Sunday, July 31, 2005

Texas schools offer dangerous curriculum

The ever vigilant New York Times has discovered sectarianism in Odessa, Texas, public high schools.

Seems that the schools are offering an elective Bible-as-literature course that Americans United for Separation of Church and State finds unacceptably conservative and unacceptably Protestant. (It's West Texas, and my bet is that most of the families in the school district are both conservative and Protestant; others can set up their own studies of the Bhagavad Gita on their own time.)

The course says such outrageous things as that for most of the past 2,000 years people have taken Scripture seriously and that biblical principles were incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. Gee, ya think?

The article also says that one Bible curriculum claims that NASA supports the Bible story about the sun stopping in its orbit, as recounted in the Book of Joshua, and that it cites scientific documentation of the flood. On the other hand, my kids' world history textbook entirely left out the Byzantine Empire, and that was a required course.

If I had kids in the school district, I might encourage them not to take the class, or I might figure that they'd learn something about one of the founding documents of Western Civilization, even if I could find fault with some of the information or perspectives.

Funny, I don't remember the New York Times or Americans United for Separation of Mosque and State reacting to the history texts released across the United States that said Muslims had come to Canada before Columbus sailed.

Welcome, visitors from Planet DU


My blog has been noted on the Democratic Underground site as having "another awesome Gore story" because I noted a precious little yarn by an Islamic chick (I use this epithet specifically for airhead women) doing the gym in her hijab. She dropped her keys on the floor and was almost suicidal about it, until Sir Albert came to the rescue.

It was a nice thing for Sir Albert to do, no doubt about it. But it was a weird thing for the New York Times to include in its columns section.

What next? "My Dog Wags Her Tail When I Get Home from Work"?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I stand corrected

I'll join the pro-lifers in excoriating Sen. Bill Frist for abandoning his stated principles, since I've been shown the error of his ways. This from the text of his speech:
And as I said four years ago, we should federally fund research only on embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts leftover from fertility therapy, which will not be implanted or adopted but instead are otherwise destined by the parents with absolute certainty to be discarded and destroyed.

Sen. Frist, we're all going to die, some even "discarded and destroyed" at 12 years old, many with "dignity" much later.

Some doctors and medical ethicists seem able to get past the tiresome understanding that "a person's a person, no matter how small." Well, just because a great truth can be told in rhyme doesn't make it untrue.

I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception. It is at this moment that the organism is complete -- yes, immature -- but complete. An embryo is nascent human life. It’s genetically distinct. And it’s biologically human. It’s living. This position is consistent with my faith. But, to me, it isn’t just a matter of faith. It’s a fact of science.

Our development is a continuous process -- gradual and chronological. We were all once embryos. The embryo is human life at its earliest stage of development. And accordingly, the human embryo has moral significance and moral worth. It deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported. But, just as I said in 2001, it should advance in a manner that affords all human life dignity and respect -- the same dignity and respect we bring to the table as we work with children and adults to advance the frontiers of medicine and health.

Getting from "the human embryo has moral signifance and moral worth" to "I believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported" without stopping for a breath or a "but" takes his position outside the realm of credibility.

He does point out the possibility of using pluripotent cells that don't require the destruction of a biologically human life (his words). But he pulls the "what if it's you against them?" argument:
If your daughter has diabetes, if your father has Parkinson’s, if your sister has a spinal cord injury, your views will be swayed more powerfully than you can imagine by the hope that cure will be found in those magnificent cells, recently discovered, that today originate only in an embryo.

I'm sorry, but no. It's bogus. If my daughter has a heart ailment, do I have the right to take the heart of an otherwise handicapped child in order for her to live? Either that embryo has "moral significance and moral worth" or it does not. And to take the life of that innocent person -- yes, person -- removes the moral signficance and moral worth of the person who does the taking.

And the Senator who lobbies for it.

H/T: Grace.

Could we hear Frist out before we lynch him?

Sen. Bill Frist has become the favored stomping object of pro-lifers after the New York Times reported that he had "veered from Bush over stem cells." People, keep in mind that this is the New York Times, famous for Jayson Blair and Maureen Dowd and having a proven ability to miss the point, leave out the important information and stir the pot against Republicans.

Thanks to the Times, I'm not sure what Sen. Frist was talking about after reading that article, but he's a doctor as well as a pro-lifer, and he may very well have been referring to a new report from the President's Council on Bioethics, titled "Alternative Sources of Pluripotent Stem Cells." Here's a telling quote from the piece:
Much of the ethical controversy over stem cells derives from the fact that, until now, the only way to obtain human pluripotent stem cell lines has been to derive them from living human embryos by a process that necessarily destroys the embryos. If a way could be found to derive such stem cell lines without creating and destroying human embryos, a good deal of that ethical controversy would subside.

Mona Charen gives a nonmedical summary of the process. I'm not ready to be tested on the information, but here's the gist of it: the process would implant a human egg cell with the nucleus of an adult cell, switch off the embryo-producing mechanism of the cell, and allow the cellular division to begin. Voila! "Pluripotent" stem cells -- what people want embryonic stems cells for -- without the embryos.

The Times quoted Frist reiterating that he believes life begins at conception. Maybe he meant it.

After all the good he has done, I think he deserves a chance to explain his ideas without being filtered by the mouthpiece of his enemies.

>This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Who Needs International Whodunnit Thrillers --

When you've got the torture and murder of mysterious monks in Russian Monasteries?

There's a safe with $200,000 in a "successful" monastery (no kidding), suspicions of shady dealings with a certain deposed dictator, torture and murder, a criminal chief buried in the monastery cemetery, the deceased turning out to have doubled as a Russian businessman, monks waiting two hours after finding the body to call the police, and the patriarch calling for a meeting of all senior priests who were close to the deceased.

It's better than a seven-foot-tall albino Opus Dei monk, and it has the additional merit of some plausibility.

I wish I wrote mysteries, because this would be a humdinger.

You can have it, but e-mail me when you get it published, because I want to read it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Quiet Weekend

I spent the weekend at the aptly named Hideaway Lake in the wilds of Clackamas County where a few days without phones, computers, electricity or even running water cleared all the normal jabber-jabber out of my head.

It's coming back now, after a day of work and talk and traffic and news, but in the interim, here are a few thousand words' worth of my weekend vacation:

Shellrock Lake.JPG
We camped near Hideaway Lake and walked a mile to Shellrock Lake. I'm not sure which one is in this photograph.

Indian pipe.JPG
I thought this was an Indian pipe, but now I'm not sure.
Yellow flower.JPG
Scientific name: sparky little yellow flower.
Valley of the Clackamas.JPG
In the distance, the valley of the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River.
Huckleberries.JPG
Bears love huckleberries.
Fire.JPG
At the end of a long day, there's nothing like relaxing by the fire with the manual to your new camera.
Mount Hood.JPG
Mount Hood from near High Rock.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Brief, Friendly Rant on KHMD


KMHD radio (pronounced "Kaymaichdee" for those outside the area) is a regional treasure. It's part of Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, and its 24-hour jazz programming is something you wouldn't expect in a market our size -- running across the jazz spectrum and through the jazz ages, mixing in some blues now and then and a daily half hour of "Nothing But New."

The announcers coordinate their own shows, and each one has a slightly different approach--one focuses on hot tunes from the '20s, '30s, '40s; another on calmer pieces without ever sinking into "smooth" jazz; a duo do the late-night pieces, well, late at night, in a program that starts off with a different version of "Harlem Nocturne" every night.

But sometimes their knowledge and enthusiasm gets in the way of the music.

• Guys, if there are more than five members of the band, don't name them all. If it's really important that the late great Jimmie ____ handled the sticks in that piece, well, OK, tell me that. But pick the top three, and then play the song. Sometimes I think that if you played a Glenn Miller piece, you'd name everybody in the orchestra.

• Please tone down the jazz lingo -- you know who you are. Not every piece you play is a "date," OK? Maybe one could be a "date" and one a "song" and one a "piece." If you want to get creative and throw in an opinion (see below), call it a "standard" or a "great."

• I already know you think its a good tune. You picked it. I know it's unique; every piece is unique. If you've got something pithy, interesting and short, toss it in. Don't spend two minutes telling me it's great and how you saw them play in New York City and they were great or this was a great recording. Just play the music. I already want to hear it or I wouldn't have pressed my #1 preset button, taking me to 89.1.

• Brief summary: Less talk means more music.

Thanks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Can We All Just Get Along?


If any Muslims happen to be reading my blog, welcome. You need to know that people are reading the Koran, not by checking the book out of the library or learning Arabic -- we're reading you. You can tell us "Islam is a religion of peace," well enough, but what about your Muslim brothers blowing up trains? You tell us that your religion offers freedom to all, but what about the place of women in Saudi Arabia? You say Islam has brought about some great art, and so it has, but what about those Buddha statues in Afghanistan, what about the destruction of the historical churches in Kosovo, what about the Taliban?

You say those dark aspects don't represent Islam any more than the KKK represents Christianity, and I say, that's good, but whereas the KKK is a marginalized cult with no relationship with any historically connected Christian body, jihadist Islam seems to be vying for placement as mainstream Islam.

Nevertheless, I said that I believe Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and atheists can live side by side and carry on normal lives in harmony, freedom and faithfulness to their own religion. A commenter expresses skepticism, based on the same questions I've expressed in the paragraphs above. Kind and thoughtful Brits are discussing the same question.

I still believe it's possible. It's a departure from the patterns of history, partly because throughout much of history, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and atheists didn't live side by side, and when they did, it was such an anomaly that they gathered in their own districts and often had to live by separate rules. But it's a new world now, and they do live side by side, and it's the ideal of many of us that we all live by the same rules, so that we all have the same freedom. So the departure from historical precedents is all around us.

I also know that there are many Muslims who are willing to live on those terms. I offer for example The Religious Policeman, a Saudi blogger and someone I would want for a neighbor, who, tellingly, hasn't posted since August of 2004. His site is worth keeping on my blogroll even though it's been dormant so long.

I offer all these conflicting thoughts and hopes to my hypothetical Muslim reader and say that the only person who can really say whether we can live together in peace is the Muslim. I'll support war against your tyrants if it becomes necessary, even as I excoriate Rep. Tom Tancredo for threatening to bomb Mecca. I'll continue to worship the God I believe in (may God give me strength to do so) regardless of whether you live next door or not. I'll speak and drive and go out with my face uncovered and write what I think, even if it scandalizes you and makes me look like a fool.

Now you tell me: in your effort to bring the message of Islam to the world are you willing to take "no" for an answer? And in your co-religionists' effort to bring death and Islamic power to the world, do they have an enemy in you?

UPDATE: Moderate Muslims Split on Suicide Bombings

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tancredo Deserves It


The Left is jumping on U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo with both feet. Well, let me get one of my stompers in there, too.

This is not a war against Islam. It's possible for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists to live next door to each other, borrow each other's lawn mowers, share recipes, talk about their differences and similarities, learn about life from each other's perspective and not give up their own religions or principles.

If it were a splinter group of people calling themselves Christians who were causing all this trouble -- say if the KKK had somehow hijacked power in some shipwrecked countries -- the answer would not be to bomb the Vatican.

Legitimate Islam has some housecleaning to do, but we don't make it easier for Muslims to evict the mad bombers if we "prove" the mad bombers' hypothesis that we're at war with all of Islam. It's bad enough that the Left offers this "proof" every day; now the Right is doing it, too.

Tancredo should just appear on television with a size 10 sneaker in his mouth and get it over with.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

International Mind-Control Cults, continued


Nicholas Kristof writes about North Korea's mind-control cult. First, the "divine" leader:
Likewise, over the years I've interviewed dozens of North Koreans who have fled to China or South Korea, and they overwhelmingly say that while they personally dislike the regime - that's why they fled - their relatives believe in the Kim dynasty with a quasi-religious faith. They say that when everyone is raised to worship the Dear Leader, when there are no contrary voices, people genuinely revere the leader.

Also the removal of the cult members from sources of other thought:
A hermetic seal is the main reason the Kim dynasty has survived so long. When I arrived, I was obliged to hand over my cellphones and satellite phones, to be picked up on my departure. Even many senior government officials have no access to the Internet.

And the members' commitment to the ideology despite its manifest unreality:
And although the national ideology is juche, or self-reliance, the UN World Food Program feeds 6.5 million North Koreans, almost a third of the population. Even so, hunger is widespread and has left 37 percent of the children stunted. Yet North Korea focuses its resources on prestige projects, like an amazing 10-lane highway to Nampo (with no traffic).

If it is a mind-control cult, then Kristof may be right about the answer to it:
The West should be trying to break that hermetic seal, to increase interactions with North Korea and to infiltrate into North Korea the most effective subversive agents we have: overweight Western business executives.

The question is whether it's possible to do that without strengthening the "Dear Leader."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Is Jihadism a Suicide Cult?


I know they're grieving parents, and Denial is a river in Egypt, but what if they've got a point?
"We are devastated that our son may have been brainwashed into carrying out such an atrocity, since we know him as a kind and caring member of our family," said the parents of Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30.

It puts the jihadist mentality into a new perspective to look at it as some vast, worldwide Jonestown cult. After all, the largest chemical and biological terrorism attacks in recent history were not Islamic terrorists, but the Aum Shinrikyo group that in 1995 put poison gas on the Tokyo subway and followers of the Indian (Asian) guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who in 1984 put salmonella bacteria in 10 restaurant salad bars in The Dalles, Oregon, poisoning 751 people in the largest germ warfare attack in U.S. history.

Factnet describes the mind-control techniques used on the 9/11 bombers, along with a brief history of the Hashishin, the Arabic terrorist cult that began in the seventh century. The unnamed author, I believe, underestimates the level of mind control that goes on under the Palestinian Authority, and he has a naive trust in the ability of the United Nations and the World Court to handle the problem, but like him, I wonder how our approach to terrorism would be different if we understood that we were fighting people who had been subject to mind control techniques.

In the Irish Times, a Scottish university professor describes how the British bomber's mother may have been literally correct in her assertion that her boy was brainwashed, and he lays out some of the common threads in all mind control cults:
  • "Cults promote a message which claims certainty about issues which are objectively uncertain."

  • "Cults, whether secular or religious, generally go to great pains to project their leaders in a semi-divine light, blessed with uncommon insight, charisma and dedication to the cause."

  • "Members spend more and more time talking only to each other. They engage in rituals designed to reinforce the dominant belief system. Language degenerates into a series of thought stifling clich├ęs which encourages other actions that are consistent with the ideology of the cult. . . . The world becomes divided into the absolutely good and the absolute evil, a black and white universe in which there is only ever the one right way to think, feel and behave. Members are immunised against doubt -- a mental state in which any behaviour is possible, providing it is ordained by a leader to whom they have entrusted their now blunted moral sensibilities."

  • "Ideological fervour is further strengthened by the absence of dissent. . . . [A]ny deviation from the official script is met by a combination of silence, ridicule, and yet louder assertions of the group’s dominant ideology. Ridicule . . . . strengthens people’s faith in their belief system. . . . What seems mad to an outsider becomes the conventional wisdom of the group.
The practice of deprogramming is controversial, and American courts have become too perverse to make any distinction between destructive mind control and religion, but what difference would it make to international policy if we thought of the jihadists as Moonies with guns? (To be fair, although Moonification Church mind-control practices harm its own members, I don't believe it's been accused of terrorism in its 60-year history.)

Apparently, there are more people out there talking about this question than I was aware of before I started researching this post, but I wish the topic had wider currency.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Barrier to Catholic-Orthodox unity

It depends on what "unity" means, says Frederica Mathewes-Green, and she's exactly right:
But from an Orthodox perspective, unity is created by believing the same things. It's like the unity among vegetarians or Red Sox fans. You don't need a big bureaucracy to keep them faithful. Across wildly diverse cultures, Orthodox Christians show remarkable unity in their faith. (Of course there are plenty of power struggles and plain old sin, but the essential faith isn't challenged.) What's the source of this common faith? The consensus of the early church, which the Orthodox stubbornly keep following. That consensus was forged with many a bang and dent, but for the past millennium major questions of faith and morals have been pretty much at rest in the Eastern hemisphere.

Srebrenica: Inside Out and Backwards


The American echo machine has begun thundering against Serbia again, with the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre coming up.

Julia Gorin has written a long article putting the Balkans conflict into perspective. She writes that all sides -- Croat, Muslim and Serb -- committed atrocities in the former Yugoslavia, but only the Serbs admitted to any wrongdoing.

A lot of otherwise sane commentators, who have an understanding of the danger posed by international jihadism, don't recognize it when they see it in Kosovo and Bosnia. Jay Nordlinger had a jolly visit to Albania, which is fine, but he blithely nods toward Kosovo without acknowledging that Albanians are doing anything ugly or dangerous there. The Gorin article starts with a Hannity and Combs decision to run a propaganda film about Srebrenica.

The whole article contains details left out of the American press because they don't fit the template, but Gorin gets into some analysis that I had been wondering about.

Why have the Serbs become so wicked in our eyes after their having been one of America's most consistent allies in Europe? One reason, it's a to prove our credibility in the Muslim world -- "See? Look how good we are? We bombed the sh*t out of a friendly Christian European country to save your hides" -- while skating uneasily over the fact that a certain portion of the Balkan Muslims are jihadists also and not persuaded to be less hostile to the Great Satan for its occasional usefulness.
Understandably, for Sean Hannity the broadcast offered a rare chance to throw a bone to the Muslim world — precisely the purpose the Serbs have been serving for the rest of the globe all along. (Because somehow, even while atrocities across the planet are indeed brought to us by Muslims, in a bizarre twist from the trend, we found a singular, exceptional case not of Muslims waging a jihad, but of secular Europe's religious misfits doing so, the Orthodox Christian Serbs.)

Second, Gorin observes that the Serbs have bought into the cultural self-destruction theme. A Serbian man writes:
In my country today it is almost illegal to say that we are right. Sometimes when I wake up, I believe that I live in Albania or Croatia. Even our own media are anti-Serbic! Only few media are free to comment anything, others are under democratic censorship. ...

Gorin says that Serbs are betraying their own history in order to get back into the international community, and that may be true, but there's an element of cultural suicide in a lot of Western mainstream media, and I wonder if that may not be part of what's going on in Serbia.

Finally, thanks to Wesley Clark (remember him?) and Clinton's diversionary war on Serbia, we've put an al-Qaeda beachhead in the Balkans, and now a move is afoot to finish the job by handing Kosovo its "independence." Independence from Serbia, but it would certainly be another thug state, this time in Europe.

In the meantime, this is a piece of information that needs to be heard by anyone serious about the war on terror:
In contrast to the current anti-Serb orgy, we haven't heard much about all the Bosnian charities being monitored or raided for funding terrorism, or about the Bosnian who was one of the masterminds behind the Madrid bombing, or about the six Algerian-born Bosnian citizens held at Guantanamo for planning to blow up the American and British embassies in Sarajevo (NY Times, 10/21/04), or about Bosnia issuing passports to Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has operated camps and WMD factories throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. Nor will we hear that the terrorists who carried out a spate of suicide attacks in Iraq last August, including one at the UN headquarters that killed 22, were trained in Bosnia, or that al Qaeda's top Balkans operative, al-Zawahiri's brother Mohammed, had a high position in the KLA. We'll never know that Bosnia today is the "one-stop shop close to Europe" for all the terrorism needs — weapons, money, documents — of Chechen and Afghani fighters passing through Europe before heading to Iraq. Little wonder, then, that when SFOR (the UN Stabilization Force in Bosnia) intercepts weapons shipments to Iraq, we don't hear about that either.


When members of the Left tell us that our own international blunders have enlarged international jihadism, they have a point. Unfortunately, they're usually not looking at the Balkans either.

The Media Really Are Conservative after All

The American Society of Newspaper Editors, along with other journalistic organizations and 3,000 individuals are getting behind journalist Judith Miller in her courageous effort to protect her "source" -- Karl Rove? -- who has signed releases allowing anyone to report anything he said. But, by God, she's protecting her source whether he wants to be protected or not.

Unless he's not her source.

But wait!

Miller's newspaper, the New York Times had an editorial in which it all but verified that Rove is the guy:
Far be it for us to denounce leaks. . . .

But it is something else entirely when officials peddle disinformation for propaganda purposes or to harm a political adversary. And Karl Rove seems to have been playing that unsavory game . . . .

First, let me just get one thing out of my system: the cliche is "far be it from us." Don't you morons have editors? Much better. Back to the point.

Although the Times is drawing on Time's reporter's e-mail exchange with Rove, there's no recognition that Miller's "protected" source could be anyone else. In the meantime, Miller sits in jail (I wonder if she's in the Martha Stewart Suite) burnishing her sanctity and probably rewriting her Pulitzer speech, even though she never wrote a story based on the information she says she's hiding -- all because her employer won't let her blow the whistle on what the Times has said from the beginning was a crime: the "outing" of a CIA hack and her toady husband, desk jockey and grandstander, whose idea of being covert is getting photographed in '60s spy outfits for a spread in Vanity Fair.

And I thought the Jerusalem Patriarchate was a mess.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

'Jerusalem, mother of the Churches and the dwelling place of Christ'


If the Patriarchate of Jerusalem were a television show, it could be a biting satire about unfulfilled possibilities, unspoken assumptions, backbiting, manipulation and folly. Cancel All My Children and replace it with The Jerusalem Patriarchate Today.

Earlier this week, an Israeli police officer was wounded when a fistfight broke out when Patriarch (?) Irineos tried to go back to/take possession of his office.

The day before that, the Israel government expressed concern that Greece might be overly involved in choosing the new patriarch. Notice that it's Israel that's concerned, not the Palestinians, who presumably were complaining because they didn't have a Palestinian patriarch.

Now the Palestinian Authority has withdrawn its support from the flailing patriarch (?), the second leg of the stool broken under him. Only Israel has remained neutral thus far.

As an antidote to the absurdity, I bring you the latest news from 381, the Second Ecumenical Council, in Constantinople:
Of the church at Jerusalem, mother of all the churches, we make known that the right reverend and most religious Cyril is bishop, who was some time ago canonically ordained by the bishops of the province, and has in several places fought a good fight against the Arians. We beseech your reverence to rejoice at what has thus been rightly and canonically settled by us, by the intervention of spiritual love and by the influence of the fear of the Lord, compelling the feelings of men, and making the edification of churches of more importance than individual grace or favour. Thus since among us there is agreement in the faith and Christian charity has been established, we shall cease to use the phrase condemned by the apostles, I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Cephas, and all appearing as Christ's, who in us is not divided, by God's grace we will keep the body of the church unrent, and will boldly stand at the judgment seat of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Scientific Serendipity

So I promoted my little jellyfish discovery to the Tangled Bank science carnival and discovered that the host of the carnival is a Technogypsy and Orthoblogger.

This carnival is my first real look at the science bloggers (I'm thoroughly outclassed here, believe me), and they remind me of what my husband's Cousin Doug, a bioscience guy, and Stephen Hawking have in common--a childlike sense of the playfulness of the universe and conversation that sometimes sails over my head, even as the scientist works his hardest to make it comprehensible. I'm glad that there have always been people so interested in the world.

There's a Hole in the Bucket, Dear Liza

Why are Democrats trying to get Karl Rove on the block? Was it because he referred to some CIA desk jockey, not by name, whose truth-challenged, grandstanding husband got to go on a Niger junket and then lied about the results when he got back home?

No, more likely it's because he's done such a good job of Republican blogger mind control.

If those so suddenly concerned about national security were serious, they would have more serious charges against Sens. Kerry and Lugar. And more yet on the New York Times, which outed an entire CIA flight operation in a golly-gee-whiz feature story that makes you wonder what they were thinking -- either it's "Really? Someone other than American citizens read the New York Times, in the age of the worldwide web?" or it's "What do your petty concerns about the war on terror have to with us?" I suspect it's the latter.

If today's New York Times had been around for Operation Fortitude, it would have featured this "analysis":
While posing as an army preparing to attack at Calais, the First U.S. Army Group is actually a "time-out" for dishonored Gen. George S. Patton and a vacation time for the handful of troops marking time at a dummy base in southern England.

Offering the wild tale that they are trying to deceive the Germans about the true nature of a planned attack on Normandy, the U.S. government is wasting valuable money on unused battle patches and on moving vehicles around, when it could be looking for Adolph Hitler.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mattingly on Serbs

Terry Mattingly has a great post on Serbs, Serbians, Bosnians, Muslims, terror and persecution in the Balkans. Count me in for a big "me too."

Don't miss his 1999 Scripps-Howard column in which he lays out some of the errors and omissions of the United States during the '90s that helped bring about the situation in Kosovo now. (That's not his point, but mine. I think the Clinton's administration's stiff-arming the religious leaders' peace efforts in the region undermined their efforts to persuade their followers to stop the fighting.)

Carnival of the Cats

Ferdinand the Cat has collected a roundup of funny stuff this week, which happens to include my Specter tirade. But don't miss Basil's headlines or the old "hide the meth from the cops by launching it on a rocket from the trunk of your car" trick.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

'Citizen' Journalist as Opposed to What?

Tim Porter notices that the phrase "citizen journalist" has jumped the proverbial shark, been stuck with the proverbial fork, or as my daughter might say, "It's so over."

"Citizen journalists" have been on the job in the London Tube, in the Florida hurricanes, and presumably on the Rathergate story and so forth. Their contributions (for good or ill, I guess) have been noted by CNN, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, etc., etc., etc.

What he doesn't ask, maybe because it's too obvious, is if the "man in the street" types, taking photos on their cell phones, punditizing in their pajamas, and eating cat food on their advertising royalties are "citizen" journalists, then what sort of journalists are the people pontificating about them?

I bet Ernie Pyle would have been surprised to find himself removed from the category of "citizen."

And probably pissed.

Arlen Specter's Big Idea


It's Sunday, the beginning of the week, and so the competition is low, but Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is working hard to earn kudos for the "Stupidest Idea of the Week."
Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, suggested on Sunday that President Bush could name Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring from the Supreme Court, to the position of chief justice if it opens up.
Sen. Specter, she's quitting, and Republicans -- the president's party and officially your party -- are glad about it. When we tell our little policy wonks scary stories late at night, we tell them that Reagan picked O'Connor and, with the voice of the evil witch in "The Green Fingernail," George H.W. Bush picked DAVID SOUTER! (I hope someone is telling George W. these scary stories.) We don't want O'Connor back -- her good opinion on Kelo v. NLDC notwithstanding.

But Sen. Specter hasn't noticed that:
"She has received so much adulation that a confirmation proceeding would be more like a coronation, and she might be willing to stay on for a year or so."
Sen. Specter, that's how the Democrats get warmed up for a battle. They "prove" themselves "reasonable" by praising someone after it's too late to make any difference. Remember how everyone learned to love Reagan at his funeral?

If George W. Bush were (God forbid) to nominate O'Connor for Chief Justice, the only people who would scream louder than the Republicans would be the Democrats. Most of the Senate Democrats would be happy to hold a couple of Supreme Court seats open until 2009 when, they hope (and again, God forbid) Hillary Clinton could fill them with Ruth Bader Ginsburg clones.

This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Anybody Working on a Psycho-Thriller?

Joseph Edward Duncan III, accused of killing a woman, her boyfriend, her 13-year-old son, and taking her 9-year-old Dylan Groene and 8-year-old Shasta Groene captive, kept a blog.

For months he recorded his trials and tribulations with demons, reporters and parole officers at Blogging The Fifth Nail.

In the last post, he talks about his sensitivity--
I have feelings, in fact I think I must be more sensitive than most people because I seem to feel more than they do, at least more than what they openly express. I feel for the starving children and families in the world, others say, "Oh, that's too bad, but I can't do anything so..."

I wish I could be more honest about my feelings, but those demons made sure I'd never be able to do that. I might not know if it matters, but just in case, I am working on an encrypted journal that is hundreds of times more frank than this blog could ever be (that's why I keep it encrypted). I figure in 30 years or more we will have the technology to easily crack the encryption (currently very un-crackable, PGP) and then the world will know who I really was, and what I really did, and what I really thought. Also, maybe then they will understand that despite my actions, I'm not a bad person, I just have a disease contracted from society, and it hurts a lot.

--while other sensitive commenters tell him to collect his life and move on:
You are scared and sound like depressed. YOU have been thru a lot your whole life, the demons are fear and part of your past. Every one has done things in our past that we are not proud of but we try to do better every day and move on. The past is past and under a bridge you need to let it go and look at what good you have done recently and the people that are trying to help you and support you. Are you going to throw all that away?????

That's not to say, however, that there aren't a few who say Rot in hell, you murderer.

The blog is a glimpse not only into the self-excusing mind of a serial child molester (convicted) and now apparent murderer, but also into the excuses a culture of "therapism" has given people like Joseph Edward Duncan III.

Anyway, if you're working on a thriller about a psychopath, one has left you a weblog, but I wouldn't guarantee that it will be up forever (check out the comments, too).

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Matters of Taste


Every day, A.Word.A.Day drops a gift in my mailbox. Today, the word was "nolens volens," a fine word, though I'm partial to its synonym "willy-nilly."

Anyway, there's also a quote everyday -- often thought-provoking, but today's was just bone-headed (sorry, Santayana):
Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

-George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Or maybe not boneheaded but revealing a mindset so utterly secularist that it casts its own light on everything else he says.

If matters of religion are only matters of taste, not questions of truth, then he's certainly right that there's no point arguing about them. I might say to a friend, "How can you not like chocolate?" but it's a joke, and it ends there.

But if there is reality beyond our sight, and if the reality is in any way knowable, then there is a point in arguing about it. Argue humbly, because we know we don't know everything. Argue charitably, presuming that the other person holds his views dear, but argue strongly, because it matters.

Unlike a dead philosopher who thought religion a question of taste.

Was It a Suicide Bomb?


Do bus drivers in London not know their way around their own routes? Or was the bomber driving the bus?
At Tavistock Square, a parking attendant, Ade Soji, said the driver of the bus that exploded had stopped him just before it took place. "I was helping a member of the public with directions when the bus stopped and the driver asked me the name of the street," Mr. Soji told the Press Association. "I told him Tavistock Square and he called me over. Just as I was about to go, I heard the bus explode. In another second I would have been dead. I had to run for my life."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

So What Is Your Point, Trudeau?


Smug, elitist Gerry Trudeau has had it with those upstart bloggers who put their ideas, thoughts, opinions out in the ether for anyone to see, without collecting cartoon royalties like the Great Trudeau Himself.

Obviously, anyone who can't post color pictures every day on Slate.com doesn't have anything interesting to say. That's why Instapundit, one of the megabloggers, averages over 100,000 hits per day.

Instead, Trudeau's hits will undoubtedly spike because he snarked the bloggers.

I don't know what Trudeau's tired, stereotyped characters were doing in September of 2004, but I can guarantee that Trudeau, the self-billed "journalist," wasn't uncovering an attempt to defraud the voters. Leave that to the catfood-eating bloggers at Freepers and Little Green Footballs, who revealed Dan Rather's blatantly forged Texas Air National Guard memos.

Give me a five-hit-a-day blogger dealing with real life in his own unique way over an aging, self-important Baby Boomer with a box of colored pencils.

H/T: Grace

Carnival of the Clueless

Rightwing Nuthouse is hosting a rundown of the risible. If you've read my post on Howard Dean's Truman aspirations, you've seen my contribution, but others have found Three Stooges in Europe, tooth marks on Nancy Pelosi's tasteful pump, and the self-righteous folly of the Live8 organizers, among others.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Word for Pro-Lifers on the Supreme Court

"Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox—bred en bawn in a brier-patch!"

Read the rest of it.

Monday, July 04, 2005

As the Patriarchate Turns

When we last met our Patriarch, or former Patriarch, or deposed Patriarch, or persecuted Patriarch, or corrupt and ousted Patriarch of Jerusalem, he was going to trial in Israel over a property dispute. Israel's Supreme Court would have to rule on whether he's actually the Patriarch before it could determine whether a donation of parish land to a parish would go through. I don't know what the decision was or if it has even come down.

Israel, along with Jordan and Palestine, determines whether he actually keeps his office -- not the synod of the Patriarchate, not the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other bishops of Europe.

Well, today it's reported that the Palestinians have ruled in his favor.
A Palestinian ministerial commission said on Monday it had found no evidence that the ex-head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem was involved in leasing church property to Jewish investors.
If you want to know how weird that is, consider this: one of the gripes spoken against him is that he's Greek bishop among Palestinians, but none of the canons say you can get rid of a bishop because he's Greek.

Stay tuned next week, or the week after, for the next dramatic development from Jerusalem.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Is Howard Dean Dead?

You would think so from the hagiographic portrait in the Washington Post. Or at least ascended to heaven on a chariot of fire.

But, no, the big news, I guess, is that he hasn't been fired yet from the chairmanship of the DNC, a job he took, the article suggests, merely because his calendar was cleared by the Scream.

The reporter, Sally Jenkins, says that Dean's job description is pretty straightforward, if not simple:
Dean's task would seem to be this: to take back his party from the left without pandering to the right or infuriating various Democratic "constituencies" -- from George Soros, to labor, right down to and including unlicensed ceramicists -- while also rebuilding dilapidated party infrastructure in 50 states. All without making himself the message or the star. Right now, you're probably feeling better about your own job. "Dean may think he's got the world on a string," says one political strategist, "but what he's really got is a yo-yo with the initials DNC on it."
But he doesn't seem to be doing well at it. The Democrats are becoming more enthralled to the moveon.org crowd, not less, and a good many of the traditional Democratic "constituencies" -- Southerners, defense-minded union members, socially conservative blacks and Hispanics, even growing numbers of Israel-friendly Jews -- are taking a second look at the Republican Party.

Naturally, Republicans are celebrating --
Dean represents "loony left redundancy," says former RNC chair Rich Bond, who also calls Dean's ascent "a disaster" and "a joke." Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has said Dean represents "a true death wish" on the part of Democrats.
but Dean just keeps on keeping on. He has taken to comparing himself to Harry Truman --
Dean likes to quote his political hero, Harry Truman. "I don't give 'em hell," Truman said in 1948. "I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell." And the truth, as Dean sees it, is that mushmouthedness is killing the party, and so is voter neglect. "Somebody has to take those right wingers on," he says, "and I enjoy doing it."

--but he doesn't seem to notice that Truman took out his wrath on people in power, such as Richard Nixon ("Nixon is one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides"). Though our rhetorical expectations have declined over the decades since Truman, one thing he had in common with Dean is that he would not have been elected if he had given a 67-year-old voter a public dressing down for questioning his speaking style, as Dean did.

Dean's attitude problems have become matters of legend. The reporter unquestioningly quotes Joe Trippi referring to Dean's reputation as caricature, but it's hard to caricature someone who calls his political opponents "evil."
Dean has arrived at the Park Plaza in Boston to address the annual state Democratic convention.

He pulls out an index card, which he hardly glances at, and launches into a rousing delivery. ("We're not going to let Republicans define us anymore! We're going to say what Democrats are about!") Then three-quarters of the way through his remarks, he puts the card in his breast pocket. Things have gone smoothly.

Until he arrives at the subject of Tom DeLay. The House majority leader is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for taking trips paid for by lobbyists. Dean lights into him. DeLay needs to go back to Houston, "where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers!" Dean thunders.

Check me on this: Did Howard Dean just throw the Republican House majority leader into prison?
Don't get me wrong -- Dean's a reasonable guy. He's willing to cut Osama bin Laden some slack.

The reporter attributes Dean's excitability to the influence of the crowd:
When he is exercised by a crowd, the flush creeps up his neck, and he turns into the guy who stood on podiums during his failed bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination and roared, "I want my country back! . . . I don't want to listen to fundamentalist preachers anymore!"
There's a Truman quote he seems to have missed:
In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first.
This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

How to Announce the Next Supreme Court Justice

This Side of Glory has the plan of attack.

Read it, but set down the coffee cup first.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A New Religion Law for Kosovo


The United Nations Mission in Kosovo is working with the Albanian majority to create a law governing religion. Catholics are onboard with it, and Protestants are concerned but open-minded, and Orthodox haven't been invited to the table.

Yep, it's still Kosovo. An anonymous chaplain stationed in Kosovo writes a moving piece on the situation there:
During the upsurge in anti-Serb violence in March, I stood on a hillside south of Kosovo's regional capital Pristina and for 360 degrees all around fires were burning. The violence was well-organised. I knew it was not just houses that were burning, but schools and churches. I drove across Kosovo afterwards and saw the terrible aftermath. In the southern town of Prizren signs were still visible "Protected building – any damage will be prosecuted". But the signs had done nothing to prevent the churches and monasteries from being reduced to blackened ruins.

As a Christian priest, eight months after the violence, I still find it hard to find words to describe seeing with my own eyes the burnt-out churches, monasteries and homes – and even a hospital. It was a terrible, evil act. The Serbs have totally fled from Prizren. Everything they had there has been burnt. In the western town of Pec, some of the churches were attacked but are still standing.

. . .

I do not think that every Albanian wanted to burn down everything Serb, but many of them want the Serbs to leave. They are also intent on removing all traces of any Serb presence. Churches are important symbols and historical monuments – they show that the Serbs have been in Kosovo a long time. Some Albanians intended to show that KFOR cannot defend Kosovo's Serbs and wanted to take the opportunity to get rid of the churches as symbols. They wished to show that Serbs have no future in Kosovo.

While shadowy Albanian leaders planned, organised and executed the violence, many Albanians were eager to participate. Local Albanian police were not neutral: many helped the attackers by showing them the best route to take. This has made it all but impossible for Serbian police officers to trust and work together with their supposed Albanian colleagues.

. . .

Although Albanian attacks on Serbs are motivated by ethnic hatred, religion is an important element – even if the Albanians are generally not very devout Muslims. The Serbs have seen their possibility to worship taken from them as churches and monasteries have been destroyed and it is too dangerous for them to move freely around Kosovo. They face obstacles to worshipping God. Going to church is dangerous.

The draft law is "vastly improved," say the non-Muslim participants in the dialogue, but Muslims complain that "it does not introduce religious education in public schools or set out religious communities rights to regain property confiscated during the Communist period or compensation in lieu. Actually, he's complaining about "Three or four mosques and a Catholic church were demolished in Prishtina in the 1950s, and many elsewhere," not about the 76 churches destroyed in June through October 1999 or the additional 35 destroyed in March 2004.

And the religious education in public schools -- that would be Islamic religious education.

The Muslim community is also demanding 2,000 state-paid imams.

The Catholics are OK with the draft so far:
Fr Shan Zefi of the Apostolic Administration of Prizren, who represented the Catholic Church in the drafting process, said his Church is generally happy with the draft. "It is not perfect – nothing in this world is perfect," he told Forum 18 on 1 July. "But it's our first religion law, so it is adequate to start with." He said the Catholics hope that anything not included in the law now can be changed later.

That's the same church in Prizren that escaped any damage during the March 2004 violence; the chaplain writes:
Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were the targets, not Christian churches per se. In Prizren I saw the churches, bishop's residence, monasteries and Serbian houses burnt out, but the Albanian Catholic church was untouched.

Protestants are also concerned about the law making it difficult to start new churches:
Pastor Artur Krasniqi of the Fellowship of the Lord's People, a Protestant church in Prishtina, also has concerns, although he too recognises improvements since last year. He believes the current draft will make it difficult for new religious communities to gain legal status, and also questions whether Protestant communities will get tax concessions if they register individually rather than in one big alliance. He also fears that the law will not end problems over the lack of secular or Protestant graveyards (Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox have their own). He cites the problem of a pastor, who died last year in Gjakovo, who was buried with Muslim rites as otherwise he would not have been able to be buried in a cemetery which Muslims claim.

. . .

Some Protestants have expressed concern about the Religious Affairs Department, now within the Ministry of Community and Returns, led by Isa Ukella, an official who was in charge of religious affairs in the later Communist period. "He used to act against Protestants very aggressively then, especially against foreign missionaries who began to come in at the end of the 1980s," one Protestant told Forum 18. "He still pressures believers, warning them that they should be careful."

Pastor Krasniqi believes Ukella – who is a Muslim - has too powerful a role in religious affairs. "He describes himself as 'chief of religions'. That would make him bigger than the pope," he told Forum 18. "He likes to control religion as in the Communist times." He said he and his Church have always opposed a religion ministry or office. "The latest draft law speaks about a government religious commission made up of officials and representatives of religious organisations, but doesn't define what its role should be."

Unfortunately, the article makes it sound as if the Serbs failed to cooperate in a fit of pique:
Bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) of Raska and Prizren, who heads the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, declined absolutely to discuss the proposed new law. "No comment," he told Forum 18 from Gracanica monastery on 1 July. The bishop has a policy of not cooperating with Kosovo institutions or the international organisations that run Kosovo. Forum 18 has therefore been unable to establish whether and if so how the Kosovo government invited the Orthodox to take part in the drafting process. Privately, two priests complained to Forum 18 that the Church had not been invited properly to take part.

What it's not taking into account are long years of persecution against the Serbs, much worse than anything the Albanians experienced, and an international presence with a mandate to protect the aggressors. The chaplain writes:
Individual soldiers within the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were outraged, angry not only at the violence against the buildings but against the people. They told me it was hard to respect the Albanians after what they had done. They try to be neutral, but say it is difficult now.

Some of the KFOR forces did well – even at risk to themselves and their lives. But others did not, simply running away and letting the mobs burn down what they wanted. They could and should have done more.

The widely divergent responses of different national contingents is well-known and has already been debated within KFOR. But the reasons for the different reactions are clear: some were better equipped and trained than others, and had a clearer mandate from their politicians. The Germans were in such internal disarray that they just hid in their camp, which provoked a terrible row in Germany. One other national contingent I observed just packed up their gear and ran. Some nations simply had soldiers who were not prepared to fight (see F18News 6 May 2004
http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=314).

The chaplain notes the complicity of some Orthodox clergy in the discrimination against the Albanians during the early 1990s and before, as well as the efforts of Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and Fr. Sava of the monastery at Decani in condemning Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and sheltering Albanians running from Serb paramilitary in April 1999. Nevertheless, the Decani monastery is standing today only because it is under constant guard of Italian KFOR soldiers.

When my leftist friends complain about the incompleteness of the U.S. news media, they're frequently preferring the anti-Americanism of the BBC. But I have to agree with them, thinking of the American media's obdurate inertia in realizing who the bad guys are in Kosovo.

This post also appears at Blogger News Network.

UPDATE Aug. 21, 2005: Welcome, Freepers. More about Kosovo appears on this blog here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Contortions of Sainthood

The Vatican is performing contortions with the word "martyr" in order to fast-track Pope John Paul to sainthood.
ROME (AP) — Vatican officials no longer are dismissing outright the notion that Pope John Paul II could be declared a martyr, a step that could remove the need for a confirmed miracle to beatify the late pontiff and make it easier for him to become a saint.
The word "martyr" means "witness," and in its original use, it didn't require death for the faith at all. Still, over the centuries, the word has come to mean people who have died specifically because they would not reject the faith. And that's how the Catholic Church ordinarily defines the word, or it wouldn't have to be redefining a long illness as "martyrdom."
The Vatican would still need to confirm that a miracle occurred after his beatification for John Paul to be declared a saint.

Church officials had initially rejected outright any suggestion that the 1981 assassination attempt could be the basis for a martyrdom declaration since John Paul lived for almost another 24 years.

They also noted that other candidates for beatification and sainthood had also suffered ordinary illnesses at the end of their lives but were not declared martyrs.

. . .

However, Cardinal Camillo Ruini appeared to have been setting the stage for a possible martyrdom declaration Tuesday when he formally opened the beatification cause for John Paul.

During his remarks at the end of the service, Ruini said there was a "decisive" link between John Paul and Jesus Christ based on blood.

"John Paul truly spilled his blood in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, and then again, not just his blood but he offered his life during the long years of his illness," Ruini said.
the Orthodox Church, we have other categories — "confessors" who suffered greatly but did not die (St. Maximos the Confessor had his tongue cut out and his right hand cut off to stop his message) and "passion-bearers" who died as a result of the depredations of unbelievers, but not specifically for the faith (the Russian Orthodox Church has proclaimed the last Tsars' family passion-bearers). I'm not as familiar with Catholic nomenclature, but I don't believe Catholics have these categories. Pope John Paul wouldn't fit into them either.

The problem is that the Catholic Church has to have verifiable miracles in order to canonize someone. That seems to this outsider to be an unnecessarily rigid restriction. What if God just didn't need to go outside the ordinary course of things to show his work in a saint's life? What if a person lives every day saying yes to God in ordinary ways and inspiring people with God's love, life, holiness, and truth?

If Pope John Paul had been an Orthodox patriarch, with the kind of love that he engendered, he would be well on his way to sainthood now (of course, we don't have a Vatican to prove anything to). It would start in the parishes and in the parishioners' prayer corners, and there would be an upswelling of devotion that the bishops wouldn't be able to ignore. The bishops would address the question at a synod and decide that, yes, the local Church would venerate him publicly. Then icons would be written -- or halos painted onto icons that were already waiting -- hymnography polished and a last pannikhida -- prayer service for the dead -- would be sung, and the patriarch would be venerated as an Orthodox saint.

Then, when and as they deemed fit, the other Orthodox Churches would ratify the decision, driven by the love and veneration of their own congregations and at the discretion of the bishops.

I'm neutral on Pope John Paul -- he seems to have been a good man, but I wouldn't presume to name another church's saint -- but it seems a shame to twist the definition of a perfectly good word into meaninglessness in order to accomplish a goal that could be accomplished more honestly by acknowledging that the process is inadequate to cover the reality.

AND FURTHERMORE (not an update -- it's not new information, just something I didn't think to say before): If you believe sacramental theology at all, don't all priests practice miracles at every Liturgy?

With Liberty and Malice for All

Sometimes our judicial system looks like institutionalized malice.

Last month, an Oregon judge took a baby away from adoptive parents and gave it to a slacker of a birth father who refused to help the birth mother when she discovered she was pregnant.

Now a Chicago court is requiring a 28-year-old man to register as a sex offender because he grabbed a girl's arm who stepped in front of his car on the road. He got out of his car, grabbed her arm and gave her the safety lecture.

Remember "it takes a village to raise a child"?

She broke free, ran away and called the police. She said she was fearful of what he would do next, but it's obvious from even this great distance that she was getting getting her revenge for his rebuke. (Don't risk the wrath of a teen-aged girl--many of them will say anything and they never forget.)

The court even said it was unfair to label the man a sex offender, but labeled him one anyway. He was acquitted of attempted kidnapping and child abduction, but was convicted of unlawful restraint of a minor, which is a sex offense.

Now he wears a scarlet S, and she laughs about it with her friends.

A Missive Arrives from Guantanamo


Ellen Goodman writes about being part of the "silenced majority" from her prison cell in Guantanamo today.

She has seen cars with "We support our troops" bumper stickers (must have been photos -- if she's been imprisoned for her dissent, she surely wouldn't be driving) and thinks perhaps the drivers also support the commander in chief. Ya think?

She faults Bush for invoking 9/11 in his speech the other night. Historians will look back on the Bush presidency and call 9/11 the defining moment -- as it was for a lot of us. For others, it was just another bad-traffic day. But those are the ones imprisoned in Guantanamo for their dissent.

She says, "If there is anything this White House is adept at, it is co-opting symbols," which is almost the same as saying that Bush can accomplish a goal, except the "White House" depersonalizes it so that it's probably Karl Rove.

No, wait, she's not imprisoned on Guantanamo: "I will fly my flag this Fourth of July, as always, on a small island in Maine." So it's a secret prison island in Maine for dissenters.

Note to Goodman: You can fly the flag for any reason you choose, just as the people can put "Support the troops" bumperstickers for whatever reason they choose.

Think how much noise the dissenters would be making if they hadn't been silenced.