Posts from March 2002

Airline slugfest: Hmmm, is that

Airline slugfest
: Hmmm, is that an Irish name?

: See also the Happy Fun Pundit’s lesson in statistics and ethnicity.

The dreaded Afghan springtime
: Remember when we were told that winter in Afghanistan would be a killer, assuring us a quagmire?

Now we’re supposed to dread the melting snows of springtime.The Guardian:

American military and intelligence chiefs are bracing themselves for an upsurge in guerrilla-style attacks from al-Qaida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan when the snows melt in a few weeks time.

As concern continued to grow among British backbench MPs of a possible “mission creep” in Afghanistan, the CIA director, George Tenet, warned that al-Qaida terrorists were poised to step up their activities following the spring thaw.

We advance from guagmire to “mission-creep.”

I dread that Afghan summer.

A holy alliance
: This is how bad it is for the Catholic Church: Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, and Howard Stern all agree about what’s wrong with the institution. They all say that the fundamental fault in the church is that it excludes and mistreats women.

Here’s Dowd, going about 10 miles too far, trying to blame every sin in society on men (which, by the way, I do resent; she is guilty of mistersogeny):

A monsoon of sickening stories lately illustrates how twisted societies become when women are either never seen, dismissed as second-class citizens or occluded by testosterone: the church subsidizing pedophilia; the Afghan warlords’ resumption of pedophilia; the Taliban obliteration of women; the brotherhood of Al Qaeda and Mohamed Atta’s mysogynistic funeral instructions; the implosion of the macho Enron Ponzi scheme; the repression of women, even American servicewomen, by our allies the Saudis.

Here’s Sullivan:

…it seems to me that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is the root of the problem. None of this hideous abuse of children would have occurred in the same way if women were fully a part of the institution. Not only would they have blown the whistle on some of this evil, their very presence would have helped prevent it from happening. There is simply no profound theological reason for the exclusion of women from ecclesiastical power, nothing but the inheritance of a patriarchal anachronism that is suffocating the Church from its apex to its roots. No church can exclude half of humanity from its sacred offices without denying the fundamental dignity and equality of the human person.

And here, with characteristic brevity and bluntness and wisdom, is Stern:

The burqa is no different from the habit.

: I reserved my copy of Ken Layne’s novel, previously unavailable Up Over. Have you?

: Tim Blair capitalizes Up Over, so now I will, too.

Dead weight: A NASA guy

Dead weight
: A NASA guy tells that we can and should take a journey to the nearest star, which would take at least 43 years and necessitate breeding the next generation of space cadets on board since the trip (and return) would take longer than a life

Landis has even suggested sending out crews consisting only of women to save on weight, replacing men with frozen sperm to ensure reproduction later down the line.

Like I didn’t feel useless already.

His church
: Andrew Sullivan has a personal, honest, painful, and wise post today on his fears for his church:

…It seems to me that something far more profound is happening to the Church than its leaders now recognize. This is big. The horror any decent person should feel at the brutal exploitation of children in the Church

Alleged anchor allegedly says…: FoxNews’

Alleged anchor allegedly says…
: FoxNews’ midday anchor, David Asman (I believe that’s the right Dave) was talking about the withdrawl of Israeli troops from Palestinian areas when he said that troops had just withdrawn from:

Bethlehem, where Jesus is alleged to have been born.

Now this will endear him to the Heartland.

I’m reminded of a character in Calvin Trillin’s Floater, about a writer at a Time-like magazine, who hated writing religion stories and got taken off the beat by always referring to “the alleged resurrection of Jesus.”

Yo momma wears burqas
: Another fabulous (I’m feeling positively presidential) story in the Washington Post on 9.11 teen argot:

: Their bedrooms are “ground zero.” Translation? A total mess.

: A mean teacher? He’s “such a terrorist.”

: A student is disciplined? “It was total jihad.”

: Petty concerns? “That’s so Sept. 10.”

: And out-of-style clothes? “Is that a burqa?”

: “It’s like ‘Osama Yo Mama’ as an insult.”

: “If you’re weird, people might call you ‘Taliban’ or ask if you have anthrax.”

: “My friends call me ‘terrorist’ or ‘fundamentalist,’ sometimes as a nickname,” said Nabeel Babaa, 17, who came to this country from Kuwait when he was 3 years old and is now a senior at Sherwood High School in Olney. “It’s not hurtful in the way we say it, ’cause we are kidding around with each other.”

: Teenagers breeze through such expressions as “He’s as hard to find as bin Laden,” or “emo” to describe people who are very emotional about Sept. 11.

: Girls might say a boy is “firefighter cute”

: ‘That’s some weapons-grade salsa.’

What a bad time to cancel The X-Files
: The BBC [via Shift] says sending anthrax through the mail may have started as a government program; your tax dollars at work:

Three weeks ago Dr Barbara Rosenberg – an acknowledged authority on US bio-defence – claimed the FBI is dragging its feet because an arrest would be embarrassing to the US authorities. Tonight on Newsnight, she goes further…suggesting there could have been a secret CIA field project to test the practicalities of sending anthrax through the mail – whose top scientist went badly off the rails…

Homeland insecurity
: A fabulous (as our president would say) cartoon this morning from Tom Tomorrow mocking the volunteer homeland security force being organized by our guvment. From FoxNews:

The USA Citizen Corps, established in January as a branch of the Freedom Corps, has already generated “an amazing response” among ordinary Americans, according to spokeswoman Cindy Ramsay. More than 22,000 people have registered to volunteer for Citizen Corps programs, and the Web site has registered more than a million hits.

I love the sound of F-16s in the morning
: New York officials are screeching about the Feds’ decision to stop F-16 patrols over everywhere… except Washington. Reports the Times:

New York’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, expressed dismay over the decision and urged the Bush administration not to go through with it.

“I am amazed that they would do that,” said Mr. Schumer, who sent a letter of protest today to Tom Ridge, the director of domestic security. “Everyone worried that we would let our guard down after Sept. 11. This, unfortunately, is a glaring example of letting our guard down.”

Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes ground zero, said that he, too, was troubled by the administration’s plan.

“If the level of emergency is such that they need combat air patrols over Washington, they should also have them over New York,” he said. “There is no intelligent rationale for this.”…

In his letter to Mr. Ridge, Mr. Schumer questioned whether security at airports was tight enough at this point to justify ending the patrols over New York.

“I understand that these patrols are expensive, but the price we paid on Sept. 11 was high as well, and the price we could pay if round-the-clock patrols cease could be far greater,” he said. “Based on the reasons given for ending the air patrols, it seems highly unlikely that this decision was made with the safety and security of New York’s citizens in mind.”

Y’know, Ridge is an idiot. He can’t do security well. He can’t do politics well. He can’t even do PR well.

Unholy: Should I be disturbed

: Should I be disturbed at Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds’ posts today on the Catholic pedophilia scandal (first, second, third, fourth)? He finds a moral and legal difference between priests having sex with children and having “underage sex.”

I don’t.

Priests having sex with minors (of either gender) is patently wrong on every level — it is wrong for adults to have sex with minors of any age (the adults are responsible for controlling themselves); it is especially wrong for clergy to abuse their trust with young people and families in this way (for Christ’s sake!); it is also wrong, incidentally, for priests to violate their own vows of celibacy. I happen to think the vows are wrong but I’m not the one taking and breaking them.

The wrongs are then multiplied with their supervisors knowingly hide these activities from the authorities, aiding and abetting the crimes and obstructing justice and failing to protect the children in their care.

I smell a bit of the libertarian laissez faire view of sex here: If they’re merely underage and consenting, what’s the sin? Same problem with Libertarians’ odd and disturbing defense — no matter how reluctant — of incest.

This is not about freedom.

This is about responsibility. This is about crime. This is about sin. This is about laws of man and God. This is about right and wrong, pure and simple. And sexually exploiting and abusing children is dead wrong by any standard. Dead wrong.

Don’t look up
: The Feds are planning to end F-16 flights over America to guard against terror jets. Says the NY Times:

They said stricter airport security, stronger cockpit doors and more federal marshals on flights had sufficiently reduced the threat of attacks to allow the military to scale back patrols.


And if things are so safe, why are they continuing the flights over Washington but over no other American city?

: Kathy Kinsley agrees.

No taxation withour representation
: The Times of London is going to start charging just foreigners for access to its content. That not only hurts those of us who like to read and link to the Times, it doesn’t make much sense. We can’t even buy the daily Times over here; our reading online does not cannibalize print sales; so why pick on us?

Hot under the collar
: More on New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan and his behavior regarding pedophile priests while he was bishop of Hartford. From the NY Times:

Cardinal Egan never took the allegations of abuse to law enforcement officials, even though there has been a law in Connecticut since at least 1971 requiring members of the clergy to report cases of abuse of minors.

From the Hartford Courant:

The Courant reported that Egan failed to thoroughly investigate abuse allegations, did not refer complaints to criminal authorities and – as recently as 1999 – allowed priests to continue working years after allegations of sexual molestation had been made against them.

It was also reported that Egan refused to believe multiple sex-abuse claims against a half-dozen clergy, and testified in sealed court documents that one priest’s 12 accusers “have never been proved to be telling the truth.”

Tipping: The other site from

: The other site from bloggods Ken Layne and Matt Welch, the L.A. Examiner, gets a mention on FoxNews in a story about new media criticizing old.

Surrender unto Caesar
: The more I read about the Catholic pedophilia scandal, the more convinced I become that it is time to prosecute bishops and cardinals who aided and abetted these crimes by knowingly hiding the criminals from prosecution and allowing them to commit more of their crimes against more young victims. They obstructed justice. They became accessories to the crimes. They share the guilt.

The Catholic church is not above the law. Bishops and cardinals are not above the law. Neither is above judgment, civil or divine.

I would not be so hot under the clerical collar about the occasional slimeball who sinned; slimeballs exist in all walks of life; sin happens. It is the concerted, conspiratorial effort to hide the acts of these slimeballs and allow them to continue the crimes that is so irresponsible, immoral, illegal, and shocking.

Today’s NY TImes says the scandal is about to cost the church members as it costs it millions of dollars for formerly secret settlements. The church is being forced to sell property, even church buildings, to pay for its sins. And as I said yesterday, the church and its leaders are losing their moral credibility. The Times agrees:

All sides agree that the church is in danger of losing the moral credibility in speaking out on political as well as social issues, including the death penalty and the status of Jerusalem. “If the church does not respond vigorously to this scandal, then the authority the hierarchy has to teach morally will vanish,” said R. Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame. “It won’t just be a crisis, it will be all over but the shouting. There will be no moral credibility for the bishops to speak about justice, truth, racial equality, war or immigration if they can’t get their own house in order.”

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports that NY Cardinal Egan allowed predator priests to continue work while he was bishop of Hartford; he won’t talk about it. Also in Boston, Cardinal Law’s new commission on the issue clearly has blinders on. ”We have a pretty good system in place for protecting kids. I think we need to bring the church in step with what the rest of the world is doing right now,” said one of the commissioners. My ass.

This is why I think indictments are in order. The church has to come clean.

And finally, I find a story that raises the possibliity in the Boston Herald.

A.W. “Richard” Sipe, a former priest and specialist on clerical pedophilia who has served as an expert witness in priestly abuse cases for nearly 25 years, says the criminal prosecution of a Catholic Church supervisor “is now inevitable the more we learn about the breadth of the problem and depth of the secrecy around the nation.”

“A prosecution is going to happen sooner or later,” he added. “Laws in different states will afford the authorities there with the tools they need. This is the natural unfolding of this whole process.”

Dozens of Catholic priests have been prosecuted for molestation around the United States in the last two decades – most recently defrocked serial pedophile John J. Geoghan, 66, of Scituate. But no ecclesiastical supervisor has ever faced criminal proceedings for allowing priests such as Geoghan to continue in the ministry long after their proclivities became known.

Last year, in the first case of its kind, French Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux was criminally prosecuted for failing to report an abusive priest under his command to the authorities. He received nine months’ probation.

It is too soon to tell whether such prosecutions will happen in the United States. Even now, in some states, dioceses are declining to provide internal records to the authorities, opening them up to subpoenas and other court action….

[Under] Bay State law, there are three possible avenues for criminal prosecution of the church.

The first two would be Chapter 274, Sections 2 and 4, of Massachusetts General Law pertaining to being an accessory before or after the fact. One relevant passage, from Section 4, they say, reads: “Whoever after the commission of a felony . . . gives such offender any other aid knowing that he has committed a felony . . . with the intent that he should avoid or escape detention . . . shall be an accessory after the fact.”

The third avenue, they say, would be under state and federal laws pertaining to corporate criminal liability. In a 1987 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court declared “knowledge obtained by corporate employees acting within the scope of the employment is imputed to the corporation, in contest of corporate criminal liability.” The Archdiocese of Boston is “a corporation sole” under state law.

“If it’s good enough for Arthur Andersen,” said diGenova, speaking of the giant accounting firm hit last week with criminal charges for violating federal securities law and destroying evidence, “it ought to be good enough for the church.”

I’m not the only one to find the connection between Anderson and the Catholic scandal (see yesterday’s post, below).

There is a crisis of moral credibility in this country.

The 16th minute
: The NY Times had a great headline last week over its story on the Fox celebrity sucker punch show: “Welcome to the 16th minute.” Here is what happens after your 15 minutes of fame are over, after you’re used up and washed up and everything is down from there. You end up fighting other has-beens for the amusement of the coliseum masses on TV.

Or you attend Liza Minelli’s wedding.

Today, the NY Post — a paper I love — has the single most rediculous, ludicrous, pathetic, laughable headline I have ever seen: “UNVEILED… EXCLUSIVE… LIZA’S LAST MINUTE SWITCH….”

The switch: She decided not to wear her veil because it would cover her famous spiked hair and her sparkling diamond earrings.


Fame has come to this.

To get a complete who’s who of the has-been, just read the guest list: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Diana Ross, Joan Collins, Robert Wagner, Celeste Holm, Janet Leigh (in falsh eyelashes, the Post reports), Freda Payne (in false eyelashes), Jill St. John (in false eyelashes), Olivia Hussey, Arlene Dahl, Carroll Baker, Phyllis Diller.

: Muslim Pundit has a good post beginning to explain fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity.

I also learned a lot a week ago when the Rev. Dr. Steven Blackburn, who teaches on the subject, came to my little church and explained some of the differences in simple terms even I could begin to understand. He drew a chart of equivalencies between Islam and Christianity and explained that the equal of Jesus is not Mohammed, it is the Qur’an; Christians believe that the word of God became flesh in Jesus while Muslims believe that the word of God is made whole in the written word, in the Qur’an; that is what makes it so sacrosanct. And that, I began to understand, is why fundamentalism could flourish in Islam — even more than in Christianity.

No, not Sonny
: Great Photodude post on Bono as the new Zelig of politics and great causes.

The end
: A good story in the NY Times today recognizes that the end of the work at Ground Zero is near. The debris is down from mountains to hills now.

I’m OK, you’re…
: The Washington Post writes about continuing psychic stress for survivors of the attacks: insomnia, flashbacks, edginess. I don’t have the symptoms but I’m still scared about what’s going to happen next. I call that sanity, not psychic stress.

: I finally got around to updating my links to other great blogs, on the right. If I left you out, sorry; my virtual desk is as messy as my real one.