Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Consumer watch

You can take the "Quality" out of Ouality Inn. It is neither quality nor is it an inn.

Continental Airlines has some wonderfully modern planes but I will never fly another Continental or Northwest flight again. There literally is no room for legs and barely enough to sit. From now on, I'll only fly American Airlines, coz they have lots of leg room. I guess I'll have to fly Southwest too, they're cheap and the room situation I don't recall being as bad.

I was at the Josephite House of Studies on Monday in New Orleans. The house was were Mother Katherine Drexel once lived, right next to Corpus Christi Church. The Josephites call it their second class relic.

I have to say that I really like New Orleans, although I do not think that I'd want to live there. This trip was my second time there ever, the first was a honeymoon trip. One of the sisters I met on Monday strongly suggested a trip to New Orleans in the week leading up to Mardi Gras. She swore that there are a lot of family friendly parades adn things to do. Maybe we'll just do that.

ZENIT: Theologians' Videoconference to Focus on the Resurrection

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- An Internet videoconference of top Catholic theologians will be held this Tuesday on "The Resurrection of Christ."

The event, sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, will be introduced by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the dicastery.

Scheduled speakers include Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University of Rome, professor Stuart Bate of South Africa, and Bishop Gerhard Müller of Regensburg.

The series will be closed by Father Georges Cottier, theologian of the Papal Household, and Monsignor Bruno Forte, rector of the School of Theology of Southern Italy.

The videoconference may be followed live or recorded at www.clerus.org. The videoconference begins at noon Rome time.

Did he rise or didn't he? What's there to discuss? I guess they can talk about it's implications for us . ..

Friday, April 25, 2003

I still fail to see the ultimate brilliance of the vaunted war plan. The key here is the debate between the policy and miitary people in the DOD. In using faulty assumptions and a meager ground force, we lost the ability to prevent societal break downs from which we are trying desparately to recover. We also lost tons of very critical documents both for the prosecution of the war criminals and for our credibilty in justifying the war. The Ministry of Oil remains untouched by the looting, but all other government buildings have been razed, which shows that if they wanted to save them they could have at least had a plan in place.

The war was not simply about subduing the Iraqi regime's military, but about acheiving certain aims and goals. Because of the way the war was executed, with poor post war planning, much fewer troops than needed and a clear misreading of the Iraqi/Middle Eastern situation, the policy people have made life much more difficult for the military. For instance, there were not enough troops in the north nor were there proceedures in place to address the inevitable conflict between Arabs and Kurds who were forced out of their land which was then given to Arabs. Also the whole talk of liberation was nothing short of silly and now they are realizing that you can't pull a quick PR campaign on people in this situation. The planners thought that the people would worship and kiss their feet, but now they are facing a problem of palpable animopsity. They also underestimate the Shiite and Irannian issue. The speed and effectiveness of Shiite organization has stunned them and now they are fighting to stem the tide towards and Islamist theocracy.

There was a lot of wisdom to the idea of proceeding along the war path with the UN and now we see why. At the very least if we had waited another year, we would have gotten better intelligence and the planning would have been much better. Congress would have, at the least, held hearings to raise some of the issues and the administration would have benefitted from the public debate. Also if we went in with a broader coalition, especially with EU partners, the Islamist tide from the Shiite connection in Iran would have been blunted, it is what it is now because it is being fueled by anti-Americanism.

I guess that's all water under the bridge.

On another subject, I actually do think that Sen. Kerry is a solid Democratic candidate and can beat Bush. For now, I think I'd vote for him, but that's "for now," and if McCain's not running.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

24 on Fox seems to be drifting a little. It is still a quite good show, but they need to do less with Jack's daughter and resolve the rather stupid intra--administration coup attempt. The issue is that a terrorist nuclear disaster was averted in the US. The bomb did go off but in the relative safety of a remote Nevada desert. There is proof that three Middle Eastern countries cooperated in this terrorist attack and the President called airstrikes on them and also is mobilizing forces for a war. However, the President has doubts because star, Jack Bauer, may have proof that the evidence used to justify the US military response is forged and that the President is being manipulated into a war for some unknown person's gain. The President has asked Jack to get proof that his evidence is a fake. While Jack's out hunting this evidence down, the President's cabinet and VP are planning a mutiny based on some obscure provision in the Constitution that allows a majority of Cabinet members to declare the President unfit to rule. This is an issue because some think that his hesitance and deliberate style is bordering on criminal, negligent and weak.

Is that stupid or what? We are talking here about 2-3 hours after the bomb went off. Even in the case of 9-11 it took hours to articulate an idea and days to formulate a clear response. No sane peson would even attempt to depose the President in a time like this especially in a case of hours after the incident. I know what they are trying to do and I think there are ways to get there, but this story line has turned out to be a blotch on an otherwise engaging plot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

My wife and I are thinking of starting a young adults' group that would focus on people in their 20s and 30s. This group are often in the workforce or have young families, or are adult who feel that the parish has nothing specifically to offer them. I do fear and tremble because it is one of things that when you start it, you can't stop. Part of the problem is that we just joined this parish, but we're not yet sure if this is going to be a permanent thing. We'd like to get involved but you always want to know if the people in the parish feel the same way. The people so far seem like a nice group.

Monday, April 21, 2003

On the Pope's Eucharist encyclical. I note one adjustment that I am going to have to make when I teach about the Eucharist. I have frequently maintained that Eucharistic devotions are subordinate to its primarily purpose which is to be eaten. This tends to be a major contention of theological liberals. Well, the Pope has placed Eucharistic adoration and holy hour type things as an essential part of the essence of the Eucharist. He referred to John leaning on the Jesus' chest has an example of spending time and displaying affetion for Christ in the Eucharist. I'm certainly not enthralled about this but when you teach Catholic theology, you teach what the Church teaches and not your personal opinions.

I'm yet to read the entire thing, but it seems that it is basically what has been advertised, a conservative statement to crack down on liberal tendencies.

Your life changes a lot when you have children, I guess that goes without saying. With children you have to learn to juxtapose "busyness" and the natural energy and restlessness of children with silence and quietness of spirituality. In fact, your spiritual life is only meaningful if there is true holiness in the mundane acts of caring for your children. This is why there needs to be an increased focus on married lay people, even in the canonization process. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened and it will be a while before it does.

Nonetheless, there is very little not love when you are trying to stiffle a scream or hold down the little ones during mass. It may seem to distract you from what's going on "up there" but for me the devotion to the children is the point of life, even religious life and spirituality.

As for Easter services, I experienced the quickest ever Good Friday and Easter Sunday services ever known to humankind. Good friday's was over in much less than an hour and Easter Sunday was over in 35 minutes. The primary reason was that there was no singing at either mass. It seems that the music people were not available. Now, I am not one to complain unless I am going to do something about it. I felt that if I was to complain then I also need to step up the plate and offer to cantor (I am an average/ below average singer). The other thing was that the Good Friday mass was not as full, so the kissing of the cross and communion did not take long at all.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

It is amazing how quickly lent came and went and now we approach the Triduum. I've found that Triduum services can be either wonderful or excrutiatingly boring, there doesn't seem to be any middle ground. One place that is unparralled for Holy Week is the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. They put on a good event, pleasant to listen and look, spiritually uplifting and community building. I think they do put a lot into preparations.

Last weeks Palm Sunday Gospel, Mark's Passion, was a bear. At our parish we read the entire thing and the reading was not as crisp as it should have been. It seemed like we stood for almost a half hour. By the way, it is believed that the passion is the original or foundational piece in Mark's Gospel and that the rest of the narritive was written to fit around it. It is dissproportionately long relative to everything else in the Gospel.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

WSJ had an editorial today that was being discussed on CSPAN about the liberals being so pessimistic about the US and why.

I consider myself a moderate liberal and I am pessimistic and I think validly so. One word, George W. Bush. Bush himself may not personally be over right wing, but his cabinet is scary with only a few prominent moderates like Powell and Rice. The idea that Bush has forced and committed us as country to such unilaterist and overbearing foreign policy and domestically, a markedly right wing agenda with no room for moderates to breathe.

I am very curious about the 04 election and how that'll turn out. I think that Bush did motivate the radical left with the war and may then increase the pool of potential voters which is not good for Bush and not good for the Democrats either because these radical lefties tend to Nader.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Thank God for the safe return of our POWs, we also pray for the POW from the First Gulf War.

Quite frankly, I am surprised at N. Korea, heartened, but surprised. I think we scared the barjesus out of them in showing that a regime can be targetted and eradicated without targetting the people themselves. N. Korea would be a difference situation but theit 1 million man army makes them vulnerable. A couple of MOABs and Daisy Cutters can cut the heart out of any army. It seems that wars are easier when they involve occupation and invasion and so we could avoid a Vietnam type situation if the purpose would be to enter and occupy Pyongyang.

Anyway, no one is going to war, especially not with N. Korea because Japan and S. Korea do not want war. Syria and Iran are the next ones on the shelf and I'm sure they are revising and looking at those war scenarios. However, it would be a horrible mistake to attack Iran. Syria, I'm not so sure, they harbor terrorists, but unlike Iran, there is no undercurrent of reform. Iran does pose an interesting situation because it is not an Arab state and thus there is less of a complication there. I think weilding a big stick and a carrot with Iran may be very fruitful.

Friday, April 11, 2003

There was a measure of gloating in the administration for the fall of Saddam's regime and criticism of "retired Generals embedded in TV studios." The bulk of the criticism was the fact that there were not enough ground troops and that supply lines were stretched.

Two things: the outbreak of lawlessness and the reluctance of the miliraty to assume a policing posture indicates poor planning. We've been through this before in Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia, etc. The other thing is that people are saying, including Dana Priest, Washington Post's star intelligence writer, that there are not enough ground troops to set up check points to prevent the escape of regime leaders and Baath party officials.

I think the criticisms of the plan were well founded. Again, the point was not that the plan was a bad plan, but that it was not the bext plan and had some mistaken assumptions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Many reporters have taken exception to the US army firing on the hotel with western reporters in it. I wonder if they forgot that it is a war zone after all. God bless for their reports, but they entered the lion's den and so accept the territory that comes with it.

We can't neglect to pray for the Iraqi children that have had to endure the shock and terror of this war. They are walking collateral damage. I guess we should not only pray for them but find ways to support their healing.

Glad to see that the war seems to be in a final stage and reconstruction of Iraq can proceed. There seems to be a lot of gloating on the part of the administration in regard to criticisms of the war plan by retired generals, whom Dick Cheney says are embedded in the media.

I've listened daily to General Wesley Clark on CNN and Col. "Hack" on Larry King Live, both of whom expressed concerns, and I thought their criticisms were reasonable. The alternatives set up by the administration in response to the criticisms are incorrect. It was not a case of "the plan is bad therefore we will lose." It wasn't even a case of the plan being a bad one, the point is that the that was executed was not the best and most effective plan. The case of the 4th ID who had to come down from Turkey is the case in point. There is nothing wrong in saying that the opposition was fiercer than expected among the Saddam paramilitary. Also the whole Northern Front issue is one that still hangs, the oil fields of Kirkuk are still at risk and the war is still not over because we need to take Tikrit, Saddam's home base.

The other major issue is the Weapons of Mass Destruction. It is/was imperative that we capture high party officials, high military officials and Iraqi scientists who can lead us to a smoking gun. The administration has frequently downplayed the WMD issue saying that the priority is to win the war. The point is that we failed to surround and cut off Bahgdad quickly enough to prevent the fleeing of a whole bunch of people and scientists may have been among them. A northern front or a lot more ground troops freed up would have ensure that we could cordon off the city. The fact is that the opposition we faced in the south and up the supply line held up and delayed our forces.

So bottom line, I think there is room to criticize the plan while at the same time acknowledge that it was a very good plan and the young men and women involved performed admirably.

Friday, April 04, 2003

An Australian reporter noted a difference in the way CNN International and BBC report the war. He noted that BBC has more of a personal "on-the-ground" feel, as opposed to CNN which is replete with official statements. It does make sense. In the US we expect the authorities to tell the truth and go on record so that if they provide misleading statements, then they pejure themselves. So I guess news tends to be reported from the top down: official statements are gotten and the situation on the ground is ascertained to see if there is a correspondence. I guess the BBC works with the situation the ground and fit official statements into the story as the seem to fit.

One thing that I have notice is the superior fluency and facility the British have with the language and they seem to be generally smarter. Now it could be that they sound smarter because they speak better, who knows.It's all just an observation.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Rare colossal squid captured

Giant Squid

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I think it is pretty clear that in the next 20-30 years, many more countries, epecially Middle Easter and Far Eastern ones, will possess nuclear weapons. We simply cannot prevent it any longer. International treaties are only relevant when nations are honorable and seek peace. I think our efforts should not be to stop the proliferation of these weapons but the development of counter measures. I think military R&D spending needs to be increased drastically especially on weapons systems that can protect us from hostile attacks.

The fact that more countries will have nuclear weapons I think would be a deterent in itself. However, some unstable types may use them and this is precisely what would put an end to this round of proliferation. For instance if Pakistan and India utlilized their nukes on each other, the devastation and destruction that would ensue would be extremely instructive. It seems that we need another Hiroshima to scare the lights out of people and for us to realize that proliferation of wmd are not in humanity's best interest.

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall on judgment day when Justice Clarence Thomas has to explain his antipathy to affirmative action to the Almighty?

Of course, I am not even close to being neutral on this subject, I'm simply baffled that it is even an issue. I think the opposition to affirmative action represents a misunderstanding of justice and the phenomenon of human existence.

Justice is not simply everyone gets the same treatment everytime, so what is done for A, must be done for B, etc. The State's role is not to treat everyone the same but to make sure that everyone has equal and fair access to its fruits. That would mean, in cases in which classes or groups have been at a historical disadvantage, preferential action can be taken to remedy historical wrongs. Justice is an aspect of human history and society and for this reason cannot be treated independent of history.

If A and B are in a competition and A immorally destroys B's training facilities and everything that would make B prepare for the competition. And then come the day of the competition it is discovered that A engaged in such activity, justice would require that the historical disadvantage be taken into account in remedying the situation and further, being A had the resources to engage in such actions, justice demands that structures be put in place to prevent such actions in the future. Now whatever decisions are made appear unfair to A on that competition day because he was ready and trained and ready to go, but the fairness and justice in regard to that situation cannot be measured by the decisions on the competition day but by the history that is brought to bear on that day.

Historical circumstances cannot be absent from the notion of justice and retribution and reparation always hurt in some way those from whom retribution is sought.

African American pro-life network L.E.A.R.N. Inc.

L.E.A.R.N. INC. is the largest, African-American, evangelical pro-life ministry in the United States. Rev. Johnny Hunter is President.

L.E.A.R.N. INC. publishes extensive data and research information on the racist origins of Planned Parenthood, it's founder, Margaret Sanger, and the American Eugenics movement. As an expert on Planned Parenthood's involvement in the black community, Rev. Hunter and other members of the network are available as speakers.

Someone pointed me to the site:BlackGenocide.org | The Truth About Margaret Sanger