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 Volume 2.10  Featured Webseries Trove November 11, 2002 


   

Added October 28, 2002

   
         
   

Jonah Goldberg rebuts vapid objections to war in Iraq, at The National Review Online:

Same Old: Tiresome arguments of war. (10/01/02)
“You can’t turn on a radio or see a TV debate on the issue without someone throwing around something you know is stupid, but you can’t quite remember why. So I thought I’d start compiling a list. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a start.”

More of the Same Old Tired Arguments: Blah, blah, blah. (10/02/02)
“Yesterday’s column addressed some of the knee-jerk arguments used against a possible war with Iraq. Enough readers, particularly desperate college kids, wanted more for their campus battles. So here ya go.”

A three-part series at CBSNews culled from an interview of George W. Bush by 60 Minutes II:

Bush On 9/11: Moment To Moment (09/11/02)
“‘I thought it was an accident,’ says Mr. Bush. ‘I thought it was a pilot error. I thought that some foolish soul had gotten lost and - and made a terrible mistake.’ Mr. Bush was told about the first plane just before sitting down with a class of second graders. He was watching a reading drill when, just after nine, United Flight 175 exploded into the second tower. There was the sudden realization that what had seemed like a terrible mistake was a coordinated attack.”

Part II: The Days After (09/11/02)
“When Sept. 12 dawned, President Bush was demanding a war plan. No one in the White House or the Pentagon could be sure of what the president would do. In office for just eight months, he’d never been tested as commander-in-chief. ‘I never asked them what they thought,’ President Bush said of the Pentagon brass, ‘because I didn’t really – because I knew what I was gonna do. I knew exactly what had to be done, Scott. And that was to set a strategy to seek justice. Find out who did it, hunt them down and bring them to justice.’”

Part III: Bush On Bin Laden (09/11/02)
“A lot has happened in the year since Sept. 11. One year ago, the president was new on the job, with little experience in foreign policy. He had wanted to pull the military back from foreign entanglements. Now, on his orders, U.S. forces are engaged around the globe in a war he did not expect, in a world completely changed. In the Oval Office last week, CBS News Correspondent Scott Pelley asked the president about Iraq, about whether Americans are safe at home and about Osama bin Laden.”

Joe Klein is writing a multi-part report from Europe for The Guardian:

France? It’s like 1970s America (05/28/02)
“Over the next six weeks, Joe Klein, America’s leading political commentator, will be travelling through Europe for the Guardian. Today, 36 years after he first arrived there in search of “dark-eyed lovelies with difficult personalities”, he reports from France”

The Prince (06/06/02)
“Is Silvio Berlusconi a medieval thowback to a time when rich men could buy power? Or the shape of things to come? And is he dangerous — or just a colourful rogue? In the second of his weekly dispatches from Europe, Joe Klein meets the billionaire prime minister who just wants to be loved”

How the Solidarity dream turned sour (06/12/02)
“Poland was eastern Europe’s great success story, a reborn country that had embraced free markets and liberal democracy and stood poised to join the EU. But now its economy is in tatters and ugly Catholic nationalism is on the rise. In the third of his weekly dispatches from Europe, Joe Klein asks what went wrong”

How Germany was suffocated (06/19/02)
“For 57 years Germany has been struggling to make amends for its Nazi past and be accepted by its neighbours. But has its desire to avoid discord stifled the nation's public life and prevented much needed reform? On the fourth leg of his European tour, Joe Klein finds a society addled by ‘ferocious blandness’”

Who’s in charge here? (06/26/02)
“The great European project has three — or maybe four — presidents, two foreign policy chiefs and endless, baffling bureaucracy. So can it really hold its own against the might of the US? In the fifth instalment of his continental odyssey, Joe Klein travels to Brussels and Seville to find out”

Neither here nor there (07/03/02)
“For six weeks, Joe Klein has been travelling through Europe, taking the pulse of the continent and exploring its fractious relationship with his native country. He ends his journey in Britain with the gap between the US and Europe wider than ever. So which way should we turn? Neither, he says — we are perfectly placed to take the best of both worlds. And he has some tips: get Bill Clinton to make speeches and Silvio Berlusconi to arrange the social events”

   

   

Added July 8, 2002

   
         
   

Four columns by Rod Dreher at National Review Online about the June bishops’ meeting in Dallas:

The Dallas Outlook: The American bishops need a conversion. (06/12/02)
“The final hurdle the bishops must clear is... themselves. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been sickened and astonished to confront the repugnant sex crimes — child-rape chief among them — committed by priests. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of men in a position of authority can learn of these unspeakable acts and fail to act to stop them. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of Christian leaders would protect child predators, unleash lawyers on victims of these priests, and publicly lie about these matters. They wonder, as any normal person would, why, after all that failed bishops have on their conscience — including secret sexual sin of their own — they do not resign, and go to a monastery to do penance for the rest of their lives.”

Dallas Diary: In town with the bishops. (06/13/02)
“One wonders why the bishops refused the offer of the Catholic Medical Association, a group whose number includes faithful Catholic psychiatrists who actually believe what the Church teaches, to offer their expertise at this meeting. Actually, given the lavender mafia’s power, one does not wonder for long. Here’s a recent open letter from one of the CMA’s leaders, to the bishops, saying that same-sex attraction in the priesthood is at the heart of this scandal. The bishops don’t want to hear it. And neither do the media. I’m hearing from inside press circles that reporters, editors and producers don’t want to look at the gay issue. Michael S. Rose, author of Goodbye, Good Men, is in Dallas. I spoke yesterday to a TV reporter who wants to interview Rose about his findings, but who received word from the top to stay away from him. I can’t prove it, but from the anecdotes I’m hearing, the need to avoid the ‘elephant in the sacristy,’ in Mary Eberstadt’s memorable phrase, is perhaps the only point on which the bishops and the media agree.”

Dallas Diary, Part II: Outside and around the main event. (06/14/02)
“Also absent from the conference: any official place for conservative voices of reform. Appleby and Steinfels had some good things to say, certainly, but concluded with liberal-style calls for more lay involvement. ‘This doesn’t look good,’ said Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report. ‘Who on the agenda, anywhere on the agenda, is known as a stalwart defender of Catholic teaching on sexual morality?’ Lawler’s comment gets to the heart of why conservatives are not welcome here: They would have raised the issue of homosexuality among the clergy, absent which this scandal cannot be fully understood, much less dealt with. Helen Hull Hitchcock, leader of the orthodox Women for Faith and Family, asked the bishops in an afternoon press conference what it meant that as many as 90 percent of these publicly known abuse cases involve priests having sex with teenage boys. She did not get a straight answer, so to speak.”

Done in Dallas: The problems that persist. (06/17/02)
“Though the policy they adopted on Friday is clearly the strongest stand they’ve ever taken against priest sex abuse, and that there is a lot of good in it (even if it will probably be rejected by Rome), there is little reason to believe that it is much more than a quick-fix pseudo-solution, a bone tossed to quiet the baying pack of journalists and lay activists. One is most impressed not by what they did, but by what they left undone. Aside from not addressing the root causes of the scandal, the bishops refused to accept personal accountability for their paramount role in the scandal. Not one resigned. Not one was asked to resign, at least publicly. Words of apology ring hollow when not followed by action. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘A long face is not a moral disinfectant.’”

Related articles in The New York Times on the last messages to come out of the World Trade Center after the first plane struck:

History Recorded From the Messages of Victims (05/26/02)
“The primary sources for today’s article are interviews with more than 140 people who communicated with individuals on the upper floors of the twin towers, and conversations with 17 others who were at or above the impact zone in the south tower but escaped. Additionally, eight people described conditions just below the impact zone in the north tower.”

102 Minutes: Fighting to Live as the Towers Died (05/26/02)
“They began as calls for help, information, guidance. They quickly turned into soundings of desperation, and anger, and love. Now they are the remembered voices of the men and women who were trapped on the high floors of the twin towers. From their last words, a haunting chronicle of the final 102 minutes at the World Trade Center has emerged, built on scores of phone conversations and e-mail and voice messages. These accounts, along with the testimony of the handful of people who escaped, provide the first sweeping views from the floors directly hit by the airplanes and above. Collected by reporters for The New York Times, these last words give human form to an all but invisible strand of this stark, public catastrophe: the advancing destruction across the top 19 floors of the north tower and the top 33 of the south, where loss of life was most severe on Sept. 11. Of the 2,823 believed dead in the attack on New York, at least 1,946, or 69 percent, were killed on those upper floors, an analysis by The Times has found.”

Accounts From the North Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s North Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

Accounts From the South Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s South Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner (the 1985 report to American Bishops):

First Part
Executive Summary, Table of Contents, Forward, Introduction, Descriptions of Possible Case Scenarios, Summary of Considerations

Second Part
Summary of Considerations (cont.), Project Proposal, Scope of Services, Strategy, Conclusion

   

   

Added June 24, 2002

   
         
   

A three-part UPI series by Martin Sieff on how some mainstream media were bamboozled about a massacre that had never happened:

Part One: Documenting the Myth (05/20/02)
“After the Israeli Army attacked the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin on April 2, the Western European media fell for the ‘Massacre Myth’ in Jenin in a big way. Even though the final Palestinian Authority figure acknowledged only 56 dead in Jenin, media coverage in major Western European nations gave credence to early claims by the PA’s top officials that as many as 3,000 civilians had been killed in the fighting there. Israel’s own actions led credence to the myth. The Israeli army barred the international media from Jenin as its forces drove into the city. The only sources that the media then had for what was going on there were from the Palestinians themselves. And in the inevitable confusion of battle, what the great 19th century military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz called ‘the fog of war’ applied. At the time, both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities appeared unclear what was actually happening on the ground. However, even allowing for these factors, the Western media coverage of Jenin, espically in the Western European press and broadcast media, largely proved to be factually wildly inaccurate in the light of what later emerged. And there was also a hysterical tone to many of them. What made these unreliable and misleading reports all the more remarkable was that many of the worst of them emerged in the most respected and influential organizations in the British media. The British Broadcasting Corporation and three of the four so-called ‘quality’ daily newspapers — The Times, The Independent and The Guardian — fell for the ‘Massacre Myth’ hook, line and sinker. Even the more cautious and — as it proved — reliable ‘Daily Telegraph’ was not entirely immune either.”

Analysis: Why Europeans bought Jenin myth (05/21/02)
“Why were reporters and news editors of so many of the biggest and most prestigious Western European newspapers and broadcasting networks ready to believe that the Israeli Army had committed a massacre in the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin when no massacre had in fact occurred? The reasons were many. First, everyone was prepared to believe the worst, because the worst had already happened. It was all too credible to believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians had been massacred in Jenin because they had been massacred before. The 20-year-old shadow of Sabra and Shatila lay across the international media’s initial perceptions of Jenin.... Second, the Israelis haplessly and inadvertently dug a public relations trap for themselves and then promptly fell into it. They prevented the international media from covering what was certainly extremely fierce fighting in the refugee camp and streets of Jenin.... Third, even when the worst fighting was over and the Israelis finally allowed reporters into Jenin, a ‘rat pack’ psychology, even hysteria, appears to have taken hold. People saw what they wanted to see and they mutually reinforced each other in their perceptions.... Fourth, almost none of those present had covered serious urban conflicts in Lebanon and Northern Ireland during their worst phases in the 1970s and early 1980s. Almost none of them were old enough to have experienced full-scale battle reporting first-hand in Vietnam. This led them to vastly exaggerate the scale of destruction and death they were seeing.”

How Europe’s media lost out (05/22/02)
“The credibility of state-run or supported national broadcasting organizations took a huge hit. The principle of having a free market in broadcasting as well as print media outlets in order to ensure more fair and balanced overall coverage got a big boost. This was humiliating to the Europeans, who have long sneered in their dominant broadcast media culture at what they regard as the crass commercialism and vulgar pursuit of profits of competing U.S. broadcasting networks. It was also a blow to those who would like to expand National Public Radio’s small-scale radio news operation in the United States into a radio-TV news empire on the lines of the BBC or other European outlets. The reporters and editors of NPR appeared far more prone to swallow the wild allegations about Jenin than most of their U.S. media colleagues did. The controversy also underlined the value of having widely read and circulated columnists who can act in the media like the Senate does in Congress or other ‘upper’ houses of parliament do in Western Europe and Japan. Such columnists at their best can act like deliberative parliamentary chambers not subject to the pressures of repeated re-election campaigns. They can take a longer term view of things. They can act as cautious, more thoughtful voices expressing caution or doubt about emotional hysteria sweeping the news pages. William F. Buckley’s May 4 editorial ‘Did the Israelis Do It?’ serves as a model for this kind of writing.”

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 @ Salon, by Andrew O’Hehir, on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The book of the century (06/04/02)
“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 (06/05/02)
“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 two-part article on Economists & Ecologists by Arnold Kling @ Tech Central Station:

Common Sense and Sensibility (03/28/02)
“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 (04/02/02)
“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 three-part article on some current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:

What is the Koran? Part 1 (Jan. 1999)
“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 (Jan. 1999)
“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 (Jan. 1999)
“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.’”

   

   

Added June 10, 2002

   
         
   

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:

Part I (01/18/02)
“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.”

Part II (01/21/02)
“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!”

Part III (01/28/02)
“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!

Part IV (02/21/02)
“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 One (04/18/02)
“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. (04/23/02)
“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?”

   

   

Added May 20, 2002

   
         
   

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.”

   

   

Added May 13, 2002

   
         
   

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 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.”

   

   

Added May 6, 2002

   
         
   

A three-part part series by Phil Brennan @ NewsMax on the corruption of Catholic seminaries in the USA:

Anti-Catholic “Experts” Fuel Church’s Scandals
“Veteran investigative reporter Michael S. Rose has written a frightening account of the corruption of the Roman Catholic seminary system in the United States.... According to the Wanderer, a nationally distributed lay Catholic newspaper, Wicker was rejecting more candidates for the priesthood than he was approving. But that’s just the beginning. An article by reporter Gregory Flannery, an ex-seminarian himself, revealed: ‘Men who wish to become Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are first assessed by the Worshipful Master of Mt. Washington Masonic Lodge 642.’ In the May 8, 1991 issue of Mt. Washington Press, a weekly newspaper, Flannery reported that Wicker was a fallen-away Catholic and noted that participation in Masonic sects is condemned by the Catholic Church. Wicker also admitted to being a member of another sect condemned by the church, the Rosicrucians. When area Catholics complained about the idea of a Masonic master passing on candidates for the priesthood, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk defended him.... NewsMax.com asked Rose if this nonsense was still going on. ‘Although many seminaries are “getting better,” the nonsense is still prolific,’ he said. ‘Orthodox candidates are still being turned away in droves, heterosexual seminarians are still being sent to psychological counseling and booted from school, while liberal-minded and pro-gay seminarians are given deferential treatment, put in charge of others, advanced and ordained.’”

Homosexual Culture Undercuts Priesthood
“Heterosexual students at a number of seminaries were persecuted by the gay subculture. Reporting homosexual behavior by classmates could get them expelled, as could resisting homosexual advances. Rose cites scores of cases of heterosexuals driven out of seminaries because they refused to accept the gay culture. In Cozzen’s book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, he wrote that there has been ‘a heterosexual exodus from the priesthood’ due, Rose notes, in part to the unrestrained gay subcultures in some seminaries, the resulting ‘overwhelming gay clergy culture will have an effect on how the laity views the priesthood and it will have an effect on incoming vocations. Potential candidates for the priesthood who are heterosexual will be intimidated from joining an institution where the ethos is primarily that of a gay culture.’ Anyone wondering how the church could have got itself in the mess it is now experiencing need look no further than the pages of Rose’s extraordinary book. What we are seeing today are the results of a gay priesthood being loosed upon parishes all across the nation, where they have abused impressionable young men they treated as ‘fresh meat’ to satisfy their unnatural sexual urgings.”

False Teaching Sabotages Aspiring Priests
“Michael S. Rose examines the destructive effect of what he terms heterodoxy on seminarians struggling to absorb and adhere to the ancient doctrines of the church, handed down from the Apostles for 2,000 years. ‘Many faculty members are adverse to teaching what the Church teaches, and some even find it onerous to hide their disdain for Catholicism,’ Rose wrote. ‘The seminarian who arrives on campus expecting to find faculty and staff who love the Catholic faith and teach what the Church teaches can be sadly disappointed.’ Among the students’ obstacles to learning the authentic tenets of their faith, Rose reveals, are being forced to read textbooks written by ‘noted dissenters from Catholic teachings’ such as theologians Richard McBrien, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung and Charles Curran, who ‘parrot the dogmas of Catholic dissent.’ .... Many of the ideas being taught in seminaries today, Rose wrote, ‘go way beyond the scope of even these “mainstream” errors of Modernist doctrine. Aggressive feminist theories often put forth by religious sisters devoted to liberation theology and various incarnations of Jungian psychology make it clear that some faculty members who are entrusted with the formation of future priests do not support the Catholic priesthood as the Church defines it. In fact they do not support the Church, her hierarchy, her Eucharist, or her liturgy.’ Tragically, throughout the U.S. today, men taught these heretical doctrines are spreading error, distorting the liturgy, sowing doctrinal confusion and changing the faith of countless Catholics.”

   

   

Added April 29, 2002

   
         
   

A three-part series on Environmentalism by Diane Alden @ NewsMax:

The Green Matrix (Part One)
“The people who rule the green matrix seek to centrally plan our lives. They have adopted the same philosophy as those who drove the peasants off the land in Russia. They are of the same mind as the Red Guard in China. They are willing to sacrifice science, the truth and freedom, as well as the well-being of humans and the environment, in order to promote their utopian vision for the world — a vision that considers man a cancer on the land. Strangely, the term ‘green matrix’ comes up in many of their studies, claims and policy papers. But this isn’t a movie. It is the new totalitarian vision.”

The Green Matrix (Part Two): They Blinded Us With Science
“The more serious problem, however, is that over the years agencies have been co-opted by those with a much larger agenda in mind. It is not just about listing one species and shutting down one or two forests for public use, i.e., ‘managing federal lands.’ As the greens say, ‘Think globally and act locally.’ That mantra is at the core and heart of U.S. environmental policy. It is fair to say that in the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service ‘science’ got dumped years ago. It was a process that began in the ’70s but received official imprimatur under Bill Clinton in 1993. At that time, philosophy replaced ‘science.’ Conservation biology became the ‘science,’ and ‘ecosystem management’ and ‘precautionary principle’ the tools. The end game was to reconnect ‘ecosystems’ from the Yukon to Mexico.”

The Green Matrix (Part Three): Weird Science – Think Globally
“Modern environmentalism has become the best single tool to fulfill the fondest wishes of the international control freaks and central planners. It is the new ideological agenda replacing communism and capitalism. It is, in fact, a lethal mix of both. Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center calls it ‘fascilism.’ In implementing the various environmental wish lists, we don’t get cleaner air and water. But we do get a new religion and a new economic system. In addition, the old time religion is being replaced by a green Zen Buddhism on one hand, and tyranny and repression on the other. If you follow the logic of ‘ecosystem’ management, that is where we’re headed as we wend our way through the holistic approach for the ‘collective good.’”

   


 Volume 2.10  Featured Webseries Trove November 11, 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”