Saturday, April 29, 2006

Party Animals!

Parents' Saturday:
Fine young Fool asleep at last,
we zone on the couch!

Islamo-Fascist Nationalist v. International Jihadists?

"Rift Grows Between al-Qaida, Muslim Groups" sayz Yahoo! News:
"When terrorists blew themselves up in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula this week, the radical Palestinian group Hamas quickly joined Arab governments and Western leaders in condemning a 'criminal attack against all human values.'

Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood called the bombings 'aggression on human souls created by God.'

The denunciations were unexpectedly harsh from the Islamic fundamentalist groups — Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings, and the Brotherhood is determined to impose an Islamic government — but experts agree that radical Muslim organizations want to distance themselves from al-Qaida.

The widening rift largely has not been acknowledged among Western powers, who tend to lump Islamic radicals together. The U.S. list of 'Foreign Terrorist Organizations,' for example, puts al-Qaida with Hamas and the Lebanese-based Hezbollah.

Scholars of Islamic movements and some Western policy-makers, however, say distinctions now must be made between hard-line Islamist organizations and 'holy warrior' groups such as
Osama bin Laden's terror network.

'There is a fundamental difference between Islamic groups: Most are sociopolitical reformists, others are religious extremists,' said Dia'a Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on radical groups.

Hamas and Hezbollah, for example, have national agendas, he said. They want to reorganize society according to Sharia, or Islamic law.

Extremist religious movements such as al-Qaida are international revolutionaries who excoriate not only non-Muslims but also Muslims who fail to follow their views. Theirs is a holy war to spread their views among Muslims and to repel any 'infidel invasion' of Islamic lands.

'Branding these two branches of radicalism the same way, as terrorist organizations, reflects a complete misunderstanding of the issue,' he said.

Rashwan said the confusion was a 'fatal mistake' of the Bush administration in its war on terror.

He said that to fight an enemy, one had to define it correctly: 'America doesn't, and this is why it is losing the war on terrorism.'

U.S. policy makers and the State Department did not respond to requests by The Associated Press for comment."
Dia'a Rashwan's distinction between Islamofascist terrorists like Hamas and like Al Qaeda makes sense. Hamas and Hezbollah, while murdering innocents through terrorism, haven't acted in any theater beyond the Middle East. Al Qaeda has certainly struck at US interests throughout the world, as well as her allies in the Middle East and beyond. It makes sense to respond differently to these terrorist affiliates based on their different MO and raison d'etre.

I part company with Mr. Rashwan's appraisal of the War on Terror. While the US government has perpetuated a costly catagorical error in identifying the enemy, the US is hardly losing the war on Terror. Can Al Qaeda claim any significant victory since 9/11? Has Hamas fulfilled its charter and driven every Israeli jew into the sea? Has Hezbollah completely humiliated Israel and conquered Lebanan? Yes, the blood-lusters have had their day: Madrid, London, Jordan, Tel Aviv/Israel, the Sinai Peninsula. What have these senseless murders accomplished?

Totalitarian, global islamofascists are the willing and unwitting agents of the enemy that currently threaten the civilized world. If Hamas and their ilk do not represent a global threat, then let the West deal with them according to the most prudent and proportional response that they deserve. I simply want to see the day that Civilization awakens anf finally hurls all the TGIs onto the ash heap of history where they belong!

Meditation IV

Discipleship marks us. We, who the Lord has called through our baptism, leave an indelible mark on the world. Or rather, we should.

As we're painfully aware, however, we often do not. Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been scores of saints. But for every saint, there were legions that scandalized the faithful through their apparent lack of disipleship. A bowed head is the only honest answer we can give Nietzche, who once said, "I would believe in your redeemer if you looked more redeemed." If we have the humility to truly face our own hearts, we'll recognize many more times we marched with the legion than danced with the scores.

Today's scriptures demonstrate two important factors that may contribute to our flawed discipleship: Fear and immaturity.

WAU Online Christian Devotion explores the first factor:
Fear—from minor concern to debilitating anxiety—is familiar to all of us. Scripture tells us that Satan manipulates us through our fear of loss and death (Hebrews 2:14-15). The thought that our fears give the devil an open door to hold us in bondage can alarm us even more. So how can we best deal with fear? Scripture tells us that Jesus, our model, also experienced fear: he “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). But Jesus always let his fear move him to deeper prayer and stronger faith in his Father (John 12:27-28).

Jesus wants us to have the same faith in his Father’s ability to protect us. Without this faith, we will remain in bondage to our fears and anxieties. What’s worse, without faith in a loving God, we end up having only ourselves to depend upon. And the longer we live, the more we realize how vulnerable we are. We end up fearing for our health, our financial security, the people in our lives, what others think about us, the church, the world, even our spiritual well-being.
Jesus, indeed, models for us the way to subdue fear. More importantly, he exemplifies how to do so in his very person. Jesus, the Son of God, lives in a completely self-giving union with his Father and the Holy Spirit. While living as a distinct and unique Person, the Son of God shares the very essence of himself to the fullest measure with the other Persons of the blessed trinity. He did not resist evil merely by standing alone; he models how important life in a self-giving community is to the life of discipleship to which he calls us.

One Bread, One Body reiterates the importance of community for nurturing that second quality essential to embracing Faith:
Most church communities have a small minority of men, many of whom are not mature enough to exercise much leadership. They would be hard-pressed to raise up one or two strong men for full-time service. How did the early Church get all these spiritually mature men?

Through community life, the growth rate of men was greatly accelerated. In true Christian community, we can grow more in one year than in twenty years of isolated, individualized "Christianity." Community life is the atmosphere conducive to growth and maturity in Christ. Growing anything is not only a matter of working but of climate. Community is the climate in which a Christian can grow.
Isolated lives soon become paralyzed lives. Today's culture often fatally confuses isolation for individuality. While independence is a worthy principle that allows us to express our unique personhood, it can't be exercised alone. We don't even have names without one another. We slowly die when we're confined from each other's company, however irritating some of that company may be.

Within the people of God that is the Church, we find the community of self-giving lovers through whom Christ lives. We also find the ragtag collection of scandalous sinners that make the most Foolish of us wonder why we bother. Welcome to humanity, fearfully and wonderfully made.

We mature as we live within community. We grow in our faith as we share our lives to the full within the community of Faith. As we mature in our spiritual lives, we understand how to more fully place our trust in the Lord. Fear loses its grip over our hearts the more we grow in that trust. Thus, the living of our unique personhood and individuality in community is how we liberate ourselves from fear. We become the disciples Christ has called us to be as we leave our fears behind.

We can not be disciples alone. Thank God, we don't have to be. The Church stands by our side to help us share our witness. We are never alone.

Spring Clean-up, the Beginning

Creeping sheaves of grass:
The backyard's shaggy green beard
needs a shave today!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Night Weariness

Long week now finished,
slumped before sci-fi, forget
the stress of the week.

Iran Doesn't Blink

"IAEA: Iran Defying Call to Stop Enrichment" sayz Yahoo! News

The grim news:
Iran has defied a U.N. Security Council call to freeze uranium enrichment and is stonewalling efforts to determine if it is developing nuclear arms, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday in a report that strengthened Western calls for sanctions. The United States and its allies reacted quickly, with Britain pledging to introduce a resolution next week for the council to issue a mandatory order for Iran to abandon uranium enrichment. Russia and China, however, have sought to avoid a showdown and opposed escalating pressures on Tehran. President Bush said "the world is united and concerned" about what he called Iran's "desire to have not only a nuclear weapon but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon." But, reflecting the lack of consensus on punishing Iran, he added, "I think the diplomatic options are just beginning." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was defiant, saying that whatever resolution the Security Council adopts, it cannot make Iran give up its nuclear program. "The Iranian nation won't give a damn about such useless resolutions," he told a cheering crowd in northwestern Iran. The eight-page report, drawn up by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei for the Security Council and obtained by The Associated Press, contained few new revelations. But it is larded with phrases reflecting Iran's refusal to cooperate with the Vienna-based agency, stymieing IAEA efforts to determine whether Tehran has made any efforts to build atomic weapons during 25 years of nuclear activity — most of it clandestine. "Iran declined to discuss these matters," the report said of the IAEA's questions about Tehran's enrichment program. "Iran continues to decline the agency's request for a copy of the document," it says about plans showing how to mold highly enriched uranium into the shape needed for a nuclear bomb. "After more than three years of agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran's nuclear program, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern," the report said. "Any progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran." The report's primary importance was to serve formal notice that Iran ignored an informal 30-day deadline set by the council for suspending by Friday all activities linked to uranium enrichment.
The Mullahcracy has followed through. Their fanatical mouthpiece continues to spit into the eyes of the West. Iran has now raised the stakes.
The trouble is, the Mullahs may be crazy but they're not stupid. Only the US, Britain and France can do militarily do the heavy lifting. Britain and the US are a little occupied in Iraq at the moment. Besides, as President Bush says, there's not even the hint of consensus among the West for the use of force. Diplomacy is the only option on the table at the moment.

That means the UN Security Council will most likely bat first, with sanctions the first intervention attempted. The trouble is that China and Russia may refuse to swing. They've both come out against sanctions. The lucrative deals they stand to make are too good to resist.

Like I said, They're not stupid.

If the West does not reach a common accord on how to deal with Iran's threat, then civilization will perish. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already offered to share Iran's nuclear secrets with Sudan. Does anyone sane have any doubts that Iran would transfer such technology to Hezbollah or Al Qaeda?

Act or perish. That's the choice.


Mary Kochran discusses "What It Takes to Be a Writer"

St. Peter's helper, one of my co-contributing writers over at the CCDB, writes:
I found this article written by Mary Kochan of Catholic Exchange. It seemed appropriate to the task of CCDB... if only to plant the seed of faith. Here are some of her insights on Catholic writing.
"Of course, if your goal is to become specifically a Catholic writer, then a solid education in your faith is needed and so is living your faith. The point of being a Catholic writer is not necessarily to write things that are identifiably Catholic, but to bring our sacramental understanding of the world to your writing, to do all things for the glory of God, and to be grounded in your commitment to the truth about things."
Catch her insight over at Catholic Exchange!

Here's more of a taste:
Reading Broadly and Deeply

To be a good writer one must be a good thinker and to be a good thinker, one must be a good reader reading good writing. To find good writing, you should read both broadly and deeply.

To read broadly, means to read in a wide range of subjects. The purpose of this reading is to make your mind alive to the world of ideas and to give you examples of many different kinds of writing in many different areas of knowledge. This may be compared to the physical activity of stretching to increase flexibility.

Even if you are hoping to become a writer in your own narrow specialty, you still need to read broadly. Your own specialty, no matter how narrow, fits into a wider context and ultimately that context is the entire human world and the entire physical universe.

To read deeply means to read difficult material that explores subjects in detail. The purpose of this reading is to train your mind to deal with complex thought and to furnish your mind with new ideas — new to you, not necessarily new to humanity.

If you understand everything you read, you are not reading deeply enough. This is comparable to strength training for your mind.

The Great Western Canon

Depth reading should put you deep into history with reading in what used to be unashamedly called the “Western canon” or the “Great Books.”

It includes reading the greatest scientific minds of the past: Euclid’s Geometry, Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Newton's Optics. You must not miss the great epic storytellers: Homer, Virgil, Moses, Dante, Milton, and in more modern times, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Asimov, Herbert. The most quoted foundational moral literature should be read: Aristotle, Plato, the Gospels, St. Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Luther, Calvin, Kant, Kierkegaard, Doulgass, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Frankl, Bonhoeffer, Ghandi, King. And you should grapple with the political and economic thought of (again), Aristotle, Plato, Augustine and Aquinas, as well as Grotius, Adam Smith, the Federalist papers, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Hayek. There are others of course but these should keep you busy for awhile.

Depth reading should also have you reading current in-depth articles outside of your specialty. Some periodicals that will keep you on your mental toes include Smithsonian, The Wilson Quarterly, The Nation, Psychology Today, Wired, First Things, Scientific American, American Prospect, The Atlantic Monthly, Christianity Today, The Economist, Human Events, and The Utne Reader.

A look at the (admittedly partial) list above reveals that it includes Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics, conservatives and radicals, believers and atheists. If you choose to read only those with whom you agree, you will weaken your ability to defend what you believe — even, for that matter, to know what you believe.
She also reccommends one more important practice: Writing!
If you are reading fiction, try to outline the plot and characters on paper. Ask yourself: If I were making a movie of this story, who would I get to play the characters? If I were making a play of it, what dialog would I include in the play? How could I condense the action to fit on stage and still reveal the characters to an audience? Which events described in the book would I present through dialogue in a play? You might want to write an alternative ending for the story, or a sequel. Discuss the story with others. Read what critics have to say about it, both positive and negative, and then write your own review. Be brave: put your review on so other people can read it and respond to it.

If you are reading non-fiction, try to outline the article or book you are reading. If you find this daunting, begin with outlining a chapter of a book, or a subheading — perhaps even just a paragraph — of an article. Present the author’s arguments to a friend, making the very best case for them, even if you disagree with them. If you disagree, write down your disagreements. Make sure you are fairly representing the author’s position; don’t be a mental wimp — engage the best and most compelling points the author makes. If you agree, write a defense (apologetic) for the author’s opinion. In either case, consider how someone with an opposing view might dissect your argument.
Full disclosure: I've worked with Mary before when I submitted two essays to CE. She served as my editor and knew how to coax the very best out of me.

Whether I wanted her to or not!

When I submitted my first draft of the second essay, she more or less told me to cut it in half. I thought she had lost her mind! Well, after splicing and dicing my "darlings", the revision told the true story better than I had imagined. She knows her business well.

Go read the whole thing.

Spring Afternoon Antics

Shouts across the street:
kids rounding bases behind
brick-facaded homes!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Tired, beyond days;
Sleep a fleeting memory,
lost admist the rush!

Pro Ecclesia*Pro Familia*Pro Civitate: Bishop D'Arcy Issues "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

Read it here!
Father John Jenkins, CSC, shared with me his decision and the rationale that supported it at the same time he shared it with the press, the afternoon before it was released to the public. Holy Week and the beautiful pastoral responsibilities it brings followed immediately, but now, with these responsibilities completed, I am able to respond to the decision and the material that accompanied it in a way that is more adequate, and thus try to fulfill my pastoral obligation.

A bishop is bound to preach the Gospel. In fact, if St. Paul is taken at his word, it seems that this obligation relates directly to his eternal salvation. “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.” — 1 Cor. 9, 16. Surely, this sacred responsibility does not relate only to the preaching of the Gospel on Sunday at the holy liturgy, though that is always central. It also requires the bishop to apply the Gospel and the teachings of the church to the questions of the time, and, indeed, to his own pastoral decisions. If we do not accept that, there is the danger that the Gospel would become irrelevant and the ministry of the bishop greatly weakened.

Academic freedom
In the discussion which Father Jenkins initiated with his talk in January to the university faculty and later to the students, and also in his closing statement, he spoke about academic freedom and the Catholic character of Notre Dame.

In “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” Pope John Paul II, himself a longtime professor in a Catholic university, wrote with clarity about academic freedom at a Catholic university. Among other things, he said that a Catholic university:

“… possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.” — “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” 12.

Although Father Jenkins cited “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” in his closing statement, he did not cite its teaching on academic freedom or related matters, and this would have seemed especially relevant in a closing statement on academic freedom in relation to Catholic character. This teaching simply carries forward teaching on the freedom of inquiry stated earlier by the Second Vatican Council (“Guadium et Spes,” 59) and the 1966 Declaration on Catholic Education, where freedom of inquiry is founded on the same principles. These principles, the rights of individuals, the truth and the common good, also constitute central parts of Catholic social teaching and Catholic ethics. Indeed, if properly understood, they do not restrict academic freedom, but enlarge it and give it a color that is truly Catholic.

Nowhere in his comments does Father Jenkins speak of these principles or the tradition of freedom of inquiry that is based on them. I found this difficult to understand and trust that this teaching was not considered irrelevant.
Catch the rest!

Let's have some more Shepherds with spine, please!

How ironic that Notre Dame, that quintessential Catholic University, wouldn't reference a single Catholic teaching on academic freedom when confronting the VM. Unfortunately, Foolables zealots of the play won out over the cooler consideration of Fools.

Fr. Jenkins may have intended to turn the public showing of VM into a teaching moment of pastoral opportunity. The failure of ND to address Catholic Teaching on the issue during this "dialog" undermines any teaching moment Fr. Jenkin's intended. Unfortunately, he capitulated ND's spiritual character for the insidious fruits of secular messiahanism of the rankest sort.

May Bishop D'arcy's pastoral letter give him the kick in the a-s he needs to do the right thing!

Cardinal Martino on Religious Freedom

Catholic World News has the story:
"Speaking in Vienna on April 27, Cardinal Renato Martino (bio - news) reaffirmed the central importance of religious freedom in the life of democracy. The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was in Austria to introduce the Compendium of Catholic social teaching, published by his dicastery.

Cardinal Martino argued that some liberal democratic countries do not fully respect religious freedom. Secularism in government, he said, should allow for Christians to be active in society, acting freely on the basis of their religious beliefs. Church leaders should be able to offer their opinions on public issues, he added.

When religious beliefs are relegated to the private sphere, the cardinal said, the cause of democracy suffers. When secular societies act as if God does not exist, he said, they risk losing their own sense of public morality. A government can be neutral regarding religious beliefs, he observed, without pretending to neutrality regarding the benefits of religious faith.

Respect for religious freedom is indicative of a broader respect for human rights, the Italian prelate continued."
Cardinal Martino affirms the value of perserving Foolishness in society. A Secular government's efforts to make Fools Reasonable compromise the society it serves. Denying any religious people their right to participate in the public square undermines the very freedom of expression Reasonable people have praised for years. They attempt to justify their hypocrisy by raising straw men and launching shameful ad homenim attacks upon those with whom they disagree. Sad.

Fool that he is, Cardinal Martino laughs at the frothing efforts of the Reasonable anti-religious. They might as well surf on quicksand; their effort to silence the collective laughter of Fools will be less successful!

Update: Reader Nancy notes that Cardinal Martini and Cardinal Martino are two different men. Therefore, I've removed the reference to Cardinal Martini's condom remarks from Cardinal Martino's mouth. Sorry about the confusion!

A New Understanding on Canonization

Catholic News Agency has the story!
As the world watches the Catholic Church in its process for the beatification of John Paul II, the Vatican has released a message from Pope Benedict to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which just finished its plenary assembly. In it, the Pope clarifies the Church’s stance and means for assessing sainthood.

The message, released today, was addressed specifically to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation.

The Holy Father wrote that ''From her beginnings, the Church has dedicated great attention to the procedures that elevate Servants of God to the glory of the altars. The causes of saints are considered 'major causes' because of their noble and material impact on the lives of the people of God."

Benedict then recalled many of his predecessors--including John Paul II--who sought to improve the Church’s ways of studying and celebrating the lives of saints, including the 1983 Apostolic Constitution ‘Divinus Perfectionis Magister and the ‘Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis faciendis in Causis Sanctorum.’
The gist:
The new instruction, he said, "attempts to facilitate the application of the 'Normae servandae' in order to safeguard the seriousness of investigations", into virtues, causes of martyrdom or possible miracles.

The Pope went on, saying that "It is clear that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

He then addressed the second theme of the plenary session--"the miracle in the causes of saints"--explaining that "miracles constitute divine confirmation of a judgment expressed by the ecclesial authorities on [a person's] virtuous life.”

“I hope”, he added, “that the plenary will study this subject deeply in the light of the tradition of the Church, of modern theology, and of the most accredited discoveries of science.”

He likewise cautioned that “in examining purportedly miraculous events, the competency of scientists and theologians comes together, although the decisive judgment falls to theology which alone is capable of interpreting miracles in the light of the faith.”

“It should also be clearly borne in mind”, he wrote, “that unbroken Church practice establishes the need for a physical miracle, a moral miracle is not enough."

Moving to the subject of martyrdom, the Pope said that in its truest sense, the source and motive of martyrdom must be modeled in Christ, not done for what he called “fake different reasons” like “political or social ones.”

“It is of course necessary”, he said, “to find incontrovertible proof of willingness to suffer martyrdom, ... and of the victim's acceptance thereof. But it is equally necessary that, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain fashion, the 'odium Fidei' of the persecutor should be apparent.”

“If this element is lacking,” Benedict explained, “there is no real martyrdom in accordance with the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church."

A Worthy Endeavor

Jill Savitt, Director of Campaigns for Human Rights First, writes:
An old woman in Darfur, Sudan, described it as "the end of the universe."

In a country where, on any given morning, horsemen with guns might attack your village - killing the men, burning homes, looting and raping - the people of Darfur are running short on hope.

Every day we wait, more lives are at risk. The time for intervention is now.

Please show your support by giving to Human Rights First. We are committed to securing a long-term solution to the crisis. Our H.O.P.E. for Darfur campaign calls for the U.N. to appoint a prominent peace envoy to renew the stalled peace process. We have mobilized tens of thousands of supporters to join this call. We delivered our message in person to President Bush and other high-level officials.

Even though we are taking many steps to bring peace to Darfur, we must ramp up our efforts.

We can't do this without you. Please click here NOW to make a secure tax-deductible donation online. Whatever you can afford will go a long way.

Backed by your support, we can help turn things around in Darfur - and set the stage for peace. A high-profile international figure can make sure there is the political will to stop the slaughter.

The situation has only gotten worse in recent months, especially for women and children. The conflict is spreading and the violence increasing.

I hope you are asking yourself: What is to be done?

Click here to make a contribution.

Donations from caring people like you make our vital work possible.

Thank you so much for your support,
If you're looking for a way to offer compassion to a merciless world, look no further!


The filthy stench clings,
Long after I've abandoned
Hope of cleaning up.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Still night air, a hint:
A passage of cooler days,
Delight of the month.

Meditation III

Online Christian Daily Devotion: TWAU
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. (John 3:16)

This one simple sentence is the core of our faith. It is the good news that has been proclaimed for two thousand years. God the Most High, uncreated Creator, sent his only Son into the world to save the people he had created. He didn’t treat us as we deserved, condemning us as sinners for our disobedience. Instead, in his amazing love, he allowed his Son to endure so much dishonor and shame so that he could redeem us through his unflinching obedience.

How can we fathom the love of the Father, who offered his only Son for sinners? How ncan we comprehend the love of the Son, who so eagerly responded to his Father’s call? Try as we might, the story of salvation will forever defy human reason. We can’t fathom the kind of love that would motivate such a sacrifice. We could never experience absolutely perfect self-giving from any human friend. But we can experience it from God—and experience it every day.
One Bread, One Body:
Darkness is the absence of light. You can make a dark room light by turning on a flashlight. However, you can't make a light room dark by turning on a "flashdark." By definition, no one can invent a machine that shines darkness which overpowers light. You can only make a room dark by extinguishing the source of the light.

Jesus came to the world as its Light (Jn 12:46). However, men hated the light of Christ because they preferred evil lifestyles (Jn 3:19). Since they couldn't overcome the Light (Jn 1:5), they extinguished Jesus by crucifying Him.

Alleluia! Jesus has risen! "The Light shines on in darkness" and can no longer be extinguished (Jn 1:5). So now the only way for men to find the darkness they crave is to erect a place to exclude the Light. Photographers do this by building a darkroom to develop their film. Those committed to a lifestyle of sin build their darkroom by erecting walls to exclude Jesus, the Light (Jn 8:12).
We can't hope to understand God's incredible love for us. For he loves us in ways we couldn't possibly love ourselves. How many of us would consider allowing our children to even come to harm for someone we love, like donating a kidney or the like? God gives up the life of his Son to re-establish his relationship with those that rejected him--us!

We simply can't love without him. He IS Love!

Devoid of love without him, we're consumed by the darkness, to which we become enslaved. Having denied the one person to whom we long with the depth of our being, we pursue any illusion that "fits." Ultimately, we're never satisfied.

Until we turn to the Lord, we remain addicts of evil.

Thanks be to God, his grace is there for us anytime we're ready to accept it--this side of particular judgement!

Do not hesitate to embrace the Lord. Seek the one for whom our hearts our restless! For we do not have to understand love; we may simply enjoy it. And riciprocate it. And share it.

Communion awaits us. What are we waiting for?

A Trip-And-A-Half!

Ron Rolling of A Wing And A Prayer presents an amazing "Numbers Game"

Go and play!

A Medley of Rich Links...

...including to one of mine!

Obi’s Sister: Relativity, or The Lack Thereof delivers!

I found the link from Gateway Pundit interesting. He makes a great point:

Still, living in real time, not the early eighties, the pinch at the pump hurts!

And 10% of %10,000,000,000 is still $1,000,000,000!

I don't begrudge investors reaping dividends; many pension funds compose the majority shareholders of many companies. I do have a problem with the Government's lack-luster response. Calls for investigations into price-gouging aside, the Government could help American families with a generous gasoline tax credit. Meanwhile, we'll all do what Reasonable Gaia worshippers have wanted all along: we'll conserve by driving less.

Except we commuters: We'll just get hosed!

justgrits has more. Check 'em out!

Changing of the Guard

The foaming-at-the-mouth-on-steroids Reasonable White House Press Corps. meets their new zoo-keeper White House Press Secretary.

The Washington Post has the story:
"Fox News commentator Tony Snow was named White House press secretary today after top officials assured him that he would be not just a spokesman but an active participant in administration policy debates, people familiar with the discussions said.

A former director of speechwriting for President Bush's father, Snow views himself as well positioned to ease the tensions between this White House and the press corps because he understands both politics and journalism, said sources familiar with the President's decision.
On April 26, 2006 President Bush announced that Fox News anchor and radio host Tony Snow would replace Scott McClellan as White House press secretary.

'He knows most of you,' Bush said today as he announced Snow's appointment in the briefing room where outgoing press secretary Scott McClellan has presided, 'and he's agreed to take the job anyway.'

McClellan announced his own departure last week amid a turnover in White House personnel that was sought, in part, by GOP politicians who face a mid-term election with presidential approval ratings at all-time lows.

Snow will become the first Washington pundit -- and an outspoken ideological voice at that -- to take over the pressroom lectern at a time when tensions between journalists and the administration have been running high, over such issues as the Iraq war investigations involving leaks of classified information.

'President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies -- he thinks it's beneath him,' Snow said on Fox News in March. 'He's got a stubborn streak.' What the president needed, he said, was 'a series of vigorous defenses' of his position.

Bush said he was well aware that Snow had often disagreed with him. 'I asked him about that,' Bush said, and 'he said, 'You should hear what I said about the other guy.' '"
The mouth-foamers will salivate at this opportunity. Since Mr. Snow has spoken his mind and not always swallowed the White House Kool-aid, the swallowing-challenged will hoist up his independent comments as though they actually mean something. The only ones they'll impress are their fellow 'foamers on the cocktail circuit.

Tony Snow hasn't said anything that the solid conservative core of the Republican party hasn't already said. Is any conservative happy about the President's fiscal management? Are any impressed with the party's tortured and conflicted immigration and energy policies? Did they give Mr. Bush a standing ovation over his nomination of Harriet Miers, his handling of FEMA's incompetance during Katrina or the Dubai Port fiasco? I don't think so.

The supporters of this president are not the hive mind of brainwashed drones that our Reasonable masters want everyone to believe they are. They actually possess principles and have ideas of their own. They even disagree with the Administration, even though they voted for President Bush twice.

I applaud Mr. Snow's appointment as the new White House Press Secretary. I believe he'll bring the Administration a media saviness and on-message presence that the White House has lacked for a long time. I look forward to seeing how he'll carry the message forward from here.

Afternoon Tempests

Wind chimes dance away,
Their invisible lovers
Lead them song by song!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Machiavellian Time Begins!

Mordeci's long look,
smallest quiver at his lip,
delivers his point.

A Cry in the Dark!

ACS of Upper Canada Catholic has the story:
Warren Kinsella is an enigma: a Catholic, family man who happens to be a Liberal Party insider and occasional political assassin. Unlike most other conservatives, though, I happen to have a soft spot for him, especially when he writes about his kids or his Dad. Yesterday he penned a rather interesting missive on hypocrisy and politics that unfortunately is way off the mark (you’ll need to scroll to April 23; Kinsella eschews permalinks):
In politics, with which I am sometimes familiar, the dynamic is always the same. […] You wing it. You spin. You masticate and prevaricate. You hope and pray that your "projections" - fiscal, social, governmental, what-have-you-al - are right. It's not lying, per se. It's telling the truth that you hope is true, but that may not be. That's the little patch of real estate where politicians always get in trouble, of course. […] It's not dishonesty, per se. It's pretending. It's everyone being a hypocrite.

Sitting in church, I am reminded of that political trusim every once in a while. Look! There's the scary-angry parent who literally punched a wall at the community centre, in front of a bunch of little kids, when their misbehaving kid was asked to leave. There's the one who tells other parents not to let their kids play with the kids whose mother they hate. There's the guy who uses big words to hide the fact that he is a sexist bully, and that he never actually completed a university degree. There's one who terminated a pregnancy because she wanted a different gender than the one she was getting. There's one (or two) with a shady past, and who isn't permitted to set foot in the United States as a consequence, but who formulates elaborate stories to cover it all up. There's the ones who monkey around on the side, then march to a pew with unsuspecting spouse and children every Sunday morning. It's the same in your place of worship, I'll bet. Same everywhere. What's my point?

My point is that the rhetoric about the separation of church and state is overblown. Precisely the same kinds of people fill the church pews and the leather-lined legislature seats, with the only difference being that the latter get more ink than the former. But both exhibit symptoms of the same virus, which is rank, stomach-churning hypocrisy.

What? Don't worry. I'll be better when the sun returns, and hope with it.
Kinsella makes a valid observation, but it does not paint the full picture. Sinners, like those he describes, belong in church. They become hypocrites only when they refuse to acknowledge their own sins and failings, or succumb to pride by spending their time numbering the sins of others instead of taking a good, hard look in the mirror.
Kinsella sounds like a man that's scandalized by evil. He attributes church-going to public relations, rather than the flawed participation in communion to which we're all invited.

He may be right that many of these flawed people persist in their sins. Such is the nature of addiction to evil that it's not easy to let go. In fact, it's impossible without the Grace of God.

May Mr. Kinsella come to the understanding that God's Mercy trumps our "hypocrisy"--or evil of anykind--every time!

Principled Idiocy

The Washington Post has the story here:
For emotional wallop, there are few rivals to the windswept, grassy field outside of Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

But for three years, that field has made do with a makeshift monument while one member of Congress, Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.), has blocked a $10 million request to buy the land for a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew members who overpowered hijackers bent on crashing their jet into the Capitol or the White House.

The families of the Flight 93 passengers and crew will be in Washington tomorrow, this time intent on challenging the chairman of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee, who oversees funding for federal acquisition of property. With a major motion picture on the doomed flight premiering tonight, a showdown on the issue is the last clash that embattled Republicans want.

"We need to build a memorial for these people," said Rep. William Shuster (R-Pa.), whose district includes Shanksville. "These 40 people were the first counterattack of the war on terror, and they were victorious. We owe them a great debt of gratitude."

For Taylor, a large landowner in the mountains of western Carolina, the issue comes down to principle: The federal government is already the largest landowner in the country, and he believes that no additional tax dollars should go to more land buying for this or any other memorial. Beyond that, the families have committed to raising half the $60 million needed to build the memorial but so far have raised $7.5 million. Taylor is concerned that the federal government will be left holding the bag.

Neither Taylor nor his press secretary returned phone calls and e-mails yesterday. His chief of staff, Sean Dalton, would not comment.

GOP aides familiar with the issue said Taylor's resolute stance made sense shortly after passage in 2002 of an act authorizing the memorial. The original designs were expansive, the acreage perhaps excessive, and there were real questions about how many tourists would visit the remote site in Somerset County. Taylor infuriated some Flight 93 family members by suggesting a more fitting tribute would be a scholarship fund.

"We believe the land speaks to anyone who goes there and sees the site," said Patrick White, whose cousin Louis Joseph Nacke II died on Flight 93. "It is very moving."
There's nobility in standing for one's principles. Then, there's idiocy.

Has the distinguished congressman from North Carolina ever heard of the saying, "the exception to the rule"?

If this hallowed ground, on which the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 sacrificed their lives combatting the genicidists of 9/11, doesn't qualify as a suitable expenditure of the Federal Government for a memorial, what does?

Our government wastes so much of our money on ridiculous and frivolous pursuits. This is not one of them. Congressman Taylor needs to get a grip, buy a clue and stop obstructing the memorial. The families of the loved ones the brave people of United 93 left behind--and the rest of a grateful nation--deserve no less!

The Reasonable Decide Who Lives and Dies!

Catholic Insight on "Bioethics : Eugenics and population control in Canada":
"Another event of historical significance was the so-called “Belmont Report.” This was produced in 1978 by a Commission of the U.S. Congress in response to a public outcry about grossly immoral medical research in which patients had been mistreated. This report created modern secular “bioethics,” a theory in which clinical problems were supposed to be solved in terms of justice (fairness), patient autonomy (privacy), and beneficence. The problem then as now is that these terms were not related in any way to Divine or natural law, but only to the current law of the land, which could and does change over time and is subject to often bizarre Court interpretation. There is no room in secular bioethics for objective moral truth and no absolute moral rights for the individual. Ethical norms are now entirely relativist, and are a function of what is currently deemed “politically correct.” Political correctness in turn is a function of a so-called “consensus” of stakeholders manipulated by those who hold the reins of power.

Bill C 407 and PGD, as I will show, are a paradigm of the theory of secular bioethics.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Bill C-407, referred to previously, is a bad piece of legislation. It would permit euthanasia and assisted suicide for anyone who is suffering from chronic physical or mental pain and who “appears to be lucid,” even if they have refused to try effective treatments. It would allow one person to kill another, if that person asks to die. It threatens the old and infirm, the handicapped, and all who are unable to look after themselves.

As a result of widespread abortion and contraception, the ratio of young to old in the Canadian population is greatly reduced. There are now not enough workers to pay, through their taxes, for the old who are retired. Already, some patients are being hurried towards their death by “terminal sedation” and the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.

Societal pressure is also growing to allow and even to demand euthanasia when treatment is categorized as “futile” or a patient is cognitively impaired.

Prenatal Diagnosis
PGD is the latest in a long series of diagnostic methods designed to provide genetic, anatomical, and physiological information about the preborn child. On occasion, these methods enable a physician to provide better prenatal care, such as fetal surgery, e.g., for diaphragmatic hernia, tumour, or spina bifida. They may also facilitate the optimal timing and method of delivery and allow adequate preparation for care of an ill newborn at delivery. Unfortunately, if a fetal abnormality if found, couples most often use that finding as an excuse for induced abortion.2

Modalities employed in the prenatal diagnosis of disease include the following:
� Sampling of maternal serum for a decreased level of alpha fetoprotein, a test available since the mid-1980s. A decreased level indicates an increased risk of Down Syndrome.
� Chorionic villus sampling, to detect genetic abnormalities in the embryo or fetus in the first trimester.
� Ultrasound diagnosis of Down Syndrome, cardiac defect, diaphragm or kidney abnormalities, etc.
� The most recent diagnostic method is PGD. This is used where a couple fears passing on an incurable genetic disease to a child. The couple’s blood is tested for genetic disease-causing mutations. The woman is given drugs to produce many ova. Many embryos are created by in vitro fertilization. After three days a cell is taken from an embryo at the eight- cell stage, and is analyzed. Typically, three normal embryos are implanted in the uterus. The others are destroyed. Currently embryos can be checked for up to thirty diseases.

PGD is not morally acceptable for the following reasons: It involves in vitro fertilization which is, in itself, morally unacceptable. Ten percent of embryos are misdiagnosed.3 It involves the death of any abnormal embryo found and of all remaining embryos whether normal or not. It could lead to further destruction of embryos for many other reasons such as the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. Would acceptance of this procedure not lead ultimately to acceptance of eugenic engineering of “designer babies,” chosen for gender, or for such characteristics as beauty, intelligence, or physique?"
The Reasonable have spoken!

Only our Enlightened power have the special knowledge required to determine who lives and who dies. Only they can determine who, exactly, is entitled to exercise their right to Absolute Individualism. Thus, unborn children and the sick/elderly that have outlived their usefulness to the Collective must die "for the sake of the nation." Or rather, for the sake of others' pursuit of the One Thing that Matters!

God's compassion offers us a far greater vision of ourselves and society. Each and every one of us bear his image and likeness; together we manifest that image before an enshadowed world. Thus, we all possess the dignity that no one rightfully may deny us! Our personhood is the basis for the rights that we enjoy--beginning with our right to life!

We are called into being by our God not to live exclusively for ourselves. He calls us to live in communion with him and with each other. Just as every organ and system within the human body, unique as each of them are in themselves, participates with each other for the betterment of the body; so do we all participate in society. We must live the tension between subsidiarity and solidarity in order to live this vision of society.

Our Reasonable Masters have no firm basis in which to commit to the true benefit of society. The winds of political expediency will prevail over their fallen-world-infected philosophy. They will continually see their noblest intentions crushed by the law of unintended consequences.

Laugh, Fools! Laugh, and let the saving laughter of our Savior echo in all of our hearts! The usurpers of the Lord's perogative can rend their garments as our laughter obliterates their ridiculous presumption.

Help them to humility, Fools! Laugh!

It's about time! - Bush Announces Gas Price Investigation Ahead of Speech:
"President Bush, under pressure to do something about gasoline prices that are expected to stay high through the summer, has ordered an investigation into possible cheating in the markets.

During the last few days, Bush asked his Energy and Justice departments to open inquiries into whether the price of gasoline has been illegally manipulated, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Bush planned to announce the action Tuesday during a speech in Washington.

It's unclear what impact, if any, Bush's investigation would have on prices that are near $3 a gallon. Asked if Bush had any reason to suspect market manipulation, McClellan responded, 'Well, gas prices are high right now, and that's why you want to make sure there's not.'

Republicans who control Congress have become concerned that the high cost of filling up could become a problem for them in the November elections. Polls suggest that voters favor Democrats over Republicans on the issue, and Bush gets low marks for handling gasoline prices."
Even in New Jersey, prices have jumped to almost $3.00 a gallon. The American family feels the pinch the most; I don't even want to look at the credit cards that I use to pay the gas!

Perhaps the current prices simply reflect the current functioning of the market. If so, then the least the government could do is to institute some kind of commuter tax credit for drivers that need to drive daily.

On the other hand, the current prices may be the result of price-gouging and intentional underdevelopment of refinery capacity. Yes, I know environmentalists have lobbied against new refinaries, but let's be serious. If oil interests truly wanted them, would the EL truly stop them? Exactly.

If price gouging has occured, then the government needs to intervene. No one should subsidize a multi-billion dollar industry with inflated prices. Shareholders and corporate executives don't deserve illegitimate windfalls at the expense of hard-working families.

Find the solution, Mr. President. We're all counting on you!

Meditation II

Monsignor Clark's Homily of the Day:
"I wonder if that isn't the essence of Jesus' last words to us before ascending to heaven. 'Go out to the whole world,' he says to us all, 'and tell the good news.' Now in its literal sense, telling means using words, talking. And who can deny that talking is important if we want to share good news? But talk is cheap; and, as Dimmesdale reminds us, it always has been. So if we have any hope of following Jesus' command to proclaim the good news, we're going to have to do a lot more than talk, a lot more than just tell the truth. We're going to have to be true. Be true on the inside. And from that truthfulness on the inside will spring forth not only words that are true, but deeds that are true. Deeds that, in their rightness and goodness, shout to the whole world what really matters, deeds that proclaim to the whole world that God is here, living in the hearts of his people.

God has given us an immense mission, telling his good news to all the world. So we truly need to pray for one another:

May God help us become true on the inside, so that every word and deed of ours may speak his good news till that day when he will speak it to us all face to face. Amen."
Be true, the gospels say. Walk our talk. Put the truth to our words.

These are the defining characteristics of integrity.

That virtue often seems in short supply these days. Even your humble Fool finds himself wanting more often then not.

(updated: I pulled some personal material about work off this post. Let's just say that I'd rather delve too deeply into the affairs of my employment. Besides, this is my time off! ;))

Turning Point

A decision made:
Seize the opportunity
To lead them onward!

(updated: Changed the last two words. "It seems, Mr. Anderson, that you have lived two lives..."

Monday, April 24, 2006


Exhaustion sets in:
Worksite manipulations
Have taken their toll!

For All your Pending-Condom-Document needs...

...The AmericanPapist is on the case!

Check him out!

Blood-lusters Strike a Sinai Resort

Blasts Kill 21 in Egyptian Resort City - Yahoo! News:
"Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit the Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners Monday at the height of the tourist season, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 60 a day after
Osama bin Laden issued a taped warning against Westerners.

The bombers struck the Sinai seaside town of Dahab in the early evening along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars. Authorities said 18 of the dead were Egyptian and that a Russian and a Swiss were also killed.

The explosions hit the central part of the city at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists going for walks, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

'There were just three loud bangs and people rushing around,' British tourist Paul McBeath told Sky News. 'Everybody is shaken.'

Another witness said the Al Capone restaurant, one of the area's most popular spots, was destroyed.

'The tables and chairs have gone, there is nothing left,' Joseph Nazir, who owns a safari company in Dahab, told Britain's Press Association. 'Everybody is panicking, a lot of people are crying. We will be affected by this for a long, long time.'

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring.

For years, Dahab was a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving sites and cheap hotels, which mainly consisted of huts set up along the beach. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort."
They will not stop. They can not stop. Nothing short of the annihilation of the unrepentant Dhimmi's and heretical muslims will do. Only the establishment of a world-wide Caliphate will satisfy.

Andrew Cochran of the Counterterrorism Blog has these updates:
Walid Phares comments on MSNBC: Must have been insiders in the hotels and a terrorist network in place in the area which planned the attacks. Egyptian security believes this was a complicated operation - Al Qaeda links are possible, but not certain.

Jerusalem Post: "(A) high ranking Israeli security official recently told the Jerusalem Post that the al-Qaida movement was operating a mere 30 kilometers south of Israel." Another Israeli article raises the Al Qaeda issue.

Just last week, Egyptian authorities arrested 22 men calling itself the "Victorious Group" and allegedly planning bomb attacks on tourist targets, a gas pipeline near Cairo and Muslim and Christian religious leaders.

Last year on July 22 (July 23 in Egypt), terrorists attacked the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Egyptian authorities moved swiftly to arrest suspects in that case. We posted about that attack several times:

My July 22 running news summary of bombings which killed scores of tourists - includes links to stories about the 2004 attack there which killed 34 people.

Evan Kohlmann: "London, Taba, and Sharm el-Sheikh" on July 25 and "Egyptian Group With Apparent Zarqawi Link Claims Responsibility for Sharm el-Sheikh Bombings" on July 26.

Reuters notes that the two Sharm el-Sheikh attacks were on Egyptian holidays -- October 6 and July 23. "Monday's explosions coincided with the ancient spring festival of Shamm el-Nessim, when Egyptians head out of town."
Egypt has suppressed several islamofascist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in the past. The arab country was also the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. Islamofascists like Al Zarqawi would certainly see Egypt as a traitor and puppet of the West.

Once again, the blood-lusters know their murderous business well. They attack a resort known to cater to young westerners and Israelis. They murder at least thirty people--mostly Egyptians--in a tourist resort during the height of spring tourism. Their heinous act threatens Egypt's economy and threatens Westerners simultaneously.

The islamofascists would love to collapse Mubarak's presidency. An islamofascist dictatorship in Egypt would pincer Israel and threaten nearby Jordan, which also shares a border with an unstable Iraq and Iran's proxy, Syria.

They will never stop until they have murdered whomever opposes them. The West will either soon awaken and unite in one common effort to destroy the threat that islamofascists bring. Or the West will awaken too late, and fall before the nightmarish totalitarianism that the new Caliphate will surely inflict upon the world.


Online Christian Daily Devotion - The Word Among Us Magazine Mediations:
Today’s reading is a good example. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit filled the disciples, and that they spoke the word of God “with boldness” (Acts 4:31). But wait a minute! Earlier in the same chapter, a Spirit-filled Peter was already witnessing boldly about Christ (4:8). And weren’t Peter and the other disciples all filled with the Holy Spirit back in Acts 2:4? Later in Acts, the Holy Spirit falls on Cornelius and everyone who was with Peter (10:44). And again, the Spirit filled the disciples at Ephesus when Paul laid hands on them (19:6).

Evidently, being filled with the Spirit can happen more than once! If you sift through Acts and other places in Scripture, you’ll find that being filled with the Holy Spirit happens again and again. The only logical conclusion is that it’s central to the gospel message. And that’s just the point God wants to teach us: If we but ask, Jesus is willing to give us this precious gift in greater and greater depth, time and time again!

These stories show us that we need to continually drink of the Spirit, recognizing our constant need for God and not relying on our past experiences. They show us that we need to yield every area of our lives to him so that he can sanctify us and equip us to build up the body of Christ.
One Bread, One Body:
A persecution was beginning to rage that would ultimately result in the brutal murder-martyrdom of several believers. How was the early Church to come out of the darkness of fear and violence? They gathered together for prayer, and the Lord gave them a prophecy to reassure them (Acts 4:25, 26; Ps 2). Then they were given a specific intercessory prayer: "Grant to Your servants, even as they speak Your words, complete assurance by stretching forth Your hand in cures and signs and wonders to be worked in the name of Jesus, Your holy Servant" (Acts 4:29-30). They had obviously received divine enlightenment, for "the place where they were gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's word with confidence" (Acts 4:31).
"Pray to God, row to shore" the saying goes.

How often do we do one or the other?

Today's reading shows that the Apostles led the infant Church in doing both. Peter and John had acted; they had preached Christ crucified in the temple. The Sanhedrin imprisoned them for it. When they were released, Peter and John returned to the community, and together, they prayed. What thanksgiving they offered up! What intercession they made! What profound Grace they received!

We do not need to depend on our own strength. We need not rely on our past commitments to determine our present course. At every moment, the Holy Spirit stands with us, ready to overshadow us anew. All we need to do is ask. And let him!

Back to Work!

Rise early again,
Ready with the growing day,
Face a sea of woe!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Bom Noite, Fine young Fool!

Crying out for milk,
Pre-schooler prolongs the day
Slirping the last drops!

Confront the Noon-day Devil

The Fine young Fool coos inside.

He rises from his nap on this rain-infested April afternoon. I hope he's feeling more rested. We re-arranged his room last night. His new crib-bed now sits along the wall near his closet. Well, he didn't sleep well last night, according to my parents. The Blushing Bride and I took a well-needed night out for coffee and dessert, so Grandma and Grandpa pinched-hit for us.

The Blushing Bride just arrived. Fine young Fool took that moment to get up. She came home without Finding Nemo, so now he's crying.

Another moment's peace.

These are the days of the noon-day devil for lay people, especially families.

The hum-drum of consistent routine can plague us. We begin to ask, "is this all there is?" Then we begin to seek answers to that question. Sometimes, we seek them in the wrong places. Othertimes, we seek them in the wrong way.

This is much like the difficulty those first Hermits in the desert experienced once Christianity became permitted by the Roman Empire. Alone in their cells, with the noon-day heat oppressing them without a sign of relief, many wondered if they truly lived God's call. Some reacted by moving; hence, many became spiritual nomads, wondering from place to place. Some of these wandered from community to community. But never for long; inevitably, the noon-day devil would strike again.

I have faced mine today.

That curious restlessness swarmed over me like the day's downpour. I felt utterly unsatisfied. Something was missing.

It had nothing to do with the facts. I've blogged well all week. A series of short stories that may evolve into my first novel keep haunting me; this week, I began another one of them. My writer's workshop compatriots loved it! The family has been healthy. We've enjoyed at least two fulfilling outings. I've gotten a lot of sleep; the last traces of the long illness I'd fought passed away. In short, life went well!

So whither, then, comes this discontent?

Suddenly, my accomplishments this week amount to naught. I can do more! My blogging could attract more readers. My stories should already be written. The family has had too many health issues this year! The week, for all it's relaxation, has passed too quickly! The Fine young Fool gets up too early. In short, "life stinks!"

These thoughts plague me; They gnaw at my serenity like ravenous termites. They erode my confidence. They waste my day.

They should; they're the insidious whispers of the noon-day devil! What better temptations can such a devil offer me when I'm living well within the rhythms we call routine?

We've all faced this, haven't we?

What can we do about it?

We can live out two words: pay attention.

We pay attention to the day as it emerges, not as we think it appears. We pay attention to our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our colleagues and the strangers we encounter. Why? Because when we do, we live in the present.

That's where we encounter our Savior.

We meet him where we are. We meet him as we are. That happens here and now. When we face our Lord in the present, and open ourselves to his presence, we're delivered from that nagging discontent that robs us of our peace. We will laugh off the thoughts of doubt that plague us like a sea of weeds. We're liberated from our self-doubt.


We live out our encoutner with the Lord through our participation in the life he's given us. We live it out by manifesting the compassion he himself shows us to those in our lives. We live it through our prayer and our partaking of the sacraments.

The noon-day devil loses his power to tempt us to spiritual sloth and despair when we respond to our Lord's grace through our paying attention to our lives here and now. Our freedom from the perpetual restlessness and dissatisfaction awaits!

Let us be free: right here, right now!

Mary McCarthy's Fall: A Mole Hunt?

Captain Ed finds it plausible:
"Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse wonders if the story on CIA detention centers might not have been a sting operation to unmask leakers at Langley. The possibility comes up because on the same day that the CIA terminated Mary McCarthy for her communications to the press, the New York Times reports that European investigators cannot find any evidence that the detention centers ever existed:
The European Union's antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe.

'We've heard all kinds of allegations,' the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. 'It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.' ...

Mr. de Vries said the European Parliament investigation had not uncovered rights abuses despite more than 50 hours of testimony by rights advocates and people who say they were abducted by C.I.A. agents. A similar investigation by the Council of Europe, the European human rights agency, came to the same conclusion in January — though the leader of that inquiry, Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, said then that there were enough 'indications' to justify continuing the investigation.

A number of legislators on Thursday challenged Mr. de Vries for not taking seriously earlier testimony before the committee of a German and a Canadian who gave accounts of being kidnapped and kept imprisoned by foreign agents.

The committee also heard Thursday from a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who said: ' "I can attest to the willingness of the U.S. and the U.K. to obtain intelligence that was got under torture in Uzbekistan. If they were not willing, then rendition prisons could not have existed." But Mr. Murray, who was recalled from his job in 2004 after condemning the Uzbek authorities and criticizing the British and American governments, told the committee that he had no proof that detention centers existed within Europe.

He said he had witnessed such rendition programs in Uzbekistan, but he seemed to back up Mr. de Vries's assertion when he said he was not aware of anyone being taken to Uzbekistan from Europe. "As far as I know, that never happened," he said.

How do intel agencies find leakers and spies? They pass around carefully designed misinformation to selected individuals considered likely suspects, and see what winds up exposed as a result. It's possible that after Porter Goss took over as DCI when George Tenet left, he began mole hunting in a big way. It's certain that the administration would have demanded some action on leaks, and Goss would have been of a similar mind. It appears that the story she gave Dana Priest has a lot less substance than first thought. Two separate investigations by Europe turned up nothing. They have reported on both occasions that no evidence exists to substantiate the story, either of the detention centers or of European cooperation.
Rick, for his part, slowly walks back from his orginal claim--without abandoning it entirely:
Circumstantial evidence that the prisons exist or existed at one time is compelling:
The European Parliament’s probe and a similar one by the continent’s leading human rights watchdog are looking into whether US intelligence agents interrogated Al Qaeda suspects at secret prisons in Eastern Europe and transported some on secret flights through Europe.

But so far investigators have not identified any human rights violations, despite more than 50 hours of testimony by human rights activists and individuals who said they were abducted by US intelligence agents, de Vries said.

‘’We’ve heard all kinds of allegations, impressions; we’ve heard also refutations. It’s up to your committee to weigh if they are true. It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt,” he said. ‘’There has not been, to my knowledge, evidence that these illegal renditions have taken place.”
Please note that Mr. de Vries, Chairman of the Commission, has chosen his words very, very carefully. “Illegal” renditions as well as an earlier reference to “no evidence of illegal CIA activities” could very well mean that the detention program existed but that no laws were broken...
AJ Strata explores the political angle, and the media's obtuseness over it:
The media seems tone death to the key aspects of the issue. Note the comment from the Washington Post:
Leonard Downie Jr., The Post’s executive editor, said on its Web site that he could not comment on the firing because he did not know the details. “As a general principle,” he said, “obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press.”
Downing seems incapable of discerning ‘government information’ from critical, classified, national security information that exposes Americans to terrorist attacks. The Post CIA prison story may not rise to that level - but the NY Times story on the NSA certainly does. And on the NSA the only parts of the story the NY Times got right were the parts useful to our terrorist enemies (see this topic for all my posts on that matter). And the NY Times seems to be praying there is a way out of this mess, giving me the impression they are trying to impeach the event we see unfolding:
The results of such exams are regarded as important indicators of deception among some intelligence officials. But they are not admissible as evidence in court — and the C.I.A.’s reliance on the polygraph in Ms. McCarthy’s case could make it more difficult for the government to prosecute her.
Er… well. Unless of course the person admits to the underlying crime detected by the polygraph. Then there is no problem whatsoever. And if there are collaborating phone records, well give it up. You can see the desperation in the attempts to minimalize what has happened here. This is not a normal action against a CIA officer.

And the fact she is a Kerry supporter is not going to help build the impression she is some innocent person be abused by a mean ‘ol Bush administration:
Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.
Her actions put people at risk. The duplicity of the media compared to their outcries on the Plame Game is obvious, crude and crass. There is no excuse for this, and to pretend otherwise is to truly be whistling past the grave.
Alexandra ponders the implications of Mrs. McCarthy's expulsion for the White House's campaign to regain control of their PR:
I would like to take this whole issue a step further and suggest that this indicates to me, that whoever picks up the reigns as the White House Press Secretary, will be determined to put an end to this ridiculous dynamic. Regaining the control over information would indeed have the most significant and immediate impact on the White House's ability to lead the charge in explaining to the public the 'what' 'where' and 'why' of it's domestic and foreign policies. If the Administration and the Press Secretary as it were, can stop the opposition's constant ability to distort and smear everything the Administration does before it even gets a chance to explain and outline it's policies, then they stand a chance of saving their stronghold at Capitol Hill come November. To that end, regaining control of the White House Press Room is a very good start.
The MSM myopic focus on how Mrs. McCarthy's dismissal affects them blinds them to the truth. They can't see the danger that her leaks have caused to our constitutional government. They're too obsessed with being Reasonable and continuing to pursue the Agenda.

Mrs. McCarthy's leak of classified information may put American lives at risk. If she leaked information about the NSA's surveillance of US residents' international calls to known terrorists, she may have put millions of lives at risk.

But that's not the worst of it.

Acting as an officer in a US intelligence service, she manipulated the Fourth Estate into pressuring a sitting President in a time of War. She sought to usurp the civilian leadership's rightful role as the policy-maker of the US government. Her treachery undermines our constitutional government, in which civilians elected by we the people determine the course of our nation.

Why has she done all of this? Evidently, for the rankest of reasons: partisan politics.

And her ideologically--and politically--sympathetic enablers in the MSM helped her to do this for similar reasons. That, and the lure of a pulitzer.

The Reasonable MSM complicity in her offense demonstrates once more the laughing-stock they've become. No longer is our American Fourth Estate the informants of the people. They are the hypocritical propagandists for once political and ideological constituency within our society. Their determination to pursue all Reasonable things has only eroded their credibility. They'll continue on the road to their withering death. Others will embrace their Reason D'etre: to inform a free people of what they need to know in order to participate in that freedom.

The sooner others do, the more secure our society--and our freedom--will be!

The Iraqi Parliment Ends the Deadlock!

Yahoo! News has the story:
Iraq's president formally designated Shiite politician Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government Saturday, starting a process aimed at healing ethnic and religious wounds and pulling the nation out of insurgency and sectarian strife.

The move ends months of political deadlock among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds that threatened to drag the nation into civil war. Al-Maliki has 30 days to present his Cabinet to parliament for approval.

Parliament elected President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to a second term and gave the post of parliament speaker to Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab. Al-Mashhadani's two deputies were to be Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shiite, and Aref Tayfour, a Kurd.

The tough-talking al-Maliki was nominated by the Shiites on Friday after outgoing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari gave up his bid for another term. Al-Jaafari's attempt to stay in office was adamantly opposed by Sunnis and Kurds, causing a monthslong deadlock while the country's security crisis worsened in the wake of December's election.

U.S. and Iraqi officials hope that a national unity government representing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will be able to quell both the Sunni-led insurgency and bloody Shiite-Sunni violence that has raged during the political uncertainty. If it succeeds, it could enable the U.S. to begin withdrawing its 133,000 troops.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Bush administration is hopeful that the latest political developments in Iraq will lead to significant progress in forming a permanent government.

'We hope to see good progress in the coming days,' McClellan told reporters traveling with
President Bush to California. 'We'll be watching.'
While the MSM continues to harp on when the troops will come home, QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA has some reason to celebrate this occasion. If Mr. Al-Maliki successfully establishes a national unity government, he can earn the Iraqi people's confidence. This will suck the oxygen out of the Sunni faction that still supports the blood-lusting terrorism.

That will allow the government to concentrate on routing the foreign terrorists.

Iran's proxy within the Iraqi shiite community will most likely do what they can to disrupt the process. A chaotic Iraq consumed by civil war allows them to effectively control southern Iraq. This would give Al Zarchowi, whom Iran sponsered after the fall of the Taliban, a free hand to dismember the center of the country.

The Iraqis must not allow the Mullahs to play their twisted hand. Mr Al-Maliki must work quickly and effectively to ensure that the new government represents the interests of all Iraqis. The sooner the new government can do this, the sooner the Iraqis can at last begin to enjoy the full fruits of their freedom.

Late April Rain

Clouds of gray above;
Sea in freefall from above
Drowns the thirsty earth!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pine Meadow Mysticism

Brook's cascading song,
Piercing glints, sun's rays through trees
Shine off the water

The Company says, "You're fired!"

Yahoo! News has the details:
In a highly unusual move, the
CIA has fired an employee for leaking classified information to the news media, including details about secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe that resulted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning story, officials said Friday.

The Associated Press has learned the officer was a CIA veteran nearing retirement, Mary McCarthy. Reached Friday evening at home, her husband would not confirm her firing.

In McCarthy's final position at the CIA, she was assigned to its Office of Inspector General, looking into allegations the CIA was involved in torture at Iraqi prisons, according to a former colleague who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.

Without identifying McCarthy by name, CIA Director Porter Goss announced the firing in a short message to agency employees circulated Thursday. Such firings are rare. And it is the first time since Goss took over in September 2004, vowing to clamp down on leaks, that he has dismissed an intelligence officer for speaking with reporters.

Agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano confirmed an officer had been fired for having unauthorized contacts with the media and disclosing classified information to reporters, including details about intelligence operations.

"The officer has acknowledged unauthorized discussions with the media and the unauthorized sharing of classified information," Gimigliano said. "That is a violation of the secrecy agreement that everyone signs as a condition of employment with the CIA."

Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not disclose any details about the officer's identity or what she might have told the news media. However, a law enforcement official confirmed there was a criminal leaks investigation under way, but it did not involve the fired CIA officer.

The official said the CIA officer had provided information that contributed to a Washington Post story last year disclosing secret U.S. prisons in Eastern Europe. The law enforcement official spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

The Post's Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize this week for her reporting on a covert prison system set up by the CIA after Sept. 11, 2001, that at various times included sites in eight countries. The story caused an international uproar, and government officials have said it did significant damage to relationships between the U.S. and allied intelligence agencies.

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said on the newspaper's Web site, "We don't know the details of why (the CIA employee) was fired, so I can't comment on that. But as a general principle, obviously I am opposed to criminalizing the dissemination of government information to the press."
When MSM reporters do their jobs well, they bring us the valuable information we need in order to fully participate in society. If our government violates our laws and our values, we'll know when MSM responsibly brings such action to our attention.

When MSM reporters do their job poorly, they deliver the hackneyed propaganda that cynical political operatives want us to confuse with knowledge. This disinformation prevents us from fully participating in society. We may pressure our elected officials to do the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

Either way, reporters often depend on anonymous sources to break big stories like CIA secret prisons or redention. Those sources are anonymous for a reason. They may leak information because they truly believe that the organizations in which they work violate principles of fairness that we all value. They may leak it because the resulting story furthers their agenda. They may leak it to retaliate at nefarious persons within their circle of influence.

Whatever their reason, anonymous sources at the CIA violate their contract of employment when they leak. They may also violate the law. They certainly contribute to a troubling trend.

That trend is the undermining of civilian Democracy.

Intelligence agencies serve the civilian government in our republic, not the other way around. Officers of the CIA that disagree with the policies of a sitting president can resign in protest if they feel strongly about a specific issue. They have no business generating public pressure against their Commander-in-Chief in a time of war and still draw a Federal salary.

Less stable societies have seen their governments topple through inappropriate intervention by their own country's intelligence services. Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq with the help of the intelligence service through which he arose. The United States can't afford to walk that road.

If Mrs. McCarthy did leak information to the press, she deserves to lose her job and forfeit her pension. The CIA--and everyone in it--serves the policy makers. If any one working for the company wants to make policy, let him retire and run for public office.

The Western Hemisphere doesn't need another Banana Republic.

A Poet Comes Home

Hat tip to Amy Welborn.

A Special to the SF Gate on Mary Karr, author of 'The Liars Club,' who recently crossed the Tiber:
I know the two of you spent a lot of time exploring different faiths together to see what felt comfortable for you. You went to Jewish temples, a Buddhist zendo and various Christian churches. What attracted you to Catholicism in particular?

The carnality of it. That there is a body on the cross. It's not just an idea. It's real. If you go into an Episcopal church, that's pretty f--ing subtle. You know, there's a big cross -- it's like an electric chair hanging on the wall.

I wouldn't have thought I'd feel that way, because I had all of these intellectual friends who went to, say, Unitarian or Unity and Episcopal churches. I went to all these churches, and I thought: "This is just a bunch of white, rich, educated people saying: 'Let's be nice to each other. And let's be nice in the world.'"

One of the things I liked during Mass was that they have the "Time of Intentions," where they have people say if they have any prayer intentions. Some people say it's gratitude that their daughter made it safely to Ethiopia or "Please pray for my son, who has leukemia." To be in the presence of people's hopes and people's terrors -- their agonies stated out loud in the world -- made them human to me. And it made me not feel so different from them.

I have a lot of intellectual pride. I spend a lot of my life feeling different, feeling special. I guess for an artist that's kind of necessary, but I also have a sense that my heart gets bigger when I don't feel like I'm, you know ...

Like God?

Yeah. Or Satan. Either one. When you're around drug addicts or people who are mentally ill, it makes your heart bigger. It really does. You know, the church I went to in Syracuse was right by all the halfway houses. And I would say from 20 to 30 percent of the congregation was disabled, mentally or physically. So it was the halt and the lame.

Do you feel more comfortable around that group of people than you do with folks who have everything going for them?

I like both kinds of people. I see people that have everything going for them all day in my normal life -- I'm a college professor. But I also live right in the middle of the Garment District, the last blue-collar section of Manhattan.

They have sweatshops here. They have Asian ladies crouched over sewing machines next door to me. They have people wheeling pallets of cloth down the street. It's just an amazing neighborhood. And all the different faces that I see -- when I am spiritually on a good day -- I feel like Walt Whitman. On a good day for me, I'm in touch with the human heart, the human comedy, the human drama.

At my church in Syracuse there are Down syndrome altar boys. And one of them, when I went up to do communion I would talk to him every week during the Sign of Peace, and he had brought all his medals from the Special Olympics and laid them out to show everybody. And I thought: "That's me! That's me picking out my Manolo Blahniks!" It's the same thing.
I admire Ms. Karr's honesty. She freely admits her flaw: intellectual arrogance. She's also surprisingly real and down-to-earth. And I love her blue-collar/white-collar sensibility.

I've never read her work. But as a writer, I know this: the succcessful ones tell the story honestly. Whatever part of themselves connects them through the story to their readers, they offer it up without restraint or disguise. Ms. Karr seems like that kind of writer.

And praise be to God: another poet has joined the Baroque of St. Peter--the ultimate Ship of Fools!

One Fool v. a Horde of Reasonable Moloch Apologists

It's no contest

open book on "Ramesh v. TNR"

Ramesh Ponnuru takes on The New Republic's conventional wisdom on Roe v Wade - in the pages of TNR - which is that the fall of Roe would be good for abortion and bad for pro-lifers.
The New Republic's theory is, if I can be so bold, a mite too convenient for complacent pro-choicers. The truth is that the public is not as pro-choice as this magazine would like to believe, nor are pro-lifers so tactically inept.
He first tackles the polling, going through the deep problems with most abortion-related polling (in essence they don't define what Roe and Doe say when asking people if they support the rulings)
I am aware of only one poll that allowed respondents to choose options that included both what one might call the moderate pro-life option (prohibiting abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother's life) and the moderate pro-choice option (allowing abortion for any reason in the first trimester). This poll was conducted by Richard Wirthlin, who is, admittedly, himself a pro-lifer, in November 2004. He found 55 percent taking either moderate or hard-core pro-life positions, compared with 40 percent on the pro-choice side. If that's in the ballpark, you can expect more support for restrictive laws than the polls tnr likes to cite.
He then takes on the Congress scenario, dealing with the prediction that if Roe fell and the issue came to Congress, the GOP would suffer most, pushed by its base to go for the strictest legislation possible. Ponnuru argues:
Honesty, however, should compel tnr to admit that pro-choicers have also been known to overreach. It was their insistence, in 1993 and 1994, that the Freedom of Choice Act include public funding of abortion that stymied the legislation. Most pro-lifers, meanwhile, have embraced an incrementalist strategy--pushing for small-bore legislation like the ban on partial-birth abortion rather than a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution--over the last decade.

Maybe, then, it would be Democrats who would be stuck with an uncomfortable calculus: Do they please a liberal base that wants to keep late-term abortions legal or a general public that doesn't?
The Reasonable Moloch-Worshippers at TNR underestimate the Fools of the Pro-life movement: What a surprise!

Wait 'til they hear us laugh when SCOTUS eventually overturns Roe V. Wade and ends their Judiciarium ways permenantly. I wonder if the collective sound of their jaws dropping and hitting the floor would constitute a natural disaster?

Ramesh Ponnuru vivisects their half-baked perspective on the prolife movements' ineptness. Go read the rest!