Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Human Beings or Human Doings? Some tough, Terri-inspired thoughts on the death penalty in the modern west
A guest-post by the Paladin of Faith and Reason

You read this first in the comment boxes a few days ago. I have edited nothing except the ellipses, to avoid giving the erroneous impression that I have removed anything (other than certain words about myself!).
I too am coming to see that the Death Penalty in this country is not at all what Catholics have traditionally held regarding it.

Believe it or not, Rush Limbaugh said something that made me really think that maybe the Death Penalty should not be used in this country or anywhere for that matter until this society is authentically Catholic in its mentality regarding life (which may never happen until the Return of the King) -- why?

Mr. Limbaugh pointed out that the Culture of Death is entrenched in America's and the West's desire for convenience and ease. Suffering is seen as something totally foreign and something to be avoided at all costs. Now I will be the first to say that my flesh loves this idea, and I tell you that the 'Christian' health and wealth preachers are part of the problem. But the fact is that Terri is seen as being given a blessing by letting her die b/c she has "no quality of life."

Until we understand that humans are human beings and not human doings we will continue to fall into the arms of the Culture of Death. Which brings me back to the Death Penalty. Most people when they see (and I have been guilty of this as well) some sick depraved individual kill and murder and or torture another cease to see that person as a human being. Why? because of his or her actions. But our actions, no matter how wicked, can never stamp out the Image of God (you hear that, Calvin and Luther?). They do not cease to be HUMAN.

The Catholic teaching on the death penalty is that this human has done something that is deserving of a punishment -- a punishment that is not intended to make him a animal to be slaughtered but a punishment that exalts humanity by showing that because the killer (an Image of God) has marred another Image of God he has merited a punishment that is so extreme it must mean LIFE is the Ultimate issue.

That is not what is going on with the Death Penalty in America. As stated above the Culture of Death lives in our view of Convenience and our Human Doing mentality. Therefore, killers should be killed because they are filthy and animals and don't deserve to be treated as humans. It is more convenient and economical to kill them: let's don't think of them at all. They can no longer have a "meaningful" life (life in prison). This means they should die. Babies unwanted: no "meaningful" life -- kill them too. Terri Shiavo: no "meaningful" life -- its ok to kill her as well.

Maybe this is not as well worded as I would like, but I tell you that John Paul II is no fool, neither is he abandoning historical dogma in favor of some limp wristed new liberal idea. He sees something that I think I at last have a true glimpse of, and that is that the Culture of Death is real and it is intelligent. It is a Kingdom (for a glimpse read Hostage to the Devil), and that Kingdom has its agents and its hierarchy and it is attempting to set itself in the minds and hearts of all.

You have heard that sometimes when a maze is so confusing you should go back to square one, even if it takes longer (Jesus was big on "In the beginning it was not so" for that very reason). Maybe we must do the same. I no longer am under any delusion that those getting the Death Penalty in this country are getting what they should be getting out of it; nor are we. It's all about convenience and "quality of life" and "meaningful life." In the beginning it was not so with the Death Penalty.

Republicans and the conservative movement have no promise of infallibility on these issues and they don't want to hear from the One Body that does. WE are CATHOLIC. Not Conservative Catholic (thanks, Keith Fournier!), not Liberal Catholic, Not Neo-this or Ultra-that. CATHOLIC is the watchword.

I, in closing, go a step further: I warn all of those who see this country as infallible and Christian. This country is still part of the Earthly City. It is not Catholic and its mentality is so far from the Catholic Mind that I for one see no earthly hope of it ever coming to it (unless its from the ashes of great judgement).

Remember what happened (if you don't know, watch all three first movies with a purely political eye) to the Jedi when they, in fear and desperation, tied themselves to closely with their beloved Republic. The Shroud of the Darkside fell and they were stuck. I for one will not be stuck. I hope God grants me the grace to be a Stranger in a Strange Land even if I love the land and want to live no where else.

Monday, March 28, 2005
"One of Us" Watch

A center-right Republican says GOP majority behaved like "theocracy" in trying to save Terri, while a center-left Democrat -- Joe Lieberman -- says (a) he would have kept the tubes in, and (b) he's glad Congress intervened. Here.

My meaning is not that Joe Lieberman is now "one of us" and Chris Shays isn't. My meaning is only that something big is going on here.

Watch this space for more installments of "One of Us" Watch.

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Easter Vigil!

Lighting the Easter candle on the campus of Creighton University,
one of the nation's remaining sound Jesuit schools

Terri will be leaving us soon, but as Chesterton said, we have a God who knows the way out of the tomb.

At the end of our Vigil Mass, we sang "Christ the Lord is Ris'n Today" (same tune as "Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today"), which has the verses:

Love's redeeming work is done, alleluia
Fought the fight, the battle won, alleluia
Death in vain forbids Him rise, alleluia
Christ has opened Paradise, alleluia

Soar we now where Christ has led, alleluia
Foll'wing our exalted head, alleluia
Made like Him, like Him we rise, alleluia
Our the Cross, the grave, the skies, alleluia

Great lyrics. Well, after a 3-1/2 hour Mass I'm not sure I'd call attention to where we are "sore we now." But: "Ours the Cross, the grave, the skies." Yes! We are an "Easter people" only because we are a Good Friday people.

There was a baby boy there, just learning to talk. During the renewal of baptismal promises, after the congregation had called out "I do" in response to each question, the little one hollered "I do!" Later, after Communion, and after the 90th verse of "Taste and See" had finally ended and a silence congenial to post-Communion thanksgiving had just descended, the same voice called out "But I am bigger!" What a Catholic he'll be! He's alreadly lobbying to be given Communion, and is not deterred even by "Taste and See."

Btw, I can't say why Blondie's "Atomic" reminds me of Easter Vigils, but it does.

Saturday, March 26, 2005
What's present is Prologo

The Met's broadcast today is Cav & Pag -- sorry, I should say: the traditional double-bill of Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA ("Rustic Chivalry") and Leoncavallo's I PAGLIACCI ("The Clowns").

I thought this was a good choice for Holy Saturday, because CAVALLERIA features an Easter procession. But the real reason it's a good choice has to do with the Prologue to PAGLIACCI, one of the most amazing scenes ever put on the opera stage.

PAGLIACCI is a tragedy about a troupe of travelling actor-clowns in rural Italy who go from village to village doing commedia dell'arte stock works. Very significantly, Leoncavallo did not use a made-up story for his libretto, but instead based it on an actual criminal case that his father tried as a judge.

The Prologue consists of one character: Tonio, a troupe member who will be the villain in the ensuing drama. He steps in front of the curtain and announces that he is part of a long tradition of prologues (think of Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream) that assure the audience that the dire things they are about to see are not real and they should not be frightened. But, sings Tonio, my message is the opposite: this really happened. The composer shed real tears while he worked. And the singers who will reenact it for you must be pitied, because they are flesh and blood and breathe the air of this "orphaned world" (orfano mondo) just like you.

Canio the betrayed clown; Nedda and Silvio, the dead lovers; Terry Schiavo; Jesus Christ. This really happened....

Read this post by Barbara Nicolosi. There's too much in it for me to do teaser-readouts the way I usually do. Just read it.

Also, have another look at Inferno XXXIII....

"When I awoke before the break of day,
I heard my little sons who were with me
Crying in their sleep and asking bread.

"You are cruel if by now you do not grieve
To think of all that my own heart forewarned:
And if you do not weep, what would you weep for?

"They then awakened, and the hour drew near
When customarily they brought us food,
But each of us was worried by his dream.

"Below I heard them nailing up the door
Of the horrible tower — at that, I looked,
Without a word into my young sons’ faces.

"I did not weep, I had so turned to stone
Within me. They wept. And my little Anselm
Said, ‘You stare so... Father, what is it?’

Friday, March 25, 2005
Deacon Keith Fournier: Passion in Pinellas Park
The God of Love Incarnate who walked the way of weakness and suffering now walks through the barricade in Pinellas Park, Florida and holds His beloved. Soon, He will take her home and she will be at peace. We who feel so helpless will weep.

In a house in Rome, a holy, frail man sits and weeps, praying for Terri and for the modern “Jerusalem” which has failed to recognize the time of its visitation....

It is time to pray, to mourn, to intercede, and to worship. However, make no mistake, this event has forever changed the political landscape. I just heard one pundit say that this will all be forgotten within months and will have no real political effect.

Really? Stay tuned.

THE PRIORESS: I think Blanche de la Force is quite late? After the meeting of yesterday, does she still cling decisively to the name she has chosen?

MOTHER MARIE: Yes. Saving your good pleasure, she still wishes to call herself Sister Blanche of the Agony of Christ. You have always seemed to me quite struck by this choice?

THE PRIORESS: That's because it was once mine, a long time ago. Our Prioress back then was Mme. Arnoult. She was eighty years old. She said to me: "Question your strength. Who enters Gethsemane does not come out again. Do you feel in you the courage to remain to the end the prisoner of the Most Holy Agony?"

-- Georges Bernanos, Dialogues of the Carmelites

(“Interrogez vos forces. Qui entre à Gethsémani n’en sort plus. Vous sentez-vous le courage de rester jusqu’au bout prisonnière de la Très Sainte Agonie?”)

Thursday, March 24, 2005
A Terri round-up for Holy Thursday

It's interesting how many ways other people, including people with dodgy or unknown relationships with the Catholic Church, can help us live the Triduum better. Last year, for me, it was Mel Gibson. This year, in a very different way, for me and for millions of others, it's Terri Schiavo. One, a Catholic-in-schism, gave us images and sounds such that just to think of them is to pray. The other, apparently a non-practicing Catholic, is teaching us the way of the Cross.

Fox News:
[F]amily members worried that Terri Schiavo was becoming more and more malnourished as the legal battle played itself out. Doctors have said she would probably die within a week or two of the tube being pulled.

"It's very frustrating. Every minute that goes by is a minute that Terri is being starved and dehydrated to death," said her brother, Bobby Schindler, who said seeing her was like looking at "pictures of prisoners in concentration camps."
Gov. Jeb Bush may be working within tighter limits than some of us think or hope. The AP reports:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's not often Gov. Jeb Bush is frustrated pursuing his goals. He was the first governor to start a statewide school voucher program. He got rid of civil service protections for tens of thousands of state workers. He pushed through billions of dollars in tax cuts. His goal of prolonging the life of Terri Schiavo is proving much harder.

"It is frustrating for people to think that I have power that I don't, and not be able to act," Bush told The Associated Press on Thursday. "I don't have embedded special powers. I wish I did in this particular case."

Bush canceled travel plans Thursday to monitor the case of Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who has gone without food and water since a judge ordered her feeding tube removed March 18.

He was in constant contact with his legal office, ordered staffers to e-mail and call him with developments and demanded state laws be scoured for a way to reconnect Schiavo's feeding tube.
Godspy columnist Harold Fickett recalls his encounter with the feeding-tube dilemma in the case of his father. Relying on solidly orthodox Catholic authority, he acquiesced in the no-feeding-tube decision. He still isn't sure he was right, but if his doubt on that point is genuine, and it plainly is, then he need not be troubled in conscience. In the confessional, genuine doubt favors the penitent. (But not, of course, feigned doubt, or knowing reliance on dissenting theologians.)

Amy Welborn remarks:
...Terri Schiavo has confronted us, and we've been unable to look away....It's like that other thing, that other image, that's hung, been smashed, re-invented, hidden, kissed and abolished:

That Cross.

Also, you see, about suffering. Also about helplessness and abandonment.

We want to look away, and we do try. We do try to ignore it, but it pulls us back....
(Hat-tip: Eve)

And so on to Good Friday.

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down Terri's federal appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court has turned down Gov. Bush's attempt to take charge of her as a person in need of assistance. Is this the end? The answer lies with executive branches, not judicial ones; and, by an odd twist of Providence, with two Bush brothers. And also with certain U.S. Senators, as I'll explain.

First, BlogsForTerris says:
Gov. Bush is playing in the State Court’s sandbox, and as a result, is reaching for statutory grounds on which to take Terri into custody. Does he seriously think the courts, which disregard the Constitution, are going uphold state laws?

Jeb needs to exercise his duty and responsibility as governor by enforcing Article I Section 2 – the illicit rules of the courts be damned!

Gov. Bush does not need to justify himself to the court nor file any more petitions. He simply needs to give the orders to take Terri into protective custody without delay. It is upon the court to explain how its orders do not violate Terri’s rights, not he other way around.

Please call Governor Bush at 850-488-4441 and relay the following message to him.

”Gov. Bush, please enforce Article I Section 2 and stop playing by the illicit rules of the Florida Judiciary. You have the obligation and the authority to enforce the State Constitution without first having to explain yourself in court. No more excuses or court filings, just take Terri into custody NOW.”
Meanwhile, at the federal level, didn't the Senate subpoena both Terri and Michael? Since Terri can't come to Washington on her own, any Senator who chairs an appropriate committee or subcommittee should immediately schedule a hearing in Terri's room, and go down there.

Obviously the Judiciary Chairman -- Sen. Specter -- won't do this, but how about certain Judiciary Subcommitee Chairmen, like Sessions (Administrative Oversight and the Courts), or Cornyn (the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights), or Graham (Crime, Corrections, and Victims' Rights)?

In the meantime, since Congressional subpoenas can be enforced by federal marshalls, President Bush should call them out to put the tube back in at least until the Senate hearing is over. That's less than the Eisenhower administration did in enforcing Brown v. Board, so what's the problem?

Latest wrinkle in the Terri wars --
Conservatives: Men of the West, or Phantom Menace?

The Wall St. Journal's James Taranto writes:
Whatever else one may say about the 11th Circuit's ruling in Schiavo v. Schiavo, it is not a work of judicial activism. Quite the opposite, it is a caricature of judicial restraint. The court bent over backward to construe the statute, and its duty in hearing the appeal, as narrowly as possible in an effort to frustrate Congress's intent. Call it judicial passive-aggression.
He also notes that the one dissenting 11th Circuit Judge, Charles Wilson, is a Clinton appointee, and that one of the two judges voting to continue Terri's slow execution, Judge Ed Carnes, is an appointee of Bush I.

What Taranto delicately omits, or perhaps forgets, is that Ed Carnes was appointd to the bench by the first Bush Administration for one reason above all: his fervent support for the death penalty.

What shall we say? What goes around, comes around?

Wake up, culture-of-life Catholics. We've long known that Republicans are not reliably our friends, even if we vote for them more often than not. It may be time to consider a similar judgment about conservatives.

Yes, yes, yes, I know that most of the Left (but not the disability rights activists! -- visit here and here) are all for killing Terri, and that the political wing of the drive to save her is being led by conservatives like Tom DeLay. True, true, true. But it's also true that I've been watching my listserves for two days as died-in-the-wool Republican law professors come out against the latest Terri's Law, sometimes stridently so.

I'm not saying stop supporting conservatives; I'm not even saying stop supporting Republicans. I am saying, stop assuming an easy coterminacy between us and our conservative friends. Let's be more careful how we throw around the term "one of us."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Whoa -- H-War: Military History Network!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

10. 29 Lizards
9. 29 Bombs (No, that's where the bad guys train)
8. 29th Psalm (Vulgate) ("For wrath is in his indignation....")
7. 29th Psalm (KJV) ("The Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon....")
6. 29 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
5. 29 Miles From 971 Miles from Anywhere
4. 29 Gallons (to LAX)
3. 29 Staff NCOs Doing Damn-All
2. 30 Palms (rounding: good enough for government work)

-- and --

1. 29 Moms (Weekend liberty is getting out of hand....)

Mark Steyn: The Strange Death of the Liberal West (N.B. The hed is a take-off on George Dangerfield's famous history of early 20th century British politics, The Strange Death of Liberal England):
Most 20-year projections - on global warming, fuel resources, etc - are almost laughably speculative. They fail to take into account the most important factor of all - human inventiveness: "We can't feed the world!" they shriek. But we develop more efficient farming methods with nary a thought. "The oil will run out by the year 2000!" But we develop new extraction methods and find we've got enough oil for as long as we'll need it.

But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of.
Read the rest.

Gawrsh! The kind friend who admonished me about the use of the term "Nip" -- that it's derogatory 'n' all -- was right. Urban Dictionary bears this out. To post there, you have to supply not only a definition but also a full sentence usage. Here is Urban Dictionary entry #8 for "Nip":
8. nip
derogatory term for a japanese person

derived from the japanese word "nippon"
meaning japanese

Because the nips didn't want to stop the war, we bombed those m[BLEEP]f[BLEEP]s back to the stone age.

Source: h w e a n n r g y, May 7, 2003
Speaking of stone age, that's about where American cars and the UAW are. So buy a Toyota or a Honda. They got to Pearl Harbor -- they'll get you where you're goin'!

With the culture of death taking over anyway (and with Revenge of the Sith drawing near), I thought you might enjoy this interview with Emperor Palpatine.

Monday, March 21, 2005
Terri: a report from Judge Whittemore's courtroom. He says he will file his ruling electronically, with no notice, but he still demands that the Schindlers' attorney file a reply-brief on the constitutionality of the new statute.

A law professor helping to represent the Schindlers explained to me that the statute does nothing more than clarify an aspect of the federal habeas corpus statute so that federal courts are clearly authorized to grant habeas relief in Terri's case, a point on which the last federal court to look at this case had doubts. It authorizes a federal court to save Terri's life, but does not mandate that it do so (that would raise separation of powers and due process issues); the mandate is only that a federal court hear the case.

Sunday, March 20, 2005
Jurist website reports on Senate passing bill to keep Terri alive. See also Dawn Eden: Why congressional Democrats want Terri dead.



Boy, are my arms tired. Fans of borscht-belt comedy know what that means: I just flew in from the Coast!

Yes, I was out there for some law-prof business, but above all to visit Jonathan Lee Morris at Twentynine Palms Marine Base, which is out in the desert, north of Palm Springs, and just short of halfway between the Pacific coast and the Nevada line.

In between his technical studies for his MOS, PFC Morris is doing a lot of work parties, because, he points out, "PFC" stands for "perfect for cleaning." "Work parties" does not mean partying; it means keeping the place in good condition, and it includes "policing," which means picking up loose trash. There is not much of the latter, however. At one point during my visit, JL picked up and discarded a potato chip bag. (Btw, one of the vehicles that entered the base while I was filling out my parking permit was a Doritos truck. Resupply mission, huh.)

We also spotted a banana in the middle of a street, but since we weren't sure whether this was bad policing or classic comedy, we left it alone.

I also spent some time in Los Angeles, where I lived for a while as a kid, but which I haven't seen in over thirty years (except for a weekend visit over twenty years ago). It has changed. Here are certain things I noticed:

* L.A. now has real buildings. Not just gas stations, taco stands, movie studios, and a solitary peak called the Civic Center, as was the case thirty years ago. There is now a substantial, skyscraper-studded downtown, including Figueroa Street, and taking in much of the area east of MacArthur Park and south of the Civic Center.

* The freeways are now known mainly by route numbers, rather than by their names, which in about half the cases are saints' names. So today, it's Route 405, not the San Diego Freeway, and Route 10, not the Santa Monica Freeway. Can't say if that's secularization, or just convenience.

* The city now has a metro train system. I know this mainly from Collateral, but I also saw a few of the sparkly modern metro stops, which in some cases run along the median strips of freeways.

* Standing in line in L.A. takes a very long time. At the Burger King on Airport Blvd., I was caught behind a chap who wanted to know the cooking technique behind every chicken dish on the menu, along with detailed price comparisons of various combos. The girl behind the counter, far from making meaningful glances at the lengthening line, entered fully into this customer's karma, obviously eager to share in the experience. It was the same at the customer service line at Hertz, which I stepped out of when it became clear that the two young ladies at the head of the line had a problem much too profound to permit any realistic expectation that the gentleman in the number two spot in line would ever succeed to the throne. (I was fourth.)

The last thing I did in L.A. this weekend was what I most enjoyed doing when I lived there: leaving!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: tweenage fashions

Do you notice anything odd about me?

CACCIAGUIDA: Yes. You're odd.

CACCIADELIA: No! I'm wearing polka-dotted socks!!

Note to would-be buyers of American cars: the UAW is anti-Marine Corps!!! (Hat-tip: Zorak.)

If you live anywhere near D.C., get your new or used Toyota here, and ask for Roger. I'm not Roger, and I don't get a cut from Miller Toyota: I just love Toyota reliability, and I've gotten good deals and good treatment from Miller Toyota in the course of three purchases so far.

Support the Marines -- buy a Japanese car! What a world, eh?

Monday, March 14, 2005
It's all about seabasing

The Marine Corps Gazette, though a monthly glossy, is also a forum for serious (and acronym-cluttered) discussion of issues facing the the Corps and the nation, including strongly worded articles on where the Corps needs to do better. The March issue showcases the concept of "seabasing," and strongly indicates that the Corps is fervently for it, and will push for it in those crucial theatres of war, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Here is the Gazette's editorial. Of note:
Parochial feathers are all aflutter as it appears that the Army, now in a major transition, is being plused up at the seeming expense of the Air Force (the F–22 Raptor loses funding), the Navy (reduction in ship funding—DD(X), Virginia-class submarine, the LPD 17 program, and one less aircraft carrier), and the Marine Corps (delays in the expeditionary fighting vehicle and MV–22 Osprey programs)....

[T]he important thing to remember is that once something is taken off the table, it’s very difficult to get it back on, and that as we watch our naval fire support and amphibious capability programs continue to dwindle away, it’s harder to believe that we will ever really achieve one of the cornerstones of Seapower 21—that wonderful concept of seabasing.
Notice how delicately the editor -- Col. John P. Glasgow, USMC(Ret) -- manages to unite all the other services against the Army for budgetary purposes, while modestly listing his own service last!

Following this editorial is a series of five articles clustered under the heading "Focus on Maritime Issues." The last of these, by Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, USN(Ret), is entitled "Protecting the Seabase: Sea shield enables expeditionary forces to move ashore and far inland."

In prose that is cleary and punchy by Gazette standards, this article begins:
Seabasing is the enhanced ability to position persistent, operational joint military power at sea to accelerate deployment and employment time so those forces can project and sustain combat power in the absence of available shorebases. In a nutshell, it means putting naval capabilities to sea and where those capabilities can be brought to bear, wherever and whenever needed, for as long as they are needed, without getting anyone's permission.
So, what'd he say? I think he said this is about substituting ships for land bases as support centers for land war, and thereby reducing the "footprint" made by U.S. forces on foreign soil. There's also a gain maneuvarability, since a seabase can hoof it for another locale faster than a landbase can be shut down, transported, and reassembled, and ships in different places (with Marine Expeditionary Units aboard) can assemble swiftly into a seabase.

A new generation of fast ships such as the DD(X) and the LCS -- that the Navy wants and may or may not get -- is apparently linked to seabasing.

For Marine fans, it can't escape notice that seabasing bids fair to revitalize the Corp's historic links to the Navy (one of the Gazette articles is entitled "Toward a Common Navy Planning Process") while also stressing the Marines' historic role as seaborne land-combatants.

Hey, I'm new here. If any of you have knowledgeable views about all this, give me some shouts downrange.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Veronica's Veil. (Hat-tip: Zadok the Roman.)

As the linked site notes, the story of Veronica merited "a brief scene in Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth." And of course the Mel Gibson/Caleb Deschanel camera dwells lovingly on the beautiful face of Sabrina Impacciatore in that scene.

Friday, March 11, 2005
3 Slain in Atlanta Courthouse Rampage
Judge, 2 Others Gunned Down; Rape Defendant Escapes

By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Melanie Lasoff Levs
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page A01

ATLANTA, March 11 -- A huge manhunt swung into motion across the Southeast on Friday as officers searched for a rape suspect who authorities say overpowered a sheriff's deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and then used her gun to kill a judge, a court stenographer and a second sheriff's deputy who had chased the alleged assailant into the street.
Well, it might have been worse: there might not have been equal opportunity for women on the Atlanta sheriff's staff.

Diana Feygin reviews Richard Viguerie's America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power. I can't say the title is inaccurate, but I will say that the occasional books turned out by Viguerie -- an ingenious organizer and a pioneer of direct mail as a political tactice, but not a first-rank political philosopher -- have tended toward cock-eyed optimism. But I guess if you've chosen movement-building as a career -- and it's not a bad choice -- then either the recent past or the immediate future must always be a broad sunlit upland.

This one was notable for including pictures of several people I worked with in the '80s.

House of Lords resists Blair's anti-terrorism Ermächtigungsgesetz

House of Lords does something besides
hear Queen's Speech and investigate
impostors at Blandings

Telegraph story here. Also, Telegraph columnist reports that leftist tabloids are reporting Tories could win the May 5 general election.

Thursday, March 10, 2005
Justice Souter on Catholicism

According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter writing in Slate, at the oral argument of the Ten Commandments case
we discovered that Justice David H. Souter uses the term 'Roman' as a synonym for Roman Catholic—a quaint (and to some Catholics insulting) locution favored by high-church Episcopalians of past generations.
Btw -- does Scalia's insistence that the Ten Commandments are inherently religious mean that, somehow, he is now a "natural law" judge? Click here and find out.

Why Mini-Mantis looks at people so soulfully
Researchers at Cambridge University wondered whether female superiority in understanding facial expressions was innate or whether it developed as a result of social factors such as parents encouraging girls to interact with other girls while the boys shoot each other with ray guys. These researchers decided to study newborn babies on the day they were born.

Their plan was to give babies a choice between looking at a simple dangling mobile or at a young woman's face -- more precisely, a live young woman, right there with the baby. The young woman smiled at the baby but didn't say anything. The mobile dangled and twisted but made no noise.

Was there a gender difference in what the babies preferred to look at? All 102 babies in the study were videotaped and their eye motions analyzed by researchers who didn't know the sex of the baby. The boy babies were much more interested in the mobile than in the young woman's face. The girl babies were more likely to look at the face. The differences were large: the boys were more than twice as likely to prefer the mobile. The researchers concluded that they had proven "beyond reasonable doubt" that sex differences in social interest "are, in part, biological in origin."

-- Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, Why Gender Matters, pp. 18-19; cites omitted; italics in original.
The text goes on to establish that it's not a matter so much of innate personality differences as of difference in eye structure (much herein of "rods" and "cones") such that boys are better at discerning motion and girls are better at discerning color and texture.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Just discovered The Conservative Philosopher, a group blog written by, inter alia, such conservative scholars as Roger Scruton and Francis Beckwith. Beckwith has recently finished a fellowship at Princeton, and is the author of Politically Correct Death: Answering Arguments for Abortion Rights. Scruton is the author of The Meaning of Conservatism, and most recently, Death-Devoted Heart: Sex and Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. I would expect these gentlemen to put out an interesting blog, and so far it appears they do.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
John Bolton Tapped to Be U.N. Ambassador. Great, great guy. If you like, I'll tell you why -- after he's confirmed. N.B. He did not always look so much like Justice Holmes; don't let it alarm you.

Italy Official Disputes U.S. Claim in Death
ROME Mar 8, 2005 — Italy's foreign minister said Tuesday that American troops killed an Italian intelligence officer in Iraq by accident, but he disputed Washington's version of events, demanding a thorough U.S. investigation of the shooting and that "the culprits be punished."

Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini told parliament that the car carrying the intelligence officer and an ex-hostage to freedom was not speeding and was not ordered to stop by U.S. troops at a checkpoint, contrary to what U.S. officials say.

However, he also dismissed allegations that the Friday shooting that killed Nicola Calipari was an ambush a claim made by the released hostage, journalist Giuliana Sgrena.
It's funny how when he's criticizing the U.S., however moderately, Mr. Fini is simply "Italian Foreign Minister," when on most other occasions he's "leader of Italy's neo-fascist party," which in fact he is.

Monday, March 07, 2005
It is always a source of grief and shame when a recruit dies at boot camp. But in this instance, we seem to be dealing with a uncommonly insecure whiner whose case -- and whose credibility-free letters home -- are being used by the MSM to trash the Corps. When that happens, the de mortuis rule is suspended. Let Jonathan Lee explain further....

Sunday, March 06, 2005
Just got back from the baptism of Mini-Mantis. She seemed to find it a pleasurable salon visit when the priest poured the water and we banished Satan from her soul and washed her free of original sin.

At the reception, she ate (from a bottle), slept, and experimented with grabbing, since, at about six weeks, she is just discovering that her hands are part of her. At other times she just stretches. Sometimes she stretches just one arm, with her fist clenched. Girl power!

While I was holding her, she finished plugging away at her bottle, then alternated between gripping my finger, then dozing off and relaxing the grip, then opening her eyes and tightening her fist again, then once more around the cycle.

I thought the huge butterfly-shaped balloon might be overstimulation, but she's still at the stage where, apart from Mommy and Daddy, one thing is as surprising as the next, so why not a butterfly-shaped balloon? Anyway, Cacciadelia took the balloon home, and it rose up to confront my face when I opened the trunk when we got home.

Saturday, March 05, 2005
Calliope, Muse of epic poetry
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the
tongue of the ancient Romans is a real
anachronism. With its profusion of different
cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a
language; it is a whole different way of
thinking about things.

You are very classy, meaning that you value the
classics. You value old things, good things
which have stood the test of time. You value
things which have been proven worthy and
valuable, even if no one else these days sees
them that way. Your life is touched by a
certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are
even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain
fascination with the grotesque and the profane.
Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad
transplant. Your problem is that Latin has
been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, March 04, 2005
Comments on cool items from other people's "Ten Things" lists

Elinor: "Played the harp in a marching band." And was invited to audition for -- a singing group.

Todd, at A Frolic of My Own: "Accidently ran from the bulls in Spain." Purposively ran, I think: I'm guessing it was the finding of the bulls that was accidental.

Zorak: "Won an essay contest, and then a second contest between the winners of the first, sponsored by the Rotary Club on the many benefits of applying The Four-Way Test to all parts of life." With me it was always the DAR.

The Rat: "Been mistaken for a hooker on Christmas Day." Oui, mais -- chinoise, ou japonaise?

Rosalind, of In Dwelling: "Had a child via natural delivery after two previous caesarians." That is great! Proves it can be done. But be cautious, parents. All five of ours were caesarian; we tried VBAC with two of them, and in one case we had a narrow, probably miraculous escape from serious perinatal problems. Find a doctor you trust and take his advice.

Quicquid: "Passed out in church (from the flu)." Never managed that, but I did pass out during the field-hospital scene in Gone With the Wind when I was twelve. Or rather, I should have, 'cause then others could have carried me to the nice cool tile floor of the mens' room of the Ziegfeld Theater, rather than my having to dash there under my own rapidly diminishing power.

Terry Teachout: "Watched an opera singer drop dead on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, ran to the nearest pay phone, called the city desk of a newspaper, and shouted, 'Get me rewrite!'" Yes, that would be Richard Versalle, a promising heldentenor who died while playing a secondary role in Janacek's THE MAKROPOULOS CASE. (The linked page says he had a long career at the Met, but I believe he was new to the Met and had elsewhere sung major Wagnerian roles; his Tannhäuser is on DVD, though hard to find.)

Anyway, my parents can match this: they were present at the on-stage death of Leonard Warren.

Also from Terry Teachout: "Barely escaped serious injury from a falling chandelier." BWAH HAH HAH HAH HAH HAAAAAAAH!


The Curt Jester: "Been robbed by a courteous robber who went back and picked up the album I had dropped and returned it to me after taking my wallet." Probably wanted you as a reference for his next robbery.

Strange -- whenever I blog while listening to Richard Strauss's ELEKTRA, I always feel impelled to mention it. I don't know any other opera like that. Strauss managed to write a 90-minute one-acter about how it must feel to kill certain people who really, really need it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005
The Passion Recut. Really, that's what the website is calling the new PG-13 version.

I'm not sure I approve of the revision. The real version takes a strong stand on the violence of the events of our salvation being integral to that salvation -- the most in-your-face challenge imagineable to the felt-banner crowd. Mel is tragically a schismatic, but the vision of his movie, original version, is orthodox, Counter-Reformation Catholicism, a vision that Vatican II did nothing to dilute if the authoritative statements of that Council are read in continuity with tradition, as JPII has insisted they should be.

But I can see Mel's point: many places, especially schools, have used the R rating as an excuse not to show the film. Of course we give the kids explicit sex ed starting in elementary school, but an R-rated movie? Or prisons -- we turn a blind eye to gangs and gay rape, but an R-rated movie? I can see Mel wanting to get around tricks like that.

But the R-rated version is the real thing, spiritually and esthetically. Hang on, let me check my DVD copy. It says it's rated -- "Frank-Rich-Kiss-My-Ass-17." Well wuddya know.

I can't link to it, since I found it on a non-free database, but Tom Bethell wrote the following in NR in 1993, about Justice Anthony Kennedy:
Kennedy has let it be known that he lets his law clerks decide difficult cases for him. Meanwhile he spends a good deal of time looking out of the window, philosophizing....When nominated to the Court, Kennedy volunteered to Justice Department official William Bradford Reynolds that Roe v. Wade was made up out of whole cloth. At some point, however, Kennedy apparently conceived the hope of retiring to Stanford Law, where he will surely be welcomed as a legal philosopher.

Black Man's Burden: Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments (president: Cardinal Arinze) filling up with more Africans. Don't know any of these guys' records individually, but in general the Catholic Church in Africa is growing, and doctrinally rigorous.

New brain!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Hey, turns out society's "evolving sense of decency" just evolved again. Did you know that? Good thing we have the Supreme Court to point out these things. More here.

OK, I'll play

Eve says:
So there's this thing, making the rounds of the rounds that I make, in which you list ten things you've done that your readers probably haven't. I'm loving these lists. I want you people to do these lists! So here is mine....
So here is mine:

1. Attended the Old Met (i.e. the opera house at 39th and Broadway, before the company moved to its current home at Lincoln Center in 1966) numerous times

2. Rode the Twentieth Century Limited

3. Accidentally locked myself out of my senior-year single with no trousers on, because a bee had flown in through the window

4. Been married only once, for 22 years (I know, many of you are probably getting there. God bless!) (N.B. Not someone I met in the course of the bee incident)

5. Heard Henry Hyde remark “That’s the way to do business!” when the Democrats walked out of our subcommittee markup session, allowing our guys to mark up the bill (which can take hours) in ten minutes

6. Watched Giorgio Tozzi get costumed for a performance of the title role in Mozart's FIGARO at the Met (the Old Met, btw)

7. Went out with the granddaughter of a leader of the 1944 plot against Hitler (she was also the great-granddaughter of the founder of the German navy)

8. Sang the shepherd in TOSCA with a real, if small, opera company

9. Had the same car stolen twice (I suppose that as word spread about that car through the grand-theft-auto community, they decided to leave it alone.)

10. Turned down a chance to meet Sam Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti after a performance of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (the 1975 Juilliard revival, revised version) because I had a paper due the next day.