Kerry: Altar Boy or Alter Boy?

Have those mean old bishops misunderstood the former altar boy who would be president? The Kerry campaign has confirmed the candidate's support for a ban on late-term abortions. This is said to be based on Kerry's backing of a 1997 proposal by Sen. Tom Daschle that supposedly would ban most abortions of fetuses after "viability."

Is this a new position, or was Kerry a closet supporter of limits on abortion all along (who finds it convenient to mention this just as some are saying that pro-life Democrats in Pennsylvania could save George Bush's U-Haul bill)?

This time Kerry is not flip flopping--he did support such a ban. But the 1997 bill (in my opinion and that of pro-life experts) was an utterly meaningless piece of legislation. That is why it won no backing from genuine pro-lifers. "Debate might be less about abortion than politicking," noted a USA Today headline at the time (available in the USA Today archives).

According to the story, questioned whether such a ban would be constitutional, most legal experts agreed that it would have relatively little impact because doctors would get to determine viability. "For many politicians, it's become a fight for political cover,"the story said.

There is a reason the pro-life community rejected the Daschle amendment. "The biggest loophole [in the Daschle proposal]," Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee explained to me, "is the one that the press usually entirely ignores--they would not have applied at all before provable 'viability.' Most partial-birth abortions are performed in the fifth and sixth months. Thus, these amendments would have left the great majority of partial-birth abortions subject to no restriction at all, not even a phony restriction. After the point of provable viability, these amendments would have empowered the abortionist to perform an abortion based on any degree of 'risk.'" Risk applies to any pregnancy, and normal risk could be used and exaggerated as a reason for an abortion.

"While it is important to understand that the Daschle language was really completely hollow," Johnson added, "it is also important to know that Kerry voted for other substitutes that would have codified a right to third-trimester abortions for mental 'health' in a more naked fashion."

Oh, We Can Do the Reporting Later

Well, there's nothing like breaking a story and then having the reporting done--as CBS and the New York Times seem to be doing these days. I refer of course to the forged documents and 380 tons of death escapades. As I write, the munitions story is unfolding, with a U.S. Army officer stepping up to say that his unit removed 250 tons of munitions from Al-Qaqaa. (Here are two reports of the press conference: Fox News and The Washington Post.)

These escapades are just one more indication that big media is arrayed against George Bush, along with Hollywood, George Soros, and all the supposedly intellectual citizens. I agree with Gerald Baker, who writes in the Weekly Standard that George Bush deserves to win because of who is enemies are:

"The list of those whose world could be truly rocked on Tuesday is just too long and too rich to be ignored. If you think for a moment about those who would really be upset by a second Bush term, it becomes a lot easier to stomach.

"The hordes of the bien-pensant Left in the universities and the media, the sort of liberals who tolerate everything except those who disagree with them. Secularist elites who disdain religiosity except when it comes from Muslim fanatics. Europhile Brits who drip contempt for everything their country has ever done and long for its disappearance into a Greater Europe. Absurd, isolationist conservatives in America and Britain who think the struggles for freedom are always someone else's fight. Hollywood sybarites and narcissists, self-appointed arbiters of a nation's morals.

"Soft-headed Europeans who think engagement and dialogue with mass murderers is the way to achieve lasting peace. French intellectuals for whom nothing has gone right in the world since 1789."

Episco-pagans: Fussy about Copyrights

Ace blogger Ted Olsen of Christianity Today seems to be in a tussle with the "women's Eucharist" crowd in the Episcopal Church. As you may recall, I also blogged on CT's report that pagan-flavored rituals are being developed for women by trendy Episcopalians.

Now, Olsen notes that the women have withdrawn some of the material in Olsen's piece, citing copyright issues. Olsen comments:

"So the problem with 'A Women's Eucharist' is not that it directly sides with idols condemned in the Old Testament and idol worshipers, nor that it's a 'Eucharist' with no mention whatsoever about the death or body of Christ, nor that it very deliberately takes the focus of worship off of God and on to woman. No, the problem is that it wasn't properly sourced."

Golly, let's hope they don't have a hexing ritual.


"Hawaii elects Republicans about as often as the Red Socks win the World Series," political activist Andy Blom writes in the Weekly Standard.

But the state is suddenly in play, and there is a chance that Bush could take it. What gives? Hawaii, notes Blom, was one of the first states to confront the gay "marriage" issue. Activist judges made it legal, and then voters made it illegal.

Writes Blom:

"Hawaiians have voted as liberals for nearly half a century. They have voted conservatively in large numbers just once: against same sex marriage. With that issue on voters' minds, it may contribute to a Bush victory in the state, which could also be the first time Hawaii has ever had an influence on a presidential election."

Salvation and the European Union

Will the intensely secular European Union bring new hope to the embattled Christians of Turkey? Few names are as redolent of early Christian history as Ephesus, where St. Paul preached and founded a church, or Nicea, where Church Fathers laid the basis for Christian theology. Both are in modern Turkey, and both have seen their churches almost vanish. Christianity Today has a terrific piece on the perils and hopes of the beleaguered Christian remnants in this part of the world. Oddly enough, Turkey's entry into the EU may be their salvation:

"Many Greek and Armenian Christians in Turkey suffer the double ignominy of religious and ethnic marginalization. Though the government is officially secular and many Turks are only nominally Muslim, conversion to Christianity is considered a betrayal of heritage and homeland. Persecution stemming from this perspective has stunted church growth and crippled the small Christian community.

"But for these Christians, EU admission offers hope. A handful of Greek Christians remain in Turkey, holdovers from a bygone era of Hellenistic influence in Asia Minor. Their hope is that increased trade activity with Europe will invite Greeks to return to Istanbul, where they can broker business and diplomacy between Western Europe and the Muslim world.

A Sinister Popish Plot?

It's been quite a while since anybody seriously alleged a Catholic plot to take over the government--like, oh, about four hundred years when England's Guy Fawkes, of Gunpowder Plot fame, really did conspire to blow up King James and all those Protestants in the House of Commons. But columnist Margaret Carlson today advances the novel notion that the bishops who have reminded Catholics that they must give thought to the Church's teachings on abortion when voting are part of a plot against John Kerry.

Carlson traces it to disgraced former Crisis magazine editor Deal Hudson (he was semi-toppled when predatory past sexual misconduct surfaced):

"Early on, Bush strategist Karl Rove enlisted Catholic academic Deal Hudson to advise the White House on how to get more of the Catholic vote. When it turned out that Bush would be facing a Catholic, Hudson set upon a brilliant scheme: Rather than appeal directly to the laity, he would get the bishops to condemn Kerry for being a secular Catholic at odds with the Church on abortion."

Hudson was indeed a Catholic adviser to the Bush campaign, but I hope and pray that our bishops didn't need a missive from Deal Hudson to tell them to do their jobs. By the way, no bishop has "condemned" Kerry (that job was left to poor old Loose Canon). They have raised the issue of his stand on issues such as abortion, and that's what they're supposed to do.

Carlson writes as a cradle Catholic who obviously has a beef with the Church. She pulls out the stops, including mentioning divorced granny who couldn't take Communion.

Meanwhile, Joseph Bottum of the Weekly Standard argues that, despite all the media ballyhoo, there's really no such thing as the Catholic vote:

"Catholics form the largest religious denomination among elected officials in America," Bottum writes, "but the Church's pro-life agenda would be more successfully advanced if those Catholic officeholders were all replaced tomorrow by Mormons or Muslims. In 2003, a newspaper advertisement designated twelve influential Democratic senators--Kennedy, Harkin, Kerry, Daschle, Dodd, Collins, Reed, Murray, Landrieu, Leahy, Mikulski, and Biden--as the 'deadly dozen': openly pro-abortion Catholics."

Bottum also has a funny dig at Deal Hudson--Bottum regards Hudson, a former Baptist preacher, as a tone deaf choice for Catholic outreach.

Axis of Confusion

I'm beginning to wonder if Iran's mullahs are swing voters. Yesterday when I posted a Reuters story saying that the rulers of Iran would prefer a Kerry victory, several eagle-eyed Beliefnet members pointed out an earlier AP story that had them supporting a Bush win. No word that I know of on how they feel about Nader.

October Surprise: It's a Dud

O, Swami, a man of faith art thou. Great Swami, how to you hang onto your belief (against all evidence) that the New York Times' missing munitions "scoop" is true?

Like Swami, the Kerry campaign is still relentlessly pushing the story, even though it has been pretty much exposed as a dud by NBC, which had embedded reporters with the 101st Airborne.

Investor's Business Daily has a scathing editorial on what the missing munitions story says about the MSM (mainstream media):

"Both the Kerry camp and its big-media arm warned of an October surprise. But they didn't say that they - and not Bush's operatives - would be behind it. ...

"There's no polite way to put it: This story was a lie, apparently cooked up to serve the Times' partisan ends. It's not the first time. .CBS, which also acts as if it were a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, was lucky it got beat on the arms story. It had planned to run it on '60 Minutes' just two days before the election. But it bailed after the Times got the 'scoop.'"

Tech Central Station's James K. Glassman argues that the missing munitions story actually gives more ammunition to us hawkish Bush supporters who believe that the decision to invade Iraq was the right one:

"But far more important, Kerry's complaints about Bush only enforce Bush's reason for invading Iraq. Think about it.

"Kerry and Edwards say that Bush didn't do enough to prevent the disappearance of the explosives, which could be used against Americans here at home. But the very existence of such explosives--whether defined as weapons of mass destruction or not--was the reason Bush led the nation into Iraq in the first place.

"Why did we invade Iraq? Specifically, so dangerous weapons would not be used against us here at home--either by Saddam Hussein's forces or by his terrorist friends. Did we miss some of these weapons? Of course. But we got a lot more than we would have gotten if we had not gone into Iraq in the first place.

"If we had followed Kerry's strategy, Iraq today would have far more than 380 tons of explosives to use against us."

The Mullah Vote

We aren't supposed to say this, but a Reuters story says it for us:

"Iranian officials like to portray U.S. presidential elections as a choice between bad and worse but there is little doubt they would prefer Democratic challenger John Kerry win next week," Reuters reports.

Left Behind with My V-Chip

Loose Canon isn't necessarily against having a V-Chip with all her medical information implanted. But Rod Dreher, one of the funniest writers I know, is, and he believes that only a coalition of the ACLU and fundamentalist Christians can save him from the V-Chip:

"As a teenager, I left behind - ahem - dispensationalist eschatology, but if you've ever had the bejabbers scared out of you by the more lurid expressions of that religious vision, you never quite get over it. I don't believe in the Rapture anymore, but I still harbor a healthy fear of techno-totalitarianism.

"So when I hear about things like the VeriChip, I am genuinely grateful for the fundamentalists and evangelicals who believe that stuff. If we are going to be spared the Orwellian society portended by this technology, it will be in large part due to the political efforts of a strange-bedfellow coalition of hard-core civil libertarians and the 'Left Behind' crowd, nonconformists who will not stand meekly by while the rest of us cud chewers amble into the corral for our VeriChip injection."

Episcopalians Going Pagan?

Why wait for Halloween? If you're a female Episcopalian, you don't have to. At least, that's the impression I get from reading about the pagan-sounding rituals my former communion is developing for women. As Christianity Today's weblog puts it: "Episcopal Church Officially Promotes Idol Worship," noting that pagan deities will be invoked in a new "women's Eucharist."

Here's a tidbit from the inimitable website of the Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries:

"These [rituals for women] can include but are not limited to liturgies/rites pertaining to: menstruation, menopause, conception, pregnancy, any form of pregnancy loss, childbirth, forms of leave taking, and many others. Although traditional liturgy acknowledges little of these aspects of women's lives, many women have taken up the task of creating and writing such liturgies for themselves or others."

Is this what you get after thirty years of ordaining women to the priesthood? Thanks to Open Book for spotting this latest evidence that God's formerly frozen people are now hip beyond belief.

Bookshelf: Kinder, Gentler Crusades?

Loose Canon is delighted to report that a new, revisionist book about the Crusades has come out in England. There is an emerging school that says (pace David Hume and the eighteenth century) that the Crusades weren't unmitigated evil. "Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades," by Christopher Tyerman, sounds like it might be one of those books that takes a kinder, gentler look at the Crusades. The Spectator gave it a pretty contentious review, but it made the book sound intriguing to LC:

"[Tyerman] has now set out in this short but stimulating book to attack the kind of ahistorical posturing to which these attitudes lead, and to debunk the myths which are implicit in some of them. He offers a brief summary of the historical facts, and a discussion of their implications. The crusades, he argues, were not a colonial movement. They were not driven by land hunger. They were not a form of economic exploitation. They were not only wars against Islam. They have nothing to tell us about the modern world.

"This is the best kind of historical analysis, and it will have served a valuable purpose if it makes readers think more carefully about historical analogies, in or out of the Middle East. But careful thought will not necessarily lead them to the same conclusions as Mr Tyerman."

The Real Story of the "380 Tons of Death"

Yes, of course, Loose Canon is delighted that the "380 tons of death" (as my pal the Swami dubbed it) story is blowing up in the New York Times' face. Somebody's been sitting on the "story" waiting to blow up George Bush's reelection bid for quite a while.

But NBC, which had journalists embedded with the 101st Airborne, is reporting that the deadly explosives already were gone when American troops arrived in Baghdad (perhaps our long attempt to persuade the United Nations to grant us permission to topple a tyrant afforded an opportunity to appropriate the deadly munitions?).

"Yesterday, the New York Times did a fine service for the Kerry campaign by publishing a carefully timed hit piece describing how tons of explosives have gone missing from a site in Iraq. This morning, the story is imploding, with NBC News leading the charge," writes N.Z. Bear of The Truth Laid Bear, which has an excellent dissection of the Times's shoddy reporting.

Comparing the latest development at the credibility-starved New York Times to the historic fiasco of Walter Duranty, the Times scribe who won a Pulitzer Prize for ignoring starvation in the Ukraine, Roger L. Simon writes:

"It is through [blogger on the Belmont Club] Wretchard, whom I have come to trust greatly, that I found confirmation for what I already suspected--that the New York Times report of 380 tons of escaped explosives published this morning was so much progandistic drivel timed to encourage the defeat of a sitting president in favor of a candidate, I am almost certain, the paper's publisher and editors do not even care for in the first place. How pathetic is that! How deeply reactionary! This kind of distortion during an election is a worse disgrace than the Jayson Blair affair."

A blogger after LC's own heart, also on the aforementioned Belmont Club says the true saga of the missing explosives "makes you wonder what would have happen in OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] had there been a quick resolution for war, instead of the sidestepping created by our 'allies' France, Germany, and Russia. So much for the element of surprise."

Coming on the heels of CBS's forged documents scandal, the explosives story also makes you wonder if John Kerry isn't muttering "with friends like these...."

Roy's Rock Tour

Whenever people protest putting the Ten Commandments in a public space, I want to ask: Which one do you not like? That said, "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore of Alabama had no right to put a massive monument bearing the Ten C's on public property, and I don't like to hear him talk about alleged persecution. Still, I'm both dismayed and amused by reports of clashes between atheists and Christians around Roy's Touring Ten Commandments.

But can't we find a better Moses for today?

Hear, O Israel

Israel is our staunchest ally in the Middle East, an outpost of Western values in the place that gave birth to Western values. I worry excessively about what will happen to Israel if John Kerry is elected.

I've been meaning for days to point out columnist Charles Krauthammer's alarming assessment of what a Kerry administration would mean for Israel:

"Think about it: What do the Europeans and the Arab states endlessly rail about in the Middle East? What (outside Iraq) is the area of most friction with U.S. policy? What single issue most isolates America from the overwhelming majority of countries at the United Nations?

"The answer is obvious: Israel.

"In what currency, therefore, would we pay the rest of the world in exchange for their support in places like Iraq? The answer is obvious: giving in to them on Israel.

"No Democrat will say that openly. But anyone familiar with the code words of Middle East diplomacy can read between the lines. ..."

In a similarly alarming piece, the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol says Kerry will "put more pressure on Israel." Kristol recounted that in an appearance on the O'Reilly show "Holbrooke segued into an account of how Kerry would improve the situation in the Middle East: 'He [Kerry] has said already he would start intense talks with the allies ... and he would reach out to the moderate Arab states. He'd put more pressure on Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia above all.'"

Above all, Israel doesn't deserve to be lumped with Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Shocking Report: Bush Sometimes Goes to Church Across the Street from the White House!

The New York Times today makes yet another pre-election bid to portray George Bush's religious faith. This time he's presented not as Dr. Strangelove with a Bible (the Ron Susskind approach in an earlier New York Times magazine piece) but as a moderate (read: guy who fakes it for the religious right):

"When it comes to understanding the president's religious convictions and the role they have played in his presidency, there appears to be a disconnect between Mr. Bush's personal beliefs and his public policy.

"On his personal faith, the president appears to be far from doctrinally dogmatic, and even theologically moderate. It is not hard to find evidence that he is out of sync with the conservative evangelical Christians who make up his political base."

Much is made of his "surprising choice" to attend the relatively liberal St. John's Episcopal Church "when" he goes to church. Surprising? Oh, come on. It's right across the street from the White House. It's known as the Church of the Presidents. Maybe the president just doesn't have a litmus test for houses of worship. (Oh, and by the way, members of the Religious Right--note that "when"--our heathen president doesn't go to church every Sunday).

The popular religion blog The Revealer calls the Times opus a "profoundly disingenuous piece" aimed at assuring Bush a second term (yes, that's ardently wanted by Times scribes). Relapsed Catholic has more, including Catholic and Enjoying It's Mark Shea's take-down of those who, in a reversal of the popular he's-a-scary-Christian ploy claim Bush is a fake Christian:

"There are lots of legit critiques of Bush's vague theology and strategic employment of Evangelical lingo to marshal the conservative Christian troops. But the notion that some dimwit reporter can magisterially declare that Bush's manifest, albeit woolly, faith is non-existent and then issue a bull of excommunication with the finding that he is 'not really a Christian' and that Mr. Sharlet [of the Revealer] can anoint this 'first-rate journalism' is preposterous. The only thing I can think is that the Revealer is hoping to pass itself off as an arbiter of credible religious journalism for ignorant MSM religious journalists, because he certainly isn't kidding anybody else."

Now We're Getting Somewhere

Loose Canon can find a silver lining in the cloud that is John Kerry's pro-choice candidacy for the presidency: the I-accept-the-Church's-teachings-but-won't-impose-my-views dodge (pioneered by Mario Cuomo) may finally be running out of steam.

Did anyone notice that in his visits to churches on Sunday that John Kerry for the first time (that I know of) said not that he can't impose the Church's teachings but that he disagrees with his Church?

From a Washington Times report on Kerry's speech about his faith and church attendance yesterday:

"He did not give a moral defense of his pro-choice stance on abortion and his support for embryonic stem-cell research, but he acknowledged the contentious debate within the Catholic Church about his public role in these matters. "'I love my church, I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree,' Mr. Kerry said, to one of the wildest ovations of the speech."

I disagree. That sounds like the truth to me. Even John Kerry might hesitate to vote for abortion rights if he really and truly believed (as he has said he does) that life begins at conception. Of course, if you don't believe what the Church teaches, are you still a practicing Catholic?

Interestingly, the speech on his faith was one of the shortest--30 minutes--Kerry has given. A politician who has voted against banning partial birth abortion might feel funny reciting, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me," (from the Gospel of Matthew) but Kerry apparently did not.

Didn't He Learn Anything in Altar Boy Class?

John Kerry may like to mention that he was an altar boy, but he seems not to have learned one of the basic rules of canon law. From the aforementioned Washington Times article:

"Reporters traveling with Mr. Kerry said he appeared to be munching chips and salsa and drinking iced tea throughout his stop at the Red Rooster Cafe, which he left five minutes before the beginning of the 6 p.m. Mass. He took Communion 50 minutes later, at about 6:45 p.m.

"Catholic canon law says that those who are to receive Communion must 'abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion.' This rule actually relaxed the requirements from when Mr. Kerry was an altar boy. Overnight fasting was required then."

Bring Back the Old Andrew!

It's been distressing to watch the emergence of the new Andrew Sullivan. The old Andrew, the much vaunted "gay-Catholic-conservative" was one of the best apologists for the Iraq war in the blogosphere. Loose Canon has always loved reading the old Andrew, but the new Andrew, who seems to be changing his whole political philosophy because of his single-minded support of gay "marriage" is anti-war and pro-Kerry.

John Leo has written a terrific piece on new Andrew's disappointing endorsement of Kerry:

"Many of the doubts that hover over Sullivan's case for Kerry are rooted in the value system widely shared among Democrats: Most people are basically good; wars are caused not by evil motives but by misunderstandings that can be talked out; conflict can be overcome by more tolerance and examining of our own faults or by taking disputes to the United Nations. As a personal creed, these benign and humble attitudes are admirable. As the foundation of a policy to confront terrorists who wish to blow up our cities, they are alarming."

Satan Goes to Sea with the Royal Navee

Well, Satan has a follower on the deep blue sea--and in an outburst of ecumenism, Satan's follower has been granted the right to practice Satanic rituals on his ship and, should he perish at sea, to have a burial performed in accordance with the rites of Church of Satan.

"From a military perspective, I believe in vengeance," [Satanist Chris] Cranmer told the [London Telegraph]. "I don't consider Satan to be an intelligently external force in my life; instead I consider it an empowering internal force. If I were asked if I were evil, I would say yes--by virtue of the common definition. However, if you asked my family and friends you would hear a resounding 'no.' I get a massive amount from my career, while sacrificing little."
The Church of Satan was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible, the Church of Satan, in San Francisco. Some Navy veterans are complaining about having a Satanist aboard. This is probably not as funny as it sounds at first glance. (Many thanks to Relapsed Catholic for spotting this item.)

Too Close for Comfort?

An ad campaign attacking anti-Semitism in France has hit a raw nerve--the ads depicted Jesus and the Virgin Mary with the two words "Dirty Jew" scrawled across the images. The ads were meant to imitate anti-Semitic graffiti, but they have provoked widespread criticism.

"We have to accept that something strong is needed today to fight against anti-Semitism," [president of the Union of Jewish Students of France, the sponsoring organization] Yonathan Arfi said. "And we thought these advertisements were good. We thought they were strong."

Nevertheless the group has decided to alter the artwork because they think the outrage might obscure the point they were trying to make. There has been an upswing of anti-Semitism in France since 2000, when Palestinians launched a new round of hostilities against Israel.

Cardinal Hickey, R.I.P.

Cardinal Hickey, who died Sunday, was a prelate in the Catholic Church at a time of turmoil. He wasn't always popular with conservatives in his archdiocese, but he was holy. Is there anything better?

Peter Robinson, a former Reagan speechwriter, has a nice tribute to the cardinal on National Review:

"[A]s a prelate, Hickey proved dogged, even fierce. He compelled officials at Catholic University to ensure that those licensed to teach the faith taught the faith, ultimately forcing Fr. Charles Curran, who disavowed Catholic sexual morality, to leave the University. When the Jesuits at Georgetown University began celebrating special masses for 'Dignity,' a homosexual organization, Hickey forced them to stop, and when Georgetown funded a pro-choice student group Hickey not only insisted that the University reverse itself but dedicated the masses celebrated throughout his archdiocese one Sunday to reparations to Our Lady for the offense that Georgetown had caused. The abuse of children by priests? When cases came to Hickey's attention, he turned the matter over to law-enforcement officials, making the name of each priest public."

Are We Headed for an Avignon Presidency?

No, I'm not referring to John Kerry's famous affinity for things Gallic. I'm referring to the period when there were two popes, one in Rome and one in Avignon. Will the U.S. end up with two presidents on Nov. 3?

Seems the Associated Press has reported that John Kerry is "bracing for a potential fight over election results [and] will not hesitate to declare victory Nov. 2 and defend it, advisers say. He also will be prepared to name a national security team before knowing whether he's secured the presidency."

Columnist Jonah Goldberg got a glimpse of how Kerry will do this if the election is close from Democrat Eric Holder:

"...Eric Holder, a member of the Democrats' "Election Task Force," told Chris Wallace of 'Fox News Sunday,' 'If every vote is allowed to be cast, and if every vote is counted, John Kerry will be president within a day of that election.'"

This sounds fair-but, wait, do you hear some buzz words? What's afoot? Here's what's afoot:

"[I]n Missouri the Democratic front-group Americans Coming Together hands out fliers depicting an African-American on the receiving end of a fire hose blast," writes Goldberg. 'This is what they used to do to keep us from voting,' the piece reads. On the back are a list of alleged incidents of recent voter intimidation, with the line, 'This is how Republicans keep African-Americans from voting now.'"

"Let's just skip over the fact that odds are the guy ordering the fire hose treatment was a Democrat."

"The Democrats' voter manual instructs party operatives to 'launch a pre-emptive strike' by charging voter intimidation even if there is no evidence any such thing is taking place."

All of this, of course, is predicated on the notion that African-Americans were disenfranchised in Florida in 2000. Ironically, as Goldberg points out, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund has asked for real evidence of disenfranchisement in the 2000 election to no avail:

"Indeed, John Fund, the author of the eminently comprehensive and thoughtful book 'Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud is Threatening Democracy,' has implored the NAACP, the ACLU and the Democratic Party to provide him with real life examples of blacks--or anybody else--who were specifically disenfranchised. Alas, like the 'real killers' O.J. Simpson is still searching for, Fund's quest has remained unfulfilled."

The papacy, of course, survived the Avignon Schism. Let's hope the United States of America will prove similarly durable.

In Good Faith

For all of those who are struggling with the issues of faith, voting, and abortion, the most important thing you can do today is read Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in the New York Times.

Chaput addresses the anomaly of pro-choice Catholics who say they accept the Church's teaching but can't "impose" it on others (he doesn't name names):

"People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

"Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful--both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities--if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational."

Lesbians of the Right

Gay conservative Tammy Bruce, noting that surely Kerry knew some lesbians who might have actually shared their thoughts on why they were gay with him, says his decision to use Mary Cheney shows something ugly that "lies behind John Kerry's Potemkin face:"

"While the Kerry behavior seems bizarre at best, there is a method to his and Leftist madness in general.

"First, Mary Cheney is hated by the Gay Elite. There are direct efforts to make life uncomfortable for her. Why? Because she dares to be different. She has made the same mistake as I--she refuses to have her sexuality be the singular defining aspect of her identity, and she has had the gall to be her own person and not bow down to the leftist agenda. Yes, she commits the fatal mistake of not conforming to the conformist Gay agenda."

And You Call This a Family Newspaper?

This is how the Washington Post's Reliable Source column chose to deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger's not very funny to begin with quip that his staunchly Democratic wife Maria Shriver had abstained from wifely duties after his firebrand speech at the Republican convention: "Should we call him Onan the Barbarian? (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)" Sorry, but you should have. Can you imagine any newspaper in America running with this a decade ago?

Oh, That's Not Funny

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, James Bowman says that satire is back--but unfortunately people are relying on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" not for laughs but for their news: "The consumers of TV satire 40 years ago were assumed by the satirists to be pretty well-informed people already. Now there are indications that a lot of people, especially young people, are skipping the regular news and going straight to the satire."

LC Misfires

I'm afraid my tendency to confuse Washington's two Catholic intellectuals named Novak got the best of me yesterday--I attributed a column on the Catholic vote to the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Novak. The author of the piece was actually syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Mea culpa.

Why I Love Teresa

Those of us who support George W. Bush are beginning to realize that there are two key ingredients to victory: We must keep talking to God, and Teresa must keep talking to reporters.

No, I'm not actually arguing that God will be voting on Nov. 2, but on Teresa, I'm dead serious. I quoted James K. Glassman quoting Michael Kinsley's definition of a gaffe yesterday: "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth."

Yesterday, Teresa Heinz Kerry told the truth to USA Today in an interview that kausfiles says "Rhymes with Cupid." Yes, she quickly apologized, but she had already told the truth: Teresa Heinz Kerry (and by extension John Kerry?) thinks that women who stay at home to raise children don't have "real jobs" and are less than those who have glam careers.

Hugh Hewitt says that Teresa made a triple gaffe--you're not supposed to say anything uncomplimentary about the opponent's spouse or children (the Kerry campaign has already had trouble on this front), she denigrated teachers and librarians, and she revealed her view of full-time mothers.

Hewitt adds:

"The worst part of the Ms. H-K triple feature was failing to mention Laura Bush's 'real job' as a mom. The apology crafters were no doubt in a bind when it came time to deal with that oversight. It would be hard to claim that Ms. H-K had 'forgotten' the twins, the status of mom not being that of a real job. So they said nothing."

"One wonders what a 'real job' is in the THK book--but we can imagine (something to do with servants writing a six-million-dollar check to keep your husband's campaign afloat?)," says former Department of Justice spokesman Barbara Comstock. This time it's not just us wingers who are criticizing Teresa. "For one thing," writes Hanna Rosin of the Washington Post, "no one says 'real job' anymore. The correct term these days, and for the past 20 years, is 'a job outside the home.'"

May I be shameless and refer you to my own profile of Teresa, "Let Them Eat Pumpkin Spice Cookies," in the current issue of The American Spectator? I try to point out why it is unfair to compare her to Marie Antoinette (unfair to Marie Antoinette, of course).

Are We At War?

As we knew it would, the election boils down to a contest between those of us who think we are at war and those of who don't. A terrific piece in the Weekly Standard on what John Kerry's first 100 days would be like by Marc Ginsberg, a former Clinton ambassador, talks about how Kerry would reverse the Bush Doctrine and the idea of "good nations pitted against bad nations."

"The buzzwords of the Bush Doctrine would be swept away," writes Ginsberg. "Gone would be the 'axis of evil' and 'preemptive doctrine.' Gone, too, would be 'coalitions of the willing' and 'old Europe.' There would be a total housecleaning of ideologues who consider 'alliance' a dirty word. Bush's 'take it or leave it' unilateralism would give way to the greatest diplomatic charm offensive since Jackie Kennedy wowed Charles de Gaulle. Air Force One and Air Force Two would log a lot of global miles, particularly to Europe and a hostile Muslim world, in an effort to reverse the rising tide of anti-Americanism and put a new, fresh face on America's tattered world image."

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I must admit that I stunned myself the other day by saying that Kerry should be excommunicated, but I felt better after reading Robert Novak's great column today on what having him in the White House would mean for the Church:

"In a largely unpublished interview with the New York Times, [Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput] said: '"If the church challenges a President Kerry on 'destruction of unborn children through embryonic stem cell research,' it will appear to be interfering. If the church remains silent, it will appear cowardly.'' In a monograph ('Should Catholics Vote for Kerry?'), Golden [a Catholic legislator in Massachusetts who opposes Kerry] writes that Kerry rejects protection of life ''through humane public policy'' and that ''his frequent declaration that he 'was an altar boy' is not enough to dispel Catholics' concerns.''

"Those concerns are intensified by the campaign of the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy. While Kennedy 44 years ago did not want to call attention to his religion, Kerry stresses his Catholicism--an emphasis not apparent in his Massachusetts campaigns the last three decades. He says he accepts the Catholic doctrine that ''life begins at conception'' but will not impose it on others."

Anti-Semitism Watch

One of the scariest things happening in the world today is the rise of anti-Semitism. Loose Canon was glad to read that President Bush has signed law to "monitor and combat" anti-Semitism around the world. The bill was put forward by Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, the only the only Holocaust survivor in Congress.

According to one report:

"The State Department had opposed [Lantos'] proposal, saying it would send the wrong signal around the world to single out anti-Semitism for special treatment over other human rights problems and stressing the department was already reporting on the issue."

Who's the Ladies' Man?

For a while it looked as if this election was going to be the one to close the so-called gender gap. National security concerns were making women vote more like men. The gender gap was vanishing.

The New York Times reports today that it's back, and women are now returning to the Democratic fold. John Kerry has been striking a tougher pose on national security, but the gender gap is back for another reason:

"[Anna] Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said Mr. Kerry had gained among women by focusing on economic issues and particularly health care in his stump speech and in his advertising in swing states.

"'I'd say probably half the ads running right now coming out of Kerry and the D.N.C. are health care ads,' Ms. Greenberg said, referring to the Democratic National Committee. 'I think that's a response to seeing that he's weaker with women than he should be.'"

In other words, women voters of the gender-gap ilk want to make Uncle Sam a Sugar Daddy, albeit one who finances his "generosity" out of our own purses. As an antidote to the return of the gender gap, I can do no better than to refer you to a paper by my colleague Carrie Lukas, on how expensive programs that many feminist groups call "for" women are, in fact, harmful to us. I also suspect that John Kerry's misinformation on the so-called "wage gap" between men and women, cited in the last debate, has helped him. Again, it's Carrie Lukas to the rescue with a National Review piece entitled "No Ladies Man."

While we're on the subject of women, columnist Michelle Malkin talks about a particular set of distaff Kerry fans--"hysterical ladies for Kerry." They aren't at all like Ms. Rosie the Riveter and other redoubtable ladies who stepped bravely forward during an earlier war:

"But Rosie is gone. And in her place, we have Hysterical Women for Kerry. They are self-absorbed celebrities who support banning all guns (except the ones their bodyguards use to protect them and their children). They are teachers' union bigwigs who support keeping all children hostage in public schools (except their own sons and daughters who have access to the best private institutions). They are sanctimonious environmentalists who oppose ostentatious energy consumption (except for their air-conditioned Malibu mansions and Gulfstream jets and custom Escalades.)

"They are antiwar activists who claim to love the troops (except when they're apologizing to the terrorists trying to kill our men and women in uniform). They are peace activists who balk at your son bringing in his 'Star Wars' light saber for the kindergarten Halloween parade (but who have no problem serving as human shields for torture-loving dictators). They are ultrafeminists who purport to speak for all women (but not the unborn ones or the abstinent teenage ones or the minority conservative ones or the newly enfranchised ones in Afghanistan)."

Where Do We Get Our Rights?

Everybody has been fixated on John Kerry's Mary Cheney hari-kari, but James K. Glassman says we missed John Kerry's real debate gaffe. Using the Michael Kinsley definition of a gaffe ("A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth."), Glassman reveals that the more serious one took place when Kerry discussed the source of our rights:

"In answer to a question about gay marriage, Kerry said: 'Because we are the United States of America, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace. You can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people.'"

Glassman writes, "The key phrase was 'rights that we afford people.' This was no mistake. He said it twice."

Glassman continues:

"Kerry believes that the United States government, through the Constitution, 'affords' rights to Americans. My dictionary defines 'afford,' in this context as "give, grant, confer." In other words, we fortunate, benighted Americans have a country, a government that grants us rights.

"That's an utterly inaccurate reading of the great documents of the founding of this nation. Our government does not grant us any rights at all. On the contrary, Americans start off with rights, and it is we who grant the government certain limited powers to protect those rights.

"Where do our rights come from if they don't come from government? They come from God--which may be why John Kerry doesn't get it."

Be Not Afraid--They're Lying

No matter what demographic group you belong to, John Kerry wants to scare you into voting for him. William Safire has a great column on the Kerry campaign's use of fear-mongering. If you're old, here's how they do it:

"The fearmongers' pitch is that President Bush is plotting to snatch your Social Security check. Bush's sound idea of setting aside a small portion of your payroll tax as a personal nest egg for your retirement is twisted by the fearmongers into the dread word 'privatization.' Many older Americans safely covered by Social Security now needlessly worry about being thrust out into the snow."

"You a youngster? The fearmongers noticed an urban legend floating around the Internet about a 'January surprise' to bring back the draft and throw you into the first wave into Falluja. Never mind that it won't happen, because the military knows that a volunteer army works best; the scare tactic is sure to whip up the old fears in the young voters."

Vatican: Excommunication Guy Is a Liar

Loose Canon has gone out on a limb, tendering to the Archbishop of Boston unsolicited advice that John Kerry should be excommunicated after the election (timing so that it will be a pastoral rather than a political act). Just for the record, Marc Balestrieri, the loose canon lawyer in California who has been mounting a campaign to have Kerry excommunicated, turns out not to be the best bedfellow. A Catholic News story quotes Vatican officials saying that Balestrieri is simply not telling the truth about his claim of contact with the Vatican:

"'The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr (Marc) Balestrieri,' said Congregation undersecretary Fr Augustine DiNoia.

"Fr DiNoia told Catholic News Service: 'His claim that the private letter he received from (Dominican) Fr Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit'."

Lioness of Judah?

A recent New York Times piece on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a nice touch that had the justice speaking about religious underpinnings of her philosophy:

"Ginsburg described artworks in her chambers that are inscribed with a command from Deuteronomy: 'Justice, justice shall you pursue.'

"'They are ever-present reminders of what judges must do,' Justice Ginsburg told the International Lion of Judah Conference of the United Jewish Communities. The Supreme Court is to decide whether displaying the Ten Commandments on government property is unconstitutional.

"Justice Ginsburg, who made no mention of the case, said: 'I am a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice runs throughout the Jewish tradition.'"

The Times piece pointed out that Ginsburg will hear Judge Roy Moore's case involving his decision to put a massive monument of the Ten Commandments on public property. Something tells me that the justice's hanging a quotation from Deuteronomy in her office won't signal that she thinks Moore had the right to unilaterally redecorate public spaces. I realize Moore would have been a hero if instead of the Ten Commandments he'd put up a condom statue, but that doesn't give him the right to treat public property as if it were his own.

Not Prepared for the Worst

Loose Canon believes that George W. Bush will be the next president of the United States. Still, she has been trying to prepare for the worst. She does not want to be a bitter person who is the mirror image of Michael Moore.

So far she has not been able to cultivate an attitude of calm about the prospect of a John Kerry administration. Unfortunately, this scenario of what would happen if Kerry became president, by the American Spectator's William Tucker, seems too real for comfort:

"All the pretty plans of the campaign were evaporating and President Kerry now found himself facing the basic contradiction of his position. Was Iraq the wrong war at the wrong place and the wrong time? Or were we actually undermanned? For two long weeks, Kerry mulled the problem while fierce debate was waged in Congress. Half of Kerry's constituency called for a pullout and peace demonstrations took place in New York and Washington. Many Democrats in Congress said our troops were endangered, however, and call for a draft.

"Kerry solved the problem by going to the United Nations. ...Like the Indians watching the British march out of Fort William Henry, however, once the terrorists saw their enemies defeated they could not restrain themselves. Before the American soldiers had even begun to pack their bags, they were under daily attack. General fighting broke out in several cities, even as the U.N. panel continued to meet. Then a suicide bomber rammed the home of Prime Minister Allawi and killed him. The elected government collapsed. Civil war broke out between Sunni and Shi'ite militias, both claiming religious authority, while the Kurds withdrew completely, declaring their own state...."
On a brighter note, New York Times columnist David Brooks says that John Kerry is so crude he may turn off the public before they go to the voting booth:

"[N]obody could imagine how incompetent, crude and over-the-top Kerry has been in this final phase of the campaign. At this point, smart candidates are launching attacks that play up the doubts voters already have about their opponents. Incredibly, Kerry is launching attacks that play up doubts voters have about him. Over the past few days, he has underscored the feeling that he will say or do anything to further his career."

Bell, Book, and Candle

Relapsed Catholic suggests that Loose Canon might have been loose indeed in suggesting Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston do the old bell, book, and candle number on John Kerry.

I'm standing my guns: It's time for our clerics to act more like they did in the good old days when Pope Paul VI called Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis a "public sinner" for marrying the divorced Aristotle Onassis. Why can't the Archbishop of Boston make a value judgment about his most famous sheep?

"I'm a persistent mortal sinner," Relapsed wrote, "so don't feel qualified to comment much on this, except that I did find Kerry's comments on his Catholicism somewhat confused during the debate. As I told CH via email, no doubt the 'backlash' against Catholics would be powerful if he were excommunicated publicly."

Persuasive, but I do think it would be untenable to have a supposedly Catholic president who confuses the public about what it means to be Catholic. Moreover, Kerry, who calls himself a Catholic, is more supportive of Roe v. Wade than any president has been.

By the way, there's also a loose canon lawyer on the West Coast who's working to have Kerry excommunicated-The New York Times has a report on his--er--crusade.

Relapsed Catholic also notes two pertinent points: Catholics who commit heresy automatically excommunicate themselves and that public excommunications are rare nowadays.

Just Like Al Qaeda

Heresy--that's something you won't find in the insular world of New York's chattering classes. Right now Swami and other denizens of that glittering milieu are plumb scandalized by George Bush's religious views as portrayed in the New York Times Sunday magazine. I finally trudged to the end of the piece and have some observations.

The piece, by Ron Suskind, author of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's book about how dumb George Bush is, reminds me of an expose in Ramparts or one of those long-gone lefty magazines--lots of unattributed quotes or insights by identified folks passed off as insiders.

"'Just in the past few months,' [Bruce] Bartlett said, 'I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'"

But how would Bartlett know? He's identified as a columnist who was domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush. No citations to indicate he has any knowledge of the current Bush administration. Was the scent of mothballs annoying when Susskind interviewed the loquacious Mr. Bartlett?

But the real idea is that Bush is a stupe-nagel who uses his religious faith to provide certainty because he's so fact-challenged. The best example is his confusion of the military standing of Sweden and Switzerland, two big time players on the world stage. Bush got Afghanistan and Iraq right, and that means more to me.

Here are two good takes on the Suskind piece: "Flash: Bush's Faith Still Scary" on Fillingupspace and David Limbaugh on "The 'Dangerous' Faith of President Bush.

Limbaugh poses a good question:

"Why do you suppose President Bush gets so much flak for his faith and John Kerry is applauded for his professions of faith--by the very same people? Could it be that the faith-allergic fear that President Bush is actually sincere about his faith?"

Before I leave the subject of Bush's "scary" faith, I want to cite one more quote from Bruce Bartlett on the role of religion in Bush's life:

"This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them...."

Maybe it would be better to invite them to tea?

Are Black Voters Too Good for Kerry?

A new poll indicates that George Bush may have doubled his support among black voters. I have no proof but I think I know why: Kerry may say he's not for gay "marriage" but he won't support any measure to prevent it from becoming a reality. My guess is that religious African Americans, like religious non-African Americans, are horrified by our society's headlong rush into Satyricon.

Incidentally, I noticed that the headline on the poll story early today was that Bush had "slightly" improved his standing among black voters. Some editor must have realized that calling 9 per cent "slightly" made the story look biased. Wouldn't want that, would we?

Suggestion Box for Archbishop O'Malley: Excommunicate This!

Sometime soon after the Nov. 2 presidential election the Archbishop of Boston must officially bar John Kerry from receiving Holy Communion. The date is chosen, of course, because this is a matter of preserving the faith rather than playing politics.

News reports say that John Kerry is going to be talking more about his faith between now and the election. He has every right to do so--but his religion does not appear to square with Catholic teaching. I was against barring pro-choice politicians from the Eucharist before I heard Kerry try to redefine Catholicism during the final debate.

The worst moment in Kerry's Catholic masquerade was when he talked about gay "marriage" as if God just about commanded gays to engage in activity the Church deems sinful ("I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.").

It's bad enough to have Catholics in the Senate who try to redefine the content of Catholicism. It would be worse if it were the President. (If Kerry is defeated, it might be sufficient to excommunicate him privately, as a former Texas bishop did with a pro-choice politician.)

Father Basil Cole, who works in the Vatican, suggests that Kerry may already be excommunicated: "If a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code [of Canon Law]. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty and imputability are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated ...."

Coming Soon: Loose Canon is still only half way through the New York Times magazine piece on how Bush is a dangerous madman who thinks he's the Messiah. More when I finish reading it.

From Canterbury: A Slap on the Wrist

A long-awaited report on the state of the Anglican Communion, occasioned by the U.S. branch's decision to consecrate an openly gay priest as a bishop had finally appeared. And what does it say?

Well, it says that the American Church should apologize. Here's how the New York Times led the story:

"A report by the Anglican Church issued in London today calls on the Episcopal Church USA to apologize for appointing an openly gay bishop and to refain from promoting any other clergy living in a same-sex union.

"'In consecrating V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire last November, the report said, the Episcopal bishops 'acted in the full knowledge that very many people in the Anglican Communion could neither recognize nor receive the ministry as a bishop in the church of God of a person in an openly acknowledged same-gender union.'"

There appears to be no discussion of theology, why it might be wrong to ordain a practicing homosexual, or a mechanism to handle U.S. bishops who do not want to apologize--not that there seem to be any who are willing to back off the consecration.

A Washington Post piece on the report quoted the Rev. Kendall S. Harmon, a conservative theologian and editor of the Anglican Digest in South Carolina, as saying that it "puts it [the U.S. church] in a very bad light."

But not, in LC's opinion, a bad enough light: "The Rev. Giles Goddard, of Inclusive Church, a pro-gay rights group here, said he was pleased with the conciliatory tone of the report. 'We were concerned that ECUSA [the Episcopal Church of the United States] might be expelled or suspended,' he said."

I'd say the so-called Windsor report is a slap on the wrist to the faction that voted to accept a gay bishop and a defeat for orthodox Episcopalians.

Posted on traditional Episcopalian David Virtue's excellent site are several evaluations of the Windsor report: Robert Stowe England says it "underwhelms." Virtue's site has a number of comments and the text of the report.

The Blogging Nuns

We've had singing nuns--why not blogging nuns? A group of Dominican nuns who still live in a convent have gamely launched their own blog: "A blog from the monastery? And wny not? With this blog we share with you a bit of our Dominican monastic life."

It's just started, but stay tuned.

Is This Making You Nervous?

Why does John Kerry always look like he'd rather be having root canal surgery whenever he's asked to talk about his religion? National Review's Rich Lowry suggests that it's because Kerry has something to hide:

"He cannot admit that he's a social liberal who could care less whether the Catholic Church objects to unborn babies being destroyed, so long as he's getting the votes of feminists by paying obeisance to Roe v. Wade."

Also writing for National Review, Jonah Goldberg hints at limitations of Kerry's faith: "Kerry invokes God's guidance on the little stuff, the easy stuff, the boilerplate. He turns his back to God on the big issue, abortion (and, with a wink, gay marriage)."

Sometimes There Is Justice in This World

Well, it looks like the presidential debates weren't so gaffe-free after all. Dragging Mary Cheney's sexuality into the race was so breathtakingly out of line that it is clearly backfiring. Sometimes there is justice in this world.

Here are some reports:

"Some Democrats said that their liberal friends at debate-watching parties gasped at what they considered a gratuitous reference by Kerry," the Washington Post noted earlier this week. Newsweek's dependably liberal Howard Fineman says it reveals something about John Kerry that he would have been wise to keep under wraps.

The willingness to use Mary Cheney reveals something ugly at the core if the two Democrats, especially since, as the Daily News's Tom DeFrank reports, these weren't just off the cuff remarks:

"There's little argument that the gambit of making Mary Cheney's lifestyle a high-visibility issue is what the adviser calls 'obviously highly calculated.'

"'Some cutesy person over there like [Kerry senior strategist Robert] Shrum must have got the stupid idea that they can undercut our base because Cheney has a gay daughter,' the adviser said. 'The theory is that homophobes in Bush's base may recoil.'"

Nope, it's anybody with a shred of decency who recoils. And who'd have thought Elizabeth Edwards was such a nasty piece of work? Liz Cheney, the other daughter, addressed Mrs. Edwards' smarmy claim that the Cheneys responded not because they are normal parents who don't want their daughter's privacy invaded but because they are ashamed of Mary. "Mary is one of my heroes. And it has nothing to do with being ashamed of Mary," Liz Cheney told CNN's Paula Zahn.

Stop the Debates, I Want to Get Off

It's hard for me to score the debate since I don't agree with anything John Kerry said and fear the results of a Kerry win. Kerry may have looked more "presidential," as they say, but we're not casting a movie.

Therefore I was delighted to find that not everybody shared my opinion that, although George W. Bush got in some mighty fine zingers, Kerry had performed better. Fred Barnes of the conservative Weekly Standard thought the president was hitting it "on all cylinders": "It was [Bush's] best debate performance ever and that includes his three debates with Al Gore in 2000. As a result, it may have won Bush a second White House."

The best account I've seen of the debate was Jonathan Last's round by round scoring in the Weekly Standard. Last was kind enough to boil down gasbag moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS's questions ("Mr. President, you said you'd sign the assault weapons ban. No ban was ever presented for you to sign, but you didn't fight to get it passed. Why are you a dirty hypocrite?")

Last notes that when Kerry pointed out that several MSM (mainstream media) outlets embraced his health care plan, "President Bush begins his answer this way: 'In all due respect, I'm not sure that it's credible to quote leading news organizations about, oh, never mind.' Back in New York, without so much as blinking, Dan Rather reaches under his desk and strangles a puppy."

Did you sometimes feel the candidates were awfully verbose? Don't miss this translation by blogger Dale Franks of what they really meant. ("Kerry: We're all God's Children. Besides, Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbo. Anyway, it's not a choice. Oh, and we need partnership rights. And the states should decide. In the courts presumably.")

Admit it: Weren't you glad when the debate ended last night? These are phony debates in which candidates are judged on irrelevancies (Dick Nixon's five o'clock shadow, Ford's slip of the tongue, etc.). Somebody should stop the madness.

Let's worry about what really matters. "When you close your eyes, can you see the Democrats defending America? Because I can't see it," writes Ann Coulter.

I Become an Undecided

Loose Canon has said it repeatedly: I don't think bishops should withhold Communion from pro-choice politicians. I applaud the bishops who stand up and say the life issues are non-negotiable, but I've been squeamish about turning somebody away at the altar rail.

Kerry's remarks about his faith last night were smarmy. The aforementioned Jonathan Last picked up on a little tick of Kerry's when he's getting ready to sell you down the river: "Careful viewers," writes Last, "who remember how he first confronted the issue of abortion ("I'm a Catholic") will understand that this introduction means Kerry is about to sell out the interests of hunters and gun owners."

Kerry employs the diabolical Cuomo formula: I can't impose my religious beliefs on others. But, if you read his remarks about abortion and gay marriage, you'll realize that he doesn't hold those beliefs he won't impose:

"I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

"And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them."

Translation: God wants them to lead a gay lifestyle. Wives should be "supportive" when hubby comes home and says he's got a beau. This is not exactly Catholic theology.

I was angered by Kerry's sanctimoniously talking about his faith and then dumping on what the Church teaches. Maybe I'll cool down, but I'm growing less hesitant about turning pro-choice pols away from the Eucharist. As of last night, on the Communion issue, please move me to the undecided column.

They Can't Stop Talking about Dick Cheney's Gay Daughter

Why did both John Edwards and John Kerry choose to go on and on about Dick and Lynne Cheney's gay daughter Mary? Kerry, who doesn't know Mary Cheney, said, "If you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as." If you thought it was an attempt to say something nice, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might like. It was a reflection of how low these guys will stoop. I was delighted to learn that Momma Lynne responded to Kerry's use of her family:

"Cheney issued her post-debate rebuke to a cheering crowd outside Pittsburgh. 'The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom,' she said. 'What a cheap and tawdry political trick.'"

Mickey Kaus of kausfiles, a KH4K (Kerry Hater for Kerry), had this to say:

"There must be some Machiavellian strategy behind the Democratic urge to keep bringing this up--most likely it's a poll-tested attempt to cost Bush and Cheney the votes of demographic groups (like Reagan Dems, or fundamentalists) who are hostile to homosexuality or gay culture or who just don't want to have to think about it. Or maybe Kerry was just trying to throw Bush off stride. In either case, the fake embrace was even creepier coming from Kerry than it was coming from Edwards--Edwards had at least been debating Cheney at the time. After the debate, Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said Cheney's daughter was 'fair game.' Fair game? Who was being attacked? (It was supposed to be a discussion of whether homosexuality is a 'choice' or innate. Bush had said he didn't know.)"

My colleague Charlotte Allen of the Independent Women's Forum also had some choice remarks on the Democratic exploitation of Mary Cheney. They believe in gay "marriage," but they're perfectly willing to use Mary Cheney. Typical.

And She Spoke in Sound Bites on Her Death Bed

Like Michael Dukakis, Kerry flubbed the wife question. Mentioning that he and both the candidates had strong wives, Schieffer tossed the guys a softball, asking them what they had learned from their wives. You could tell Bush adores Laura Bush, and he was self-deprecating enough to joke that she speaks better English than he does.

"Well I guess all three of us are lucky men who married up," Kerry began. Oops. He then tried a correction by saying that maybe he had married up more than the other two (Teresa's a billionaire--Laura is just a great lady who's helped her husband campaign) and that this provokes comment. "But I can take it," he said.

Without bothering to mention Teresa by name, thank her for what she means to him, in fact, saying absolutely nothing about his wife, Kerry switched instantly to his late mother. When he visited his mother on her death bed and told her he planned to run for president, she said, "Integrity, integrity, integrity."

Thomas Lifson notes:

"The debate was a pleasure to watch for this Bush-supporter. But I'll bet the conversation between John and Teresa later that evening would have been a much better show."

E-Pistles: Are Converts Real Catholics?

One of the nicest things about becoming a Catholic--you don't join the Catholic Church you become a Catholic--is the way you're welcomed into the fold. I can't imagine any other institution joyfully embracing another sinner the way Catholics do a convert. I still have the beautiful rosary a couple gave me as a gift when I was received into the Church. My fondest memories are of the kind and erudite priest who gave me instruction, a gift freely given. I can still picture him coming into the small room where we always met in his billowing Dominican habit with his rosary dangling.

That is why I was a bit taken aback by this post from Beliefnet member catholicseeker:

"As a convert--and for many other reasons--you, LC, are hardly in a position to judge. Kerry (and I) are cradle Catholics and proud of despite any differences we may have with the hierarchy."

Golly, this was a first for me. I may not have any right to judge, but it's not because I am a convert. Would you regard Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, as inferior because he was born a Polish Jew?

Or maybe you would, given that you have "differences" with "the hierarchy." All I can say, cs, is this: The Church is "one church, one body, one family" that offers (to switch to another hymn) "welcome for the sinner." We probably don't agree about much, but we're stuck with each other: in the mystical body of Christ. It takes all kinds.

Democrats' New Slogan: Throw Away Your Crutches and Walk!

Vote for Kerry and You'll Walk Again? Loose Canon has nearly split her sides laughing over the ridiculous picture of jack-in-the-box John Edwards proclaiming that, if Kerry is elected president, the lame will walk.

Here's what Edwards said:

"...[W]hen John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

Loose Canon has heard some humdinger campaign promises, but this takes the cake (as John Edwards might put it). Lucianne Goldberg hails the delicious moment as "Breck Boy goes full Jimmy Swaggart."

It is funny, but it's also dishonest and cruel. Christopher "Superman" Reeve, who died this week after years of heroically coping with the results of a riding accident that left him a paraplegic, would likely have never walked again. Edwards is making claims for stem cell research that simply aren't born out and in so doing raising false hopes.

Here's what Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, a prominent surgeon before he ran for office, told the New York Post:

"'They're trying to shamefully use the death of people like Christopher Reeve to promote falsehood and dishonesty. To me it's crass and opportunistic. It's giving false hope to people.'

"Frist (R-Tenn.), a key Bush ally, said there are 120 to 140 stem-cell therapies now in use for paralyzed people. All involve adult-type cells from bone marrow and none involves stem cells."

The Post added: "Many scientists see stem cells as a potential cure for a host of diseases. None, however, has claimed, as Edwards did, that paralyzed people could walk again in just a few years."

Well, actually, Ron Reagan came awfully close to saying that in his "You're Cured" speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Wesley Smith, who writes on stem cell research for the Weekly Standard, debunked some of these myths in a piece headlined "Of Stem Cells and Fairy Tales." Smith points out that some of the doctors who influenced Nancy Reagan in her crusade for stem cell research had to admit that stem cells hold no hope for curing Alzheimer's any time soon.

There's a word for what the Democrats are doing with stem cell research: demagoguery. They're also claiming that the Bush administration has a "ban" on embryonic stem cell research. Not true. The administration refuses to fund embryonic stem cell research, except for research done with a very limited number of stem cell lines. Private companies are free to do what they want with regard to the research.

The Bush administration's position is a compromise and many religious voters wish it were more restrictive. And the worry about what will happen in the future. Here's something from the Family Research Council:

"The whispers on Capitol Hill regarding the president's 'real' intention of extending embryonic stem cell lines in his second term were heightened today when Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was quoted in the New York Times, saying, 'I don't think you have to elect Senator Kerry to have more stem cell research... I can't give you any specifics, but I think there's a chance the president may have a different view in a second term.' This latest report, combined with the missed opportunities to inform the public about the success of adult stem cells, raised our concern. However, Ken Mehlman, the Bush campaign manager, assured me this afternoon that the president will not change his position on embryonic stem cell research after the election and remains committed to the pro-life position of promoting adult stem cell research."

But stem cell research isn't the only scientific miracle Kerry promises. He says that in a Kerry administration there will always be enough flu shots. His comments demonstrate that he doesn't understand the reasons for the shortage.

Breaking Silence on the Bishops

Swami chastises me for my "deafening silence" about the Catholic bishops who are blanketing churches with voter guides reminding Catholics that "life" issues such as abortion and gay "marriage" are non-negotiable for Catholics. ("When Bishops Talk about Politics, Is that the Word of God?")

Swami is right--it's time to break my silence. So here goes: Bravo for these courageous bishops! This is how shepherds should behave.

Here's the key:

"The Rev. Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Church [in Centennial, Colorado], said he agreed with the archbishop, but he acknowledged that parishioners sometimes accused him of telling them how to vote. He said his reply was: 'We are not telling them how to vote. We are telling them how to take Communion in good conscience."

It does seem clear to me that there are circumstances under which a Catholic could vote for a pro-choice candidate. (See Cardinal Ratzinger's letter on the subject.) But Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and others cited in the New York Times story are to be commended for acting like bishops. Refreshing.

Why Didn't He Become an Episcopalian While There Was Still Time?

There's an interesting piece on MSNBC arguing that Kerry should talk more about what his religion means to him. The writer seems to think that he doesn't because he's just so patrician. But I think that there is another reason Kerry doesn't talk about his religion: Every time he does it just reminds you that he's so far out of sync with his Church that the issue of his worthiness to receive Communion has been raised. Catholics like me gag when Kerry talks about being an altar boy.

You Only Die Once

An excellent piece on Tech Central Station headlined "You Only Die Once" agreed with my contention of yesterday that the Brits badly bungled their handling of the beheading death of engineer Kenneth Bigley. As much as I hate to criticize Tony Blair, here's a nugget:

"The Messianic Tony Blair, for whom not a sparrow falls but he does not want to give the eulogy, immediately placed himself in the foolish Carteresque position of getting involved with Bigley's family, receiving them at Downing Street, as an equally powerless to help President Jimmy Carter got himself all entangled with the families of the Iran hostages 20 years ago."

Believing the Hard Bits

The Spectator's William Oddie has a wonderful piece on the liturgical circus (registration required) to which Roman Catholics and Anglicans have been subjected since the 1970s when the trendies began to tinker with the liturgies of both churches.

One of the great achievements of the English language was the Book of Common Prayer, translated by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. More recent translations have been dumbed down. "Cranmer's obvious translation of Credo in unum Deum ('I believe in one God')," writes Oddie, "became, in a hit against something called 'privatised spirituality', 'we believe' (one vicar told me that he was greatly relieved by this; he didn't himself believe the whole of the Creed and that 'we' meant that there could always be someone to believe the hard bits on his behalf)."

Oddie says that help is on the way. Maybe. This is also a good piece to read if you want to know how Pelagianism flourishes in the modern world. I thought that would get you.

For God's Sake, Ruin the Video

God forbid that any of us should die as Kenneth Bigley, the British expatriate, died, beheaded by Muslim fanatics. It is impossible to know if one would be brave.

As you probably know, Bigley, a 62-year-old engineer, was captured with two Americans who were killed quickly. The captors held onto Bigley for awhile, though, hoping to use him in fraying the alliance of England and the United States. Here is how he met his fate:

"After the two Americans were killed, videos posted on the Internet showed Bigley pleading with Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree to the kidnappers' demands. On Friday, however, Bigley's family said it believed that 'our government did all it possibly could to secure the release of Ken in this impossible situation. It could be that the fate of Ken, Eugene and Jack was sealed from Day One. We will never know.'

"However, one of Bigley's brothers, Paul, wrote that Blair had 'blood on his hands' in a statement to the Stop the War Coalition, a British group that opposes the conflict, news agencies reported."

In a column that was spiked by the U.K.'s Telegraph Group of newspapers, Mark Steyn, who put the column on his website, comments:

"In contrast with the Fleet Street-Scouser-Whitehall fiasco of the last three weeks, consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly, 'I will show you how an Italian dies!' He ruined the movie for his killers. As a snuff video and recruitment tool, it was all but useless, so much so that the Arabic TV stations declined to show it.

"If the FCO wants to issue advice in this area, that's the way to go: If you're kidnapped, accept you're unlikely to survive, say 'I'll show you how an Englishman dies,' and wreck the video."

One sorrows for Bigley's manner of leaving this life, but I agree with Dr. Anthony Daniels, writing in the Telegraph, that massive outpouring of mawkish emotion on Bigley's behalf has been "immature, dishonest, and decadent:"

"What kind of population, however, would fail to understand that the holder of one of the great offices of state such as Mr Straw's cannot, or at least ought not to, devote himself to futile gestures of ersatz emotional support for a single grieving family? What kind of population fails to understand that the policy of the country, whether it be right or wrong, cannot be determined by the fate of one man, however horrible that fate might be? And this is so, irrespective of one's view of the Iraq war.

"The politics of the individual case is the politics of gusts of intense but shallow emotion. It is incompatible with the rational pursuit of long-term interests. There are several words to describe such a politics: immature, dishonest and decadent would do."

(Many thanks to Relapsed Catholic for noticing the Daniels piece.)

The Terrorism Nuisance

John Kerry has just been hit by friendly fire--namely by Matt Bai's flattering profile of the candidate in Sunday's New York Times, in which Kerry had this to say about terrorism:

"When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview [than Bush]. 'We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,' Kerry said. 'As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.'"

Illegal gambling? Terrorism? Bad hair day? Oh, drat. Responding to Kerry's remarks, Rudy Giuliani believes that terrorism is more than a nuisance:

"For some time, and including when I spoke at the Republican Convention, I've wondered exactly what John Kerry's approach would be to terrorism and I've wondered whether he had the conviction, the determination, and the focus, and the correct worldview to conduct a successful war against terrorism. And his quotations in the New York Times yesterday make it clear that he lacks that kind of committed view of the world. In fact, his comments are kind of extraordinary, particularly since he thinks we used to before September 11 live in a relatively safe world. He says we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."

The American Spectator's William Tucker calls Kerry "the American Chamberlain:"

"In other words, if we just ignore them, they'll go away. And if we don't ignore them but fight back, then it's all our fault."

New York Times columnist David Brooks notes that in the Sunday magazine piece "Kerry compared terrorism to domestic organized crime, gambling and prostitution. In his mind there should exist an effective body of international law. It is a law enforcement problem when some group violates that law."

New York Post columnist Dick Morris points out the fundamental flaw of Kerry's (and putative secretary of state Richard Holbrooke's) view: "This approach fails to recognize that terrorist gangs are only truly capable of mayhem when they're aligned with nation-states, able to use a government's resources to spread destruction globally."

A Brit newspaper recently reported on a poll that reveals that more people in England are afraid of spiders than of terrorists. How does John Kerry feel about spiders?

Gaze into My Bank Account

John Kerry made a mind-bogglingly condescending remark to the audience during the second debate. He surveyed them and announced that the only people in the auditorium who would be affected by Kerry's plan to raise taxes on people making $200,000 or more were Bush, moderator Charlie Gibson, and Kerry himself. The rest of you poor slobs don't make enough money.

Can John Kerry tell by looking at you how much money you have? Oh, wait, I forgot--he is pretty good at spotting rich people. In fact, it is interesting to note that before he married Teresa Heinz Kerry in 1995, John Kerry's income was considerably below the $200,000 mark. Byron York of National Review has examined Kerry's income tax returns, both pre- and post-Teresa. Take a look.

Some Candidates Are More Equal Than Others

ABC News's political director Mark Halperin is the latest member of the MSM (mainstream media) to be caught red handed. Halperin circulated a memo telling his staff not to "artificially hold both sides equally accountable" in covering the presidential race.

Matt Drudge of the Drudgereport obtained the memo. Drudge notes that the memo "captures Halperin stating how 'Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.'

"But Halperin claims that Bush is hoping to 'win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.'

"'The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done,' Halperin writes."

The memo also informs the news staff that their responsibilities have "become quite grave." Sounds to me that Halperin is digging ABC's grave.

The New York Post comments that anti-Republican bias is a fact of life, but, "Rarely, though, has this been so evident as this year; the establishment media seems to have become a wing of John Kerry's campaign."

Happy St. Wilfrid's Day!

Golly, this has been such a secular blog today. To redeem it a bit, I thought I'd just mention that today is the feast day of St. Wilfrid, a Northumbrian noble who became a monk and one of the great figures of English Christianity. He helped persuade the Saxon Church to adopt the customs of Rome at the Synod of Whitby in 664, and he was abbot of the historic Benedictine monastery of Ripon: "He was a great builder, a lover of learning, and a musician; he knew how to create splendid effects through art and through religious ceremonial. He was also a founder and a builder in men as well as stones. He was, in fact, a great creative artist." I'm sure things often seemed as awful in Wilfrid's day as in ours.

Have You Read the Weapons Report?

No? I thought perhaps not. Like the reporters and pundits who have jumped on the report as a way to defeat George W. Bush, Loose Canon has yet to wade through the thousand or so pages of Charles Duelfer's report on Iraq and weapons.

The Washington Times looks at how the report is being misrepresented by the press. Front Page magazine, noting that the "the anti-war media" has been quick to seize on aspects of the report that help their case, argues that Duelfer actually provides reasons for removing Saddam. For the really dedicated, there is also a link to the report.

Claudia Rosset--who probably knows more about the U. N. than any other scribe alive--however, seems to have read the report quite carefully. Rossett notes:

"CIA chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer may not have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but he sure found information enough to blow the lid off the simmering scandal of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. As it turns out, Oil-for-Food pretty much was Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

There is a great deal of shocking information on corruption at the U. N., and I hope you'll read Rosset's piece. But I do just want to quote one more bit about WMDs:

"On the WMD front, Duelfer reports that while no weapons of mass murder were found, Saddam had made a point of preserving the know-how. By corrupting the U.N. setup of sanctions and Oil-for-Food, he was deliberately amassing the resources and networks to go right ahead as soon as sanctions were gone.

"Among Duelfer's findings was that Oil-for-Food riches had positioned Saddam to massively ramp up chemical-weapons production in a matter of months. This has already inspired Rep. Joe Barton, who heads one of the assorted congressional inquiries into Oil-for-Food, to write to Annan, demanding further information."

Loose Canon supports the war with or without our finding WMDs. But some of this material might be helpful to wavering hawks who felt that the existence of WMDs was the main rationale for going to war.

Why Not Just Give Britney the Nobel Prize?

The Duefler report isn't the only thing LC hasn't read yet--Elfriede Jelinek, who just won the Nobel Prize for literature, is also on my to do list. Or maybe not. The Weekly Standard reports that she is an anti-American hack: "Sexual titillation makes a comparison between Elfriede Jelinek and, say, Britney Spears, fair--though any normal person would doubtless prefer the latter's company."

Who's Really Pandering?

It's infuriating when John Kerry distorts the Bush administration's position on stem cell research as being nothing more than pandering to right wing ideologues. Leon Kass, who heads the president's advisory commission on bioethics, writes in this morning's Washington Post:

"Unlike its critics who see only 'ideology,' the Bush policy recognizes the moral difficulty surrounding the research and upholds important moral values. Derivation of embryonic stem cells requires the deliberate destruction of 5- to 6-day-old human embryos. The moral issue does not disappear just because the embryos are very small or because they are no longer wanted for reproductive purposes: Because they are living human embryos, destroying them is not a morally neutral act. Just as no society can afford to be callous to the needs of suffering humanity, none can afford to be cavalier about how it treats nascent human life."

Straight Talk from an Archbishop

Although I crossed the Tiber years ago, I still have an interest in what happens in my former communion. I have been so impressed by Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has come to the United States to speak the truth and offer refuge to traditional Episcopal parishes that might want to become part of an African diocese.

Beliefnet has a report on Akinola's mission to America:

"The most influential Anglican leader in Africa--home to nearly half the world's Anglicans--said Thursday that the U.S. Episcopal Church has created a 'new religion' by confirming a gay bishop in New Hampshire, breaking the bonds between the denominations with roots in the Church of England."

The Anglican Mission in America, which several years ago affiliated with an African prelate, also has a report on Akinola's tough talk.

Another body of Episcopalians, the American Anglican Council will be having a conference Oct. 28 to prepare for the future. "An outstanding slate of informed and motivational speakers will present both national and international perspectives on the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion," the literature promises. Golly, in my day as a whiskypalian, we never had motivational speakers. I daresay they're needed now, though. The ACC's blog is a terrific way to keep abreast of what's going on in the Episcopal Church and to plug into the opinions of ortho-Anglican bloggers.

Midwest Conservative, a disgruntled Anglican blog, suggests that, if the Lambeth Commission, which is studying the situation in America, doesn't come down hard on the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. then "the whole international Anglican game is over. Archbishop Akinola will not accept yet another typical Anglican compromise."

I realize I've followed the Anglican story quite a bit, and it's not just a sentimental journey. We may be witnessing the end of one of the most significant institutions in the English-speaking world. How ironic that Africa, once the recipient of missionaries, now must send missionaries to the United States.

But You Can't Say That!

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer talks about the elephant in the living room: "Do the bad guys--the terrorists in their Afghan caves and Iraqi redoubts--want George Bush defeated in this election? Bush critics, among them the editors of the New York Times, have worked themselves into a lather over the mere suggestion that this might be so."

When Art Triumphs over Propaganda

It's not everyday that I tout a pro-abortion movie, but critic James Bowman says that "Vera Drake" is so good it does its does very little to help the cause:

"Mike Leigh plays the propagandist, offering us a defense of legal abortion by trotting out the idea of the saintly abortionist pioneered by John Irving in The Cider House Rules. But he does so with incomparably superior results.

"In fact, so complete and persuasive is the portrait he paints of working class north London in 1950, when hardly anyone would have supported making abortion legal, that he undermines his own point. Everything about the film apart from the propaganda is done so well that the propaganda strikes a jarring note and looks out of place."

Dick Cheney's Gay Daughter

Silly old Loose Canon! I had thought that John Edwards went on and on about Dick Cheney's gay daughter, Mary, and how much the Cheneys must love her, during the debate just to make the vice president, who must regard this as an intimate family matter and inappropriate for prime time, squirm. Apparently, I was naïve.

Here's Mickey Kaus's distressingly plausible take on the matter:

"Alert reader S.H. clues me in on the obvious purpose of Edwards' creepy 'congratulations on your gay daughter' ploy: it was 'a very thinly disguised way of letting Reagan Democrats (and other conservative-leaning members of the electorate) know that Cheney has a lesbian daughter.' In other words, a cynical, premeditated appeal to prejudice. You can say it's an appeal to prejudice that's justly deserved, because it turns the Republicans' bigotry against them. But that assumes opposition to gay marriage is now the same thing as general prejudice against gays. Edwards was playing to the latter, uglier sentiment. It's still creepy. ... Just his cold confidence that he could pull the trick off without seeming evil (indeed, while pretending to be friendly) is creepy."

A Federal Marriage Amendment Is Worth a Try--Even If We Fail

If I had a gay daughter, I'd love her. But I would still be in favor of passing an amendment to the Constitution barring gay "marriage." All my enlightened friends tell me that passing such an amendment would be impossible. So I was delighted to get some ammunition from an article by Robert Bork, the distinguished jurist who, if life were fair, would be sitting on the Supreme Court, in First Things magazine.

Bork believes that, even if we can't do it, we must try:

"Amending the United States Constitution to save it and marriage from freebooting judges would be extremely difficult in the best of circumstances," writes Bork, "but it is made immeasurably more difficult because so many people ask: How does homosexual marriage affect me? What concern is it of mine or of anybody else what homosexuals do? The answer is that the consequences of homosexual marriage will affect you, your children, and your grandchildren, as well as the morality and health of the society in which you and they live."

Please read the whole article.

God and Instapundit

Instapundit, one the best blogs going, has been talking about religion lately. There have been two entries in the last few days.

One is Instapundit's own column (his real name is Glenn Reynolds) in the Guardian (a lefty newspaper that I nevertheless love to read). It opines that the left is just as religious as the right:

"[R]eligiosity--something often associated, especially by Europeans, with American conservatism--is also a staple of the US left. Just look at that icon of US liberalism, Hillary Clinton."

Instapundit sees the religion of the left as ultimately deriving from the do-goodism of the American Puritans. But if both left and right have a religious strain, why does the subject of religion stir so much acrimony in political circles?

Here's what Reynolds says:

"[I]t strikes me that one reason why politics in the US have become so much more bitter over the past couple of decades is that two rather different threads of religiosity have come to dominate the two major parties in distinct fashion, where each party had previously incorporated major components of both. This has turned political battles into quasi-religious ones."

The second recent religious entry on Instapundit concerned a seminar put on by the University of Tennessee where Jeffrey Stout's new book, "Democracy and Tradition," which deals with religion in America, was the topic of discussion.

Instapundit quoted from what appears to be a handout for the symposium:

"American democracy has from its birth been inextricably bound up and in tension with American religious traditions. Over the latter half of the 20th Century this relationship has manifested primarily as the antagonism between a powerful liberal secularism and a rising new religious traditionalism." Here's LC's problem with this assessment: I don't consider myself part of a "rising new religious traditionalism." I belong to an ancient religious tradition, pure and simple.

I didn't attend the symposium, obviously, but I think that we need to pay more attention to the old religious traditions that helped shape the United States. But maybe one can argue that the America's old traditionalism--Puritanism and the Anglican tradition--have fallen on hard times.

The Domestic Agenda Is Important, Too

George Will notes in his column today that, if Sept. 11 had not happened, we'd be having an important debate about domestic issues right now. The Democrats fear the Bush administration's domestic policies because they would affect several cosseted Democratic constituencies.

As Will points out, the Democrats have already seen their base whittled:

"Welfare reform, the largest legislative achievement of the 1990s, diminished the Democratic Party's dependency-bureaucracy complex. That complex consists of wards of government and their government supervisors. And Bush's "ownership society" is another step in the plan to reduce the supply of government by reducing the demand for it.

"That felicitous formulation, from Jonathan Rauch's masterful analysis of Bush's domestic ambitions (National Journal, July 26, 2003), follows from two axioms of which conservatives are fond: Give a person a fish and you give the person a meal; teach the person to fish and you give a livelihood. And: No one washes a rental car. Meaning people behave most responsibly about what they own. Hence Bush's menu of incentives for private retirement, health, education and savings accounts."

The E-Pistles: Are We Born Monogamous?

Yesterday's post on polygamy provoked some fascinating comments. Beliefnet member GTO raised a particularly interesting question: "One point with regard to polygamy that the ignorati consistently fail to acknowledge is the fact that, unlike with gay people, nobody is born a polygamist." LC takes the opposite position: We probably aren't born monogamous either, but it is the institution of marriage that tames us and thereby procures a future for human societies.

On the same subject, Beliefnet member Mother Julian writes: "The three evils of the ancient world that were overcome by the Church are slavery, abortion, and polygamy, and they are all back with a vengeance. Go figure. We live in pagan times." LC is not an expert on polygamy in the ancient world, but I do think it was Christian principles that ultimately (and slowly, alas) helped us eradicate slavery. You've painted in broad strokes, Mother Julian, but I fear you're onto something.

Debate Update: The Verdict Is In. Not.

Loose Canon may not fill that Prozac prescription after all: I thought that Dick Cheney turned in an abysmal performance in last night's vice presidential debates (scroll down to "Clobbered with a Smile"). But not everybody agrees with me.

The Associated Press is reporting that the public thought the debate was a draw. The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last, who scored the debates round-by-round, gave Cheney wins in places LC felt he had blown it badly. (Last's article is definitely worth reading in full.)

Alas, all too many viewers did agree with me that Edwards won. A poll by CBS News had Edwards winning. (But can't we assume that people watching CBS are self-selected liberal? LC said hopefully.) Slate's William Saletan also gives the palm to Edwards. Saletan argues that Edwards' performance is enough to keep the big mo going for the Democrats.

Undoubtedly some of that momentum is manufactured by the Dems' friends in the press. But Saletan makes one extremely interesting point: Edwards understood the whole point of last night's debate, while (in Saletan's view) Cheney didn't:

"When moderator Gwen Ifill asked them to discuss their differences, Cheney said 'the most important consideration in picking a vice president' was having 'somebody who could take over.' Edwards answered the same question by outlining Kerry's platform, virtues, and accomplishments. Cheney seemed to think most viewers were tuning in to judge the vice presidential nominees. Edwards seemed to think they were tuning in to hear about the presidential nominees.

"If Cheney guessed right on that question, he probably won. But if he guessed wrong--and I suspect he did--Edwards kicked his expletive. If you watched this debate as an uninformed voter, you heard an avalanche of reasons to vote for Kerry. You heard 23 times that Kerry has a "plan" for some big problem or that Bush doesn't. You heard 10 references to Halliburton, with multiple allegations of bribes, no-bid contracts, and overcharges. You heard 13 associations of Bush with drug or insurance companies."

Of course, Cheney was right--the veep should be somebody worthy of the top job-but from a public relations point of view, it was Edwards who got it right and therefore was able to ace the debate.

Gay Marriage: Why Stop Here?

If marriage can be redefined to mean anything you want it to mean, what's wrong with polygamy? Legal scholar Jonathan Turley argues today in USA Today that our laws against polygamy reflect society's hypocrisy.

He's talking in particular about Tom Green, a Utah Mormon convicted of polygamy who is now trying to take is case to the Supreme Court. Green was the subject of a CBS "48 Hours" expose. Three of his wives, Linda, Carrie and Hannah are sisters, and two other wives, Shirley and Leanne, form another set of wifely sisters. All married Green, who is older than his wives, in their early teens.

Turley writes:

"If the court agrees to take the case, it would be forced to confront a 126-year-old decision allowing states to criminalize polygamy that few would find credible today, even as they reject the practice. And it could be forced to address glaring contradictions created in recent decisions of constitutional law. For polygamists, it is simply a matter of unequal treatment under the law."

No, it is a matter of how marriage is defined--and it looks as if our society is on the brink of defining legal marriage in ways it has never before been defined. But it could backfire. David Morrison, who blogs as Sed Contra, suggests:

"This case should further the moves around the country to amend state constitutions to recognize marriage as between one man and one woman."

By the way, I think that the natural abhorrence most of us feel for polygamy should be considered as an important factor--we feel this way for a reason.

Is Roe Really Imperiled?

Loose Canon always assumes that Roe v. Wade is here to stay--or for a long time, until there is a sea change in attitudes. But maybe I'm wrong.

A news item from Life News:

"A leading pro-abortion law firm says abortion could quickly be illegal in some 30 states should the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision be overturned. The new report highlights the high stakes both sides in the abortion debate see in the upcoming presidential election."

Clobbered with a Smile

Yep, Edwards won the debate. Dick Cheney's performance was so bad, so lackluster, and he missed so many opportunities that I wondered if he was ailing. The headline on Dick Morris's piece in the New York Post was "Deer in the Headlights." I thought Cheney did look like a deer in the headlights and was amazed to find that Morris was referring to Edwards. It just isn't so. "Cheney isn't as sunny as Shrek!" is how Mickey Kaus of kausfiles begins his deft commentary on the debate. Kaus does suggest that, if you only heard it on radio, Cheney might have done better. I'm not sure I agree, and, believe me, I closed my eyes several times last night.

Many who watched the debate, especially my fellow Republicans, didn't reel in horror as I did. National Review's Kerry Spot, for example, handed Cheney the laurels for coming across as more suitable for the job of being vice president in wartime: Kerry Spot would call John Edwards to sue somebody but Dick Cheney to kill terrorists.

There was one awful moment: when Edwards, who knew what he was doing and had probably worked overtime coming up with the ploy, went on--and on and on--praising Dick Cheney for loving his gay daughter. This obviously discomforted and flummoxed Cheney, who doesn't like to have intimate aspects of his family life on display. But that was Edwards' intention, and it worked. But did Cheney, who seemed to be speaking to his bright red tie all night, really have to thank Edwards for his "kind" remarks? Hey, thank you for breaking my glasses! By the way, as a Southern girl, I must say that Edwards has mastered this particular form of meanness well (I was almost expecting him to say, bless your heart, which is how Southerners preface particularly cutting remarks--below the Mason Dixon, when we hit below the belt, we do it with a smile)--it's just that it's Southern girls, not men, who generally resort to this tactic.

But to end on a more upbeat note, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard says that Cheney set the stage for George Bush's Friday debate with John Kerry:

"If it's possible for a vice presidential debate to matter, last night's duel between Dick Cheney and John Edwards did. Why? Because Vice President Cheney did two things that might help President Bush. He attacked Bush's presidential opponent John Kerry effectively on the war on terrorism and Iraq--something Bush failed to do in his first debate with Kerry. And Cheney put Kerry's dovish record on national security over two decades as a senator firmly on the table as a campaign issue. Edwards's effort to thwart Cheney was unavailing.

"Now it's up to Bush to follow through in his national security speech today and his second debate with Kerry in St. Louis on Friday. He'd better be ready this time. Last week, he wasn't, and he knows it."

Was the Gutenberg Bible the First Hyperlink?

Loose Canon wants to endorse a brilliant piece on Tech Central Station headlined "Here I Blog, I Can Do No Other," a takeoff on Martin Luther's thesis-nailing remarks. The article compares the blogging reformation to the Protestant Reformation.

Though LC, needless to say, is not a Protestant, the conceit works beautifully to illustrate how the bloggers have broken up the monopoly of the MSM (mainstream media) in the same way that the Protestant reformers broke up the Catholic Church's hegemony:

"Four hundred years ago, the Catholic Church was the big four networks, CNN, the New York Times, and NPR all rolled into one. To its adherents, the Roman Catholic Church was the only authoritative source of truth about the world. In a Europe populated largely by illiterate, ill-traveled peasants, who could contest the Church's interpretation of anything?

"Then as now, a monopoly on information and public narratives leads to abuses. Reporters distort truth for partisan gain, just as clerics distorted theology for personal profit. The lust for big ratings (and the ensuing lucrative commercial deals) leads to sensationalized stories; the lust for big donations led to sensationalized claims for plenary indulgences. Greed and arrogance are the eternal opponents of truth.

"Then as now, a new technology gives ordinary people unmediated access to the truth. The Western invention of the printing press in the late fifteenth century and the subsequent dissemination of Bibles written in the vernacular gave lay believers the opportunity to read holy writ and draw their own conclusions about it--just as the Internet gives ordinary people direct access to facts, information, and commentary. The Gutenberg Bible was the first hyperlink."

We're Not From Central Casting

Okay, okay, when even Bush stalwart John Podhoretz decides that George W. Bush ostensibly lost the debate, LC has no choice but to admit it: GWB must not have looked presidential to everybody. But we aren't central casting--we're voters, and our votes will determine who is president during what will be a crucial four years in the history of the republic.

Don't miss a piece in the Weekly Standard that notes that the election is a Rorschach Test on how we see the world of the early 21st century: "Listen to John Kerry from last week's debate: He sees terrorists as a fringe element, the font of all our troubles. He promised never 'to take my eye off the goal: Osama bin Laden.' The Iraq war is--let's recite together--the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the United States (and let's not forget those courageous allies) could just focus all their intelligence, law enforcement, and military efforts on Osama--and, of course, the Pakistanis would stand by while we invaded the Northwest Frontier--we could wrap this thing up in short order."

If the Rorschach analogy doesn't grab you, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker sees the voting public as being divided along cinematic lines:

"The nation is essentially divided into two cinematic camps:" writes Parker, "(1) those who believe that America's story was best told in Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' and (2) those who think Peter Jackson pretty much captured the essence of current events in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's literary masterpiece of the same name.

"In Moore/Kerry metro-blue-state world, Bush is a moron and the war on terror, especially the war in Iraq, is a tall tale told by an idiot. In Tolkien/Bush retro-red-state world, we are in a global struggle against Mordor's Orcs (radical Islam's terrorists) to save Western civilization."

Oh, Shut Up--It's Diversity Day

When her Ann Arbor, Michigan high school held Diversity Week, Betsy Hansen found out her views were too diverse. She was not allowed to say that homosexuality is morally wrong, even though there was a panel on "Homosexuality and Religion."

Loose Canon is delighted to learn from a report on CNS News that Betsy has had a triumph of sorts--a federal judge has ordered the Ann Arbor Public School system to pay $102,738 in attorney fees and costs to the Thomas More Law Center, which defended Becky's right to be diverse. No, I don't want homosexuals to be treated any differently from you or me--but I do want Betsy Hansen to be able to say that homosexual activity is morally wrong.

CNS News reports that Pioneer High School officials "claimed that Hansen's religious objection toward homosexuality was a 'negative' message and would 'water-down' the 'positive' religious message that they wanted to convey--that homosexuality was consistent with Christianity and that homosexual behavior is not immoral or sinful."

Woulda been cheaper to let her talk.

The Last Emperor

One of the more intriguing people beatified recently was Karl I, the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who became the Blessed Karl Sunday in a ceremony conducted in the Vatican by Pope Paul I. He lost his throne when he tried and failed to negotiate a separate peace--he was cutting out bellicose Kaiser Bill--with the allies on the eve of World War I. Yes, Karl I was a saintly man. But why Karl? Why now?

Newsday columnist James Pinkerton points out that the Church has always used canonizations to say something. Pinkerton suggest that, in a time when Europe is no longer moored in Christian values, the canonization of Karl I shows the pope's desire to retain churchly influence in Europe:

"More than any other dynasty in Europe, the Hapsburgs--who at one time ruled Spain, Italy and Germany as well as Austria--were the church's closest allies in Europe. In battles with Muslims, Protestants and secular radicals, the Hapsburgs were steadfast in their Catholicism.

"But the issue of Christianity in Europe isn't just in the past. It's also a topic for our time. The European Union, now ballooned to 25 countries, is wrestling with its constitution, and an unresolved question is whether the document should include a specific acknowledgment of Europe's Christian heritage."

(Many thanks to Amy Welborn of Open Book for noticing Pinkerton's column.)

Karl, by the way, has been hailed as a man of peace for trying to prevent the war but he has also been criticized because, when war came, his troops used poisonous gas in combat. The New York Times also has a report on Karl's beatification, which some say will be inconvenient for the Catholic Church in Austria.

The Candidate from Elsewhere

Those of us who don't think the United States needs to pass a "global test" to go to war to defend itself were distressed by John Kerry's high debating remarks. But now we're wondering if this whole global test thing isn't bigger than we'd thought:

The Washington Times reports:

"Sen. John Kerry yesterday stood by the global test for pre-emptive action he described in last week's presidential debate, and called President Bush's attack on it a 'pathetic' distortion. 'The test I was talking about is a test of legitimacy--not just in the globe, but elsewhere,' he said."

Meanwhile, a piece on National Review introduces the unsavory folks who'll be grading us on that "global test." It's quite a rogues' gallery. "American voters could not have a clearer choice: groveling for the respect of nations whose values we do not share or helping reformers build a community of peaceful, democratic nations, with or without the 'United' Nations," concludes author and Hudson Institute senior fellow Anne Bayefsky.

He Didn't Study for his Global Test!

It appears that John Kerry has already flunked his first "global test:" According to the Drudge Report, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who knows a thing or two about living under an oppressive regime and wanted to contribute to the liberation of the Iraqi people, is furious because he feels that Kerry's remarks in the first debate denigrated the sacrifices of our Polish allies in the war in Iraq. "It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience does not recognize Polish contribution," Kwasniewski said. "This is immoral. It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience underestimates Polish sacrifice, this is sad."

The Poor: They Aren't Different from You and Me

It's this simple: Poor people evaluate their options and make decisions just like everybody else. If welfare money is available to support out of wedlock children, there will be more out of wedlock children born. If the money dries up, the number of illegitimate births will decline.

Mickey Kaus, who in addition to his blogging is an expert on welfare, notes that even the most obdurately liberal among us are being forced to admit this: "Faced with a large drop in unwed births in New York state, the NYT doesn't even try very hard to defend the previous liberal party line, which is that welfare reform couldn't possibly be the cause," writes Kaus.

Sure, the New York Times quotes some people struggling to find more palatable reasons for the decline in illegitimate births, but here's the key quote: "State officials said they were confident that the most important factor in the reversal was the sweeping welfare reform legislation passed in 1996, which placed a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance to poor mothers. As poor mothers, who often received additional benefits for each additional child, began to realize they would eventually have to support their families without government support, they began adjusting their behavior, state officials assert."

The New York Times story quotes an authority saying that use of contraceptives are a major factor in reducing illegitimacy. But why are poor parents using contraceptives more frequently? Because the welfare money for illegitimate children is no longer flowing as freely.

(Yes, we need to come up with options other than abortion and the dehumanizing use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. Curtailing the financial reward of illegitimacy is just the beginning.)

And, Dear Lord, I Have Something Special To Ask You--If It's Legal

"Is it legal for churches to pray for the re-election of President George W. Bush during their services?" The Christian Defense Coalition has written the IRS to ask this question.

The Late Mr. Hitchens Speaks

"To many of Christopher Hitchens' old friends, he died on Sept. 11, 2001," begins an intriguing interview in with Hitch by Johann Hari. Called a "vile replica" of his former self by one old friend on the left, the Hitch talks about what has changed and what has stayed the same in his way of looking at the world.

"George Orwell--one of Hitchens' intellectual icons--managed to oppose fascism and Stalinism from the left without ever offering a word of support for Winston Churchill. Can't Hitch agitate for a fight against Islamofascism without backing this awful President?" asks Hari.

Loose Canon is an unabashed Hitchophile, despite the truly vile things he has written about Mother Teresa (question to my confessor: Is laughing at Hitch's vileness about Mother Teresa a venial or a mortal sin?). But the interview will interest Hitchophiles, Hitch haters, and anybody interested in the moral bankruptcy of the left, which Hitchens saw so clearly in the wake of Sept. 11.

Watching with the Sound Off

NPR's Nina Totenberg said on "Inside Washington," a show on the local CBS affiliate, that, if you listened to the first presidential debate with the sound off, John Kerry won. Is that how you guys listened to the debates? LC is definitely in a minority in thinking that GWB won.

But San Francisco's conservative columnist (now, how much fun could that be?) Debra Saunders agrees with me:

"I'll concede that style counts. It was fair game for critics to say Al Gore's demeanor defined his performance in the 2000 debates. In that spirit, my verdict is: On the demeanor question, George W. Bush lost Thursday night. But he won on substance."

I want to point out one aspect of Kerry's debate style (noted by a liberal friend who also thought Bush won): Kerry never just says, I believe this or that. There has to be an authority to cite--Charles de Gaulle or even a book Kerry himself wrote. This is a character flaw that would not be an asset in tough times. Regardless of what the IRS tells the Christian Defense Coalition, I'm still praying that Bush will win the election.

Bush--by a Hair

Yes, John Kerry had the better hair and manicure, but George Bush won last night's debate by a hair. (Here's a transcript if you didn't get enough last night.) Bush may have looked like Alfred E. Neuman. He may have fumbled for words, as we knew he would do. And he may have called President Putin "Vladimir" (why not Vlady?). But Bush won--his best moment was asking what this "global test" John Kerry wants the U.S. to pass before making a decision to go to war is. On the other hand, if it's being popular abroad (Kerry didn't say how he'd accomplish this) and more and more summits that grab you, Kerry is your guy.

The pundits--predictably--were glad Kerry didn't pull an Al Gore and treat Bush like a moron. David Corn of the dependably left wing Nation magazine was surprisingly tepid in his endorsement of Kerry's performance:

"'You've just witnessed the beginning of the end of the Bush administration!'

"So shouted a Kerry aide as I stumbled out of the spin alley set up in the University of Miami's Wellness Center after the end of the first face-off between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Such exuberance was perhaps overstated but understandable...."

On the other hand, Republican pollster David Winston thought that stylistically--as well as with regard to substance--Kerry didn't do well in the first debate: "As The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes put Kerry's problem so succinctly last night, 'This is a man who really needs to go bowling.'"

Fred Barnes says Kerry won handily inside the Washington-New York-Boston axis--but big deal. Big Minus: Kerry wasn't able to provoke the President into making the gaffe he needed.

Come home, Mickey Kaus: As is historically the case, the closer to election day we get, the closer to his own party Mickey Kaus of kausfiles moves ("Kerry won. I assume everyone is saying this. He not only was shockingly succinct and sharp...he managed to gloss over all his problems."). I was wondering who Mickey would crown with victory. But it's getting to be that time of the political cycle when the maverick rejoins his fold.

Who had the best line of the evening? Moderator Jim Leher, when he said, "This is the last question, Mr. President." Let's face it--the debates are tedious. I agree with John Podhoretz, who writes, "God, it was boring."

Re: Those Kerry Summits

"I'd really like to live in John Kerry's world," writes blogger and columnist James Lileks. "It seems like such a rational, sensible place, where handshakes and signatures have the power to change the face of the planet. If only the terrorists lived there as well." Many thanks to Instapundit for posting tidbits from Lileks. As for Kerry's "global test," Lileks proposes some questions.

Che--by a Beret

Why is the left so forgiving of blood-stained monsters? Loose Canon had missed a good piece on the real Che Guevara--pegged to the hagiographical movie about the revolutionary and T-shirt model--that appeared on Slate. Fortunately, Dappled Things pointed me in that direction. Dappled's headline: "Apotheosis of Saint Che, Butcher and Martyr."

From Slate (in the article by Paul Berman):

"The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's 'labor camp' system--the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination...."

The Ethereal Girl

As you know, Madonna's latest is a New Age form of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism. In a piece on "The Ethereal Girl," Colleen Carroll Campbell suggests that the singer is looking for a quick fix:

"Like so many Americans today, Madonna has turned her back on traditional religion and morality, opting instead to make her own rules. Her meandering spiritual search suggests that her self-referential beliefs have repeatedly failed to satisfy her. But like legions of her fans, she is unwilling to fully embrace a religious tradition that makes real demands--demands that go beyond wearing a new bracelet or making a brief quasi-pilgrimage overseas.

"Madonna wants spirituality without religion and salvation without repentance. She wants cheap grace. And try as she might, she cannot find it."

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