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, July 27, 2006
Here it is, as I promised....

Judeo-Crusaders: Deus Ge Valt!

The primary reason I support Israel, both in its present war against the Iranian mullahs' Marine-bombing agents calling themselves Hezbollah, and more generally, is this:

Israel is the world's only functioning Crusader state.

Let me clarify right off the bat that I am not a "Christian Zionist." The quintessentially Protestant movement that goes by that name attributes to the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 a far greater weight in salvation history than it can possibly carry. Specifically, and most outrageously, it advocates the rebuilding of the Temple and the resumption of Old Testament sacrifice there, as a prelude to the Second Coming.

They can advocate this because, as Protestants, they do not believe that lawful sacrifice to God has taken place since the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. As Catholics we know, of course, that lawful sacrifice -- more precisely, the divinely ordained re-presenting of Christ's one sacrifice (Hebrews, chs. 9-10) -- takes place every day on every Catholic altar. The Temple was destroyed, not because sacrifice had been done away with, but because the true sacrifice had arrived.

There will be no new Temple. Julian the Apostate tried to build one, understanding correctly that, if successful, this would destroy the credibility of Christianity. The attempt was blocked "by fire and earthquake," notes the Catholic Enclyclopedia, echoing many Christian and pagan sources (though the incident is denied by the Jewish Encyclopedia). There will be no new Temple.

No, I am not a Christian Zionist. If you want a name that I would accept, perhaps we can settle on Catholic neo-Zionist. Or how about "Zionist-Crusader," since that's the name Osama seems determined to give people like me, and why, on this particular issue, should he not be considered an authority?

But, you will ask, how can a Jewish state (one which, let it be admitted, forbids Christian proselytism of Jews -- but compare, e.g., Saudia Arabia, which leaves out the middle-man and just prohibits Christianity) be a Crusader state?

Don't make the same mistake as the ruffians of the "People's Crusade" of 1096. They needed money for their journey, and, adopting the reasoning of Willie Sutton, they went where it was, or where they thought it was, which was the Jews of the Rhineland. They also figured: Muslims, Jews -- they're none of them Christians, so what's the diff? Big mistake, as Pope Urban II pointed out. The First Crusade, which he had called, was not an undifferentiated war against nonbelievers: it was a response to specific call for help from fellow-Christians (albeit schismatic), and, more generally, a long-overdue defensive movement against the violent seizure of much of the ancient Christian heartland by Islam's hordes 400+ years earlier.

That's the essence of Crusading: prying Islam's claws off Christian land. They can have Arabia, even with the oil: nobody wanted in the 630s, and, after another generation of alternative fuel development, nobody will ever want it again. But places where Christians had put down deep roots, including Syria, Palestine, North Africa, and above all, the land where God Himself walked -- n'uh uh, Yoscimitar Sam, yer outta here.

Oh but wait a minute -- Christians are no longer doing anything about the problem. I first called attention to the problem when Dante visited me in the Circle of Mars, and things haven't changed. Sure, Lepanto rocked, but it only stopped them from advancing even further. It's great that they didn't do to all of Europe in the 16th century what they did to Spain in the 8th, but to settle for that is to commit the strategic error of General Meade when, in a communication to Lincoln, he claimed Gettysburg as a definitive victory because he had "driven the enemy from our territory." I take no sides in the Late Unpleasantness when I observe that this probably caused Lincoln to file Meade under "people unclear on the point," and thereafter to take nothing for Grant-ed.

So what did God do? The first counter-advances against Islam in 600+ plus years are scored by -- the Jews! Who'd have thought? What a reversal of stereotypes! Too many Catholics imagined themelves on white chargers with Jews cringing in their counting holes. But God resisteth the proud. What do we have today? Cringing Catholics (don't miss Jody Bottum's column on this) and fighting Jews!

Iran, via Hezbollah, poked its finger in Israel's eye because it thought it could, and it thought it could because the Bush administration's offer to negotiate with it on nukes translated into Islam-inflected Farsi as "We're weak: kick us." So they kicked the West, which, for them, starts just south of the Lebanese border. Is Israel's response "disproportionate" (a word that obviously focus-grouped well for the Islam lobby)? You bet it is: it's not nearly enough to eliminate Hezbollah. Today's fighting Jews are nonetheless sensitive to international opinion -- surprisingly, considering how international opinion hates them -- and seem determined to conduct, so far as possible, the zero-casualty, zero-error war that the media have adopted as the just-war standard. Such is not the just-war standard, and elimination of Hezbollah is necessary for Israel, and desirable for the world. Deus Ge Valt!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: heavy sarcasm

CACCIAGUIDA: Oh joy unbounded, with wealth surrounded, the knell is sounded of grief and woe. The U.S. bishops are putting out their own catechism.

ELINOR: Got to get that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
You Are Fozzie Bear

"Wocka! Wocka!"
You're the life of the party, and you love making people crack up.
If only your routine didn't always bomb!
You may find more groans than laughs, but always keep the jokes coming.

I chose "Bork" for Q.4 -- but only because "Scalia" wasn't one of the choices. I thought that might make me the Swedish Chef, but it didn't.

On another Muppets quiz I was my actual favorite characters, Statler and Waldorf. "People look up to you -- because you're in the balcony."

Nächtiges Dunkel deckte mein Aug',
ihres Blickes Strahl streifte mich da:
Wärme gewann ich und Tag.
Selig schien mir der Sonne Licht;
den Scheitel umgliß mir ihr wonniger Glanz -
bis hinter Bergen sie sank.

Noch einmal, da sie schied,
traf mich abends ihr Schein;
selbst der alten Esche Stamm
erglänzte in goldner Glut:
da bleicht die Blüte, das Licht verlischt;
nächtiges Dunkel deckt mir das Auge:
tief in des Busens Berge glimmt nur noch lichtlose Glut.

-- Wagner, Die Walküre, Act I

Monday, July 24, 2006
Always Our Children, the American bishops' pastoral letter on teh gay (particularly, on advice to parents of "out" kids), gets here what I feel pretty sure is its first good review from someone who recognizes its faults. (It got plenty of them, of course, from those for whom its faults were its virtues.)

For even more perspective, check out the "alternative pastoral letter," Always Our Bishops. A bit rad-traddy in parts, but since rad-trads aren't known for humor, I'm happy to encourage them in it. From the section titled "Accepting your bishop":
There seems to be no single cause of a heterodox orientation. A common opinion of the experts is that there are multiple factors. Perhaps the bishop understands The Faith but has no backbone. Perhaps the bishop is really a Unitarian. Maybe it has something to do with his hormones, or maybe he was once kicked in the head by a horse.

....Without condoning the destructive behavior of bishops or denying personal responsibility, we reject the idea that the imposition of such a bishop on a diocese is always a direct punishment from God. But sometimes it is.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Mets win again! I've been mighty silent about baseball this year, considering that the New York Mets are in first place in their division by 13 games -- 13 and a half, as of a few minutes ago.

It didn't grab my attention that they were in first place in April. They're always in first place in April. But long past the time for a "June swoon," they're still in first place. By thirteen and a half games, did I mention that?

Good pitching today (after a rough first inning) by Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. El Duque. El Duque. Given how long he was a Yankee, including the 2000 World Series against the Mets (who lost) and the 2004 World Series against the Red Sox (who won --- yayyy!), I'm having a hard time getting used to his being a Met. But in a world in which Johnny Damon can be a Yankee, I guess El Duque can be a Met.

Scanning the WSJ's page one news items this morning:
Lebanese residents below the Litani River reported getting telemarketer-type automated phone calls from Israel telling them to flee north.
And so thousands of Lebanese are trudging northward with their new encyclopedias.

Actually what Israel should do is what Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus, did to hold down turnout at opposition rallies just before their last "election" -- get everyone's cellphone number and text-message them a warning. In this case it might be: "Evacu8 to N of Litani. Thx - DaJooz."

Then this, from Detroit, where memories of the American automotive industry live on and the wails of the muezeen summon the faithful to the few remaining gas-guzzler factories:
At one mosque, 200 people applauded a speaker who called Israelis "barbaric" and "not human" and accused Israel of having secret chemical weapons that destroy internal soft tissues of Arabs.
The precision of these crafty Jewish scientists! -- and the insecurity of certain people about their "soft internal tissues"! Seriously, it worries me that people like this vote, as well as bomb.

Friday, July 21, 2006
SSPX reconciliation rumors UUUH-gain? Still plenty of time for Fellay to screw it up.

You may wonder why I haven't commented on Israel v. Hezbollah yet. I will, and I hope to make it worth waiting for.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

FDA: Mixing migraine, depression meds risky (AP)

People taking migraine drugs together with some antidepressants are at risk of a life-threatening condition, health officials warned Wednesday.

Serotonin syndrome can occur when migraine headache drugs called triptans are taken with antidepressants known as selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs and SNRIs. The syndrome occurs when the body has too much of the nervous system chemical serotonin.

Patients taking the drug combination can experience restlessness, hallucinations, loss of coordination, fast heart beat, rapid changes in blood pressure, increased body temperature, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, the FDA said.

So that's why I died! Then it had nothing to do with the flying lizards the Saracens sent against Emperor Conrad's line of march. Goyische kopf!

I am a trad. I like Franquistas. I hate Nazis!

Now that we've marked July 18, let's also mark today, July 20: the anniversary (though not a major one -- 62nd) of the tragically failed but nobly attempted Officers' Plot against Hitler. They got a bomb under the table he was standing at, but he moved and wasn't killed when it went off. The Gestapo rounded up the conspirators and hanged them with piano wire. The executions were filmed, and Hitler watched them frequently.

One interesting fact about the plot is how many conservatives were involved in it; that is, people who rejected communism and socialism, and found Nazism wanting not against the measure of leftism but against the measure of their own traditions. Count Stauffenberg was a socialist, but he was not typical of the group.

Of those associated with the anti-Hitler movement that led to the July 20 plot, my favorite has always been Ulrich von Hassell, who became Germany's ambassador in Rome in 1932, and was kept in that position by Hitler until 1938, when Hassell became disillusioned with the regime. He was executed like the others. This Wikipedia entry is accurate as far as I know, based on my readings about the plot and about Hassell in Shirer and elsewhere. Note:
Von Hassell's main function was to be a liaison between the conservative opposition groups centred about Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Ludwig Beck (von Hassell once ironically called this group "His Majesty's most loyal opposition" – using the English term) and the younger Reich-opponents in the Kreisau Circle.

Ulrich von Hassell

My focus on Hassell has of course nothing to do with the fact that in my high-school orchestra I shared a desk in the second-violin section with his grand-daughter. She looked exactly like him, only without the mustache and with shoulder-length blond hair. What I mean is, she sort of had his face. Only it looked better on her.

And so the memories of great men live on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tony Snow does a pretty good job jamming the jackasses on stem cells:
Q [After a long explanation of the morals and politics of the issue by Snow:] But it often appears in some of the reporting and some of the discussion out there that the President is holding back scientific progress.

MR. SNOW: Wrong.

Q How do you —

MR. SNOW: You're just flat wrong. Just flat wrong. I mean, that is basically an attempt to substitute an insult for an argument. I've given you the argument and I've rebutted the insult.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Seventy years ago today, Spain's generals, with the support of many of her people, rose in revolt against a government stitched together from a variety of Moscow Communists, non-Moscow Communists, Socialists, and left-Anarchists, a government that was systematically ripping out centuries' worth of Catholic infrastructure, preferring to leave students schoolless rather than allow religious to continue to teach, turning a blind eye to escalating church-burnings and killings of priests, monks, and nuns by party-affiliated militias, and moving toward giving Stalin his westernmost outpost and making the still-to-be-named Iron Curtain run to the Atlantic.

The generals' revolt prevented all that -- and now, official Spain is sorry. For 31 years since Franco's death, the Left has been free to chant "Franco Asesino" and the Right has been free to chant "Con Las Mismas Banderas," but now, it seems, we all have to accept the standard liberal historiography. This is called "healing."

Well, heal this:
Pope begins path to a Sainthood declaration for 149 Spanish Martyrs

Vatican City, Jun. 26, 2006 (CNA) - Today in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI opened the cause of Beatification for 149 Spaniards killed during the Spanish Civil War.

Below are the names of the martyrs, who today are called “Servants of God.” The naming of a person “Servant of God” is the first step in the long process of Canonization.

- Servants of God Bonaventura Garcia Paredes, Spanish, professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers (1866-1936), Miguel Leibar Garay, Spanish, professed priest of the Society of Mary (1885-1936), and 40 companions killed in 1936.

- Servants of God Simon Reynes Solivellas (1901-1936), Spanish, and five companions of the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mercy, and Prudenza Canyelles i Ginesta, Spanish, laywoman, all killed in 1936.

- Servants of God Celestino Jose Alonso Villar (1862-1936), Spanish, and nine companions of the Order of Friars Preachers, killed in 1936.

- Servants of God Angelo Maria Prat Hostench (1896-1936) and 16 companions of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, killed in 1936.

- Servants of God Enrique Saiz Aparicio (1889-1936), Spanish, and 62 companions of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, killed in 1936 and 1937.

- Servants of God Mariano de San Jose Altolaguirre y Altolaguirre, ne Santiago (1857-1936), Spanish, and nine companions of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, killed in 1936 and 1937.
And read this. This, this, and this are helpful too.

EDITED TO ADD: Good to see Al-Jazeera is also in high dudgeon against those "right-wing army officers" and "their their revolt that led to war 70 years ago." Many of Franco's well-wishers called his campaign a "crusade," and it's mighty thoughty of Al-Jazeera to take notice. Catch the picture, too: somehow that down jacket lends a modern touch. (Can't be a July 18 photo, though, unless way up in the Pyrenees....)

FURTHER EDITED TO ADD: Cara al sol. Try it at a toasting session near you.

Monday, July 17, 2006
Cacciaguida say, the Cacciaguida he will next month be travelling to the Mongolia. The Manolo, he takes note of the celebration there this month of the "Jinghis" Khan. Cacciaguida say, the Cacciaguida he is glad he will lecture to lawyers and not to wrestlers.

Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Wall Street Journal today laments that the Bush administration is now giving terrorists "lawful-combatant legitimacy."

I must be missing something. I'm sure the WSJ has more knowledgeable advisors on these issues than myself, and I entreat corrections from readers, but, last time I looked into the matter, I found the following to be the case:

* Geneva Common Article 3 has been ratified by the U.S. and has always been recognized by us as binding.

* It says nothing about POW status; rather, it sets a vague legal minimum of humane treatment for all detainees, a minimum that the U.S. has always claimed to observe (and in any event is probably bound to observe due to other law, such at the anti-torture laws).

* The Geneva article that does extend POW status to illegal combatants is the 1977 Additional Protocol, which the U.S. did not ratify, is not bound by, was not mentioned by the Supreme Court in the Hamdan decision, and has not been declared binding by the Bush Administration memos that have so vexed the Journal.

All that said, I'm not sure why the administration has to reverse any "policy" as a result of Hamdan. As I read that decision, all the administration has to do is add one or two due-process features to its existing order on military tribunals, and package the result with a formal presidential finding that these (revised) procedures, to the extent they still fall short of a court-martial, are necessary to fight the war.

So I don't understand why either the administration or the Journal has its wand in such a twist. What am I missing?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
"Natural Law Today"

As many of you as are within travelling distance of D.C., here's a conference you should go to (or should I say, "Be sure to go," or "I need you to go to this") this Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
New tense: the bureaucratic jussive
Create a new password using 6 - 12 characters. Be sure to include at least one letter and one number. Please click on the "Help" icon for more details. (Example:cats9dogs5)

I just filled one of those in. It's not a convenience; it's an additional burden that we have to shoulder to gain the benefits of mass insurance.

As it happens, none of the many passwords I use contain "at least one letter and one number." So the words "Be sure to," though phrased as an afterthought ("be sure to tie your shoes," "be sure to remove plastic casing before operating toaster"), is actually an order to do something very inconvenient (unless, of course, you don't want to pick up those prescriptions that have been waiting a week at the pharmacy b/c you don't have your new insurance card yet).

Other examples might be:

Bataan: "Be sure to march until you die."

Mugging: "Be sure to remove all contents from pocket and transfer physical custody of them to your gunholder."

Lost: "Be sure to remain seated with your seatbelts fastened until you die, land on the island, or the captain turns off the fasten-seatbelt sign."

The other way we disguise aggressive commands is to make them sound like pleas for help, using "I need you to...." As in, "I need you to move your car," "I need you to stand facing the wall with your arms spread out...."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal's review (by North Carolina writer Stuart Ferguson) of a new biography of southern fire-eater W.L. Yancey:
He had an unhappy childhood, uprooted from Georgia by his step-father, a stern Presbyterian minister from New England, who took the family to Troy, N.Y. The Rev. Nathan Beman beat Yancey's mother, sometimes locked her in a closet and once nailed shut her bedroom door. He was also a staunch abolitionist. You don't need Freud or Dr. Phil to spell out one motive fueling Yancey's pro-slavery passion later in life.
He also became an advocate for property rights for women; that's for, son, not in. And he was a brawler:
Later, in Richmond, Yancey and Ben Hill of Georgia had to be separated by their fellow Confederate senators after a bloody scuffle on the floor that involved flying inkstands.
They had flying inkstands in the Confederacy? No wonder it's a mystical wonderland for a certain type of romantic conservative...!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Manolo on Birkenstocks (and on "crunchiness"):
Manolo says, here you see the Birkenstock Boston, perhaps the ugliest, most unstylish shoe ever manufactured. This shoe, it looks like it was put together by the blind medieval monks, for wear by the peasants of the mud.

For some of the reason, unknown to the Manolo, this shoe it has the cachet with the bohemians and the pot-smoking hippies of the crunchiness. Indeed, you would have to be high to wear this.

Like many of the worst of the shoes, it's defenders they trumpet the comfort of this "shoe".

Ha! The Manolo he laughs!

There are many shoes that they are perfectly comfortable without making the wearer look like the dork.

Manolo says, if you insist on wearing these ugly shoes, be certain to wear the wooly socks of grey for the full effect.
P.S. Izzy, the Manolo his assistant for the blog The Manolo for the Men, he recommends this Brooks Brothers summer sweater, currently on sale.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Well, I may have discovered who the "Bloody Baron" is....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Black and right and (some people) worried all over

One of the Social Left's soft underbellies is the social conservatism of a great many African-Americans. Seems Al Sharpton has noticed this too, and he's very concerned about it. In a column at he writes:
We are a country now locked into an unrighteous conflict overseas, a country where racial equality is still far from realized, and a country that continues to allow poverty to run rampant from coast to coast.

Yet, some high-profile black ministers continue to employ an agenda focused solely on sexually-based themes, like denying a women's right to choose an abortion or a gay couple's right to marry, to rally their congregations and drive a wedge through our people.
And it's not only storefront churches, as Rev. Al lets slip in this feat of logic:
This is particularly egregious considering that many of those who preach their limited view of Christianity do so inside so-called "megachurches" throughout the South, and without Dr. King's tireless work and leadership, blacks would never have been allowed to own the property under which these megachurches stand.

Monday, July 03, 2006
First try, too!

You scored as Hermione Granger. Yup, you are an insufferable know it all! However, you do manage to get people out of tight places every time. ps. watch out for mysterious purple hexes!

Hermione Granger


Harry Potter


Ginny Weasley


Neville Longbottom


Ron Weasley


Luna Lovegood


Draco Malfoy


Fred/George Weasley


Who is your Harry Potter Soulmate?
created with

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cardinal Lopez Trujillo envisions the Church hauled into court for its stand on abortion and gay issues.

AlterNet says: "Legal experts say that the chances of the Catholic church facing any legal consequences for its religious teachings are slim to none." Actually, that "slim to none" quote comes from one legal expert, Chai Feldblum, described in The Washington Blade as "a veteran gay rights advocate." The full Feldblum paraphrase, as given in the Blade, is:
Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University's Law Center said the chances of the church being punished for stating its beliefs are slim to none, at least in the United States, though its stances could lead to Roman Catholic organizations losing state funding.
Maggie Gallagher reports more fully here.

Saturday, July 01, 2006
Conversation chez Cacciaguida: why, we rabbits made American history!

(reading Sean Wilentz's new book): 1791. That's when the capital moved from New York to Philadelphia. So it was only in New York for about two years.

ELINOR: They probably couldn't find a parking place.