Thursday, June 30, 2005

Klein Watch

Michael Smerconish writes in the Philadelphia Daily News: "He can prove that such nasty things get repeated about the Clintons. But he can't point to any facts to back up the charges."

And "Who knows what the motivation of this self-described liberal-independent might be, but the net effect of his work is to make Hillary a sympathetic person, and boost her prospects in 2008."

The Madness of Anti-Semitism

Historian Paul Johnson gives a brief survey of the long history of anti-Semitism in this article in Commentary, calling the mode of thought a brain disease.

He uses the disease metaphor not to shift victimhood to the perpetrators (there's enough of that going on), but to point out a couple of traits: first, it's contagious; second, it's so irrational as to be counterproductive.

One link of contagion he explores is from the Nazis to the Middle-Eastern Islamists: Chief Nazi Stormtrooper Heinrich Himmler gave a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a forged document about a Jewish plan for world domination) to a wealthy, anti-Jewish Palestinian landowner, Muhammad Amin al-Husseini.

Al-Husseini, who later became the mufti of the region turned a dislike of the Jews turned to a slathering hatred that produced Wahabbism, as well as the idea among many Arabs, especially Palestinians, that life can't continue as long as Jews live nearby.

The other characteristic is that anti-Semitism is inherently suicidal. Here's where Johnson shows one of those historical trends that violate all the common wisdom until somebody points out where the common wisdom is wrong. Spain, France, Russia, Nazi Germany and most recently Palestine and the Middle East fell into corruption and chaos because of anti-Semitism.

Spain in evicting the Jews just as the wealth of the New World was overwhelming the state. France in its convulsions over the Dreyfuss affair. Russia in pushing its Jews into Western Europe (Johnson notes that the Soviet system was just a matter of extending the Tsars' persecution against the Jews onto the rest of society).

In Nazi Germany, he says, Hitler achieved leadership because of his ideas and in spite of his anti-Semitism, which led to stupid decisions like turning on Stalin and attacking the United States.

And finally in Palestine, for example, we've seen how billions of dollars in foreign aid over the past 50 years have done nothing but enrich the leaders, who use the money to kill Jews and, in even greater numbers, moderate Arabs. In the same period of time, Japan and Germany both rose from total defeat to be world powerhouses, while many refugees of Palestine still live in tents.

The other effect of anti-Semitism has been to push the Jews into places that were friendly to them, or at least left them alone to live and practice their religion: the Netherlands and Belgium, which became the world center of trade and finance in the 18th century; into England, where the Industrial Revolution was born in the late 18th century; into the United States, which has become, well, the Great Satan. Tapscott (H/T, by the way) posted on Johnson's comparison between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

The madness is like the destructive force of conspiracy theories Umberto Ecco described in Foucault's Pendulum.

The article is well worth a read.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ed Klein watch

Eric at Classical Values ponders the deeper significances reading, buying, or commenting upon Klein's book. Or any other book, for that matter.

(Hillary and I have a mutual agreement that she'll never be interviewed on my blog.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ed Klein watch

The headline says, "Hil book an insult to conservatives," so I thought the article was going to be about, you know, the Hil book being an insult to conservatives. Silly me.

Instead it's about Richard Cohen insulting conservatives:
Right-wingers are the useful idiots of our times and while they have their occasional left-wing counterparts, the lefties will not buy essentially the same book over and over again — if only because they lack the funds.

Quick question here: Stalin called enemies that helped him "useful idiots"; so right-wingers are useful to whom?

But beyond the correlative-free rhetoric of the left, I can guarantee that you won't see Ed Klein ensconced in the presidents' box at the 2008 Republican convention with George Bush (either one) sitting affably beside him.

This is an update to an earlier post on Klein's book. I've been tracking the reactions, but the updates are getting lost in the blogstream.

'Suicide by moral aphasia'

Armavirumque helpfully posts on a topic I've tried several times to express with no success:
The media’s collusion in the orgy of self-loathing is repellent. The spectacle of self-loathing on the part of many of our society’s most privileged members is both shocking and depressing. I have been in the habit of saying these past few years that Islamic fundamentalism is a threat to our civilization at least as big as Communism. I still believe that, but the inner paralysis cultivated and purveyed by our cultural mandarins confronts us with an even graver prospect: suicide by moral aphasia.
The post begins and ends with flag-burning, but it's the middle part that's especially pertinent.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Why I love my parish -- reason No. 6,942

Where else can I go to a picnic and find myself in a conversation with four other people about the Battle of Thermopylae, and at least two of them know something about it, and the rest are not rolling their eyes and trying to escape? (University classics departments excluded)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Beneath the crust of things

Life had taken on a strange richness since Mr. Peabody had sidled like a terrified crab into his study, had lifted the thin gold shell of his watch and shown him the hidden watch cock. Until now life for him had meant the aridity of earthly duty and the dews of God. Now he was aware of something else, a world that was neither earth nor heaven, a heartbreaking, fabulous, lovely world where the conies take refuge in the rainbowed hills and in the deep valleys of the unicorns the songs are sung that men hear in dreams, the world that the poets know and the men who make music. . . . The autumn song of the robin could let you in, or a shower of rain or a hobbyhorse lying on a green lawn.
Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean's Watch

Saturday, June 25, 2005

How long does the glow last?

Billy Graham is on what may be his last crusade, holding a huge tent meeting in Queens, New York. The New York Times gives some curiosity-slating details about the techniques and technology behind a 21st-century altar call -- computers, phone teams, follow-up calls and letters.

"Some people have compared this process to closing a sales deal," the Times' Andy Newman writes. "Mr. Bailey [the New York campaign's director], understandably, prefers a different analogy. 'As soon as a child is born, it is put immediately into its mother's arms. It needs care to survive from the first moment. A spiritual baby needs the same care.'"

The Times asks but can't answer a question I've wondered about: What's the follow through? A Billy Graham-commissioned study asked 189 people who had made commitments at a crusade if the experience had had a positive, negative or neutral effect on their lives. Newman cites flaws in the study, but the question isn't even useful.

The real question, in Graham language, might be who was really saved, who actually made that one-time choice that started the journey in the right direction. In the Orthodox Church, that one-time choice is made over a long period of time, with much consideration of the commitment, and salvation is a long journey of minute-by-minute decisions either to accept or reject the help of the Holy Spirit. I think a follow-up survey to answer those questions would be hard to construct.

When Graham came to Portland in the 1990s, the son of a co-worker went to the Crusade. He was in high school at the time, not a bad kid, but a little adrift and a little shallow. He told her afterwards that he went forward to get saved. "So you gave your life over to Christ?" she asked him. "What?" he said.

If anything about him changed as a result of that event, it's not apparent from the outside.

That's not to say anything against Graham's integrity or sincerity, which I have no reason to doubt. I carried more bile against the crusades before I was Orthodox than I do now, though I was younger then and more shocked and outraged at the compromises that are made in concession to economies of scale.

But the idea of being moved by a Billy Graham sermon to the point of finding God waiting for me outside the cosmos is like hearing that people in some distant place wear hats made of oak leaves -- an irrelevant curiosity.

UPDATE: Graham promotes Hillary in '08: "They're a great couple," he said. "I told an audience that I felt when he left the presidency he should be an evangelist because he has all the gifts and he'd leave his wife to run the country." (New York Daily News by way of Dawn Patrol by way of Orthodixie.)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Durbin's context

Sen. Durbin is concerned about Gitmo detainees chillin' to the latest rap beat, but how would he respond if someone had pulled them feet first from a safe place, vacuumed their brains out and thrown them in the trash?

Sicker than Hitler? Sicker than Pol Pot? Sicker even than Al Qaeda? Arguably. But OK by Sen. Durbin, at least if they're only in the process of being born.

Embryonic stem-cell research firms floundering--or maybe foundering

"Many of the technologies we hyped to the general public haven't worked yet," Celgene President Alan Lewis told the Associated Press about a meeting of embryonic stem-cell researchers in California.

Here's the good news: because the possibilities are at best 20-30 years in the future, the embryonic stem-cell research firms are losing money.
Geron, the California-based biotech firm has put over $100 million into embryonic stem cell research and, because it has little to show for the investment, lost $80 million last year.
Which may explain why they're hyping (Lewis's word, not mine, though I concur with it) the technology.

This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another post-modern judicial decision

What's the world coming to? Earlier today, I thanked God (only a little ironically) for Al Gore, and now I'm agreeing with Rep. Peter DeFazio.

The U.S. Representative from Springfield, Oregon, came out quickly today with a statement of outrage about the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo decision.
"I am shocked by the ruling today from what I thought was a relatively conservative Supreme Court. It allows a broad intrusion of local government and violates the constitutional rights of Americans. This could also have alarming implications for local elections as corporate developers will most certainly seek out candidates eager to condemn private property for economic development. I plan to find a remedy in Congress, to address this egregious ruling which includes the possibility of a Constitutional amendment."

Rep. DeFazio was shocked about the ruling from the "relatively conservative Supreme Court," but he may be as surprised as I am to find himself making common cause with the conservative end of it -- Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas, along with iffy Justice O'Connor who wrote the dissent to which the others signed on -- and shocked and outraged at the decision of the liberal end of the Court -- Justice Stevens, who wrote the opinion, along with Justices Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy.

What happened was that the town of New London, Conn., decided that it could build a pharmaceuticals plant and some chichi developments on a piece of property. Everybody sold out except a couple of homeowners who liked their homes very much -- one was born in hers, which was built in 1895, and the other moved into her dream house in 1997 -- and didn't want to move out of the way for chichi development.

Tough sh*t, writes Justice Stevens in the winning opinion. It's not OK for the city to take land from one party and give it to another, but this isn't like that. This is more like taking land from one party and giving it to the railroads or like taking it away from one party and giving it to another party that the city chooses, because the city thinks it's a really, really good idea.

Some people are arguing that this case will open the possibility for the government to take property away from one party and give it to another party that will pay more taxes. Nonsense, writes Justice Stevens, because we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Some people argue that governments come up with nitwit ideas that don't really work. We don't want to hear about it, writes Justice Stevens, because the Court can't be bothered with determining whether something is a nitwit idea or not.

If you've got a problem with this, the Justice writes, go to your state constitution.

Dissenting, Justice O'Connor points out that the New London Development Corporation, which will acquire the land, is a private, nonprofit group, whose directors are not elected, but privately appointed. "But were the political branches the sole arbiters of the public-private distinction, the Public Use Clause would amount to little more than hortatory fluff," she writes, pithily.

She and her fellow dissenters get the downstream danger:
For who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive possible use of her property? The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.
To Justice Stevens' suggestion that dissatisfied property owners turn to the states for help, she says, "States play many important functions in our system of dual sovereignty, but compensating for our refusal to enforce properly the Federal Constitution (and a provision meant to curtail state action, no less) is not among them."

DeFazio was quoted saying that he was willing to try to get a Constitutional amendment passed. I'm onboard with that, but it's ironic that the Court can find a right to abortion hidden in the emanations of the penumbra of the bill of right, and the majority can't find a right not to have property taken away and given to someone else when the minority finds it in the text of the Constitution. Justice Thomas can still discern meaning from a text:
When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution's original meaning.
I'll confess to seeing one bright spot in the midst of this. I've written a novel -- written it several times in fact -- set in the near future. One character reports that the city bulldozed a church for a shopping center (it's backstory for the plot). I've had people tell me that it's all just too farfetched. I'm still working on it, but to all those agents and editors out there, I'd like to say just one thing: I told you so.

UPDATE: Dennis Sevakis observes that once again Justice Stephen Breyer is following Zimbabwe's lead in human rights.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a much more coherent critique than mine.

UPDATE: And in Fort Wayne, Ind., when a family rejected the city's low-ball offer for a seizure of land to build a sewer line, the city refused to pay anything at all.

A version of this post is also available at Blogger News Network.

UPDATE: Reason online interviews one of the plaintiffs' attorneys.

UPDATE: More from Jeff Jacoby.

Where's the white rabbit?

It's supposed to represent the loneliness of the writer, but it reminds me of Lewis Carroll.

That surgery will cost you an arm and a leg

Doctors want to be allowed to cut off the healthy limbs of people who want to be amputees, a Melbourne researcher says.

They already cut off other body parts on request, not to mention Michael Jackson's nose, but I have a hard time believing that the amputation surgery provides a long-term solution to the core problem.

Thank God for Al Gore

See I was in the gym the other day in my hijab, and people stare at me when I go to the gym -- not because it's odd that someone wears a Muslim headscarf while exercising, but because I'm a Muslim and I'm under the microscope.

And there was all kinds of stuff about the war on terror on the TV, and it made me uncomfortable, because I'm wearing the hijab, see, and I assume that everybody who looks at me thinks I'm a terrorist. It's not that anybody says anything to me or does anything to me -- but "the stares intensify my alienation as an Arab Muslim." So I ran away from the TV to another part of the gym.

I got on the treadmill and ran away, ran away, ran away. But I dropped my keys, and "my faith in the United States seemed to fall with them. I did not care to pick them up. I wanted to keep running."

But Al Gore, southern gentleman that he is, who happened to be working out nearby, picked up her keys and handed them to her.
It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for -- acceptance and acknowledgment.

There in front of me, he stood for a part of America that has not made itself well known to 10 million Arab and Muslim-Americans, many of whom are becoming increasingly withdrawn and reclusive because of the everyday hostility they feel.
I've read this piece twice now, and she says herself that "the . . . hijab . . . makes me feel as if I'm under a microscope." Everybody who dresses in an unusual way gets stares -- Amish, Hassidic Jews, Orthodox priests, heavily pierced or tattooed people, old women who try to dress like teen-agers, fat teen-agers who try to dress like skinny teen-agers. Some people dress that way for the point of being different from other people. Others just happen to be in a society where most people don't dress that way. But the stares are more likely curiosity than hostility. The self-consciousness comes from within.

All the same, Al Gore rescued more than the woman's keys:
It is up to us as Americans to change how the rest of the world views us by changing how we view some of our own citizens. Mr. Gore's act reminded me that rather than running away on my treadmill, I needed to keep my feet on the soil in this country. I left the gym with a renewed sense of spirit, reassured that I belong to America and that America belongs to me.
I wonder if this means she's going to be jogging in the park instead of the gym.

UPDATE: OK, Goldberg's a hero, too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Lime Coke, Subaru, Apple

Not necessarily in that order.

Heads up, bloggers, the marketers are listening for information about your take on products and services they have for sale.

At first I thought it was creepy, like marketing stalkers, but on the other hand, I could hold for two hours listening to really bad music from the '80s punctuated by a recording that "your call is very important to us, and we're going to prove it by keeping you here for a long, long time," or I can put it on my blog and the company will pay $30k to $100k per year to find out what I think. And I don't get any tiresome bulk mail telling me that my opinion is very important to them. If my opinion is important, the company will change the product.

Or if they're the companies in the headline of this post, they'll keep on doing pretty much what they're doing.

Oh, and ISPs? When I chose SpiritOne, I called customer service and went with the company that didn't make me wait. Just in case you were wondering.

I feel so empowered.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

For Fred

Originally uploaded by janbear.
John and Jenny -- back before they were Father and Matushka -- found Fred as part of their ministry to street kids in Portland. They were a couple of college students back then, courageous, dedicated, and veterans of the mission field from Indonesia and Africa to the housing projects of Chicago. Jenny, a talented writer, was working on her degree in journalism; John was getting a theology degree in preparation for seminary training, soon to be followed by a doctorate in bioethics at the University of Chicago. They were living in an apartment close to St. Nicholas Parish and going to downtown Portland regularly to hand out sandwiches and help anyone who needed to be helped.

One of those people was Fred.

Fred, HIV positive, had been living on the streets and had worked as a stripper. Barbara, who looked after him later, said that his twin brother had died when the boys were 3, and after that Fred went live with his grandmother. She reckoned that he had been abused as a child, but Fred didn't speak often of his family at all. When he was chrismated into the Orthodox Church, he acquired a family that never rejected him.

I never heard Fred moan about his life. Oh, he would do the kind of good-natured complaining that was really a way of sharing information, but it was never "poor, miserable me."

John and Jenny went away to become Father and Matushka, and Fred stayed on. Around that time, doctors told him he had a year to live. That was about seven years ago.

There was something about Fred that was at once endearingly childlike and annoyingly childish. Sometimes he was like a 10-year-old -- poke, poke, poke -- irritating people for fun. On the other hand, he worked as a caregiver for terminally ill people and had perfect patience and compassion for their cranky ways and insensitivity. He would help himself to things that weren't his -- small sums of cash and the like -- but he would give his last nickel to someone else who needed it more.

The last time I talked to Fred was a couple of weeks ago. He's been involved in the Cascade AIDS project, in which people gather weekly to write as a means of processing their way of seeing the world. As John Ruskin advocated drawing so that people could learn to see the world, these folks write for a different view. Anyway, Fred wanted me to give him advice about getting published.

He didn't have the time or strength for the long and brutal road of paid publishing and he didn't have the money for self-publishing, so I suggested that he start a blog. Barbara said that when she was looking through his effects, she found written in his notebook, "start a blog," and the Blogspot URL.

Fred died Friday, surrounded by friends from his various communities, including enough people from our parish that they could sing him away. As Fred lay in a coma, the street preacher was there, whispering in his ear that he could still accept Jesus as his personal savior, and Barbara said to him, "I think Fred's OK."

I don't know if Fred knew how close he was to death when he got his hair dyed pink, but he had actually bought sensible clothes and a pocket watch with money from Father John and Jenny and a collection from parishioners.

Anyway, since Fred never got around to starting that blog, here are a couple of items that may have showed up in it if he had. Maybe the people who have gone home to be with Christ read blogs -- I've seen ads to St. Jude in Catholic newspapers, so it's certainly possible -- so this is for you, Fred.

If It Was Not For God
Fred Gresham, Cascade AIDS Project

This last summer I spent the whole summer in the hospital. I had just given up on God, but I still knew he would not fail me when I needed him the most. I found that out when I was in the hospital and I was ready to give up on life altogether, but something or someone kept on reminding me that God was watching over me and all I had to do was surrender my life to him and let him have his way. I guess it just wasn't my time yet. I realized he had a greater purpose for me even though I still don't understand what it is. But I am healthier now and more in touch with my spiritual self. That is why I must say if it wasn't for God I would not be here now.

The Feeling of Emotion

The feeling is love.
The feeling is shame.
The feeling is courage.
The feeling is heartache.
The feeling is sorrow.
The feeling is joy.
The feeling is alive.
The feeling is panic.
The feeling is anxious.
The feeling is despair.
The feeling is death.
The feeling is rebirth.


I feel scared sometimes about my writing because I don’t think people will take it for what is like when it is serious, funny, or even a true story. I think they wouldn’t see what I have been through.

I also feel my writing is not that good to get the point or subject matter across. I found myself to be my worst critic. I also feel that is why I don’t let people read my writing because I am afraid of the negative or positive criticism. That is why I feel I am misunderstood in my writing abilities.
Memory eternal

Why do some people get a pass for rudeness?

Seraphim at Minor Clergy tells a story that captures the self-righteous disdain that certain people here and elsewhere express toward the United States:
In Greece in December of 2003, I ran into a large number of pious Orthodox Christians who held a position which startled me. In a way similar to that of many fundamentalists in this country who like to assign eschatological roles to modern day nations, depending on how the world is ending at that particular moment, I met more than a few Greeks who argued that the United States was the anti-Christ. I do not subscribe to that viewpoint -- generally I hold to the notion that God tends to be neutral toward nations, and discourage hubris in thinking about, for example, the US as God's chosen nation. Still, these were devout Orthodox Christians, who were perfectly loving and welcoming to me personally, but sincerely held to this notion. The United States, they declared, was an international bully. It seeks only oil. It was not that they necessarily trusted Arabs themselves, but as one person put it, "We know how to deal with Arabs. We have been dealing with them for over a thousand years."

. . . .

The point of the anecdotes is that our brethren elsewhere see our wars in a very different light than we sometimes do. I think it is important that we explore the issue from their perspective, informed by two millenia of worship and history.Why are we right, and others wrong? Are we more Orthodox? Are we more theologically sophisticated? Or, a painful thought, are we simply unable to substitute the eyes of Christ for the eyes of American society?
Suppose instead of a thoughtful, compassionate, humble person visiting Greece, it was a Greek visiting America. Suppose some pious, sincere Americans said to this Greek, "It's nothing personal, but the European Union is the ten-headed beast from which the Anti-Christ will come, and while you people are flattering your egoes with your socialism and kowtowing to terrorists and sucking up to dictators, while you ignore evil happening in your neighborhood, you depend on the United States to save you first from the Nazis and then from the Communists without so much as a thank you."

If I heard that an American had said that, I would be embarrassed at the ignorance and boorishness of my fellow countryman. But would the Greek go home and say, "I think it is important that we explore the issue from their perspective, informed by two millenia of worship and history. Why are we right, and others wrong? Are we more Orthodox? Are we more theologically sophisticated? Or, a painful thought, are we simply unable to substitute the eyes of Christ for the eyes of Greek society?"? I don't think so. The Greek would agree with me that Americans are boorish and ignorant. So why aren't foreigners ignorant and boorish when the tables are turned?

Let's take their points one by one:
  • The United States is an international bully -- Look at the difference between the outcomes where the United States intervened and where it did not: West Germany vs. East Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall and then after. North Korea vs. South Korea. Japan vs. Vietnam (where we bailed out before we had finished fighting back the Communists). Taiwan vs. China. Look at the amount of aid we send overseas, most of it to people who turn around and spit on our shoes. Look at our "bullying" of Germany; when we talk about removing our troops, they squeal like a kid who got pinched by a lobster.

  • The United States seeks only oil -- Before the war, the U.S. petroleum trade group lobbied to drop the sanctions against Saddam. It would have been much cheaper to leave him in power and just buy the oil. On the other hand, Greek Cyrpriot Benon Sevon is a linchpin in the U.N. Oil for Food scandal, which enriched Saddam's military and luxurious lifestyle by selling oil shares to France, Germany, Kofi Annan and his son, Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • They know how to deal with Arabs; they've been dealing with them for over a thousand years -- and very successfully, too, especially over the past half-century. Which is why the following groups have conducted operations against foreigners inside Greece: "the Kurdish PKK as well as the Palestinian May 15 Organization, Abu Nidal group, Popular Struggle Front, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), PLO, and Black September, and also Lebanese Shiite groups." As an example of how well the Greeks have dealt with Arabs, consider the outcome of the terrorist slaughter at the Munich Olympics:

. . . in August 1973. Two members of the PLO’s Black September organization pulled out machine guns and grenades at Athens airport, killing 3 people and wounding 55 passengers. The duo then seized 35 hostages, but soon surrendered to Athens police. After a one-day trial, a Greek court sentenced them to death.

In February 1974, three gunmen hijacked the Greek freighter Vory at the west dock of Karachi port in Pakistan, threatening to blow up the ship and kill two hostages if the Greek government did not free the two Arab terrorists of the previous attack. As part of a deal, which emerged in April 1974, the convicted terrorists’ death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. Later the Greek government pardoned them and, in May 1974, they were deported to Libya at the request of Tripoli.

International terrorism and hostage situations were something new for the whole international community. The junta was inexperienced and hesitant in trying to free the hostages, since a failure might have damaged its image. Making a compromise was intended to save the hostages, preserve relations with radical regimes and groups, and get the government out of a crisis. Concessions were also intended to avoid future attacks against Greece, though arguably appeasement had the opposite result.
Someone with a bit of distance may be in the best position to point out our sins, corruptions and failings, but it's helpful if the one doing the critique has some information besides American movies and television, Eurocrats and the BBC. And to call another country the Anti-Christ in this situation looks more like adolescent petulance than deep and abiding spirituality.

Speaking of spirituality, how about that Church of Greece?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Say what?

The Rev. Ned Reidy, writing in the Palm Springs Desert Sun congratulates us on the sign of the Holy Spirit among us. No, it's not Pentecost, which we celebrate this weekend: "I read this week that the Orthodox Church has opened ordination to women to serve as deacons."

Well, I've been hearing of deaconnesses and rumors of deaconnesses for years, in distant times and places, and if there had been an event like this, it's funny that the Rev. Reidy would hear of it first.

Or maybe not. The Rev. is co-pastor, along with Rev. Kathy McCarthy, of the Pathfinder Community of the Risen Christ in Bermuda Dunes, California. The Pathfinder Community of the Risen Christ is part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, whose presiding bishop is in Orange, California.

You know that a church is freelancing when its website has a page called "The Apostolic Succession of [BISHOP'S NAME]." In that case, apostolic succession gives a certain bouquet of sanctity, of being grounded in tradition, without the tiresome requirement of actually maintaining that tradition. If you're going to be Catholic (or Orthodox or Baptist or whatever), for God's sake be Catholic (or whatever). If you're going to be ordaining the Rev. Kathy to the priesthood, then you've left the Catholic Church, and having a web page showing your bishop's pedigree doesn't change that at all. If you ordain women priests, then don't pretend to be Catholic, because Catholics don't.

And if you're not even pretending to be Orthodox, even if you do assert that your "deacons, priests and bishops participate in the same historic apostolic succession as do the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and other apostolic Churches," then don't go wading into a complicated issue like the ordination of women to the diaconate. It's like congratulating your next-door neighbors on their decision to put in a swimming pool when they've only been discussing it and certainly haven't decided to go forward with it.

Unless he's talking about the Most Excellent Orthodox Church, Dude, of Venice Beach, California, headed by the Most Reverential Bishop EVLOGIA, who's also got an apostolic succession page on his website.

In which case, perhaps there's also a historic reunification in the works of the two divided Sister Churches after more than a thousand years of separation.

A contrarian view on proselytism

Orthodox convert Lawrence Uzzell explores the history of the word "proselytism" and the negative connotations the word has assumed over the millennia and asks some pertinent questions about missionary activity.
Proselytism has become the world's most overused religious term and is most often invoked by those who ultimately oppose all forms of Christian evangelism. If the Apostles had refrained from everything that today is lumped under the term, there would have been no carrying out of the Great Commission and the Church might have died in its infancy. Precisely because it labels all missionary activity pejoratively, the term is no help in distinguishing the legitimate from the illegitimate; it makes no distinction between, say, St. Paul and those missionaries who use such unscrupulous tactics as, for example, requiring that desperately poor Russians sit through Protestant worship services before free meals are provided to them. (Sadly, I am not making that up.)
He quotes an Adventist scholar with a suggestion for a more accurate phrase: "improper evangelism."
He offers a list of things that a missionary will not do. "Not exploit or take advantage of poor, vulnerable segments of the population. Not knowingly make false or questionable claims of miraculous healings or interventions. Not offer financial or other material inducements or educational benefits in order to ‘convert’ people. Not knowingly spread false information regarding the teachings of other religions or ridiculing their beliefs and practices. Not incite hatred, internecine strife, and antagonistic competition. Not use coercive or manipulative methods of evangelism to get church members, including certain advertising that preys on human gullibility."
Mission, as Uzzell points out, is central to Christianity, and our methods have sometimes, but not always, been lazy and deceitful. Uzzell's piece gives some points for thought on this activity that is often maligned by our secularist neighbors.

It's not the misunderstanding he regrets

Sen. Dick Durbin offered a kinda sorta not-really apology.

Here's his statement.
More than 1700 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and our country’s standing in the world community has been badly damaged by the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this Administration which add to the risk our soldiers face.

I will continue to speak out when I disagree with this Administration.

I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.

The first two paragraphs are the "I didn't do anything wrong" part; the last one is the "I'm sorry if you misunderstood me" and "the soldiers were just following orders" -- does that mean he'd have accepted that defense at Nuremburg?

The real problem for Sen. Durbin is that everyone understood exactly what he was saying. The problem for our troops and the war on terror as a whole is that Al Jazeera understood him, too. Let's hope the voters back home understood and remember in 2008.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Pass it on

EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers

H/T: Orthodixie

Kontakion anyone?

You can find everything on the Internet.

Prove it. How about the structural specifications of an obscure form of poetry in wide use in the Byzantine Empire from the early sixth century through the late seventh century, when it dropped out of sight except for a few stanzas scattered throughout the Liturgy of the Orthodox Church?

Hah! you of little belief(.net):
Simply put, the kontakion was a 'sung sermon.' It served to instruct the clergy and laity on the subject of a feast day relating to the life of Christ, His Mother, or one of the saints venerated by the Orthodox Church.

The kontakion's original form consisted of a series of 18 to 30 stanzas written in the same meter. The meters used were based on stress accents and the syllable-count in each line. These stanzas were preceded by a prelude of one to four stanzas, composed in a different meter, that introduced the refrain found at the end of every stanza. This refrain was typically sung by the people. The initial letter of each stanza, when strung together, formed an acrostic that either followed the Greek alphabet, spelled out a simple message, or gave the name of the composer.

One compelling characteristic of the kontakion is its use of dramatic dialogue. The composers did not hesitate to place words in the mouths of their characters. The anonymous Lament of Adam finds Adam beseeching Paradise itself to intercede on his behalf: 'O paradise, embrace your now landless landlord/And by the rustle of your leaves entreat our Maker/To keep you open.' Romanos' kontakion 'On the Victory of the Cross' finds Hades describing his reaction as the cross shatters the gates of hell: 'Go on, wake up, Belial,' Hades cries, 'Run, unveil your eyes and see the root of the tree within my soul.' Such imagery heightened the congregation's sense of participation in the cosmic drama of Christianity.

I've done a poem in the style of a troparion, which we've actually sung (dare I say this in public?) in my parish church.

I love the word game, the puzzle, of a complicated poetic structure. I don't anticipate writing a sermon in poetry, because I'm the last person in the world who ought to be sermonizing. Still, doesn't that look like fun?

I'll post it if I come up with anything.

H/T: Because sometimes a link is not enough:
Mickey Hodges [the writer of the article] is a member of St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and has translated numerous Orthodox hymns from Greek into English.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Israel Supreme Court prepares to wade in

I hope they're wearing blackberry-proof waders, because it could be extremely prickly.

The Israelis have so far managed to stay out of the Irineos question, although the government of Israel, along with the government of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are legally the only ones who can ratify the ouster of Patriarch Irineos.
Now the Israeli Supreme Court has to take up the question, because of a property dispute in Galilee.

It seems that the community of Samia had lobbied to gain control over church assets there, and the patriarch had refused, because the assets were valuable and because the patriarch was concerned about the precedents. This argument continued for more than 10 years, until Irineos relented recently, agreeing to turn over everything except the church itself and an adjoining courtyard.

And then the Jerusalem Synod voted to show Irineos the door, so the whole agreement is up in the air. A parishioner in Samia who objects to the transfer challenged it in court, and Irineos, who insists he is still patriarch, stands behind it.

Now the Israeli Supreme Court will have to decide whether Irineos is patriarch or not. If so, the deal goes through; if not, well, so much for the donation to Samia.
If your head's not spinning yet, try this: The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, criticized for being an interloper in this church of Palestinian Arabs, gives property to a local, presumably Palestinian Arab community, which is challenged by a local resident, and the only way to get the deal to go through is to kick out the "interloping" patriarch.

The news article says that the original dispute "initially seemed like a small matter," but who owns parish property is a thorny issue all over, as the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland will attest.


This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What happened to the Cinderella Man

The "serious, adult drama" Cinderella Man has had disappointing box office results, and studio executives are kicking themselves for not spending the money on another Spiderman.

What happened? they ask. Were people mad because Russel Crowe threw a cell phone at a hotel staffer? Do we just not have the attention span for anything but mindless entertainment in the summer?

If they care to know, and if they wander my way, I'll tell why I haven't been interested. I don't like boxing movies, and I don't like being told to go to a movie because it's good for me. The first part is a quirk of mine that is hard for any movie to overcome -- the boxing movie has all the predictability of the sports plot with people spending half the film hitting each other.

(Sports plot: Sad sack team needs to win the big game to overcome some difficulty; new coach arrives, whips them into shape, leads them to the championship, at which came one or more of the following events occur: the other team cheats, the star gets injured, the coach gets fired, the Mafia gamers raise the pressure to throw the game. And then the team overcomes and wins. Think The Bad News Bears, and then think how The Rookie transcended the forumula.)

Oh, but Cinderella Man has Important Actors and a Significant Director in a Serious Adult Drama, and if you don't go to this one, you'll never get a Serious Adult Drama again. Unfortunately, none of the promotion for this movie got beyond negative reasons -- reasons not to not go -- to positive reasons -- why should I see it?

I still don't know. Ron Howard, Renee Zelwiger and Russell Crowe have done some good work in the past, which is reason enough to keep an open mind about watching it on video, but appeals to snobbery and civic responsibility just aren't enough to get me to the movie theatre.

The studio also put Grace Hill Media on the case, and they called our paper what seemed like three times a week for a month or so asking for coverage. The callers were polite, but they seemed desperate, and again, there was nothing about what was in the movie for us, but rather how it was an Important Family Film and we ought to support it because it's good for us.

If any studio execs or marketers are listening, here's some feedback.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Too far is too far

I'll join with the other conservatives denouncing the new tell-all book about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Drudge reports that she's outraged, and I don't blame her. The lie that Bill raped Hillary is stupid on the face of it and brutal toward Chelsea. If it were true, it would be a matter for Hillary to complain about, not what some "friend" looking for a book contract says.

Just for the record, I think Bill Clinton's was a failed presidency and Hillary's would be an effort to undo what's worth building about America. But these are public policy issues.

Drudge quotes a Hillary source saying "This is the right wing attack machine on crack." But the author, Edward Klein, a former foreign editor of Newsweek and former editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine, is no card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Rather, he's the author of several books about the Kennedys. Now that the Kennedys are off the public radar (more than a few at least partly destroyed by the toxic effect of "journalists" like Mr. Klein), he seems to have moved his sights to another famous family. Must have had a balloon payment due on his yacht.

UPDATE: Klein explains his point to Kathryn Jean Lopez. I won't say anything more about the book until I've read it, and I have a long reading list.

UPDATE: Conservative pundit John Podhoretz hates it.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan: "What is needed is a big and serious book by respected reporters who can dig, think and type, and whose sourcing standards are high and unimpeachable. Will that happen? It would be big if it did. This book is not that book.>

UPDATE: The New York Times is shocked, the publisher is dismayed, and the author is miffed that conservatives have not been more welcoming. Quote of note: "Mr. Klein said that some of his reporting of events and comments about Mrs. Clinton has been taken out of context." Come on, Mr. Klein -- those details ripe for taking out of context were just what you expected (and still expect) to sell the book.

UPDATE: Kathleen Parker says Klein got a "Baghdad welcome" from the conservative natives, but her observation about Hillary has an intuitive feel of truth: "The real Hillary Clinton is one ticked-off mother, in other words, and she wants to be the most powerful person in the world."

UPDATE: Tim Rutten writes in the LA Times: "The problem with an enterprise conceived to pick conservative pockets rather than address conservative consciences is that it tends to miss some of the movement's finer points — such as self-restraint and civility." Thanks, aside from "I love you, Mom," it's the nicest thing anybody's said to me all day.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Penelope at The MaryHunter has found Dr. Frankenstein lurking at the center of the stem cell debate, and it's an explanation that makes the facts fall into place. First she acknowledges that the drug companies may like embryonic stem cells because they're patentable, whereas adult stem cells are not, but here enters the good Herr Doktor:
Plainly said: human embryonic stem cell research is just scientifically “sexier” than adult stem cell research.

Adult stem cells are interesting, but they are used in individuals. An individual donates his own tissue, the stem cells are gathered and manipulated and put back into that individual. Now the “gathering” and “manipulation” both take knowledge, skill, and loads of previous research to be done effectively. But the work is mostly in the details: which problem needs fixing in this patient, where can I find the stem cells, how can I get them to do what I want them to do in this particular case. In other words, once the basic research is done about how to “gather” and “manipulate,” the work is clinical.

Contrast that with embryonic stem cell research. There, the goal is complete control of completely plastic, multipotent cells. If it all pans out, a researcher would conceivably be able to manipulate a single cell line to develop into any tissue whatsoever! To be used in any patient! This kind of control and power is alluring. The fact that you would need intricate and complicated procedures (and probably just the right “touch”) to get the embryonic cells to behave properly makes that kind of research even more attractive. In fact, as I said, it’s downright sexy. What basic research scientist in the area could resist the pull?

I recommend the site in general; it's got some great stuff.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Treasures of the sea

Velella Jellyfish
Originally uploaded by janbear.
Found on the beach near Rockaway, Oregon, yesterday an apparent alien invasion -- a little blue sailboat with a gossamer sail, beached on the sand by the thousands.

They looked like toys, their bodies so blue that they seemed like plastic and their sails clear as cellophane, but the bodies were both squishy and resilient and the sail so intricately patterned that it couldn't have been mass produced.

Upon coming home I've learned that the velella jellyfish are creatures of the great ocean, commonly called "sailor by the wind," and that their arrival on the beach is a rarity, not unknown but uncommon, because they ordinarily keep their sails oriented northwest to southeast, and it's a malicious turn of the wind that brings them to shore for the wonder and appreciation of the landborne.

They'll be on the beach only for a couple of days before they decompose and disappear into the sand.

"Most people don't get to see them. Timing is everything," says Alan Rammer of the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Rammer says that the arrival of the creatures signals the arrival of other treasures of the deep -- Japanese glass net floats and other things. But the sight of the little fairy creatures marking the wave lines along the beach is a treasure in itself.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mt. St. Helens

Originally uploaded by janbear.
It might have been a better photo, but I was across the Columbia River and shooting through a window screen, so it might also have been worse.

An antidote

Originally uploaded by janbear.
To the creepy guy below.

(Irises in Lithia Park, Ashland.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm liberal to a degree* . . .

. . . but can we just not let creepy people cross the border?

Especially if they're carrying blood-stained chain saws?

*Apologies to Bob Dylan.

Monday, June 06, 2005

When did the Left fall out with the Soviet Union?

Controversy swirls around the rightward tilt of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As I've said before, the only TV show I watch is Stargate SG-1, which isn't on PBS, so although I suspect that the change is correcting a list rather than causing one, I'll leave that for actual viewers to argue.

Here's what snagged my attention:
Oh, but people do object, lots of them, and in the overwrought terms typical of today's polemicists. A writer for the liberal magazine American Prospect called Tomlinson a "commissar of political correctness" bent on "Soviet-style partisan patronage, cronyism, and abuse." "The conservative attack on independent journalism has begun to spread," said a columnist for the Cox newspaper chain. Writing in the Boston Globe, a host of an NPR talk show also saw shadows of "Soviet-era Moscow" in Tomlinson's quest for balanced programming.

Ten years after the breakup of the Soviet Union PBS supporters have discovered that it was a repressive regime, perhaps even -- if it's anything like the United States -- an Evil Empire?

At this rate, the Left should be discovering Kosovo in a year or two, Sudan in five or so and Castro's Cuba in another decade. You'll know it's happened when they start saying U.S. soldiers are like the KLA, that Mississippi is like Darfur, and Guantanamo (if we're still keeping terrorists down their by then) is just like, well, Cuba.

Next thing you know, they'll be comparing Bush to Stalin, which would be a change of mustache anyway.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Starstruck on stem cells

I'll never wash my comments thread again (I mean that as self-deprecating humor, in case it's not clear) -- Jonathan Alter himself commented on my fisking of his column:
jan...your faith in adult stem cell research would be touching if it wasn't so ignorant. why do you write about things you know nothing about? I had an autologous adult stem cell transplant last summer. I hope it keeps me alive. But it was not curative. One of the promising ways to get a cure for my cancer and many other diseases is by getting someone else's stem cells. But my siblings did not match and receiving a stranger's would be extremely dangerous. The South Korean research points the way to an allogenaic stem cell transplant that could save my life and that of many others (you're pro-life, aren't you? So you want to save my life, right?). But the only way is with embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are rejected. (IT's complicated scientifically). You have been sold a bill of goods. I WISH adult stem cells were enough. But I need to do more than wish. I need to stay alive.

Best wishes,
Jonathan Alter

OK, so it was snide and condescending, but his stuff appears in Newsweek, and mine appears in, well, in A World of Speculation (and I've been known to be snide and condescending myself, so I guess I'm in good company). Anyway, to save you the trouble of finding the comment thread, here's my reply:
Wow, I got a comment from Jonathan Alter. I average 27 hits a day, but you've got to be worth at least six.

Anyway, I'm glad you're still alive and that your cancer is in remission. I hope for a lasting cure.

That said, all of us are terminal at some time or another, and I still don't see that you've stated any limitation on what the more powerful (wealthy, adult, articulate, well-connected) may take from the less powerful (small, defined as expendable, lacking connections or protection, unable to command resources).

I am at this time free of terminal illnesses, but I would hope that if I were faced with that challenge I would not be willing to take the life of another person to extend my own.

None of the stem cell technologies are reliable as yet, and people who lived and died before them -- or before penicillin, for that matter -- lived and died according to time not of their own making. Even after penicillin, people yet live and die outside their own control, and so too if and when stem cell technologies are perfected.

You don't believe these embryos are people, probably because they are so small -- a tragic failure of imagination common to our time. But at what point does the embryo become large enough to command its own destiny? Is it when your imagination takes hold? When the Supreme Court determines it to have human life? When the mother looks into its face and says, "I recognize you"?

Some bioethicists have said that we should allow abortions up to two years past birth. [Correction on this: I was thinking of Peter Singer, who has said, "a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee." Recast the following as adjusted.] Think what a resource those large fetuses would be -- the organs that could save the lives of important artists, scientists, professors, writers, government officials, captains of industry. Think of a two-year-old you know -- he is not different in essence from the embryo smaller than a period that he was just a little less than three years ago.

I wish you a long and fruitful life, but not at the expense of the life of another who is equally a person, equally valuable.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Another false division

Jonathan Alter, writing in Newsweek, apparently should know better, but he loses the distinction between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells: "As a cancer survivor with an adult-stem-cell transplant under my belt, I'm not exactly neutral on the issue of embryonic-stem-cell research."

Let's look at that sentence again: cancer survivor -- adult stem cell transplant -- "not exactly neutral on . . . embryonic-stem-cell research."

And then he goes on, as so many in the pro-experimentation camp do, to deny the distinction between adult and embryonic stem cells in favor of "'pro-cure' versus 'anti-cure.'" And Leftists say that pro-lifers are incapable of nuance.

Here's the nut of his argument, if you can call it an argument:
Bioethical blowhard Leon Kass of the University of Chicago conned Bush into seeing the issue as morally complex, but the rest of the world understands that it's simple enough—reproductive cloning (to create Frankensteins), no; embryonic-stem-cell research (to cure diseases), yes. (The phrase "therapeutic cloning" should be retired.) Enshrining this basic distinction in law is a better bulwark against the "slippery slope" problem than hair-splitting limitations. Most nations understand this. Only Bush bitter-enders and the pope are in the perverse position of valuing the life of an ailing human being less than that of a tiny clump of cells no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.
He begins with name-calling against Kass, a philospher of bioethics who argues that human life is valuable because it is human. Alter then denies that the issue is complex and explains how simple it is by hanging a happy face on one side of an equation and a sad face on the other. If we're going to call it cloning, that's bad, but if we do the same thing and call it stem-cell research, that's good. Because we're not creating monsters, he says, without really saying what the difference is, we're making cures.

The problem is that if you use a human being as spare parts, then by that very action you have made the person a "thing," if not in reality, then in your own eyes and that of everyone who gains by the exchange. So maybe the cloners are making monsters -- of themselves and their advocates.

Alter describes those who hold this position as "Bush bitter-enders and the pope" -- if that's true, I'm proud to be in their company -- who value "the life of an ailing human person less than that of a tiny clump of cells no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence." So, Mr. Alter, how big is big enough to be of equal value to an ailing person? And how do we determine the comparative value of any given ailing person against the value of any given smaller person. Alter accuses pro-lifers of splitting hairs, but he gives no clear line of distinction -- other than managing our terminology -- between those who are fair game and those who are not. Just as abortion has advanced to partial-birth abortion and the parent's "right" to a dead baby, embryonic stem cell research offers no line to stop at embryonic stem cells when there are embryonic organs to harvest.

And the sad thing is that it's all so unnecessary. The cures are in adult stem cells, as Alter himself says in his opening paragraph. He didn't need to destroy a human being to be a cancer survivor; the cures are coming from cells that people have plenty of just lying around.

It's a rare occasion when nobody has to lose, and so I don't understand why Alter and his ilk insist on making it a losing proposition -- he says for Republicans, which may be what he's looking for, but beyond partisan politics, the insistence on embryonic stem cells is a defeat for the little ones and for all of us.

UPDATE: This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Why people go overseas to adopt

An Oregon judge took a baby away from adoptive parents and gave it to an 18-year-old boy because the baby's mother didn't inform him that an adoption was being planned.

The sperm donor didn't want anything to do with the girl after their night of passion and wouldn't return her phone calls when she tried to tell him she was pregnant. He didn't believe it was his child, and he called the girl a gold digger. But his mother wanted the baby. "He" challenged the adoption, and Judge Paula Kurshner ruled in "his" favor.

This news story says, "Under Oregon's 1975 adoption law, an unmarried man has a claim on a child if he establishes paternity or contributes or tries to contribute child support. But the law does not require an independent agency to notify a birth father of a pending adoption even if the agency knows his identity."

I suppose the judge felt that she was constrained to follow the law, but why is it that judges become strict constructionists only when it creates the greatest injustice? (Note to self: write a letter to legislators to fix the stupid law. They can create a state fossil, but on important things, the laws allow idiocies like this happen.)

Judge Kurshner extended to the adoptive parents "the sympathy of the court." If I were losing my baby, I'd have preferred that the judge ditch the mask and spit in my face.

One reason we went halfway around the planet to adopt our girls.

UPDATE: A version of this post is at Blogger News Network.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stassen recants

I won't even pretend to hate telling you I told you so.

New figures out from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, shows that abortions have decreased under Pres. Bush.

Late last year, Leftist Christian and abortion advocate Glenn Stassen did a loosy-goosy study that purported to prove that abortions had risen under the first pro-life president in a decade and one of the two most reliable pro-life presidents in history. The newer study explains what Stassen did wrong, and Stassen himself acknowledges, "They say their results are only estimates, projections, but I believe their results are significantly better than what I could have obtained seven months ago."

Nice. Too bad this statement isn't going to get the same currency as the earlier one. Within the past week I read a letter to the editor from some Leftist Catholic saying that the abortion rate has gone up under Bush as if it's a solid statistic.

As the wise man said (shorthand for I didn't make it up, but I don't recall who did): Lies run around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.

But good on AGI for honest reporting and Stassen for admitting his error.

UPDATE: A version of this post is also available at Blogger News Network.

Whose Privacy?

In a ruling that will make a lot of people shriek about the Patriot Act (though it has nothing to do with either patriotism or terrorism, an Indiana judge has ruled that Planned Parenthood can no longer shield rapists from child abuse authorities.

At issue are the medical records of 84 girls younger than age 14 who visited Planned Parenthood, and according to the law in Indiana, if a girl needs to visit Planned Parenthood before 14, someone is molesting her, by definition.

So think about it: whose privacy is really being protected by the organization? The girls? Their names won't be released, and the authorities won't be accusing them of any crimes. It's the "uncles," neighbors and boyfriends who took advantage of them.

Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said, "We are a trusted member of the community and work closely with authorities to protect the young women and men in Indiana."

Funny place to mention that they protect the men as well as the young women.