker around with the entire freakin' operating system when it is installed or when it is run, resulting in a better running machine without all the resource leaks, odd behaviors, etc. Also, it fixes the horrific problems I was having with the blogger edit box spending 40% of its time writing the "recover post" file thereby making it almost impossible to use.

When it installs, it copies all of your Explorer settings and bookmarks, so you are off to the races immediately.

A Big Name Starts Blogging

Darth Vader now has his own blog and it's pretty good. It's nice to see the warmer, more personal side of a Dark Lord of the Sith.

At any rate, the attack on the hidden rebel base began and I had General Veers mount a ground assault. Once his walkers had destroyed the rebel generator I made planetfall and personally supervised our incursion into the base. I must say that the stormtroopers' new heavy weather gear makes them look very cool. Hats off to Palpatine. (Most people don't know this but His Excellency designs all of our outerwear personally; he has a real flair for geometry, and a great sense of line.)

Due to Ozzel's bungling we arrived too late, and the lion's share of the rebel terrorists had already escaped. I could feel the presence of my son, but he was not at the base. The good news is that as I came into the rebel landing bay I saw the renegade Han Solo escorting the traitor Leia Organa aboard the same Corellian freighter that we captured them in last year. And do you know who else was with them? C-3P0!

Talk about a blast from the past!

Good Stanley Kurtz Column

Good column.

Compare this liberal fantasy of imminent theocracy to the reality of Lawrence v. Texas and Roper v. Simmons (the Supreme Court decision that appealed to European precedents to overturn capital punishment for juveniles).

Both of these decisions relied on the existence of a supposed national consensus on behalf of social liberalism. In conjuring up that false consensus, the Court treated conservative Christians as effectively nonexistent. That is the reality of where the law is, and where it is headed. It is completely unsurprising that after a long train of such decisions, conservative Christians have decided they’re tired of being trampled on by the courts. The reality we face is judicially imposed same-sex marriage in opposition to the clearly expressed wishes of the American people. Yet to cover its imperial judicial agenda, the Left is now concocting nonsensical fantasies of theocratically imposed capital punishment for witchcraft. Yes, witchcraft is back. Only now traditional Christians have been cast in the role of devious enemies who need to be ferreted out by society’s defenders.

Hedges invokes the warnings of his old Harvard professor against “Christian fascists.” Supposedly, Christians carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance are the new Hitlers. The Left is loathe to treat Islamic terrorists as moral reprobates, but when it comes to conservative Christians, Hedges calls on his fellow liberals to renounce their relativist scruples and acknowledge “the power and allure of evil.”

Hedges needn’t worry. For a very long time now, secular liberals have treated conservative Christians as the modern embodiment of evil, the one group you’re allowed to openly hate. Although barely noticed by the rest of us, this poison has been floating through our political system for decades. Traditional Christians are tired of it, and I don’t blame them. That doesn’t justify rhetorical excess from either side. But the fact of the matter is that the Left’s rhetorical attacks on conservative Christians have long been more extreme, more widely disseminated, and more politically effective than whatever the Christians have been hurling back. And now that their long ostracism by the media has finally forced conservative Christians to demand redress, the Left has abandoned all rhetorical restraint.

Majority Vote Wins

Coulter cuts through the fog. Lots of good stuff in this column, here's a teaser:
In one sentence Republicans should state that the so-called "nuclear option" means: "Majority vote wins." (This is as opposed to the Democrats' mantra, which is, "Our side always wins.")

I am sublimely confident that normal Americans will not be shocked to learn that a Republican Senate plans to confirm the judicial nominees of a Republican president – despite the objections of radical elements of a party that is the minority in the Senate, the minority in the House, the loser in the last two presidential races, the minority in state governorships, and the minority in all but a tiny number of very small but densely populated enclaves in this country that need to tax Rush Limbaugh, even though he lives in another state, just to keep all their little socialist programs afloat.

The question Republicans need to ask is: Why do the Democrats want to keep judicial nominees like Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen off the federal bench?

As I understand it, the reason Democrats are in a blind rage about Priscilla Owen is that, as a state court judge in Texas, Owen interpreted a law passed by the Texas Legislature requiring parental consent for 14-year-old girls to have abortions to mean that parental consent was required for 14-year-old girls to have abortions.

I think Americans need to hear Democrats explain that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Myth Of Blind Obedience

Good Michael Novak essay about the nature of Catholic faith.

Lefties: 'Abu Ghraib' Does Not Symbolize What You Think It Symbolizes

A couple of letters to the editor in response to this WSJ article say it best:
Liberals Use Abu Ghraib as a Weapon--Against Themselves
Duane Speight - Prosperity, S.C.

I wish someone would research how much the Abu Ghraib kerfuffle hurt the Democrats. Everywhere I went all I heard was how could any real American be more concerned about some joker putting panties on a terrorist's head than about poor terrified innocents having their heads slowly sawed off in front of video cameras.

In my opinion, the liberal Democrats and their sycophants in the media have suffered irreparable damage over Abu Ghraib. The coddling of Muslim terrorists while persecuting American soldiers is now a graven image in the Democrats' permanent political portfolio.

The left has long been known to most Americans as unpatriotic. Why would liberal journalists even wish to report, much less editorialize, on any issue that emphasizes this weakness? And during an election year!

'Overhyped' Is an Understatement
C.K. Amos - Princeton, W.Va.

Overhyped? Not even close to describing how overreported and overblown Abu Ghraib was and remains.

It's 12:20 a.m. EDT Wednesday. I just searched the New York Times archives for "Abu Ghraib" and got 1,000 hits. A Google search for that exact phrase returned about 2,470,000 hits. Of those, No. 2 was Sy Hersh's New Yorker tome, "Torture at Abu Ghraib."

For comparison, a Google search of " 'mass graves' Iraq" got 311,000 hits. "Oil-for-Food Scandal" got 458,000 hits. " 'Free elections' Iraq" produced 175,000 hits.

Based on this instant research through the most popular Web search engine, that means there's 800% more mention in cyberspace about Abu Ghraib than the murder of as many as 300,000 men, women and children by Saddam Hussein and his monsters. There's 540% more than for the worst scandal in U.N. history that surely led to the deaths of Iraqis, Americans and coalition troops. And a free election for more than 25 million Iraqis in almost four decades got 8% the attention paid to it as Abu Ghraib.

The Dems, liberals and leftists can protest all they want that they're aren't biased, as can the advocacy media. Execrable is the most printable word I can find to describe their words and pusillanimous about their behavior about things that matter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Speech That Needs To Be Given

Hugh Hewitt has written a speech that he wishes some class of 2002 or 2004 Republican Senator would give to his colleagues.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Vastly Overrated Clown

I'm talking about Alan Greenspan, the most reckless Fed Chairman in the history of a deeply flawed institution (The dollar has lost 95% of its value since the Fed was established, and the Fed's first major achievement just 16 years after its founding was a little thing called "The Great Depression"). Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley is one of the most highly respected bond portfolio managers in the world. It looks like he's just about at the end of his rope.

The piece begins thusly:
In all my years in this business, never before have I seen a central bank attempt to spin the debate as America’s Federal Reserve has over the past six or seven years. From the New Paradigm mantra of the late 1990s to today’s new theories of the current-account adjustment, the US central bank has led the charge in attempting to rewrite conventional macroeconomics and in making an effort to convince market participants of the wisdom of its revisionist theories. The problem is that this recasting of macro is very self-serving. It is a concentrated effort on the part of the Fed to exonerate itself from the Original Sin of failing to address asset bubbles. The result is an ever-deepening moral hazard dilemma that poses grave threats to financial markets.

I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. But the Fed’s behavior since the late 1990s is starting to change my mind. It all began with Alan Greenspan’s worries over “irrational exuberance” on December 5, 1996, when a surging Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 6437. The subsequent Fed tightening in March 1997 was aimed not only at the asset bubble itself, but at the impacts such excessive appreciation in equity markets were having on the real economy -- consumers and businesses alike. It was a classic example of the Fed playing the role of the tough guy -- the central bank that, to paraphrase the words of former Chairman William McChesney Martin, “takes away the punchbowl just when the party is getting good.” Unfortunately, the tough guys weren’t so tough after all. Predictably, there was a huge outcry on Capitol Hill as the Fed took aim on the US stock market. But rather than stay the course as an independent central bank should, the Fed ran for cover in the face of political criticism. Not only were its initial bubble-containment efforts put aside, but Alan Greenspan went on to champion the notion of a sea-change in the macro climate -- a once-in-a-century productivity miracle that would justify the stock market’s exuberance as rational. That was the Original Sin that has since been compounded in the years that have followed.

Maybe you've noticed the New Era of ever appreciating Real Estate and guaranteed profits with no money down? This is nothing but "Dot Com, The Sequel". The Stephen Roach piece is worth reading if you want an inkling of what's really going on in finance-land.

The Real Story

A nice passage from Hugh Hewitt:
What utter nonsense, this idea of American Republicans divided into two camps based upon religious certainty. Does Sullivan even believe this? The vast, vast majority of Americans, of both parties, are common-sense folk, who don't much like taxes or governemtn bureaucrats or judges deciding that all of a sudden two men can get married. They believe in killing terrorists before they kill us, get teary-eyed when they see troops leaving or coming home, and would never think of imposing their religious beliefs on their neighbor or a stranger.

They wish primarily to be left alone, and the overwhelming thrust of most organized religion in American history is to keep government far away from the church's door.

But neither will religious people put up with the second-class status the left is demanding they accept, a status that says they must not ever mention their faith in the course of their conversations about politics, or their view of what constitutes sin. They don't like planning commissions telling them their churches are too big and their traffic jams too inconvenient, and they think a tax credit for the cost of parochial education would be very nice given the collapse of public education in some cities, and they get really ticked off when Democratic Senators brand as "outside of the mainstream" judicial nominees who believe the same things they believe.

They think of themselves as ordinary, normal Americans, and they have had it with being lectured to about how intolerant they are, how they are the "American Taliban." They voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush. They like the new pope. They think James Dobson has done a lot of good over the years and think it is sick and hateful to brand him the Ayatollah bin Dobson.

And if they had ever heard of Andrew Sullivan and had read this particular article, they would think him very silly indeed. And invite him to their next potluck.

Ain't It The Truth

A little side remark from Hugh Hewitt today:
All these pointers on a Monday morning are just a way of underscoring George Will's point of why the sound of a paper hitting the driveway "may become as anachronistic as the clatter of horses' hooves on urban cobblestones."

There is much better commentary, and far more current news online than in the paper that went to bed hours ago, prepared lovingly by a group of agenda journalists whom you cannot trust to fairly report the facts. You chose which to read.

All In A Bunch

Andrew Sullivan receives a well-earned fisking here.

The Conclave was full of conservatives, becuase the current College of Cardinals is full of those who believe the Catholic church should (shocker!) hold fast to God's teachings. I know this is hard to take for a guy like Sullivan, whose feelings have turned his political philosophy into an incoherent mess. The only consistency in Sullivan's recent political writings is his invective against people of faith. His transformation from reasonable conservative into anti-religious bigot has been a long time coming, and this column is proof of how far he's fallen.


And then we come to the point of Sullivan's whining - "modern, open-minded" Catholicism is desirable. Traditional, Biblical Catholicism is something to be avoided. After all, it's the dirty fundamentalist theocrats that believe all that nonsense in the holy book, right?

I'm still in shock at the rank arrogance of Catholics like Andrew Sullivan, who believe it's their right to put their own feelings above God's teachings. Who believe it's okay for a minority of Catholics - those in the West- to dictate where the church should go. During the run up to the Iraq War, American liberals, including Sullivan, decried the "unilateralism" of the Bush administration. Now they're attempting a little of it themselves.

"Before you remove the speck from your neighbor's eye..." indeed.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Excellent Online Lecture

On April 19, Stephen C. Meyer, an intelligent design theorist, gave an excellent lecture at the Heritage Foundation (the next day he did a debate at the National Press Club). Meyer is sort of the Steve Jobs of the Intelligent Design movement, and I was quite impressed when I first read his work about 8 years ago. Although it is probably necessary to read some of the key books of the ID movement to thoroughly understand what is being argued, and how rigorously it is being supported (Darwin's Black Box, The Design Revolution, Darwin On Trial, Icons of Evolution, Darwinism: A Theory In Crisis), the lecture is pretty darned good.

The lecture is available online (link comes from this page).

The MSM still often insists on portraying ID advocates as closet bible-thumpin' creationist theocratic morons, but the lecture puts the lie to that slanderous idea.

Meyer also does a nice job handling questions. At one point a questioner says that "Well, if you gave your students a million years to draw scrabble pieces at random, they would come up with an A thru Z sequence at some point." Meyer answers this well, but the question highlighted a flaw I constantly see exhibited by evolutionists, who think its sufficient to say, "A billion years is a long, long time, so anything can happen!" Well, no. A billion years is a very short time. The probability of getting an A-Z sequence of randomly selected scrabble pieces (assuming you are drawing from a huge bag of them) is one out of 26 raised to the 26th power, which is one out of 6.2 * 10^36. Assuming 1 draw per second, that's 2 * 10^29 years, or 13,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the age of the universe. Just a wee bit longer than a million years! The nonchalance with which Darwinists throw around "it happened by chance" explanations without calculating odds is just astonishing to me. And I've seen time and time again on internet discussion boards the shouting down of folks who dare to actually calculate the odds. Maybe it's just me, but if someone claims a chance explanation, then the burden is on them to calculate the odds and show that they are reasonable.


From today's letters to the SF Chronicle:
Media are clueless about the pope

Editor -- Media oblivion to views they don't understand is rarely better expressed than in the April 20 Chronicle report on the election of the new pope, ("New pope calls himself 'a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' ").

Election of 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, says the article, reflects the cardinals' wish to "continue the strict conservative policies of John Paul II" and so provide a "transitional reign before taking on the daunting issues of the 21st century."

It doesn't occur to the writer that the cardinals, being religious Catholics, actually consider traditional Catholicism a basis for "taking on the daunting issues" of this or any other century. Rather, they must be simply naming this old guy who presumably won't last long, in order to take a breather before deciding to come to their senses and make the church a realistic institution that better follows the market and the opinion polls.

Like Pravda in the old Soviet Union, U.S. mass media see everything through one prism -- corporate and materialistic -- that denies the views of others without understanding them. In so doing, it radically distorts our view of the world and reactions to it.


Editor -- Cardinal Ratzinger is an obdurate stone in the Catholic hierarchy, a man so mired in the rigid inequities of the church with a view of God's world impervious to change, even when that change brings light and hope to millions of believers. I am convinced that the Catholic Church has drafted its own epitaph by choosing this uncompromising man, and whether it survives the next 50 years in its present form is open to serious debate.
The world is not made of stone but of the flesh and blood of people who love, regardless of the narrowly proscribed dictates of the church.

Jesus promised that each man or woman is equal in God's eyes, but the Catholic Church has, through its lust for power and dominion over the faithful, chosen for hundreds of years to ignore that simple and eloquent message.

It is time to rock the foundation, and Pope Benedict XVI is hardly the man with the tools for the job.

San Francisco

Editor -- The Chronicle's front-page article on the election of Pope Benedict XVI declares, "the nation's 65 million Catholics are divided over such issues as abortion, birth control, stem-cell research, priestly celibacy and the ordination of women". Every news article and every TV broadcast has echoed a similar comment.

However, I am one Catholic who recognizes that it is for every Catholic to order his or her thinking and lives to conformity to our faith as defined by the authority in the papacy and not the other way around. Religious principles are not about being popular or easy but about what the leaders of the faith determine are the right and just paths. For those who dissent, let them search for the strength to align themselves with the teachings of the church. If they cannot, there are plenty of churches around who like to teach what the people want to hear.


A Most Excellent Putdown

I always enjoy finding debates in comment threads. This particular thread is not all that interesting in itself, but it does contain the following putdown (the putdown is in bold):

"Jansweetzillygald, let me educate you on the use of the English language. 'Never served' is not the same as 'dodged the draft.' Note that the letters are different, and arranged in different patterns. I'm typing this as slowly as I can for you.

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Smart New Blogger

New to me, anyway. I've been reading his blog for about a week, and I am impressed. His latest post is quite good, and this other post has a brilliant bit:
I was just reading Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason...where his post quotes William Dembski who catches atheistic scientists in an act of dogma:

In the New York Review of Books Lewontin confesses that evolutionists hold their view “because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism… [and] we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes…[to] produce material explanations no matter however counter-intuitive.... Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

See? This is my whole beef with evolution vs. Intelligent Design...everybody has a bias. Not all biases are created equal however, and I'd say that an admittedly selfish bias is more suspect than a world view based on the words of Christ, "No greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for his friends."

One world view says I can have lots of hookers behind my wife's back without guilt, the other says I can't even look at a little porn. Which would be most likely invented to by "homo-erectus"?

Petite, Single Serving, And Chock Full Of Spicy Goodness.

The can of whupass The Anchoress opens up on this absurd piece, that is. Read the WaPo piece first, then The Anchoress. Nowhere will you find a more concentrated bunch of liberal condescension, nor a better rebuttal.

Jonah Goldberg Reads Sesame Street The Riot Act

This is just too good to excerpt. Marcus Aurelius, the nature of things, and an outrage against the very being and selfhood of the Cookie Monster.

Great Moments In Cowardice And Ineptitude

Republican Senators. Is there anything they can't not do? Oliver North takes a look at the latest foolishness, spinelessness, and rudderless crashing into the styrofoam rocks.

And therein lies the problem for Mr. Bolton, and anyone else willing to accept an appointment from this administration. Vicious assaults and legislative obstruction have long been key parts of the liberal Democrat agenda. But lack of support from the Republican majority has turned the confirmation process into an ordeal by fire. For all the Republican talk about a "nuclear option" to stop filibusters on stalled judicial nominees, the GOP has been firing blanks from water pistols while liberal Democrats beat White House nominees like rented mules.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Excellent Editorial About Blogs By A Publishing Insider

I really liked this piece. The simple fact is, I'd be happy to read a newspaper if it was written by intelligent, honest people, instead of dimly-informed Grade-C intellects trying to push an agenda.

Lots of good stuff, here are a few nice paragraphs:
If you've remained nonplussed as they took down Dan Rather and four of his Black Rock colleagues, if you haven't the slightest interest in acquainting yourself with the blogosphere, don't move an inch. You won't have to. Bloggers will be knocking on your door any day now. Or knocking it down.

To many of you, bloggers are a presumptuous rabble-amateurs elbowing their way into the publishing world. You may not know them, but they know youyour face, your manners, your prejudices, your conceits.

They're your readers. And, God help us, they've become the one thing we've always begged them to become ...



The Power Line bloggers aren't journalists. They're attorneys whose pedigrees include Dartmouth, Stanford, and Harvard law. There is undeniable heft to their argument, so that to watch an exchange between the conservatives at Power Line and the lefty columnist at the Star Tribune is to watch an intellectual mismatch that is, frankly, embarrassing.


To Hugh Hewitt (, the blogospheres leading cheerleader and one of its most polished practitioners, you are Stalingrad in 1944. Your institutions are hollowed out and your walls are scorched.

But of course, Stalingrad held, didn't it? And that gets me to the second definition of bloggers.

They are your light in the tunnel.


They're already teaching us today how to own up to our mistakes. You don't stonewall, as Dan Rather did. You fess up immediately and with full transparency. There's a lot of garbage on the blogosphere, but there is a high tier where the product is superior and is drawing mass readership. On those blogs, correcting error is part of the culture.

It has to be, explains mystery novelist and screenwriter Roger L. Simon on his blog "Bloggers-at least those with sizable audiences -are subject to more editing and fact-checking than virtually any mainstream media journalist. . . . I have written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle-among others-and received nowhere near the amount of editing I get on here. I make a factual error on this blog, and I am often corrected within minutes."

Sullivan, It's Simple. You're A Freakin' Loser.

I'm sorry, but Andrew Sullivan just keeps getting stupider and stupider. Here's his latest:
MORAL EQUIVALENCE WATCH: If you want to see how some of the most extreme theocons regard liberal democracy, read this paragraph:

In this regard, the consumerism and relativism of the West can be just as dangerous as the totalitarianism of the East: It's just as easy to forget about God while dancing to an iPod as while marching in a Hitler Youth rally. There's a difference, to be sure, but hardly anyone would contest the observation that in elite Western society, as in totalitarian Germany, the moral vocabulary has been purged of the idea of sin. And if there's no sense of sin, then there's no need for a Redeemer, or for the Church.

A free society where people can listen to iPods and freely debate their own ideas of truth and the good life is all but indistinguishable from a Nuremberg rally? And we have no notion of sin? None? That's just bizarre. We simply have a somehwat different idea of sin and immorality than the theocons. But from the theocon point of view, the glorious achievement of the secular West is as nihilistic and as dangerous as the Nazis. That is Benedict XVI's view. I don't think people have a clue how radical this man is. And how ferocious a culture war he is about to unleash.
- 11:50:00 AM

Andrew, other than liking incense and pretty vestments, why do you consider yourself a Catholic? The obtuseness it took to even make a post like the above is just immense. You prove the very point Ratzinger was making. You, sir, have no sense of sin.

Yesterday, I was thinking about what constitutes the one unforgivable sin, that which Jesus calls "the sin against the Holy Spirit". As far as I can gather, it works like this: it is one thing to screw up and commit a sin, even a mortal sin. You can repent and obtain forgiveness through the sacrament of confession. If you have the attitude, "I know what I am doing is wrong, I'm a screw-up, I need help!", there is hope for you. But woe to you if you say, "My Church is wrong, it needs to change, I'm not doing anything wrong!" That is a sin of a whole different order in which you are trying to redefine the very nature of good and evil, and constitutes a much deeper rebellion against God. Jesus said "Woe to the man who calls evil good and good evil". I don't think He was joking.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Andrew Sullivan. I pray for the guy. His attitude is nothing short of tragic. It's going to take a miracle for him to see the truth. Let's not forget to pray for him, folks.

Cast Out Your Nets For A Catch

Went over to The Anchoress as my first stop today. A veritable Sea of Galilee full of interesting links. Here are two. First, an excellent observation:
Do they have any idea how hypocritical they look?

These are the same newspapers that have spent the last four years losing their minds over the evil “neocons” who believe that we ought to be aggressively spreading democracy around the world. These are the same newspapers that nearly faint when one of our diplomats is openly critical of another government’s laws. My guess is that you woulnd’t have to look very far back in the archives of any of these papers before you’ll find an article critical of “McCapitalism” or explaining how bad we are for acting like we rule the world.

Yet here they are acting like the world must listen to them and that it is somehow backwards and oppressive if it doesn’t. Moreover, they didn’t even wait a day into the new Pope’s term (reign? admininstration?) before they launched their criticisms. Would they have treated any other leader of a sovereign nation that way (did you forget that the Pope is also a Head of State?)? The hypocrisy, when you think about it, is staggering.

What these folks fail to understand, for many of the reasons Hewitt cites in his post, is that the Catholic Church is made up of billions of people, the vast majority of whom are quite happy with the Church’s doctrines and traditions and who have no desire to see them changed. In fact, I’d wager that they’d be quite angry if the Church decided to flip on issues like gay and female priests, contraceptives, and gay marriage. They’re much less interested in arguing with the Church than they are in making sure they have a good relationship with their Heavenly Father. I’m sure they’d be less than amused to know that we here in America think that the Church needs to change to suit us and that we weren’t very interested at all in what they thought of it.

But who cares about the Catholics in Latin America and Africa who have joined in huge numbers in the past few years? Sure, we use them as a prop when we need to bash the Church on its teachings about contraceptives (yet we ignore the fact that if people followed the church’s teachings on abstinence and sex, we wouldn’t have an AIDS epidemic anywhere), but aside from that they are well advised to shut up and do what we say. because we’re Americans and we know best, right?

Secondly, we have this nice capsule summary of a blogger's conversion from atheism to theism. In part of his essay he mentions the usual strikes against Christianity: The Crusades, The Inquisition, Galileo, and also mentions that these are greatly exaggerated and caricatured. I had a thought the other day. Most people would be hard pressed to come up with even ten "historical outrages" perpetrated by Christianity. Christianity has existed for 2000 years. So, less than 1 outrage per every 200 years? The people who hate Christianity the most seem to be able to point the finger at 10 "monumental outrages" in the secular world in any given year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lileks Chimes In

Great writer, that Lileks.

I have no stake in the matter of who’s the Pope – or do I? Choose a cardinal who issues a homily titled “On the Need to Gas Grandpa When He Starts Crapping Himself” – I’m sure it would sound better in Latin – and this might have an impact on the society where I hope to find myself in 30 years. The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be? As if there this was some golden moment that would usher in the age of married priests who shuttle between blessing third-trimester abortions and giving last rites to someone who’s about to have the chemical pillow put over his face. At the risk of sounding sacreligious: it’s the Catholic Church, for Christ’s sake! You’re not going to get someone who wants to strip off all the Baroque ornamentation of St. Peter’s and replace them with IKEA wine racks, okay?

I have my doctrinal differences with the Catholic church as well; I understand the reasons for requiring priestly celibacy, but I don’t agree with them. I don’t agree with many Catholic positions on issues regarding sexuality. Growing up Lutheran, I was gently guided away from the clanging errancy of Maryolatry. Because I disagree with the Catholic Church on these and a few other matters, I am– how do I put this? – NOT CATHOLIC. Hence I am always amazed by people who want the church to accommodate their thoughts, their new beliefs, their precarious and ingenious rationales, instead of ripping themselves from the bosom and seeking a congregation that doesn't make them feel like a heretic banging thier head on Filarete's doors. To those who want profound change, consider an outsider’s perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But it’s never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base.

Yes, yes, easy for me to say, it’s not my church. New age of oppression and intolerance, and all that. Write me when hot-eyed Jesuits walk into a mosque in Qom with ten pounds of Cemtex strapped to their chest.

One story, linked by Blair, had this remark:

The election of Ratzinger to the papacy has disappointed the Ordination of Catholic Women who were hoping to begin a modern era with a new pope.

Habeum pap. Note: every era is the modern era to the people who inhabit it; a “modern” pope in 1937 would have announced that godless collectivism was the wave of the future, and ridden the trains to Auschwitz standing on top, holding gilded reins, whooping like Slim Pickens. The defining quality of 20th century modernity is impatience, I think – the nervous, irritated, aggravated impulse to get on with the new now, and be done with those old tiresome constraints. We’re still in that 20th century dynamic, I think, and we will be held to it until something shocks us to our core. Say what you will about Benedict v.16, but he wants there to be a core to which we can be shocked. And I prefer that to a tepid slurry of happy-clappy relativism that leads to animists consecrating geodes beneath the dome of St. Peter's. That will probably happen eventually, but if we can push it off for a century or two, good.

Simple Common Sense

Ace Of Spades is not Catholic or even religious. But he is smart.

But it is rather revealing that our "diverse" media cannot view a centuries old spiritual institution, concerned primarily with, you know, salvation and God and Jesus and all that stuff, through any other prism but the nakedly political. The Church exists, in their minds, only to either thwart or advance their domestic material-world agendas. It is just an NGO like Amnesty International, only with weird headdresses and censers and subpar wine.

To be fair, as an agnostic and non-Catholic to boot, that's sort of the way I view the Church, deep down. I'm not religious and I never received Communion and frankly it doesn't really matter to me what the Church might have to say about transubstantiation.

But, you know, I'm just a lowly blogger. One would imagine that these idiots could manage at least the pretense of acknowledging the Church as something more than the Red Cross with Latin lessons.

We also have Jeff Goldstein:

Mort Kondracke and Andrew Sullivan are among the pundits I’ve heard express outrage today that new Pope Benedict XVI actually believes his religion enough both to profess it’s truth and condemn those who stray from its teachings. Essentially, both Kondracke and Sullivan would like their religion inclusive -- and so each eschews orthodoxy in favor of a, well, Bible. One that isn’t so picky about who it excludes.

Now, I’m no Catholic—and I ain’t really religious—but I suspect the point of following a religion in the first place is to actually believe in the thing. And so were I gay, and you decided from your perspective as a Catholic that because I put my thingie into the Devil’s slot, I will burn in a lake of fire for eternity, that’s cool by me—just so long as you don’t drop a stone wall on me in order to hasten the process.

The problem with the kind of boutique multiculturalism advocated by both Kondracke and Sullivan is that it pretends to celebrate diversity and “open conversation”; what it really does, however, is refute the “Other” at precisely the point where it matters most, the point at which beliefs genuinely diverge.

Kondracke is upset that, should Pope Benedict XVI stay true to form, he will attempt to fight back a tide of cultural relativism with ecumenical certitude. But really, should anyone be surprised when a worldview that itself relies on a leap of faith sees fit to express that faith in a form of prescribed metaphysical certainty?

I’m not. But then, I’m a Christophobic pagan, so what the hell do I know.

Also, Ace notices something about Andrew Sullivan in a post entitled, "Sullivan: And I'll Keep Leaving the Church Until Someone Notices". If you check out Ace's entire page today, you'll see he's got a lot of Sullivan stuff, including imitating his posting style.

Intimidating The Cornerback, Fifteen Yards, First Down!

John Hawkins has an excellent football analogy that applies to our situation re:judges.

That Judicial Ruling Must Be Good. It Weighs Fifteen Pounds!

An interesting thesis:
I have a theory that bad judicial opinions generally require a whole lot of “explanation” that consumes much more paper. Consider the number of pages in the following opinions. To be fair, a few include one or more dissenting opinions, but the cause of the paper consumption is still the majority.

The author then goes on to list the page counts of the most notoriously awful judicial decisions in US history, and then goes on to contrast these with an unusually sane ruling just made in Oregon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Cautiously Optimistic

I liked this post over at Dyspeptic Mutterings. Cool to see a smash-mouth writing style mixed in with various insider references (some in Latin!).

Let's tamp down our expectations a little, shall we?

We'd all like to see Pope Benedict XVI come swooping in on a jet liner to visit every rotten diocese in the English-speaking world, opening the six-pack of theological whoop-ass on free-lancing bishops, bizarro Jesuits/Dominicans/Paulists/Etc., feminista religious (male and female), whack job liturgists/liturgies and so forth. Yes, I would love to see him visit L.A., soak a copy of Gather Faithfully Together in lighter fluid and burn it in public in front of a sackcloth-clad Cdl. Mahony who had just announced his retirement from office and watch the Pope announce that the retired archbishop's penance would be to run a gauntlet between rows of the families of the victims of his pervert priests. And then watch him announce his visit to the Diocese of Dallas, then Manchester, then...

We would all enjoy the announcement of an interdict on every Catholic education institution that failed to publicly adhere to a much more fearsome version of Ex Corde Ecclesia.

I, too, would delight in an announcement that failure to adhere to the last jot of Redemptionis Sacramentum--and the rubrics in general--would result in the appointment of a co-adjutor just promoted from faculty work at a FSSP seminary.

Indeed, we can all construct scenarios in which the wicked are given their just reward by a stern Pope bent on rooting out every last problem in the Church.

But it's not going to happen like that. He's Benedict XVI, not Kickass Micromanager I. Will he take a firmer hand? Almost certainly. Will he more forcefully confront the centrifugal forces of dissent within the Church? Yep (and that will be interesting to watch, too). Will, at the end of the day, he have a collection of heads mounted over the windows of St. Peter's? No. Collegiality, folks.

Also, check out this great Amy Wellborn post in which she reflects on why the world is so excited about all the recent events in Rome.

In Praise Of 'Linkers'

Anyone who comes to this blog regularly knows I'm more of a 'linker' than a 'thinker' (at least on the blog, that is). Evangelical Outpost has a nice piece about the importance of 'linkers' along with suggestions on how to be a good 'linker'.

It begins thusly:
The towers looked like legless stick figures, waving to the neighbors across the French landscape. Spaced six miles apart and stretching between the major cities of France, the optical telegraph system devised by Claude Chappe became the first high-speed communications network in Europe. By using this ingenious method, Chappe helped spark a revolution revolutionized rapid communication. The method of transmission was simple. the tower’s operator would set the mechanical arms into one of 94 positions, corresponding to a letter, a number, or a special symbol. The next closest neighboring tower would use a telescope to view the arrangement and set his own tower to a similar configuration. By using this crude system of mechanical mimicry, messages could be sent at more than one hundred miles an hour, an astonishing speed for the 1790’s.

Technology has radically changed in the three centuries since Chappe invented his system of telegraphy. Fiber optics and wireless communications make it possible to communicate almost instantaneously with people across the globe. But the blogosphere has resurrected the Frenchman's method of passing information by mirroring the messages of others.

Bloggers tend to be unfairly lumped into two distinct camps of “thinkers”, those who write original content, and linkers, those who simply link to other articles or blog posts. Few bloggers, however, are exclusively linkers or thinkers; most combine a mixed approach to blogging. But just as some bloggers tend to produce compelling, original analysis or thought-provoking opinion pieces, others have a gift for shepherding readers to the material that matters most.


Though undervalued, linkers are even more essential to the health of the blogosphere than are thinkers. After all, the world is inundated with provocative ideas and punditry. But finding one’s way within the information avalanche requires what Hugh Hewitt calls “cyber-sherpas.” Talented linkers, however, do more than merely guide their readers to this information. They provide the value-added services of sifting through dozens or even hundred of blog posts, news updates, and magazine articles and sharing the handful that are worthy of attention. Like the tower operator’s in Chappe’s France, linkers provide the link between information and the reader.

I do look at that as my function. I wade through a lot of marginally interesting, uninteresting, and/or repetitive stuff in my daily reading and try to link only to things that are worth the time!

Thou Shalt Not Judge Judges

Don Feder has a good piece on the liberals' current defamatory tactics. It seems that to criticize the judiciary is to incite violence. So best to shut up and let the judges rule in peace. David Limbaugh also has a good column about this.

Baby Gonna Cry Now?

Poor wittle Andrew Sullivan doesn't like the choice in Popes. Andrew, instead of the whole Church making a radical change, how about you making a radical change?

And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century. Maybe this is a necessary moment. Maybe pressing this movement to its logical conclusion will clarify things. But those of us who are struggling against what our Church is becoming, and the repressive priorities it is embracing, can only contemplate a form of despair. The Grand Inquisitor, who has essentially run the Church for the last few years, is now the public face. John Paul II will soon be seen as a liberal. The hard right has now cemented its complete control of the Catholic church. And so ... to prayer. What else do we now have? [Well, Andrew, there is a little thing called repentance and turning away from sin. Maybe give that a try.]


It would be hard to over-state the radicalism of this decision. It's not simply a continuation of John Paul II. It's a full-scale attack on the reformist wing of the church. The swiftness of the decision and the polarizing nature of this selection foretell a coming civil war within Catholicism. The space for dissidence, previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning. [*sniff* IT'S NOT FAIR!!!]

Update: A reader has e-mailed to The Corner: "Frankly, Ms. Lopez, the shrieking rant from the increasingly unhinged Andrew Sullivan you highlighted has got to rank as the most ringing endorsement of Pope Benedict XVI that I have yet seen."

Update: Andrew, you're such a drama queen! Suck it up, son!

You know I wish in many ways I could simply leave this church, and say to hell with it. But I cannot. For one, I keep believing. This is not experienced as a choice. It is just my reality. When I read the Gospels, they speak the truth to me. When in the past, I have been at Mass, I have felt as a reality the presence of God. As I sometimes tell people, I can say the creed at mass with very few reservations. But believing in the basic creed is not enough any more. We are required to assent in every way to every papal pronouncement, even if it belies what one can see with one's own eyes and see in one's own experience. Ratzinger's elevation means that will be even more stringently enforced. Even then, according to the new Pope, my conscience is not valid. To ratchet the rack still further, we are forbidden from even discussing changes that we sincerely believe may be essential for keeping the Church alive. This is my family. I can no more divorce myself from it than I can my biological mother. And today, many parts of that family are reeling with grief and anger and despair. If the insular cardinals believe that they have helped save the faith in the West, I fear they are mistaken. They may have ensured its final death rattle.

You Will Do What We Tell You, You Won't Do What We Tell You Not To, And You Will Not Have A Say

You Will Do What We Tell You

The Anchoress on Illinois requiring pharmacists to prescribe abortion pills:
This is going to be an issue to watch; it’s going to be big. Once again, we see this insistance that Death trumps all, that what the Culture of Death wants overrides any and all concerns about liberty, freedom of expression and personal conscience.

This governor would not for a moment insist that a Kosher or Muslim butcher provide pork to anyone who asks. He would not demand that the owner of a vegan restaurant serve up a big old steak because someone wants it. He would not tell a newspaper what it had to print. But he’ll tell a pharmacist what he has to stock and supply.

You Won't Do What We Tell You Not To

It seems that in Illinois, they're working on banning ultrasounds given by crisis pregnancy centers so that women can actually make an informed choice about whether to have an abortion. It seems that in addition to discouraging abortion, it could harm the baby. Now that's demented. Details here.

You Will Not Have A Say

John Hawkins gives a good fisking to William Raspberry, who considers Fox News a threat to objective media.

Cognitive Dissonance, Thy Name Is California

This is good. And typical. (H/T Peeve Farm).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Lileks Is Back

He's putting up the Daily Bleat again. Today's is good.

Who's Doing The Preferrin' Around Here?

Michael Novak on how the Holy Spirit operates.

I suspect that Cardinal Ratzinger was thinking of something like this when he told a reporter that there is plain evidence that the Holy Spirit does not always make the choice of a pontiff. The dispositive evidence? There were more than a few, he noted tartly, that he would be quite reluctant to blame on the free choice of the Holy Spirit. In fact, he couldn't even imagine the Holy Spirit picking some historical popes he could think of.

But the good cardinal, as learned as anyone in the riches of the Catholic theological tradition, did allow as how he very much counted on the Holy Spirit to protect the Church, so that no matter what, nothing completely damaging would happen. We have the promise of that: The Holy Spirit will protect the Church, though fierce storms rage, until the end of time.


And so, when Catholics speak of the "Holy Spirit" playing a role in the conclave, don't try to imagine a puppeteer pulling strings. The better image is that of the novelist, creating free, living, breathing, conflicted characters who make choices, and in doing so tell with these choices a magnificent story of liberty. The novelist who plays puppeteer convinces few readers that his characters are real. Real artistry lies in creating characters who are free, and who act from within the depths of their own liberty. So it is with the Artistry of the Holy Spirit in the theater of the conclaves down the centuries — a free God, Who chooses to be honored by the flawed efforts of free humans to respond to Him in their own liberty.

I Knew Kaiser Soze, I Was Friends With Kaiser Soze, And You, Hillary Clinton, Are No Kaiser Soze!

Very meaty article about what an awful politician Hilary Clinton is.

Hillary Clinton is a bad politician. Ironically, her awfulness as a politician is why people think she is so great. Her political moves are so obvious that everybody discusses how "political" she is. "Oooooh, she is so Machiavellian!" Pundits are in awe of how overtly political she is--and they assume that her overtness is a sign of her excellence. Far from it. As anybody who has read "The Prince" knows, the true Machiavellian is one everybody thinks is a saint.

Or, to quote Kaiser Soze, "The greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Hillary is no political devil precisely because everybody is convinced that she is.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

U.S. Politics, In A Nutshell

From this Instapundit post:
Meanwhile, reader C.J. Burch emails: "Every time I grow tired of the Republicans, a lefty opens his mouth, suddenly I'm not quite as tired."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bumper Sticker Conversation

I was taking a walk the other day, and was passing through the US Geological Survey parking lot in Menlo Park. A bunch of government employees and scientists (and as we all know, science implies atheism, right? I mean it's been proven somewhere, I think), ergo plenty of left wing bumper stickers. And one of them said "Learn To Think For Yourself". So, I immediately think to myself, "Well, okay, then, how about I start by ignoring bumper stickers that tell me how I should think?"

Side note: Blogger never ceases to annoy. Now they have their much-hyped 'recover post' feature, which apparently saves the text you're editing to a cookie file once per second. Well fine, except for a couple of things. When I push the 'publish' button, I would never trust any web app not to eat text I've created, therefore, I've got my own methods of safeguarding my text, and I'll keep using them anyway. The second thing is that their cursed 'save once a second' feature causes the editor to become choppy as hell when entering and scrolling through text. Gee, thanks, guys. That makes my day a whole lot easier. And I love software that responds like a clunky piece of garbage when I'm trying to think and get things done. Are there any other blogger users who have noticed this annoying new clunkiness of the edit box?

I Did Not Know That

I just found out that "Evian" is something else spelled backwards. There's something special and worth-the-money about bottled water, and "gullible" is not in the dictionary...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Not Another Dime

Very hard hitting post from Captain Ed. Too much good stuff to excerpt.

The 'Nuclear Option' Starts At Home

Hugh Hewitt has been a strong voice on getting the judicial 'filibusters' ended and making the Castrati pay a steep price if they do not get it done. Several good posts today. In this one he presents the following letter that someone who has 'had it up to here' has written to Senator McCain:
April 14, 2005

Senator John McCain
407 W. Congress Street
Suite 103
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Via Fax 670-6637 and email

Re: The Filibustering of Judicial Nominations

Senator McCain,

First off, thank you for your service to our country.

A little about myself: I am 37, my wife is 31 and we have two children here in Tucson. I attended the University of Arizona and currently own and operate (among other things) an Assisted Living Center with 20 employees which houses 45 elderly residents of Arizona who need assistance in their daily lives.

I am writing this letter because I quite frankly don't trust myself to make a civil phone call. I am a fairly large contributor to the Republican Party, not because I think they are always right, but because they more often champion the causes and freedoms I believe in. Â Lower taxes, less government (at least that used to be a Republican cause), more personal freedom, etc.

I read the Constitution of the United States again recently and made note of the 7 specific instances spelled out as requiring a supermajority. I'm certain you know them. I also specifically noted that Judicial Nominations were not listed as 'filibuster-able', yet just today I heard a clip of you specifically saying that you would (once again) vote AGAINST both your Party and Leader and WITH the Democrats. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised after the magnificently successful "Campaign Finance Reform" you pushed (I also read in the Constitution (Bill of Rights #1) something about "Congress shall make no law "abridging the freedom of speech", but that's another story).

This, to me, is the final straw. I worked hard to help get President Bush re-elected. After the War on Terror (which I believe also includes Defending our Border (Article III, Section 4 "protect against invasion"), there is no more important issue than the totally out of control Judiciary. Legislating from the bench is not listed as a Constitutional Power bestowed upon these un-checked, lifetime appointees, yet that is exactly what they are doing.

Your snubbing of your Leader of the Senate (Senator Bill Frist), your Leader of your Party (President Bush) and the Constitution of the United States (again), while embracing the obstructionist Democrats (again) has caused me to lose all remaining respect I had for you as my Senator.

From this day forward, I will begin to actively campaign against you. In any capacity I possibly can. I will first work to defeat you in your primary and I will subsequently work (if necessary) to defeat you in the general by supporting whatever Democrat runs against you. I have never in my life supported a Democrat, but at least I know my enemy with a Democrat.

You still have time to change your mind, but then if you did, Tim Russert might not like you.



Red And Yellow, Black And White, Some Are Precious In Their Sight

Admissions quotas. Otherwise known as "the shaft". Jonah Goldberg has written an excellent column about them.

Today, the debate over diversity is driven largely by the unavoidable fact that, on average, African-Americans and Hispanics are less academically qualified than whites and various other demographic groups. This was highlighted a few years ago during arguments over the University of Michigan Law School's quota system. Justice Antonin Scalia noted during oral arguments before the Supreme Court that the easiest way to increase diversity would be to lower the law school's standards. If diversity is "important enough to override the Constitution's prohibition of racial distribution, it seems to me it's important enough to override Michigan's desire to have a super-duper law school."

This is where the Orwellian savoir-faire tends to kick in. The school's lawyers, along with columnists such as The Washington Post's David Broder and countless others, insisted that increasing diversity never comes at the expense of quality.

Well, if the trade-off didn't exist, we wouldn't be having this debate. If there were a surplus of high SAT-scoring, straight-A blacks and Hispanics, no one would sue because they lost their slot to a less-qualified minority. The entire affirmative action controversy is predicated on the unavoidable fact that there is a greater demand for well-qualified blacks than there is a supply. Period.


Fisher's story about Asian students in the Washington suburbs illustrates the point. These kids - mostly Chinese and Vietnamese - are under intense pressure from their parents and peers to excel. This comes with all sorts of drawbacks. Some of the pressure isn't positive; kids who don't follow the Asian stereotype are called "twinkees" - yellow on the outside, white on the inside. But the benefits are tangible, or at least they're supposed to be.

If, as a group, the kids of Asian immigrants work harder and do better academically than blacks or whites or Jews, is it fair for Harvard to say at some point, "Sorry, we're full up on Asians," simply because it had reached a quota based on the Asian share of the U.S. population? Some cultures are going to emphasize the importance of becoming a doctor more than others. There's no principled reason why advocates of quota games for law schools shouldn't support the same thing for basketball.

But all of this talk about groups obscures the most basic point. Racial and ethnic groups are supposed to be invisible to the government. Any other system is merely guilt - or credit - by association.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

It All Fits Together

A Lego Church! Via Jonah Goldberg, who says, "Do the whole slide show."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dorm Room Hi-Jinks

Good Air Force Cadet dance video prank, via Ace Of Spades.

I wish I could dance like that.

Tiemann Talks Some Philosophy

Peeve Farm is like a box of chocolates...Quite an interesting and wide-ranging essay here. Sort of den Bestian in a Tiemannian kind of way.

Pep Talk For The Nancy Boys

A great Tony Blankley column exhorts the Republicans to guard the family jewels and quit being such a bunch of wusses.

If a party can be stampeded -- by phony charges and a run of shoddy stories in whorish newspapers -- into dumping their most effective congressional leader, I wouldn't give two cents for their near term future. A party that would voluntarily cut off its own testicles and FedEx them to their opponent as a trophy is not likely to manifest any regenerative powers. That's the thing about losing those organs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Litany

This column uses the form of a litany to illustrate that "liberal" does not mean what liberals think it does (H/T The Anchoress).

Iraq Roundup

Some good columns about Iraq today. David Limbaugh on how good news is no news. The Wall Street Journal chiding, not the people opposed to the war, but the ones who were for it, then turned against it when it wasn't a piece of cake. The article doesn't mention him, but a certain single-issue pundit comes to mind. Finally, a moving first-person column about a soldier's homecoming.

Awesome Photo Essay From Rome

A friend of mine went off to study theology in Rome last year, putting him right into the thick of things these last couple of weeks. He sent out the following e-mail:

Dear Friends,

Some of you have tried to contact me in the past few weeks. It is only now that I've finally found reprieve from all the events, which I'm sure you've followed to one extent or another. And so it is only now that I can somewhat respond to some of your questions regarding my experience of it all. But I will have to disappoint you once again. Put simply, I am still unable to succinctly narrate to you all that have happened.

I mentioned to a few of you about the photo essay I have been compiling. These were over 300 photos which I took beginning Monday, April 4,2005, during the transmission of the Pope's body from the Clementine Hall to St. Peter's Basilica, and ending with the funeral mass our beloved Holy Father. Instead of sending out an email with a large attachment, I have decided to post it on my website instead. If you click on the following link, you should automatically be forwarded to the site.


My friend did a fantastic job on this. There are stunning photos, along with quotes from John Paul II. Hopefully linking to this will not bring down his website!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hey, Spineless Republican Castrati, Put Up Or Shut Up

I don't know what the GOP has in mind for getting around Democratic obstructionism, but there is gathering evidence that they're going to execute their usual game plan: run for the hills. Hey, losers, we're watching out here. If you're going to act like losers, then we'll make you losers. Use the mandate you've been given, sissies!

The American Thinker takes a look at Republican fecklessness when it comes to domestic policy.

The Democrats beat the Republicans bloody and all the party of Lincoln can do is whimper. Hardly a blow thrown in defense, let alone an offensive swing.

Even after the 2002 and 2004 Republican election victories, the Republican Senators seem reluctant to push their advantage. Why? Because it seems every time this Administration tries something, the Dems and the MSM come out swinging and force a retreat. It’s happened so many times that the voting public wonders whether or not the Democrats are correct in their characterization of Republican motives. For why would they back down on these issues if there really were principle behind the Republican positions? How come they give up so easily? It must all be horsepucky.

All the Dems have to do is huff and puff and the Republican house falls down. “Use the nuclear option and we’ll bring the Senate to a halt” blusters Senate Minority Leader Reid while holding his copy of the Declaration and the Constitution – or something to that effect. Daschle gets voted out for his blustering but the Republicans fire their own guy for an off-hand remark. Go figure.

No matter how badly they lose come election time, I’ll give the Dems credit for sticking to their lines. They are not shy about it. Republican Senators and, I dare say, the President seem unable to get their act together on domestic policy and legislation. When they try to seize the initiative, the Democrats, MSM and lefty NGO’s seem to pop up like Jim Carrey in the “Mask” with both hands converted into a myriad of horrific weapons, and they fire their arsenal without hesitation. The Republicans seem not to have planned for the Democratic response before launching their original trial balloons. And that’s the problem. The voters see these things as trial balloons and not policy initiatives.

If the Republicans let the Dems scold them into dumping Tom DeLay for what are being touted as ethics offenses, but that are not in letter nor spirit any more offensive than what Dems themselves do, they may as well do nothing other than pass a Democrat’s budget and shelve any initiatives until after the next mid-term elections – if that next plebiscite they can manage to survive. If Republicans can’t bring themselves to go to the mat for fully qualified judicial candidates, cut the pork out of the budget, do something meaningful regarding illegal immigration, and quit playing the diversity game with national security, why should anyone expect the President’s numbers to go up?


The voters don’t like the Democrats for what they are doing. They don’t like the Republicans for what they are not doing. That is, not governing. We’ve given you the votes in Congress, guys. Use it or lose it. Don’t run at the first whiff of voter response teased out of a poll cleverly structured to garner the desired result. Get everyone on the same page of the hymnal. Then show some backbone. Get up and go. Give better than you get. You can be gentlemen, but don’t fight with a limp wrist.

Play hardball!

It's beyond me why these [forgive me] women think anyone that matters pays the closest attention to what the MSM has to say about domestic politics. Do what needs doing. The voters have your back. What is it about Washington that tears the spine and gonads out of these guys?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sui Generis

There's one thing I've remarked on to various Catholic friends the last few days as we've watched the enormous worldwide reaction to the death of JPII. For a world that for the most part professes unbelief in the Church, it seems odd that deep down there seems to be a resonance in people's reactions, a resonance reflecting some sort of deeply buried belief or perception that with the Church, we really are gazing upon the Genuine Item. It was such a reaction in my own self back in 1990 that started drawing me in (a process which became conscious in 1995, and came to fruition on Easter Vigil of 1996, when I officially entered the Church, receiving the sacraments of Confession, Confirmation, and the Eucharist). In 1990 I did a solo around-the-world trip through Europe, Turkey, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. When I started the trip, I was a "seeker" who thought he'd end up sitting in a cave in the Himalayas, finding "enlightenment". Instead, what happened was that in my 4.5 months hosteling all around Europe, I came face to face with History and Catholicism. The Cathedrals and sacred art of Europe (as well as the little whitewashed churches of Greece) shouted out to me: "This is Real, this is It, this is No Joke, this is The Big Kahuna!". Some sort of seed was planted. It took another 4.5 years before I was driven to action, but the seed was indeed planted.

Something similar seems to be going on around the world today.

Recently (and it will intensify) we've seen the spectacle of the MSM trying to tell the Church (via the next pope) what it must do to change and "get with the times", and be successful and popular. Can you even begin to picture the same MSM telling Islam how best to celebrate Ramadan, or telling the Dalai Lama what Buddhism is really about? On the other hand, can you picture them trying to tell Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Fundamentalists anything that would "help" them, rather then simply heaping on scorn and ridicule? No. The Catholic Church gets singular treatment. It is worthwhile pondering, "Why?"

These thoughts were prompted by this hard hitting essay by Gerard Van Der Leun, entitled "They Hate the Church More Than They Hate Life Itself".

Friday, April 08, 2005

Riveting Account

Hugh Hewitt passes along an account of the events in Rome, which he introduces as follows: "Here is a long, and extraordinary e-mail from a priest in Rome, Father Peter Mitchell, forwarded to me from one of his friends."

Quite engaging, here's just one excerpt:
I was asked by a reporter yesterday to sum up what this event means for me personally. My response was, “My youth is over.” I grew up with John Paul II as the Pope, discerned my vocation by reading his writings, heard Christ calling me through him at Denver in 1993, followed him to Paris in 1997, to Rome for the Great Jubilee 2000, to Toronto in 2002, and I have lived with him for the last three years in Rome, often seeing him once a week at the Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square. For the rest of my life I will remember that, when I was young, John Paul the Great was the Pope. It would be impossible for me to exaggerate the influence he has had on my life and particularly on my priestly vocation. He was and is my hero. This is true for an entire generation of young clergy who accompanied his body into the basilica on Monday night.

Later in the post Hewitt includes a parishioner's description of the priest who wrote the account:

He is a priest from the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. (i.e., Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz's diocese). He is outstanding. A really good guy. The year I led my first pilgrimage to Rome, he said our first Mass for us in Santa Maria in Trastevere, the oldest church named after Our Lady in the world. It was reverent, sacred, humble, and holy. And his homily was top notch. He is a holy man of God, and would that the world had more priests like him.

Incidentally, Hugh, Fr. Mitchell -- and Bishop Bruskewitz (who brought Scott Hahn into the Church, if you're familiar with him -- Hahn's sort of a rock star in the Catholic world of apologetics) -- are proof that there is no vocations crisis, per se.

When Bishop Bruskewitz excommunicated schismatics -- those on the right and the left -- he got nationwide attention. What this did was make young men think, "At last, a bishop who is orthodox!" And these men flocked to him and his seminary. These same men had either been rejected by their local vocations office for being too rigid (i.e., being against the sin of homosexuality, for the Pope, and against women priests) or didn't want to serve in a diocese where their orthodoxy would be constantly under assault.

So this little dinky diocese in the middle of nowhere has plenty of good seminarians and plenty of good, young, priests. One was just named bishop of Wichita, KS.

And this isn't limited to Lincoln. Denver (Chaput), Arlington, Fargo, Sioux Falls, and a few others, all have more seminarians than they know what to do with.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter -- the Traditional Mass Order founded by John Paul II in 1988 -- has their seminary in Denton, NE, and they're bursting at the seams, too.

Vocations are out there, but when you're not called to anything different than what the world is already giving you, why give up having a wife and kids for something that's just a job? When people are called to sacrifice, when they're called to something higher than themselves, when they're called to holiness, they recognize their vocation and they respond.

I Can't Interview You, You Don't Exist!

Item from The Corner:


A Gen-Xer in Rome tells me:
In line one of us talked to an 'embedded' NBC reporter who said, as if it were a reportorial observation rather than a fixed dogma of his mind, how extraordinary it was that so many people should turn out to see a man they didn't agree with on key issues. The one from our group said that everyone in our group of 9 professionals from NYC agreed with every teaching on personal morality ever taught by JP2, in many cases because of the arguments he made and because of him. 'would you like to speak with any of them?'. Not at all. And the reporter headed off to re-embed himself where there was better shelter from the facts.

Posted at 03:32 AM

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Impersonal Deterministic Laws Of Physics Have Constrained Me To Disbelieve In Philosophical Naturalism. My Bad.

Great post at Evangelical Outpost.

I'm Just Askin'

"Hey sinner, rather than asking a 2000 year old worldwide institution to change its doctrine, wouldn't it be much, much easier for everyone involved if you changed your behavior? You know, change being so necessary, and all?"

Libertarians Against Conservatives

A couple of good posts on the topic. In reading through the comments attached to the second post I found this:
The only message those among the left generally have for Christians is “pay whatever taxes I say you should pay, and otherwise shut up and go away.”...Now libertarians are saying “give us your vote and otherwise shut up and go away.”

How true.

The Ankle Biting Pundits piece quoted in the first post linked above also had this great paragraph:

The libertarian-right’s remarks and behavior during and after the Terri Schiavo debate were terribly counterproductive and demonstrate why libertarianism has never graduated from the junior leagues of American politics. Here we are amidst a gruesome fight over Social Security against an unimaginably hostile press corps and an unscrupulous political left; we are pleading for the cavalry to come riding in. The only faction that can provide anywhere near the ground troops we need is the so-called Religious Right. So what do the libertarians do? They piss all over the Religious Right’s principal issue of the day. If I were James Dobson, or some other politico-religious leader, I’d tell the [libertarian] think tanks, corporations and interest groups hungry for Social Security reform to pound sand.


Peggy Noonan does the best job I've seen describing the Pope's first trip to Poland in 1979 and what resulted from it. An amazing column about an amazing man and an amazing moment in history.


Good column today.

It begins thusly:
It's been a tough year for the secularist crowd. There was Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," the moral values election, the Christian hostage subduing her kidnapper by reading from "The Purpose-Driven Life," and the Christian effort to save Terri Schiavo. Not only that, but earlier this year Dr. James Dobson insulted the Democrats' mascot, SpongeBob SquarePants, with impunity.

And now, for all the hullabaloo in the media, you'd think the pope had died.

The liberal take on Catholicism is that it's a controversial religion because of its positions on abortion, sodomy and various other crucial planks of the Democratic platform (curiously, positions that are shared by all three of the world's major religions).

In defense of the Catholic Church's most "controversial" position (meaning "contrary to the clearly stated opinion of CNN"), I wanted to return to a story from a few weeks ago that passed from the headlines far too quickly. The "controversial" Catholic position is the ban on girl priests.

I'll leave it to the Catholics to explain the theological details, but we have a beautiful pair of bookmarks to the exact same incident illustrating women's special skills and deficits. The escape and capture of Brian Nichols shows women playing roles they should not (escorting dangerous criminals) and women playing roles they do best (making men better people).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Freedom And The Church

Good column by Jonah Goldberg.

But given the often abysmal discussion of the John Paul II's legacy and thought, what I think is worth noting is how childish phrases like "left" and "right" are when describing such a man and the institution he represents. After all, the designations of "left" and "right" come from 18th-century France, and the Catholic Church was already a couple centuries from its 2,000th birthday by then.


The most fascinating disconnect between our political categories and the reality of John Paul II was the fact that he was perhaps liberty's greatest champion in the 20th century. That story is well known and needs no repeating here.

But what gets less attention is the fact that it was the Catholic Church that launched the very notion of a sphere of liberty and morality not bound to the state. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, Fareed Zakaria recounts in "The Future of Freedom," the Catholic Church remained as an imperfect conscience for rulers who would define the rules of kings as synonymous with the whims of kings. When Emperor Theodosius slaughtered the Thessalonians, Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan, was so repulsed he refused to give the emperor Holy Communion. The emperor cried, No fair! He argued that David had done worse in the bible, to which Ambrose replied, "You have imitated David in his crime, then imitate him in his repentance!" Off and on for eight months, the most powerful ruler in the entire world mimicked the biblical David, dressing in rags like a beggar in order to plea for forgiveness outside the Ambrose's cathedral.

Over time, the papacy's moral authority increased. Pope Leo III may have been forced to anoint Charlemagne as Roman Emperor, but by doing so he also cemented the notion that even kings were answerable to a higher authority. When Emperor Henry IV challenged the Pope's power of investiture he ended up, as legend has it, kneeling in the snows at Canossa to beg for forgiveness. It was only in modern times, best symbolized by Napoleon crowning himself Emperor of the French, that this external authority was firmly rejected in favor of his own will-to-power. It is no coincidence that Napoleon is widely considered the first modern dictator.


It always comes as a revelation to read the thoughts of people that the liberals have villified to such a high degree that the taint rubs off on your own opinion of those who were villified. For example, I once (a long time ago) had a low opinion of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Until I read them. I've never had a very high opinion of Newt Gingrich. Until I read this speech he recently gave. Outstanding.

Just a tidbit of this wide-ranging speech:
Let met talk briefly about judges, and then I am going to talk about education and immigration. The issue of judges is not a complex one. It’s just a question of timidity. There is no judicial supremacy. It is an arrogation of the Warren Court in 1958, and has no historic precedent. Jefferson, when asked if there was judicial supremacy said that would be an oligarchy. Lincoln’s First Inaugural, in describing the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court—which extended slavery across the whole country, led Lincoln to run, and ultimately led to the Civil War—said we were not going to let a handful of judges redefine the American Constitution. It would be inconceivable.

So what do you do about it? Again, I am trying to embed this in historic fact. This is not theory. This is not ideology. This is fact. In 1802, the Jeffersonians, faced with courts deliberately packed by the Federalists, passed the Judiciary Act of 1802, which abolished over half of all the sitting federal circuit judges. The act didn’t impeach them; it simply said their jobs didn’t exist. They wouldn’t be paid, so they shouldn’t bother to show up. The judges were deeply offended. They promptly went to court, and the remaining federal judges essentially said, if we overrule the Congress, they’re going to abolish our jobs.

A Couple Of Quips

Just a couple of quick sloganistic thoughts I've just had.

Against the Europhilic socialists among us:

"One Europe Is Enough"

Against the MSM attitude toward the not-liberal-enough Catholic Church and John Paul II:

"Is it time to bring the Church into the 21st Century? Quite the contrary. It is time to bring the 21st Century into the Church."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Conservatives Hunt For Converts, Liberals Hunt For Heretics

Good item from James Taranto today.
In a very broad sense, of course, Smart is right. There is a danger in adopting extreme positions on social issues. As we've noted, this is why abortion is such a great issue for Republicans: The continued existence of Roe v. Wade ensures that the GOP need not take extreme antiabortion positions, while trapping the Democrats into taking extreme pro-abortion ones.

But there are problems with applying this reasoning to the Schiavo case. For one thing, we're not at all convinced that starving her to death was a "moderate" thing to do. But for the sake of argument, let's assume it was. As in the case of abortion, the courts have assured that the "religious-right extremists" did not prevail. As a gleeful John Zutz puts it in a letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel (last letter):

After the November elections, a number of my right-wing friends gleefully commented: "It's over, Bush is president, you lost, get over it."

Today, I have to reply: "It's over, Terri Schiavo is dead, you lost, get over it."

What will the campaign slogan be in 2006 or 2008? "Keep Terri dead: Vote Democratic"? Will the Dems seek out other women who depend on feeding tubes and run negative ads against them? "This is Jane Roe. She's in a persistent vegetative state, and doctors say she has no hope of recovery. But the religious right wants to keep her alive at taxpayer expense. Send Congress a message on Nov. 7. Don't let the extremists prevail."

Those who talk of a conservative crack-up have something bigger in mind than just the Schiavo case. Their argument is that the Republican coalition is too diverse to be sustainable, and that the Schiavo case exposes the tensions between Christians and libertarians, between Hamiltonians and states rights advocates, and so forth.

It seems to us, though, that this gets things precisely backward. As David Brooks writes in today's New York Times:

Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they've found one faction to agree with.

By contrast, fewer people have come to call themselves liberal in part because liberals are eager to cast out heretics. As Marc Cooper of The Nation writes for The Atlantic:

I've heard liberals, in their post-election malaise, obsess just as much over who they don't want in their ranks, culturally speaking, as over who they'd like to recruit. After some polls suggested that Bush won in November because a large percentage of Americans voted their "moral values," I was involved in discussions with dozens of panicked progressives who openly feared that someone, somewhere in the Democratic Party, might actually try to accommodate these lunatics.

Developing a political majority is a matter of addition, not subtraction, and the GOP's openness to a variety of viewpoints is a strength, not a weakness.

This Pretty Well Sums It Up

An excellent essay looks into just why the liberals want the Church to change its moral teachings. Hint: it's not to help the Church. Quite the contrary.

Bottom line, a sin is a sin is a sin. I have to repent of mine. You have to repent of yours. Practicing homosexuals have to repent of theirs. No one is exempt. No one gets to make excuses. Or the Church is not the Church. Period.

H/T The Anchoress.

A Bovine Perennial

Kind of a slow news day. I just got a variation of the classic "You have two cows" joke via e-mail. It's a little different than previous versions I've seen. So, as just a little prize for visiting "Cartago Delenda Est" today, I give you:


You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.


You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?


You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.


You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.


You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.


You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.


You have two cows You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.


You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.


You have two cows but you don't know where they are. While ambling around,you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.


You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.


You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.


You have a cow and a bull. The bull is depressed. It has spent its life living a lie. It goes away for two weeks. It comes back after a taxpayer-paid sex-change operation. You now have two cows. One makes milk; the other doesn't. You try to sell the transgender cow. Its lawyer sues you for discrimination. You lose in court. You sell the milk-generating cow to pay the damages. You now have one rich, transgender, non-milk-producing cow. You change your business to beef. PETA pickets your farm. Jesse Jackson makes a speech in your driveway. Cruz Bustamante calls for higher farm taxes to help "working cows." Hillary Clinton calls for the nationalization of 1/7 of your farm "for the children." Gray Davis signs a law giving your farm to Mexico. The Los Angeles Times quotes five anonymous cows claiming you groped their teats. You declare bankruptcy and shut down all operations. The cow starves to death. The New York Times analysis shows your business failure is Bush's fault.

Monday, April 04, 2005

We Love The Church! That's Why It Must Change To Become More Like Us!

Article by George Neumayr looks at the phenomenon of the MSM's disingenuous approbation of John Paul II after his passing.

In the end, the journalists' coverage, ostensibly about the Pope, is more about their minds and souls than his. Like Ron Reagan Jr.- who had no use for his Dad's politics in life but claimed his legacy in death -- the Keith Olbermanns now jump on the papal bandwagon (that they had tried in various ways over the last 26 years to upend) in the hopes of steering it toward a liberalism Pope John Paul II would find abhorrent. Get ready for a month of the most disingenuous coverage imaginable.

Apparently we're supposed to believe that the Paula Zahns and Aaron Browns stay up late at night fretting over the future welfare of the Catholic Church. When they ask this or that unctuous guest -- usually some habitless nun, Jesuit ninny, or obvious heretic like Richard McBrien -- whether the Church will, say, junk its teaching on condoms or bless birth control, we're supposed to believe that they have the Church's best interests at heart. Every problem they cite in the Church -- from the sex scandals to the decline in vocations -- is due to the very wordly liberalism they demand more of. They feign shock over indiscipline in the Church (with the abuse scandal) but in truth they want more of it (hence their knee-jerks calls for "decentralization"). Their interest in reforming the Catholic Church is about as sincere as their interest in reforming the Republican Party: calls for "reform" are just self-projection and will amount to separating Catholicism from Christ.

I'm not too worried. When God Almighty wants the press's opinion of how His Church should be run, He will give it to them.

Fantastic Bit Of Analysis

Although I am not a libertarian, primarily due to the faulty metaphysical and anthropological assumptions of most libertarians, I have always had a great admiration for libertarian economic and social incentive analysis. This lengthy but superb blog essay looks at the dangers of tinkering with the institution of marriage by looking at examples of vast unintended consequences that ensued when other instituions were tinkered with in the past. The whole essay really needs to be read, but here's a neat little insight:
What's more, easy divorce didn't only change the divorce rate; it made drastic changes to the institution of marriage itself. David Brooks makes an argument I find convincing: that the proliferation of the kind of extravagent weddings that used to only be the province of high society (rented venue, extravagent flowers and food, hundreds of guests, a band with dancing, dresses that cost the same as a good used car) is because the event itself doesn't mean nearly as much as it used to, so we have to turn it into a three-ring circus to feel like we're really doing something.

A couple in 1940 (and even more so in 1910) could go to a minister's parlor, or a justice of the peace, and in five minutes totally change their lives. Unless you are a member of certain highly religious subcultures, this is simply no longer true. That is, of course, partly because of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; but it is also because you aren't really making a lifetime committment; you're making a lifetime committment unless you find something better to do. There is no way, psychologically, to make the latter as big an event as the former, and when you lost that committment, you lose, on the margin, some willingness to make the marriage work. Again, this doesn't mean I think divorce law should be toughened up; only that changes in law that affect marriage affect the cultural institution, not just the legal practice.

Three laws. Three well-meaning reformers who were genuinely, sincerely incapable of imagining that their changes would wreak such institutional havoc. Three sets of utterly logical and convincing, and wrong arguments about how people would behave after a major change.