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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Thursday, June 30, 2005
Cntyr says Pope Benedict met with Cardinal Schoenborn today. Let's see, CDF is taken, but maybe, Congregation for Bishops? "Ascolta, o Re! Tu pure, giovin' eroe...."

Shelby Foote, RIP

Southern novelist and non-academic historian whose three-volume work The Civil War dwarfs those of the professionals, in quality as well as in size, so they say.

A close friend of Walker Percy, Foote was a novelist while Percy was still a doctor, then became an historian while Percy went on to become a novelist. Foote declined to follow Percy into the Church, but Percy gave Foote's Civil War history a big plug anyway in The Thanatos Syndrome.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Marines: 13 detained in Operation Sword

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) Wed. June 29, 2005 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces conducting a military offensive in western Iraq have detained 13 people and killed an insurgent amid light resistance, the Marines said Wednesday....

The operation, which began Tuesday, involves about 1,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors along the Euphrates River between Haditha and Hit, according to the Marines....

Commemoratives: I have some Marian Anderson stamps and some Ronald Reagan stamps. I use the Anderson stamps for mailing to conservative places (e.g. returning the monthly card from the Conserative Book Club) who may need reminding of who Anderson was and why she was great (which was, because she had a really great contralto voice, and because she broke the "color barrier" at the Met; the DAR fracas merely adds spice to the legend). I use the Reagan stamps for mailing to places that may need reminding of how great Reagan was (e.g. returning the monthly card from the History Book Club).

Conversation chez Admissions Committee: re an ex-Catholic applicant

CALVINIST COLLEAGUE #1: What kind of person would leave Catholicism for the Methodists?

CALVINIST COLLEAGUE #2: Someone who wasn't very serious about either!

I just realized: you can't spell SUPREME COURT without SUC.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
1. High Court Steps Into Abortion Dispute
....Justices said they will consider whether an anti-abortion group's campaign against abortions, conducted outside these clinics 20 years ago, may have violated federal racketeering and extortion laws.

The court has already dealt with the same case several times before. Most recently justices ruled in 2003 that the laws were wrongly used against anti-abortion leader Joseph Scheidler and others.

That ruling, written by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, lifted a nationwide ban on protests that interfere with abortion clinic business.

An appeals court, however, questioned whether the ban should be renewed on other legal grounds....

The abortion case is one of two to reach the Supreme Court recently. A month ago, the court in a surprise announcement said that it would hear an appeal involving a parental notification law from New Hampshire. Both cases will be argued late this year....

Rehnquist conceded in 2003 that abortion protesters interfered with clinic operations and in some cases committed crimes. But he said because they did not extort money or valuables from the clinics, a lower court had wrongly imposed a ban on protests.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago then renewed the case on other grounds, that the threats of violence, or violent acts, may have been enough to qualify to sue under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

NOW attorney Fay Clayton, in papers filed with the Supreme Court, cited several examples of violence during protests, including one in which a patient was beaten unconscious with an anti-abortion sign.

Jay Sekulow, representing Operation Rescue, told justices "this court put a definitive end to a meritless marathon civil RICO suit," in 2003 and should intervene now to make that clear....

2. Lawmakers Prep for High Court Nomination
While few high court watchers actually expected Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search) to announce his resignation on Monday — to do so on the last day of the session would have been atypically showy of the reserved Midwesterner — most believe he will step down before the fall....


Monday, June 27, 2005

Here' s one of the reasons one still subcribes to The Wall Street Journal even after dead-trees media have become obsolete: Is China's Rapid Economic Development Good for the U.S.?

Plenty of arguments on each side of the question whether the China now is to the U.S. what the U.S. was to Britain in the early 19th century, or, on the contrary, what Japan was the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s.
During the 1920s, Japan had low import tariffs and its democratic, civilian government encouraged domestic alliances with European and American companies to hasten Japan's technological catch-up, said Hideaki Miyajima, a Japanese economic historian at Waseda University in Tokyo and a visiting scholar at [some damn place near MIT]. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. operated Japan's only major automobile assembly plants. The heads of Japan's "zaibatsu" -- urban industrial conglomerates -- were pro-Western. Many sent their children to U.S. universities.

But these pro-Western elites were too weak to resist the forces of militarism and imperial expansion. Mr. Miyajima said the Depression fell disproportionately on Japan's large agricultural population, which was the military's power base. It increased economic inequality and fueled resentment of the traditional business elite.
Score one for the anti-China lobby, I think: China doesn't even have a "traditional business elite" separate from its military elite, much less one that can stand up a political-military establishment favoring militarism and imperial expansion.

It's scary that
In 1910, Norman Angell, a British economist, wrote in "The Great Illusion" that Europe's great powers had become so economically interdependent that war was unthinkable.
The article goes on to quote someone on why this view was "plausible" at the time. Yeah, like phlegiston. "Entangling alliances" don't cause war: they just provide its glide-path to eventuation.

While we're on it, don't miss The Gertz File, where The Washington Times's well-connected and highly-regarded defense reporter Bill Gertz keeps e-copies of his articles, e.g. this one ("'We may be seeing in China the first true fascist society on the model of Nazi Germany, where you have this incredible resource base in a commercial economy with strong nationalism, which the military was able to reach into and ramp up incredible production,' a senior defense official said") and this one ("Beijing devoted to weakening 'enemy' U.S., defector says").

Btw, it's suspicious that China's new military might dates from the mid-to-late 1990s -- just the time when China-connected Indonesian donors to the Clinton campaign were getting their agents into sensitive executive-branch positions in international commerce. Can anyone still say "Mochtar Riady" or "John Huang"? (A few years ago I co-ghost-wrote a book about this.)

Supreme Court Ten Commandments decisions: an O'Connoresque split. Texas state capital grounds, OK, but Kentucky courthouse, n'uh uh, violates the Establishment Clause. The are depths of confusion only the U.S. Supreme Court can lead us to. More here, here, and here.

Btw, no Rehnquist resignation, or anyone else, yet. Well duh -- even Republicans eventually learn something about confirmation politics, like maybe, don't announce a vacancy in June and give the Left the entire summer to go all Neas on the new nominee's butt. (Of course the President could delay a nomination until Labor Day even if a Justice resigns in June, but Republicans like Rehnquist or O'Connor should prefer to spare Mr. Bush the resulting pressure.)

Saturday, June 25, 2005
The Pentagon is trying to know as much about individual college students and older high-school students as marketing and credit agencies already do, so it can send them snail-mail or e-mail to invite them just to consider serving their country the way lots of people better then them have already done -- and everyone's having a hissy fit about it! Sheesh!

One of the reasons the government is going to be able to take all our houses is that self-described "privacy advocates" are more concerned that the mailboxes in front of those still standing may contain a brochure from DOD!

Friday, June 24, 2005
Utterly amazing WSJ interview with Oriana Fallaci, who is up on criminal charges in Italy for offending Islam -- you read that right: the technical charge is "vilifying a religion acknowledged by the state" -- in this book and this one (Add To Shopping Cart). Excerpts from the interview:
....The complainant, one Adel Smith--who, despite his name, is Muslim, and an incendiary public provocateur to boot--has a history of anti-Fallaci crankiness, and is widely believed to be behind the publication of a pamphlet, "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," which exhorts Muslims to "eliminate" her. (Ironically, Mr. Smith, too, faces the peculiar charge of vilipendio against religion--Roman Catholicism in his case--after he described the Catholic Church as "a criminal organization" on television. Two years ago, he made news in Italy by filing suit for the removal of crucifixes from the walls of all public-school classrooms, and also, allegedly, for flinging a crucifix out of the window of a hospital room where his mother was being treated. "My mother will not die in a room where there is a crucifix," he said, according to hospital officials.

Ms. Fallaci speaks in a passionate growl: "Europe is no longer Europe, it is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty...."

"I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger." I had asked Ms. Fallaci whether there was any contemporary leader she admired, and Pope Benedict XVI was evidently a man in whom she reposed some trust. "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion."

A spoof site, I'm pretty sure: Society of St. Pius I -- "To be any more Trad, you'd have to be Jewish!" -- "We're not approved...and we don't want to be!" "Don’t be fooled by PHONY “Vulgate” neotraditionalists, who claim to protect tradition, and yet still defend the RADICAL and totally UNCATHOLIC reforms of the 4th century A.D....."

Hopefully this will become a periodically updated site, like a certain other fine spoof site that it reminds me of.

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Kelo decision

Do you like your house? Don't get too attached to it, because if your local government decides that it would be economically beneficial to tear it down for a new mall or office building, they can now do that. They have to pay you "just compensation," but you are without recourse against this forced sale, unless and until the Supreme Court overrules the decision it handed down this morning.

The Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause allows government to take private property, but subject to two limitations: the taking has to be for a "public use," and the owner has to be justly compensated.

A 1984 decision called Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff made it sound as though a "public use" was any use that government said was public. But it turns out there was still another step to take: in Midkiff, at least, the government could plausibly argue that its "public use" was to break up a land oligopoly that existed at that time in Hawaii, and that therefore the seizure of title by the state (with compensation to those from whom it was seized) effected, in itself, the desired public purpose, regardless of whom the title was transferred to. In Kelo, no such allegation is possible. It's just two ladies who don't want to move out of their homes. Their homes are in no way a "nuisance," and the government doesn't claim otherwise. Nevertheless, the Court today held that "economic development" satisfies the "public use" requirement.

Justice O'Connor wrote a strong dissent (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas), making the above-mentioned distinction between Midkiff and the present case. Justice Thomas, also dissenting, went further, and argued that "public use" means -- fancy that! -- use by the public. Ergo, even Midkiff was a departure from original meaning.

In Kelo, the city of New London, CT, is taking property so that a private company, Pfizer, can build a research facility there. Needless to say, the facility will be open only to Pfizer employees and their guests, subject to whatever tours Pfizer may opt to offer to the public. But jobs will come to the area, see, and for the Supreme Court, that's all the "public use" a government needs in order to subject these ladies to forced sales of their homes. Or you or me, if demolishing our homes to build a Walmart or a Toyota plant would bring "much-needed jobs" to our "communities."

Another point made by Justice Thomas: if "economic development" is a "public use," then low-cost housing will always be a tempting target for city planners and state business promoters -- so, guess whose houses will usually be the first to face the combination of a check and a wrecking ball.

This decision ought to build cross-coalitions. Liberals who like urban planning, and conservatives who like whatever big business likes, should be pleased. Progressives who like the little guy, and conservatives who like (a) the original meaning of the Constitution and (b) property rights, should be together in mourning. CNNMoney gets it, noting here:
The Supreme Court may have just delivered an early Christmas gift to the nation's biggest retailers by its ruling Thursday allowing governments to take private land for business development.

Is this what the Dhimmicrats are going to use to counterattack on behalf of Turban Durbin? Rove was attacking Democrats -- that's part of his job. If Durbin had merely attacked Republicans, that would have been (is) part of his job too. But he attacked U.S. servicemen.

Lida, of Veritas. Quid est veritas?, reports on Sunday Mass in Berkeley.

House Republican Conference leader confronts the Dhimmicrats:
Dems Allegedly 'Conducting Guerrilla Warfare on Troops'

( - Congressional Democrats are engaged in a "growing pattern" of demoralizing American troops, according to House Republican leaders who Wednesday showed no willingness to let the controversial comments of Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin die.

"While our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line each day to defend our safety and to protect our freedoms, I am sure the least they expect is the backing and the support of their leaders at home," said Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Oil your bases are belong to us?
China oil company bids $18.5B for Unocal

JUN. 23 10:31 A.M. ET China's third-largest oil producer made an unsolicited $18.5 billion (euro15.3 billion) bid Thursday for U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., marking the communist nation's most ambitious attempt yet to acquire a Western corporation and setting up a possible showdown with American politicians over national security issues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Washinton Times: Pope Set to Return to Traditional Liturgy

Pope Benedict XVI wants to restore the traditional ceremonial Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, with Latin instead of the vernacular and Gregorian chants....

Out will go the "international" Masses so dear to Pope John Paul II's heart, with such innovations as Latin American and African rhythms and even dancing, multi-lingual readings and children in national costumes bringing gifts to the altar.

Pope Benedict wants to return to the Sistine Chapel choirs singing Gregorian chant and the church music of such composers as Claudio Monteverdi from the 17th century. He also wants to revive the Latin Mass.

Turban Durbin should resign his leadership post (and Democrats should take the lead in demanding that he do so, as Republicans did with Lott, though of course they won't). Bill Kristol's editorial here.

Monday, June 20, 2005
"I, considering how honour would become such a person, that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man."

-- Volumnia (Coriolanus, I iii), unmedicated -- and strangely compelling

Sunday, June 19, 2005
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: rosary repair

There. I just glued Our Lord to the Cross.

NUMBER ONE SON: I hate these modern translations.

Conversation chez Cacciaguida: Just flew in from 29 Palms and boy are my arms tired

There's a curfew down at the beach, isn't there?

JONATHAN LEE: Yes. You have to be back in your suit by eleven.


Saturday, June 18, 2005
This Monday my son is going to Camp Lejeune, and thence to Iraq.

The full reasons I am proud and honored by this must be confined to the oral tradition, except insofar as they may be inferred from other posts on this blog, like this one. (Oh, look at that, I've got an entire section called "Crusaders' Corner" near the top of my blogroll. Not too subtle.)

Apart from that, how I feel is conditioned by my being part of the generation that had supposedly graduated from adversity altogether, thanks to Progress.

My father grew up in a Brooklyn apartment during the Depression, with the looming possibility of destitution such as we see in Cinderella Man (wonderful movie, btw!). The apartment was nicely sized for a family of up to six, I'd say, but it grew rather cramped when unknown relatives kept showing up and asking to "stay for a while."

But that was part of life. The hospitality of the Wodehousian country house is a lovely thing, but so, in its way, is the hospitality of the Depression-era apartment, where instead of being assigned your own room, you're welcome (assuming you're family) to occupy one of the remaining corners, and a heck of a lot better than the outdoors it is, too.

Then came World War II, and that was part of life too. Our parents weren't "the greatest generation" -- we're the worst. That "greatest generation" stuff is sheer Yuppie self-serving: we call our parents "great" to imply that we're normal, when in fact they were normal and we're a bunch of self-absorbed cowardly gits.

Our gitdom was confirmed by Vietnam. This is not a "pro-Vietnam-War" view: if I eventually adopt (as I very well might) the view that Kennedy, McNamara and Johnson were wrongheaded and irresponsible almost to the point of criminality, I would thereby be in agreement with General Douglas MacArthur, who is not ordinarily considered a peacenik pinko.

No, the merits of our Vietnam strategy are not the point here. The point is that by the mid-1960s, we were so used to our peaceful bourgeois lives that we no longer understood what mankind has understood for millennia -- that war and death are part of life. We viewed them instead as things that could be wiped out just like polio, cured as though with antibiotics, and not allowed back into our neighborhoods.

I guess that's why, when I turned 13 in 1971, I began to hear the term "conscientious objector" a lot, as though it were a role I was being coached for, like "college student." I didn't know why: I certainly was not opposed to all wars (a requirement for c.o. status, btw), and any tactical disagreements I had with U.S. policy in Southeast Asia hardly amounted to conscientious objection. The war was morally undergirded by anti-Communism, and I trust no one need any longer feel apologetic about that. Conscientiously believing that the VC should be run out on a rail and that North Vietnam should be confined to North Vietnam, while thinking that our tactics were either too aggressive or not aggressive enough, is not exactly what your local draft board thought of as "conscientious objection."

Well, the c.o. nonsense got mooted out -- doubly mooted out, in fact. First, Nixon ended the draft, thereby achieving with one stroke what hordes of riot police had been unable to do, namely, ending the organized "peace movement." Then the war ended, if you could call it a war by that point, and if you can call it an end. That horrible scene -- crowds of poor Saigonese scrambling onto a rope ladder hanging from the last helicopter to escape the closing-in of Vietnamese Communism -- was played out just after my 17th birthday.

Know what that meant? The system worked (for me, I mean -- not for the people of South Vietnam): I reached the age of 18 and there was no war and no draft. It was as though my age-cohort eally had been vaccinated against adversity. Except of course we hadn't been, because no one is or ever will be.

If the princes of the Church simply must go on calling for permanent and universal peace, and never again call a war just, let alone call for a just war, as my Dantean alter ego would have her do, then I pray they will at least take cognizance of how easily this aspiration spills over into neo-gnostic fantasizing. Permanent and universal peace should be prayed for, temporary and local peace can and must be achieved, but only the dead have seen the end of war.

Who first said that? MacArthur used it in one of his speeches, and attributed it to Plato, but no Plato scholar has been able to locate it. So it's an orphaned quote, as though no one wants to be caught originating it. I'd claim it, if I could. Only the dead have seen the end of war.

As college graduation approached, I thought of doing a stint in the Navy -- as an officer, of course -- because my father had; because my sense of military duty, though sickly, was not dead; because I love uniforms (officer uniforms, anyway: as for sailor uniforms -- I'll bet the Manolo he say that they are the reason why the sailor he often cannot get the service in the respectable restaurant); and because I have a love of all things military that coexists very awkwardly with my incapacity for "the strenuous life." I did think about joining the Navy. I may even have had a chat or two with a recruiter; did I, or is my memory playing tricks on me? More likely the latter.

And now the ancient foe is before us again, the one of almost fourteen hundred years, the one beside which Communism was a sideshow. History hasn't ended -- it hasn't even slowed down -- and only the dead have seen the end of war.

Meanwhile, the family that I raised in fact (instead of the one that I might have raised if I had gone the Navy route, if I had raised one at all under that scenario) is mostly though not entirely grown up, and one of my sons has freely chosen to be among the most elite warriors against the ancient enemy. I know the reasons I should be sad or frightened or both, but I don't recognize them; I don't grant them legitimacy.

There is not, in fact, a right to see all one's children live into comfortable middle age. There is not, in fact, a right to claim mere observer status in the clash of civilizations. If you can get away with either or both, congratulations -- but it's not a right, and I do not claim it. Instead, I am at last doing my duty.

Despite my generation's habits, I will not -- not -- allow this post to finish on a "me" note. It's about Jonathan Lee. God's Marine be he, and I will pray, first and foremost, that he will keep to his confession schedule and then do his duty well; secondarily, that any bags that reach us from Iraq will contain an elephant or a symphony orchestra (see Jonathan Lee's post of June 15, 2005, at Morristown), and that Jonnie will come marching home again in seven or eight on nine months, as per schedule.

KARABILA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces launched their second major offensive in western Iraq in as many days on Saturday, ratcheting up the hunt for rebels and weapons in the Euphrates river valley that stretches to the Syrian border.

Around 1,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers, with the support of Iraqi troops, began Operation Dagger in a hostile, deserted area 75 km (50 miles) northwest of Baghdad early on Saturday, the military said, backed by U.S. fighter jets and helicopters.

"Dagger is focused on locating hidden weapons caches and denying insurgents sanctuary in the area," U.S. Marine Captain Jeff Pool said in a statement detailing the operation....

Pool said on Saturday around 50 insurgents had been killed and dozens more rounded up. Doctors in the town of Qaim said they had received 20 bodies and many more wounded.

Colonel Steve Davis, the commander of the operation, said three of those killed were Saudis. He said three U.S. troops were lightly wounded, and three Iraqi civilians were hurt in a gunbattle after insurgents held them hostage.

"We're successful. I haven't lost anybody. I've killed 30 knuckleheads. We are continuing to go after our objectives," he told reporters with the troops in the area.

He said troops had also seized a school where lessons on one chalkboard taught insurgents how to make car bombs....
Marines rescue tortured hostages as battle rages

KARABILA, Iraq (CNN) -- The joint U.S.-Iraqi Operation Spear continued Saturday as Marines, sailors and Iraqi security forces fought insurgents in Karabila, near the Syrian border. The most intense fighting was concentrated in the center of town, where enemy fighters were holed up in a bunker complex.

Marines also found four people who appeared to have been taken captive and beaten....

[CNN correspondent Jane] ARRAF: What I see in front of me is absolutely heartbreaking. It's two of four hostages who are being taken away, rescued. They were rescued this morning. They're Iraqi, and they were found in this complex that Marines first thought was a car-bomb factory. In fact, they did find what they believe was a potential car bomb or suicide car bomb.

But inside this complex, they found something even more sinister -- four Iraqis who were handcuffed, their hands and feet bound with steel cuffs. They're now being taken away for medical treatment, one being borne away on a stretcher.

The man in intense pain that they're trying to get into a vehicle, has been tortured, he says, and has all the marks of being tortured with electricity. His back is crisscrossed with welts. The other man is even in worse shape. Their crime was to be part of the border police....

Friday, June 17, 2005
The covenant of sanctuary, the covenant of surrender, the covenant of mercy, what these have to do with the status of illegal combatant, and what the breach of these covenants may have to do with legitimate expectations of treatment once the breachers are imprisoned: a very important essay by Proteus of Eject! Eject! Eject! Excerpts:
By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.

And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable....

Our soldiers are civilized, compassionate and decent citizens doing a tough, horrible job. That means when they see someone who might be a civilian, they hesitate. That hesitation can and has killed them. And some people wonder why enemy soldiers without the honor and courage to wear a uniform are treated less than honorably after being captured by men full of courage and restraint.

....The idea that certain death may be avoided, that one might be willing to simply give up fighting and still survive, is mercy of the deepest blue. Surrendering enemy soldiers are often greeted with a warmth and understanding that friendly civilians do not receive, for they have shared in the misery and hardship of war in ways that we comfortable and safe civilians can never know.

Surrender, in war, is perhaps the ultimate of Sanctuaries. It is a way out when hope and rescue have fled the field. Honorable surrender has never been treated with shame by any American unit I have ever heard of.

And so, when groups of un-uniformed enemy soldiers waving white flags suddenly drop and open fire on unsuspecting, generous and honorable Americans, then the masters of these men have made a terrible bargain. They have destroyed the Sanctuary of Surrender, and eliminated for their own men a deep and abiding refuge in the nightmare of the battlefield....

Throughout the insurgency, and especially in places like Fallujah, enemy fighters with real or feigned wounds have called for aid. Not often does a soldier who has been in combat look down upon the wounded of either side without horror and sympathy. In places like Fallujah and Iwo Jima and Antietam it is an easy thing to see one’s own reflection in that grimace and that agony.

So when a soldier out of uniform, who may have faked surrender to kill unsuspecting Americans, calls for aid and then willfully kills medics with a concealed grenade -- where does that leave us? What unplumbed depths remain? When mercy is used as a weapon against the merciful, what horrors and abominations remain unplayed?
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Carlo Maria Giulini, 1914-2005

This great conductor was at home in all repertory. I remember NYCO maestro Julius Rudel being bowled over by a performance of the highly mystical Bruckner 8th by Giulini and the New York Philharmonic.

Early in his career, Giulini made complete recordings of Mozart's MARRIAGE OF FIGARO and DON GIOVANNI that still have "reference" status and sell well while later rivals fade. (In the case of DON GIOVANNI, he was a replacement for Otto Klemperer!)

Giulini often guest-conducted the Chicago Symphony, arguably America's greatest orchestra. Here is a Chicago-based obit.

Maestro Giulini was also said to be a serious Catholic. R.i.p., and start printing those prayer cards and collecting his writings.

The Culture of Life Foundation has e-mailed this statement about the Terri Schiavo autopsy:
"The medical examiner of Pinellas County has determined from his autopsy of Terri Schiavo that her condition would never have improved. His conclusion certainly is in dispute, but is beside the central question. The central question then and now is what do we owe our sister?

Terri was severely brain-damaged. All she needed to continue living was food and water. Some, including those she trusted, concluded that these basic life-sustaining necessities should be taken from her.

We should remember that it took Terri two long weeks to die of THIRST. We would not do this to a dog. We owed our sister more than this. We owed Terri much than this. In Terri's case, we abdicated our moral responsibility."


For further comment
or to schedule an interview,
contact Mark Adams, 202-289-2500


Take your mind off matters Marine a moment. I went to The Daily Demarche, seeking, as ever, an update on global security, and I thereby made an interesting blog discovery: Manolo for the Men. In gloriously self-absorbed Mediterranean syntax, "Manolo" expresses sound views. E.g., why he started the "for the men" blog:
Manolo says, many of the Manolo's internet friends they have been asking the Manolo, "Manolo why do you not give the advice of the fashion for the mens?"

It is no secret that the Manolo he is obsessed with the shoes for the women, and so at the first the Manolo he was not in the favor of the idea. After the all, the Manolo his fashion tastes for the men they are restrained and classical, not peacocky and flamboyant like those of the mens who are obsessed with the GQ.

Yet the friends of the Manolo they persisted, "Manolo help us return dignity to the standards of male fashion," they cried. And so the Manolo he has relented and will give the advice for the men.
He is pleased by
the much welcomed return of the tailored suit. (The Manolo he had almost given up the hope.)
Shorts, you say?
Manolo says, unless you live in the Bermuda, or are the male stripper, the shorts at the place of the work they are unacceptable.
Things were simpler in the 12th century -- which is one of my beefs about the 14th, as you'll be reminded if you re-read Paradiso XVI, the second of the three cantos in which I appear.

Today, I'm one of those who favor J. Press because Brooks Brothers is a bit too edgy. (I exaggerate, of course: I actually love Brooks Brothers shirts, both button-down and polo.) "Manolo" seems to share my prejudices.

Finally, and as the Manolo might put it, is the Manolo the man who has the objecively disordered desire for the other man? The Cacciaguida is not thinking so, because the Manolo he make fun of the Queer Eye guy here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Papa Ratzi Post headlines: Orthodox Bishop Sees Benedict as Improving Ties, and Pope Vows to Improve Jewish Ties.

I welcome his interest in our brothers' neckwear. Jews are always hesitating between the red one and the blue one ("Vuz dmatta, ya don' like da blue one?!"), and as for the Orthodox, many of them are still wearing ex-Soviet stuff; polyester, most of it. A return to reppe stripes, red foulards, and dark ancient madders is essential to the reevangelization of Europe as I see it.

Iraq: rivers and "ratlines"

Mackubin T. Owens, associate dean of academics and professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and a Marine infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, has just come out with a column on Iraq strategy called "Rolling on the Rivers." (Many thanks to the Ashbrook Center.) Excerpts:
[T]he central goal of the U.S. strategy in Iraq is to destroy the insurgency by depriving it of its base in the Sunni Triangle and its "ratlines" — the infiltration routes that run from the Syrian border into the heart of Iraq

One ratline follows the Euphrates River corridor — running from Syria to Husayba on the Syrian border and then through Qaim, Rawa, Haditha, Asad, Hit and Fallujah to Baghdad. The other follows the course of the Tigris — from the north through Mosul-Tel Afar to Tikrit and on to Baghdad. These two "river corridors" constitute the main spatial elements of a campaign to implement U.S. strategy....

[After Fallujah] came the rivers campaign — to destroy the insurgent infrastructure west and northwest of Fallujah, and so shut down those "ratlines" — which continues apace. May saw four operations within that campaign:

The first, Operation Matador, was a week-long Marine action centered on Qaim, near the Syrian border. Matador sought to kill and capture followers of Zarqawi known to be located there and to interdict the smuggling routes they used to move downriver to Baghdad. Some 125 insurgents died in the fighting.

Next came Operation New Market, another Marine operation, in the Haditha area southeast of Qaim. Here, a major highway from Syria crosses the Euphrates and then branches north toward Mosul and southeast toward Fallujah and Baghdad. While the insurgents did not stand and fight as they had in Qaim, the operation still netted substantial intelligence.

The third was a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in the Mosul-Tel Afar region that contains the Tigris River ratline....

[T]he ongoing river campaign indicates that America has chosen to go on the offensive, taking advantage of the success in Fallujah to deny the insurgents respite. The high operational tempo is intended to rapidly degrade the rebels’ lines of communication at both ends of the two river corridors, while killing and capturing as many of the enemy as possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
[Aussie accent] "So, this 'roo goes into a bar, see, and...."

I've been trying for quite a while to remember the rest of that joke, though not very hard, because it's kind of funny just like that.

However, I have now found it, in this collection of "...walks into a bar" jokes. It goes:
A kangaroo walks into a bar and orders a martini. The bartender
figures that a kangaroo probably isn't very economically aware, and
charges him $50. The marsupial orders a beer next time, and is charged
$60. Finally, the bartender's curiosity gets the better of him. He
casually remarks, "You know, we don't get too many kangaroos in here."
The kangaroo replies, "At these prices, no wonder."
OK, but of course it shouldn't be "A kangaroo," it should be "This 'roo...." Just as it's always "This guy...", never "A man...."

Besides "...goes into a bar" jokes, there is also a classic canon of "...goes into a psychiatrist's office" jokes. There was a time when I could josh one of my sons out of a bad mood just by saying "So, this guy goes into a psychiatrist's office." As he got older, however, he started refusing to be cheered up unless I told a complete joke.

Monday, June 13, 2005
The more I look at the Marine small unit riverine craft depicted here, the more it looks to me like a gondola in cammies. It's that gun-turret at one end, I suppose.

So -- it's a Gondola Marinara! But, to reconfigure a gondola as a small unit riverine craft, an "in-out" list is required:

OUT: Straw boater with red bandana
IN: Helmet

OUT: O Sole Mio
IN: Nessun Dorma

OUT: Foofy white blouse
IN: Desert cammies with flak jacket

OUT: Oar
IN: M16

OUT: Grand canal
IN: Guadalcanal

OUT: D'Annunzio watching you
IN: Da colonel watching you


OUT: The Lido
IN: Your leader

OUT: Council of Ten
IN: Crew of six

OUT: The Corombona Palace lit up for a ball
IN: Your pals lit up whenever they get 72

OUT: "horrid Italian bears"
IN: "L.T."

Just got back from a retreat. In the oratory at the retreat center, there is a painting behind the Tabernacle, showing the Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple. It's not a perfect painting: the Infant's halo looks bolted on (Mary and Joseph, having mere circular haloes, look much more comfortable), and the prophetess Anna look regrettably like the Emperor in Star Wars, an illusion not abated by her robe, which, though blue and not black, is basically Sith-style.

However, on the whole, it's a strikingly good painting for its purpose. Its job is to frame the Tabernacle: Mary, Joseph, the High Priest, and even the Infant are all looking at it. (For the Infant, it's as though He is foreseeing His future Eucharistic presence among His people. Or would be, if His halo weren't bolted on.) The background locates us in one of the middle courtyards of the Temple, but, as far as we can tell, the central gates "behind" the Tabernacle are open.

Thus, the Tabernacle is both within the Temple and radiating outwards through the open gate and into the "the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem." Not a bad visual summary of the spirituality of the folks whose retreat center it is.

You should do a retreat. Contact me about it if you like.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Debra Burlingame, member of the board of directors of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, pilot of American Airlines fight 77, which was crashed at the Pentagon on 9/11, writing in the WSJ:
On Memorial Day weekend, three Marines from the 24th Expeditionary Unit who had been wounded in Iraq were joined by 300 other service members for a wreath-laying ceremony at the empty pit of Ground Zero....

The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom"--but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines....

Stars and Stripes: Texas Guard unit finds new assignment is smooth sailing Guardsmen test waters of Tigris River on coveted boat patrol

From the article:
The suspicion is that insurgents sometimes use the Tigris River and its tributaries to launch mortars or smuggle weapons and ammunition.

River patrols by coalition forces in Iraq aren’t something new. They’re done in and around the port at Umm Qasr and along the Euphrates River by a Marine small-craft company, among others.
OK, now for some "Second to none" vs. "None":

Army patrol boat

Marine small unit riverine craft

The Cranky Professor's got the number on campus book stores. These institutions are now fifth wheels, and it's time their snooty staffers found out that they are basically charity cases. A university needs one the way it needs gaslight hookups and carriage hitching posts.

Recently I "apologized" to our bookstore for being three months late with my fall "textbook adoption form" -- and added that, golly gosh, the students might have to get the books from or the like. (They do anyway.) The store said, oh, no, that's perfectly all right, Prof. C....

Houston Chronicle says: Speculators eye Cornyn for Supreme Court post From the story:
The short list often includes Michael McConnell, a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; J. Michael Luttig, a Texan on the Richmond, Va.-based 4th Circuit; John Roberts Jr. of the District of Columbia circuit; and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, another former Texas justice.

Among those thought to be in a second tier of possible candidates are Republican Cornyn; Larry Thompson, who served as deputy to former Attorney General John Ashcroft; Ted Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general; Emilio Miller Garza and Edith Jones, judges on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit; Samuel Alito Jr., a judge on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit; and U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa of Texas.
I don't really know about Cornyn. He's been high-profile on the judicial nominations issue, but a Texas conservative legal source whom I trust has no use for him.

The home runs in the above lists, imo, are: Luttig, Garza, Jones, and Alito.

Regina Doman, an Ignatius Press author of teen books, gave an interview last year touching on several young-adult-lit subjects:
The first book is a negligible achievement, the second admittedly clever, but in the third book I found things I wasn't expecting to read in the most popular blockbuster in children's literature in today's crass culture, namely that: a son needs a father. A young boy needs a father, needs him badly, and needs to search for him. I wasn't expecting that Harry Potter, of all people, was going to affirm fatherhood and -- dare I say? -- masculinity. And so I think I understand why kids are devouring these books - especially kids from divorced and fatherless homes. J.K. Rowling is tapping into those questions they desperately need answered.

And as I said, we don't yet have her final answers. So I am deferring judgment. But I will say that in terms of plot, I've yet to meet a young adult writer of her caliber. A badly needed standard of quality. All Judy Blume could do was break taboos. This woman can tell a story.

And it's a shame that J.K. Rowling essentially wrote these books with gross ignorance of the culture wars in this society. We don't live in a vaccuum, and the fact that others have and will use these books to promote witchcraft and the occult is troubling and problematic. It just goes to show that even great artists (yes, I will call Rowling great) can't afford to be ignorant, or the good they can do will be seriously compromised.

Too long of an answer, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
"Calypso Gitmo"

With the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo being in the news more or less steadily for the past three years, strange that it only now occurs to me to mention that my father was stationed there during the Korean War. As an aspiring stand-up comic who joined the Navy rather than be drafted into the Army, and then fell in love with the Navy, he and his colleagues wrote and performed a number of Calypso-style songs about the base. One of them had this refrain:

Where da wind blow da coral right into yoo face
And da likka is available by da case,
It's de only place in da whole damn fleet
Where inspections are held to a mambo beat!

Monday, June 06, 2005
The Holy Father, speaking to an assembly of families at St. John Lateran last Sunday: "Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man."

The two plaintiffs in the medical marijuana case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday say they will defy the ruling and continue to smoke pot, even at the risk of arrest by federal authorities.
Well, go for it, dudes -- but it's not the Supreme Court you're defying, it's federal law as such.

Now, if a pro-life state were to pass a total ban on abortion and then defy the injunctions that would follow -- now that would be defying the Supreme Court. Dont' call things "defying the Supreme Court" when they aren't. Save it for the real thing.

Not such a good day: the old minivan needed work, plus, the Supreme Court abandoned its recent revival of federalism -- with Justice Scalia concurring. For the correct view, see the two dissents, one by Justice Thomas and one by -- gulp -- Justice O'Connor. More here and here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005
Marines Find 'Insurgent Lair'
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Associated Press

LATIFIYAH, Iraq — Hundreds of Iraqi and U.S. troops searched fields and farms Saturday for insurgents and their hideouts in an area south of Baghdad known for attacks, and the Marines said they discovered 50 weapons and ammunition caches and a huge underground bunker west of the capital fitted out with air conditioning, a kitchen and showers.
OK, time to play... NAME THAT BUNKER!

Helliday Inn
Motel Sick
Dead Goof


Thursday, June 02, 2005
I have of course blogged this before, as it is one of the signature quotes of this blog, but I have never yet quoted it in the splendid Anthony Esolen translation:

I followed the emperor Conrad to the East
and won such favor by my valorous deeds
he raised me to the knighthood. In his host

I struck in war against that twisted creed
whose people filch your just and proper place,
shame to your shepherds, for they do not lead.

And in the East by that most filthy race
I was unfettered from the world that lies,
the love of which defiles so many souls.

From martyrdom I came unto this peace.

-- Paradiso XV 139-148

My son PFC "Jonathan Lee Morris," USMCR, reports:
This just in: In my Batallions collective game of duck duck goose, I've been chosen for the Riverine Assault security mission in Iraq.
Emphasis added. Light blogging possible while we digest this. JL, of course, hasn't felt this bumpsy-daisy since graduation day at boot camp!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005
What's on the telly -- in Saudi Arabia?