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 Volume 1.13  This View’s Featured Pages & Sites May 6, 2002 


The View’s Featured Webpages
(links to offsite pages)

Columns, essays, and news articles (new at top)

“Final Solution,” Phase 2 (George Will) new
“In Britain the climate created by much of the intelligentsia, including the elite press, is so toxic that the Sun, a tabloid with more readers than any other British newspaper, recently was moved to offer a contrapuntal editorial headlined ‘The Jewish faith is not an evil religion.’ Contrary to what Europeans are encouraged to think. And Ron Rosenbaum, author of the brilliant book ‘Explaining Hitler,’ acidly notes the scandal of European leaders supporting the Palestinians’ ‘right of return’ — the right to inundate and eliminate the state created in response to European genocide — ‘when so many Europeans are still living in homes stolen from Jews they helped murder.’ It is time to face a sickening fact that is much more obvious today than it was 11 years ago, when Ruth R. Wisse asserted it. In a dark and brilliant essay in Commentary magazine, she argued that anti-Semitism has proved to be ‘the most durable and successful’ ideology of the ideology-besotted 20th century.”

Gore’s Grossing (Ken Adelman) new
“When former Vice President Al Gore takes pen to paper — or computer to email — he seemingly can’t avoid engaging in hyperbole. Thus, it is no surprise the man who wrote that we live in ‘a dysfunctional civilization’ in Earth in the Balance would claim in a column to The New York Times April 21 that the administration that replaced his was in the pocket of special interests. But as the Danish mathematician, Bjorn Lomborg, pointed out in The Skeptical Environmentalist, to characterize as ‘dysfunctional’ a civilization that has produced ‘more leisure time, greater security, fewer accidents, more education, more amenities, higher incomes, fewer starving, more food and healthier and longer life,’ is ‘quite simply immoral.’”

Speaking Lies to Power: Ralph Nader fudges the truth just like a real politician. (Matt Welch) new
“Eighteen hours earlier, I had watched the Nader 2000 crew engage in a far more flagrant manipulation of the truth, more egregious than anything else I witnessed during my two months covering the campaign for the lefty news site WorkingForChange.com. Even before the first preliminary exit poll data crossed the wires, young staffers, on the orders of campaign headquarters, were frantically devising multiple formulas to ‘prove’ that Nader didn’t cost Gore the election, no matter what the results might say later. ‘That’s shocking,’ I told one of the harried idealists charged with carrying out the deception. The faces around the computer, for what it’s worth, did not register any surprise. We’ve come to expect this kind of professional dishonesty from the two major political parties, which is one of the reasons many of us find them repellent. But coming from a ‘purity’ candidate who wants to lecture us on ‘how to tell the truth,’ it suggests a certain self-delusion. It’s one thing to display the schizophrenia inherent in trying to cobble together a coalition of disaffected lifelong Democrats and party-hating anti-globalization activists. It’s quite another to ‘speak truth to power’ by fudging it.”

Careers are “making women miserable” (London Telegraph) new
“Women have become unhappier as a result of concentrating more on their careers than the family role they once fulfilled, an academic claims in a new book. Prof James Tooley believes the feminist revolution of the 1960s and 1970s brought about huge changes in attitudes which have not be conducive to motherhood. In his book, The Miseducation of Women, published next month, he suggests many professional woman would have been more contented by staying at home and bringing up children. He draws comparisons with the film character Bridget Jones, a love-hungry young woman in publishing who becomes a television presenter and craves a stable relationship rather than being left ‘a singleton’. Prof Tooley, professor of education policy at Newcastle University, considers that the role of housewife has been ‘desperately undervalued’ in society. He argues that schools should allow girls to concentrate on the arts and domestic science rather than being pushed towards subjects such as engineering and computer science in an attempt at sexual equality.”

It’s the End of the Modern Age (John Lukacs) new
“For a long time, I have been convinced that we in the West are living near the end of an entire age, the age that began about 500 years ago. I knew, at a very early age, that ‘the West’ was better than ‘the East’ — especially better than Russia and Communism. I had read Spengler: But I believed that the Anglo-American victory over the Third Reich (and over Japan) was, at least in some ways, a refutation of the categorical German proposition of the inevitable and imminent Decline of the West. However — Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s victory had to be shared with Stalin. The result, after 1945, was my early decision to flee from a not yet wholly Sovietized Hungary to the United States, at the age of 22. And 20-odd years later, at the age of 45, I was convinced that the entire Modern Age was crumbling fast. But there is a duality in every human life, in every human character. I am neither a cynic nor a categorical pessimist. Twelve years ago, I wrote: ‘Because of the goodness of God I have had a happy unhappy life, which is preferable to an unhappy happy one.’ I wrote, too: ‘So living during the decline of the West — and being much aware of it — is not at all that hopeless and terrible.’ But during these past 10 years (not fin de siècle: fin d’une ère), my conviction hardened further, into an unquestioning belief not only that the entire age, and the civilization to which I have belonged, are passing but that we are living through — if not already beyond — its very end. I am writing about the so-called Modern Age.”

Gun Control Misfires in Europe (John Lott) new
“Sixteen people were killed during Friday’s school shooting in Germany. This follows the killing of 14 regional legislators in Zug, a Swiss canton, last September, and the massacre of eight city council members in a Paris suburb last month. The three worst public shootings in the Western world during the past year all occurred in Europe, whose gun laws are exactly what gun-control advocates want the U.S. to adopt. Indeed, all three occurred in gun-free ‘safe zones.’ Germans who wish to get hold of a hunting rifle must undergo checks that can last a year, while those wanting a gun for sport must be a member of a club and obtain a license from the police. The French must apply for gun permits, which are granted only after an exhaustive background and medical record check and demonstrated need, with permits only valid for three years. Even Switzerland’s once famously liberal laws have become tighter. Swiss federal law now limits gun permits to only those who can demonstrate in advance a need for a weapon to protect themselves or others against a precisely specified danger. The problem with such laws is that they take away guns from law-abiding citizens, while would-be criminals ignore them, leaving potential victims defenseless. The U.S. has shown that making guns more available is actually a better formula for law and order.”

The end of poverty? (Christian Science Monitor) new
“John Edmunds has seen the future – and it’s wealthy. This will be news to many – certainly to all those antiglobalization protesters who now force the world’s economic leaders into retreat behind concrete wherever they gather. And many people are used to thinking of the developing world only in terms of dire, and worsening, poverty. But Dr. Edmunds, a professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is adamant. ‘The economic problem is now solved,’ he says. ‘For thousands of years, mankind struggled to achieve freedom from poverty. The solution is now here and is rapidly transforming everyone’s economic possibilities everywhere.’ It may be true that global wealth creation continues apace. But some warn that the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer, at rates that surprise even pessimists. A recent World Bank study, for instance, found the gap between rich and poor ‘absolutely huge and far higher than conventional measures indicate.’ Yet statistics also show millions escaping poverty.... And someone out there is buying all those cellphones and TVs and computers being sold in the developing world.”

Great Basin Mammals (co2science.org) new
“The results of this study and those of several others (Grayson, 2000; Grayson and Madson, 2000; Fleishman et al., 2001) stand in stark contrast to the doom-and-gloom predictions of climate alarmists, who incessantly claim that global warming will lead to a mass extinction of species nearly everywhere on earth because, as they say, plants and animals will not be able to migrate fast enough to keep up with the climatic zones to which they are currently most accustomed, or alternatively, they will literally ‘run out of places to run’ when the migration is upward as opposed to poleward. As simple-sounding as that fearsome hypothesis is, more complex studies, such as the one reviewed here, indicate it is simply wrong, because plants and animals are simply not the simpletons climate alarmists make them out to be, as they possess a wide array of strategies for coping with environmental change and recolonizing former territories after having once been forced out of them.”

Water Level History of the U.S. Great Lakes (co2science.org) new
“Climate alarmists worry — or claim they worry — that greenhouse-induced warming will dramatically lower the water levels of the Great Lakes. However, over what they claim to be the century that has exhibited the greatest warming of the entire past millennium, there has been no net change in the water level of any of the Great Lakes. In addition, over the past two decades of what they typically refer to as unprecedented warming, the four lakes have exhibited their greatest stability and highest water levels of the past century. These observations fly in the face of all the climate alarmists’ horror stories, suggesting that either the consequences they predict to follow on the heels of global warming are wrong or their global temperature history of the past millennium is wrong... or both are wrong. Based on their poor track record in representing reality, we lean towards the latter alternative.”

Study: Science Literacy Poor in US (Yahoo! News) new
“Few Americans understand the scientific process and many believe in mysterious psychic powers and may be quick to accept phony science reports, according to a national survey. The survey, part of the National Science Foundation (news - web sites)’s biennial report on the state of science understanding, research, education and investment, found that the belief in ‘pseudoscience’ is common in America. The study found that science literacy has improved only slightly since the previous survey and that 70 percent of American adults do not understand the scientific process. America continues to lead the world, the study found, in scientific investment, in research and development and in technology advances. But it found weakness in some levels of scientific education and noted that the U.S. continues to depend heavily on foreign-born scientists and now faces increased competition from steadily improving scientific enterprises abroad. In the survey of American attitudes toward science, the study found that doctors and scientists were the most respected of the professions, but it also found that ‘belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread and growing.’”

Limits (Peter Beinart) new
“At first glance, the dynamics of the Church pedophilia cover-up feel familiar: Mid-level officials abused their authority; their superiors, fearing embarrassment, protected them, immeasurably compounding the offense; those superiors responded to initial press reports by stonewalling and denigrating the accusers; but then, when the revelations grew overwhelming, they belatedly opted for full disclosure and public apologies. Presented with this apparently familiar script, the commentariat has settled into its familiar role. As with Enron, Gary Condit, and Monica Lewinsky, it has focused on two main questions: ‘Who should take the blame?’ and ‘What lesson is to be drawn?’ The problem in the Church pedophilia scandal is that the opinion industry can’t answer either of those questions because, in a deep sense, they are none of its business. The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald have called on Bernard Cardinal Law to resign. But you can’t declare someone unfit for their post without having an opinion about the requirements of the post. And you can’t have an opinion about the requirements of the post without having an opinion about the mission of the institution as a whole. Newspapers can call on a politician to resign because they have legitimate opinions about the purpose of the government in which he or she serves. They can demand that a cardinal who shields pedophile priests go to jail because they have legitimate opinions about criminal justice. But they can’t legitimately call on a cardinal to resign because they can’t have a legitimate opinion about the purpose of the Catholic Church. You can’t weigh Law’s cover-up of pedophilia against his work serving the poor, or opposing abortion, or bestowing the sacraments, or espousing the gospel, without making a judgment about the relative value of those endeavors, and that judgment is inescapably theological. It is a judgment about the best way to incarnate the revelation of Jesus Christ — and that’s not a judgment for The Boston Globe.”

Scientists Cautious on Report of Cancer From Starchy Foods (NYT) new
“Many experts say that a rising furor over a new report that many starchy foods, including breads, cereals and French fries, are laced with a chemical that could cause cancer is overblown. The chemical is acrylamide, which, Swedish scientists reported last week, is produced when certain carbohydrates are baked or fried at high temperatures. The scientists have not published a paper on their small study. Instead, they made their announcement at a news conference last week. Shortly afterward, the World Health Organization announced it would ‘organize an expert consultation as soon as possible to determine the full extent of the public health risk from acrylamide in food.’ But many experts said yesterday that it made no sense to be alarmed over unpublished data on a chemical that was very unlikely to have a measurable impact on cancer rates. ‘It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb,’ Dr. Stephen Safe, a professor of toxicology at Texas A&M University. ‘There are carcinogens in everything you eat. Maybe they’ll just ban food.’ Others agreed.”

Tales of the Tyrant (Mark Bowden) new
“Fresh food is flown in for him twice a week — lobster, shrimp, and fish, lots of lean meat, plenty of dairy products. The shipments are sent first to his nuclear scientists, who x-ray them and test them for radiation and poison. The food is then prepared for him by European-trained chefs, who work under the supervision of al Himaya, Saddam’s personal bodyguards. Each of his more than twenty palaces is fully staffed, and three meals a day are cooked for him at every one; security demands that palaces from which he is absent perform an elaborate pantomime each day, as if he were in residence. Saddam tries to regulate his diet, allotting servings and portions the way he counts out the laps in his pools. For a big man he usually eats little, picking at his meals, often leaving half the food on his plate. Sometimes he eats dinner at restaurants in Baghdad, and when he does, his security staff invades the kitchen, demanding that the pots and pans, dishware, and utensils be well scrubbed, but otherwise interfering little. Saddam appreciates the culinary arts. He prefers fish to meat, and eats a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. He likes wine with his meals, though he is hardly an oenophile; his wine of choice is Mateus rosé. But even though he indulges only in moderation, he is careful not to let anyone outside his most trusted circle of family and aides see him drinking. Alcohol is forbidden by Islam, and in public Saddam is a dutiful son of the faith.”

The Hidden Victims (Thomas Friedman) new
“Progressive Arab states, like Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain, which want to build their legitimacy not on how they confront Israel but on how well they prepare their people for the future, are being impeded. And retrograde Arab regimes, like Syria, Saudi Arabia or Iraq, can now feed their people more excuses why not to reform. The Palestinians have been experts at seducing the Arab world into postponing its future until all the emotive issues of Palestine are resolved. Three generations of Arabs have already paid dearly for only being allowed to ask one question: Who rules Palestine? — not, How are we educating our young or what kind of democracy or economy should we have? It would be a tragedy if a fourth generation suffered the same fate.”

A Field of Nightmares (Jessica Gavora) new
“Feminists call the struggle for proportionality under Title IX the pursuit of “gender equity.” The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) is perhaps the strongest advocate of Title IX and “gender equity” in sports, having as its mission to “increase and enhance sports and fitness opportunities for all girls and women.” Founded by tennis player Billie Jean King in 1974 in the after-glow of her victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes,” the WSF is the most powerful advocacy group for female athletes in the country. Like most women’s groups, it has benefited from friendly press coverage.... But behind the appealing image of strong female athleticism that is the group’s public face, the Women’s Sports Foundation pursues a relentlessly political agenda: to turn the grant of opportunity for women guaranteed under Title IX into a grant of preference. Under the leadership of its street-fighting executive director, Donna Lopiano, a former All-American softball player and the former women’s athletic director at the University of Texas, the WSF has done more than any other group to convince colleges and universities that compliance with Title IX means manipulating the numbers of male and female athletes.”

Cardinal Coverup (New Times LA) new
“On the day after child-molesting Boston priest John Geoghan was sentenced to prison in late February, marking an incremental low in the sex scandal afflicting the Roman Catholic Church, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony launched a remarkable public-relations campaign. It began subtly, with a pastoral letter published in The Tidings, the archdiocese’s official newspaper. The 65-year-old cardinal pledged to do ‘all that is humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the L.A. Archdiocese, the nation’s largest. He set forth a zero tolerance policy for priests who abuse children.... A few days later — even as he abruptly dismissed a few sex-abusing priests who had enjoyed his favor for years despite his knowledge that they were molesters, and then stonewalled law enforcement about who they were — Mahony quickly sought to establish himself as a leading voice in dealing with the widening scandal. He ordered that a brochure on the problem of sex abuse be distributed to all parishes and schools within the sprawling L.A. Archdiocese, encompassing Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. And he unveiled a new sexual-abuse hotline ostensibly aimed at enabling abuse victims to blow the whistle on errant priests. The cardinal’s press spokesman described these efforts in glowing terms. In view of the Boston scandal, Tod Tamberg, his spokesman, said the cardinal thought the time had come to let the faithful know ‘that we have comprehensive policies on sex abuse, that we follow them carefully and review them regularly.’ The implicit message: Other Catholic hierarchs might appear flat-footed in the face of the worst scandal to rock the church in centuries, but Los Angeles’ Mahony was a leader who was actually doing something. Yet in his pell-mell rush to be seen as the cardinal with a plan, all the while playing a gullible local mainstream press like a harp in diverting attention from his own dismal record of protecting pedo-priests, Mahony’s actions amounted to little more than a public-relations snow job. His image as a reformer took another beating this week with the disclosure that his protecting of accused pedophiles has extended even to the new Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral residential suites, with abuse claims against Father Carl Sutphin, who until recently was associate pastor there.... In fact, most of his publicly announced ideas for dealing with the sex-abuse crisis, including those he unveiled amid much fanfare before jetting off to Rome along with other American cardinals to meet with the pope this month, weren’t Mahony’s at all. They had been forced on him, kicking and screaming, as it were, last August as conditions for settling a potentially explosive sex-abuse case involving the former principal of a prominent Catholic high school in Orange County, Monsignor Michael Harris. Barely a month before he would have been forced to testify at the Harris trial, Mahony authorized the Los Angeles Archdiocese to pay victim Ryan DiMaria $5.2 million — the largest such settlement ever for a single victim in a Catholic sex-abuse case.”

Bishops, media views of “zero tolerance” create gap in perceptions (CNS)
“U.S. church leaders left a Vatican summit on clerical sex abuse saying they felt encouraged to take new steps to curb such abuse and rein in offenders. But they arrived home in the United States to a largely negative reaction and headlines that read: ‘Cardinals Confront Sex Abuse and Come Up Short,’ and ‘Vatican Summit Confounds, Angers.’ What happened? Why such a gulf between perceptions? One big reason was confusion over the term ‘zero tolerance,’ especially in light of a final communique by summit participants. Going into the meeting, ‘zero tolerance’ was a phrase used by bishops and dioceses to describe the policy of removing from positions of ministry any priest who has abused minors or who is facing a credible accusation. In effect, the priest remains a priest, but he is out of a church job. The summit communique introduced a new, even stronger potential punishment that may be designed for priest-offenders: a quick procedure of forced laicization. That means an abusive priest would not only be out of a job, he would no longer be a priest. Unfortunately, many in the media never understood the distinction.”

What We’re Fighting For: We hold these truths to be self-evident. Let’s start acting like it. (Brendan Miniter)
“Now it’s time for Western culture to stand up again. Worries about imperialism, especially cultural imperialism, should be cast off. Global free trade isn’t imperialistic; it’s the spread of a natural right, economic freedom. Demanding that a country respect its people’s basic rights isn’t imperialistic, and neither is standing for an unfettered media. No one wants to bring back colonial empires. All cannot remain quiet on the Western front. The West, not just America, is locked in a struggle with forces that question its foundation. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and many others reject the fundamental ideals of Western culture: individual sovereignty, freedom of conscience, free interaction among men and the right to the fruits of one’s own labor. They reject the Western intellectual framework that has permitted scientific, political and economic freedom and given the world the fruits of unparalleled creativity. These thugs hate Western success and religious plurality. Like Lenin buying rope from capitalists, the only Western product they seem to like is weaponry. The media’s historical ignorance helps undermine Western confidence. Rarely do we see reports explaining how the West benefited from Judeo-Christian thought. We are told America’s Founding Founders were deists if not atheists. Yet studying the period you’ll find countless references to God and prayers of asking God’s guidance. John Adams once said the intellectual framework for rebellion was laid in the churches years before it became a political struggle. That makes sense, for America is founded on the idea that man is endowed by his Creator with the right to be free.”

Blind Spot (Randall Kennedy)
“The key argument in favor of racial profiling, essentially, is that taking race into account enables the authorities to screen carefully and at less expense those sectors of the population that are more likely than others to contain the criminals for whom officials are searching.... Some commentators embrace this position as if it were unassailable, but under U.S. law racial discrimination backed by state power is presumptively illicit. This means that supporters of racial profiling carry a heavy burden of persuasion.... Stressing that racial profiling generates clear harm (for example, the fear, resentment, and alienation felt by innocent people in the profiled group), opponents of racial profiling sensibly question whether compromising our hard-earned principle of anti-discrimination is worth merely speculative gains in overall security. A notable feature of this conflict is that champions of each position frequently embrace rhetoric, attitudes, and value systems that are completely at odds with those they adopt when confronting another controversial instance of racial discrimination — namely, affirmative action. Vocal supporters of racial profiling who trumpet the urgency of communal needs when discussing law enforcement all of a sudden become fanatical individualists when condemning affirmative action in college admissions and the labor market. Supporters of profiling, who are willing to impose what amounts to a racial tax on profiled groups, denounce as betrayals of ‘color blindness’ programs that require racial diversity. A similar turnabout can be seen on the part of many of those who support affirmative action. Impatient with talk of communal needs in assessing racial profiling, they very often have no difficulty with subordinating the interests of individual white candidates to the purported good of the whole. Opposed to race consciousness in policing, they demand race consciousness in deciding whom to admit to college or select for a job.”

A War of Resolve: American kowtowing to “moderate” Arabs may embolden bin Laden. (Bernard Lewis)
“It was the shock of America’s rapid and sharp reaction that made bin Laden blink. After the U.S.’s initial response, he halted his campaign and adopted a more cautious attitude. But some recent American actions and utterances may bring a reconsideration of this judgement and the halt to which it gave rise. Our anxious pleading with the fragile and frightened regimes of the region to join — or at least to tolerate — a campaign against terrorism and its sponsors has put the U.S. in a corner where it seems to be asking permission for actions that are its own prerogative to take. Likewise, the exemptions accorded to some terrorist leaders, movements and actions not immediately directed against us have undermined the strong moral position which must be the foundation of our global war on terrorism. The submission to being scolded and slighted, as Secretary of State Colin Powell did in his recent meeting with the king of Morocco, and his failure to meet with the president of Egypt, make the U.S. seem it is reverting to bad habits. That only further contributes to a perceived posture of irresolution and uncertainty on the part of the U.S. administration.”

Radical Islam gains adherents abroad (Stephen Handelman)
“But even where it succeeded in gaining a political foothold, radical Islam exposed itself as incoherent and unsatisfying to those whom it most needed to attract. Islamists’ ‘incendiary rhetoric and uncompromising approach to statecraft alienated the very middle classes that earlier sympathized with their critique of corrupt elites,’ wrote Ray Takeyh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. So what does their failure have to do with Europe and the West? The answer is chillingly simple: Unable to win political traction at home, radical Islam has found its most passionate new adherents in Muslim communities abroad. At least 12 million Muslims — perhaps as many as 22 million — live in Europe today. The targets of economic discrimination and prejudice themselves, many can be easily swayed to violence in the pursuit of a political agenda set elsewhere. That governments in the Muslim world are aware of this is indisputable. Also indisputable is the fact that the money and logistics support channelled to these overseas groups by some of those governments deflects the still-genuine threat posed by Islamic alternatives at home.”

Intellectuals are failing the West (Paul Mulshine)
“With a few prominent exceptions, such as Johns Hopkins University professor Fouad Ajami, intellectuals have been reluctant to criticize the Muslim world’s tilt toward totalitarianism. And that Muslim world will continue to be a threat to the West as long as so many fanatics cling to the illusion that a government is justified in ignoring basic rights as long as it claims to be religiously inspired. ‘Even the massacre of 3,000 innocent people has not alerted people to what’s going on,’ Warraq said of the events of Sept. 11. ‘I noticed in England, where I have some liberal friends, that many of the intellectuals took it that this was all because of American foreign policy. It’s really, really dangerous to go along that line of thought.’ The problem is much deeper than that, according to Warraq. The leaders of the Islamist movement see themselves as on the verge of another great expansion like the one that occurred in the Middle Ages. And the mushiness of the multiculturalists fuels their ambitions.... The multiculturalists maintain that different cultures can have different values, even if those values infringe upon the basic rights of the individual. The opposite view, best stated by Thomas Jefferson back when it was European kings who were claiming to rule in the name of God, is that rights are unalienable. Any government that tramples on them is illegitimate. Warraq says Western intellectuals should insist that Muslim governments observe individual rights.”

Excusing child abuse (Matt Kaufman)
“There are some things whose evil should be so obvious that no debate is necessary. We wouldn’t be a better society if we sat down for calm, dispassionate discussions of the merits of, say, rape. (‘Sure,’ one side would argue, ‘women say “no means no,” but some of them don’t really mean it.’) The same is true of sex with children. That’s why it’s important that we not only reject pedophilia, but reject it vehemently, with undisguised disgust. We modern folk hesitate to display that sort of disgust, for fear we’ll be considered ‘judgmental.’ But we’d better recognize something: If the pro-pedophilia crowd can simply get recognized as a legitimate side in a debate — sharing podiums with opponents, haggling over the fine points of scientific studies, gradually accustoming people to the idea that some types of pedophilia aren’t really so bad — then they’re well on their way to achieving their goal. As Newshouse News Service writer Mark O’Keefe summarizes their view, ‘it may be only a matter of time before modern society accepts adult-child sex, just as it has learned to accept premarital sex and homosexual sex.’ That’s a sobering comparison for anyone who complacently assumes society will never reach the point of tolerating pedophilia. It’s also an important reminder of where the roots of the threat really lie.”

Gunmen stole gold, crucifixes, escaped monks report (Jerusalem Post)
“Three Armenian monks, who had been held hostage by the Palestinian gunmen inside the Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, managed to flee the church area via a side gate yesterday morning. They immediately thanked the soldiers for rescuing them. They told army officers the gunmen had stolen gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books, and had caused damage. The three elderly monks were assisted by soldiers. One of them held a white cloth banner with the words ‘Please help.’ One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, later told reporters: ‘They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything... they stole our prayer books and four crosses... they didn’t leave anything. Thank you for your help, we will never forget it.’”

In Dealing With Abusive Priests, Bishops Stood Along Wide Spectrum (NYT)
“While some American bishops transferred predator priests from parish to parish, the leader of one diocese, Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh, battled for seven years to remove a sexually abusive priest from the ministry. Bishop Wuerl suspended the priest, the Rev. Anthony Cipolla, in 1988 after a former altar boy sued him for damages and at least one other victim stepped forward. And when Father Cipolla persuaded the Vatican’s highest tribunal to reinstate him, Bishop Wuerl traveled to Rome with suitcases full of papers to document the priest’s sex crimes. The Vatican reversed course in 1995, upholding the bishop’s sanctions and vindicating what he describes as his effort to protect the safety of his flock. ‘You have to assure your people that their needs are first,’ he said in an interview last week. Bishop Wuerl stands on one end of a broad spectrum of how Catholic leaders have responded to the sexual abuse crisis in the church. While he and some other bishops in the nation’s 194 dioceses have sought in various ways to prevent abuse and to hold pedophiles accountable, others have seemed more concerned with protecting the church’s name and its bank accounts, church leaders and religious scholars said in interviews.... In an interview on Thursday at his downtown Pittsburgh chancery, Bishop Wuerl said that shortly after assuming leadership of the diocese in 1988, he paid a visit to the shattered family of two brothers who had been abused by priests. The meeting had a profound effect on him, he said. ‘You cannot visit with someone who has been abused without coming away with deepened resolve that this should never happen again,’ he said. That same year, he removed Father Cipolla as a chaplain at a Catholic home for handicapped children, after Timothy A. Bendig, a Pittsburgh paramedic, accused the priest of having repeatedly abused him when he was an altar boy earlier in the 1980’s. Mr. Bendig, the second Pittsburgh Catholic to step forward with accusations against Father Cipolla, sued the Diocese of Pittsburgh for damages, eventually obtaining a settlement. Father Cipolla appealed his removal all the way to the Vatican’s highest court, the Signatura, which in 1993 ordered that he be reinstated, on the ground that Bishop Wuerl had violated his rights under canon law. But in 1995, after the bishop went to Rome to offer details of the priest’s behavior, the court reversed itself. ‘Bishop Wuerl took a brave stand in my case,’ Mr. Bendig said in an interview. ‘He just insisted, “This man should not be a priest.”’”

Well, oil be ... it’s our new pal, Russia (Bill Virgin)
“So we have finally soured on our friends of convenience, the Saudis. This is hardly surprising. After all, if you expect us to keep your country from being annexed by Saddam as the 19th or 20th province of Iraq but you treat our troops like your subjects, all the while secretly encouraging attacks on us and our allies, even we Americans eventually catch on. But this is all right, because we believe we have found a new best friend — the Russians. An affiliation with the Russians has several attractions. It provides an answer and an alternative to the reason we’ve put up with the Saudis this long — oil. Having Russia as a major supplier would allow us to tell the Saudis to literally and figuratively go pound sand. And being business and political partners with Russia puts on our side a nation that, while smaller than in the Soviet Union era, is still a significant force (‘we just know we’ve got those nukes around here somewhere’).”

Jewish Chiefs: Anti-Semitism Grows (Yahoo! News)
“World Jewish leaders warned Tuesday that the level of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe is the worst since World War II. The executive committee of the World Jewish Congress demanded better protection by authorities. Secretary-general Avi Beker said 360 anti-Semitic incidents in France over the past two weeks heralded worse to come for Jewish communities in Europe. ‘There is today an anxiety on the part of Jews when they go to the religious centers, they go to their social centers, when they send their children to school,’ Beker said on the last day of a two-day emergency meeting of the umbrella group that represents Jewish groups from about 80 countries. ‘This is quite shameful for Europe.’ Synagogues, Jewish schools and cemeteries have been targeted in attacks in several European nations in recent weeks, coinciding with Israel’s major offensive in Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Suspects in many of the attacks are Arab youths of North African origin.”

U.S. to help U.N. redefine “families” (WT)
“The Bush administration has joined European delegates to an upcoming U.N. summit on children in moving to recognize families ‘in various forms,’ including unmarried cohabiting couples and homosexual partners. A coalition of Catholic and Muslim countries has formed to block the change to the traditional U.N. definition of the family — married heterosexual parents and children — at the General Assembly’s Special Session on Children from May 8 to May 10. A senior official at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York said the U.S. Mission and the State Department are backing the delegates from Switzerland and the European Union in their efforts because so many children today are brought up by single parents. Informal negotiations resume today in New York on a final document for the summit. The U.S. official spoke anonymously, saying he did not want to be ‘hung out to dry’ for explaining the administration’s position. He said the United States supports the proposal to recognize families ‘in various forms’ because ‘obviously we feel this more reflects the families of today, which are headed by single parents and extended families.’ Customarily, U.N. members are obliged to conform their national laws to the body’s declarations, and critics have said that the European-backed changes would make such proposals as homosexual ‘marriage’ and domestic-partner benefits an internationally recognized right.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webpages Trove.

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Classic articles that are, or should be, famous (new at top)

The End of History?
(Francis Fukuyama)
The National Interest
(Summer 1989
) new
“The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran. What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

An Explosion of Green
(Bill McKibben)
The Atlantic
(April 1995)

“In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, ‘The forests are not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will ever grow again.’ Less than two centuries later, despite great increases in the state’s population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today, and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal of the rural and mountainous East — not the spotted owl, not the salvation of Alaska’s pristine ranges — represents the great environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole world. Here, where ‘suburb’ and ‘megalopolis’ were added to the world’s vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way, one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.”

The Doomslayer
(Ed Regis)
Wired
(February 1997)

“The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death. Time is short, and we have to act now. That’s the standard and canonical litany.... There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false.... Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997. ‘Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way,’ he says. ‘Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials — all of them — have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue.’”

A brilliant parody:

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
(Alan Sokal)
Social Text (Spring/Summer 1996)

“There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ‘eternal’ physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ‘objective’ procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.”

... and, in explanation, ...

A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies
(Alan Sokal)
Lingua Franca (May/June 1996)

“For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads or tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies — whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross — publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.... What’s going on here? Could the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a parody?”

Networks Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News.
(Bernard Goldberg)
Wall Street Journal (February 13, 1996)

“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

There is No Time, There Will Be Time
(Peggy Noonan)
Forbes ASAP (November 18, 1998)

“When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries... who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.”

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The View’s Featured Websites, Series, and Multi-Part Articles
(links to other sites)

Mostly sources of news and opinion (alphabetical)

Arts & Letters Daily
Articles of Note — New Books — Essays and Opinion

Business Daily Review
Features and Analysis — Opinions and Reviews — Strategy and Tactics

Catholic News Service
U.S. Catholic Conference

City Journal
The Manhattan Institute

CNSNews
Cybercast News Service

Corante
Tech News. Filtered Daily.

FrontPage Magazine
David Horowitz

The Hoover Digest: Research and Opinion on Public Policy
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews
Poynter.org

JunkScience
All the junk that’s fit to debunk

Lucianne’s News Forum
Latest Articles

NewsMax
America’s News Page

Notable Quotables Archive @ Media Research Center
“A bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous,
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.”

RealClear Politics
political commentary for the political junkie

SciTech Daily Review
Features and Background — Books and Media — Analysis and Opinion

Tech Central Station
Where Free Markets Meet Technology

Opinion Journal
Wall Street Journal editorial page

new The Wilson Quarterly
Surveying the world of ideas for the intellectually curious reader

WorldNetDaily
A Free Press for a Free People

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Reference, etc.

American Heritage Dictionary @ Bartleby.com
Fourth Edition

Columbia Encyclopedia @ Bartleby.com
Sixth Edition

The U.S. Constitution Online
Including Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and other fundamental documents of US history and law

Founder’s Library
Historical American documents

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature @ Bartleby.com
Eighteen volumes, originally published 1907-1921

Verse @ Bartleby.com
Public-domain Anthologies and Individual Volumes

HTI American Verse Project
“The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.”

Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
Joyce Kilmer, Alice Meynell, Joseph Mary Plunkett

Catholic Encyclopedia
“Actual work on the Encyclopedia was begun in January, 1905. It was completed in April, 1914.”

Newman Reader
Life and Works of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

IntraText Digital Library
The missing link between text and hypertext

The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia Britannica
“This 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is filled with historical information that is still relevant today. It fills 29 volumes and contains over 44 million words. The articles are written by more than 1500 authors within their various fields of expertise.”

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Other columnists (alphabetical)

Diane Alden
inflyovercountry

Ann Coulter
Town Hall

Bill Dunn
Faith and Funnies

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

new Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

Michael Kelly
Washington Post

Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

new John Mallon
Peter’sVoice

Steve Milloy
Fox News

Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

Fred Reed
Commentary with Moxie

Mark Steyn
National Post

Deb Weiss
A View from Here

new George F. Will
Washington Post

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Weblogs (alphabetical)
Annunciations
Michael Dubruiel
(husband of blogger Amy Welborn)

BrinkLindsey.com
International politics, economics, and foreign policy

CampusNonsense
Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

Catholic and Enjoying It!
Mark Shea
“So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!”

Christianity Today Magazine
Compiled by Ted Olsen and others

new The Conservative Underground
Oubai Shabandar, Shanna Bowman, Dan Moody, Tim Richards
Culture Progress Justice

The Corner
National Review Online

cut on the bias
Susanna Cornett
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”

EveTushnet.com
“Conservatism reborn in twisted sisterhood”

Fool’s Folly
Emily Stimpson
Proverbs 12:23

Holy Weblog!
M. J. Garcia
A faithful look at the Net.

In Between Naps
Amy Welborn
(wife of blogger Michael Dubruiel)

InstaPundit
Glenn Reynolds

Juan Gato’s Bucket o’ Rants
Bunch of crap from a moron.

Jumping to Conclusions
David Nieporent
“Thoughts, comments, musings on life, politics, current events and the media.”

Louder Fenn’s Whirligig
Perpetual ephemera

Media Minded
(An anonymous copy editor looks at the media, especially newspapers.)

new OxBlog
“The political rantings of Josh Chafetz, a graduate student in political theory at Oxford, Dan Urman, a graduate student in international relations at Oxford, and Anand Giridharadas, a junior at the University of Michigan spending the year at Oxford.”

ScottRubush.com
Scott’s little outpost of sanity on the web.

Veritas
Chris Burgwald
“A blog among friends devoted to the usually serious but occasionally frivolous search for truth in things theological, philosophical, political, historical, etc. etc.”

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Series and multi-part articles of news or opinion

A chronicle of high-level USA government actions in September 2001, at two websites:

Ten Days in September (WP)
“This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with notes taken by several participants.”

Response to Terror (Austin American Stateman)
“This is an eight-part series by The Washington Post describing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the highest levels of government.”

Coverage of September 11 and the aftermath:

Fighting Terrorism: America Retaliates (BG)
“Archive stories from the Boston Globe: Tuesday Sept. 11 – Sunday Sept. 16”

Attack on America (Guardian Unlimited)
Special Report with continuing coverage

new Skepticism Toward The Skeptical Environmentalist
The Great Debate between Lomborg and Anti-Lomborgs @ Scientific American

A four-part series “Profiles in Discourage” by “Media Minded” on his experiences in a mid-sized city at a mid-sized newspaper taken over by a gigantic media conglomerate:

new Part I
“In the mid-1990s, my small Southern city was struck by a series of newsworthy deaths. Within the space of a year, three or four black men had been killed trying to dash across a freeway that ran beside their public housing project. The reason? A pedestrian bridge over the freeway was locked. Why had it been locked? The residents of the housing project requested that the city lock it to prevent drug dealers and other scum from invading their neighborhood. You’re probably thinking, ‘Well, you write one longish story explaining all this, then move on to the next day’s news.’ Oh no. This was a springboard for a weeklong series on the terrible plight of poor black people who were ‘isolated’ (false) and ‘forced’ to dash across a freeway so they could take part in the life of the community (again, false). It was ready-made melodrama about the terrible effects of ‘institutional racism’ that fell apart under ordinary scrutiny.... The entire series was apparently designed to garner some journalism awards (it didn’t) and win the paper’s new managers approval among the city’s minorities (it did). The net result was that the city added a few more bus lines into the project. But the series did cause a stir in the community. When spot-on criticism was presented in letters to the editor, the series was defended (internally) as casting light on a long-overlooked part of the community. But this light illuminated nothing. In the end, it was a celebration of black victimhood and the never-ending white racism (overt, subtle and institutional) that forced poor black men to run for their lives across a busy freeway. And it just might have been the last nail in the coffin of my liberalism.”

new Part II
“In 1997, we received word that the Ku Klux Klan was going to march in our fair city in the fall. Many of us who had worked at the paper before it was swallowed up by that huge media corporation were like, ‘Eh, OK. Put the story low on the local front, because hate-group monitors such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and others go out of their way to emphasize that these nuts are craving publicity and confrontation.’ We’d followed the same strategy at a much smaller paper I had worked at when the Klan came to town. The result was that about a dozen people came out to watch about a dozen Klansmen march around and holler for about a half-hour. That was it. But in the budget meeting that day, it became obvious that we were not going to have anything like that. Our new, ambitious executive editor was adamant that this was a major story that needed to be the lead story on the front page.... The march itself was unbelieveable. I don’t think the city had seen anything quite like it since the Civil Rights era. Something like 2,000 people showed up to scream and jeer at about two dozen KKK a**holes. There were several scuffles and a dozen or so arrests. Klansmen were pelted with rocks and eggs, and some of them had their hoods pulled off. Now that all sounds well and good, and I certainly feel no sympathy for these racist monsters, but this was exactly what the Klan wanted! They got to portray themselves as brave defenders of the white race to their ‘target audience.’ They were videotaping the whole spectacle to use in recruiting. And we’d set the table for them!”

new Part III
“We got our first taste of corporate-mandated ‘diversity’ not long after the media behemoth swallowed up our daily paper. It came in the form of... diversity training! Argh! If you’ve ever worked for a big corporation, you probably know the drill. Everybody files into a conference room. The lights dim. A PowerPoint presentation is made about the different communication techniques of different ethnic groups (‘Hispanic people tend to use more hand gestures... Black people tend to speak loudly... Asians tend to be more deferential’) that only seemed to reinforce stereotypes. Also, there was a short video. The only part that stuck in my mind was the segment where the white actor complained to another white actor about a black co-worker getting a promotion solely because of his skin color. The video warned against the dangers of making broad assumptions about people or situations without complete information, but the real message was clear: Do not question the company’s affirmative-action policies! Ever! Or you’ll look like the bigot in the video!

new Part IV
“A couple of years later, we were looking to fill a fairly important position. Our assistant managing editor (AME) was steered to a candidate named ‘Lamont Washington’ (not his real name) by our new executive editor (the same minority mentioned above), who sent our AME an e-mail that said something along the lines of this: ‘Here’s a resume from Lamont Washington. Let’s get him in here for an interview as soon as possible. He sounds like he’d be a good, solid minority candidate.’ Well, ‘Lamont’ showed up a couple of days later for his interview, and he turned out to be a big old country-fried white boy! Surprise, surprise, surprise! Years of newspaper experience, but pale as a ghost. Needless to say, he didn’t get a marathon two-day interview (more like a half-day) and he didn’t get hired. Amazingly, neither did a Ivy-League-educated white guy who applied for the job, a copy editor who was working on the international edition of a world-famous newspaper. (His wife was about to have a child, and they were looking for a change of pace from the big city.) Who did we hire? A young, minority copy editor from a paper that was about the same size as ours. He ended up getting fired several months later when it became obvious he couldn’t handle the responsibilities thrust upon him.”

A two-part article on the USA and Iraq by Jonah Goldberg @ National Review Online:

Baghdad Delenda Est (Part I)
“Anyway, there are any number of excellent reasons to topple Saddam Hussein: We should have done it the first time; he tried to murder the first President Bush; he’s developing weapons of mass destruction; he gassed the Kurds; he’s got that pickle-sniffer mustache; whatever. I don’t care. All of that is a conversation for another day. The point for now is that Iraq shouldn’t have existed in the first place. It’s lasted this long thanks to the Stalinist repression of the Baath regime. And the only reason we didn’t get rid of it last time was that the Saudis despise the idea of toppling Hussein because they don’t want us to establish an attractive alternative to the nasty form of government they profit from. Well, boohoo for the Saudis. If they hadn’t found oil on their land they’d be a trivia question for students of comparative government today. Wouldn’t such a huge move inflame the Middle East? Sure. Wouldn’t such a humiliating effort give Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants? Yes. Wouldn’t this cause the European diplomats to drop their egg spoons in disgust over such barbarism? Most definitely. Wouldn’t the civilized world — with the notable exception of the British — turn its collective back on us? I guess so. All that would in all likelihood be true. Until we win.”

Baghdad Delenda Est (Part Two): Get on with it.
“I know — from painful experience — that there are lots of people out there who subscribe to the bumper-sticker slogan ‘peace through strength is like virginity through f**king.’ I had to argue with such folks through all of college (and much of high school). Such statements are black holes of stupidity — idiocy is crammed into such a small space that it folds upon itself and bends all reason and logic in its proximity. If peace cannot be attained through strength, I invite one of these bespectacled, purse-carrying, rice-paper-skinned, sandalistas to walk out into a prison yard. Let’s see how receptive Tiny and Mad Dog are to entreaties over the futility of violence. ‘Sir, there’s no need for fisticuffs, I would be glad to share my Snapple with you. Can’t you see this sort of conflict is precisely what the multinational corporations want?’ International relations is much more like a prison yard than like a college seminar at Brown. Yes, relations between democracies may be cordial — but that is an argument for turning Iraq into one, not for leaving it alone. It’s ironic: All of these people who think it imperative that the United States broker peace in the Middle East seem to think it’s a coincidence that the United States is the dominant military power in the world. If military might means nothing, why aren’t the Arabs and Israelis bending to the will and rhetoric of the Belgians or the Swiss?”

A two-part article “An American Catholic” by Diane Alden @ NewsMax:

An American Catholic at Easter
“Many in the Church grasped Vatican II (1962) as an opportunity to turn the church into a trendy adjunct of the ’60s counterculture revolution. At that time serious sin went out the window. Thus, after a few short years, trendy clerics and theologians and administrators distanced themselves from notions of what traditional Catholics call ‘mortal sin.’ At least in the minds of the liberal theologians and politicizers of Catholic doctrine, there was almost no accountability for one’s actions, as everything seemed to have a psychological rather than a spiritual aspect. No sin, no consequences. Everything, all our actions, were not of our doing. Indeed, at that time much of Catholicism was dumped in favor of the social gospel. The hard stuff the Founder demands was out or ignored. Selective interpretation of Christ’s words erred in favor of His forgiving and loving side. Meanwhile, many Catholics and hierarchy, along with progressive theologians, forgot the more difficult and uncompromising demands He made on humanity. They wanted to ignore His recognition of evil, punishment, justice and sin as well as the eventual sorting out of evil from good. In the ’60s and ’70s, the American Catholic Church tended toward the idea that Christ was all about ‘love’ and nothing about casting into the darkness those who do not obey God’s laws. It was okay to sin as long as you ‘loved’ everyone and meant well. The road to hell was no longer paved with good intentions, because no one was sure hell really existed. God help anyone who made value judgments on moral issues or called certain behaviors sinful or evil. Total tolerance of all kinds of things became more important than not sinning, even though many of these attitudes and behaviors were in defiance of what the Catholic Church officially taught. In the ’60s especially, the Catholic Church began to accept as priests and nuns many men and women who were not so much the followers of Christ as they were the likely intellectual descendants and proponents of Hegel, Marx, Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers and Antonio Gramsci. It is because of that fact that the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. could justify sending pedophile priests to the shrink as they attempted to find out ‘why’ those men did foul deeds to young boys.”

Catholics in Name Only
“In any event, intellectuals inside and outside the Church felt permission to make use of their radicalism. Most American institutions were not spared the Hegelian and Marxist orientation. Radicalism became acceptable; meanwhile, authority and discernment went to hell in a handbasket. In order to accomplish utopian collectivist ends, Western civilization and its authority in general were attacked at all levels. In America the excuse may have been the Vietnam War, civil rights, helping the poor with the disastrous ‘War on Poverty,’ or modernizing the Catholic Church. However, what occurred was the destruction of positive and constructive avenues enhancing individual freedom, increasing prosperity and faith, and the healthy observation of the laws of God and man. Self-discipline and self-control and faith were deep-sixed, replaced by the acceptance of our victim status as we waited for fulfillment from government programs, materialism, psychology and pop culture. The all-out assault on authority of the Church and Western civilization in this era, along with the loss of self-discipline and self-control, led to the subsequent increase in the power of the state. After the ’60s, when authority in America and in Europe caved to the new intellectual barbarians, the proponents of the philosophy of collectivism and Marxism filled the gap. The Catholic Church in America and Europe did not escape that destiny. Religion, environmentalism, feminism, the civil rights movement, Vatican II were all overwhelmed as the barbarians crossed the Tiber and no one was there to stop them. What could have been positive trends in religion and society, trends which created more freedom and good living, instead became a cacophony of dissipation and dissolution and collectivism. We gave up Mozart, Cole Porter, Aaron Copeland, and Rodgers and Hammerstein for moral chaos, societal dissonance, Britney Spears, Snoop Doggy Dogg, human rights for animals and trees, and sex with anything that moves, whether it be animal, vegetable or mineral. Ever on the defensive, the American Catholic Church just gave in and called absolutely every goofy unworkable collectivist and leftist idea the social gospel in action. Meanwhile, many trends destructive to the family and civilization were now called diversity or inclusivity. No one seems to notice how diversity and inclusivity are always carried to their most outrageous extremes. Dung-covered depictions of the Virgin Mary are acceptable, but a religious masterpiece like the Ten Commandments is not welcome anywhere. In-your-face sexuality replaced modesty and ended the sensible idea to keep private things private. From the ’60s onward, rather than seeking the stars, Americans and the West chose to wander in an intellectual and philosophical garbage-filled desert. That particular wandering in the landfill wilderness has just about destroyed Western civilization, not to mention the American Catholic Church.”

A three-part essay “How Contemporary American Poets are Denaturing the Poem” by Joan Houlihan @ Web Del Sol:

On the Prosing of Poetry
“Before writing was invented, poetry was used to mark special occasions and strong emotions and to burn the necessary stories — the myths and truths of a culture — into the memories of the people. Mnemonic devices such as sound, rhythm, and heightened, pictorial language, economy of expression (‘epigrammatic’ speech that encodes many meanings in as few words as possible) and assonance, consonance, alliteration, parallelism, were the branding irons used for the task. As well, these devices were incantatory, stirring primal responses to their sound and rhythm, and creating an atmosphere for the sacred and magical. Although spoken, poetry was not common; it was instead, a singular kind of speech, reserved for relaying important or sacred events, ensuring that such events would be remembered almost in a physical way, in the body’s deep response to sound, rhythm and imagery. Speaking poetically served a purpose. Speaking prosaically also served a purpose — to negotiate everyday reality, to speak of those things which were common to all and not worthy of long remembrance — to speak of the world in transit. Our ability to write did not erase the distinction. It took contemporary American poets, writing in deliberately flat prose about insignificant personal events and feelings; and editors, publishers and critics dubbing such anecdotes and everyday journal entries ‘poems,’ to erase the distinction. We have reached the point we are being asked to believe that a text block, chopped randomly into flat, declarative lines, is a poem. We are told to kneel and stare at this specimen of dead lines laid out in its little coffin on the page, and declare it alive. What do we say?”

I=N=C=O=H= E=R=E=N=T
“The need for coherence appears to be basic, perhaps even neurological. Science has proved the human brain strives to find a pattern, an order, a meaning in chaos. What isn’t coherent, we strive to make so. It satisfies us. Thus, before settling for separate, unconnected pieces, beautiful as they may be, we will look hard for connections. While shapes and colors can become untethered from their representation, or meaning, a poem can only become fully untethered from meaning if it is without words. This is because the smallest irreducible piece — the word — retains meaning, in and out of context. A totally meaningless poem would logically consist of a blank page. In spite of this difficulty, some poets do manage to make extremely close approaches to the state of meaninglessness while still using words.... In order to save us from the Western capitalist construction called a poem, the Language Poets had to destroy it. But two other possible reasons for writing Language Poetry come to mind: [1] The poet cannot succesfully create a coherent poem and so makes a virtue of his failure. [2] The poet cannot successfully create a coherent poem and so uses poem-as-pretext for expounding critical theories — something he or she can do, and that, happy coincidence, ensures an academic career.”

The Argument for Silence: Defining the Poet Peter Principle
“The tension between ‘career’ and ‘vocation’ in poetry is nowhere more obvious than in academia where poets take a sabbatical in order to write poetry, but never take a sabbatical from writing poetry. I believe that a certain variety of established poet, perhaps those with a substantial number of books, would benefit greatly from a poetry sabbatical. There is evidence of a need for poetic silence all around us. We see it every time we read a denatured poem by a renowned poet, usually in a renowned publication; evidence that the enabling editors of such publications have failed in their duty to enforce last call. For example, poets James Tate, Philip Levine and Mary Oliver have each produced more than 16 books of poetry. Whatever has driven this production, it is clear from the trajectory of all three poets that something must stop it. In all three cases, a windiness, a wordiness, a kind of poetic logorrhea can be found in their latest work in contrast to the fire and compression in their early work. Flatlined, barely pulsing, their latest work is being kept alive by extraordinary means: the artificial resuscitation of continuous publication.”

A two-part article on Economists & Ecologists by Arnold Kling @ Tech Central Station:

Common Sense and Sensibility
“Economists are not well thought of these days by environmentalists. Or so it seems from accounts such as a recent Scientific American excerpt of Edward O. Wilson’s book, The Future of Life. He characterizes economists as narrow, myopic environmental ignoramuses.... It’s true that economists have trouble with the views of many environmentalists. But this just reflects our frustration with the ecologists’ use of the most naive and inappropriate economic models and assumptions in their forecasts and policy prescriptions. That’s why Bjorn Lomborg’s new book The Skeptical Environmentalist is such a distinctive, rare, and important work. In addition to sharing the ecologist’s concerns about aquifers, sustainability, and global warming, Lomborg accepts the economist’s paradigm. By combining economics with ecology, he comes up with a rational, balanced analysis. Unfortunately, environmentalists’ denial of the validity of economic analysis runs through much of their criticism of Lomborg’s work.... Environmentalists tend to assume a constant relationship between inputs and outputs. If you are going to produce X tons of grain, then the acreage of land required will be X/y, where y is the average yield of an acre of land. Economists call this the ‘fixed-coefficients’ model, because the relationship between acreage and grain is governed by the coefficient y. Simply put, this is not a realistic model. In practice there are always a variety of production techniques that use different combinations of inputs to produce the same output. The fixed-coefficients model applies, if at all, only in the very short run. In the long run, there is substitution and technical change. Substitution means that producers will vary the inputs used in production, depending on changes in the cost of various inputs. For example, if land becomes more expensive, producers will substitute capital, labor, fertilizer, or other resources in order to utilize the most efficient combination. The other long-run factor is technical change. As we accumulate knowledge, we come up with ways to produce more output with fewer resources.”

Lomborg’s Lessons
“Economists use interest rates to discount future benefits and costs. Because of discounting, environmental costs that are out in the future are given less weight than today’s economic goods, including today’s environment. Ecologists suspect that economists are being short-sighted, when in fact we are being rational. The interest rate represents the price at which the economy can trade off future output for present output. What discounting says is that tomorrow’s output is ‘cheap’ in today’s terms. Undertaking a large expense today to avoid the same expense tomorrow is inefficient. Ecologists worry that we are consuming too much now, while depriving future generations of resources and leaving them with large unpaid environmental bills. Economists, on the other hand, argue that by investing in science and research we are providing a legacy of wealth to future generations. The assets that they inherit in the form of capital and know-how will be much greater than any environmental liabilities. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg makes a strong case against the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to restrict carbon dioxide emissions in order to forestall global warming. Even as one who accepts the thesis of global warming, Lomborg suggests that the Kyoto Protocol is a bad idea. Lomborg estimates a finite (albeit large) cost to global warming. Also, because this cost will be borne in the future, he applies a discount rate. If the present value of the cost of global warming is finite, then it becomes possible to estimate the benefits of policies to forestall global warming. Next, it follows that we can compare benefits to costs. It is on the basis of these cost-benefit comparisons that Lomborg is able to show that the Kyoto Protocol approach is unwise.”

A two-part article @ Salon, by Andrew O’Hehir, on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The book of the century
“It’s unwise to read The Lord of the Rings as allegory in any strict sense, but this commonplace personal odyssey, one shared by millions in the modern age, is strikingly echoed in its plot. Frodo, the child-size hero, must leave his beloved Shire and travel into Sauron’s domain of Mordor, with its slag heaps, its permanent pall of smoke, its slave-driven industries. When he returns after much danger and difficulty, he discovers that the malicious wizard Saruman — as Shippey points out, a techno-Utopian who began with good intentions — has industrialized the Shire itself, cutting down its trees, replacing its hobbit-holes with brick slums and factories and poisoning its rivers. In this regard, then, The Lord of the Rings belongs to the literature of the Industrial Revolution, a lament for the destruction of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ that belongs somewhere on the same shelf with Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and William Blake. But Tolkien saw something wilder and stranger in the Sarehole of his childhood, and in himself: a fading but still tangible connection to the distant, mythic past. If his Shire hobbits are the West Midlands rural bourgeoisie of 1895 or so, they have been catapulted backward into a world where they themselves are the anachronisms, a realm of elves, dwarves (Tolkien insisted on this nonstandard but ancient plural, although he would have preferred ‘dwarrows’), wizards, dragons, goblins and black sorcerers.”

A curiously very great book
“It is not merely the scale of mythic invention or the grand storytelling that distinguishes it but also its tragic vision, the profound melancholy mentioned by Lewis. Few if any heroic quests have ever had such a sense of human frailty and weakness; although Frodo brings the Ring all the way to the Cracks of Doom where Sauron forged it, in the end he is overcome by temptation and claims it for his own. He is redeemed only by chance, or by divine grace, which in Tolkien’s world comes to the same thing. He has shown mercy to the treacherous and miserable Gollum, who becomes the accidental agent of Frodo’s and the world’s salvation. But Frodo, the book’s ostensible hero, fails in his quest and is left, like the knight who guards the Holy Grail, with a grievous wound that can never heal (an Arthurian parallel Shippey has not noticed). Even the victory wrought by the Ring’s destruction is a sad affair, in many respects closer to defeat. Much of the magic and mystery drains out of Middle-earth after Sauron’s fall, leaving behind an ordinary, only slightly prehistoric realm dominated by human beings. Tolkien’s most beloved characters — Gandalf, the High-Elves Elrond and Galadriel and the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo, both of them indelibly marked by the Ring — depart over the western seas to a paradisiacal nowhere that none of us on this shore will ever see. Tolkien liked to present himself to friends and readers as a contented fireside hobbit, fond of tobacco, simple food and late mornings in bed, and there can be no doubt, reading his letters, that he was immensely gratified by the outpouring of love and enthusiasm his work engendered. (And immensely irritated by some of it; when a woman wanted to name her Siamese cats after his characters, he replied that they were “the fauna of Mordor.”) But in reality he was a strange and complicated man who wrote a strange and sad book, whose complex of meanings we will likely never determine.”

A “classic” two-part article, by Bernard Lewis, with a recent related essay, in The Atlantic:

The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part One)
“Like every other civilization known to human history, the Muslim world in its heyday saw itself as the center of truth and enlightenment, surrounded by infidel barbarians whom it would in due course enlighten and civilize. But between the different groups of barbarians there was a crucial difference. The barbarians to the east and the south were polytheists and idolaters, offering no serious threat and no competition at all to Islam. In the north and west, in contrast, Muslims from an early date recognized a genuine rival — a competing world religion, a distinctive civilization inspired by that religion, and an empire that, though much smaller than theirs, was no less ambitious in its claims and aspirations. This was the entity known to itself and others as Christendom, a term that was long almost identical with Europe. The struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some fourteen centuries. It began with the advent of Islam, in the seventh century, and has continued virtually to the present day. It has consisted of a long series of attacks and counterattacks, jihads and crusades, conquests and reconquests.... For the past three hundred years, since the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and the rise of the European colonial empires in Asia and Africa, Islam has been on the defensive, and the Christian and post-Christian civilization of Europe and her daughters has brought the whole world, including Islam, within its orbit.”

The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part Two)
“The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet.... Slavery is today universally denounced as an offense against humanity, but within living memory it has been practiced and even defended as a necessary institution, established and regulated by divine law. The peculiarity of the peculiar institution, as Americans once called it, lay not in its existence but in its abolition. Westerners were the first to break the consensus of acceptance and to outlaw slavery, first at home, then in the other territories they controlled, and finally wherever in the world they were able to exercise power or influence — in a word, by means of imperialism.”

What Went Wrong?
“Muslim modernizers — by reform or revolution — concentrated their efforts in three main areas: military, economic, and political. The results achieved were, to say the least, disappointing. The quest for victory by updated armies brought a series of humiliating defeats. The quest for prosperity through development brought in some countries impoverished and corrupt economies in recurring need of external aid, in others an unhealthy dependence on a single resource — oil. And even this was discovered, extracted, and put to use by Western ingenuity and industry, and is doomed, sooner or later, to be exhausted, or, more probably, superseded, as the international community grows weary of a fuel that pollutes the land, the sea, and the air wherever it is used or transported, and that puts the world economy at the mercy of a clique of capricious autocrats. Worst of all are the political results: the long quest for freedom has left a string of shabby tyrannies, ranging from traditional autocracies to dictatorships that are modern only in their apparatus of repression and indoctrination.... It was bad enough for Muslims to feel poor and weak after centuries of being rich and strong, to lose the position of leadership that they had come to regard as their right, and to be reduced to the role of followers of the West. But the twentieth century, particularly the second half, brought further humiliation — the awareness that they were no longer even the first among followers but were falling back in a lengthening line of eager and more successful Westernizers, notably in East Asia. The rise of Japan had been an encouragement but also a reproach. The later rise of other Asian economic powers brought only reproach. The proud heirs of ancient civilizations had gotten used to hiring Western firms to carry out tasks of which their own contractors and technicians were apparently incapable. Now Middle Eastern rulers and businessmen found themselves inviting contractors and technicians from Korea — only recently emerged from Japanese colonial rule — to perform these tasks. Following is bad enough; limping in the rear is far worse. By all the standards that matter in the modern world — economic development and job creation, literacy, educational and scientific achievement, political freedom and respect for human rights — what was once a mighty civilization has indeed fallen low.”

A three-part article on some current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:

What is the Koran? (Part 1)
“Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islam’s first two centuries — they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What’s more, some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.”

What is the Koran? (Part 2)
“Deviating from the orthodox interpretation of the Koran, says the Algerian Mohammed Arkoun, a professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the University of Paris, is ‘a very sensitive business’ with major implications. ‘Millions and millions of people refer to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their aspirations,’ Arkoun says. ‘This scale of reference is much larger than it has ever been before.’”

What is the Koran? (Part 3)
“Gerd-R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness, on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional understanding of the Koran. ‘The Koran claims for itself that it is “mubeen,” or “clear,” he says. ‘But if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. Many Muslims — and Orientalists — will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. If the Koran is not comprehensible — if it can’t even be understood in Arabic — then it’s not translatable. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not — as even speakers of Arabic will tell you — there is a contradiction. Something else must be going on.’”

A three-part series “Driving a Wedge” in the Boston Globe:

Why bin Laden plot relied on Saudi hijackers
“Senior US officials and Saudi Interior Ministry officials involved with the investigation into the involvement of Saudi nationals in the attacks say they now believe bin Laden’s Al Qaeda actively sought out young Saudi volunteers from this region for their ‘jihad.’ The investigation is beginning to reveal a picture of how bin Laden, a native of the Saudi southwest, exploited the young hijackers by playing off the region's deep tribal affiliations, itseconomic dis-enfranchisement, anditsown burning brand of Wahhabi fundamentalism which the kingdom's religious hierarchy fosters in the schools.”

Saudi schools fuel anti-US anger
“US diplomats and Saudi specialists say Saudi schools are the foundation of the broader society in which the House of Saud has for decades tolerated extremists within the religious hierarchy to set a tone — in schools as well as on national television and radio airways — of open bigotry toward non-Muslims, contempt even for those non-Sunni Muslims from other branches of the faith such as the Shiite, and of virulent anti-Americanism. This, US and Saudi observers here say, has been part of an unofficial deal: The kingdom gave the religious establishment control of the schools as long as it didn’t question the legitimacy of the monarchy’s power. The United States went along with this tacit agreement as long as the oil kept flowing, its troops stayed in the country, and the House of Saud remained on the throne.”

Doubts are cast on the viability of Saudi monarchy for long term
“The House of Saud — the 30,000-member ruling family headed by 3,000 princes — has long been so riddled with corruption that even Crown Prince Abdullah has said the culture of royal excess has to come to an end. It has ruled over the kingdom with documented human rights abuses and, as one Western diplomat put it, a form of ‘gender apartheid’ for women. Democracy has never been part of the equation. These palace indulgences have been tolerated by Washington for far too long, critics say, because of a US policy dependent on Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves, Riyadh’s purchase of an estimated $4 billion a year worth of US weapons, and its pivotal role as host to 5,000 American troops. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed a half century ago to defend the kingdom in exchange for ready access to oil, the balance between US interests and US ideals in Saudi Arabia has always tipped in favor of Washington’s economic and strategic interests.”

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 Volume 1.13 This View’s Featured Pages & Sites May 6, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”