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Friday, March 17, 2006

I think we are building a second Turkey, in which the army is the conscience of the nation. It will allow the politicians to squabble and establish consensus if possible but, if they can't, the army will step in. Mark my words, a year from now the Iraqi army will rule Iraq with the politicians functioning as best they can to defuse sectarian issues.
That's just crazy enough to work.

delawareonline | The News Journal | Awaited Wilmington crime-fighting plan released
Overall, this plan sounds good, let's see how it proceeds. The pessimist in me believes that a lot of it will end up not happening as the City cries poor, turns to the state who also refuses to fund this and the problems go unresolved. A few potential issues I see:
Hiring front-line social workers who can connect with street thugs on dangerous street corners where drugs are peddled.
I worry this will get said social workers shot. (This, though, came from the article rather than being a specific point mentioned by the panel, so maybe the reporter read something into it.)
Start a public relations campaign titled "A Campaign of Hope for the City of Wilmington"
Why does it seem like every government program nowadays ends up with a public relations campaign? Are billboard executives tied into government somehow? It seems like half the billboards around now are for government anti-smoking or gambling programs.

There are very good points, though.
Improve economic development opportunities for business and residents across the city
As many people have said, the best welfare program is a job. Job not only help people feed themselves and pay other bills, they teach them responsibility and give them a sense of accomplishment. It also gives a sense of belonging and pride as a jobholder can say "That's something I did, made better, etc." Someplace they make a difference.
Coordinate the faith-based community programs
I like the fact they understand that faith is necessary to stop the violence and restore a sense of community. My concern is that coordination might lead to homogenization, but hopefully they'll avoid that.

You can read the full report or a 22-page executive summary (which seems to the bulk of the report copy-and-pasted, rather than an actual summary) at the Commiision's website. One word of advice to the designers of the site, though: Zipping PDFs is largely useless. PDFs are already compressed. You saved about 1% on the size of the reports, 5% on the Social, Economic and Criminal data. Just put the unzipped reports up.

This project has potential; let's hope that potential is realized, unlike so many other government programs.

One final note:
"Stop the stupidity," [Wilmington Mayor James] Baker screamed at the crowd. "It's drugs; it's guns. It's lack of knowledge and opportunity. ... It's not white folks' problem. They didn't cause all of this!"
Baker at his best. No matter what crimes whites are indeed guilty of, by and large, they're not responsible for the drugs and violence in Wilmington and especially the worst parts of Wilmington. Baker's never afraid to say exactly what he feels, and you gotta love that.

Questioning in Faith
But John's Gospel (and Thomas) tell a different story. There, we find that Jesus appeared to the disciples (minus Thomas) on Easter and breathed on them in a sort of "little Pentecost," giving them the Holy Spirit. This done, it was no longer a gaggle of disciples, but Holy Church, that told Thomas "We have seen the Lord!" And Thomas, though doubting the Resurrection, did not reject the Church. He stayed with them. In so doing, whether he realized it or not, he did not reject Jesus but stayed with Him too, for it was Jesus Himself Who said to Holy Church "He who listens to you listens to Me." Thomas was faithful to Jesus Himself in the way that mattered most, which is perhaps why, when Jesus did appear to Thomas (in the midst of Holy Church, of course), it was Thomas, the doubter, who was graced before all the other Apostles to see Jesus for Who He really is: "My Lord and my God."

The same principle applies today. The Christian who says, "I love the Lord! It's the Church I refuse to listen to" is a Christian who, according to our Lord Himself, is refusing to listen to the Lord.

Conversely, the questioning Catholic who fears he is faithless to Jesus, yet refuses to depart from the Church and does his best to obey her teaching is, whether he realizes it or not, pleasing to God. It's one of the striking paradoxes that springs from the fact that the Word is still made flesh. We find God, not in some disembodied realm, but where He still reveals Himself: through the Body of Christ and its tradition and sacraments.

Quote of the Day
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."

-- John Adams (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 29 August 1763)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan - Should we have known that President Bush would bust the budget?
Everyone murmured about new programs, new costs, how the president "spends like a drunken sailor except the sailor spends his own money." And then someone, a smart young journalist, said, (I paraphrase), But we always knew what Bush was. He told us when he ran as a compassionate conservative. This left me rubbing my brow in confusion. Is that what Mr. Bush meant by compassionate conservatism?

That's not what I understood him to mean. If I'd thought he was a big-spending Rockefeller Republican--that is, if I'd thought he was a man who could not imagine and had never absorbed the damage big spending does--I wouldn't have voted for him.
Back to Mr. Bush in 2000. I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that's what he's turned into.

How did this happen? In the years after 9/11 I looked at Mr. Bush's big budgets, and his expansion of entitlements, and assumed he was sacrificing fiscal prudence--interesting that that's the word people used to spoof his father--in order to build and maintain, however tenuously, a feeling of national unity. I assumed he wanted to lessen bipartisan tensions when America was wading into the new world of modern terrorism. I thought: This may be right and it may be wrong, but I understand it. And certainly I thought Bush was better on spending than a Democrat, with all the pressures on him to spend, would be.

A John Kerry would spend as much and raise taxes too. But could a President Kerry spend more than President Bush? How?

In any case, what bipartisan spirit there was post-9/11 has broken down, Mr. Bush will never have to run again, and he is in a position to come forward and make the case, even if only rhetorically, to slow and cut spending. He has not. And there's no sign he will.

Which leaves me where I was nine months ago, in the meeting with conservatives, rubbing my brow in confusion.
Once again, Peggy voices what many of us are feeling.

I never liked the term "compassionate conservative," because it really is nothing more than an insult to conservatives, agreeing with the slander that conservatives don't care about others. I argued at the time (and still believe) that conservatism is the true compassion because it cares for the whole person, rather than looking at just their financial situation. Liberalism too often boils down to "here's a check and have sex with ever you want." Conservatism recognizes the spiritual side of a person: work is a good thing for a person to do, so people should be encouraged to work if able; viewing another as a sexual object demeans both the used and the user; religious faith of some sort is intrinsic to a successful republic. Conservatives look at the needs of the whole person, while also recognizing the needs of the community. Too much individualism ("if it feels good, do it") is detrimental to a well-run society, and unfortunately, that's the direction that (perhaps unintentionally) many liberals want to takes us.

Conservatives strike the middle ground between excess statism on one side and excessive individualism on the other. We recognize that both individual freedom and the power of the state have to have limits or despotism will inevitably result. (See The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek for a great explaintion of this.)

Something I read recently argued that there should be no "types" of conservatism. ("compassionate", "neo", "paleo", "economic", etc.) You're either a conservtive or you're not and there's a lot to be said for that. Sicne conservatism is nonidelogical, there still leaves much room for debate amongst conservatives as to the best public policy approaches on the various issues of the day. But that debdate has to take place within a conservtive framework. (For a decent summary of that framework, but by no means the final word, see Russell Kirk.)

So, I've said this before and freaked people out, but I don't think we can honestly describe W as a conservative.

Abortion and Catholic Politicans
Friday, March 17, 6:30-7:30 a.m. - Annual St. Patrick's Day protest of Catholic politicians giving public scandal, particularly Sen. Joseph Biden and Rep. Michael Castle, by attending Mass at St. Pat's and receiving Holy Communion. This is an event for Catholics (or anyone) who want to give public witness to the Church's admonition that "You cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion." We will hold signs with this message as we assemble outside the church at 15th & King Sts. in downtown Wilmington. This is a peaceful, prayerful event.
Now, Bishop Saltarelli called upon Catholic politicans not to receive Communion.
The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.
Apparently, Biden and Castle haven't obeyed. Will the bishop take nay action to enforce this decision? (My guess is no: he's close to the mandatory retirement age of 75 and doing so would tie the hands of his successor should he resign on time.) The bishop or his successor will come under a good deal of pressure to do something in 2008 if Biden does campaign for the Presidency, especially if he's a strong candidate. Plus, given the intense pressure on Democratic Presidential candidates to affirm their unlimited and unequivocal support for abortion, Biden will likely be making many statements directly at odds with the Catholic faith. He'd do himself and his Church a lot of good if he stopped receiving Communion now. Of course, he'd the most good for himself if he switched his position to pro-life. It might cost him his chance at the Presidency, and maybe even re-election in Delaware, but it might gain him far more.
"For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" - Matthew 16:26, Douay Rheims version
(I'm focusing on Biden because he attends Mass. I'm not aware that Castle does other than apparently St. Patrick's Day.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

delawareonline | The News Journal | Judge in starvation trial dismisses murder charge against Elkton man
Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ross today tossed out the second-degree murder charge against John J. Dougherty, the Elkton, Md., man charged in the starvation death of his common-law wife.
Kilrain, 46, was severely impaired before her death because a blood vessel burst in her brain in 1999 and she needed constant supervision, according to testimony. Kilrain died Feb 25, 2005.
If the defense really needs the help, the Terri Schiavo case showed that it's quite alright to starve the impaired to death. Heck, it's even a blessing, far better than letting them live!

Yeah, I think I pulled a sarcasm muscle on that one...

Thome v. Howard
PLAYER         AVG   G  AB   R   H  TB 2B 3B HR RBI         
------ --- - -- - - -- -- -- -- ---
J Thome .350 8 20 4 7 10 1 1 0 2

Thome's got a triple! Did 2 outfielders fall down?
He's doing well, but not even close to Howard.

PLAYER         AVG   G  AB   R   H  TB 2B 3B HR RBI         
------ --- - -- - - -- -- -- -- ---
R Howard .421 12 38 10 16 42 2 0 8 13

Thome's a good guy, but the Phils are better off with Howard.

"[T]he right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave." —John Adams

"The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you." —Robert Louis Stevenson

"It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent." —Jeremy Taylor

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriot feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." —John Stuart Mill

"Our government today is larger than it ever has been in history. Spending has grown more in the past five years than any time since Franklin Roosevelt was in the White House. And our leaders in Washington have created new entitlements for the first time in decades. Lyndon Johnson would be proud." —Steve Forbes

"Simply put, Democrats believe they can ask voters to give them control of the legislative branch [in November] without revealing any sort of policy or plan to deal with the most pressing issue before the country today: the war in Iraq... Not only do Democrats not have a plan, they're proud of not having a plan." —Byron York

"Most liberalism is angst-and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere." —Charles Krauthammer

"You know there are all these conspiracy theories that Dick [Cheney] runs the country...or Karl [Rove] runs the country. Why aren't there any conspiracy theories that I run the country? Really ticks me off." —President George W. Bush

"Nowhere else [besides education] do people think that it is OK to engage in politics instead of doing the job for which they are being paid. When you hire a plumber to fix a leak, you don't want to find your home being flooded while he whiles away the hours talking about Congressional elections or foreign policy." —Thomas Sowell

Jay Leno: Iran said they will inflict harm and pain on the United States if we try to stop their nuclear program. Who's writing their speeches now—Mr. T?

Quote of the Day
"Somewhere around the 1930s a not so subtle shift began in the character of the typical elected office holder. The growing power of the legislative officeholder and the resulting prospects for personal advancement turned a short-term altruistic contribution to society into a long-term political career opportunity. Hanging on to a political office gradually became a more important incentive in itself... The twin shocks of the Great Depression and WWII launched an expanded federal, state, and local government involvement in society that went from less than 5% of GDP to something like the current 35%. The power of the elected legislators grew proportionately. The fallout, thus far, has been bad and it is likely to get worse. Since getting re-elected is now a do or die situation for ones political career, the Professional Political Class have tried to stack the election process in favor of incumbents. And they have pretty well succeeded. About 98% of incumbents are re-elected when they stand for office" -- Chicago fund manager Seymour Lotsoff, in his monthly newsletter.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

InformationWeek | Anti-Virus Software | McAfee Update Breaks Hundreds Of Apps | March 13, 2006
For over five hours Friday, McAfee's anti-virus software erroneously flagged hundreds of legitimate executables as a malicious virus, leading some customers to quarantine or delete the offending files and render applications such as Microsoft Excel inoperative.
If you're like me, you use McAfee. (At work, anyway.) Yesterday morning, I couldn't open an Excel document. So I reinstalled Microsoft Office. This morning a coworker sent me the above article. I checked my quarantine folder and 44 programs/files/etc. had been mistakenly labeled as viruses. If you use McAfee, you may want to check your quarantine folder and see if anything is in there taht shouldn't be. (And before my dad asks, he's okay. He uses Norton.)

Uber-Review >> Blog Archive >> Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks
I kind of like the drill sergeant one.

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online
Under a large-scale overhaul of the statute book, only 200 laws will be retained from the period between 1100 and 1800, when the Act of Union abolished the Irish parliament in Dublin after the 1798 rebellion against British rule.

The laws that will perish include such gems as the denial of a citizen’s right to adulterate coffee with sheep dung, the burning of witches at the stake, and the entertainment of crowds with tiger fights.

Assizes of Arms (1181) forbids Jewish people from owning armour

An Act of 1421 provides for the “Pope’s sanction to a crusade against the Irish enemies to be sought”

An Act of 1360 makes provisions “against people associating with the Irish, using their language, or sending children to be nursed among them”

The parliament in Kilkenny passed an Act in 1366 forbidding the English from marrying Irish people
No tiger fights, no peace!

Link via Dappled Things.

Monday, March 13, 2006

ESPN.com - World Baseball Classic schedule
I'm loving this thing. I really watched it for the first time yesterday. I happened to turn to WB-17 yesterday afternoon and caught Cuba vs. Venezuela. I instinctively rooted for Venezuela partly because of Bobby Abreu's presence on the team and partly due to anti-Castro vehemence. (I remembered tday that Hugo Cahavez is the dictator of Venezuela. Shame both teams couldn't lose.) It was a good game until Omar Vizquel forgot how to field and Giovanni Carrara (who I'd always assumed to be Italian) couldn't pitch and gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Them I flipped to ESPN2 to watch the USA versus Japan. Japan probably got hosed by the call on the sacrifice fly appeal play that would have given them the lead had it not been reversed, but it was close. Hopefully Japan gets to the semifinals so it won't cause bitterness. It was also nice to see the clear respect the Japanese players had for their manager Sadaharu Oh, almost without question the greatest Japanese player in history.

Then starting at 8 PM, ESPN2 was showing Puerto Rico vs. the Dominican Republic, a game I would have loved to have watched but I had been sitting still for almost 6 hours watching baseball and I was beat. Looks like another game where one pitcher blew it as Marte just had nothing. It's a shame the games all seem to be scheduled for when I'm at work or late at night. Hopefully they can figure out a way around that the next time they hold this.

Maureen Stapleton
She died today. Although the first thing I ever saw her in was The Electric Grandmother, I'll always remember her as Johnny Dangerously's Mother: "Bless the saints, it's an ashtray! I've been thinking of taking up smoking. This clinches it!"

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

"[T]he necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect." —James Madison

"[R]eligious freedom is...being trampled in...Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, adoption agencies must be licensed by the state and adhere to the state's anti-discrimination laws, including laws prohibiting discrimination against gay couples. This puts Catholic Charities in a bind. The Vatican has called gay adoptions 'gravely immoral' and said that they do 'violence' to children. By 'violence' it means taking advantage of the children's 'dependency' to place them 'in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.' At the same time, Catholic Charities wants to help children in need of a home... What motivate regulations like this one isn't the interests of the children—it's the interests of adults. Truth be told, Catholic Charities and other faith-based groups care a whole lot more about the children than those who enforce these kinds of rules... Doing good should not require doing violence to your conscience. Apparently, officials in Massachusetts have forgotten this, which puts them in very bad company indeed when it comes to religious freedom." —Chuck Colson

"Latin will never be a truly dead language—at least not as long as 'E pluribus unum' appears on our money. That's our national motto: 'Out of many, one.' We've always been willing to open our arms to immigrants and help them become Americans. But the unity we once valued is unraveling. In the past, new Americans were welcomed with a solemn ceremony that matched the commitment they were making to their adopted homeland... Millions of foreigners are living here today with no expectation of ever becoming citizens. They're illegal immigrants... The United States is, and will remain, the land of opportunity. But we can't afford to tolerate an underground economy, populated by immigrants who are unwilling or unable to assimilate. By cracking down on illegal immigration in a smart way, we can continue our tradition of turning many into one." —Ed Feulner

"'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' That's a catchy phrase but also misleading. Freedom fighters do not need to terrorize a population into submission. Freedom fighters target the military forces and the organized instruments of repression keeping dictatorial regimes in power. Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people... [O]ne has to be blind, ignorant, or simply unwilling to see the truth if he or she is unable to distinguish between those I just described and terrorists." —Ronald Reagan

"After Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot of oil processing capacity around the Gulf of Mexico, there was—surprise!—less oil being processed. With less oil being supplied—surprise again!—gasoline prices rose. However much economists rely on supply and demand to explain price movements, politicians need villains, so that the pols can play hero. Big Oil is a favorite villain and has been for decades. There is nothing like the political melodrama of summoning oil company executives to televised hearings before some Congressional committee, where politicians can wax indignant at Big Oil's profits. It so happens that Big Government takes more money in taxes out of a gallon of gas than Big Oil takes out in profits. But apparently somehow taxes don't raise prices. They certainly don't raise indignation from the politicians who voted for those taxes. After the oil processing facilities were repaired and put back in operation—yet another surprise!—prices came back down. Supply and demand has been doing this for centuries but apparently the word has not yet reached some politicians." —Thomas Sowell

Modern Aftermath of the Crusades
Q: What are some popular misconceptions about the Crusades?

Spencer: One of the most common is the idea that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world.

In fact, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.

Early in the eighth century 60 Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies -- except for a small number who converted to Islam.

Muslims also demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn't pay.

Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the tax on non-Muslims -- jizya -- that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction of their own children and fellow believers.

Early in the ninth century the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled for Constantinople and other Christian cities. In 937, Muslims went on a rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

In 1004, the Fatimid Caliph, Abu 'Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim, ordered the destruction of churches, the burning of crosses, and the seizure of church property. Over the next 10 years 30,000 churches were destroyed, and untold numbers of Christians converted to Islam simply to save their lives.

In 1009, al-Hakim commanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem be destroyed, along with several other churches, including the Church of the Resurrection. In 1056, the Muslims expelled 300 Christians from Jerusalem and forbade European Christians from entering the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

When the Seljuk Turks took Jerusalem in 1077, the Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised not to harm the inhabitants, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000 people.

Another common misconception is that the Crusades were fought to convert Muslims to Christianity by force. Glaringly absent from every report about Pope Urban's address at the Council of Claremont is any command to the Crusaders to convert Muslims.

It was not until over 100 years after the First Crusade, in the 13th century, that European Christians made any organized attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity, when the Franciscans began missionary work among Muslims in lands held by the Crusaders. This effort was largely unsuccessful.

USCCB - Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life
While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.
As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.

As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.
Essentially the Church says we have the right to form our own consciences as long as we're within the parameters the Church lays out. For example, while a no immigation policy would be against Church teaching, restrictions on it aren't. In fact, open borders would be acceptable under Church teaching. Almost any position other than a complete ban on immigrations would be acceptable under Church law as a result of the primacy of conscience.

If your conscience says something in direct flouting of Church teaching, your conscience is not properly formed and therefore you cannot appeal to primacy of conscience in support of that position. This is what the US bishops are reminding us in the document linked above. Opposition to laws to restrict abortion cannot be validly held by a Catholic politician due to the consistent statements of the Church that abortion is immoral.

The signers of the Democratic Statement of Conscience tried to pull a fast one; fortunately, the bishops didn't let them get away with it. Hopefully, people who read the initial statement will also read this one so they're not fooled.

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