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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boycott OSV!

Father Peter Stravinskas, who used to be a fairly orthodox priest, has apparently gone off the deep-end.

In an article for Our Sunday Visitor, he viciously attacks home-schoolers. In addition to his absurd and completely unsupportable claim that homeschool families don't produce vocations, Fr. Stravinskas apparently suffers from the misconception that Catholic parochial schools - which have only existed in their present form for about 150 years - are essential to the Faith.

Obviously, Jesus established only seven sacraments, and Catholic schools wasn't one of them.

As Matt Abbott's column points out, the Church does not require all Catholic children to attend Catholic schools. Needless to say, Father Stravinskas doesn't understand Church documents.

But Father Stravinskas isn't the only ordained man whose ignorance is on display. He merely follows a number of bishops who evince similar ignorant bigotry.

For instance, who can forget the inestimable Bishop Vasquez of Austin, or his Quasimodo sidekick, Ned Vanders?

“Bishop Vásquez received your invitation to celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy for the fall home-schooling blessing Mass.Bishop Vásquez believes Catholic education, and in particular Catholic school education, is an essential part of the life of the Diocese of Austin. As you know, Catholic schools are at the heart of the mission of the Church.“Bishop’s presence at the home-schooling Mass would convey a contradictory message equating the importance of Catholic school education with Catholic home schooling; therefore, Bishop Vásquez must respectfully decline the invitation.Sincerely in Christ,Ned F. Vanders, Ed.D.”
Ned, a little tip for you. People know they're dealing with a twerp when they see "Ed.D" behind the name. A Doctorate in Education and a dollar won't buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It's one step up from Sanitation Engineer, except Sanitation Engineers actually perform a vitally necessary service for society.

Now, let's ignore the fact that these dinosaurs are being heavily thwacked across the head with green lumber from multiple directions:
  • 9% unemployment is driving Catholic parents to abandon high-tuition Catholic schools,
  • Rising inflation has dropped charitable giving across the board, which means parish revenues are down, and thus parish tuition-support for the school is also down. After all, a parish can easily spend over 90% of every Sunday collection on the local parochial school - dioceses have even been forced to deliberately cap parish contributions to keep pastors from pouring too much money down the rat-hole which is the Catholic school.
  • The Internet is creating a complete grade school environment, one that doesn't require children or parents to leave home at all, even for public school,
  • Catholic parents contracept and abort at the same rate as the general population, so they aren't having enough children to support the schools in any case.
As I say, let's ignore the fact that these idiots don't realize they are shouting at a strong wind blowing in the opposite direction.

Let's instead focus on the fact that Our Sunday Visitor is still quoting Father Stravinskas as if he mattered.

Remember, Father Stravinskas was the fellow who LOST HIS JOB as editor of the OSV magazine The Catholic Answer. His reactionary attitude towards Catholic homeschooling caused such an outcry among the readership that OSV had to fire him.

But OSV keeps returning to this broken cistern in search of a drink.

Why is anyone quoting him on education anymore?
Why would a magazine company who has so many family-based products insist on utilizing a man who is so inimical to the Catholic family, specifically the important role of the Catholic parent in the formation of a child?

It's time to boycott OSV until they drop all connections with Father Peter Stravinskas.

An article from the NYT on the status of Catholic schools.
It confirms everything I've been saying.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dedicated To the Poor Souls In Earth's Purgatory

Alright, so I'm working on a project for someone, and doing a bit of research. As I do it, I come across this oddity. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, we see the corporal and spiritual works of mercy listed this way:

The traditional enumeration of the corporal works of mercy is as follows:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

Very nice, Catholic sites all agree that these are the traditional works of mercy, etc., etc., etc., as the king of Siam might say.

But, when I cross-checked the CCC to see what it said, I ran into this:

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
Do you notice anything missing?

Among the corporal works of mercy, "ransoming the captive" has disappeared.

In fact, while the words "ransom" and "captive" both appear separately in the CCC, there is no single article where they even appear together. Six articles point out that Christ gave His life as "a ransom for many" from sin. Two articles use the word "captive," one in reference to my sin, the other in reference to Adam and Eve who were captive and in bonds (although the word "sin" does not appear in the latter reference).

Among the spiritual works of mercy, "prayers for the living and the dead" is gone.

In fact, in the CCC, the words "prayers," "living" and "dead" appear together only in article 1096, which simply points out that such prayers are common to both Jewish and Catholic liturgies.

Why did we throw out "ransoming the captive" and "prayers for the living and the dead"?
O Gentle Reader, read on.

Do you notice anything added?

Well, how about this phrase:
Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity...

This is brand new.

Almsgiving has traditionally never been lumped in with the corporal works of mercy, rather it has always been specifically associated with a spiritual work of mercy, a sub-class of the spiritual work that has entirely disappeared from the CCC: prayers for the living and the dead.

Oddly, the CCC does not even formally associate almsgiving with the corporal work that it has traditionally been most closely associated: ransoming the captive.

Instead, almsgiving has been stripped entirely of its traditional spiritual dimension.

Let me explain.

Of the three traditional classes of indulgences, we find (1) prayer, (2) almsgiving, and (3) fasting. Christian witness was formally added as a fourth general class of indulgence with the 1999 manual of indulgences.

But, the CCC does not list almsgiving as a class of indulgence. In fact, the CCC doesn't list the general classes of indulgences at all. Instead, it distinguishes almsgiving from indulgences, listing the two acts separately.

So, almsgiving is no longer listed as a subset of indulgences nor as a sacramental, that is, as a means of praying for the living and the dead. Instead, it is now treated as the chief act of corporal mercy in this world.

Almsgiving is no longer strongly oriented towards a spiritual work, assisting the poor suffering in purgatory. Instead, it is transformed into the chief corporal work of mercy, a work which implicitly and apparently encapsulates several of the original corporal acts (feeding, clothing, giving drink to).

This creates certain theological problems.

If a beggar on the street approaches me and asks me for money, traditional Catholic understanding said that I could fulfill my duty by taking the beggar to a local restaurant, feeding him and giving him drink. Or I could take him to a hotel and pay for his lodging. Or I could take him to a store and buy him clothes. You see the theme here, of course. Christian charity requires Christian fraternity, walking with the poor in some fashion.

I didn't have to give money directly to the beggar - I had to care for his needs.

If I gave him money, I did so not to help the beggar so much as to assist the spiritually poor in purgatory. The beggar man before me becomes the one who the poor in purgatory help through me. I, in turn, help them fulfill their duties towards him which they did not fulfill while they lived. I help them now in the body because their bodies are gone.

When I helped the beggar by giving him Caesar's money, I simultaneously, and by the very same act, acted in place of those in purgatory, doing for them the charitable work they should have done on earth. They didn't do this work because their own venial sin rendered them not entirely willing to do it.

Now they see their error. Now they wish they could offer some charitable thing. Since I don't know exactly which corporal work of mercy they would have offered, I give alms to the poor, to cover the multitude of sinful omissions of charity that Sirach 3:29 and Tobit 12:9 reference.

But, with this new emphasis, giving money to the poor is no longer a spiritual act of prayer. I am no longer standing with the multitudes of those who have gone before me, acting with them in charity.

Now, almsgiving is the chief act of mercy in itself, without reference to other acts. It is my act of mercy, and no one else's.

Worse, if I give food, drink, lodging or clothes, I am giving a subsidiary mercy, not a chief mercy. I am supposed to give the beggar money first, not food, drink, clothing or shelter.

If I sit with him through a dinner, walk with him to a hotel, help him try on clothes in a clothes store, etc., I am not giving the "chief witness." Not even a decent burial compares with money.

Whereas before, when I gave coin engraved with Caesar's image, I was giving to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, but to those in Purgatory I gave myself, along with the spiritual work of charity I had performed on their behalf.

They, in turn offered both that work of mercy and me to God as their own completed work of charity.

With this new emphasis, all of that is gone. Now, the chief witness to corporal mercy is coin, engraved with Caesar's image. Not food, drink, clothes or lodging - just money, small bills, unmarked. Now it is my own cooperation with God's grace, without reference to anyone else, that is "one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity." It's just Jesus, the money and me.

I understand that the CCC does not mean to present ecumenical obstacles, and so gives an emphasis that has historically never been given. I recognize that article article 1096 does mention almsgiving as a way to help the poor, so the old teaching has not entirely disappeared. But this new emphasis seems to be a Protestantizing of both indulgences and the spiritual/corporal works of mercy.

If nothing else, and at the very least, the fact that the handbook of indulgences continues to list almsgiving as a work of indulgence, not as a separate work, puts the CCC in an awkward position with the other documents of the Church.

That is disheartening.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Herman Cain for President

Alright, it's early, and I don't know as much about him as I like, but and this blog formally back Herman Cain for President.

I'm sure he's thrilled.

What drives this decision?

A) Herman Cain is adamantly prolife and intends to defund Planned Parenthood.

B) The MSM are so scared of Herman Cain that they are doing to him exactly what they did to Alan Keyes - trying to freeze him out of all presidential references and races, even though he announced for the presidency in January, and won the recent Republican presidential nominee debate.

C) Herman Cain is a black man. Emphasis on MAN. Newt Gingrich is a lizard, Mitch Daniels is a Bush-ite, and the rest of them are knobbly-kneed politicians who sway with the slightest breeze.

The only other real men in the Republican line up are Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, and neither one has "like" ratings high enough to win the election.

E) He warns against sharia law and promises to have no Muslims in his cabinet.

Anyone the MSM is this scared of just HAS to be good.

Herman Cain!
He CAIN't be beat!

Friday, May 13, 2011

That's The End of the Novus Ordo

With the release of Universae Ecclesiae, Rome has essentially announced the end of the Novus Ordo and the eventual full-throated return of the Mass of the Ages.

You may think I'm over-interpreting the case, but I invite you to consider a single provision:
The Sacred Triduum

33. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium ("group of faithful"), which follows the older liturgical tradition, can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.
You may recall that Summorum Pontificum originally said:
Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum
So what's the big deal?

Well, Easter Triduum is the apex of the liturgical year. It culminates in the Mass of Easter Vigil, "the mother of all feasts", the liturgy from which all other liturgies draw their power. Any Sunday Mass is only a Sunday Mass because it draws its power from the Easter Vigil, the re-presentation of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Precisely because it expresses the fullness of what the Church has to offer mankind, there is only Easter Vigil Mass. At least, that was true up until now.

But now, it is possible to repeat every aspect of the Triduum, including the Mass of Easter Vigil, in the extraordinary form as well. A parish can have TWO Easter Vigils.

This is unheard of.
It is, quite frankly, incredible.
If I hadn't read it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it possible.

There can be only one reason for such a massive and magnificent indult.
Rome is transitioning the Church away from the Novus Ordo.

Now, obviously She intends to keep some aspects of the New Mass - the calendar of saints, for instance (see #25). And I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the NO's cycle of liturgical readings will eventually be incorporated into the traditional form of the Mass and the older form of readings dispensed with.

But, with this document it is clear that over the course of the next few decades, the Novus Ordo will, piece by piece, be stripped away.

Although this document breathes not a word about it, I think it is safe to say that extraordinary ministers, communion in the hand, communion under both species, ridiculous "liturgical" music, all of that is now being readied for the chopping block.

Deo gratias!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pat Buchanan's Error

Over at Human Events, Pat Buchanan writes an essay that looks good on the surface, but doesn't really hold up to a deeper analysis:

Buchanan begins by asking a salient question:
Why would people, who must believe themselves righteous and moral, keen and wail at the death of a monster who did what bin Laden had done?...

In one man's judgment, Osama was admired because he alone in the Arab world had the astonishing audacity to stand up and smash a fist into the face of the world's last superpower, which had become one of the most resented powers in the Middle East.
Buchanan then goes on to make a series of comparisons to other genocidal maniacs, men like Mao tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. He argues that each of these men is held in honor within their own countries because they were seen as men who fought against imperialist powers like the British, the French, the Japanese and the Americans.
Like Mao, Ho and Castro, Osama tapped into the most powerful current of the age: ethnic nationalism, the desire of peoples to be rid of foreign rule and any oppressive foreign presence, and to put up against a wall all indigenous traitors who do the foreigners' will.
This thesis plays well into the meme that Buchanan promotes - the idea that America should remove itself from most of the internal affairs of other nations.

Of course, that very idea is a contradiction in terms.
He wants America to be the last superpower, but he doesn't want America meddling in the affairs of other nations.

But America is the last superpower precisely because she is the last nation capable of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations without provoking declarations of war from the nations whose affairs she re-arranges. Indeed, that is pretty much the definition and measure of a superpower.

The old Roman empire became the superpower in the Mediterranean because she could dictate terms to anyone who bordered that Roman lake, including her major rival, Carthage itself.

Britain was a superpower because her armies enforced British law and British whims throughout the world. The Hindus had to stop burning widows on the pyre, the Chinese had to permit opium dens in their capital, the Muslims had to cease their jihad, for no one could stand up to the might of British arms.

America is now a superpower in no small part because we can inflict unacceptable levels of military mayhem on any nation foolish enough to oppose us in a course of action we have decided to take.

It is impossible to be a superpower and not meddle with others.
Superpowers remake the world in their own image, or try to.
And they get close enough to succeeding to worry their opponents.
That's what makes them superpowers - they can overwhelm any other opponent, militarily, culturally, or in any other way you care to name.

Which takes us to our second point.
It is true that the men named by Buchanan have been honored by their respective governments. But do the great mass of citizens they ruled really have any love for these men? That is a much more difficult question.

It is true that a tyrant stays in power only because enough of the people in the tyrant's country agree with his policies to keep him in power. This is, after all, how we got, and still keep, Barack Obama. But how many Chinese really honor Mao tse Tung? How many Vietnamese hold fond memories of Ho Chi Minh? How many Cubans really love Fidel Castro. How many Americans love the Oreo?

If these were the only errors in Buchanan's essay, I wouldn't bother to write this one. These are common errors and relatively harmless.

It is his final sentence, the summation of his essay, which must be contested.
Osama is dead and gone. But the ideas he tapped into -- the desire of Arab peoples to break free, to reclaim their sovereignty, to restore their past greatness, to be rid of the foreigner and his lackeys -- are also the motivating ideas of the Arab Spring.
And there is the fatal flaw.
This is not a fight to be rid of the foreigner and his lackeys.
There is no Arab Spring.

The Egyptians are not Arabs.
The Libyans are not Arabs.
The Tunisians are not Arabs.
The Syrians are not Arabs.
The Iraqis are not Arabs.
The Iranians are not Arabs.

All of these countries, all of these peoples, have long and glorious histories of their own.
Histories that are not Arab.
Histories that are not Muslim.

These nations may have a largely Muslim population today, but before their countries were raped by Arab Muslims centuries ago, these people were each their own people.

The Arabs know this.
The Muslims know this.
The Arab Muslims have worked hard to destroy these many, varied and rich histories.
It is no accident that the Egyptian museums were ransacked by Muslim crowds, artifacts destroyed by Muslim savages. The Coptic Christians are attacked not just because they are Christians and not Muslims, but also because they are Egyptians, and not Arabs.

If the British, French and Americans were foreign intruders in the nations Buchanan recalls, the Arab Muslims are no less foreign intruders in the lands Buchanan mis-characterizes. As far as the Persians, the Egyptians or the Tunisians are concerned, Mohammed and his Arabs are just another set of foreign rulers complete with sword-wielding lackeys.

Thus, we are not witnessing the rise of ethnic nationalism.
Quite the contrary.
We are witnessing the defeat of ethnic nationalism.
The ethnic nationals who led these countries are being deposed and replaced by a foreign power.

Buchanan has not only failed to answer his question, he failed to ask the real question: why do so many non-Arab nations laud and honor a foreigner who imposed a foreign way of life upon their nations?

By failing to ask that question of Osama bin Laden, he demonstrates his complete failure to grasp the situation in the Middle East.

You see, Buchanan's basic premise is flawed: America is not yet the last superpower.

Her military might is being very successfully challenged, her ability to project her culture is being very successfully combated, her ability to project her laws, project her vision for the world onto other lands is being very successfully fought. There is another power which wishes to project its culture (or lack thereof), its perverse laws, its unwholesome vision onto the world.

We are locked in a war more terrible than the Cold War if only because the vision this superpower projects has risen ascendant over nations not for a mere handful of decades, but for over one-and-a-half millennia. It has sucked billions into its alternative vision for mankind. We have fought this vision from our very founding as a nation, if only because it pre-existed our nation by twelve hundred years.

The Cold War was a 70-year training camp, a blip, a short Hell Week in a long military struggle against this much more insidious, much more evil, much more vicious foe. We know our enemy can survive because it has survived despite everything the ancient and modern world has thrown at it. We have no similar assurance about our own survival abilities.

Today, we fight a foe that has terrorized Europe since 632 AD, a foe that has torn whole nations, indeed, has torn the entire southern half of the Mediterranean, from the embrace of Western civilization. It has suborned and decimated nations and peoples throughout the world.

America is not the last superpower.

Until we recognize, name and fight the real enemy, we will not be the last superpower.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Lady Gaga: The Judas Video

Good heavens.
I'm actually writing about Lady Gaga.

Hardly seems right.
But, to bring closure to the analysis of the lyrics, the least we can do is look at the video.
I'll embed it here so you can follow along, if you are really that fascinated.

The start portrays Jesus and the 12 as a biker gang.
This isn't that odd... medieval and Renaissance artists generally dressed Jesus and the disciples in clothing and settings contemporary to their own times, much as Godspell attempted to do for modern culture back in the 1970s (I've often wondered when we will get an artist who will portray Christ on a cross in a business suit, or in a t-shirt and blue jeans).

While a couple of disciples (Philip and Simon) are briefly seen at the very beginning, three main apostles get most of the screen shot at the beginning:
  • Thomas (the doubter),
  • Judas (the betrayer) and - after Judas gets a longing look from the lady - a focus on
  • John (the beloved disciple who alone refused to run from the foot of the Cross).
Jesus is, of course, the leader of the gang, wearing the crown of thorns.

A major theme in the video is the presence or absence of tears - when Lady Gaga is oriented towards or clinging to Jesus, there are no mascara tears. When she turns towards or thinks about Judas, tears appear.

Oddly enough, the first verse, in which she proclaims her love for Judas, she is actually clinging to Jesus and has no tears on her face. She pushes Judas roughly downstairs and heads towards what turns out to be a wedding with Jesus at the Electric Chapel.

When she hits the first chorus, proclaiming herself a holy fool and still in love with Judas, we see the first tears appear.

So, this is apparently a lover's triangle, where she is throwing over Judas to marry Jesus, but still loves Judas.

Meanwhile, Judas is shown going after whatever sensual pleasure he can get, completely ignoring the singer.

As she walks with Jesus, there are still tears in her eyes - she still loves Judas.

There's a visual connection between "love is like a rock" and Peter (from Petrus, the Rock). And, of course, love can be like a millstone that is tied around your neck as you are cast into the sea (more on that in a bit), or it can be used to build up the house [of God].

A brief visual sign of forgiveness and an open cage followed closely by a swinging mace could be a reference to the sacrament of confession or to the harrowing of hell or both. This is immediately followed by (and reinforced with) Jesus warning Judas away from the singer. There are still tears in the singer's eyes.

We see a quick visual reference to the ropes and wood of the Crucifixion, with a shot of the crowned head of Jesus as the singer reiterates that Judas is a king with no crown.

She is taken to the chapel and protected by Jesus, as a mob fight breaks out and Judas follows. She clings to Jesus, but still has tears in her eyes.

Judas is still whoring around outside, Lady Gaga's tears are increasing.

She has to make a choice - she uses a gun to prepare to shoot Judas dead, but instead of a bullet, lipstick comes out, which she smears on Judas cheeks.

Although visually she is conflicted, as she wields the gun against Judas she has no tears in her eyes.

As Jesus calms the crowd, now we see the choice: either Lady Gaga is engulfed in the waters of the sea (sin) or in the baptismal waters.

Jesus is on her right in the baptismal font, giving life to the waters, Judas is on her left in the baptismal font: the waters of baptism can wash her sins away. Around the baptismal font, fire rages (Our God is a consuming fire). She pours out an Erhlenmeyer flask of water (these flasks are used for measuring liquids in chemistry - the measuring cup that pours out justice and mercy upon the nations). It is an interesting artifact of the video that, for the viewer, our right and left put the two figures in reverse.

Both men have their feet on the rock... whose feet shall she wash?

As the sea flood carries her near a bridge (Jesus is the Pontifex, the bridge between God and man), she chooses to wash Jesus' feet. Jesus is the winner, and is helped up into the winner's ring, as the evil in Lady Gaga is washed away by the sea.

The lipstick-smeared Judas is then seen kissing Jesus on both cheeks.

The tears are now gone from the singer's eyes, and she holds the gun as she glances back at Judas but clings to Jesus.

It is interesting to note that in the final portion, Judas pours what appears to be a beer over the singer's buttocks and groin, in an obvious act of disgust and dismissal, and an apparent acknowledgement that most modern sins originate below the waist.

She responds by mocking him, throwing baptismal water in his face. Throughout this sequence, she has no tears in her eyes.

She then dresses in a white bridal gown, but has her fingernails and hair daubed with black - an apparent reference to her current lifestyle, as the crowd stones her to death. In Scripture, a woman could be stoned to death for adultery.

Her face is clear of tears, until she sings her own name.
As she sings her own name, the tears reappear.

My conclusion?

She knows exactly what she's doing.
She did it as well as it can be done in a music video.
Pray for her.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Obama's Game

Many commentators think Obama's stance on releasing the Osama death photos is maladroit at best, crazy at worst.
  • Why worry about Muslim response to a photo of an assassination when you were obviously not concerned about Muslim response to the assassination itself?
  • Why put boots on the ground and commandos' lives at risk to obtain a corpse you refuse to show photos of the corpse to anyone?
  • For that matter, why get rid of the corpse if you wanted proof of death?
The game being played with Osama's corpse and his death photos has exactly nothing to do with Muslims.

Watch the timeline.

Barack Obama was getting nearly weekly briefings on how George Bush's intelligence apparatus was closing in on Osama since the middle of March, 2011.

He signed the final order to kill Osama at 8:20 am, April 29th, and the operation was completed a scant 36 hours later.

Now, the SEAL teams who went in were clearly well-prepared - they had spent the last month practicing the assault on a mock-up of the compound.

So, it's not like the signing of the "kill" orders was news to the SEAL teams. This whole thing had been in the works for months.

The Photos Are The Point

And if it was a SEAL operation, it was planned down to the last detail. SEALs don't carry unnecessary equipment, they don't take photos like tourists at the National Mall. They only carry recording equipment if it is part of the mission.

So they were ORDERED to take pictures of Osama's corpse.
They were ORDERED to dump Osama's corpse in the ocean.
They were ORDERED to videotape that burial at sea.

You see, as this whole operation was being planned and carried out, Obama saw a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. As it became obvious over the last few weeks that they were actually going to be able to photograph Osama and Osama's corpse, Obama took the calculated gamble of releasing his version of his birth certificate 48 hours before he gave the green light to kill Osama.

He ordered his birth certificate release set for April 27.
He may well have asked his people to make sure the birth certificate contained obvious artifacts (multiple layers, mis-matched fonts, hi-res scan of numbers clearly overlayed in juxtaposition to low-res scan numbers, etc.) in order to heighten the outcry and assure that it was at national focus for a few days.

Unfortunately for him, the military were ready slightly faster than he expected, so he told them he would "sleep on it" and made them wait another 16 hours, to put a little more distance between his Wednesday decision and the results. Fortunately, heavy cloud cover on Saturday added a bit more delay, and pushed the operation to Sunday.

Uncharacteristically, the Pakistanis weren't allowed in on the game, even though a military operation on the sovereign territory of a foreign country without their permission is traditionally an act of war and is certainly a just reason for a nation to declare war. Obama gets away with it only because no nation is stupid enough to actually declare war on the United States, no matter what the provocation.

The Pakistanis were not allowed in because no one can be allowed to queer this deal. This is not because Obama is all that interested in catching bin Laden, but because Obama has a political situation at home that Osama's corpse will help solve quite handily.

Once the SEALS accomplished their mission and got the photos - and the photos were the real point of the whole mission - Obama then pulled the same trick with the photos that he had just spent several years playing with his birth certificate: "Yes, we had the body, but you can't see that. The fish are eating it. Yes, I have the photos, but you can't see them either. Everyone will say they are doctored. I have all the evidence, you don't get anything, you just have to take my word."

He intends to conflate people who still have legitimate questions about his birth certificate and his status as "natural born citizen" with the Elvis, Hitler and soon-to-be Osama sighters. Anyone who questions his version of the story on either subject is stonewalled. And his version of the story isn't exactly consistent. It's as if they are deliberately trying to confuse the truth.

Osama bin Laden is dead, but he isn't dead because Barack Obama particularly cared about Osama bin Laden.

The whole "kill Osama" operation is a huge political coup for Obama, but it has nothing to do with stopping terrorism or keeping Muslims happy.

He's been sitting on his birth certificate for several years, trying to figure out how to release it without actually releasing anything at all. Now, he's not only got over that ugly question, he's done it by becoming a hero.

Well-played, sir, well-played.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Burning Osama bin Laden

The streets of America filled with jubilant crowds last night as news of Osama bin Laden's death, via a bullet through his skull, was publicly announced.

Now, let me be clear - I'm as happy that man caught nine grams of lead with his forehead as any red-blooded American can be. But I have a few questions to ask about how we prioritize things.

For instance, where were the jubilant crowds when Pastor Terry Jones burned the Koran?

This is not a facetious question.

How many national and international commentators, including Catholics, are happy that Osama was killed? I would guess, apart from a few Muslim malcontents, pretty much all of us.

Now, how many national and international commentators, including Catholics, were outraged and upset that Pastor Terry Jones burned a Koran?
Quite a lot of them.

So, let's think this through.

Which is more terrible: destroying a man's life - taking everything he has and everything he ever will have - and sending him to God's judgement unprepared, or destroying one copy of an easily reproduced book?

Is it more hateful to put a bullet into a man's head, or put a match to a bunch of paper?

What if the man whose brains you sluice against the wall repeatedly insisted that every objectionable action he took was inspired by the book that was burned?

Where comes this tremendous outcry against book-burning, yet this tremendous happiness in the destruction of a human life? And, as I said, I'm perfectly fine with this particular man being killed in exactly the way he was.

And keep in mind that the discomfort with burning books is a purely post-printing press phenomenon. Back when books were hard to create, no one had a real problem with burning books. It is only since the Enlightenment, only after burning books no longer had any real effect on the ability to access the book, that it has become such a stomach-churning event for so many.

What is it about the Enlightenment that made book burning worse than taking human life? Well, when we consider what many Enlightenment philosophers fought against, the answer becomes a lot more clear.

Voltaire didn't combat Confucianism. Rousseau didn't rant against Rastifarians. The big names among Enlightenment philosophers all fought the one philosophy that bestrode European culture like a colossus - they made their names big by trying to make the Catholic Church small.

But how do you attack the very person that defined your culture and your life? You must do what every rebellious teenager does to every parent - you must show that your parents are ignorant, backwards, and engage in shameful superstition.

So, once we examine our unexamined prejudices, is it possible to conclude that our antipathy to book-burning is not reasonable, but is, in fact, merely an antiquated expression of anti-Catholic bias?

Think about it: book burning has been common to every civilization that has had books. Yet, in the modern West, only two groups are constantly associated with the practice: Nazis and Catholics. Everybody brings up the Catholic Inquisition, nobody talks about the Protestant burning of Michael Servetus. Everybody talks about the Nazi bonfires, no one talks about the French Revolution's bonfires.

Liberals happily conflate Nazism and Catholicism all the time, but are mercilessly silent on the connections between the Nazis and the Communists or the Nazis and the "Enlightenment" or the socialists and the Muslims, for that matter.

The same liberals who romanticize the Enlightenment, the same men and women who maintain an infernal silence concerning the atrocities committed by the French Revolution's "infernal columns", these same people get upset when someone fires up a Zippo too near a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook.

Yet it was precisely the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the books written by Enlightenment philosophers, which drove the genocidal atrocities found in the French Revolution, in National Socialism and in International Socialism. It was precisely the philosophy espoused in Mein Kampf which drove Hitler's genocide. It was precisely the philosophy in Das Kapital which drove Lenin's genocide.

And it was precisely the philosophy espoused by the Koran which drove Osama bin Laden.

If we can dance on Hitler's grave, if we can thank God for Stalin's death, and if we can put a bullet through Osama bin Laden's skull, then what on earth nauseates us about putting a match to the books that embodied their beliefs and drove their actions?

Which is more likely to engender violence?
Burning a book?
Or killing someone's leader?
In this case, of course, both will engender violence, but when the Muslims riot, will we blame the US Military and President Obama for all the deaths that result?

Why is it more heinous to burn a book than to is to blow a hole in someone's head?
Perhaps it is because Catholics have burned a lot more books than they have blown holes in anyone's head. And the point is to hate Catholics.