Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Spot On The transcript of the SNL skit whereby "Al Gore" explains his endorsement of "Howard Dean" has been posted. It's a riot.
"...but come on, Al Gore endorsing your campaign? Isn't this a little like Star Jones endorsing your diet plan?"
- "Chris Matthews" (Darrell Hammond)
Ingham Exposed. Finally, the unconscionable action of shutting down a church four days prior to Christmas is getting some media attention in the US. In the Washington Times, of course.

Personally, I think excommunication is too lenient a punishment for Michael Ingham.

So is burning at the stake -- that's what they did to Polycarp and Cranmer.

Drawing and quartering?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Change. There will be a, um, slight change taking place in the days ahead. The editorship of the Blithering Idiot will be transferred over to my, um, brother (yeah, that's the ticket), Václav Patrik Šulik. Other than this, you shouldn't notice any difference.

Same idiotic blithering.
What Was Chane Thinking? Chris Johnson reported on this sermon by Washington, DC's Bishop, the Right Rev. John Bryson Chane. Normally, this would be known as a Christmas sermon, but it is not clear that the Right Rev believes in Christmas (-- or, should I say, the Incarnation, because he may believe in a Macy's version of Christmas complete with Santa and Rudoph). You see, in this sermon, he reaffirms the "holiness" of the Islamic scriptures:
And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad?
. . . was the Angel Gabriel who appears as the named messenger of God in the Jewish Old Testament, the Christian New Testament Gospels, and the Quran of Islam, really the same miraculous messenger of God who proclaimed to a then emerging religious, global community and to us this morning that we are ALL children of the living God? And as such we are called to acknowledge that as Christians, Jews and Muslims we share a common God and the same divine messenger. (emphasis added)
Personally, I think the Rite Rev just needs more cowbell. A lot more cowbell.
Another View. Here are my mom's comments on the first flight centennial:
December 18, 2003

Time to give you my impressions of the 100 year First Flight celebration. This event lasted five days and everyone who attended talked about how well organized and terrific it was. I agree, the planning that went into the event was careful, thorough and detailed enough to keep everything flowing smoothly. I believe that scientists and engineers spent ten years developing and building the "Wright Flyer" to the same specifications as the original craft. As you know Will, Debbie and the kids came for the event as well as Kathy with dog and cat.

We all got up early on December 17, the big day, to eat breakfast and go to the Marketplace where we would catch a bus to the Monument Grounds. We were on the bus by 8:35. The sky looked a little threatening but by the time we arrived at our destination the sky was no longer threatening. All resemblance of a threat was gone--the skies opened and the ocean poured forth. Rain was horrific! We all had our raincoats and umbrellas, and we trudged off the bus quickly opening our umbrellas and thrusting the little spike points into one another's eyes. The rain flowed off our umbrellas into the little ones eyes, back of their necks etc. No one complained---we all joked with each other and with strangers laughing and chatting. There were approximately 2000 people waiting to go through security into the park grounds to join the many thousands already there. The rain flowed downward in buckets, no one complained.

We spent approximately 35 minutes going through security. No one complained, though we didn't joke quite as much with each other. I had charge of Sarah, I clutched her small hand in mine, poked her with my umbrella, and clenched our precious tickets for admission to the event---no one complained.

Finally we got through security just as President Bush was finishing his opening remarks. Not sure where he was located on the field---rain too hard to see anything although there was a drive in movie size television screen up with his picture on it making his speech---course we could not hear it. No one complained. We pushed our way forward to get closer to the large TV screen so we could hear Pres Bush's remarks. We edged close enough to hear his final "God Bless America" over the loudspeaker. We could not see him but we were happy. No one complained.

Suddenly the rain turned to a drizzle. We were really happy! We got close to the barricaded field in the middle of the park area where we were told Bush's cavalcade of cars would soon be coming by to take him to the Presidential helicopter where he would board to go back to Air Force one. Suddenly the rain stopped, we put down our umbrellas and the jeeps starting coming through the mud with President Bush on board. He went right in front of us and we all saw him in his car giving a thumbs up sign to the crowd. Now we were really happy! Actually, it was a thrill to realize this is our President who came to this muddy field to pay homage to two humble bicycle builders from Dayton, Ohio who changed the world. Even little Emilie, 2 1/2, said "I saw him give thumbs up" holding her little thumb up. We were happy. No one complained. We watched the helicopter with President Bush take off followed by a second helicopter.

At this point there was some hope that the Wright Flyer would be able to make its attempt at duplicating the original flight. In order to see this event since the people were ten deep in front of us we decided that we needed to cross the field and climb the hill by the monument to see the area where the Flyer would make its attempt. This was not a great distance--maybe 500 yards or so but the rain which had returned made the field a sea of water and mud. We crossed. We sank into mud over the tops of our shoes, clinging mud that wanted to retain possession of our shoes, yucky, sucky mud, slippery mud. We crossed carefully trying to stay together as a group. No one complained. After a 25 minute hike we reached our destination---the hill. We climbed half way up the hill and joined the thousands of other people with our eyes glued on the field and the large TV waiting for the Event. John Travolta was speaking on the giant TV. We were excited. We were waiting for the Event. Then it was announced that there was not enough wind---they would try again at 2:00. We were disappointed. We did not complain. John Travolta said he would fly a 707 over the Monument himself at 1:00. Then we were told to look toward the monument for a special surprise. We did. The Stealth bomber came quietly up and flew over our heads. We felt awe, we felt pride! We were glad it was our plane! We did not complain. The rain came down. There was a twelve second pause at 10:35; the time and length of the first flight. We were proud and happy to be on those grounds at that time and happy to be Americans living in the greatest country in the world. We did not complain!

We went to see the NASA exhibits. Awesome! We were thrilled to know that our tax dollars are being used so wisely. We wished Pres. Bush had used the occasion to announce that the United States would begin manned space exploration of Mars. But we did not complain that he didn't. The rains started again. We were cold, we were wet clear through, there were huge lines at the food concessions. It was twelve-fifteen. There was no wind necessary for the flight to occur. We did not complain------but we returned home! An attempt will be made again next December 17 to fly the "Wright Flyer." We'll be there! We will not complain!

(Now, if you have read this long message do not complain to me! I am busy looking outside at the beatiful sunshine and wind perfect for the Flyer to do it's thing---I wonder if Ohio had anything to do with the bad weather in North Carolina on December 17?!)

Monday, December 29, 2003

Who's Running the Asylum? In January 2003, SI had a cover story asking if anyone could beat the Raiders -- of course, we all know that (nearly) anyone could (the exception being the flukey Vikings who can't beat a team on grass to save their [playoff] lives). According to ESPN, the suspension of Charles Woodson and Charlie Garner led to a "near mutiny" before the Charger game. Raider coach Bill Callahan is a dead man walking, which is a shame, because we did have a good run prior to the last Super Bowl.

Never has a team fallen so far.

Coaching candidates? Dennis Green or Art Shell?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

What is Globalization...?. The following e-mail was forwarded to me by my mother.

Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana's death.

Question: How come?


An English princess

with an Egyptian boyfriend

crashes in a French tunnel,

driving a German car

with a Dutch engine,

driven by a Belgian who was drunk

on Scottish whisky, (check the bottle before you change the spelling)

followed closely by Italian Paparazzi,

on Japanese motorcycles;

treated by an American doctor,

using Brazilian medicines.

This is sent to you by an American,

using Bill Gates's technology,

and you're probably reading this on your computer,

that uses Taiwanese chips,

and a Korean monitor,

assembled by Bangladeshi workers

in a Singapore plant,

transported by Indian truck drivers,

hijacked by Indonesians,

unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen,

and trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....

That, my friends, is Globalization
Cute, although, I'm not sure everything is correct -- for example, the WaPo, indicates that the driver of the car was French, not from Belgium; was the doctor American? I don't see any evidence, but I'm not really spending any time on this.
Surprise (not). Tom Leonard, Media Editor of the Telegraph (U.K.) writes that Lord Dubs, British Laborite and chair of the chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, observes "Christianity is an easier and more acceptable target followed, to a lesser extent, by Jews and Hindus."

2003: Best Movies. My favorite movies of 2003, in descending order:
1. LOTR: Return of the King.
2. Finding Nemo
3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
4. Second Hand Lions
5. Seabiscuit
6. Bend it Like Beckham
Honorable Mention: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Side note: See this webpage for a easy to use database of grosses for the year, which allowed me to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Dean Gets Religion. The Dean campaign, seeking to eliminate one of its many defects, and obviously responding to the New Republic cover story on the irreligious Dr. Dean, has told the Boston Globe that he is "a committed believer in Jesus Christ and said he expects to increasingly include references to Jesus and God in his speeches as he stumps in the South."

Probably, he'll be doing that while cruising around in his Ford pick-up truck. You know, the one with the St. Andrew's cross on the back. And he'll do so in a slow manner, with a pinch of Skoal in his cheek.

Despite the way it sometimes appears, with counterweights like Hil&Bil, Teddy K[opechne]ennedy, and now, Howard Dean, there are moral and intellectual heavyweights in the Democratic Party. I can't begin to figure out why they are turning their back on a Sen. Joe Lieberman for this guy.
Kwanza Follow-up. I noted below AOL's censoring of Kathy Shaidle's blog entry on Kwanza. There was an interesting essay in the NYTimes list past week on that same pseudo-holiday:
Many black uprisings (like Denmark Vesey's) were planned in church; secret literacy campaigns and self-help programs were as well. The black church itself came into being as a direct act of rebellion when St. Thomas African Episcopal Church was formed in Philadelphia in 1794 in response to religious segregation and abuses visited upon black Christians even as they worshipped. Absalom Jones, leader of the group, became the first black Episcopal pastor in the United States. Can it be that we no longer recognize the bravery required for these acts?

Whites were livid and terrified as more black denominations were established but no amount of violence, executions and jailings would sway our ancestors determined to fulfill their American, Christian destiny. Sojourner Truth, whose Christianity was so fervent she was jealous of others' belief in God, was motivated by her religion much more than by abolitionism.

Doesn't Kwanzaa render Jones's and Truth's sacrifice and courage meaningless? It wasn't nostalgia for "the Motherland" that kept the marchers marching in the 1960's. It was Mama's old-time 'ligion, the force whites thought would keep us in our place.

The ultimate cop-out of Kwanzaa, and other Afrocentric artificialities, is that they devalue and even negate the lives blacks actually live. The romance of our lost heritage reclaimed seeks to situate the black self in a time, and a tradition, before whites came along to make us hate ourselves — a time when we lived at the center of the world's knowledge, art and commerce. It rejects our slave and Jim Crow ancestors because it's a focus on who we were rather than who we are. I am not ashamed of who we are. Is Dr. Karenga?
More here on this pseudo-holiday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Why Christmas? The Parable of the Birds

This is a story, author unknown, that Paul Harvey tells every year. Our rector, Martyn Minns, retells it in the current TFN:

He was a kind man; he was not a Scrooge. He was a decent and mostly good man. He was loving to his family and upright in his dealings with other people. The problem was that he simply did not believe the nonsense that people talked at Christmas time—all this business about God becoming a baby, born in a manger, he was too honest to pretend otherwise.

He just could not swallow the Christmas Story. Why would God ever want to become a human being?

“I really am sorry to disappoint you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going to church with you and the children on Christmas Eve. I would feel like a hypocrite.” But he told his family that he was happy for them to go if they liked, and he would wait up for them. And so he stayed home that Christmas Eve while his family went to the midnight service without him.

Snow had been falling all evening. shortly after the family drove off, the man went to the window. The flurries were becoming heavier, and it looked as if the temperature were dropping, he noted to himself. Then he went to his fireside chair and settled in to read the newspaper.

Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound, and then another, and then another. At first he thought that someone was throwing something against the window, but when he went to the door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the snowstorm, and in the desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his large picture window.

“I can’t let the poor creatures just lie there and freeze,” he thought. Pausing for a moment, he considered what to do. He remembered the barn where his children kept their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could manage to direct the birds into it. Quickly he put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. There he opened the doors wide and turned on the light.

But the birds did not move. They would not come into the barn. Another man at this stage might have left the birds
to their plight, figuring he had done what he could. He had made the shelter available; if the birds did not want it, that was not his concern. But this was a man of genuine compassion, and so he paused again to consider the problem.

“Perhaps food would entice them to come in,” he thought. Hurrying back to the house, he gathered up some scraps.

Outdoors again, he sprinkled the crumbs in the snow, making a trail to the open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds in their distress ignored the scraps and continued to flutter around helplessly.

Frustrated, the man tried catching them, but that didn’t work either. He tried to shoo them into the barn by dancing around them and waving his arms. But instead, the birds just scattered in every direction, except into the warm stable.

Suddenly the essence of his dilemma grasped him: he wanted to help them, but the birds were too senseless to understand.

They did not even know what they needed, much less that he was there to help them. “To them,” he thought, “I am just a strange, terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me; that I only want to help them.”

But how? Any move he made only frightened and confused them more. They were dying, but still they would not follow and take his direction. With no awareness of what was coming, he said to himself, “If only I could become a bird, I could join them there in the snow and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way.”

He paused, with the darkness and the falling snow hiding the uncertain look that crept across his face. Then he continued, more slowly, “But that would mean I would have to become one of them, so that they could see and understand...”

At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The music of Christmas reached the man’s ears above the sound of the wind, and he stood, motionless, straining to hear, frozen, not by the cold, but by something else. As the bells pealed the Good News of Christ’s birth, the man sank to his knees in the snow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Hotchpot. (Revised and amended)
Interesting note here about AOL banning Kathy Shaidle's blog entry on Kwanza.
Michael Ingham
The New Republic has an interesting look at the irreligious Howard Dean.

Pray for Bishop Michael Ingham, a man who's shoes may be too tight or perhaps, one who's head wasn't screwed on just right (but the most likely reason of all is that his heart is two sizes too small), who decided to shut down a church on the eve of Christmas. Pray too for this valiant congregation, Holy Cross Church in Abbotsford and it's Rector James Wagner.

two sizes too small
Last thing -- I'm not sure if I ever defined "hotchpot" -- but I'll tell you when I was interning in law school, one of the attorneys used to tell us to throw a case in the "hotchpot" and then we'd divy them up later. Not quite the intended use, but we liked it. I wonder if word "hodgepodge" is somehow related. Yes, I guess it is.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Zena. It's a sad day -- my sister's dog died in her arms this morning at around 6.

Just yesterday my oldest daughter and I visited my sister and Zena, who can't have been more than 6 years old, struggled to her feet, her tail wagging furiously to greet us. Last week, on the centennial flight day, we noticed a swelling under her eye and some mildly odd behavior. Zena was checked by 3 different vets and none could figure out what the problem was. My sister had an appointment to see a neurologist this morning. I can't help but think that Zena, ever faithful dog, stepped out early to spare my sister the expense she would've willingly paid.


Saturday, December 20, 2003

LOTR:ROTK: Presidential Politics. There are two scenes that could be used by either Dean Partisans or Bush Partisans to, um, cast aspersions on the opposing candidate. Interestingly, they both involve the same character.

(Mild spoilers ahead.)

For Dean Partisans: The scene where Faramir is shown leading a suicide charge (beautifully done, I might add, with Pippin singing being the only real sound). Meanwhile Faramir's father, Denethor is obsessively eating and Jackson portrays him with a red liquid (blood?) running down his chin. "See?" they will say, "Bush sends our boys to the slaughter, just like Denethor."

For Bush Supporters (although, more accurately, I should say, Dean detractors): Shortly after this battle, where the men with Faramir are slaughtered, we see Denethor, stumbling about on top of the city castle, which is Minas Tirith, while the city is surrounded by the vast armies of evil seeking to destroy this citadel of an elegant civilization. Yet, Denethor is muttering about laying down arms and generally ignoring the imminent threat, instead of rallying the troops looking to him for leadership. Fortunately, Gandalf bonks him on the head and rallies the troops for battle.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Kitty Hawk Update -- today there's a good strong wind out of the northwest. In fact it may be too strong for flying. Current weather conditions at Duck.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

No Flight Today - Kitty Hawk, NC -- When I woke up this morning, around 5 a.m., the first thing I heard was the blowing winds -- in my parents upper room, you could hear the strong gusts. I thought this was a good sign as we were down here for the Centennial celebration of the Wright Brothers first flight.

Wilbur Wright, left, and his brother, Orville. The Wright brothers worked together to build the first airplane to make a successful flight, on December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, N. C.The reason the Wrights came to Kill Devil Hills was because of the high winds, the machine propelling the plane into the wind providing the necessary thrust and lift to get the plane up. Back in 1903, the motorized Wright flyer was ready for flight on December 12, but the winds were too light to take off. The next day was a Sunday, and they were committed to not flying on the Sabbath. Their first attempt at powered flight (remember they'd been flying a glider version of their plane) took place Monday, December 14. That day, the brothers tossed a coin to see who would fly; Wilbur won. On the attempt, the engine propelled the flyer down a guide rail (so the plane would not sink in the soft sand), Wilbur pulled back on the elevator, causing the craft to turn upward rapidly. The flyer climbed a few feet, stalled, the wing dipped to the right, and then hit the ground, slightly damaging the flyer. What has always struck me as interesting is that they could've claimed this was the first flight, since it did leave the ground under it's own power, but the integrity of the Brothers and their compulsion for getting the job done right wouldn't allow them to be satisfied. Repairs were necessary and the wind had to be right before they could try again.

On the morning of the 17th of December, 1903, the wind was too strong to make the flight safely. Too strong a wind could lift the craft and damage it beyond repair. That morning broke with both a strong wind blowing (Wilbur estimated that it was at least 25 mph) from the north and a driving rain. The rain stopped, but the wind kept blowing. They waited until 10, hoping that the wind would die down a little. When it didn't, they decided to go ahead anyway and signaled the men at the Kill Devil Hills Coast Guard Life Saving Station to come and help them haul the flyer to their staging area up the hill. John T. Daniels was stationed at the camera to record anything that happened.

For us, this morning brought the strong winds and rain as well; thankfully, our temperature was in the 60s as opposed to what the Wrights had -- in the high 30s. My father raised the colors on the end of the dock and minutes later, that flag which had been nearly board straight, with winds out of the southwest, had torn partially loose and was hanging by one tether. My father and sister when out and retrieved the flag and we set off for the first flight site in Kill Devil Hills ("KDH"), just 8 miles away; leaving just after 8.

On the bus to the site, the rain which had been threatening, finally broke loose. Those of us on the bus were excited by the news reports which confirmed President Bush, President George W. Bushrumored to appear, would be there to address the crowd at 9:45. Unfortunately, by the time we cleared security, the President was beginning his address. We made our way around to a large monitor, catching the tail end of his address. We were positioned at the front of the barricades when the President drove by on his way to Marine Corps One and were all thrilled to catch his eye and see him wave and give us the thumbs up. (As an aside, I think the kids were more excited to see a helicopter leaving the ground than the possible re-enactment.)

The Memorial -- we're on the right side, just outside the frame of this pictureAbout this time -- 10:15, the rain began to let up. My baby, Emilie, age 2 was a dear and had no complaints at all today -- the other kids held up as well. It was helpful going with my mom and dad and sister, the beloved Aunt Kathy. We made our way up the hill overlooking the field for the first flight re-enactment. Soon, however, they made the announcement that the winds were now too mild, at about 3 mph, to attempt the flight. The flyer required winds of at least 10 mph and not more than 25 mph. Disappointed, we headed down the hill, toward the displays and exhibits.

Just before 10:35 -- the approximate time of the first flight, the B-2 bomber "The Spirit of Kitty Hawk" AV-19 did a low fly-over. I tell you, I've seen the B-1 and B-2 a couple of times now, and they are really awe-inspiring. The bat-wing shaped dark jet creeps and flies relatively quietly. This morning, with the rain lifting, (and an announcement made, so we knew where to look for it), it emerged low from the fog looking like death. Immediately after, the announcer sought 12 seconds of silence to commemorate the first flight (although it was hard to quell the excited chatter after the B-2). Later, Air Force One did a low fly-over as well -- with the pilot dipping the right wing to the crowd.

In 1903, Orville drew the honor of testing the flyer. They started the engine and set it running on the rail -- working the controls Orville pulled the flyer off the ground for 12 seconds and then landed—intact except for a slightly damaged skid. The flyer, weighing 745 pounds (with the pilot) had flown 120 feet from takeoff. In his diary, first flightOrville wrote:
I got on the machine at 10:35 for the first trial. The wind, according to our anemometers at this time, was blowing a little over 20 miles (corrected) 27 miles according to the Government anemometer at Kitty Hawk. On slipping the rope the machine started off increasing in speed to probably 7 or 8 miles. The machine lifted from the truck just as it was entering on the fourth rail. Mr. Daniels took a picture just as it left the tracks. I found the control of the front rudder quite difficult on account of its being balanced too near the center and thus had a tendency to turn itself when started so that the rudder was turned too far on one side and then too far on the other. As a result the machine would rise suddenly to about 10 ft. and then as suddenly, on turning the rudder, dart for the ground. A sudden dart when out about 100 feet from the end of the tracks ended the flight. Time about 12 second (not known exactly as watch was not properly stopped). The lever for throwing off the engine was broken, and the skid under the rudder cracked.
For the first time, a powered flying machine had taken off from the ground, traveled through the air, and landed under the control of its pilot.

The second flight, made by Wilbur (following a repair of the skid), at 11:20 and flew about 175 feet. A third flight, this time by Orville went about 200 feet from the starting point. A fourth flight took off around noon with Wilbur at the controls. This time, however, after about 300 feet, Wilbur got the flyer under control and flew for 59 seconds and traveled just over 850 feet. That proved to be the last flight of the day, however, because in securing the plane for day, the wind caught the craft causing the men to try to grab the flyer. Orville wrote theamateure photographer, "Mr. Daniels . . . hung on to it from the inside, and as a result was knocked down and turned over and over with it as it went. His escape was miraculous, as he was in with the engine and chains. The engine legs were all broken off, the chain guides badly bent, a number of uprights, and nearly all the rear ends of the ribs were broken." The plane at last secured, Mr. Daniels taken care of, the brothers returned to the boarding house where they were staying and sent their father a telegram announcing the success of their efforts
Success four flights thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind
started from Level with engine power alone average speed
through air thirty one miles longest 57 [sic] seconds inform Press
home Christmas
Those two words near the end "inform Press" inspired a telegraph worker to tip off reporters at the Virginian-Pilot which ran the scoop the next day. Here's the original story, and here's the belated correction that ran this morning.

With pilot Kevin Kochersberger at the controls of the world's most accurate 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction, the flyer comes to a halt in the mud and water never lifting off completely from the wood track(AFP/Tim Sloan) Around noon, we decided to call it a day -- the kids were cold (although not reduced yet to whining about it) and there was no guarantee the winds would pick up by the anticipated 2 pm re-enactment attempt. Arriving home, we learned that an attempt had been made while we were on our way back, however, the flyer failed to leave the ground. Later attempts were shelved without heading down the rail -- the winds proved to be too gentle today.

To me, this just underscores the achievement of Orville and Wilbur Wright -- nothing about this was easy. It took dogged persistence to make this happened. They succeeded, ushering in the 20th century and the age of flight.

Some other links, not mentioned above:

A 1940 essay on why the Wrights chose the Outer Banks.
The Baltimore Sun on the Wrights
The WaPo on the changes in a pilot's role.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Query -- for lawyers: Do you call a QDRO a "Kwa-dro*" or a "Cue-dro"? As I've traveled around the country, I've heard both.

*or Quad-ro.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Dare You. Christopher S. Johnson at the Midwest Conservative Journal raises the possibility that the ECUSA(postate) establishment might try to play the "race card" against the members of the confessing movement:
I thought the Episcopal left would explicitly play the race card a lot sooner than they have. I think that conservative Episcopalians should expect a good deal more of this sort of thing as the months go by and that they should be ready for it.
I dare them to try.

The fact is the establishment is solidly white and very upper crust. These are the cream of the limousine liberals -- folks who decided they would rather "reach out" to upper-class wealthy white gays in urban areas than to reach out to the poor and down-trodden non-whites in these same urban areas.

Moreover, when faced with opposition from the whole of the third-world, they turned their backs on their brothers and sisters, accusing them of being "superstitious" "animists" and being bought off with chicken dinners.

Go ahead you members of the establishment -- I double dare you.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Humbug Season.
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Here's an interesting site: the Grinch List. It lists those businesses which are hostile to Christmas (usually in the name of misguided diversity) as well as those which recognize Christmas.

For nearly a decade, my wife and I were frustrated by businesses that offered "holiday" photo cards that failed to acknowledge Christmas. You could get a picture of junior over the top of a generic greeting like "happy holidays" or sometimes "Merry Christmas" -- but only if the "Merry Christmas" was next to an icon of Santa or Rudolph. If you wanted a nativity icon, you had to go with "Feliz Navidad." A couple of years ago, JC Penny began offering a praying Mary and Joseph with a Christmas greeting, so we've been back again. This year, we have the card with the message: "Rejoice a Savior is Born" They still have the "secular" options, and the Spanish option (too bad there's not more of those -- but, give it time) and a Jewish option (ditto). (They even have an Easter photo card with the message "He Is Risen.")

Diversity means celebrating . . . diversity. Not stamping out traditions. Anyway, take a look at the Grinch list.

P.S. WalMart and KMart make different lists -- everyone knows WalMart is successful, while KMart is struggling. Guess which list the stores make. Coincidence? I don't think good management is a coincidence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Scalia's Dissent. Justice Antonin Scalia perfectly frames what the Supreme Court has done in upholding this abridgement of the First Amendment:
This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child
pornography, tobacco advertising, dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, and sexually explicit cable programming would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government. For that is what the most offensive provisions of this legislation are all about. We are governed by Congress, and this legislation prohibits the criticism of Members of Congress by those entities most capable of giving such criticism loud voice: national political parties and corporations, both of the commercial and the not-for-profit sort. It forbids pre-election criticism of incumbents by corporations, even not-for-profit corporations, by use of their general funds; and forbids national-party use of "soft" money to fund "issue ads" that incumbents find so offensive.
To be sure, the legislation is evenhanded: It similarly prohibits criticism of the candidates who oppose Members of Congress in their reelection bids. But as everyone knows, this is an area in which evenhandedness is not fairness. If all electioneering were evenhandedly prohibited, incumbents would have an enormous advantage. Likewise, if incumbents and challengers are limited to the same quantity of electioneering, incumbents are favored. In other words, any restriction upon a type of campaign
speech that is equally available to challengers and incumbents tends to favor incumbents.
(citations omitted).

After extensively examining and burying the majorities fallacies, he concludes, in relevant parts:
Those in power, even giving them the benefit of the greatest good will, are inclined to believe that what is good for them is good for the country. Whether in prescient recognition of the Charlie Wilson Phenomenon, or out of fear of good old-fashioned, malicious, self-interested manipulation, "[t]he fundamental approach of the First Amendment . . . was to assume the worst, and to rule the regulation of political speech 'for fairness' sake' simply out of bounds." Having abandoned that approach to a limited extent in Buckley, we abandon it much further today.
We will unquestionably be called upon to abandon it further still in the future. The most frightening passage in the lengthy floor debates on this legislation is the following assurance given by one of the cosponsoring Senators to his colleagues:
This is a modest step, it is a first step, it is an essential step, but it does not even begin to address, in some ways, the fundamental problems that exist with the hard money aspect of the system.
The system indeed. The first instinct of power is the retention of power, and, under a Constitution that requires periodic elections, that is best achieved by the suppression of election-time speech. We have witnessed merely the second scene of Act I of what promises to be a lengthy tragedy. In scene 3 the Court, having abandoned most of the First Amendment weaponry that Buckley left intact, will be even less equipped to resist the incumbents' writing of the rules of political debate. The federal election campaign laws, which are already (as today's opinions show) so voluminous, so detailed, so complex, that no ordinary citizen dare run for office, or even contribute a significant sum, without hiring an expert advisor in the field, can be expected to grow more voluminous, more detailed, and more complex in the years to come—and always, always, with the objective of reducing the excessive amount of speech.

Restrictions on Political Speech Upheld. That's my take on the brief summary I've read regarding the Supreme Court's decision this morning. Please keep in mind that the last major ruling on campaign regulation and speech, Buckley v. Valeo, was a hydra-headed, book-length monster. Weighing in at 298 (.pdf formated) pages, this looks similar. Here are the justices dance partners:
STEVENS and O'CONNOR, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, in which O'CONNOR, SCALIA, KENNEDY, and SOUTER, JJ., joined, in which STEVENS, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined except with respect to BCRA §305, and in which THOMAS, J., joined with respect to BCRA §§304, 305, 307, 316, 319, and 403(b). BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Title V, in which STEVENS, OCONNOR, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, and concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring with respect to BCRA Titles III and IV, except for BCRA §§311 and 318, concurring in the result with respect to BCRA §318, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Title II, and dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I, V, and §311, in which opinion SCALIA, J., joined as to Parts I, II-A, and II-B. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., joined, in which SCALIA, J., joined except to the extent the opinion upholds new FECA §323(e) and BCRA §202, and in which THOMAS, J., joined with respect to BCRA §213. REHNQUIST, C. J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA Titles I and V, in which SCALIA and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion dissenting with respect to BCRA §305, in which GINSBURG and BREYER, JJ., joined.
To riff off Justice Hugo Black, what part of "Congress shall make no law..." didn't you understand?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Hotch pot. I'm still not "back" -- I've got a lot of catching up to do. So, in the meantime, here are some Interesting and Important links:

  • David Horowitz publishes Frank J. Gaffney's look at the Islamofacist "Fifth columnist" Grover Norquist. This is Must Reading.

  • Well over a year ago, I noted that ABC Rowan Williams who was elevated in part "because of perceived support for female bishops and gay clergy" could "turn[]out to be a pro-life Trojan horse..." According to this story, he has offered his "full backing" to an Anglican curate seeking a declaration the High Court to claim that the police should have charged a doctor for performing the abortion in 2001. (BTW, that young curate was successful in her petition.)

  • As far as I'm concerned, football season ends after the Rose Bowl. [Death to the BCS.]

  • Best Christmas CD of 2003: Relient K's "Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand." Alas, it's only a ten song disc with less than 30 minutes of songs.

  • I'm not sure I want to know what was behind Munch's Scream.

  • Last, a win for real diversity.
  • A Giant. Carl F. H. Henry, a giant who has shaped Christendom more than many of us know, has gone home to be with his Lord and Savior.

    On television this season, we'll probably see that Capra classic, It's a Wonderful Life. You may remember Clarence's line: "One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole." Without Dr. Henry, we'd have a Marianas trench void.

    Well done, good and faithful servant, and thank you.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2003

    Pardon the Interruption. I'm having a very busy week at work (today has been a 14 hour day and I don't see going to bed for another 3 hours; more of the same forecast for tomorrow).

    I'll be back here next week.

    Sunday, November 30, 2003

    Advent. I have been critical of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA(postate), Frank Griswold. I am happy to note, however, that he has reaffirmed one of the central beliefs of the Christian Church -- the return of Jesus.

    Let me take you back to Lambeth Palace, 37 of the 38 Primates of the Anglican Communion had just gathered together and issued a statement saying the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop would "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level and may lead to further division on this and further issues."

    Immediately after this statement was issued, Frank Griswold was asked the "Disneyland Question:" "Hey Frank, now that you've just had your butt kicked in front of the world media, what are you going to do next?"

    Frank could've been contrite and a servant-leader as Jesus taught, or he could've been belligerent, or he could've just said he was going to Disneyland. But he chose this moment to reaffirm the second coming, that we all look forward to and celebrate during this time of Advent. According to the Washington Times, this was how Frank replied:
    "While anything can happen, including the Second Coming, I expect to be in New Hampshire on the second of November," he said. Nov. 2 is the scheduled date for the consecration of Mr. Robinson, a divorced father of two who has lived with his male lover for more than a decade, as the new bishop of New Hampshire.
    Okay, so Frankie chose belligerence -- but he also reaffirmed the Second Coming.

    It's a start.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2003

    Thankful. I am very thankful for the lives and health of each member of my family. My wife and I were talking about our car accident last summer -- neither of us likes to bring it up because we were so close to grave injury and even death. Yet, by the Grace of God, we were delivered and walked away with mere scratches. Thinking on the accident brings us back to how close, how very close the fragility of life was broken for us. I guess it's good to slide by that and dwell in our gratefulness to the Master for having truly delivering us.

    It is good to have a national day of Thanksgiving.
    Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

    We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

    We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

    We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

    Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.


    Tuesday, November 25, 2003

    The Möbius Strip Shuffle. I love mathematics and, in particular, the somewhat different fields like topology. For example, my kids and I play the torus game: I'll ask "is an unattached garden hose more like a piece of cooked spaghetti or a full mug of coffee?" The answer, since this is the torus game, is the mug of coffee since both have a hole through them (the mug being the hole created by the handle). Mathematically, they both have a genus of one.

    I love Möbius strips (a one sided surface) and Klein bottles (a bottle with no inside). These imaginary things are wonderfully fanciful and allow one to do mental calisthenics.

    Having said this, I can not begin to describe how positively convoluted Rev. Keith F. Axberg's argument is claiming that those who seek to remain faithful to the Anglican Communion are schismatics. I quote it here in the entirety, so as to not do the man a disservice:
    There are two kinds of schism: schism in the Church, and schism from the Church. ?“Schism in the Church is a breach of communion between local churches ?… though neither side has changed the fundamental faith and order of the Church?” (Moss, 281). Schism in the Church, then, isn?’t a leaving, but a rip in the fabric of our common life in Christ. It is an estrangement, not a divorce.

    ?“Schism from the Church?”, on the other hand, ?“is the revolt of persons, large or small, who separate themselves from the Church by rejecting her faith and order ?…?” (Moss, 282). Calvin, for instance, rejected the Catholic Church, calling it the synagogue of the Anti-Christ. He saw it as being beyond redemption, beyond healing, and beyond God?’s capacity to reform. So he created a new church organization over and against the old church. The Protestant Reformation was most literally a schism from the Church.

    The debate raging within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church is partially clouded by the use of the term ?“schism?” without the defining prepositions: in or from. The Episcopal Church is clearly experiencing schism in the Church over such issues as Prayer Book revision, the ordination of women, gay, and lesbian persons, human sexuality, etc. Those persons, parishes, or dioceses not able to abide such changes are, themselves, departing from the faith and order of the Church by choosing not to accede to the authority of the Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the actions of General Convention, and not the other way around.
    I've left his emphasis in.

    Let me repeat his payoff sentence, Axberg's conclusion:
    Those persons, parishes, or dioceses not able to abide such changes [i.e. "Prayer Book revision, the ordination of women, gay, and lesbian persons, human sexuality, etc."] are, themselves, departing from the faith and order of the Church

    Talk about "pay, pray, and obey!"

    Let's look at Axberg's definitions. First, let's do the "in" thing. Rev. Axberg writes "Schism in the Church, then, isn?’t a leaving, but a rip in the fabric of our common life in Christ. It is an estrangement, not a divorce." A rip in the fabric, hmmm. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, the Primates' letter -- the one signed by every primate present in London, why, just last month. Even Frankie ("Lyin Eyes") Griswold signed it. What was that phrase they used -- you know, the leaders of the Anglican communion.

    Oh yes, they said "This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level..." Okay, so it's slightly different, not a mere rip, but a tear at the deepest level. So what was the "This" the Primates referred to -- according to Rev Ax, it must have something to do with failing to accept the ordination of a guy who believes gay sex is sacramental. How did those primates define what would tear at the deepest level? "If his consecration proceeds . . ."

    Well, how about that...

    No wonder Rev. Ax decided to go for that second option. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Come over here and let me show you the real schism. ?“Schism from the Churchis the revolt of persons, large or small, who separate themselves from the Church by rejecting her faith and order ?…?”

    By golly, Rev. Ax, do you think that's them pesky fundamentalists we've got lurking around the 'piscopal church?

    Rev. Ax sure thinks so.

    When all the Primates get together, year after year after year and "reject[] homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" that doesn't establish the Church's faith and order.

    When the Scriptures teach that God created us male and female, that doesn't have anything to do with the Church's faith and order. When the Scriptures teach that marriage should be between one man and one woman for life, that doesn't have anything to do with the Church's faith and order.

    When those same Scriptures - without equivication -condem homosexual acts as sin, that doesn't have anything to do with the Church's faith and order.

    When the constant teaching of the Church Catholic through the decades and the centuries is that homosexual practices are sin, why that doesn't have When the Scriptures teach that marriage should be between one man and one woman for life, that doesn't have anything to do with the Church's faith and order.

    When the Scriptures and teachings of the Church tell us that a Bishop should be holy and blameless, why that doesn't mean squat.

    When every single Christian denomination tells us that what ECUSA is doing is wrong. Eh, who cares?

    Again, when the Primates unanimously tell us that ordaining Gene Robinson is wrong, why, that doesn't have anything to do with the Church's faith and order.

    No, it seems all that matters for Rev. Ax is what 60 bishops in Minnesota thought on a hot day in August.

    Those of us in the congregations who are seeing our churches ripped to shreds by a handful of selfish, self-centered American bishops are having to decide if we want to follow that, "revolt of persons, large or small, who separate themselves from the Church."

    Hmmm, do I go with the Church or those in ECUSA revolting from it?

    Not a hard choice, Rev. Ax.

    I must say your argument is not a very good topology. In fact, I'd say it's a lousy tautology.

    It's full of holes. It's a one-sided surface. It is a bottle with no inside: it doesn't hold water.
    Steve Taylor Clone. It's been 10 years since the last Steve Taylor album. The only "up" side is for those of you who have never heard him is he's given express permission for his songs to be freely traded or disseminated via the internet. As a result, King David has posted a number of his songs here, in .mp3 format.

    Among the songs available is one I've mentioned before, Over My Dead Body, written in Warsaw in 1984, about Grzegorz Przemyk a Polish Youth Worker slain by the Communist government. This one may be downloaded by clicking on this link [right click and save as, for best results].

    Monday, November 24, 2003

    Confessing Network. The Anglican Mainstream has set forth some of the details on the emerging Confessing Anglican Network of North America on its website. There is a long statement and explanation there. What is really cool is that you have the opportunity to sign up and pledge to pray.

    Here is some of the background:
    The Primates set up a Commission to address these dangers and to report in September 2004. In the meantime they unanimously urged Provinces not to act precipitately and therefore agreed to a moratorium on controversial actions in their own jurisdictions. But ECUSA has acted already.

    The Primates further called for and guaranteed adequate provision for Episcopal oversight for dissenting minorities in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Adequate here clearly means "acceptable to the people concerned."

    Because of the defiant and pre-emptive action of some in ECUSA, this oversight needs to be in place now. But instead of providing such care as promised by the signature of their Presiding Bishop, some in ECUSA have launched lawsuits and disciplinary procedures which pre-empt the Archbishop's Commission and hold the agreed standstill in contempt.

    As the Primates warned, this action could have grave knock-on consequences in relationships around the Communion. The fabric has already been torn by New Hampshire and the whole Anglican family must act to prevent further damage.
    Moreover, there is a long list of suggested and contemplated actions for different persons, dioceses, bishops, and ministers. The gist of the actions may be seen in what is being urged of the ABC:
    Urge the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other primates individually and severally

  • To maintain full Communion with those Anglicans in the USA who comprise the Network

  • To recognise Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) as the duly elected Convening Bishop (Moderator) of the Network and invite him to all events to which the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is invited.

  • To recognise the Convening Bishop (Moderator) in opening ecumenical conversations with other Christian churches.

  • To insist on a moratorium on license suspensions and lawsuits against those who do not accept the election, confirmation or consecration of Gene Robinson or the blessing of same-sex partnerships at least until the Archbishop's Commission completes its work and Primates have considered its outcome.

  • To insist that true and acceptable Episcopal oversight (rather than the Presiding Bishop's unacceptable proposal for "Supplemental Episcopal Pastoral Care") be arranged forthwith, and offer immediate oversight themselves until it is in place.

  • To accept Letters Dimissory (recognition as licensed ministers) of threatened clergy, including both women clergy and those who will not accept the ordination of women.

  • To ensure that no Bishops who attended and signed the consecration papers of Gene Robinson be permitted to serve on any committee or commission of the Communion or, in any way, as official representatives of the Anglican Communion.
  • Truro. Last night we had another parish meeting to discuss what's happening in the broader Anglican communion and where Truro parish is heading. As with the other all-parish meetings, Martyn Minns asked that the discussions be kept within the parish family. In the past, I've honored those requests and will do so again.

    I believe the Truro vestry and clergy leadership are proceeding in an appropriate manner.

    Details will be forthcoming in the coming days -- when they do, I will link to them here.

    Friday, November 21, 2003

    The Speeches Not Given. At the JFK Library, and posted on-line, we can see the two Presidential speeches that John Fitzgeral Kennedy was going to give, had he not been felled by an assassin’s bullet.

    The first was an address at the Trade Mart in Dallas.

    He began with JFK realism that rings across the decades and rebukes many today: "There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable." He then moved to the focal point of the address
    I want to discuss with you today the status of our strength and our security because this question clearly calls for the most responsible qualities of leadership and the most enlightened products of scholarship. For this Nation's strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained. There are many kinds of strength and no one kind will suffice. Overwhelming nuclear strength cannot stop a guerrilla war. Formal pacts of alliance cannot stop internal subversion. Displays of material wealth cannot stop the disillusionment of diplomats subjected to discrimination.

    Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.

    I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere--it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall's speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe--it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.
    His speech continues, addressing the realities face by the US in 1963 -- please read it for the specific details.

    I am quoting extensive portions to show that JFK established a doctrine of freedom for all in the world that continues unabated to this day and the Bush presidency. Was this said by Kennedy on that day or Bush last week:
    Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.

    That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions--it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations--it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

    We in this country, in this generation, are--by destiny rather than choice--the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: 'except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'
    Students of JFK know it is his speech, but it easily could be George W. Bush.

    The second was an address to a political convention, showing the progress his administration had made on his goals:
  • We pledged to increase America's strength against its enemies, its prestige among its friends, and the opportunities it offered to its citizens. Those pledges have been fulfilled.
  • ...I pledged . . . to restore world confidence in the vitality and energy of American society. That pledge has been fulfilled. We have won the respect of allies and adversaries alike through our determined stand on behalf of freedom around the world, from West Berlin to Southeast Asia--through our resistance to Communist intervention in the Congo and Communist missiles in Cuba-- . . . America . . . has shown that it cares about the needy of its own and other lands, . . . America . . . has shown that freedom is the way to the future, . . . America . . . is known to be first in the effort for peace as well as preparedness.
  • I pledged . . . that the businessmen of this State and Nation--particularly the small businessman who is the backbone of our economy--would move ahead as our economy moved ahead. That pledge has been fulfilled. Business profits--having risen 43 percent in 2 years--now stand at a record high; and businessmen all over America are grateful for liberalized depreciation for the investment tax credit, and for our programs to increase their markets at home as well as abroad. We have proposed a massive tax reduction . . .
  • I pledged . . .that this country would no longer tolerate the lowest rate of economic growth of any major industrialized nation in the world. That pledge has been and is being fulfilled. In less than 3 years our national output will shortly have risen by a record $100 billion--industrial production is Up 22 percent, personal income is up 16 percent. And the Wall Street Journal pointed out a short time ago that the United States now leads most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits. . .
  • . . .I pledged . . . to build a national defense which was second to none--a position I said, which is not "first, but," not "first, if," not "first, when," but first--period. That pledge has been fulfilled. In the past 3 years we have increased our defense budget by over 20 percent; increased the program for acquisition of Polaris submarines from 24 to 41; increased our Minuteman missile purchase program by more than 75 percent; doubled the number of strategic bombers and missiles on alert; doubled the number of nuclear weapons available in the strategic alert forces; increased the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe by 60 percent; added 5 combat ready divisions and 5 tactical fighter wings to our Armed Forces; increased our strategic airlift capabilities by 75 percent; and increased our special counter-insurgency forces by 600 percent. We can truly say today, with pride in our voices and peace in our hearts, that the defensive forces of the United States are, without a doubt, the most powerful and resourceful forces anywhere in the world.
  • (emphasis added -- hard to believe this was before a Democratic political convention.)

    The following was to be his concluding remarks to this convention. Perhaps we should remember this as his farewell address:
    For this country is moving and it must not stop. It cannot stop. For this is a time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed., to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

    So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future--and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.

    Thursday, November 20, 2003

    Plano East. Okay, I've been hearing about this for the past week and a half, but wanted to wait until I saw confirmation. There will be a conference held in Woodbridge on January 9 and 10, 2004, to follow up on the developments with respect to the confessing movement in the Episcopal social club (I can't call it a "church"). From the announcement:
    The American Anglican Council's historic conference in Dallas, Texas (known as the'"Plano" conference) was a powerful and uplifting experience of the Church, bold in standing for Jesus Christ and alive in the Spirit for the work of mission. It strengthened, encouraged and challenged all who attended.

    The AAC Chapters in Virginia and Washington would like to provide a similar experience for faithful Episcopalians in our region. But while the Plano conference looked ahead to the emergency meeting of the Primates and possible realignment of the Anglican Communion, we now find ourselves facing the reality of realignment. At the "Plano-East" conference, key leaders of the AAC will inform us of the latest developments nationally and internationally, inspire us with biblical teaching and preaching, and challenge us to go forth to fulfill the Church's mission.
    Details are here. Also, just to make it clear, I don't have any "inside information" on this -- I haven't been holding back or anything -- the only reason I knew about this is because my oldest daughter will be involved in the worship.
    a much younger, much thinner Stanley CohenBush 2004. Coming back from Portland last month, I had the "pleasure" of flying on the same plane with attorney Stanley L. Cohen, who was finishing his defense of the Portland Seven. (They were the rag-tag group of Islamofacists who were attempting to go to Afghanistan to fight the United States.) For the record, it should be noted that Mr. Cohen, a defender of the oppressed, flew first class. (Is it any surprise?)

    Before boarding the plane, another passenger handed Mr. Cohen an anti-Bush, anti-Ashcroft political drawing. At this Mr. Cohen seemed to think he was being asked to get on a soapbox (I'm not sure why -- we were all just the passengers in the waiting area -- no news media were around) and loudly proclaimed that if George Bush won re-election in 2004, he was moving to Canada.

    As though it would be a great loss to this country.

    Too bad these guys never go through with their promises.
    Roe, the Sequel. From today's Wall Street Journal:
    Antonin Scalia was right after all. And we don't mean his prediction that the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision this year throwing out a Texas sodomy law would quickly become a vehicle for gay marriage -- which came true this week courtesy of a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision.

    We mean Justice Scalia's far more prophetic dissent a few years back in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Though that case involved abortion, Mr. Scalia's larger point was about the culture wars that were unleashed on the body politic the last time our judiciary presumed to "settle" a contentious social issue that properly rests with the people's elected representatives.

    "By foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses," he wrote, "by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish." That is one legacy of Roe v. Wade.

    We were reminded of this by Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall's 4-3 majority opinion this week defining marriage as an "evolving paradigm" and declaring there exists no "constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples." Can anyone doubt that the Massachusetts High Court has started another Thirty Years War?

    So let's be clear. Notwithstanding headlines trumpeting that Massachusetts has just opted for gay marriage, the people of that commonwealth did no such thing. It is four liberal judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court who, egged on by well-connected and politically powerful gay rights activists, have imposed their own moral values on the rest of its citizens.

    This is no coincidence. Despite Justice Marshall's solemn talk about an "evolving paradigm," most gay rights champions don't believe Americans have evolved that much. And they know they'd have an almost impossible time getting this new "paradigm" past most state legislatures. In other words, it's precisely the American public whom they most fear and whose voice they want to keep out of this process.

    So they've done what liberals so often do: Provoke some state court decisions in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will finally do the legislating for them. This sure beats having to persuade your fellow Americans through democratic debate. Did we mention that Justice Marshall's very first legal citation, in the second paragraph of her decision, is Lawrence?

    The tragedy here is that the first casualty of an all-or-nothing court clash over "rights" is any kind of reasoned debate or workable social consensus. American attitudes toward homosexuality are plainly changing, and many companies, including the one we work for, already extend full benefits to same-sex partners. We believe that this signals most Americans are at least open to persuasion about increasing the rights of gay Americans, including but not limited to marriage.

    But what the Massachusetts High Court gave America in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health is not an argument, much less an open debate. It is instead a unilateral declaration that the assumptions and values that have defined one of civilization's oldest and most vital institutions -- marriage -- should be tossed out the window. And if you don't agree they're going to force it on you anyway.

    Millions of Americans who have other views are not going to accept this moral diktat, and so once again our politics will be polarized by the cultural furies. When the fighting starts, let's all be clear about who fired the first shot.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    Seabury. After my erroneous posting about Samuel Seabury, below, the web-elves of CANN redeemed me through this posting. (I meant to mention the elves magic earlier, but got side-tracked by the four horsemen from Massachusetts.)
    More on the Mass. Suicide. In his comments to one of the postings from yesterday, Peter writes, in part (read his whole comment, please):
    If there is no compelling state interest in restricting marriage to an adult male and an adult female, there is none in prohibiting polygamy, marrying minors, etc. In that case, why not do away with civil marriage all together? If it means nothing more than property distribution, spousal privilege in court and tax return status. Why not replace civil marriages with private contracts between persons and get the state out of it altogether? A husband and wife can have a civil contract and be joined by Holy Matrimony. I dare say Holy Matrimony means a lot more to most couples than a license from the State. If all the "unchurched" that show up before the altar to get married is any guide.
    Sorry, I meant to cut off the quote at the "etc" (which I "bolded") -- but his entire point was so good, I couldn't cut it off.

    Peter is absolutely correct in this point -- under the Massachusetts majority opinion, there is now no justification in barring polygamous or incestuous marriages. Eugene Volokh, a tentative supporter of same-sex marriage (although, I gather an opponent of having it judicially mandated) makes this point very clearly:
    The court reasons that "the right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one's choice," but while it qualifies this as "subject to appropriate government restrictions in the interests of public health, safety, and welfare," it's far from clear that a court would find that "health, safety, and welfare" would be hurt by adult polygamous marriages (assuming all existing partners in the marriage consent to the addition of another). Likewise for adult brother-sister marriages; as I mentioned several months ago, I think the genetic harm argument doesn't really work here -- after all, we don't generally ban marriages between people who have serious genetic diseases, even if the odds of a defect in their children are much higher than for brother-sister marriages.

    Similarly, the court rejects the government's "foster the best environment for raising children" argument by saying that "It cannot be rational under our laws, and indeed it is not permitted, to penalize children by depriving them of State benefits because the State disapproves of their parents' sexual orientation." Seems to apply equally to children of polygamous marriages or of incestuous marriages. In fact, why isn't the desire to have multiple committed lifelong partners, or to have a relationship with one's sibling itself a "sexual orientation"?
    As they say, please read the whole thing here.

    In another post, Prof. Volokh also makes the point that's maddening to those of us who take what would seem to be the middle-road of having supported anti-discrimination legislation, now having it been turned back against us:
    So the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision allowing homosexual marriage partly relied on the passage of that very antidiscrimination statute. Unless the court's argument was just makeweight (possible, but the court must have at least thought that the point would be persuasive to some readers, or else it wouldn't have included it), passage of the employment discrimination bill did take another step down the slope towards homosexual marriage, in the sense that it did make homosexual marriage more plausible.
    Again, please read his whole essay.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Amend It. Today, looking at the Mass. Court decision, Senator John Cornyn said he is
    concerned that Goodridge, coupled with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, raises serious questions regarding the future of both the family and the traditional definition of marriage throughout America as embodied in [the Defense of Marriage Act ]. The question now is whether the popular and bipartisan legislation will remain the law of the land as the people intend, or be overturned by the courts.

    In light of these and other articulated concerns about the legal protection of the state of marriage, we believe it is important to consider what steps, up to and including a constitutional amendment, are now needed to protect and safeguard marriage.
    I have long resisted constitutional amendments, but I think it's time. It is apparent that a thin majority of judges on a small number of courts have an extreme agenda they are trying to cram through. It's time to amend the constitution and put these renegade judges in their place.

    Three partners. This statement, by the majority in the Massachusetts case struck a raw nerve with me, because it's very similar to something our minister said in his wedding sermon:
    In a real sense, there are three partners to every civil marriage: two willing spouses and an approving State.
    In our wedding sermon, our pastor, Renny Scott, advised us that
    There are three involved in every marriage, the Bride, the Groom, and their God.
    My god is God, not the state, Mr. Chief Justice.
    More on MA. With respect to the Massachusetts case, Jack asks:
    I'm not a legal eagle, but what kind of polity is it where a court however Supreme can tell an elected legislature what to do? And, what if, rather than do what the MA Court has ordered, the legislature were to clearly define marriage as heterosexual, and to specifically deny the issuance of licenses to same sex couples? Not that that is likely to occur in MA, but it would be a lot of fun to watch.
    On the first question, it's surprising what courts can do -- run prison systems, run school districts, and even, courtesy of Missouri v. Jenkins, 495 U.S. 33 (1990), raise taxes. But, it should be pointed out, this first question is in response to my first post (now struck out and amended, below) where I stated the court was requiring the legislature to take action. I was wrong. The court is staying it's own decree to give the legislature time to act.

    On the second question -- it's do-able, but you don't want to anger the gods, err, judges.

    In Virginia, as in many other states, same-sex marriage is prohibited by law. Not in Massachusetts, apparently.

    The majority opinion (i.e. four judges) indicate the court was asked to re-construe "marriage" as something different, but (it seems to me) decided not to do so in order that it could address the "right to marry" question:
    The plaintiffs argue that because nothing in that licensing law specifically prohibits marriages between persons of the same sex, we may interpret the statute to permit "qualified same sex couples" to obtain marriage licenses, thereby avoiding the question whether the law is constitutional. . . .This claim lacks merit.

    We interpret statutes to carry out the Legislature's intent, determined by the words of a statute interpreted according to "the ordinary and approved usage of the language." . . . The everyday meaning of "marriage" is "[t]he legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife," Black's Law Dictionary 986 (7th ed. 1999), and the plaintiffs do not argue that the term "marriage" has ever had a different meaning under Massachusetts law. . . . This definition of marriage, as both the department and the Superior Court judge point out, derives from the common law. . . Far from being ambiguous, the undefined word "marriage," as used in G. L. c. 207, confirms the General Court's intent to hew to the term's common-law and quotidian meaning concerning the genders of the marriage partners.
    (citations omitted).

    The majority decided "Without the right to marry -- or more properly, the right to choose to marry -- one is excluded from the full range of human experience and denied full protection of the laws for one's 'avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship.'" The chief justice, for the majority, later writes "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family -- these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights..."

    The CJ decides to employ, surprisingly enough, the "rational basis test," which is the lower standard in these type of cases (in other words, if the government shows that there is some rational basis for the challenged action, the action will stand). The CJ then says that he doesn't understand any of the rationales put forth, so this must be wrong: "The marriage ban works a deep and scarring hardship on a very real segment of the community for no rational reason. The absence of any reasonable relationship between, on the one hand, an absolute disqualification of same-sex couples who wish to enter into civil marriage and, on the other, protection of public health, safety, or general welfare, suggests that the marriage restriction is rooted in persistent prejudices against persons who are (or who are believed to be) homosexual."

    As I said below, look for an amendment to the state constitution.
    Decision. Mass. Supremes find bar on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and require legislature to act. First AP story.

    Opinion Here. Close case: 4-3. The Court is requiring the state legislature to re-enact legislation in a shorter time (180 days as opposed to, by my count, 259 days) than it took to decide this case. remanding the case to the lower court and requiring it to act. It is also staying its decree for 180 days to give the legislature time to act.

    I suspect we will see a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts defining marriage as between a man and woman only.
    D-Day in Massachusetts. I just checked the Massachusetts Supreme Court website -- today will be the decision day for the Goodrich case: the case where a number of persons are seeking to have same-sex marriages declared a right.

    The decision will be available after 10 in Massachusetts.

    Monday, November 17, 2003

    My Fantasy. Last week Mark Byron touched off, oh, shall we describe it as a wee bit o' controversy? when he described his "fantasy" involving the death of 21 Senators. This prompted Peter Sean Bradley to whimsically note his fantasy:
    my "dark thoughts" involve a rifle with a sniper scope, a time machine and Germany in 1517.
    Can I tell you my fantasy? (Don't worry, it's completely "G" -rated: I'm so clueless that last week when I overheard some folks taking about Paris Hilton, I thought they meant a hotel -- only after watching football on Fox yesterday did I learn this refers to an acerebral human being.)

    I'd love to have a time machine to go back to this moment:
    [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
    "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to preach good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
    Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
    Every time I hear that passage read, it sends chills up my spine.

    If I couldn't go back that far in time, send me back to when I was 18, so I could show myself what happens if I don't lay off the onion rings.
    Guilty. No surprise, John Muhammad has been found guilty. Now starts the penalty phase. I expect a death sentence.

    The Lee Boyd Malvo case should be interesting. When I saw the make-up of the jury, I thought it strongly favored the defense and thought he could go free. But then I remembered that this one is being prosecuted by Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., a local legend.

    I think you'll see Malvo convicted -- but he won't get the death penalty. The defense, by building up the "insanity defense" will be laying a large foundation of mitigating circumstances that will be successful before this jury.
    Will the Gentleman who stopped and spoke with me immediately after church on Sunday please send me an e-mail or leave me a comment? I didn't get your name and I feel terrible about that.
    Big boo-boo. I really goofed last Friday picking up the words of Samuel Seabury's grandson, Samuel Seabury, and attributing them to Samuel Seabury. Thank you to all those commenting for clarifying this. This is one of many reasons I love the comment feature and encourage you to use it. I try not to make mistakes but do.

    What really bugs me is there was a clear clue in that first sermon that should've tipped me off. As James Manley noted "Rome did not adopt the Immaculate Conception of Mary until 1854, long after the first Samuel Seabury died." I knew that -- I should've picked up on that and looked at the date of the sermon. For some reason, when I did look at the date of the sermon I transposed the "1874" at the top to what I expected: "1784." I then compounded my error by using it to assume (and confirm my own bias) that Seabury was commenting on a recent devolopment in the Church of Rome relating to Mary, instead of the ex cathedra pronouncement of Mary's Immaculate Conception.

    Sunday, November 16, 2003

    Blanco. The WaPo can be such a parody of itself: "...Kathleen Blanco...won a tightly contested election for Louisiana's governor...breaking a 130-year lock by white males on the job....She defeated Republican Bobby Jindal, a brown-skinned 32-year-old son of immigrants from India."

    Who knows what the factors were in this race. My own anecdotal thoughts (based on talking to one person from La) is that the "Republican" tag is still more of a factor in that state than either "brown-skinned" or "female." Possibly of equal weight is "cajun" as opposed to "immigrant."

    Friday, November 14, 2003

    Samuel Seabury, Fundamentalist. Today, November 14, 2003, is the commemoration of Samuel Seabury, the first Anglican Bishop in the U.S. Here is a good summary of his particular importance to the Episcopal Church.

    Whoops, I goofed. As noted by many in the comments, I picked up the sermon from a later Samuel Seabury. (Hang around for awhile and I'll tell you about Martin Luther's famous "I have a dream" speech.)

    I wonder how he would fare today?

    Look at this sermon in which he examines a particular doctrine espoused by the Anglican Church, that our Lord's human nature "was, from the first moment of its existence, void of all spot or taint of sin."

    Let us walk with Bishop Seabury to see how Doctrine is derived.

    First, he tells us we believe this doctrine "because it has been delivered to us by the Church as a necessary article of the Christian faith." It traces back to "[t]he apostles, themselves, or at least their successors at a very early age of the Church..." and is " necessary to guard the original faith from the assaults and wiles of those who sought to deprave it by false and heretical teaching."

    Is tradition alone, Rev. Seabury, sufficient grounding for Doctrine?
    this prescription, which may plead apostolic tradition in its favor; this teaching of our common mother, which ought in reason to have far more weight with us than the wisest of human parents, is a sufficient ground for our belief in the doctrine, at least in the first instance, and until we shall be qualified to try our faith by the ultimate standard of Holy Scripture.
    (emphasis added).

    How should we proceed? proceed, as in an humble and reverential spirit you properly may, to compare the teaching of the Church with the infallible dictates of Holy Scripture...

    Bishop Seabury continues: "Human testimony is the ground of human faith, or that which we exercise in the common affairs of life. Divine testimony is the ground of divine faith, or that which is required of us in order to our everlasting salvation."

    In the second portion of his sermon, he turns from the grounds of Doctrine to "the use of" or reason for the Doctrine. As Seabury puts it: "For God does nothing for naught, and weak as we are we can always discover enough in His works to excite our admiration of His wisdom and goodness."

    The rest of the sermon is excellent and I commend it to you -- it is, essentially a refutation of what was then a recent development in the Church of Rome, the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The importance for us is that he develops Doctrine based on the Apostolic teachings handed down, subject always to the ultimate standard, the Word of God.

    What a fundamentalist!

    More. From this it looks like Seabury only bases Doctrine on two of the three legs of the Anglican stool. What about the third leg, reason?

    In this sermon he does reaffirm the three legs, but again note that it must comport with "plain Scripture:
    ...truth which is conveyed to faith in regard to the invisible and spiritual must correspond to all that is expressed to the senses in regard to the visible and material, provided that nothing be received which is contradictory to reason and plain Scripture.