Saturday, August 02, 2003
What a coincidence!
Item 1: To score political points by whipping up anti-American fervor by making the false claim that the war on terrorism is crusade to eliminate Islam.
Item 2: To score political points by claiming that there's a wall in the ears of politicians to prevent them from hearing the voice of the successors of the Apostles "instructing" them.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 5:25 PM Permalink
New York Times: Accusation of Bias Angers Democrats
Many Catholic elected officials are, perhaps, particularly sensitive to the line between religious faith and public responsibilities. It was a line drawn most vividly by President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who had to deal with widespread fears that a Roman Catholic president would serve both Rome and the American people.
Now I was only 5 years old when Kennedy made that statement, so my knowledge of this is not personal but from the sources who personally lived through it. It wasn't a true statement then and it's not true now.
Of course, the issue at the heart of the Catholic politics in 1960 wasn't abortion it was the state support to religiously-founded schools. Kennedy and many other Catholic politicians voted down any aid to Catholic schools -- even for textbooks, transportation, etc. Kennedy never led his state or the country on a Catholic issue. For the Kennedys, it's been an identity -- to show they are part of the "tribe" and not a place to be "instructed".
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:48 PM Permalink
AP Newsday: Kerry Scolds Vatican Over Gay Marriage
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry scolded the Vatican Friday for saying Catholic politicians like himself have a "moral duty" to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples.These 66 words concentrate so much about what's wrong in the United States at this moment.
Is John Kerry Catholic? (from the candidate's official web site)
Kerry is an Irish Catholic, but the Kennedy similarities don't stop there. He, like the former president, is a Massachusetts senator, a decorated naval combat veteran and the son of a diplomat.But it turns out that Kerry was asked directly to state whether or not he was of Irish descent and he's stated that he's not. This Slate item discusses this issue: Whopper of the Week: John Kerry Did he pretend to be Irish?
Still, it's striking that the Globe was able to find two separate instances where Kerry's own staff thought he was Irish and a third where Kerry's campaign invited the public to believe he was Irish. (Benander's explanation about the hats and T-shirts fails to persuade because Kerry wasn't visiting an Irish neighborhood. He was at a state convention attended by people with all sorts of backgrounds.) And it is striking that Kerry has never attempted to correct various references to his Irish ancestry that have appeared in the Globe, which is the most important newspaper in his state.
Kerry seems to be a little more eager to self-identify as a Catholic.
What does it mean to be a Catholic?
What does it mean to be a Catholic American?
What does it mean to be a Catholic American politician?
We're left with a contradiction: (1) I believe in the Church. (2) The Church should not instruct politicians.
What if the Church claims (and indeed it does) that it teaches with the authority of Jesus through the Holy Spirit? The Church from that start called itself Mater (mother) and Magister (teacher).
Who's supposed by instructing the politicians? OK -- the people and who instructs the people?
There is no "line". There are no parallel statements in the Constitution:
Religious freedom gives the Pope and the Bishops (if they be willing) to instruct and to scold John Kerry just a John Kerry retains the right to instruct and to scold the Catholic Church.
The honest thing for John Kerry to do is declare himself no longer a Catholic and opposed to what the Catholic Church teaches.
The Catholic thing for John Kerry to do is repent and experience a conversion of heart and support the right to life and the institution of marriage.
I know that as Catholic politicians one-by-one started to declare for abortion and against the right the life -- the bishops believed it was prudent to be cordial to them - so as not isolate the Church or slam the door in the face of the politician who would repent of his position.
I believe in the long run this only encouraged Catholic politicians to act contrary to clear Catholic moral teachings. So these chickens have come home to roost. What the Pope has written will not be unwritten. It is a provocation and a confrontation.
Former Vatican Ambassador Raymond Flynn said Kerry was just wrong. ``I don't see it as crossing any line at all,'' Flynn said. ``Too many Catholic politicians want to have it both ways, they want the Catholic vote but then they go ahead and ignore Catholic teaching.''
What Ray Flynn said needs to be repeated by all the prominent Catholic politicians and pundits. To be a Catholic means more than the label.
Kerry's new religion is the religion of the "Line". There's no creed, no moral law, no prayers given up to God. I can imagine a polticial cartoon showing the funny hats, balloons, and chaos of a political convention and an image of the crucified Christ and Kerry on his knees worshipping "The Line".
It's time to choose and "He who is not with me is against me".
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:51 AM Permalink
Friday, August 01, 2003
khilafah.com: Post-9/11 America Is a Religion (no author attribution)
To understand why this failure [in the war on terrorism] persists, we must first grasp a reality which has seldom been discussed in print. The United States is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion. Its soldiers have entered Iraq to liberate its people not only from their dictator, their oil and their sovereignty, but also from their darkness. As George Bush told his troops on the day he announced victory: "Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, "come out," and to those in darkness, "be free".'"Sorry for the length of the quotation, but I wanted to get enough of the quote in just in case it disappeared.
I was intrigued by this article because it matches the some of the dialog that I have with Muslims in person. The desire to project "Crusader"-type motives on every act and statement even when it's just done in a incidental way by post-Christians like Giuliani. To them, by denying the conspiracy, it just proves I'm part of it.
There's a certain kind of Catholic or Evangelical who would find a lot to agree with the above assessment. There's a suspicion that by not being a thoroughly Catholic (or Evangelical) nation, we are not under God's favor, and they despair and pray for the chastisement (or tribulation). Recall how much criticism was directed by Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. for suggesting that 9/11 was a punishment from God directed at the sinful United States. My friend Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR mentions this in his book The Cross at Ground Zero on page 28. God permits evil. Go does not cause evil.
The enterprise which is the war on terrorism combined with the effort to establish peace and the rule of law in Afganistan and Iraq -- is it secular geopolitics or a Christian crusade?
I think that to diminish the universal appeal of peace and the rule of law and the rest of it (Life of Brian dialog follows):
Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?Unlike the Romans in Judea, we are not enslaving them or interfering with their religious observances.
But I seek out the pieces like the one above to be able to explain to folks who ask "Where's the Gratitude?"
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:18 PM Permalink
VATICAN CITY (AP) _ The pope accepted the resignation Friday for reasons of age of Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily, who has been criticized for his role in the Boston church abuse scandal. Daily turned 75 _ the normal retirement age for bishops _ last September.
God Bless the Pope and best wishes for our new bishop.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:10 AM Permalink
National Review Ramesh Ponnuru: Yes, They’re Anti-Catholic
It really is true that faithful Catholics "need not apply" as far as most Democrats are concerned. A Catholic can win their support only by ceasing, on the decisive issue, to be Catholic — by breaking from his church's teaching, as Senator Durbin has done. (It is rather disgraceful for a man who went in six years from supporting the Human Life Amendment to supporting partial-birth abortion to keep carrying on about the extremism of people whose beliefs have been less supple.)Speaking of the judicial nominations where opposition to any abortion is extreme
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:45 AM Permalink
US out of California Dept.
Two off-duty Marines were stabbed, one critically, when they and two companions were attacked by more than a dozen alleged gang members early Thursday.
I wonder if there will be calls in Congress to return California to Mexico (and the CA's northern parts to Canada, England or Russia)
See Mexifornia by Victor Davis Hanson.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:34 AM Permalink
Boston Globe: Refusing help, woman gives birth aboard T
A 42-year-old Braintree woman gave birth to a baby boy while standing on an inbound Red Line train yesterday morning, refusing help from stunned passengers who heard her moan and seconds later looked down to find her baby on the floor.
You've got to read the whole story. Even after reading it, I'm not sure if this was a person insisting on autonomy - or neglect of the newborn.
''We're trying to find out what prompted this behavior,'' she said. ''It makes us concerned about her and it makes us concerned about her baby.''
The father of the child was not mentioned in the story.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:22 AM Permalink
websearch.about.com: Google's Domination
The participating clients from this case study ALL submit their sites to paid inclusion programs from AltaVista, Inktomi and AskJeeves/Teoma. Two use LookSmart LookListings and all but one are listed in Yahoo! directory. All are listed in the Open Directory Project and all submit to smaller industry specific directories and smaller search engines. One uses Overture PPC on a limited basis, while none use Google Adwords. All were optimized by yours truly and each represent varied industries in retail, professional services and one is an information site only, is non-commercial and sells nothing. Each of them ranks well at most search engines, but see little traffic from those good rankings.
Google is trusted.
Thanks to people who link to me, my page rank on Google is really high. Thanks for linking to me.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:15 AM Permalink
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Marmot's Hole: A Blog on Korea
On the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War, this is what the NYT has to offer? Before I begin fisking Yi Mun-yol's truly atrocious op-ed piece to the NYT ("The Country America Cannot See"), let me give the man his due props - Yi is one of the most talented writers modern Korea has ever produced. But his latest screed is completely devoid of anything resembling historical honesty and logical consistency....
Awesome analysis of history and the coming Korean war.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 3:36 PM Permalink
New York Times: the decade 1968-1977
The link above is a pretty good summary of what was going on. In 1968 I was attending Brooklyn Prep (founded in 1908, it closed in 1972). BP was the Jesuit high school in Brooklyn. Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels Safety Patrol and radio talk show host was there as a freshman.
The school in the year 1970 was plunged into turmoil as its closing was announced. Curtis ran as a freshman for student president and was expelled for refusing to after a dozen warnings to follow the dress code (jacket and tie).
He's mentioned Fr. John Alexander, SJ on the show, the school's last headmaster. Fr. Alexander really was as a great a administrator and teacher as Curtis recounts.
If the school had not closed and if Curtis showed a little more maturity and graduated in 1972 from Brooklyn Prep rather than Canarsie High School, he'd probably be mayor of New York City now.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:39 PM Permalink
God's Physics Experiment
Physicist Stephen M. Barr has fired the latest broadside in the contentious debate over what science tells us about the existence of God. His book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith presents a case that developments in physics and related fields give support to the idea of a cosmic designer and indeed fit well with the Judeo-Christian tradition.I am "patsw" in the comment block there. Drop by.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:57 AM Permalink
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Mad scientist liberation front news dept.
Christopher Reeve says the Catholic Church and President Bush have obstructed research he believes might free him - and others like him - from their wheelchairs.
REHOVOT, Israel - Actor Christopher Reeve told an Israeli audience yesterday he thinks there is a good chance he will walk again - provided "politics and religion" don't interfere with scientific research.
So who decided that scientists sit at all the seats at the table of public policy?
The "obstruction" is that some in "politics and religion" know and speak out: unborn human beings are being killed to obtain stem cells.
The stem cells from post-born human beings and from the umbilical cord are alternate sources of stem cells that appear to work better that the ones obtained by killing unborn children.
The principle seems obvious: some stem cells like to grow the brain stem, others like to grow hair. Some experiments with prenatal stem cells have a chaotic transformation into producing the wrong kind of cells: you want a nerve and you get heart muscle for example.
So a lot of research goes into coaxing cells into specialization.
Of course, neither article contains the word "abortion" but that is the elephant in this particular living room -- a steady supply of unborn human children in the form of embryo to be destroyed so that Christopher Reeve can walk.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:34 AM Permalink
NY POST: Liz Smith gives us a nice summary of anti-Catholic pop culture at work:
'Don't me come down there!" says God, thundering from the skies at a cardinal wearing a "Church Cover-Ups" chasuble in the Mike Peters cartoon.
"Trapped in a laundry"? I'll see what people who really know this story have to say about "The Magdalene Sisters"
From what I've read so far, it makes "The Handmaid's Tail" look like "The Feminine Mystique" -- it's supposed to be a "true story" and not a feminist dystopia fantasy.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:01 AM Permalink
Fortune: Is a Futures Market on Terror Outlandish?
While the Pentagon program may sound outlandish, there is strong evidence that futures exchanges can predict events better than other forms of analysis. Betting pools on election results have proven more accurate than polls, and options markets are better predictors of future stock prices than the price targets set by individual equity research analysts. The reason, economists say, is that markets are extremely efficient at aggregating information from all investors—including inside information.
Now, here I can speak with authority. (Unlike my mere offerings on Catholic doctrine and history.)
This is one stupid idea.
Financial markets work because the folks with capital have information about the underlying economic activity and the folks involved in the underlying economic activity have capital. (This stock is undervalued by the market, I'll buy it!)
The same intersection of information about goods and services exists in a rug merchants bazaar in Damacus or Baghdad where people need to know something about the quality and value of rugs.
In terrorism, the community with investment capital and seeking information doesn't have access to sample the wares of Timothy McVeigh and while Enron filed false 10K disclosures, Zacharias Moussaoui didn't.
The problem is that people with an interest in killing 3,000 Americans in one attack don't need (or desire) to participate in that market with information.
So it wouldn't work for fundamental reasons. The moral reasons for doing so are obvious: there aren't separate betting pools at racetracks for which horses will be injured or killed during a race.
This may be the time for John Poindexter to retire.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 9:51 AM Permalink
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Opinion Journal - Harvey Silverglate: Pastors and Prosecutors
Massachusetts' attorney general shouldn't confuse himself with the pope.
Someone in Reily's office should have given him this sort of advice. There's a lot of heavy-handedness in Reily's report, but it certainly was needed in light of the magnitude of the problem in the Archdiocese of Boston.
I part company with with Silverglate on this point:
Mr. Reilly notes that one clerical administrator, who took abuse seriously and attempted to deal with abusive priests "firmly," nonetheless did so "within a culture and system that treated these people as colleagues rather than criminals." Mr. Reilly, although himself a Catholic, appears to have no understanding of the implications of a church that believes in the redemption of sinners, where pastors see themselves as shepherds rather than adjuncts to prosecutors. A bishop comes in for criticism "because he viewed his role primarily as pastoral." The archdiocese is criticized because officials "believed that Canon Law--the church's internal policies and procedures--prohibited it from reporting abuse to civil authorities in most instances."
No colleague of mine is a criminal. No criminal I know of is a collegue. Pastors have over and over again failed to act with outrage and cry out for justice when given the evidence of a serious crime. Their failure to act makes them moral cowards and they have failed to protect children from sexual predators. If my willingness to report the crime of child rape make me an "adjunct to prosecutors", sign me up!
If there's semiotic consequence to the scandal it is to have made the word "pastoral" itself a synonym for the toleration of depravity and not merely the permission given to divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
How many of those 789 victims were urged by the Church not to contact the police anyway?
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 4:05 PM Permalink
Monday, July 28, 2003
Manufacturing the News with a Poll -- for over a month
I love savy talk show hosts. Steve Roberts, a liberal pundit, was going on about how support for the war on terrorism among Americans was declining. It was a pitch to help get Democrats elected. They want more Americans to die in order to turn America's victories in Afganistan and Iraq into defeats. They can't give Bush "credit", so they want to give him "blame".
Roberts kept pushing the results of June 23 ABC push poll on them and it's already July 28.
This is the sort of poll where they ask loaded questions pointing out the problems, some expected and some unexpected, in post-war Iraq and then asking "Is the level of American casualities unacceptable?" and the answer is 51% percent.
Any dead or wounder American soldier is unacceptable but what do you want to do? Turn the country over to the ex-Saddam inner circle members who are being detained?
One lesson the United States has learned is the importance of winning over the hearts and minds of Iraquis who want the killing to stop.
Mark Simone asked Roberts about how under-reported the good news was. Roberts smugly answered that since Simone had read it somewhere it was obviously not under-reported.
Simone then asked "OK, when do we see that ABC News polls which show Americans' opinion on the success in Iraq of not only rebuilding the infrastructure, giving ordinary Iraqis hope that their lives will return to normal, and more progress in capturing or killing Saddam's gang?"
I looked at how this point on "unacceptable casualities" is getting repeated over and over, especially in foreign news.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:02 AM Permalink
Reuters: Lying about Lynch
Charleston (WV) Daily Mail: Dear Elizabeth, I didn't do it by Deanna Wrenn
This is from a story that Reuters news service ran this week with my byline:"Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday . . . Media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters."Got problems with that? I do, especially since I didn't write it. Here's what I sent last week to Reuters, a British news agency that compiles news reports from all over the world:"ELIZABETH -- In this small county seat with just 995 residents, the girl everyone calls Jessi is a true heroine -- even if reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq.What I typed and filed for Reuters last week goes on in that vein. They asked me if they could use my byline, which I had typed at the beginning of the story I sent, and I said that would be no problem.
I discovered this on Media Research Center.
Also, in the Washington Times
And more in Opinion Journal
It turns out even the byline was a lie. Reuters attributed the story to Deanna Wrenn, who we later learned is a reporter for the Daily Mail, an afternoon paper in Charleston, W.Va. Out of curiosity, we went to the Daily Mail's Web site and read Wrenn's account of Pfc. Lynch's homecoming. It reads nothing at all like the Reuters piece.
When it comes to the AP and Reuters, there's such a bias that's it's not even "news" when it's been exposed. Regardless of the politics, this sort of tampering with the news puts the credibility of Reuters at the same level of the New York Times.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 9:22 AM Permalink
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Pots Calling Kettles Black Department
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S commencement ceremonies were a squirmy, uncomfortable affair this spring, and for once the sweltering D.C. weather had nothing to do with it. Picture the single mom, the gay uncle, the cohabitating field hockey player, sated from a celebratory Saturday breakfast, settling into the folding chairs on the quad to hear some heartening words from the honored speaker of the day. He was Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, and his theme was supposed to be Muslim-Christian relations. Instead, the cardinal delivered a ferocious harangue on American sexual mores that singed his audience's ears.
This article combines the "anthropological distance" where reporters report on their neighbors as if they were an isolated group of people in the jungles of New Guinea with "chicken-little" predictions of the demise of the Catholic Church.
It would have been far, far better for the Globe to give Professor Jenkins or Cardinal Arinze the space for an op-ed.
A schism that really matters would start with a bishop of course. A mere pastor or parish can't do much more than leave and declare themselves Protestants.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:00 PM Permalink