Paul Smith Jr has a new home for his blog: www.gazizza.net. Click to go there now!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Wisconsin Stolen in 2004 election?
"Remember when no one respectable would criticize anything labeled affirmative action -- it was what politicians call a one-sided issue -- for fear of being labeled a racist? We may be seeing the initial signs of the same metamorphosis regarding voting. Since the disputed 2000 election, increased turnout, especially among minorities, has been deemed so desirable that suggestions that some tools to increase access might also make it easier to vote illegally have been dismissed as politically incorrect... [But] federal prosecutors began investigating [abuses of Wisconsin's liberal same-day registration rules] after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel found 7,000 more ballots tabulated in that city than people counted as voting, and an additional 1,200 votes from invalid addresses. Officially, Kerry carried Wisconsin by only 11,000 votes, and Milwaukee has less than 10 percent of the state's voters. The same rules were in effect statewide, but no other jurisdiction's numbers were reviewed by the news media. It is quite possible President Bush actually won Wisconsin. Had Kerry won Ohio, he would have become president, but not if Bush won Wisconsin" -- Orlando Sentinel Columnist Peter Brown.

Where were all these people when the pope was alive?
The news outlets of American television have spent uncounted hours on the deceased leader of the Catholic Church. It explains why so many of us never quite throw our televisions onto the sidewalk. It is because when moments that matter arrive, they can do this. This is the medium's long-form potential--rarely used out of belief that the viewers' mosquito-sized attention span makes deep treatment of any subject verboten.
But about mid-week, amid the effusion, one sensed something was amiss. he thought finally occurred: Where were you people when he needed you?
In October 1979, when the Pope made his first visit to the United States, John Paul was at the top of his game. He would visit Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and Des Moines. I thought this was the opportunity of the century for the American Catholic Church--that Sunday sermons and school study guides would be built around his American talks, which were indeed a substantial elaboration of the message praised hour after hour this past week.

Not much happened. He came, he went and the American church (with the mainline Protestant denominations) sallied onward to its own earthly obsessions back then, such as throwing the weight of the bishops behind stopping the installation of U.S. Pershing missiles in Europe by papal ally Ronald Reagan.
But ignore what it says about women priests.

Crowds in Rome, yes. But in Poland, too.
Starting in those early days, the stories about this pope have touched on his love for Poland's mountains and his humanism, which grew out of his formative years in Krakow, a cradle of cultural and intellectual life. His sense of humor was especially appreciated in a country longing for relief. During a Polish airlines flight on that first trip home from the Vatican, a stewardess offered the pope a cognac. He declined, pointing mischievously upward: 'Too close to the boss.'

In the months that followed, the mood shifted in a way that even a child could pick up. The clandestine news bulletins from Radio Free Europe spoke about restless workers at a tractor factory near Warsaw, something going on in Gdansk. Poland rumbled and came together, in solidarity and then Solidarity. While 1980 and 1981 were the beginning of the end, it took a long decade for the end to come.

The formal death of communism in Poland was fittingly celebrated at a Mass. On Aug. 20, 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki came up to St. Brygida's Church in Gdansk, a day after becoming Poland's first postcommunist prime minister. St. Brygida's was and is Lech Walesa's church. Between the speeches, people sang the national anthem and raised their hands in a victory sign. The Mass was a political rally, and no one saw any contradiction in that.

Stupid Joke
One of my favorite stupid jokes:

Two Democrats are watching a Republican candidate give a campaign speech. After the Republican says, "Allow me to tax your memories", one of the Democrats turns to the other and says, "Why didn't we think of that?"

CNN.com - Papal funeral: List of dignitaries - Apr 8, 2005
Why was Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of NYC) part of the American delegation?

Georgia Woman Being Starved and Dehydrated
Against her expressed wishes in her living will. This was the obvious next step after Terri Schiavo. Thank you, United States Judiciary.

Papal Funeral
Read The Corner today. Lots of great coverage.

Best of the coverage:
Ratzinger's homily.

A summation.

The consecration.


Youth and Pope John Paul II.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

CNN.com - Pope's ban on contraception caused rift - Apr 5, 2005
It's not the Pope's ban. It's Church teaching since the early church. Reaffirmed by Paul VI in Humane Vitae in 1968. It's not the "Pope's ban" or the "Vatican's ban," it's God's ban.

JIMMY AKIN.ORG: In The Beginning: John Paul II's First Homily
Very interesting reading.

Telegraph | Opinion | Why progressive Westerners never understood John Paul II
By contrast, the Guardian thought Karol Wojtyla was "a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff". That "doctrinaire" at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual - he was dogmatic about his dogma - unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk "liberal Catholics". The assumption is always that there's some middle ground that a less "doctrinaire" pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

The root of the Pope's thinking - that there are eternal truths no one can change even if one wanted to - is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything's in play, and by "consensus" all we're really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion's here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now, in a year or two it'll be something else - it's all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

We live in a present-tense culture where novelty is its own virtue: the Guardian, for example, has already been touting the Nigerian Francis Arinze as "candidate for first black pope". This would be news to Pope St Victor, an African and pontiff from 189 to 199. Among his legacies: the celebration of Easter on a Sunday.

That's not what the Guardian had in mind, of course: it meant "the first black pope since the death of Elvis" - or however far back our societal memory now goes. But, if you hold an office first held by St Peter, you can say "been there, done that" about pretty much everything the Guardian throws your way. John Paul's papacy was founded on what he called - in the title of his encyclical - Veritatis Splendor, and when you seek to find consensus between truth and lies you tarnish that splendour.
John Paul II championed the "splendour of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense.

If his beloved Europe survives in any form, it will one day acknowledge that.
Great article on the failure of the post-modern minds to understand John Paul II.

Link via A Saintly Salmagundi.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
Why, the pope asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the 20th century had become "the land of a particularly responsible witness" to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to understand, humbly but surely, that they were the repository of a special "witness of His cross and His resurrection." He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history.
The crowd responded with thunder.

"We want God!" they shouted, together. "We want God!"

What a moment in modern history: We want God. From the mouths of modern men and women living in a modern atheistic dictatorship.

The pope was speaking on the Vigil of Pentecost, that moment in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came down to Christ's apostles, who had been hiding in fear after his crucifixion, filling them with courage and joy. John Paul picked up this theme. What was the greatest of the works of God? Man. Who redeemed man? Christ. Therefore, he declared, "Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man! Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland." Those who oppose Christ, he said, still live within the Christian context of history.

Christ, the pope declared, was not only the past of Poland--he was "the future . . . our Polish future."

The massed crowd thundered its response. "We want God!" it roared.
Amazing article. Absolute must-read.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Catholic author: Danielle Bean
That was all I needed. Under similar circumstances, a man might try to analyze the situation, figure out what the problem was, and (of all annoying things!) try to solve my feelings.
This is why Danielle Bean is the best writer the National Catholic Register has. She knows how others think and writes from the heart. Plus you've got to love a woman who knows that men instinctively want to solve problems even when women (for some strange reason that men will never understand) don't seem to want them solved.

My current reading

Read about 40 pages last night. It's good so far. Challenges you to not only accept Christ, but to change your lief because of it. Written more for teens, but still interesting.

Amazon.com: DVD: Lost - The Complete First Season (2004)
I pre-ordered it today. Can't wait for it come out. Best non-"Pardon The Interruption" show on TV right now.

The Splendor of Truth
But what gets less attention is the fact that it was the Catholic Church that launched the very notion of a sphere of liberty and morality not bound to the state. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, Fareed Zakaria recounts in The Future of Freedom, the Catholic Church remained as an imperfect conscience for rulers who would define the rules of kings as synonymous with the whims of kings. When Emperor Theodosius slaughtered the Thessalonians, Ambrose, the archbishop of Milan, was so repulsed he refused to give the emperor Holy Communion. The emperor cried, No fair! He argued that David had done worse in the bible, to which Ambrose replied, “You have imitated David in his crime, then imitate him in his repentance!” Off and on for eight months, the most powerful ruler in the entire world mimicked the biblical David, dressing in rags like a beggar in order to plea for forgiveness outside the Ambrose’s cathedral.

Over time, the papacy’s moral authority increased. Pope Leo III may have been forced to anoint Charlemagne as Roman emperor, but by doing so he also cemented the notion that even kings were answerable to a higher authority. When Emperor Henry IV challenged the pope’s power of investiture he ended up, as legend has it, kneeling in the snows at Canossa to beg for forgiveness. It was only in modern times, best symbolized by Napoleon crowning himself emperor of the French, that this external authority was firmly rejected in favor of his own will-to-power. It is no coincidence that Napoleon is widely considered the first modern dictator.

This raises one of the great ironies John Paul pushed onto the consciousness of the world. The Catholic Church was the first real advocate of globalization. Communism was another globalizing force (“Workers of the world unite!” and all that). Even though Stalin’s ghost still mocked that the pope had no divisions, Karol Wojtyla pitted his universal creed — the splendor of truth! — against the crust of Communism’s lies. And, with the aid of other lovers of liberty, this pope won.

"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger." --C. S. Lewis

"We should remember Pope John Paul II not just as the greatest pope of modern times but also as a valiant fighter for the truth. ... By combating the falsehoods of Communism and proclaiming the true dignity of the individual, his was the moral force behind victory in the Cold War. Millions owe him their freedom and self-respect. The whole world is inspired by his example." --Margaret Thatcher

"Many law professors, and others who hold contempt for our Constitution, preach that the Constitution is a living document. Saying that the Constitution is a living document is the same as saying we don't have a Constitution. For rules to mean anything, they must be fixed. How many people would like to play me poker and have the rules be 'living'? Depending on 'evolving standards,' maybe my two pair could beat your flush." --Walter Williams

"I'm proud of every single one of you [in the Minuteman Project]. You are not vigilantes. You are heroes." --Rep. Tom Tancredo

"On the bright side, after two weeks of TV coverage of the Terri Schiavo case, I think we have almost all liberals in America on record saying we can pull the plug on them. Of course, if my only means of entertainment were Air America radio, Barbra Streisand albums and reruns of 'The West Wing,' I too would be asking: 'What kind of quality of life is this?'" --Ann Coulter

"If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others." --Martin Peretz

"As to 'crack-ups,' that's only a neurotic way of saying that these days most of the intellectual debate is within the right. If, like the Democrats, all you've got are lockstep litmus tests on race and abortion and all the rest, what's to crack up over? You just lose elections every two years, but carry on insisting, as Ted Kennedy does, that you're still the majority party. Ted's quite a large majority just by himself these days, but it's still not enough." --Mark Steyn

Jay Leno.... President Bush's approval rating has dropped to 45 percent -- the lowest ever for him. The White House blames it on the fact that Bush hasn't invaded anyone in three years. To give you an idea how low his approval rating is, only three of the nine Supreme Court justices would vote for him. .... In fact it is so low, today he was named an honorary Democrat. .... President Bush says this week he will ask Congress to further loosen immigration laws. Apparently he found out there were still some people left in Mexico.

Variety.com - Inside Move: Fanatics laying it on the line
Saturday, 46 days before 'Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith' opens on May 19, the trilogy's enthusiasts began their vigil outside Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Problem is 20th Century Fox doesn't plan to open the film at the Chinese, opting instead for the ArcLight a few blocks east.

'Star Wars' or no, the diehards are resolute about keeping their line on Hollywood Boulevard.
Link via Drudge.

Geek Trivia: The never-ending pastry
Believe it or not, April 6 is the 75th birthday of perhaps the most popular packaged snack cake ever seen in the face of the Earth—the Twinkie. On this day in 1930, Chicago bakery manager Jimmy Dewar concocted the world's first batch of Twinkies, and junk-food fanatics have been reaping the benefits (and consequences) ever since.
And the trivia question is: "What is the official shelf life of a Hostess Twinkie, and what makes this longevity possible?"

I'm reminded of Apu's shouting at Homer (I think) "Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie!"

www.delawareonline.com - The News Journal - OPINION - Christiana Mall folks and some state officials need sense of humor
I wonder if the News Journal would have a "sense of humor" if I were to stand outside their headquarters urging their employees to drop their liberal bias and do some actual reporting. Somehow I doubt it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rabbi Daniel Lapin on Pope John Paul II on National Review Online
For a quarter century, three ways in which the sanctity of life played the central part in the pope's worldview have inspired me.

The first was his fight against Communism. Indeed, his role in its overthrow was enormous. Why did he hate Communism? Not only because he witnessed its evil but also because it violated his reverence for life. Communism is by definition the doctrine of materialism. If there is any difference at all between matter and spirit, it is that matter is mortal whereas spirit is eternal. Communism's innate mortality springs from its exclusive emphasis on matter. Freedom is a matter of spirit and is eternal. By fighting Communism all his life the pope was making a courageous commitment to freedom's spiritual underpinning -- life.

Another example of this pope's commitment to life was his lifelong opposition to abortion and euthanasia. He fervently believed that in no way was man to jeopardize the sacred gift of life; neither at its beginning nor at its end. Even the creation of life transforms a man and a woman into holy partners of God, thus contraception becomes a grave moral issue.

The third example was his unequivocal opposition to homosexuality, in spite of the many vulgar attacks it earned him. It was clear to all fair-minded people that his opposition to the act of homosexuality never involved hatred for any human being. Instead it expressed his uncompromising love of life.

On these matters and on many more, Pope John Paul II aroused controversy. However his views were never capricious; they were unified by the theme of life. He was utterly consistent in his unwavering defense of the culture of life.
Without Pope John Paul II the culture of death would have made far greater inroads. An airliner remains aloft only because jet engines convert fuel into thrust. In the absence of that energy, gravity alone would doom the airplane. Similarly, in the absence of the spiritual life force such as that which Pope John Paul II injected into the world every day of his life, the gravitational pull of death would surely have spread even more widely. Whatever your faith, that is reason enough for gratitude.

Jose Rijo Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com
I was thinking about Jose Rijo today and went to look at his career stats.

Here's his year-by-year innings pitched in the big leagues with the Reds.

Which year was he overworked and his career ruined, boys and girls? That's right! 1993 when he was given a workload over 20% higher than he'd ever experienced before!

To my surprise, Davey Johnson was responsible for this. Imagine, Lou Pinella, known as a shredder of young arms did better with Rijo than Johnson.

(NOTE: ERA+ is a calculation based off ERA compared to the league average and adjusted for the pitcher-friendliness, or unfriendliness, of the stadiums the pitchers pitched in.)

A potential Hall of Fame career ruined. And he always seemed like a good guy too. Real shame.

CNN.com - Amnesty: Record rise in executions - Apr 5, 2005
The United States, which is one of the last Western nations to impose the death penalty, executed 59 people during the year, placing it fourth on Amnesty's table of executions.
How would the United State rank if we included those nations that simply kill their citizens without a trial, rather those who have a process to determine who's unworthy og living? Why do we rank higher than the murderers of Rwanda, for example?

Jonah Goldberg on Paul Krugman & Higher Education on National Review Online
Goldberg makes the point (by quoting Democrat Pat Moynihan) that the Republicans started becoming the party of ideas in the 1970s, around the same time as liberal dominance of the colleges and universities started becoming entrenched. What's it say about our higher education system that the party of ideas is shut out of the education system?

CNN.com - Pope's heart set for Poland burial - Apr 5, 2005
But a report in the respected Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza quoted senior Vatican sources saying that one of the pope's last wishes had been that his heart should be buried in Krakow.
It only seems right. His heart was always with Poland while he was alive. It makes sense that his heart should be in Poland after his death.

Quinnipiac University | They say toe-may-toe, Quinnipiac University Poll finds; Garden State voters mixed on fruit or vegetable
The tomato is a highly partisan issue in New Jersey. Democrats say it's a vegetable, while Republicans and independent voters believe it's a fruit.
The tomato is, of course, a fruit. Which party is dumber, I ask of those who thought Republicans dumb for re-electing Bush?

Retirement: Workers overconfident
Of course they are. Democrats keep telling them there's nothing wrong with Social Security.

Power to the Papal
Although he has much to account for, it is wrong to say Castro trembles--as a Polish dictator once visibly did--before this pope. But by allowing a papal visit to Cuba in 1998, Castro revealed that even he could not deny the power of the papacy. This is the legacy of John Paul--that moral capital is a lever that can pry up the edges of even the most repressive regimes and plant seeds of hope.
It is important to stop here and consider the source of John Paul's power. It's been widely noted the past few days that Stalin once dismissively asked "how many divisions" the Vatican had. But the pope's divisions are composed of people of all nationalities who are willing to stand up and demand better for humanity. The pope has something more potent than any military force. His divisions are the very people tyrants continue to oppress and the millions in the free world who aren't willing to stand idly by.
This triumph of morality and hope over fear and despotism has never been fully understood by the post-Vietnam American left. That's why we still hear theories that Mikhail Gorbachev was the one who brought the Soviet Union in for a soft landing--as if pressure from within and from the free world didn't force that landing upon him. This misunderstanding has also now found new life in opposition to George W. Bush's push for democracy in the Muslim world. It is true that John Paul despised war and wasn't willing to lend his moral capital to the effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein by force. It is also true, however, that the pope recognized the moral good in freedom over tyranny. He never tired of chiding world leaders of all stripes and of all faiths to respect the basic human rights of their people.

On the Passion of Teresa Marie Schiavo
Terri Schiavo is not simply being killed, she is being mocked. Just as Jesus was challenged to come down from the Cross if He were truly the Messiah, so too was Terri challenged - by talk show hosts, newscasters, neurologists, politicians, attorneys and judges - to prove herself to be a human if indeed she were human and not a vegetable.

Liberal Jesuits & the Late Pope
Sinéad O'Connor, during a 1992 appearance on SNL, ended her performance of a Bob Marley song by ripping a photo of Pope John Paul II top to bottom while chanting 'Fight the real enemy!' Most people who heard of the incident were shocked by the display of hatred. I wasn't. I'm a Jesuit, you see.

I can just imagine the people polled for this story appearing for eternal judgment before God and saying at the pearly gates, 'You failed to win me back by giving me a greater say.' It's God's job to impress you?

As of now....
The Phillies are in first place. Enjoy it while lasts, Phillies fans. I've called 4th place this year and I'm not backing off that yet.

Signs of Spring
I've seen three signs that's it's really spring the last 24 hours:

1) Baseball season has officially begun. (I don't count Sunday night.)
2) I saw my first robin this morning.
3) I saw a girl in short shorts yesterday evening.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Adam Dunn just hit a three run homer off pedro martinez. Reds 3, Mets 1 bottom of the first. Dunn for MVP!!!

The pope believed that "history" is His-story--the story of God's quest for man.
Some will dismiss him as hopelessly "conservative" in matters of doctrine and morals, although it is not clear how religious and moral truth can be parsed in liberal/conservative terms. The shadows cast upon his papacy by clerical scandal and the misgovernance of some bishops will focus others' attention. John Paul II was the most visible human being in history, having been seen live by more men and women than any other man who ever lived; the remarkable thing is that millions of those people, who saw him only at a great distance, will think they have lost a friend. Those who knew him more intimately experience today a profound sense of personal loss at the death of a man who was so wonderfully, thoroughly, engagingly human--a man of intelligence and wit and courage whose humanity breathed integrity and sanctity.
This profound crisis of culture, this crisis in the very idea of the human, had manifested itself in the serial crises that had marched across the surface of contemporary history, leaving carnage in their wake. But unlike some truly "conservative" critics of late modernity, Wojtyla's counter-proposal was not rollback: rather, it was a truer, nobler humanism, built on the foundation of the biblical conviction that God had made the human creature in His image and likeness, with intelligence and free will, a creature capable of knowing the good and freely choosing it. That, John Paul II insisted in a vast number of variations on one great theme, was the true measure of man--the human capacity, in cooperation with God's grace, for heroic virtue.
For if there is only your truth and my truth and neither one of us recognizes a transcendent moral standard (call it "the truth") by which to settle our differences, then either you will impose your power on me or I will impose my power on you; Nietszche, great, mad prophet of the 20th century, got at least that right. Freedom uncoupled from truth, John Paul taught, leads to chaos and thence to new forms of tyranny. For, in the face of chaos (or fear), raw power will inexorably replace persuasion, compromise, and agreement as the coin of the political realm. The false humanism of freedom misconstrued as "I did it my way" inevitably leads to freedom's decay, and then to freedom's self-cannibalization. This was not the soured warning of an antimodern scold; this was the sage counsel of a man who had given his life to freedom's cause from 1939 on.

Thus the key to the freedom project in the 21st century, John Paul urged, lay in the realm of culture: in vibrant public moral cultures capable of disciplining and directing the tremendous energies--economic, political, aesthetic, and, yes, sexual--set loose in free societies. A vibrant public moral culture is essential for democracy and the market, for only such a culture can inculcate and affirm the virtues necessary to make freedom work. Democracy and the free economy, he taught in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, are goods; but they are not machines that can cheerfully run by themselves. Building the free society certainly involves getting the institutions right; beyond that, however, freedom's future depends on men and women of virtue, capable of knowing, and choosing, the genuinely good.
That is why John Paul relentlessly preached genuine tolerance: not the tolerance of indifference, as if differences over the good didn't matter, but the real tolerance of differences engaged, explored, and debated within the bond of a profound respect for the humanity of the other. Many were puzzled that this Pope, so vigorous in defending the truths of Catholic faith, could become, over a quarter-century, the world's premier icon of religious freedom and inter-religious civility. But here, too, John Paul II was teaching a crucial lesson about the future of freedom: Universal empathy comes through, not around, particular convictions. There is no Rawlsian veil of ignorance behind which the world can withdraw, to subsequently emerge with decency in its pocket.

There is only history. But that history, the Pope believed, is the story of God's quest for man, and man then taking the same path as God. "History" is His-story. Believing that, Karol Józef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, changed history. The power of his belief empowered millions of others to do the same.

A Man for All Seasons
The bishop from Krakow knew all this--better than his critics. For this was a man eminently comfortable with modernity--even while he refused to accept modernity's most shallow assumptions. Just as he offered his first public words as pope in Italian to make himself understood by those below his balcony, he held that ultimate truths about man and his relationship with his Creator are never outdated, however much they require constant expression in new languages and new circumstances. As he never ceased to declare, Communism's core failure was not economic. It was anthropological, stemming from its false understanding of human nature.

Karol Wojtyla did not learn this from textbooks. He was old enough to recall how the twin totalitarianisms of our age--fascism and communism--were each once lauded by intellectuals as the inevitable destination and promise of the future. In Poland he tasted them both, yet he remained unintimidated. This experience would shape his entire papacy, a testament to his conviction that moral truth has its own legions.

Baseball Prospectus | Articles | The Week In Quotes: March 28-April 3
"And I miss looking that pitcher in the eye. I can't look my son in the eye when he's throwing me a Wiffle ball and say, 'I'm going to rip one off your forehead.'"
--former A’s infielder and current sports radio talk show host F.P. Santangelo, on what he misses about playing professional baseball (Sacramento Bee)

"Human government is more or less perfect as it approaches nearer or diverges farther from the imitation of this perfect plan of divine and moral government." --John Adams

"In the aftermath of the Enron scandal and the ensuing legal backlash, corporations have adopted 'zero-tolerance policies' regarding 'business and personal behavior.' ... Marjorie Kelly of Business Ethics magazine calls what's happening 'a new kind of Puritanism.' I call it 'ironic.' A court overturns a death sentence because jurors consulted a 'higher authority' [the Bible], and corporations fire executives for, in essence, not consulting a higher authority. This isn't 'Puritanism,' which The [New York] Times considers a bad thing. It's a sort of waking up, a realization that regulation and law, however well-intentioned, isn't enough to ensure the kind of conduct that produces confidence in the market. Without the inner restraints created by a belief in some 'higher authority,' however it's defined, law can never be enforced. Colorado court, please take notice." --Chuck Colson

"History will remember many of the achievements of John Paul II, particularly his zealous guarding of the church's traditional belief in the sanctity of life, not permitting it to be unmoored by the fashionable currents of thought about abortion, euthanasia and 'quality of life.' But above all, he will be remembered for having sparked, tended and fanned the flames of freedom in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, leading ultimately and astonishingly to the total collapse of the Soviet empire. ... Precisely at the moment the West most desperately needed it, we were sent a champion. It is hard to remember now how dark those days were. The 15 months following the pope's elevation marked the high tide of Soviet communism and the nadir of the free world's post-Vietnam collapse. It was a time of one defeat after another. Vietnam invaded Cambodia, consolidating Soviet hegemony over all of Indochina. The Khomeni revolution swept away America's strategic anchor in the Middle East. Nicaragua fell to the Sandinistas, the first Soviet-allied regime on the mainland of the Western Hemisphere. Then finally, the Soviets invaded fghanistan. And yet precisely at the time of this free-world retreat and disarray, a miracle happens. The Catholic Church, breaking nearly 500 years of tradition, puts itself in the hands of an obscure non-Italian -- a Pole who, deeply understanding the East European predicament, rose to become, along with Roosevelt, Churchill and Reagan, one of the great liberators of the 20th Century. ... We mourn him for restoring strength to the Western idea of the free human spirit at a moment of deepest doubt and despair. And for seeing us through to today's great moment of possibility for both faith and freedom." --Charles Krauthammer

"Let's begin at the beginning. God is the center of our lives; the human family stands at the center of society; and our greatest hope for the future is in the faces of our children. ... God's most blessed gift to His family is the gift of life. He sent us the Prince of Peace as a babe in a manger. I've said that we must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question we must answer is, are we on His side? I know what I'm about to say now is controversial, but I have to say it. This nation cannot continue turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the taking of some 4,000 unborn children's lives every day. That's one every 21 seconds. ... We cannot pretend that America is preserving her first and highest ideal, the belief that each life is sacred, when we've permitted the deaths of 15 million helpless innocents since the Roe versus Wade decision -- 15 million children who will never laugh, never sing, never know the joy of human love, will never strive to heal the sick or feed the poor or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights. We are all infinitely poorer for their loss. ... How can we survive as a free nation when some decide that others are not fit to live and should be done away with? I believe no challenge is more important to the character of America than restoring the right to life to all human beings. Without that right, no other rights have meaning." --Ronald Reagan

"These things I believe: That government should butt out. That freedom is our most precious commodity and if we are not eternally vigilant, government will take it all away. That individual freedom demands individual responsibility. That government is not a necessary good but an unavoidable evil. That the executive branch has grown too strong, the judicial branch too arrogant and the legislative branch too stupid. That political parties have become close to meaningless. That government should work to insure the rights of the individual, not plot to take them away. That government should provide for the national defense and work to insure domestic tranquility. That foreign trade should be fair rather than free. That America should be wary of foreign entanglements. That the tree of liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That guns do more than protect us from criminals; more importantly, they protect us from the ongoing threat of government. That states are the bulwark of our freedom. That states should have the right to secede from the Union. That once a year we should hang someone in government as an example to his fellows." --Lyn Nofziger

Two Giants of the 20th Century

CNN.com Specials - Pope John Paul II
Seems well done.

CNN.com - Poll: U.S. Catholics would support changes - Apr 3, 2005
A majority of U.S. Catholics surveyed want the next pope to have a theological outlook similar to that of Pope John Paul II, but they would also like to see changes on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and allowing priests to marry, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday.
As Cardinal Ratzinger once said, "Truth is not determined by majority vote." They can hope for these changes, but the infallible teaching of the Church cannot be changed.

It's Opening Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And why isn't today a National Holiday?

But at least IT'S OPENING DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

washingtonpost.com: The Old Ballgame Still Has Its Grip
The rule of thumb is that every team -- we are talking baseball today, so if you really want to read about other stuff, look elsewhere on this page -- will win 60 of its 162 games, will lose 60 and will play the season to settle the other 42. But the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks did not get the memo explaining this.

They were epochally awful, losing 111 of 162 games. Yet Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci notes that Diamondbacks attendance -- 2.5 million -- was larger than the attendance of each of the Yankee teams that won 21 world championships between 1923 and 1977.

Major League Baseball's 2004 attendance was a record 73,022,969. Per-game attendance was 30,075, higher than 14,106 in 1950, 16,110 in 1960, 14,788 in 1970, 20,434 in 1980 and 26,045 in 1990. All this indicates that the fans have not received the memo explaining that the game is going to hell in a handcart.

Well, you ask, what about steroids? According to ESPN, 20 years ago five National Football League players weighed more than 300 pounds. The number of 300-pounders on teams' current rosters? 433. Could chemistry as well as cheeseburgers be involved? Baseball is held to higher standards than other sports and receives more intense and often unjust criticism, as it has regarding its supposed "inaction" on steroids. Testing for steroids began in the major leagues in 2003, and 98.3 percent of players passed their tests in 2004. This is news to Congress, but then what isn't?

Baseball's competitive balance is much improved and compares favorably with that of the NFL and the National Basketball Association. Three of the last four Super Bowls were won by one team, the New England Patriots, but the last five World Series have been won by five different teams. The National League has sent seven different teams to the last seven World Series. The worst winning percentage in baseball last year (the Diamondbacks' .315) was not as embarrassing as those (as of Friday morning) of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks (.155), Charlotte Bobcats (.214) New Orleans Hornets (.229) and the Utah Jazz (.310).

A Celebrant of Freedom (washingtonpost.com)
In Eastern Europe, where both world wars began, the end of the Cold War began on Oct. 16, 1978, with a puff of white smoke in Western Europe. It wafted over one of Europe's grandest public spaces, over Michelangelo's dome of St. Peter's, over statues of the saints atop Bernini's curving colonnade that embraces visitors to Vatican City.

Ten years later, when the fuse that Polish workers had lit in a Gdansk shipyard ignited the explosion that leveled the Berlin Wall, it was clear that one of the most consequential people of the 20th century's second half was a Pole who lived in Rome, governing a city-state of 109 acres.

Science teaches that reality is strange -- solid objects are mostly space; the experience of time is a function of speed; gravity bends light. History, too, teaches strange truths: John Paul II occupied the world's oldest office, which traces its authority to history's most potent figure, a Palestinian who never traveled a hundred miles from his birthplace, who never wrote a book and who died at 33. And religion, once a legitimizer of political regimes, became in John Paul II's deft hands a delegitimizer of communism's ersatz religion.

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