Monday, April 30, 2007

Money for nothing . . . and death for free

Think of it this way: Take a dollar, throw it away. Take a dollar and throw it away every second.

Never take a break. Do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Keep at it for 15,855 years, roughly.

Congratulations.
You will have pissed away as much money as George Bush has on the Iraq War.

From the McClatchy Newspapers bureau in D.C.:

WASHINGTON - The bitter fight over the latest Iraq spending bill has all but obscured a sobering fact: The war will soon cost more than $500 billion.

That's about ten times more than the Bush administration anticipated before the war started four years ago, and no one can predict how high the tab will go. The $124 billion spending bill that President Bush plans to veto this week includes about $78 billion for Iraq, with the rest earmarked for the war in Afghanistan, veterans' health care and other government programs.

Congressional Democrats and Bush agree that they cannot let their dispute over a withdrawal timetable block the latest cash installment for Iraq. Once that political fight is resolved, Congress can focus on the president's request for $116 billion more for the war in the fiscal year that starts on Sept. 1.

The combined spending requests would push the total for Iraq to $564 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

What could that kind of money buy?

A college education - tuition, fees, room and board at a public university - for about half of the nation's 17 million high-school-age teenagers.

Pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years.

A year's stay in an assisted-living facility for about half of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older.

Not surprisingly, opinions about the cost of the war track opinions about the war itself.

"If it's really vital, then whatever it costs, we should pay it. If it isn't, whatever we pay is too much," said Robert Hormats, author of "The Price of Liberty," a newly published book that examines the financing of America's wars.

Before the war, administration officials confidently predicted that the conflict would cost about $50 billion. White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey lost his job after he offered a $200 billion estimate - a prediction that drew scorn from his administration colleagues.

"They had no concept of what they were getting into in terms of lives or cost," said Winslow Wheeler, who monitors defense spending for the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan research institute.

(snip)

As wars go, Iraq is cheap. World War II cost more than $5 trillion in today's dollars. Korea and Vietnam each cost about $650 billion in today's dollars, but spending on those wars took a much bigger share of the economy when they were fought.

"For the average American, there's really been no economic consequence of the country being involved in a war," said Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International). "It doesn't have as much impact on the economy as those previous wars did."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Water into blood, frogs, gnats, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, three days' darkness, death
of first-born . . . the Bush Administration

The Washington Post recounts -- in agonizing detail -- how the Bush Administration is the governmental equivalent of the hapless and hopeless underclass Republicans so like to perform their social Darwinism on because, well, they can.

That's right, my children, your government and mine is too bloody incompetent, incoherent and inured to common sense to take advantage of the help offered to it. Unbelievable.
Un-be-lievable.


You know, I not only miss Bill Clinton, I miss Jimmy Carter. And that's coming from someone who cast his first presidential ballot for Ronald Reagan in 1980 . . . because he wasn't feckless, can't-do Jimmy Freakin' Carter.

I can't write anymore. I was born and raised in South Louisiana, and I'm just too furious to "go there" right now. You know?


As the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina were receding, presidential confidante Karen Hughes sent a cable from her State Department office to U.S. ambassadors worldwide.

Titled "Echo-Chamber Message" -- a public relations term for talking points designed to be repeated again and again -- the Sept. 7, 2005, directive was unmistakable: Assure the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans "practical help and moral support" and "highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving."

Many of the U.S. diplomats who received the message, however, were beginning to witness a more embarrassing reality. They knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies' offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina's victims.

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

In addition, valuable supplies and services -- such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships -- were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them. In some cases, supplies were wasted.

The struggle to apply foreign aid in the aftermath of the hurricane, which has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $125 billion so far, is another reminder of the federal government's difficulty leading the recovery. Reports of government waste and delays or denials of assistance have surfaced repeatedly since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.

Administration officials acknowledged in February 2006 that they were ill prepared to coordinate and distribute foreign aid and that only about half the $126 million received had been put to use. Now, 20 months after Katrina, newly released documents and interviews make clear the magnitude of the troubles.

More than 10,000 pages of cables, telegraphs and e-mails from U.S. diplomats around the globe -- released piecemeal since last fall under the Freedom of Information Act -- provide a fuller account of problems that, at times, mystified generous allies and left U.S. representatives at a loss for an explanation. The documents were obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public interest group, which provided them to The Washington Post.

In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. "Tell them we blew it," one disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded."

In another instance, the Department of Homeland Security accepted an offer from Greece on Sept. 3, 2005, to dispatch two cruise ships that could be used free as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents. The deal was rescinded Sept. 15 after it became clear a ship would not arrive before Oct. 10. The U.S. eventually paid $249 million to use Carnival Cruise Lines vessels.

And while television sets worldwide showed images of New Orleans residents begging to be rescued from rooftops as floodwaters rose, U.S. officials turned down countless offers of allied troops and search-and-rescue teams. The most common responses: "sent letter of thanks" and "will keep offer on hand," the new documents show.

Overall, the United States declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest allies: Canada, Britain and Israel, according to a 40-page State Department table of the offers that had been received as of January 2006.

"There is a lack of accountability in where the money comes in and where it goes," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the public interest group, which called for an investigation into the fate of foreign aid offers. She added: "It's clear that they're trying to hide their ineptitude, incompetence and malfeasance."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hi, I'm the Mighty Favog (Hi, Favog!) and I'm a . . . .

OK, time to work the steps.

First step: Own up to the behavior. Admit it.


All right. My name is the Mighty Favog, and I like disco. Some of it.

I went through high school and college yelling "Disco sucks!" I was living a lie. I liked -- OK, I LIKE -- some of the stuff. I adore Yvonne Elliman, and I did back in the day. "If I Can't Have You" is one of my favorite songs, and it was on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack.

I can't get enough of it. OK, ARE YOU FREAKIN' HAPPY NOW! I LIKE IT! I LIKE IT! I LIKE IT!


I WAS LIVING A LIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE . . . .

The only secret I have left is that the suit I was married in was very, very polyester . . . OHMIGAWD!!!!

The horror . . . the horror . . . I can't believe I said that! Ohhhhhhhh . . . .

EDITOR'S NOTE: His Imperial Favogitude, I am sure, would want you to know that this week's episode of the Revolution 21 podcast can be accessed at the top right of this page, or go to www.revolution21.org and click on "podcast." Thank you.

Bog-trotting Paddy producer cries in his ale

Don Imus' shanty-Irish producer has dragged his mackerel-snapping arse off his barstool long enough to cry in his figurative beer -- as opposed to his real one back at the pub he crawled from -- about getting canned along with Imus for using racist and sexist slurs against the Rutgers women's basketball team.

In addition to "hos," I do believe Bernard McGuirk used the word "jigaboos" to describe the team. But what do you expect from a stupid Mick, you know?

According to The Associated Press, here's what Paddy O'Dumbass said on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes show:

McGuirk, in an interview on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes," said he "didn't get the memo" that the phrase 'hos' had reached the level of the n-word in offensiveness. But apologies to the Rutgers team were appropriate, he said.

But McGuirk said he and Imus had engaged in the same locker-room humor for many years, and received pats on the back and raises from their superiors before CBS Radio fired them this time.

He sharply criticized the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led the campaign to get them fired.
"It seemed like he terrorized broadcast executives," he said. "It seemed like they were in a fetal position under their desks sucking their thumbs on their Blackberrys, trying to coordinate their response."

The concept of "crossing the line" is hard to understand when it's not clear where the line is, he said.
OK, LET'S GRANT McGuirk what he says about the broadcast execs being craven hypocrites, Sharpton being a publicity-loving race-baiter and no one knowing where "The Line" is on any given day.

But like everybody's mother or teacher (or both) has lectured a million times, "I don't care what (fill in the blank) did. I care about what YOU did."

And what Imus and McGuirk did for far too long was to act like a couple of horse's asses, slurring innocent people for kicks and giggles. Which they got away with.

Until they got their comeuppance.

What goes around, and all that rot.

AND SPEAKING OF "THE LINE" McGuirk couldn't find until he and Imus crossed it . . . I'll bet he'd think I crossed it pretty good by using every Irish stereotype and slur I could fit into a short blog post. I think I crossed it pretty good, too.

In fact, if I were McGuirk, I'd want to knock my block off. God knows, I'd have some justification in doing so.

The question is, how would what I just did to Bernard McGuirk be any different from what he and Don Imus did for a living? On the public airwaves. Just like any number of other "shock jocks" on the air from Maine to Malibu.

That the jerk McGuirk and his pal Imus were egged on by amoral and spineless radio execs means nothing, except that we're overdue for another Day of Reckoning. And when that Electromagnetic Enema of the Airwaves takes place, God willing, it will be every bit as deserved as the one just administered.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm on the Monitor beacon . . . NBC Monitor beacon


Bloop. Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. Bloop.

If you are of a certain age -- and I am of a certain age -- you well remember the "Monitor beacon," and the "kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria" of a weekend radio program that it announced for almost 20 years from 1955 to early 1975 . . . the National Broadcasting Company's Monitor.

I loved Monitor when I was a kid, listening to it over WJBO, 1150 AM, in Baton Rouge, La. Monitor was big-time network radio. Monitor was exotic and sophisticated and brought the world into the living room -- into the transistor radio -- of our blue-collar, refinery-worker household someplace physically and sociologically far, far away from NBC's "Radio Central" at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

New York City, that is. Skyscrapers . . . Broadway stars.


YEAH, the music folks like Gene Rayburn and Joe Garagiola played was pure middle-of-the-road "parent music," though it had its moments. But Joe Garagiola was my favorite sportscaster, and Gene Rayburn was the avuncular host of
The Match Game on TV.

I remember one time, when I was little, we were watching The Match Game on TV and they made a random call to somewhere in the country. The phone rang in our kitchen. Fellow said he was Gene Rayburn. My mother didn't believe him (you'd have to know my mother).

The conversation went something like this, from the Baton Rouge end of Ma Bell's phone network:

"Hello?"

(Mama listens for a while.)

"Yeah? Weyul, ah'm Jimmy Durante, and you can kiss mah ass!"

(Click.)
SHORTLY AFTERWARD on the television, Mr. Rayburn, laughing, announced that the callee didn't want to play The Match Game today.

Oops.

I'm truly sorry that Gene Rayburn passed away some years back. I never got the chance to apologize to him on my mother's behalf . . . and to ask whether I might play The Match Game in her stead.

BUT WAIT . . . this post is about Monitor.

Anyway, to me, Monitor, was magic. It had a little bit of everything -- news, talk, music, features and comedy. And it went all weekend long -- 40 continuous hours at its height. For a while, it ran from 8-10 (Eastern) weeknights, too.

Monitor probably was the most ambitious thing ever done on radio. And Monitor was NPR's All Things Considered long before there was even a National Public Radio to put it on. Only funner.

I've been thinking a lot about Monitor the past couple of days -- lamenting the loss of radio like Monitor is more like it. And I've been spending some time on the Web, at the Monitor Tribute Pages, reading . . . and listening.

Monitor was radio as run by the "grownups," of whom there are only a few in broadcasting these days. Radio like that wasn't usually my default when I got to be a teen-ager -- just before Monitor's demise -- but it was always good to drop in now and again, you know?

It was good to know that there was a place on the dial where the adults were in charge, and where they were smart, and witty, and serious when they needed to be. And where the grownups weren't quite as square as we would have liked to imagine at the time.

BACK IN THE DAY, Monitor represented -- in a radio-broadcasting kind of way -- the best of us. It was radio that played to our curiosity, to our intelligence and, ultimately, to the best aspects of our God-given nature. In tragic contrast, radio today sometimes strikes me as some sort of cross between a fart joke and a hate crime.

I miss the days when we were almost as smart -- and almost as "grownup" -- as Monitor.


* * *

UPDATE: Reader, and major Monitor fan Louis weighs in with more on the show:

I'm also of an age that I remember Monitor. In fact, I listened to it every weekend on WDSU in New Orleans. But, when WDSU carried the Chicago White Sox games (for whatever reason), I'd listen to Monitor on WJBO which was just 90 miles away. I liked Monitor for all the reasons that you mentioned. And I even liked the music.

Monitor was the brainchild of Pat Weaver, the creative president of NBC in the 1950's who created Today, Tonight, the Home show, and the TV spectacular. This was an era when broadcasters had high hopes for the medium as an educational tool.

Monitor included broadcasters like Dave Garroway, Henry Morgan, Hugh Downs, David Brinkley, Morgan Beatty, Jim Fleming, and a bunch of other broadcasting legends. It truly was the kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria that Pat Weaver and Jim Fleming envisioned.

And you're right. It was funnier than NPR, much funnier. It had Nichols & May, Bob & Ray, Selma Diamond, Ernie Kovacs, and Jonathan Winters. How could it miss?
And Louis seconds my motion that you go forthwith to the Monitor Tribute Pages. Follow the links in this post.

The Gospel of Neal (or, Who Needs Nicaea?)

I probably need to study it more.
I'm not sure exactly what the Arians
believed. I think that the Council of Nicaea
was not a godly event. I was
watching the History Channel . . . .


IF YOU GO
to the "About" page on the Revolution 21 website, you'll run across this in the "whats and wherefores":
Revolution 21 is countercultural, and that includes a lot of the music we play. Revolution 21 -- while a radio station run by Christians -- doesn't obsess about playing only "Christian" artists. Revolution 21 believes music has meaning and validity above and beyond the particular artist.

In other words, art can stand on its own merits. So
Revolution 21
intends to leave art to the artists.

Format? We don't have no stinkin' format.

Well, actually, we do. But not like you're used to in the age of Corporate Radio. Instead,
Revolution 21
features a more-or-less "freeform" mix of "Christian" and "secular" rock and alternative music.

Also, you'll hear some punk and hip-hop, as well as "Christian" rap. Then add some singer-songwriters, some neo- and classic soul . . . plus a pinch of folk, and you start to get a whiff of our revolutionary brew.

Unlike the rest of the radio world -- "Christian" or "secular" --
Revolution 21
believes there are just two kinds of music . . . good and bad.

The bad, we don’t mess with.
THERE'S A REASON we don't play just "Christian" artists, and there's a reason why we'd prefer that the musicians worry about their art and not about being evangelistic associations. And there's a reason why we're not placing all our bets on the music being the entire message of Revolution 21.

And that's why this blog is here.

Prog-rock heavyweight Neal Morse used to be in the band Spock's Beard. Then -- and you know it's coming -- he found Jesus. Which meant he got out of Spock's facial hair and became a "Christian" artist, making music about Jesus and
. . . aaannnnnnd . . .

When I prayed to the Lord and asked what my gift was, I felt more like my gift was that of an evangelist. But these albums take on more of a teaching kind of mode, but they also could be considered evangelism. If I were to come to your church, my gift would be more of an evangelist. I testify a lot about what God has done in my life. I usually don't get into the meat of the doctrine. I guess I save that for the albums. I'd like to open people's eyes to more of God's truth, if God will allow it. He has to do it. The Spirit of the Lord has to reveal things and draw people.
BUT WHAT WOULD Morse try to sell poor pagans when he's in "more of a teaching kind of mode"?

How about something really close -- if not identical -- to one of the oldest and nastiest of all heresies?

From Christian Music Today.com:

Your message board has a long, ongoing discussion about your views on the Trinity and the nature of Jesus, but can you give a thumbnail sketch of what you believe?

Morse:
I believe there is one God the Father, that he has a son, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the father; and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God. I'm neither Trinitarian nor Oneness Pentecostal. I think I'm something different. I simply like to say that I'm a disciple of Christ. I believe that the best thing to do is to stick with Scripture—sola scriptura.

Do you believe Jesus was a created being?

Morse:
I wouldn't put it that way. I think "begotten" may be distinct from "created." I don't want to make less of God's Son than some people say I do. He is the unique Son of God, and all power has been given to him in heaven and earth. But a son comes from a father. In 1 Corinthians 15:28, it says that in the end times Jesus is subjected to the Father. In the Gospel of John, Jesus doesn't do anything except what the Father tells him to do. I don't see in the Scriptures how Jesus and God can be co-equaI and the same person. I'm just trying to acknowledge what the Scriptures say—that all power has been given to him, and that we should worship him and serve him.

Weren't these issues settled for Christians at the Council of Nicaea, when the Arian view of Jesus as a created being was rejected and the Trinity affirmed?

Morse: I probably need to study it more. I'm not sure exactly what the Arians believed. I think that the Council of Nicaea was not a godly event. I was watching the History Channel where it showed that Constantine really didn't care how it came out; he just wanted unity so he could conquer other nations. So it seems to me that the spirit of conquering was very present there, but I wasn't there, and I don't want to pretend to be an expert on the Council of Nicaea.

WELL, NEAL, so you don't have to sprain your pickin' fingers by typing "Arianism" into a search engine, let me do it for you:

A-R-I-A-N-I-S-M

And what does The American Heritage Dictionary have to say about Arianism?

The doctrines of Arius, denying that Jesus was of the same substance as God and holding instead that he was only the highest of created beings, viewed as heretical by most Christian churches.
OK, how about . . . N-I-C-A-E-A

Let's try Wikipedia:

The First Council of Nicaea was convened by Constantine I upon the recommendations of a synod led by Hosius of Cordoba in the Eastertide of 325. This synod had been charged with investigation of the trouble brought about by the Arian controversy in the Greek-speaking east.[3] To most bishops, the teachings of Arius were heretical and a danger to the salvation of souls. In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea (now known as İznik, in modern-day Turkey), a place easily accessible to the majority of them, particularly those of Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace.

Approximately 300 bishops attended, from every region of the Empire except Britain. This was the first general council in the history of the Church since the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, which had established the conditions upon which Gentiles could join the Church.[4] In the Council of Nicaea, “the Church had taken her first great step to define doctrine more precisely in response to a challenge from a heretical theology.”[5] The resolutions in the council, being ecumenical, were intended for the whole Church.

WELL, IT SEEMS that Neal Morse -- studiously avoiding the influence of "corrupt" church bodies, a subject that frames his latest album, Sola Scriptura -- just might have sola scripturaed himself into being a bald-faced heretic. An Arian, even. Or at least something really, really close.

And he intends to "evangelize" folks into his heretical view of salvation. Into a well-established lie.

But, hey, once you're born again and get yourself a Bible, and though a neophyte -- a baby -- in the faith, have just decided you're qualified to be Pope . . . .

After all, didn't somebody in one of them Gospels say somethin' about "What is truth?" Hell, maybe you can pull something out of your butt -- or your own interpretation of the Bible -- and make it so. And "evangelize" and "teach" that newly defined dogma -- let's call it the Gospel of Neal -- to all those folks looking for the gospel on the radio, or in a record store, instead of in a church.

I mean, once you've come to the conclusion that you're smarter and more insightful than all those brilliant minds and spiritual giants who've gotten together, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, to decide lots of big questions over the past 2,000 years . . . what the hell!

Yes, what the Hell, indeed.




* * *


THE NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.

Through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary , and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died, and was buried.

On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.


Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The return of Kristy


Here's the April video in the ongoing chronicle of Kristy Dusseau's journey back toward health and a "new normal" from a two-year encounter with a rare, virulent form of leukemia -- and the aftereffects of her life-saving treatment.

I've said this every month, and I'll keep saying it:
What Kristy has been through, you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. You wouldn't.

And while racking up $5 million-plus in medical bills, Kristy also has lost her home, car, job, etcetera, etcetera.

So, even though Lent is over, go to
www.kristyrecovers.com and give what you can. Donations have been falling off, but the need doesn't flit away . . . as does our collective-ADD attention span.

If God exists, denying Him is, like, nuts

WHAT IS TRUTH? Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has some thoughts on that, and what it means for society in these times.

He writes today in the journal First Things:

Nietzsche might enjoy the fact that he’s the kind of thinker young college men quote to impress young college women. He has some of the same rebel appeal that Milton gave to Lucifer and Goethe gave to Mephistopheles. He’s bold. He’s radical. And the fact that he also went mad adds just the right touch of drama. In other words, he makes a great cultural icon for Americans to eat as a candy bar, because most Americans will never read a word of what he actually said.

The trouble is, once upon a time, some people in Germany did read him. And they did take him seriously. And they acted on what he said. Ideas have consequences. When Nietzsche asks us on the back of a Will to Power candy bar, “Is man merely a mistake of God’s, or God merely a mistake of man?,” we Americans can swallow our chocolate along with our Starbuck’s and grin at the irony from the comfort of 2007. Sixty years ago, no one would have gotten the joke. There was nothing funny about the Holocaust.

In other words, ideas have consequences—which brings me to today’s topic. When Cardinal Rigali first invited me to come to Philadelphia to talk about religion and the common good, I accepted for two simple reasons. First, I’m tired of the Church and her people being told to be quiet on public issues that urgently concern us. And second, I’m tired of Christians themselves being silent because of some misguided sense of good manners. Self-censorship is an even bigger failure than allowing ourselves to be bullied by outsiders.

Only one question really matters. Does God exist or not? If he does, that has implications for every aspect of our personal and public behavior: all of our actions, all of our choices, all of our decisions. If God exists, denying him in our public life—whether we do it explicitly like Nietzsche or implicitly by our silence—cannot serve the common good, because it amounts to worshiping the unreal in the place of the real.

Religious believers built this country. Christians played a leading role in that work. This is a fact, not an opinion. Our entire framework of human rights is based on a religious understanding of the dignity of the human person as a child of his or her Creator. Nietzsche once said that “convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.”

In fact, the opposite is often true. Convictions can be the seeds of truth incarnated in a person’s individual will. The right kinds of convictions guide us forward. They give us meaning. Not acting on our convictions is cowardice. As Christians we need to live our convictions in the public square with charity and respect for others, but also firmly, with courage and without apology. Anything less is a form of theft from the moral witness we owe to the public discussion of issues. We can never serve the common good by betraying who we are as believers or compromising away what we hold to be true.

Unfortunately, I think the current American debate over religion and the public square has much deeper roots than the 2006 and 2004 elections, or John Kennedy’s 1960 election—or the Second Vatican Council, for that matter. A crisis of faith and action for Christians has been growing for many years in Western society. It’s taken longer to have an impact here in the United States because we’re younger as a nation than the countries in Europe, and we’ve escaped some of Europe’s wars and worst social and religious struggles.

But Americans now face the same growing spiritual illness that J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton, Christopher Dawson, Romano Guardini, and C.S. Lewis all wrote about in the last century. It’s a loss of hope and purpose that comes from the loss of an interior life and a living faith. It’s a loss that we can only make bearable by creating a culture of material comfort that feeds—and feeds off of—personal selfishness.

No one understood this better than Georges Bernanos. Most of us remember Bernanos for his novels, especially The Diary of a Country Priest and Under Satan’s Sun. Some of us may remember that he was one of the major European Catholic writers to reject the Franco uprising in Spain. He spent the Second World War in South America out of disgust with European politics, both right and left. He didn’t have a sentimental bone in his body. He criticized Catholic politicians, Church leaders, and average Catholics in the pew with the same and sometimes very funny relish. But he loved the Church, and he believed in Jesus Christ. And exactly sixty years ago, in 1946 and 1947, he gave a final series of lectures that predicted where our civilization would end up today with complete clarity.

Regnery published the lectures in English in 1955 as The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos. I hope you’ll read them for yourselves. They’re outstanding. Bernanos had an unblinkered vision of the “signs of the times.” Remember that, just after the Second World War, France experienced a Catholic revival. Recovering from a global conflict and the Holocaust, the world in general and France in particular seemed to turn back—briefly—to essentials. It was during that hopeful season that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council gave us Gaudium et Spes.

But Bernanos always saw the problems beneath the veneer. He wasn’t fooled by the apparent revival of Catholic France. And so his work is a great corrective to the myth that our moral confusion started in the 1960s. As Bernanos makes clear, our problems began with the machine age—the industrial revolution—but not simply because of machines. They were the fruit of a “de-spiritualization” that had been going on for some time.

Bernanos argues that the optimism of the modern West is a kind of whistling past the graveyard. The Christian virtue of hope, he reminds us, is a hard and strong thing that disciplines and “perfects” human appetites. It has nothing to do with mere optimism. Real Christian hope comes into play as the obstacles to human happiness seem to grow higher.

Bernanos takes it upon himself to show us just how high the obstacles to real human freedom have become, even in liberal democracies. He argues that our modern optimism is a veneer over a despair bred by our greed and materialism. We try to fool ourselves that everything will turn out for the best, despite all the evidence to the contrary—crime, terrorism, disease, poverty—and we even concoct a myth of inevitable progress to shore up our optimism. American optimism in particular—Bernanos refers to the United States bitterly as “the Rome, the Mecca, the holiest sanctuary of this civilization”—is really only the eager restlessness of unsatisfied appetites.

Two themes dominate these last essays by Bernanos. The first is man’s eagerness to abolish, forget, or rewrite his own history in favor of determinisms like liberal capitalism, which makes society nothing more than a market system, and Marxism. For Bernanos, the attack on human memory and history is a primary mark of the Antichrist.

As Bernanos explains it, big ideological systems “mechanize” history with high-sounding language like progress and dialectics. But in doing so, they wipe out the importance of both the past—which they describe as primitive, unenlightened, or counterrevolutionary—and the present, which is not yet the paradise of tomorrow. The future is where salvation is to be found for every ideology that tries to eliminate God, whether it’s explicitly atheistic or pays lip service to religious values. Of course, this future never arrives, because progress never stops and the dialectic never ends.

Christianity and Judaism see life very differently. For both of them, history is a place of human decision. At every moment of our lives, we’re asked to choose for good or for evil. Therefore, time has weight. It has meaning. The present is vitally important as the instant that will never come again; the moment where we are not determined by outside forces but self-determined by our free will. Our past actions make us who we are today. But each “today” also offers us another chance to change our developing history. The future is the fruit of our past and present choices, but it’s always unknown, because each successive moment presents us with a new possibility.

Time and freedom are the raw material of life because time is the realm of human choice. Bernanos reminds us that the Antichrist wants us to think that freedom really doesn’t exist, because when we fail to choose, when we slide through life, we in effect choose for him. Time is the Devil’s enemy. He lives neither in the eternity of God nor in the realm of man. Satan has made his choice against God and he is forever fixed in that choice. But as long as man lives in time, which is the realm of change, man may still choose in favor of God. And, of course, God is always offering the help of his grace to do just that. If the Devil can sell us the idea that history is a single, determined mechanism; if humanity’s freedom of will can be forgotten or denied; then man will drift, and the Antichrist will win.

(snip)


One of my favorite passages from Frank Sheed is this:

It’s incredible how long science has succeeded in keeping men’s minds off their fundamental unhappiness and its own very limited power to remedy their fundamental unhappiness. One marvel follows another—electric light, phonograph, motor car, telephone, radio, airplane, television. It’s a curious list, and very pathetic. The soul of man is crying for hope of purpose or meaning; and the scientist says, “Here is a telephone” or “Look, television!”—exactly as one tries to distract a baby crying for its mother by offering it sugar-sticks and making funny faces.

The tidal wave of our toys, from iPods to the Internet, is equally effective in getting us to ignore history and ignore our own emptiness. The struggle for real human freedom depends upon the struggle for human history. Unlike the ideologies that deny the importance of the past and the present and focus on the illusions of a perfect future, Christianity sees the most important moments of the human story to be the past event of the Incarnation and the present moment of my individual opportunity to love.



HAT TIP: Crunchy Con

Truth, hell! We can't handle the Fall.

Well, this is going to get ugly.

As if it weren't already, what with the PC and gay storm troops ready to blitzkrieg whomever has the temerity to point out that, in the case of homosexual unions, the parties (and the parts) don't fit.

Then again, it's been a hate crime to be a professing Catholic for a while now. And the Gaymacht ain't going to like what it reads in newspapers like The Sunday Times in Perth, Australia:

The Vatican's second-highest doctrinal official says homosexual marriage is evil, and abortion and euthanasia are "terrorism with a human face".

The attack by Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the latest in a string of speeches made by either Pope Benedict XVI or other Vatican officials as Italy considers giving more rights to gays.

In an address to chaplains, Archbishop Amato said newspapers and television bulletins often seemed like "a perverse film about evil".

He denounced "evils that remain almost invisible" because the media presented them as "expression of human progress".

He listed these as abortion clinics, which he called "slaughterhouses of human beings", euthanasia, and "parliaments of so-called civilised nations where laws contrary to the nature of the human being are being promulgated, such as the approval of marriage between people of the same sex ...".

Archbishop Amato spoke at a time when the Vatican and Italy's powerful Catholic church are at loggerheads over plans for a highly controversial law that would give unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples some form of legal recognition.

The church and Catholic politicians, even some in Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, see the proposed law as a Trojan Horse and say it could lead to gay marriages.

Archbishop Amato, who is said to be very close to the Pope, criticised the media's coverage of ethical issues.

After denouncing "abominable terrorism" such as that carried out by suicide bombers, he condemned what he called "terrorism with a human face", and accused the media of manipulating language "to hide the tragic reality of the facts".

"For example, abortion is called 'voluntary interruption of pregnancy' and not the killing of a defenceless human being; an abortion clinic is given a harmless, even attractive, name: 'centre for reproductive health'; and euthanasia is blandly called 'death with dignity'," he said.
IT'S UNVARNISHED. It's blunt. It will give offense. It's also the truth, the honest exposition of what the Catholic Church has taught since they pulled Jesus Christ off the cross. And what Judaism taught before that for, oh, 4,000 years or so.

It's also what many in the American Church don't have the cojones to talk about much anymore.

You don't have to go far in American Catholicism to find serious dissent from plain Catholic doctrine, unchanged since . . . forever. Just go into the pews. Heck, go up to the pulpit.

And, most certainly, go to a meeting of a Catholic youth group.

IT IS A NORMAL CONDITION of adolescence and young adulthood to be absolutely certain of your own unappreciated genius and moral superiority. There has never been any generation quite so clever as one's own, and only the imposition of "fairness" lies between ourselves and the establishment of the New Jerusalem.

Thus, there can be no quibbling with something so naturally just and lovely as the nuptials of Adam and Steve (Yes, Jerry Falwell can be a jerk and a blowhard, but "Adam and Steve" belongs in the Bon Mot Hall of Fame) because God Made Them That Way (TM) and not letting them wed Just Isn't Fair (c) 1967, Down With The Man, LLC.

I heard the God Made Them That Way (TM) argument just this past Sunday. At a Catholic youth-group discussion on You Know What. Yes, God Made Them That Way (TM) and who are we to argue with God, right?

Well, except when God is speaking through Scripture . . . or Tradition . . . or Reason . . . or through Nature. Then we can argue with God, because who the hell does He think He is, telling loving homosexual couples that they can't Be Happy (c) 1,000,000,000 B.C., Beelzebub Publishing, Inc.

At the point of the inevitable God Made Them That Way (TM) moment, I turned to the youth minister -- we adults weren't allowed in on the discussion unless invited, which we generally weren't -- to vent.

"God forbid that we might have Catholic youth with opinions formed by the Catholic Catechism," I said. Sarcastically, of course, Because God Made Me That Way.

Not that my expectations are high, you understand. I am the guy who is always prepared to helpfully direct, when met with blank stares when asking Catholic teen-agers to turn to Matthew, "It's the first part of the last third of the Bible."

It was at some point after this that it all hit me . . . again, being that I have this thought every now and again: We just don't understand the reality of The Fall. At all. Particularly today's kids.

We affluent Westerners, amid all our wealth and all our distractions, Just Don't Get It. At all. Amid almost daily horrors and sordid suburban minidramas and broken families -- and Seung-Hui Cho -- we still fail to understand the consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedience.

We look at ourselves in The Fall's fun house mirror, see a warped and distorted image of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, then think we've gazed upon the Beatific Vision in full.

We are good. Evil is quaint. What is truth? Gays can marry. What the hell.

Almost 6,000 years of human experience, taboo and divine revelation? Worthless amid the wonderful insight and wisdom that is ours since, oh . . . 1967. We don't need no stinkin' Savior . . . Do what thou wilt. It's all good.

OF COURSE, every good postmodernist thinker has a perfectly fine answer for the Nature argument against gay marriage. Also for the Church's argument that the purpose of marriage is twofold --unitive and procreative -- and that a husband and wife, coming together to create new life out of marital love, is the closest human beings can come to modeling the Holy Trinity . . . We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

And that fine answer is to smugly plunge a knife into the heart of infertile heterosexual couples -- faithful husbands and wives -- who have played by God's rules, followed their physical and metaphysical natures and still rolled snake eyes in this post-Fall "vail of tears." Yes, in the name of the Great God Fairness, if gays and lesbians cannot live in wedded bliss, neither then should I live as such with my dear wife of nearly 24 years. Because, physically, our marital union is just as fruitless as those of gays and lesbians.

See, my wife and I understand a bit about The Fall and, too, about the brutal unfairness of life. We had trouble conceiving, and then she got cancer.

And that was that.

Meanwhile, some folks -- including not an insubstantial number of professed Catholics -- openly defend the murder of defenseless children in utero as "choice." We Americans see choice as good, as did God when He gave Adam and Eve free will.

And look what they did with it:

1
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, "Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the
trees in the garden?"
2
The woman answered the serpent: "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
3
it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'"
4
But the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die!
5
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."
6
The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:1-6

SEE, I don't think what made God furious was the mere fact of Adam's and Eve's disobedience. What I think made God furious was the why of their disobedience -- "'your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods . . . .'"

Do you think the real sin here -- the Original Sin -- was more one of pride or one of avarice? Me, I think it could go either way. Perhaps a draw.

Whatever the case, it is indisputable that our postmodern society treats traditionally capital sins like lust, pride and avarice as ersatz virtues, encouraging hallmarks of worldly sophistication. And we tut-tut those hoary old men in the Vatican as they prattle on about the "evil" of homosexual marriage and "slaughterhouses of human beings."

"We," of course, being the West's cynical sophisticates and the young people who drink their Kool-Aid, thinking it a fitting substitute for the
living water of Christ.

"We," in the name of the Autonomous Self, the Almighty Choice and the Inconsequential Orgasm seek perfection out of perversity and "fairness" out of pridefulness, achieving only the further perfection of our fallen iniquity.


"We" could care less about the utter unfairness of people throwing away their children before they're born -- or neglecting them after they're born -- while others can't have the children they desperately wanted to love and raise. In America, adoption is damned long odds when you're exterminating millions of fetuses a year, and not many of us can afford to trek to China, now, can we?

AND "WE" DON'T USUALLY have to suffer the unthinking cruelties of teen-agers' defense of sanctified sodomy, nor have "we" seen the look in my wife's eyes, the one she gets when I know she's thinking about the children she will never have.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unbelievable. Especially now.


WELL . . . it would appear you now have your Don Imus answer. At least to the part about how serious CBS Corp. chief Les Moonves was about this:

“There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”

Do Asians count as people "of color" to CBS? Or are they not, and they're just fair game? Is it OK to make vulgar and racist slurs about some of those created in the likeness of God but not others?

From tomorrow's edition of The New York Times:

CBS Radio suspended two hosts from an FM station in New York City today after an Asian-American advocacy organization complained about the broadcast of a six-minute prank phone call to a Chinese restaurant that was peppered with ethnic and sexual slurs.

The call was first played on “The Dog House With JV and Elvis,” a midmorning show on WFNY, on April 5, the day after Don Imus made his comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team on WFAN, another CBS-owned station. The call was then replayed on “The Dog House” on Thursday, a week after Mr. Imus was fired by CBS Radio.

In the skit, a series of apparently unsuspecting employees of a Chinese restaurant are berated by a caller who tells one woman he would like to “come to your restaurant” to see her naked, especially a part of her body he refers to as “hot, Asian, spicy.” The caller also attempts to order “flied lice,” brags of his prowess in kung fu and repeatedly curses at several employees.

In a statement on Sunday, the four New York-area chapters of the Organization of Chinese Americans, an advocacy group, demanded an apology from the show’s two hosts and from CBS Radio, and called for the firing of the hosts and their producer.

In an interview today before the suspensions were announced, Vicki Shu Smolin, president of the organization’s New York City chapter, said she was mystified that CBS would allow the call to be broadcast in the first place and then would permit it to be replayed in the aftermath of the Imus incident. (“The Dog House” has been waging a broad campaign in support of Mr. Imus both on the show and on its Web site.)

“I just see plain ignorance in the CBS management — of the community, of who we are, of what we’re all about,” Ms. Shu Smolin said. “If they don’t fire the D.J.’s, it will be a double standard.”

She promised to rip a page from the playbook of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led the charge for Mr. Imus’s dismissal, by staging protests of CBS Radio and boycotting advertisers on WFNY.

“They don’t think they’re going to get any backlash from the Asian-American community,” she said. “They’re definitely wrong.”

In an e-mail message sent this afternoon, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio, Karen Mateo, said that the two hosts, Jeff Vandergrift (JV) and Dan Lay (Elvis), had been suspended “without pay until further notice.” Mr. Vandergrift, Ms. Mateo said, had apologized on today’s show. The show, which began on WFNY (92.3 FM) in January 2006, can be heard outside the New York City market only via the Internet.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: First airing, day after Imus said what he said about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Repeat airing, week after Imus got fired. Like I said, all you need to know.

Trash is as trash does. That's what my mama says.

Give me Charmin or give me death!

Global warming: The science behind the theory that we're heating up the world and sending ourselves to ruin -- or a close facsimile thereof -- probably is absolutely rock solid. It's likely happening just as most scientists and international bodies contend.

But something about the way it's being sold to us smells -- the politicization of the cause and the mindless celebrification of it, too. What is a deadly serious subject is starting to acquire the slightly sweet-sour stench of unseriousness.

And that ain't good.

How are we to take global warming seriously when we have the spectacle of the Stop Global Warming College Tour, featuring An Inconvenient Truth co-producer Laurie David and rocker Sheryl Crow? Actually, I probably would be taking the tour much more seriously if they didn't make the mistake of
blogging on Washington Post.com . . . and providing such Drudge-worthy fodder as this from Crow:

Crow (4/19, Springfield, Tenn.): I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.

[Emphasis mine -- R21]

HELLO! OPERATOR! Get me the New York Post and get it pronto . . . Page Six! Yeah, the gossip column.

Hello? Page Six? Yeah, I think I got a big scoop for you. Here's why Lance Armstrong broke up with Sheryl Crow . . . you ain't gonna believe this! Peeeeee U!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Al Capone sues Jean Valjean because he can

Bribers (a.k.a. major record labels) get upset at college kids for "stealing" their overpriced crap. Overpriced? Hmmm . . . .


OK, make that "Bribers and price gougers get upset at college kids for 'stealing' their overpriced crap."

BUT YOU KNOW, in the past, drugs and prostitutes have been employed to get radio programmers to play certain records.

OK, "Bribers and price gougers and pushers and pimps get upset at college kids for 'stealing' their overpriced crap."

And by God, something has to be done about those college kids illicitly downloading albums on the Internet.

From The Associated Press:

Another round of threatening letters is on its way to suspected music pirates at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with 19 more students accused of illegally downloading music, the university said Friday.

It's the third batch of students targeted at the university, bringing the total number to 80.

The Recording Industry Association of America filed "John Doe" lawsuits against five UNL students last week, alleging copyright infringement. Those five students have not been identified, and university lawyer John Wiltse told Nebraska regents at their Friday meeting that the alleged violators will not be identified unless the recording industry obtains a subpoena.

Otherwise, the process is fairly anonymous. The recording industry group's letters are sent to the university, asking officials to pass them along to alleged offenders.

In late February, the association sent letters offering discounted settlements to 400 computer users at 13 universities. Since then, more than 800 new letters have been sent, offering students the option to settle with the group.

Some UNL students already have settled with the organization. Tom Keefe, who works in Student Legal Services at UNL and has handled some of the settlement offer letters, said students could have settled within 20 days of notification for a $3,000 fee. After that, he said, the offer jumps to $4,000.

UNL still hasn't heard back from the recording industry group on a request for reimbursement of for costs to track down the students accused in the first two rounds.
Regent Jonathan Henning suggested that students who illegally download files be the ones to pay the university's investigation costs.

"They're the ones stealing," he said.

Regents asked Wiltse why the university complied with the recording industry's request to forward the letters to students accused of illegal downloading.

"Certainly I agree that the university shouldn't be an enclave for thieves," Henning said, but asked why the university should forward the letters.

Wiltse said they relayed the letters to give students the opportunity to respond and possibly settle to avoid costly lawsuits and litigation.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday it had settled with four of the nation's largest radio groups, closing investigations into the broadcasters' payola violations. Under the consent decree, Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting and Entercom Communications have agreed to pay a combined $12.5 million to the FCC, resolving allegations that the broadcasters accepted cash or other consideration in exchange for airplay.

In addition to the $12.5 million payment to the FCC, the broadcasters have agreed to implement certain business reforms and compliance measures.

“Today, a unified Commission sends a resounding message to the radio industry: payola, in any form, has no place in radio and will not be tolerated by the FCC,” said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

“Pay-for-play broadcasting cheats consumers, musicians and the law. It denies consumers choice in what they hear, it deprives musicians of the exposure they need to survive and it is illegal,” added Commissioner Michael Copps. “Today the Commission takes action against payola. While not a lethal blow, this action makes real, tangible progress against unacceptable pay-for-play practices.”
“Airwaves belong to the public, not the highest bidder,” those are the wise words spoken by Eliot Spitzer, New York’s [then] attorney general. [He's now governor -- R21] He is the catalyst who started the ball rolling in uncovering the payola scandal. On Friday, April 13th the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended the largest payola investigation to date since the law was passed in 1960 by invoking a consent decree.

Major record labels such as Universal and Warner went under investigation during the summer of 2005 for paying radio stations to play their selected music. Ironically, those same mainstream labels are fighting people (or shall I say IP addresses) for illegal P2P activity claiming a loss in profits; while behind closed doors they are participating in illegal payola churning out the dough to radio stations.

Radio stations also received hefty fines in conjunction with the consent decree for accepting money and gifts under the radar. According to Digital Music News, the biggest bill went out to Entercom totaling $4 million. The FCC is also demanding radio employees receive routine training on payola rules and hire compliance officers at each station.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

This week's music

HERE'S THE LINEUP for this week's Revolution 21 podcast, as promised:



Podcast 27
In Memoriam . . . .

1 Amazing Grace
Aaron Neville, 2003

2 Reflections of My Life
The Marmalade, 1970

3 God Grant Me Tears
A Ragamuffin Band, 1999

4 Absalom, Absalom
Pierce Pettis, 1996

5 How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Live)
Al Green, 1997

6 Hymn
Jars of Clay, 1997

7 No More Fear
Aaron Thompson, 2002

8 Miracles Out of Nowhere
Kansas, 1976

9 Hold on to Happiness
Mugison, 2004

10 When You're Gone
The Cranberries, 1996

11 Us And Them / Any Colour You Like
Pink Floyd, 1973

12 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
The Innocence Mission, 2003

13 I've Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now)
Otis Redding, 1966

In memoriam . . . .


We all know what this week's episode of the Revolution 21 podcast is about . . . what it had to be about. We cannot overcome the horror that lurks among us if we do not confront it. We must grieve for its victims and celebrate the light of the world -- and those souls' light in this world -- so that the darkness triumphs not.

Trouble is, I've had a hard time motivating myself to do the program this go 'round. One of the elements of this program is me talking . . . at least occasionally. It's a basic ingredient of human interaction, given that I can't shake your hand across cyberspace or give you a hug . .. particularly when we're all hurting to one degree or another.

But the deal is . . . what the hell can I say? In a very real way, words fail. Utterly.

Words cannot capture the groaning of broken hearts.

Words fail.


I THOUGHT ABOUT speaking of how the great failure of our age -- the great failure of most of human history -- is our failure to solve many pressing crises without somebody (or many somebodies) ending up dead.

I'm sure you can name any number of things for which our miserable "fix" is kill, kill, kill. And now, we have a crazed college student killing 32 innocents in what seemed, in his deranged mind, to be a fitting coda to a tortured and miserable existence.

And on it goes, with nothing seeming to break our addiction to violence, revenge and death.

WHILE I THINK THERE'S TRUTH in what I intended to say, what I intended to say is also pretty obvious. And while obviousness might be tolerable here in writing about the podcast, my blathering obviousness hardly would contribute to a fitting memorial to the lives -- the shining futures and the future generations -- we've lost this awful week in the Year of Our Lord 2007.

So I decided to shut up, restricting my poor insights to the Pod-O-Matic and Blogspot domains. In the show this week, the music and the context will speak for itself.

And I pray it will be worthy of the departed we grieve today. May God rest them, every one.


(To listen, see the podcast player at the top right of the page, or go to the Revolution 21 homepage and click on "Podcast."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bring on the Comfy Chair!



THERE.

You can be assured of Revolution 21's abiding non-heretical nature. At least when we're talking traditional Christian beliefs.


You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant

100%

Pelagianism

67%

Nestorianism

33%

Monophysitism

33%

Docetism

0%

Arianism

0%

Apollanarian

0%

Adoptionist

0%

Donatism

0%

Gnosticism

0%

Monarchianism

0%

Albigensianism

0%

Modalism

0%

Socinianism

0%

Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! But when it gets here, I've nothing to fear.

Happiness is a warm gun???

If you ask me, the conservative chattering class has not exactly covered itself in glory this tragic week.

In fact, I'll start with one sad specimen who brings to mind -- after reading his post on National Review Online's blog The Corner -- the words Virginia Tech poet-in-residence Nikki Giovanni used in recalling madman Cho Sueng-Hui: "I've taught troubled youngsters. I've taught crazy people. It was the meanness that bothered me. It was a really mean streak."

John Derbyshire:


As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.
Columnist Mark Steyn expands upon Derbyshire's rant, while refusing to go all the way there:

Point one: They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

Point two: The cost of a “protected” society of eternal “children” is too high. Every December 6th, my own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the “Montreal massacre,” the 14 female students of the Ecole Polytechnique murdered by Marc Lepine (born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you’d never know that from the press coverage). As I wrote up north a few years ago:

Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate — an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The “men” stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.

I have always believed America is different. Certainly on September 11th we understood. The only good news of the day came from the passengers who didn’t meekly follow the obsolescent 1970s hijack procedures but who used their wits and acted as free-born individuals. And a few months later as Richard Reid bent down and tried to light his shoe in that critical split-second even the French guys leapt up and pounded the bejasus out of him.
MEANWHILE, TWO MORE voices on the right decide the solution lies in Gunsmoke. Or The Big Valley, perhaps. Maybe Bonanza or The Wild, Wild West:

Michelle Malkin:

There's no polite way or time to say it: American college and universities have become coddle industries. Big Nanny administrators oversee speech codes, segregated dorms, politically correct academic departments, and designated "safe spaces" to protect students selectively from hurtful (conservative) opinions—while allowing mob rule for approved leftist positions (textbook case: Columbia University's anti-Minuteman Project protesters).

Instead of teaching students to defend their beliefs, American educators shield them from vigorous intellectual debate. Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance.

And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense.

As news was breaking about the carnage at Virginia Tech, a reader e-mailed me a news story from last January. State legislators in Virginia had attempted to pass a bill that would have eased handgun restrictions on college campuses. Opposed by outspoken, anti-gun activists and Virginia Tech administrators, that bill failed.

Is it too early to ask: "What if?" What if that bill had passed? What if just one student in one of those classrooms had been in lawful possession of a concealed weapon for the purpose of self-defense?

If it wasn't too early for Keystone Katie Couric to be jumping all over campus security yesterday for what they woulda/coulda/shoulda done in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and if it isn't too early for the New York Times editorial board to be publishing its knee-jerk call for more gun control, it darned well isn't too early for me to raise questions about how the unrepentant anti-gun lobbying of college officials may have put students at risk.

The back story: Virginia Tech had punished a student for bringing a handgun to class last spring—despite the fact that the student had a valid concealed handgun permit. The bill would have barred public universities from making "rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a student who possesses a valid concealed handgun permit ... from lawfully carrying a concealed handgun." After the proposal died in subcommittee, the school's governing board reiterated its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus buildings.

Late last summer, a shooting near campus prompted students to clamor again for loosening campus rules against armed self-defense. Virginia Tech officials turned up their noses. In response to student Bradford Wiles's campus newspaper op-ed piece in support of concealed carry on campus, Virginia Tech associate vice president Larry Hincker scoffed:

"[I]t is absolutely mind-boggling to see the opinions of Bradford Wiles…The editors of this page must have printed this commentary if for no other reason than malicious compliance. Surely, they scratched their heads saying, 'I can't believe he really wants to say that.' Wiles tells us that he didn't feel safe with the hundreds of highly trained officers armed with high powered rifles encircling the building and protecting him. He even implies that he needed his sidearm to protect himself."

The nerve!
Glenn Reynolds in the New York Daily News:

On Monday, as the news of the Virginia Tech shootings was unfolding, I went into my advanced constitutional law seminar to find one of my students upset. My student, Tara Wyllie, has a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, but she isn't allowed to have a weapon on campus. That left her feeling unsafe. "Why couldn't we meet off campus today?" she asked.

Virginia Tech graduate student Bradford Wiles also has a permit to carry a gun, in Virginia. But on the day of the shootings, he would have been unarmed for the same reason: Like the University of Tennessee, where I teach, Virginia Tech bans guns on campus.
LEMME SEE HERE. We have a bunch of college pansies who live in a screwed-up, infantilized state of their Boomer parents' making and are incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, much less navigating a perilous and ugly "real world."

Therefore, the solution to the problem of The Horror at the gates of Dear Old Alma Mater . . . is to arm the twits like the Terminator himself.

"Hasta la vista, baby!"

(BLAM!!!!!!!!)

OhmigawdOhmigawdOhmigawdOhmigawdOhmigawdOhmigawdOhmigawd!!!!!! Did I hit you? I AM SOOOOOOOOOO SORRY! I was aiming at the mad . . .

(BLAMBLAMBLAM!!!)

(Thud.)

To reference Reynolds' Daily News op-ed piece, do you REALLY trust a gal who's terrified to go to class without her handgun with that handgun in the classroom?

BUT THE BIGGER POINT these folks miss is a Big Point, indeed. In positing that the only sane way of existence anymore involves people having the right, if not the obligation, to carry concealed handguns absolutely everywhere -- especially amid the hallowed halls of academe -- are they not conceding that, basically, we're toast? Doomed?

Done dealin' as a functional society and that the New Dark Ages now are upon us?

Is that what they really mean to say?
Is utter despair the only thing the American conservative movement has left to offer us?

If that's the case, how about a little intellectual honesty here. If the conservative chattering class thinks it's all over and life's now a matter of kill or be killed, say so.

And answer the question of why our soldiers fight and die to "bring democracy and freedom" to Iraq when any notion of civilized society already is a dead letter right here at home.