Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cease Candle-Burning!

Fine time to lie down,
Get the rest I need at last:
Put out both the ends!

Reasonable MSM's Math Delinquency

Captain's Quarters has the story here!
Apparently the Washington Post and CBS have their difficulties with mathematics these days. Earlier today, the Post reported that the death toll in Iraq from reprisals following the destruction of the Askariya shrine in Samarra had topped 1,300. Later today, most news organizations agree with Iraqi and American officials that the Post's numbers were greatly exaggerated, as Editor and Publisher reports:
Sectarian violence that followed last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis in the past few days, many times the figure previously reported by the U.S. media and the military, The Washington Post reported early Tuesday.

Later, however, Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called such high death totals "inaccurate and exaggerated," without mentioning the Post.

In comparison, The New York Times reported Monday that the recent violence "brought the country to the brink of civil war and left at least 200 dead." Others had produced similar figures.

On Tuesday, the Times increased that number to "379 dead and 458 wounded, the nation's Council of Ministers said today. At least 246 people in Baghdad alone were killed, the top two city morgue officials said." ...

The Associated Press carried this on Tuesday: "The Post cited figures from the Baghdad central morgue, but an official there told The Associated Press that as of Sunday night they had received only 249 bodies tied to the violence. The Post figure appeared high based on police and hospital reports from the major population centers at the time of the attacks."

The Los Angeles Times, after noting the different figures today, added another, from Haidar Safar, a Ministry of Health official in charge of compiling data from hospitals and morgues across the country. He said 519 Iraqis have died from violence across the country since the blast occurred.

A Knight Ridder report from Baghdad late Tuesday stated that an American military official in Baghdad said U.S.-led coalition forces had been able to confirm only 220 such deaths since last Wednesday’s bombing.
No one argues that any of these numbers represent good news, but the report of 1300 deaths (which I used in a previous post) makes all of these counts pale in comparison. The methodology used by the Post appears somewhat suspect; their reporters counted dead bodies in a Baghdad morgue and assumed all of the deaths that appeared violent came from sectarian vendettas following the bombing. However, the morgue itself says that it has seen nowhere near the number of bodies claimed by the Post.
It's wonderful to know that I can count on the Reasonable mouth-foamers of the MSM to keep their Bush-hating, pacific biases out of their reporting. Great job, folks! Thanks for helping me buy the hype!

We need information, not propaganda, people! Try to remember that we're the ones with the right to know. OK?

Desperate Foolable Nonsense

The Curt Jester on "Unformed Conscience"
Paul has some good commentary on the statement of Fifty-five Catholic who are Democrats (or is that Democrats who are Catholic) and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes:
What's significant is that this is not a statement from pro-choice Catholics trying to "reframe" the abortion question. The signatories include some of the staunchest opponents of abortion in the House, including Reps. Bart Stupak, Dale Kildee, Tim Holden, James Oberstar and James Langevin.

In other words, Democrats on both sides of the abortion question worry that it is crowding out all other concerns. And in very polite language, the Catholic Democrats suggest that their bishops allow them some room to disagree. "In all these issues, we seek the church's guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience," they write in an echo of Kennedy. "In recognizing the church's role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes from being in disagreement with the church in some areas."
Have you ever heard "primacy of conscience" invoked which wasn't immediately followed by some excuse to deny some part of the Catholic faith? Definitely at odds with Blessed John Cardinal Newman's "the voice of God in the nature and heart of man " The voice of God does not say that you can murder his children.
While I share the Jester's outrage, I can't say I'm surprised. This latest shell game by Foolables desperate to carry Moloch-Worshippers' water illustrates one of the Church's longest internal struggles. That would be between the conflict between the complementary authorities of ecclesial and secular leaders. Once again, secular leaders want to decide the internal matters of the Catholic Church, even though they have no charism or legitimacy to do so. Of course, they have to frame it as a "religious liberty" issue and make it about "separation of Church and State."

What this is about is reclaiming the Catholic vote. Seeing all of reality through the paradigm of politics, the Democratic Representatives look at their 2006 dilemna. They lost 55% of the weekly church-going Catholic vote. They desperately need that back if they're to reclaim Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. They look at the USCCB, the various positions the conference and its like-minded fellow travelers like Network, and they figure, "Hey, we agree with them on more than we disagree. Surely, we can shake them into some kind of compromise." Thus, they now release the latest saber rattle. They long for the US Bishops to let them flaunt clear moral teaching and 2,000 years of witness, and yet still call themselves Catholics in good standing.

All this will accomplish is to harden the resolve of those enspined Bishops--and perhaps poor some steel down the backs of others. The Congressional Democrats that signed this proclaimation effectively demand the right to usurp the Bishops' just authority to lead and teach the Faithful. I don't think too many Bishops will be in a hurry to aid and abett them.

These Foolables can bleah all they want. They won't get to embrace their Catholicism as a political marketing tool. Communion with Christ in his Body is worth far too much to cheapen it with such theatrics. May they understand that someday.

My Fat Tuesday

Last sip of Guiness
Until St. Patrick's day or
Easter soon arrives!

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Bride's Blush

Red roses over
A boquette of blue violets,
Held in trembling hands.

Sandra Miesel Rocks!

Sandra Miesel utterly blew the doors off the pro-Da Vinchy Code commentators on Scarborough Country tonight! I'll link to a transcript or video when it's available, but what I remember her saying was this:
Even if I wasn't a Christian, I would be angry as a historian.
She effectively demonstrates that Dan Brown's so-called historical research is unadulterated horse manure. The haplass Publisher's Weekly correspondent had to spend at least an hour brushing Ms. Miesel's footprints off her face.

What an incredible witness to the Truth!

If I can find some links that show her in action, do yourself a favor: check it out!

Update: Donald R. McClarey, a long-time commentor at Mark Shea's, sums it up perfectly!
Just saw Sandra verbally bodyslam Karen "I'm an Airhead" Holt, deputy editor of Publisher's Weekly on Scarborough Country. What a hoot! Some of the funniest television I've seen in a long, long time!
So say we all!

More Bloodshed

"Iraq Death Toll Higher Than First Thought" sayz the Washington Post
Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- sprawled, blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies had their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"After he came back from the evening prayer, the Mahdi Army broke into his house and asked him, 'Are you Khalid the Sunni infidel?' " one man at the morgue said, relating what were the last hours of his cousin, according to other relatives. "He replied 'yes' and then they took him away."

Aides to Sadr denied the allegations, calling them part of a smear campaign by unspecified political rivals.

By Monday, violence between Sunnis and Shiites appeared to have eased. As Iraqi security forces patrolled, American troops offered measured support, in hopes of allowing the Iraqis to take charge and prevent further carnage.

But at the morgue, where the floor was crusted with dried blood, the evidence of the damage already done was clear. Iraqis arrived throughout the day, seeking family members and neighbors among the contorted bodies.

"And they say there is no sectarian war?" demanded one man. "What do you call this?''
Nothing serves the islamofascists'--or their Master's--interests more than a civil war in Iraq. A significant escalation of this conflict into one will completely alienate the American public. A likely subsequent withdrawal of US forces will lead to either a Shi'a state that slaughters Sunnis or a resurgence of Baathist dictatorship. Both outcomes will benefit Al Qaeda. Either they'll receive new recruits that blame the Great Satan for abandoning Sunnis to slaughter, or they'll gain a new safe harbor.

Worst of all, The US will have betrayed the Iraqis for the last time. After all, didn't President George Bush (41) call on the Shi'a to revolt in Iraq? Our failure to stand by them when they did led to their slaughter at Hussein's hands. President George W. Bush has long said that the US will remain until "the job is done." If we abandon the Iraqis now--and if they fall into civil war--then we ensure the deaths and future oppression of millions of them.

Do we truly want that to be our legacy in Iraq?

Reasonable MSM: Back to Sensation and Spin

I'm getting sore sitting on the fence regarding the Port issue. On the one hand, I'm pleased that the Administration agreed to a 45 day review of this deal that current law demands. I'm also more persuaded by those more well-informed than myself that DPW and Dubai in general do not represent security risks for the US. On the other hand, why was this deal rushed through in the first place? Exactly what processes does DPW and the Dubai government have in place to prevent infiltration by Al Qaeda, other islamofascist franchises or sympathizers? How will Dubai, a dictatorship, address the discontent that many of it's citizens feel?

In the face of such questions, I would like to depend on MSM to provide me with as much information, and as little hype, as possible. Unfortunately, such an ethical position evidently does not move product or serve as a large enough brickbat against that real enemy of the US: President George W. Bush.

My Way News, carrying this AP story, demonstrates.

Take a look at this opening:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard raised concerns weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.

The disclosure came during a hearing Monday on Dubai-owned DP World's plans to assume significant operations at six leading U.S. ports. It also clouded whether the Bush administration's agreement to conduct an unusual investigation into the pending takeover's security risks would allay lawmakers' concerns.

The administration said the Coast Guard's concerns were raised during its review of the deal, which it approved Jan. 17, and that all those questions were resolved. London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. now handles the port operations.

"There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment" of the potential merger, an unclassified Coast Guard intelligence assessment said.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," said the half-page assessment. Officials said it was an unclassified excerpt from a larger document.
Pretty damning stuff. The first four paragraphs practically scream "Nixonian cover-up!" It's a variation on the "his friends, the Saudis" criticism some levelled at the President before. Yeah, they finally got him!

Until, gentle reader, you read the very next paragraph:
In a statement, the Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the excerpt ultimately were addressed and that other U.S. intelligence agencies answered the questions raised.
Well! That was a quick scandal! And there's more:
The Coast Guard indicated to The Associated Press that it did not have serious reservations about the ports deal on Feb. 10, when the news organization first inquired about potential security concerns.
As Administration officials said:
Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary for the Homeland Security Department, told lawmakers that the excerpt was from an internal Coast Guard document that he did not see. However, Baker said the Coast Guard had indicated to the inter-agency panel that reviews such transactions that the security concerns it had ultimately had been resolved.

"It communicated to us that it had no further concerns about the transaction," Baker said.
The Coast Guard had security questions regarding the deal. The agency raised them. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States answered them to the Coast Guard brass' satisfaction. They have no objection by the time the deal goes public.

So where's the story?

In fact, whose posturing continues to move it forward.

Well, there's Senator Susan Collins (R-ME):
Sen. Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, released the excerpt at a briefing Monday. The Bush administration agreed Sunday to DP World's request for a 45-day investigation of the potential security risks related to the deal.
"This report suggests there were significant and troubling intelligence gaps," said Collins, R-Maine. "That language is very troubling to me."
Yeah, I'm sure you are, Senator. After all, you had such a Reasonable response to Mr. Baker's point:
"I think it's a little unfair to judge this report by one paragraph that happens not to be classified," Baker said. "This paragraph is not really representative of the entire report."

"I think the paragraph speaks for itself," Collins responded before adjourning the public hearing for a closed session to explore the issue further.
So, what's her play! Why, it's simple: she wants to maintain her "independence." What better opportunity could there be than to throw the gauntlet down on the President and get to his right on national security?

After all, it's working for Senator Charles Schumer. At least, he thinks it is. Why else would he continue the shell game being played here?
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Coast Guard assessment reinforces the need for a thorough review of security issues. "If this isn't a smoking gun, it shows that there may be one undetected" by the interagency panel that did the initial review, Schumer said.
Politicos will make whatever hay they can to push their agenda. If they spent as much time representing their voters' interests in the context of seeking the nation's common good, we'd all be much better off. But I digress. If politicos are going to pander, why must MSM become their constant enabler and cheerleader? The port issue is far too important to clutter up with the usual semantics. In choosing economic expediency and political satisfaction over the people's right to know, the MSM continues to undermine its own legitimacy. I'd laugh, but our society needs a free and responsible media in order for us to remain free and responsible citizens. If the "fourth estate" continues to muddle and propagandize for the Reasonable elites that hurl our society toward a cliff, we won't continue to be free or responsible.

Witness to Christ through Charity

Catholic Charities USA hopes to build 5,000 housing units for the poor in New Orleans, some of it on church-owned land, leveraging its money with loans and grants, said the Rev. Larry Snyder, the group's chief executive.

The group has so far disbursed $58 million of the $142 million it collected to 76 Catholic Charities agencies and other organizations in 29 states for counseling, job placement and housing.

New Orleans resident Tyler Jones, 45, who lost everything in the storm, said Catholic Charities provided his family with medical care, money for clothes, counseling and other support to get their lives back on track. "They restored my faith and my hope by helping me," said Jones, a New Orleans sheriff's deputy. (emphasis mine.)Our love reveals our Lord. Catholic Charities preached that love in action for Mr. Jones. They served him body and soul.

Where do we see the ones with those needs? How can we help?

"Two-Thirds of Katrina Donations Exhausted" sayz the Washington Post

Here's a place to start! Don't forget to read it from the beginning.

Back From Retreat!

Returned yesterday, actually!

In a word: Awe-inspiring!

In a weekend of silence, there was me and my prayer to the Lord. His presence, so palpable he could have sat in the empty chair beside me. The peace, the consolation, the renewal: I felt like a dust-ridden traveler across the desert who at last knelt beside the refreshing cool of a serene oasis.

If you find your prayer life has become inconsistent or nonexistent, I highly reccommend a silent retreat! Don't be afraid! Get in touch, reconnect, and you'll find your strength and your joy renewed!

Winter's Glance

February freeze,
Frigid air awaits my steps
Into the cold, cold morn'.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Book of Nature Moment

Swirl of winter wind
Circles snow and remnant leaves
All over my deck.

Off Soon to the Sounds of Silence

I will soon be on my way to my first silent retreat.

The Blushing Bride believed one was in order for me. Who am I to disagree?

The Retreat begins at 4PM today and goes until Sunday at about 1:30PM. I will resume blogging on Monday.

Please keep me in your prayers!


Contradictory Definitions on Torture?

Tell that to the Holy See!

A reader brings this to my attention:
Thanks for fighting the good fight on your blog and at Mark Shea's blog
on the torture issue.

Thought you might be interested to see this:


He's referring to my post on torture and Catholic Teaching and some comments on Mark Shea's post that references my work.

One commenter, in his ongoing effort to prove the necessity of clear definitions of torture, has proclaimed that two of the definitions I offer contradict one another.
What I have done however, is to show that significantly different conclusions result from apparently similar definitions. These different conclusions then lead us to dramatically different interpretations of the truth which are incompatible.

This is not sophistry. This is simple logic. Prove the logic wrong and you are arguing fairly. Argue against solid logic, and you are arguing in a sophistical manner.

I do not think my soul is in danger yet. My spiritual director does not think so. I received communion this morning in good conscience. I do not think torture is moral. Nor do I think abuse is moral. I do not think slander is either.

Be that as it may, my only argument is this, that solid definitions lead to solid conclusions. Poor definitions lead to poor conclusions.
The logical conclusion of Doubting Thomas' position is that we can't say whether or not certain actions qualify as torture. After all, we don't have a clear definition.

Now, pardon my cynicism, but his argument strikes me as sophistry. Why? He's manipulating his premises by rhetorical sleight-of-hand. How's that? Let's take a closer look at his own argument:
Going to the link you posted, I now take this as the definition of torture that I will use:
"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."
As such, the actions at Abu Ghraib were not torture as they did not take place with "the consent of a public official acting in an official capacity." We know this because those involved were punished. Rather, what they were guilty of was abuse.
Please refrain, per the definition you yourself reference, from equating Abu Ghraib with torture again.
First of all, I offered these definitions as references that intelligent people could use to understand torture. Nowhere did I say that anyone had to use each definition literally. I take it that Doubting Thomas is an intelligent person. Therefore, he can use these definitions as references to understand torture. Instead, he uses two offered definitions to make some ridiculous point about how definitions can contradict each other, rendering the truth unknowable:
Definition 1 per Mark's post:Something causing severe pain or anguish

Definition 2 per Mark's post:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions

Syllogism per Def. 1:
Torture is anything that causes sever pain.
What went on at Abu Ghraib caused severe pain.
Therefore what went on at Abu Ghraib was torture.

Syllogism per Def. 2:

Torture is what is sanctioned by the state.
What went on at Abu Ghraib was not sanctioned by the state.
Therefore what went on at Abu Ghraib was not torture.

Axiom per Aristotle:

Something cannot be and not be at the same time.

Something cannot be torture and not torture at the same time.
Uh Huh.

Where is the rhetorical gymnastics of which I spoke? It's in how Doubting Thomas interpretes the phrase "when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity." In particular, he focuses on "public official" and "acting in an official capacity." In DT's world, a public official can only act in an official capacity if his action reflects the policy of his superiors.
Having been a Naval officer since 1985, (and now in pasture) I know that when one acts, one is either acting in according with official policy or contrary to it. If one is acting contrary to policy then one's act's are unofficial - outside an official capacity.
He asserts that the policy of the US government does not approve of torture because the US government punished the perpetrators of Abu Ghraib. Therefore, he concludes, those perpetrators could not have acted in an official capacity.

Yeah. That dog will hunt.

DT's problem is that he does not distinguish between licit and illicit action within official capacity. He assumes that all official capacity must be licit or it's not official capacity. Wrong. If the President of the United States sells secrets to a foreign government, his action is still taken within the bounds of his official capacity. His action is illicit, but not suddenly unofficial. That's why the constitution has a provision for removing such a corrupt individual from the office of the Presidency--the impeachment process.

The soldiers at Abu Ghraib committed their otrocities as soldiers of the US military. While their actions were not policy, they were actions undertaken while they were on duty. Therefore, they were actions of public officials. Hence, they tortured prisoners in defiance of Military policy and US law.

When at least two other commenters point out the error in his interpretation, he declares that their positions are equivocations:
Katherine and Seamus have taken one legitimate road to deny the conclusion I draw. This hinges on the equivocation of the term "official capacity."
No, they don't. Kathering and Seamus correctly point out that anyone in an official capacity acts within that capacity whenever they carry out their duties, whether their actions are legal, and moral, or not.

DT's entire conclusion on the contradiction between the definitions of torture that I offered as references rests on his inadequate interpretation of acting within official capacity. Therefore, the contradiction he sees that renders the truth of torture unknowable doesn't exist.

Apparently, the Holy See agrees:
Today, June 26th, the day declared by the United Nations as the “International Day of Support for Victims of Torture,” the Holy See has acceded to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

This Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1984 and entered into force on June 26, 1987. Up until now, it has been ratified by 129 States.

The instrument of accession, signed by Pope John Paul II, was deposited today in the Office of the Treaty Section by H.E. Archbishop Renato R. Martino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, together with an Informative Declaration by which the Holy See explains the scope of its accession. Among other things, this Declaration says:

“The Holy See considers the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment a valid and ideal tool for the fight against acts that constitute a grave attack on the dignity of the human person. In the contemporary age, the Catholic Church has declared itself constantly in favor of unconditional respect for life itself and has condemned unequivocally ‘everything that violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, including psychological coercion’ (Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, December 7, 1965)”.

The Code of Canon Law (1983) as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) clearly identify and mention behavior that can hurt the physical or moral integrity of the person. These documents also exhorts leaders and urge the abolition of these acts. Moreover, both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have condemned torture and cruelty against people on several occasions.
The bottom line remains: Catholics must oppose torture. We know what it is; we can develop an intelligent understanding of what it is from the myriad sources that define it. Therefore, we have no excuse not to oppose it. If we stand against abortion and euthanasia because we believe that they are intrinsically evil acts as defined by the Church, then we must oppose torture for the same reason.

The sooner all Fools come to accept this, the better off our society--and the world--will be.

Stepping Back from the Brink?

The blood-lusters of Al Qaeda-in-Iraq have attempted to ignite a civil war in Iraq. The Iraqis now face the decision of their lives: Will they let Al Qaeda drive them to sectarian violence and civil strife? Or will they collectively give al-Zarqawi the finger? Today, many lean toward the latter.

My Way News has the story.
Iraq's most influential Shiite political leader called Friday for Sunni-Shiite unity as religious figures sought to calm passions and pull the nation from the brink of civil war after the bombing of a Shiite shrine two days ago and a wave of deadly reprisal attacks.

An extraordinary daytime curfew in Baghdad and three nearby provinces appeared to have blunted the wave of attacks on Sunni mosques that followed Wednesday's bombing which destroyed the golden dome of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra.

Still, Iraqis feared that the two days of violence which followed the Samarra attack had pushed the country closer to sectarian civil war than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago.

Several joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services were announced for Friday, including one at the Askariya shrine. But security forces turned away about 700 people, virtually all of them Sunnis, who showed up for the service.

In a statement read over national television, top Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said those who carried out the Wednesday bombing at the Askariya shrine in Samarra "do not represent the Sunnis in Iraq."

Al-Hakim instead blamed Saddam Hussein loyalists and followers of al-Qaida in Iraq boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"We all have to unite in order to eliminate them," al-Hakim said in a statement. "This is what al-Zarqawi is working for, that is, to ignite a sectarian strife in the country," he added. "We call for self-restraint and not to be dragged by the plots of the enemy of Iraq."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged the danger facing Iraq - and the U.S. strategy for disengaging from this country. But he also said this was also a "moment of opportunity" for Iraq.

"This tragedy can be used to bring people together," Khalilzad told reporters.

Late Thursday, Iraqi state television announced an extension of the nighttime curfew until 4 p.m. Friday in Baghdad and the nearby provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddin, where the shrine bombing took place. But security forces permitted worshippers to walk to mosque for midday prayers.

A large crowd attended Friday prayers at Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque, Baghdad's most important Sunni site, where Imam Ahmed Hasan al-Taha denounced the attack on the Shiite shrine as a conspiracy intended to draw Iraqis into sectarian strife.
Nothing would satisfy Al Zarqawi or Bin Laden more than a brutal civil war between Shi'a and Sunni Iraqis. What better opportunity could Al Qaeda ask for? Iraq would easily become the new Afghanistan after such a civil war. Or worse.

After sectarian violence that has claimed over one hundred lives, and unprecedented daylight curfiews imposed by the government, prominent Shi'a leadership have now called for Sunni-Shi'a unity. Will the Iraqis respond?

Pre-Schooler's Friday Morning Delight

Surprise on his face,
"Daddy, your home!" He cries out!
Open arm smile.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The World's Remorse

Confront the sorrow,
Grief unwearied, leads away
From his own Mercy

Cor ad cor loquitur

I can't even begin to touch Cor ad cor loquitur's brilliance.
Anti-Catholics (broadly speaking) accept the creed, and have been baptized. They're simply very lousy, hypocritical Christians. How they behave is beside the doctrinal, definitional point. If a whoring murderer can still be a pope, these persons can be "Christians." The state of their soul is ultimately God's judgment. In all likelihood, I would suspect that many anti-Catholics are out of God's graces, whatever one calls them, and that is the bottom line. But when we start implying that they are deliberately serving the devil, as if they don't believe in Jesus and the Resurrection, and salvation by grace, etc., then we go too far.

The "wolves-in-sheep's clothing" metaphor based on the Bible applies to those who are pretending to be something they are not. Anti-Catholic Protestants are Christians, and they are not pretending to be Catholics. The pretense (where present) would be a lack of sincerity. "Heresy" applies to individual errors. Protestants (like Orthodox) are a bit of a special case. Luther is a heretic on any number of things, but he is a separated brother too, in virtue of his baptism and adherence to the Creed. In his case, he is also close to the Catholic Church in many ways, such as the Immaculate Conception and baptismal regeneration and disagreement with contraception. Would that most Protestants today could be as Catholic as Luther in those respects.
He makes a brilliant case for our responsibilities as evangelists, and that those Anti-Catholics that hail from Protestant congregations are still brother Christians, not spawns of Satan.

It's long, but well worth it. Check it out!

Another Fool for the Hit Parade! Keep laughing!

ProLife Blogs Offers a Round-up...

...Of South Dakota's legal gauntlet, thrown down at the feet of SCOTUS.

The collection is here!

I admire the spirit of the South Dakota legislature. Unfortunately, I doubt that the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, even with the new justices, at this juncture.

Our society would win a more significant victory at this juncture if SCOTUS upheld the constitutionality of the Partial-birth Abortion Ban.

I'm optimistic that Roberts and Alito will help SCOTUS put its Judiciarist ways in its wake. I'm just not convinced they can do so this quickly.

I pray that I'm wrong.

Bennette and Dershowitz on "A Failure of the Press"

The Washington Post offers their view here
We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree: Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities. To our knowledge, only three print newspapers have followed their true calling: the Austin American-Statesman, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Sun. What have they done? They simply printed cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among Muslims over depictions of the prophet Muhammad. These papers did their duty.

Since the war on terrorism began, the mainstream press has had no problem printing stories and pictures that challenged the administration and, in the view of some, compromised our war and peace efforts. The manifold images of abuse at Abu Ghraib come to mind -- images that struck at our effort to win support from Arab governments and peoples, and that pierced the heart of the Muslim world as well as the U.S. military.

The press has had no problem with breaking a story using classified information on detention centers for captured terrorists and suspects -- stories that could harm our allies. And it disclosed a surveillance program so highly classified that most members of Congress were unaware of it.

In its zeal to publish stories critical of our nation's efforts -- and clearly upsetting to enemies and allies alike -- the press has printed some articles that turned out to be inaccurate. The Guantanamo Bay flushing of the Koran comes to mind.

But for the past month, the Islamist street has been on an intifada over cartoons depicting Muhammad that were first published months ago in a Danish newspaper. Protests in London -- never mind Jordan, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Iran and other countries not noted for their commitment to democratic principles -- included signs that read, "Behead those who insult Islam." The mainstream U.S. media have covered this worldwide uprising; it is, after all, a glimpse into the sentiments of our enemy and its allies. And yet it has refused, with but a few exceptions, to show the cartoons that purportedly caused all the outrage.

The Boston Globe, speaking for many other outlets, editorialized: "[N]ewspapers ought to refrain from publishing offensive caricatures of Mohammed in the name of the ultimate Enlightenment value: tolerance."

But as for caricatures depicting Jews in the most medievally horrific stereotypes, or Christians as fanatics on any given issue, the mainstream press seems to hold no such value. And in the matter of disclosing classified information in wartime, the press competes for the scoop when it believes the public interest warrants it.

What has happened? To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists -- their threats more than their sensibilities. One did not see Catholics claiming the right to mayhem in the wake of the republished depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in cow dung, any more than one saw a rejuvenated Jewish Defense League take to the street or blow up an office when Ariel Sharon was depicted as Hitler or when the Israeli army was depicted as murdering the baby Jesus.

So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry, representing a higher expectation from Christians and Jews than from Muslims.
When political polar opposites such as William Bennette and Alan Dershowitz agree on something, the wise should take note. Therefore, all Fools had better consider their argument carefully.

In the context of how the MSM has identified its role in representative governing societies, these gentlemen are right. Has not the cliche of virtually every MSM operator been "the public's right to know"? Have not their giants repeatedly proclaimed the importance of their institutions to society?

They have. Then along comes a relevent and risky story. It's relevent because some of the fires the violent mobs set have not yet burned out. It's risky because these same mobs, and their opportunistic instigators, have promised violent attacks and even murder on those that carry the heart of the story. That heart, of course, are the controversial Danish cartoons that depict Mohammad in admittedly an offensive light. Nevertheless, these cartoons are the story.

And how has the MSM addressed this story? With dereliction of their self-proclaimed duty. With hypocrisy. With silence.

Only three newspapers in the US ran the cartoons. Only one newspaper publically confessed to the cowardice many newsrooms may have felt.

"Now, wait a minute, Fool!" Some of you might say, "Didn't we read just the other day about how you're not going to publish the cartoons? Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black, now? Aren't you the one being the hypocrite?

Actually, this is what I had to say regarding my "coverage" of the cartoon controversy:
The same press that many bloggers have flocked to support are the same that celebrate the "piss christ" or the "dung Mary." The secularism that Reasonable MSM elites in Denmark and beyond celebrate have no place for Fools of any creed, muslim or otherwise. I'm in no hurry to encourage their abuse of the freedom of speech.

Not that rioting, embassy and flag burning, and murder have any place in a civilized society. The Islamofascists that organized this fanatical response as a punishment to Denmark's internal management of its own society deserve nothing but utter condemnation. Their violent enablers on the street should be confronted with the full force of the law, and each of them should face the consequences of his action.

I can oppose the violence of islamofascists while refusing to stab law-abiding muslims in the back. Why should I obstruct any spiritual seeker's path?

For that is what endorsing the Danish cartoons amounts to for the Christian. Bear with me as I explain.

Nostra Aetate clearly states that the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is good and true in all religions. It follows then that whatever truth Muslims receive from Islam is truth that I, as a Christian, can agree. Muslims may not possess the fullness of truth; however, their encounter with the measure of truth that they do experience sets them on the road. They're seeking that communion with God for which we all long to experience.

Will standing up for the abstract right to freedom of speech help them to further seek communion with God through their tradition, and beyond? Will my identification with secularists' disdain for religion guarantee that right? Of course not! But it will most likely alienate those honest muslims that seek the fullness of truth.

If I have any hope of evangelizing such seekers, I will jeopardize that hope by destroying the vehicle that allows him to grasp part of the truth before he's ready to acccept all of it. I therefore sabatoge my own efforts to offer him the Gospel. How can that be something Christ wants of me?
My vision differs from MSM's. Look at my profile. What am I doing here?
For today's fashion of reason suggests that God does not exist or does not matter. Whether by conscious principle or unconscious practice, many elites in society live such a belief in nothing publicly and consider themselves reasonable. That means living the Faith makes one a Fool. Then call me a Holy Fool! Would that I could spread my Foolishness to all the world! With your help, we will!
I'm a guy that runs a blog in order to offer anyone who reads it a taste of the Foolishness of Roman Catholic Christianity. I'm about reflection, opinion/analysis, poetry and whatever other foolishness comes to mind.

The MSM, on the other hand, inform the people of a representative democratic society. They have long advocated their essential role in ensuring the continuation of our tradition. They do this, they say, by providing us with the information we need in order to live free and govern our lives in that freedom. In other words, they live upon the foundation of the first ammendment of the United State's Constitution. They have a made a contract with the American People--and their other consumers throughout the world--to protect the people's "right to know" and to deliver them the news.

They have failed to honor this agreement by not printing the cause of the hottest international story in weeks. Whether through their own liberal guilt, fear of islamofascist intimidation or some combination, the champions of MSM have let the American people down.

They have also encouraged the enemies of free speech--and non-sharia thinking--to continue their totalitarian violence and public intimidation. Recall that the Nazis in the late twenties and early thirties participated in similar public "protests" as the one islamofascist radicals take part in today.

If the beneficiaries, defenders and advocates of free speech will not stand for the right that ensures their very existence, who will?

Crying Wolf over the DPW Port Sale?

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of The Counterterrorism Blog thinks so.
First of all, after this sale, DP World won't suddenly become our only recourse for port security. There is in fact a layered set of security checks that operates independent of DP World. These checks include the following:
* A 24-hour Manifest Rule that requires sea carriers to provide U.S. Customs with detailed descriptions of the contents of containers bound for the U.S. a full 24 hours before the container is loaded onto a vessel. This allows U.S. Customs officers to assess risks and scan the containers in overseas ports before they enter the U.S.
* The Coast Guard remains responsible for port security regardless of who manages the ports, while Customs and Border Protection maintains responsibility for container and cargo security.
* As containers enter the U.S., officers on the ground screen the containers using imaging and radiation detection technology.
These security procedures will not change even if DP World takes over port operations. Whether or not one believes that these security procedures are sufficient, the fact remains that we won't be left any worse off.

Just as the security procedures and those who are charged with carrying them out will remain the same, we are unlikely to witness a change in the composition of the workforce at the six ports that DP World would run. Robert Palaima, the president of Delaware River Stevedores, pointed out that when the British company P&O Steamship Navigation Co. ran the ports, there wasn't a sudden infusion of British workers. He doesn't expect that this will change once the partner is based in Dubai rather than Britain. (My colleague Victor Comras noted DP World's rapid expansion; this makes it more likely that they will simply use American employees.)

A third reason that security concerns are overblown is that DP World isn't exactly a fly-by-night operation that came out of nowhere to buy up P&O. Rather, it is a multi-billion-dollar operation that bought up the British company for a whopping $6.8 billion. DP World operates ports around the globe. If a terrorist attack came through one of its ports, its entire business could be shattered. That is a high price to pay, and means that DP World has at least the same kind of incentive that any other company would -- indeed, perhaps more of an incentive -- to ensure strong port security.
He makes some valid points. He's also not shy about confronting UAE's checkered past on islamofascism:
To be sure, the UAE had a spotty record on terrorism pre-9/11. It was one of only three governments to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, and two of the 9/11 hijackers hailed from the UAE.
But fair is fair:
However, the UAE's cooperation has greatly improved since then. The State Department has described UAE as providing "staunch assistance and cooperation" against terrorism, and the UAE has been involved in several key al-Qaeda arrests. Interestingly, one of these arrests, of Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, directly enhanced maritime security. Al-Nashiri was one of the men charged in the 2000 USS Cole attack, and as Richard Miniter notes in his book Shadow War, he was so vital to bin Laden's attacks at sea that Arab intelligence officers jokingly referred to him as the "al-Qaeda admiral." The UAE was also the first Middle Eastern state to sign onto the Container Security Initiative.
His bottom line?
The problem with the media storm swirling around the DP World sale is that it belittles an Arab ally without making us safer, and some of the alarmist claims that have been made may desensitize Americans to far more important issues that we face in the global war on terror.
This may be a Monsoon in a mug. If it is, blame the White House. Notes Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse:
So what’s the problem? The problem is in the atmospherics of this deal.

The problem is with the tone deaf bureaucrats of CFIUS who okayed this deal in the first place. They may have gotten some DoD flunky to vote for it in Committee but not bothering to brief the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff about it only contributes to the notion that they are not taking port security very seriously.

The problem is with the incompetence (or arrogance) of the supposedly vaunted White House political operation in treating this deal like a routine transaction when the involvement of a Middle Eastern country whose toleration and support for the Wahhabi brand of Islam was sure to cause trouble on the Hill. Then there’s also the minor matter involving the UAE being a banking Mecca for terrorism. I find it more than a little ironic that monies we’re pouring into the banking system of that country could be used to plan and carry out attacks against our own country.

The problem was in not recognizing that the deal would give your ravenous and out of control enemies on the left and in the press a great big T-Bone steak of an issue to chew on in the immediate aftermath of the Cheney debacle. These are people who were gnawing on your leg while bodies were still floating in the floodwaters of New Orleans. Just what in God’s name were they thinking?

The problem is that given the lukewarm response of our government to the cartoon jihad, the President’s strongest and most vocal supporters would see this deal as one more nod, one more cave-in to Muslim sensibilities rather than the good business deal it almost certainly is. Taking the base for granted in anything is bad politics. In this case, it demonstrates an ineptness that would be troubling if we weren’t getting used to it by now.

Finally, the problem is President Bush. One of the major reasons we went to war in Iraq and have sacrificed so much was based on the idea – a good one – that after 9/11 we couldn’t take the chance that Saddam would make common cause with al Qaeda and supply them with weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t important how likely that possibility was at the time. The point was that we just couldn’t take the chance.

And now here we are 3 years later and we are taking what I believe is a similar chance that a company owned by a state that has refused to recognize Israel, that acted as a waystation for al Qaeda in the lead-up to 9/11, and despite protestations to the contrary, is run like a Medieval fiefdom with trafficking in white slavery, illegal arms, and drugs some of its more unseemly activities. It is “stable” only as long as Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum – “Sheik Mo” as he is called by his subjects – can keep the lid on the resentments of the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who live in virtual slavery and who do the scut work that the natives and western contractors don’t feel like doing.
The Administration should never have let the story get ahead of them like this. Are they really so out of touch that they couldn't predict the reaction many would have to this proposal? If so, then they need to get some solid perspective from outside of the Beltway.

Now President Bush faces a policy conundrum. Does he continue to dig in and support a policy decision he says benefits the US in the GWOT, even as it costs him politically? Or does he back down and right his party's ship, even if it sets the US back in the war against islamofascists? He didn't need to be in this catch-22. Somebody in the Administration better start minding the store.

Morning Agony

A stinky diaper,
His smile lights up the room;
Change him with pinched nose

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Assertive Pre-Schooler!

He demands water
As we place him in his crib:
He gets what he wants!

Christian Martyrs are not Terrorists, Sister Chittister!

(Hat tip to Julie D. for this one!)

I do not often see eye-to-eye with Nate Nelson. One look at his heading and lead ad should tell you why. However, Mr. Nelson get's this one exactly right!

Decide for yourself:
Perhaps my biggest problem with Sr. Chittister's column, however, is that she compares Fr. Santoro's martyrdom with the "martyrdom" of Muslim terrorists:
In the third place, the world is already dealing with a passle of Islamic fundamentalist martyrs for the faith, called jihadists, all of them almost universally condemned by moderate Muslim communities and leaders everywhere. The world doesn't need Christian ones, too . . . From where I stand, this does not seem the time to elevate the present political situation to the level of religious warfare by incorrectly declaring our own dead, like those of Islamic fundamentalists, to be "martyrs." All we need is to trigger another century of Crusades by beginning a competition of martyrs.
It was at this point that I was genuinely angered by Sr. Chittister's column, and it is over this that I demand, in the name of all Christian martyrs, a retraction and apology from Sr. Chittster and the National Catholic Reporter. How can Sr. Chittister possibly compare the martyrdom of Fr. Santoro -- as she did, explicitly -- to the murder-suicide committed by Muslim terrorists? Fr. Santoro was kneeling in his church at prayer when he was shot by a Muslim radical; Muslim terrorist "martyrs" end their lives by exploding bombs attached to their bodies in order to kill non-Muslims, usually Jews or Westerners. There is no comparison, and the Muslim men and women who commit murder-suicide are not "martyrs," they are terrorists and murderers.
Some might argue that Mr. Nelson could be motivated by the same pole-star that drives Andrew Sullivan. I don't buy it. He took a brave risk in condemning the work of a Catholic with whom he's probably agreed with in the past. He demonstrates the spine I've come to expect from Fools. I salute him for his due dilligence in defending Christians and the Faith.

Self-hating Catholics such as Sr. Chittister do not serve Christ. They serve only their own distorted image of who they believe he is. Therefore, they serve only their own distorted image of what they believe his Church is. Ensnared in her illusions, Sr. Chittister can evidently no longer tell the difference between a Christian martyr, who surrenders his life for his faith, and the Muslim terrorist, who murders innocents with his own suicide. Her remarks are beneath contempt. She owes all Christians and people of goodwill an apology. If I were her editor, I would expect her resignation letter on my desk immediately. Unfortunately, I doubt her editors at NCR will show that kind of courage and common sense. No, they'll cower behind the "Freedom of Speech" and allow her to disparage her co-religionists with impunity.

Pray for rabid Foolables like Sr. Chittister and her NCR compatriots. They need all the wisdom and mercy they can get!

An Examination of Conscience

Need one?

Zenit offers one here!

Here's a sample:
If possible, prepare yourself for confession with regularity, not allowing too much time to pass. Prepare your confession in a climate of prayer, responding to these questions under the gaze of God, seeing him as the one you can go to for help to progress more quickly along the path of the Lord.

1. "You shall not have other gods besides me" (Deuteronomy 5:7). "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).

Do I love God like this? Do I give him the first place in my life? Do I eagerly reject all idols that could get between him and me, be it money, pleasure, superstition, or power? Do I listen with faith to his Word? Do I persevere in prayer?

2. "You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain" (Deuteronomy 5:11).

Do I respect the holy name of God? Do I abuse him in my references to him, offending him, or making use of him, instead of serving him? Do I bless God in each one of my actions? Do I surrender myself without reserve to his will for me, trusting entirely in him? Do I entrust myself with humility and confidence to the guidance and teaching of the pastors which the Lord has given to his Church? Do I make an effort to go deeper in and strengthen my life of faith?

3. "Take care to keep holy the Sabbath day as the Lord, your God, commanded you" (Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).

Do I make Sunday the center of my week, beginning with the most important moment, the celebration of the Eucharist? Do I use it, and the other days consecrated to the Lord, to praise and give thanks to God, to entrust myself to him and take rest in him? Do I participate faithfully and actively in the liturgy, preparing myself beforehand with prayer, and making the effort to obtain its fruits during the entire week? Do I sanctify the holy day with some act of love toward the needy?
I find examinations of conscience challenging. My scrupulocity and denial bite and claw each other over every word. I'm either the next manifestation of the Anti-Christ or the new St. Francis of Assisi. Somehow, neither of these manichean tendencies serves me well in preparing for confession.

Sitting still in the presence of God in silent prayer does. I've been attracted to contemplative prayer for a long time. Unfortunately, sinful Fool that I am, I find my consistence in prayer--including silent prayer--leaves too much to be desired. However, when I sit still, I can face God in unusual honesty. That's when I can face what I have done and what I have failed to do.

Summoning up the courage to then confess this truth in the sacrament is another story--and another post!

Does anyone else have good examples of an examination of conscience? Inquiring Fools want to know. Leave 'em in the comboxes, or email them to me.

Hitting the Big Time!

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It! links to my post on torture!

Welcome, Catholic and Enjoying It! readers! Make yourselves at home!

Christians Forgive and Proclaim, not Submit

I explained the other day why I won't publish those controversial Danish cartoons or wax poetic about their cartoonists' abuse of the freedom of Speech. I refused to become an obstacle to those peace-and-true loving muslims that may begin the conversion process. However, I will not surrender the integrity of my faith to islamo-fascists or their enablers.

Upper Canada Catholic has discovered that the United Church of Canada has decided to do just that.

Take a closer look:
The United Church of Canada has sent a letter to the Islamic Council of Imams expressing the denomination's "deepest regret that the name of Muhammad has been so tragically misused in the depictions of cartoons first published in Europe, but now also in Canada."

The letter, which was addressed to Imam Abdul Hai Patel and Imam Hamid Slimi, was faxed late yesterday afternoon. Because the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, the Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short, is currently out of the country attending the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the letter was signed by the Rev. Dr. James Sinclair, General Secretary of the General Council and the Rev. Dr. Bruce Gregersen, General Council Minister for Programs for Mission and Ministry.

The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Imam Patel and Imam Slimi;

Greetings in the name of Jesus, whom both Christians and Muslims honour.

On behalf of The United Church of Canada we wish to express to you and through the Council of Imams, to the Islamic communities of Canada, our deepest regret that the name of Muhammad has been so tragically misused in the depictions of cartoons first published in Europe, but now also in Canada.

We believe that the intention of publishing the cartoons has little to do with freedom of expression and much to do with incitement to racial and religious hatred. As you have noted in your recent press release, the cartoons suggest that Islam itself teaches, condones and encourages violence, bombings and the mistreatment of women. Furthermore, the implication is that all Muslims believe so as well. This we know to be untrue. The answer to your question of "why publish such cartoons?" we believe is simply racial hatred. In other forms it has been called Islamophobia.

These attitudes should have no place in Canada. Because we all share responsibility for the society in which we live, we wish to offer our sincere apologies that such attitudes can persevere in a country that we believe can and should be a model for the world of racial and ethnic respect.

May God's peace be with you.
ACS provides the necessary fisking. I'll only add this: We Christians do not serve Christ when we commit apostasy in the name of Ecumenicism. We undermine the vital work of understanding the believers of other faiths, which we absolutely require to effectively present the Gospel to them.

All of us desire the presence of God. We do no one any service if we elevate the errors of other's quest to experience his presence, while simultaneously castigating our own doctrine.

My heart goes out to those sincere UCC Christians that struggle to live in communion with Christ in spite of the innanity of their leaders. May God's grace lead them home.

And if these inspired Ministers truly want to walk the road to Dhimmitude, let them do so alone. Christians are called to love our neighbor, not submit to his ignorance.

Port Control Showdown Looms

My Way News has the story here.

The gist:
Lawmakers determined to capsize the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates said President Bush's surprise veto threat won't deter them.

Bush on Tuesday brushed aside objections by leaders in the Senate and House that the $6.8 billion sale could raise risks of terrorism at American ports. In a forceful defense of his administration's earlier approval of the deal, he pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement.

The sale's harshest critics were not appeased.

"I will fight harder than ever for this legislation, and if it is vetoed I will fight as hard as I can to override it," said Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. King and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said they will introduce emergency legislation to suspend the ports deal.

(AP) A freighter travels on the Delaware River, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006, as the city of Philadelphia is...
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Another Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, urged his colleagues to force Bush to wield his veto, which Bush - in his sixth year in office - has never done. "We should really test the resolve of the president on this one because what we're really doing is securing the safety of our people."

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Wednesday the UAE company, Dubai Ports, "is a reputable firm that went through a congressionally approved vetting process." He said the U.S. has "the necessary safeguards to make sure that the security of our country is in place" and that rejecting the deal would send "a dangerous signal to people overseas that America plays favorites."

"The president wants this deal to go forward because it was followed by the book and he wants Congress to understand that," Bartlett said on CBS'"The Early Show." He told Fox News Channel that Bush felt strongly that "we need to be adding strategic partners" in the Mideast.

But Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said the bipartisan opposition to the deal indicated "a lack of confidence in the administration" on both sides. "Sure, we have to link up with our Arab friends but ... we want to see and those in Congress want to know what ... safeguards are built in," Biden said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The first-ever sale involving U.S. port operations to a foreign, state-owned company is set to be completed in early March. It would put Dubai Ports in charge of major shipping operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. "If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward," Bush said.

(AP) An unidentified official guards a shipping container storage area at the Port of Miami Tuesday,...
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Defending his decision, Bush responded to a chorus of objections this week in Congress over potential security concerns in the sale of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

Bush's veto threat sought to quiet a political storm that has united Republican governors and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee with liberal Democrats, including New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Schumer.

To assuage concerns, the administration disclosed some assurances it negotiated with Dubai Ports. It required mandatory participation in U.S. security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials; roughly 33 other port companies participate in these voluntarily. The Coast Guard also said it was nearly finished inspecting Dubai Ports' facilities in the United States.

Frist said Tuesday, before Bush's comments, that he would introduce legislation to put the sale on hold if the White House did not delay the takeover. He said the deal raised "serious questions regarding the safety and security of our homeland.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asked the president for a moratorium on the sale until it could be studied further. "We must not allow the possibility of compromising our national security due to lack of review or oversight by the federal government," Hastert said.
A tragic hero in literature is a character that possesses a tragic flaw, that particular characteristic that is the character's greatest strength and weakness. President Bush demonstrates that tragic flaw in scenarios like this port control crisis. What is his tragic flaw? It is his resolve.

When the president makes up his mind and then makes a decision, that's it. There's no reconsideration, second-guessing or anything else. He stands by his decision. His admirable conviction has served the country well for the most part. I shudder to think what course our nation would have taken on Septermber 12, 2001 had our President been a man who allows polls to make up his mind for him. I commend the President for having the courage of his convictions and the integrity to follow them through. However, there are times in which he demonstrates a lack of prudence and willingness to communicate, even when his decisions have profound effects on other stakeholders. When he makes ironclad decisions in those circumstances, he does not come across as a strong leader. He comes across as a stubborn manager. And managers do not inspire their people with confidence.

The President faces opposition from both sides of the aisle in both houses of congress. The Republican leaders of both houses have called for further consideration before authorizing the disputed sale. Senators and representatives of the areas affected by this decision have vowed to oppose it with legislation. His only public support has come from the Maverick Senator McCain and the demagogic former President Carter. How does he respond to this hornet's nest?

He threatens this contrarian legislation with his first-ever veto.

Jay Anderson of Pro Ecclesia finds irony all around in this stand-off:
I find it doubly ironic that President Bush - the man who is supposed to be leading this global War on Terror and who is charged with keeping our Nation safe - has finally found a Congressional action that he's willing to veto:
(CNSNews.com) - President George W. Bush threatened on Tuesday to veto any legislation that would stop the deal for a state-owned Arab company to manage six major United States seaports, stating that the arrangement would not jeopardize U.S. security.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush said to reporters traveling with him on Air Force One to Washington, D.C.. He added that if the U.S. Congress passed a law to stop the arrangement, "I'll deal with it with a veto."
And I find it triply ironic that Jimmy Carter has finally found an issue on which he agrees with President Bush:
President Bush is taking a battering from fellow Republicans, even the governors of New York and Maryland, over the administration's support for a decision that gives an Arab company control of some commercial operations at six major seaports -- including Miami-Dade's.

But he got a boost Monday from an unlikely source, frequent critic and former president Jimmy Carter, who downplayed fears that the deal poses a risk.

"The overall threat to the United States and security, I don't think it exists," Carter said on CNN's The Situation Room. "I'm sure the president's done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat."
He couldn't be more right. I'm having deja vu: Harriet Miers, redux, anyone?

The splendid irony of this, of course, is that the President currently undermines the one pillar of his administration that has remained unassailable: his strong stance on national security and the GWOT. Suddenly, he's allowed the Democrats to represent themselves as being strong on NS--in an election year!

Meanwhile, the Anchoress chimes in:
I certainly don’t know enough to comment about this sale, but I’m reading lots of different opinions. Some wonder if this is a long treck to ultimately get Halliburton to be put in charge of the ports - threaten to allow the UAE to run the show and suddenly even Chuck Schumer is appreciative of Halliburton. I’d like to think this is just a big rope-a-dope, but quite honestly, I’m out of humor on this stuff. President Bush seems to be going out of his way to confound even his most staunch supporters. One looks at this and thinks - he’s bending over and giving the Democrats the belt with which to beat him. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

I don’t pretend to understand it, but I’m frankly growing weary of it, and Bush should pay attention to my weariness, because if even “I” am getting tired of having to defend some of the stuff coming out of his White House, then that may indicate that his base is utterly weary of it, too. If you really want to lose in ‘08, make sure you’ve got everyone completely exhausted from your presidency and “ready for a change - any change” and make way too sharp a left turn. Seems to me that even if this is the greatest, safest deal in the world, its appearance stinks to high heaven and it’s a miserable political situation to be in the middle of: do we send a message that any and all Arabs, no matter who they are, are untrustworthy and business/finanical lepers? Or do we do business with them and allow possibly the worst sort of political fallout to occur?
However, after talking to her son, Buster, she considers whether there might be a method to this fox's madness:
Buster actually brought a different perspective to it this afternoon while we were driving (my ear infection has me reeling so he was at the wheel with his learner’s permit). “Why is everyone freaking out?” he asked. I explained what I knew of the circumstances and Buster listened, thought about it for a second and said, “well, Bush is just being consistant. He’s spent the last few years trying to convince the world that - Islamofascist extremists aside - the Muslim world is one that can be compatible with democracy and with business. He’s being consistant and basically sending the same message he has always sent: Arabs have a place at the table, but they’ve got to get their rowdies under control. He’s showing the SANE Muslims how deeply the world has come to distrust ALL of them because of the actions of the nuts. Money talks, right? Hit them in the pocketbook (let them see how the behavior of the extremists are complicating things) and maybe they’ll finally start taking these gangs in hand.”

I thought it was an interesting take on it, and told him so. “I look at it this way,” Buster said. “He’s gotta have a reason for backing this, and I can’t for a second believe that his reasonings are for anything but America’s good. The problem is, as usual, he absolutely STINKS at making things clear. People are screaming that they don’t understand what he’s doing…all he’s doing is being consistant. People used to love him for that. Also, I think he’s showing off who the racists are. Do you realize, that this is ONE MORE THING Bush has done that - really - the left should be approving of? Just like liberating women in Afghanistan, just like closing down the rape rooms in Iraq, this is one more thing the left would approve of if only someone else were president, because it precludes the racist element. But of course, they’ll hate him for it, too.”
She links to Instapundit's, and Gateway Pundit's coverage, too. I have to admit it: the commentaries they link to may convince me to reverse myself on DWP's ownership of port operations. But that's another post.

The trouble for the President is that I may change my mind based on other bloggers' reflections--not the White House's communication. He may have made the right decision. However, his communication of his reasons for that decision has been slim at best. If the President is right on this, then it makes his situation even more tragic. His own resolve, coupled with his lack of clear communication, may undermine a crucial foreign policy that makes us all safer!

Captain Ed, meanwhile, remains cautiously skeptical:
Without doubt, this is a complicated issue. In order to win the war on terror, we have to engage moderate Muslims and push the rest of the ummah in their direction. That doesn't just mean politically, but economically as well. DP World has a long reach in Southwest Asia, and the government of the UAE has supported the US when that support cost them among their neighbors. Other bloggers have supported the President's contention that we may be passing up a rare opportunity to demonstrate our willingness to work with Muslim countries, and perhaps even gain some opportunities for better intelligence.

However, the operation of our ports opens a risk that the Bush administration has not adequately shown to have covered. While DP World would not handle port security -- tasks that will still fall to DHS and the Coast Guard -- the management of port operations gives DP World and the UAE government access to a lot of information that could be used by terrorists to attack us. Port managers have to know security protocols, procedures, and personnel, all of which could be used by infiltrators to gain access to sensitive areas or to sneak weapons through what safeguards exist. And while the government of the UAE has been supportive of the US, the feeling isn't unanimous; DP World may have trouble keeping its less-enthusiastic citizens from gaining important posts in their organization.
All in all, this situation has become a mess. Unfortunately, it's one of the administration's own making. Again.

Update: Welcome, Anchoress readers! My blog is your blog!

A Pre-Schooler's Morning

"Thomas' driver!"
He calls out again, again,
At play with his trains.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

RA's Revenge

Crushing of my spine,
Gripping my knee and fingers:
Rheumatoid marches!

Confront the Street-Burners with the Gospel

I haven't commented before on the Danish cartoons and their aftermath. Clearly, many in St. Blog's already have. So why haven't I?

I've needed to think.

Yes, I know; it's dangerous for a blogger to go all meditative over a hot story. Whoa, I might just get scooped by the entire blogosphere. Besides, where's the cartharsis in holding back from a well-deserved pile-on?

Well, as good as it would feel to tell the islamofascists, "Too bad! We're free to insult you, your prophet and anyone else we please. Deal with it!", I have to first consider this: is that an authentic Christian response?

No, it's not. However righteous it may feel, it's not an expression of Christ's love for his brothers. It's not the love of enemies to which he calls me--and all of us! It's not a voice that prophetically witnesses to justice.

It's the perfect trap of the Enemy.

Civilization has been besieged by two legions of the Enemy's agents. The Reasonable mouth-foamers in thrall to the Dictatorship of Relativism flank us all from one side--and from within. Islamofascists that celebrate a fanatical nihilism while envisioning a Caliphate revival threaten us from the other--and from within.

How does it serve Christians to stand with one legion against the other?

Alejandro Bermudez of Catholic Outsider illustrates my point:
the Vatican issued an incredibly well crafted statement explaining how freedom of speech should not mean freedom to offend a person’s religion, but also rejecting violence as a way to protest:
The freedom of thought and expression, confirmed in the Declaration of Human Rights, can not include the right to offend religious feelings of the faithful. That principle obviously applies to any religion.
Any form of excessive criticism or derision of others denotes a lack of human sensitivity and can in some cases constitute an unacceptable provocation.
But the Vatican also reserved some strong words to the violent reaction of Muslim protesters whom, among other things, set the Danish and the Norwegian embassies in Syria on fire.

The Vatican statement said that the institutions of a country should not be held responsible for the actions of a newspaper, even if government “could and should intervene according to (their) national legislation”.
“Real or verbal intolerance, from wherever it comes, whether as an action or a reaction, is always a serious threat to peace,” the statement says.
The number of cartoons mocking Christians or “celebrating” September 11 is countless around the Muslim world. No wonder many Conservatives are celebrating the “guts” of the European newspapers reprinting the cartoons despite Muslim threats.

Catholics should not jump to the wagon so fast. Those same newspapers are well known for their anti-Catholic bias.

Yes, it is paramount to show radical Muslims that violence will not intimidate Christians or the West into submission. But no, we should not celebrate the increasing European disregard for religion.

What would the reaction be if the cartoons would mock gays instead of Muslims? How many of those same newspapers would reprint the cartoons to show “solidarity” and support to freedom of the press?
The same press that many bloggers have flocked to support are the same that celebrate the "piss christ" or the "dung Mary." The secularism that Reasonable MSM elites in Denmark and beyond celebrate have no place for Fools of any creed, muslim or otherwise. I'm in no hurry to encourage their abuse of the freedom of speech.

Not that rioting, embassy and flag burning, and murder have any place in a civilized society. The Islamofascists that organized this fanatical response as a punishment to Denmark's internal management of its own society deserve nothing but utter condemnation. Their violent enablers on the street should be confronted with the full force of the law, and each of them should face the consequences of his action.

I can oppose the violence of islamofascists while refusing to stab law-abiding muslims in the back. Why should I obstruct any spiritual seeker's path?

For that is what endorsing the Danish cartoons amounts to for the Christian. Bear with me as I explain.

Nostra Aetate clearly states that the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is good and true in all religions. It follows then that whatever truth Muslims receive from Islam is truth that I, as a Christian, can agree. Muslims may not possess the fullness of truth; however, their encounter with the measure of truth that they do experience sets them on the road. They're seeking that communion with God for which we all long to experience.

Will standing up for the abstract right to freedom of speech help them to further seek communion with God through their tradition, and beyond? Will my identification with secularists' disdain for religion guarantee that right? Of course not! But it will most likely alienate those honest muslims that seek the fullness of truth.

If I have any hope of evangelizing such seekers, I will jeopardize that hope by destroying the vehicle that allows him to grasp part of the truth before he's ready to acccept all of it. I therefore sabatoge my own efforts to offer him the Gospel. How can that be something Christ wants of me?

Secret Agent Man offers a far more insightful account of what I'm discussing:
I suggest that this controversy is happening because Jesus Christ gave the world a radical vision of human goodness. It is not enough to create a society in which such controversies are forbidden. It is not enough to scourge Islam from the minds and hearts of men:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

-- Matthew 12:43-45 (KJV)
A negative definition of freedom is not enough. It is not enough to be free from an addiction. It is not enough to refrain from harm. A man, or a society, which limits itself to these goals will become a clean-swept house. Sub specie aeternitatis, making laws dictating what people must mock or revere isn't worth a penny.

I believe that Jesus Christ doesn't just want men to abandon falsehood; He wants men to abandon falsehood for the truth. He doesn't just want men to forsake addiction, lust, Communism, and Islam, He wants men to forsake them for something better. Here, St. Paul says, is the Unknown God to whom you should pay your allegiance, not because He is stronger among the gods, not because He has a more effective five-year plan, but because He is the summit and perfection of all that is truly good; He is what you have, when at your best, been trying to find all these years. We don't want a world in which Islam has been scourged out of existence. We want a world in which a billion Muslims quietly walk away from what they realize has been a myth. That is the lasting victory Christ wants, and it's why cultures who have been influenced by Christianity value -- however distortedly, however forgetfully -- the freedom of human thought.
There remains one more side of this issue that I haven't addressed: The institutional corruption of Arabian societies has fostered a culture of hatred. Satirizing the religion of those endoctrinated by that culture does nothing to halt the islamofascists that emerge from it.

Nonie Darwish, writing for the Telegraph, offers this chilling witness of what it's like to grow up within this diabolical culture:
I was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and in the Gaza Strip. In the 1950s, my father was sent by Egypt's President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to head the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai where he founded the Palestinian Fedayeen, or "armed resistance". They made cross-border attacks into Israel, killing 400 Israelis and wounding more than 900 others.

My father was killed as a result of the Fedayeen operations when I was eight years old. He was hailed by Nasser as a national hero and was considered a shaheed, or martyr. In his speech announcing the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge for my father's death. My siblings and I were asked by Nasser: "Which one of you will avenge your father's death by killing Jews?" We looked at each other speechless, unable to answer.

In school in Gaza, I learned hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option, as it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. At school we sang songs with verses calling Jews "dogs" (in Arab culture, dogs are considered unclean).

Criticism and questioning were forbidden. When I did either of these, I was told: "Muslims cannot love the enemies of God, and those who do will get no mercy in hell." As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. They said: "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We heard worshippers respond "Amen".

My friend looked scared; I was ashamed. That was when I first realised that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practised. Sadly, the way I was raised was not unique. Hundreds of millions of other Muslims also have been raised with the same hatred of the West and Israel as a way to distract from the failings of their leaders. Things have not changed since I was a little girl in the 1950s.

Palestinian television extols terrorists, and textbooks still deny the existence of Israel. More than 300 Palestinians schools are named after shaheeds, including my father. Roads in both Egypt and Gaza still bear his name - as they do of other "martyrs". What sort of message does that send about the role of terrorists? That they are heroes. Leaders who signed peace treaties, such as President Anwar Sadat, have been assassinated. Today, the Islamo-fascist president of Iran uses nuclear dreams, Holocaust denials and threats to "wipe Israel off the map" as a way to maintain control of his divided country.

Indeed, with Denmark set to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, the flames of the cartoon controversy have been fanned by Iran and Syria. This is critical since the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to refer Iran to the Security Council and demand sanctions. At the same time, Syria is under scrutiny for its actions in Lebanon. Both Iran and Syria cynically want to embarrass the Danes to achieve their dangerous goals.

But the rallies and riots come from a public ripe with rage. From my childhood in Gaza until today, blaming Israel and the West has been an industry in the Muslim world. Whenever peace seemed attainable, Palestinian leaders found groups who would do everything to sabotage it. They allowed their people to be used as the front line of Arab jihad. Dictators in countries surrounding the Palestinians were only too happy to exploit the Palestinians as a diversion from problems in their own backyards. The only voice outside of government control in these areas has been the mosques, and these places of worship have been filled with talk of jihad.

Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.

For 30 years I lived inside this war zone of oppressive dictatorships and police states. Citizens competed to appease and glorify their dictators, but they looked the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorised other Muslims. I witnessed honour killings of girls, oppression of women, female genital mutilation, polygamy and its devastating effect on family relations. All of this is destroying the Muslim faith from within.
Only Christ can drive out the darkness that empowers the legions arrayed against civilization. Only God-made-man can fill the void left by the incomplete, and sometimes corrupt, presentation of truth proclaimed in Islam. While we can and must oppose the bloodythirsty islamofascists that would kill all opposed to their totalitarianism, we must bear the Gospel to those muslims truly interested in peace and truth. We can help those muslims not attracted to the nihilism of political islam to take back their societies.

We can't do any of this by cheerleading the secularists of a dying Europe as they attack religion once again.

Let conservative and libertarian blogggers stand for the nobility of freedom of speech in this case. Christ calls me--and all Christians--to a higher purpose here. The Gospel requires preaching, and our audience awaits.

Update: ACS of Upper Canada Catholic agrees!

Catholic World News : Pope praises C&L founder on anniversary of death

Get the story here!
Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) paid tribute to the late Msgr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of the Communion and Liberation movement, on the first anniversary of his death.

In a letter to Father Julian Carron, the new leader of Communion and Liberation, the Holy Father extolled Msgr. Giussani's "solid faithfulness to Christ and his incessant efforts to communicate the wealth of the evangelical message to all social groups." The Pope's letter was dated February 2, but released by the Vatican on February 21. Don Giussani, as he was known to his followers, died last February 22 at the age of 82.

The Pope's letter praises the "father and teacher of so many young people," and urges the members of Communion and Liberation to follow "his footsteps and his teaching," cautioning them that they should always work "in communion with bishops and other ecclesial figures."
Pope Benedict XVI's continued esteem for the movement encourages me. Everyone should have the opportunity to encounter the exceptionality of Christ. Don Giussani's tireless efforts enabled many throughout the world to do just that. In this time in which our Reasonable elites bow to the Dictatorship, while islamofascists prostrate themselves before zealous jihadic nihilism, everyone needs to experience communion with our Savior. Only when we are in relationship with him are we truly who we are. May God continue to shower the movement with his Grace, so that all who participate in it can bear his gospel to a desperate, enshadowed world. So say we all!