Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Movie, a President, and a Mouse


The path to scandal.

By Anna Nimouse
http://www.nationalreview.com
September 21, 2007 5:00 AM

I think I’ve found the next E! True Hollywood Story, and it’s packed with all that you might expect: plenty of deception, outrage, and back-biting politics (and no, this is not about Paris Hilton).

The protagonist in our story is a principled young man named Cyrus, and his story begins with a commission by ABC to write a script about the events surrounding the tragedy of September 11, 2001. ABC, desperately trying to beat out other networks, requires the assurance that Cyrus will beat them to the punch.

Thus, Cyrus began his task: to edit an almost insurmountable collection of information concerning the events and strategies leading up to 9/11, and to put it into a screenplay that was at once compelling and absolutely honest. He combed through not just the 9/11 report, but also books, magazines, newspapers, and court transcripts; he interviewed multiple advisers and people involved in the events. He seemed determined that this story should not be politicized, and that the truth should be publicized. The public deserved, nay, needed desperately to know the series of events making up this life and death tale. In the end, Cyrus delivered a script that ran 300 pages with over 260 speaking parts.

Because ABC insisted that Cyrus accompany each scene with no less than two footnotes and two sources to verify that the assertions were true, the annotation he turned in was 50 pages longer than the script itself. ABC, their lawyers, and fact-checkers approved the script, and it went into production. A rather unique mini-series called A Path to 9/11 emerged, and ABC scheduled it to air.

And then, they showed it to the press.

The mini-series was broken into two main sections: The first of these sections, because it dealt mainly with the events leading up to the terrorist attacks, portrayed former President Clinton in, well, less-than-flattering light. The second part was equally condemning of President Bush, though the press didn’t get quite that far; they were too outraged to bother with the second portion.



Rumors started and fury grew over the allegedly unfair treatment of the Clinton administration. One scene particularly goaded the press: it was a retrospectively tragic scene, in which The U.S. had Bin Laden surrounded and no one, least of all National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, would give the go ahead. Berger objected to the scene claiming “The one time we had good information about bin Laden's whereabouts was in August of 1998. We fired 50 tomahawk missiles into the camp where we believed he was… There was no other occasion while we were in office that we had an opportunity to get bin Laden or eyes on bin Laden.” Then, when asked about the specific incident portrayed in the movie, he answered, “I believe in that situation the CIA itself called off the operation because they didn't believe it was reliable.”

Methinks he doth protest too much. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the OBL unit at the CIA’s counterterrorist center sent ABC News an e-mail, claiming, “the core of the movie is irrefutably true: the Clinton administration had 10 chances to capture or kill Bin Laden.”

Gary Schroen, former CIA field agent who was the first American into Afghanistan after 9/11, said publicly, “…the movie is remarkably accurate.” He also maintains that there were 13 such opportunities to capture Bin Laden. Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, chief White House military aide to President Clinton, said, “In terms of conveying how the Clinton administration handled its opportunities to get bin Laden, it’s 100 percent factually correct… I was there with Clinton and Berger and watched the missed opportunities occur.”

Bill Clinton commented, “I don't want any lies in there parading as truth, that's all.” Now that’s a refreshing change of pace, so major media outlets took up the chorus.

In fact, Wolf Blitzer provided Sandy Berger and William Cohen prime time on CNN in order to disparage the movie and demand that it be pulled off the air. None of them had in fact, viewed the film, which de facto prevented them from “lying” about it. In Berger’s interview, Blitzer even failed to inquire about the 2003 incident, in which Berger stole original documents from the national archives, destroyed them, and then lied about it. It would have been a valuable and highly pertinent part of the interview, since Berger was in fact sent by Clinton, ostensibly to prepare for their testimony at the 9/11 Commission, and since Berger pled guilty to charges in April of 2005. Apparently there wasn’t space to squeeze in a bit of worthwhile information, since interviewer and interviewee were set on discussing a movie both have admittedly not seen. In their own words, “only on CNN.”

After a letter from Harry Reid and five other senators (again to Disney/ABC) threatening revocation of their station licenses if they didn’t pull or re-cut the movie, and the urgings of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, on the house floor, that we all “consider the backgrounds of the people behind this,” ABC finally caved. It did indeed re-cut the scene in question and some other footage of Clinton testifying about Monica. All in all, about 3 minutes (of ‘lies’) were lost, but, thankfully, the battle was won. The Path to 9/11 had almost 28 million viewers over two nights, winning outright in the ratings on night two.



So the question remains, why has Disney/ABC not yet released the DVD?

They had slated it for a January release. Then they rescheduled it for June. June has come and gone; no release, no future date, and no explanation. Thousands of bootleg copies have been sold on the Internet, such that Disney attorneys threatened eBay, and eBay took down the ads.

Incredibly, the Clinton gang, with Bob Iger, might be the reason there is no scheduled release of the DVD of this fantastically successful show. Is Bill Clinton in bed with a mouse? (Sorry…) More importantly, is the mouse afraid for its broadcast license?

Otherwise, where is the fiscal responsibility of Disney/ABC to their stockholders? With 28 million viewers one might reasonably expect sales of a third of that, or roughly $200 million in proceeds. That’s money that would eventually make its way into dividends in some retirement accounts. I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. By not releasing a highly successful film on DVD, when even Poseidon (an incredible $160 million flop), was released on DVD not even four months after its theatrical release, the Walt Disney Company seems to be purposefully not trying to make money, and that’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility.

One wonders, if Hilary weren’t running for president, would Disney be showing more of a profit? Two hundred million dollars is a lot of money to allow your company to leave behind because of a personal friendship or political partisanship. In fact, it’s downright scandalous.

—Anna Nimouse is a nom de cyber for an actress and mother living in Hollywood.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jason Whitlock: Lessons from Jena, La.

Two youths key to the Jena case, Robert Bailey Jr. (left) and Theo Shaw, stood as the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke to protesters.



Posted on Thu, Sep. 20, 2007 10:15 PM

The Kansas City Star

Now we love Mychal Bell, the star of the 2006 Jena (La.) High School football team, the teenage boy who has sat in jail since December for his role in a six-on-one beatdown of a fellow student.

Thursday, thousands of us, proud African-Americans, expressed our devotion to and desire to see justice for the “Jena Six,” the half-dozen black students who knocked unconscious, kicked and stomped a white classmate.

Jesse Jackson compared Thursday’s rallies in Jena to the protests and marches that used to take place in cities like Selma, Ala., in the 1960s. Al Sharpton claimed Thursday’s peaceful demonstrations were to highlight racial inequities in the criminal justice system.

Jesse and Al, as they’re prone to do, served a kernel of truth stacked on a mountain of lies.

There are undeniable racial and economic inequities in our criminal justice system, and from afar the “Jena Six” rallies certainly looked and felt like the righteous protests of the 1960s.

But the reality is Thursday’s protests are just another sign that we remain deeply locked in denial about the path we need to travel today for true American liberation, equality and power in the new millennium.

The fact that we waited to love Mychal Bell until after he’d thrown away a Division I football scholarship and nine months of his life is just as heinous as the grossly excessive attempted-murder charges that originally landed him in jail.

Reed Walters, the Jena district attorney, is being accused of racism because he didn’t show Bell compassion when the teenager was brought before the court for the third time on assault charges in a two-year span.

Where was our compassion long before Bell got into this kind of trouble?

That’s the question that needed to be asked in Jena and across the country on Thursday. But it wasn’t asked because everyone has been lied to about what really transpired in the small southern town.

There was no “schoolyard fight” as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree.

Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.

A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the “Jena Six” case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker’s assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the “Jena Six” in reaction to Walters’ extreme charges of attempted murder.

Much has been written about Bell’s trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.

It’s almost never mentioned that Bell’s absentee father returned from Dallas and re-entered his son’s life only after Bell faced attempted-murder charges. At a bond hearing in August, Bell’s father and a parade of local ministers promised a judge that they would supervise Bell if he was released from prison.

Where were the promises and supervision before any of this?

It’s rarely mentioned that Bell was already on probation for assault when he was accused of participating in Barker’s attack. And it’s never mentioned that white people in the “racist” town of Jena provided Bell support and protected his football career long before Jesse, Al, Bell’s father and all the others took a sincere interest in Mychal Bell.

To reach Jason Whitlock, call 816-234-4869 or send e-mail to jwhitlock@kcstar.com. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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'E Street Radio' Returns

'E Street Radio' Channel, Dedicated to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Returns Exclusively to SIRIUS Satellite Radio

'E Street Radio' to feature music from Springsteen's new album "Magic," exclusive interviews with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and rare archival concert recordings

NEW YORK, Sept 20, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ --

In celebration of Bruce Springsteen's new album and concert tour with the E Street Band, SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) announced today the return of E Street Radio, an exclusive commercial-free channel dedicated to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19991118/NYTH125 )
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070920/NYTH115 )

The channel will premiere September 27th at 6 pm ET, on SIRIUS channel 10, and will run on SIRIUS through late March 2008.

The return of E Street Radio on SIRIUS coincides with start of the band's 2007 concert tour, as well as the October 2nd release of Magic, Bruce Springsteen's highly-anticipated first album recorded with the E Street Band since 2002's multi-platinum and Grammy(R) award-winning The Rising. "The return of E Street Radio brings fans unprecedented access to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band," said Scott Greenstein, SIRIUS President of Entertainment and Sports. "Thanks to Bruce Springsteen, it is with great pleasure that we are able to bring the channel back to the many Springsteen fans who eagerly wanted the return of E Street Radio, which first launched on SIRIUS in late 2005. The E Street Radio channel will benefit from Bruce and the E Street Band's unique contributions, but also will include even more fan participation in shaping the sound of the channel." As the band's 30-city worldwide tour rolls on after its kickoff concert in Hartford, CT on October 2nd, listeners to SIRIUS' E Street Radio channel will hear daily features on the new album's music and track-by-track discussions with Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band members. The E Street Radio channel will also feature archival concert recordings of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band dating from early 1973, and behind-the-scenes insights from band insiders.

E Street Radio will feature involvement from Springsteen fans nationwide who will be asked to submit their favorite live recordings of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concerts. Those whose submissions are selected will get the chance to guest host and share their memories of the show on E Street Radio. Springsteen fans, both celebrity and otherwise, will also be able guest DJ on the channel, playing their favorite Springsteen music for fans across America.

In addition to E Street Radio, SIRIUS is the exclusive home of two popular channels produced by E Street Band member, "Little Steven" Van Zandt, The Underground Garage and Outlaw Country. SIRIUS also offers exclusive commercial-free music channels dedicated entirely to some of the world's greatest recording artists including the Grateful Dead Channel, Elvis Radio, Jimmy Buffett's Radio Margaritaville, Eminem's Shade 45 and Siriusly Sinatra, devoted to the music and legacy of Frank Sinatra. SIRIUS has previously dedicated channels exclusively to the music of The Rolling Stones and The Who.

To learn more about the E Street Radio channel on SIRIUS, please visit http://www.sirius.com/.

Al Gore’s Unbeatable Deal!

Global warming at twice the cost.

By Iain Murray
http://www.nationalreview.com/
September 21, 2007 5:45 AM

Just imagine the infomercial: Have I got a deal for you! You may not know it, but your house is leaking energy, which means that you are the victim of colossal waste. In fact, your waste of energy will cost you a total of $22,000 over the rest of your life. But I’ve got a package of home improvements we can install to slash that to a mere $10,000. What? The cost of these improvements? It’s a pittance really — a mere $34,000.

Sound implausible? It should, but that’s exactly the sales pitch — minus admission of the actual cost — that Al Gore, Sir Nicholas Stern of the U.K. Treasury, and a host of climate doomsayers are pushing on governments around the world.

The significant problems that might be caused by global warming are indisputable; all the major figures in climate economics agree. Yet they also, with the exception of Sir Nicholas, agree that drastic action now would be even more costly.

That, for instance, is the conclusion of William Nordhaus of Yale University. Dr. Nordhaus could be considered the doyen of global warming economists; he has been estimating the economic costs of climate change since the 1970s. In his latest estimate, he assesses the costs of unmitigated global warming of 3°C at about $22 trillion. That is indeed a lot of money.

Yet Nordhaus, like most economists, considers the mitigation measures proposed by Al Gore and Sir Nicholas too costly. These measures concentrate on making energy use more expensive — which in turn imposes costs of its own — slows economic growth in the developing world, and imposes significant additional costs on developed economies.

In fact, the costs of the Gore and Stern policy packages are far more expensive in total than the global warming they’re meant to fix. Gore’s package, Nordhaus finds, reduces the costs of global warming to $10 trillion, but at a cost of $34 trillion. Thus the world is left $44 trillion worse off at the end of the 21st century, which is double the cost of doing nothing. The Stern figures are similar: Sir Nicholas’s package would reduce global-warming damage to $9 trillion, at a cost of $27 trillion, for a total cost to the world of $36 trillion — 50-percent more expensive than doing nothing about global warming.

All of this is not merely an abstraction; the costs are very real. They represent a reduction in welfare in money available to fight diseases and keep hospitals running, to provide drinking water and food, and to educate our children and keep them safe. If global warming is a catastrophe, what do you call a politician who advocates something twice as damaging?

Doomsayers reply that this is nonsense, arguing that Sir Nicholas’s work has shown his plans to be very cost-effective, reducing the costs of climate change by 20 times the cost of the policies. Yet Sir Nicholas’s results depart radically from the basic economics. As Nordhaus says, they are not based on any new economics, science, or modeling, but on a radical new way of treating the present valuation of future costs. In that model, costs that occur after 2800 weigh heavily on us today, whereas in accepted economics, they would be insignificant. Nordhaus does not mince words; he describes Sir Nicholas’s report as having been rushed, lacking elementary sensitivity tests, and designed to appeal to politicians.

Another climate economist, Dr. Richard Tol of the University of Hamburg, recently reassessed the economic literature on the costs of global warming, and finds that the likely actual lifetime cost to the world of each ton of carbon dioxide released is very small, about $5 per ton a vastly lower sum than Sir Nicholas’s figure of $86 per ton.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Tol points out, there is little funding support for this research because the results are unpopular with climate policymakers. And this, of course, is no wonder; climate policymakers are stand to benefit from selling some very expensive snake oil.

— Iain Murray is senior fellow in Science, Technology & Medicine at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Richard John Neuhaus: The Truce of 2005?



Copyright (c) 2006 First Things (February 2006).


In his influential book The Courage to Be Catholic, George Weigel wrote about the “The Truce of 1968.” By that is meant the decision not to discipline the many theologians and priests who, in a public and concerted campaign, rejected the teaching of the 1968 encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). Now, in view of the widespread rejection—sometimes explicit, sometimes oblique—of the November 4 Vatican instruction on homosexuality and the priesthood, the question is asked whether we should be preparing ourselves for “The Truce of 2005.”

An editorial in the liberal magazine Commonweal, makes the connections:

Whether it is birth control, homosexuality, or the range of sexual contact permitted between spouses, church teaching offers little that speaks to the experience of the vast majority of faithful Catholics, who now insist that they know something about sexual morality that the Church’s leadership needs to learn. . . . There is hardly a Catholic alive who doesn’t have a colleague, a neighbor, a friend, a relative, or a child who is gay. Like Humanae Vitae, barring homosexuals from the priesthood would force many Catholics, both straight and gay, into internal or outright exile from the Church.

It is not surprising when Commonweal dissents from magisterial authority. It is also conventional that dissenters assert that a document is not really all that authoritative. And so the editors say that “the document was issued by a Vatican congregation, not by the pope, thus diminishing its authority.” In fact, the document bears the notice: “The supreme pontiff Benedict XVI, on August 31, 2005, approved this present instruction and ordered its publication.” That, it would seem, is very much like a document issued by the pope. But quibbling over the forms of the document is a distraction from the substantive questions engaged.

It may be thought that the dissent of the editors of Commonweal is predictable and not terribly important. There is something to that, and, as we shall see, it is by no means the most important dissent. But the connection with Humanae Vitae and 1968 is suggestive. Recall that the Truce of 1968 was put in place when Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle, then archbishop of Washington, D.C., attempted to discipline those who had openly rejected the teaching of the encyclical, only to have the rug pulled out from under him by higher authority in Rome.



Pope Paul VI

Weigel writes that “everyone involved understood that Pope Paul VI wanted the ‘Washington Case’ settled without a public retraction from the dissidents, because the pope feared that insisting on such a retraction would lead to schism—a formal split in the Church in Washington, and perhaps beyond. The pope, evidently, was willing for a time to tolerate dissent on an issue on which he had made a solemn, authoritative statement, hoping that the day would come when, in a calmer cultural and ecclesiastical atmosphere, the truth of that teaching could be appreciated. The mechanism agreed upon to buy time for that to happen was the ‘Truce of 1968.’” We are still, according to Weigel, living with the consequences of that decision:

Whatever the intentions of those who negotiated the Truce of 1968, the net result of this remarkable episode was to promote intellectual, moral, and disciplinary disorder in the Catholic Church in the United States. The lesson learned was that rejecting moral doctrines solemnly proclaimed by the Church’s teaching authority was, essentially, penalty-free. Obedience to what the Church taught to be the truth, and obedience to legitimate ecclesiastical superiors, were now, somehow, optional. That disorder and indiscipline followed should not have been surprising.

The recent instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education is not, strictly speaking, doctrinal. It is a directive based upon moral doctrine and might best be described as a prudential judgment made by “legitimate ecclesiastical superiors” and to be followed by all under their authority. Further, while it is issued by the authority of the pope, it does not, unlike Humanae Vitae, carry the more solemn weight of an encyclical. That having been said, it requires a measure of exegetical agility to interpret some of the criticisms of the instruction as anything less than a rejection of the Church’s constantly held doctrine regarding human sexuality, and homosexuality in particular. The teaching is that homosexual desires are objectively disordered and homosexual acts are intrinsically immoral. This is joined to a call to respect and extend pastoral care to those who are burdened by same-sex desire, helping them to respond, along with sinners of every kind, to the “universal call to holiness.”

The Quality of Dissimulation

The instruction says that the Church “cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” Immediate objections came hard and fast to all three stipulations. What does it mean to “practice homosexuality”? Is support for the civil rights of homosexuals a form of support for “gay culture”? And, most of all, what is meant by “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”? Some of these questions are understandable and no doubt honestly asked. Many of the challenges to the instruction, however, reflect a continuing decline in the quality of dissimulation practiced by those who reject the magisterial teaching of the Church.

There is, for instance, a mix of candor, defiance, and evasion in a December 8 letter sent by the provincial, Father Robert Scullin, S.J., to the members of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus. He writes: “The instruction’s call to affective maturity as a necessary condition for a healthy celibate priesthood and religious life affirms the long-standing goal of our formation program—both initial and continuing. All of us must continue to work toward an integrated affective sexual maturity if we wish to be of greater service to the Church and civil society. We continue to invite all qualified young men of either orientation who desire to lead a celibate chaste religious life to consider joining us on our mission. We welcome them and are proud to have them among us.”

In short, and the instruction notwithstanding, the Society of Jesus will continue to do what it has been doing. (The reference to “either orientation,” with its implicit exclusion of the bisexual and transsexual, is somewhat surprising.) The above provincial is very displeased, however, by a member of the province who “outed” himself as gay in the Detroit Free Press. Father Thomas J. O’Brien, S.J., criticizes the teaching that homosexuality is objectively disordered. “There is plentiful evidence that this is not true,” he writes. “Lesbian sisters and gay brothers and priests have, indeed, been models of relating to people—especially to the disenfranchised and excluded of society.” Of the instruction he says, “This document reveals a fundamentally disordered view of gender and sexual orientation.” Affirming the invaluable contributions made by homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, and transsexual persons, Fr. O’Brien concludes: “Thankfully, God is greater than any religion or any church.”

Referring to Fr. O’Brien’s public statement, Fr. Scullin, his provincial, writes: “I can appreciate the distress that led him to speak out. Yet we are first members of an apostolic body, and so personal actions, however compelling we feel them to be, have consequences for all our brothers and all our works.” Fr. Scullin therefore asks that “no Jesuit take any controversial public step without prior, direct consultation with the provincial.” Fr. Scullin in no way suggests that he disagrees with Fr. O’Brien’s rejection of church teaching, only that it should be kept within the family, so to speak. As he puts it, “This is our way of proceeding.” It is a way of proceeding that candidly says (at least within the family) that the instruction will be ignored, while asking Jesuits to be publicly discreet about their repudiation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality.

While members of other religious orders, some diocesan priests, and even a few bishops who have cultivated a reputation for being “gay-friendly” have sharply criticized the November instruction, the Jesuits do seem to be in the vanguard of the attack. Father Thomas Reese, S.J., who recently resigned as editor of America, a Jesuit weekly—or was removed, depending on which account one credits (see First Things August/September 2005)—complains, “The Vatican is making decisions about the appropriateness of ordaining homosexuals in total ignorance of how many current priests are homosexuals, how well they observe celibacy, and how well they do ministry.”



Father Thomas Reese, S.J.,

The instruction makes the point that nobody has a right to be ordained to the priesthood and that the final decision rests with the Church which is responsible for her own ministry. To which Fr. Reese responds, “If someone is called to the priesthood by God but denied it by church officials, then it is not a violation of a human right; it is a violation of a divine right—the right of God to call whomever he chooses to the priesthood.” Presumably, the individual discerns whether he—or, for that matter, she—is called to the priesthood, and the role of the Church is limited to ratifying that discernment. Needless to say, this is not the way the Catholic Church understands the vocation to priesthood.

Cognitive Dissonance

Father John Coleman, S.J., is acclaimed by some as one of the leading intellectual lights among contemporary Jesuits. He teaches at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and is a frequent contributor to America and Theological Studies, a Jesuit quarterly. He recently addressed the annual meeting of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries. “I am, simultaneously, a gay man, a professional sociologist, and an ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church,” he said. “Not surprisingly, these different, even conflicting, roles and their expectations sometimes cause me to experience intense cognitive dissonance.”

The dissonance, he said, results from “the universal love and outreach of Jesus to all, even sinners, versus a sense that homosexuality, if practiced, is against the teaching of Christianity.” When people succeed in integrating their identities, Fr. Coleman said, it “will lead to something new, and for some, an oxymoron: a GLBT practicing Christian and practicing homosexual.” That gives rise to the questions, he said, “Can you ordain them? Can you have holy union ceremonies?” The Jesuit policy, he said, is not don’t ask, don’t tell, but, rather, do ask and do tell. “You’re not going to have integrated, mature sexuality unless you process it—and therefore yes, ask; yes, tell; yes, process.”

It should not be thought that these are simply expressions of unhappiness with the instruction from Rome. What can only be described as Jesuit repudiation of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is considered and apparently entrenched in the leadership of the Society. Theological Studies, the Jesuit academic quarterly, publishes articles such as “The Open Debate: Moral Theology and the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Persons.” Father James F. Keenan, S.J., professor of moral theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Massachusetts, leaves no doubt that he thinks it is a legitimate debate and it is wide open. He cites numerous gay and gay-friendly Catholic thinkers who agree with him. “In comparison to the other Christian churches, the Vatican’s position has changed only a little even though a lively debate exists within the Church at every other level. The Vatican’s teaching remains so because its contemporary exponents privilege as a condition of truthfulness a teaching’s unchanged status.”

Put differently, the “contemporary exponents,” including John Paul II and Benedict XVI, impermissibly “privilege” their view on the assumption that two millennia of consistent Christian reflection and teaching may have a bearing on truthfulness. The authors whom Fr. Keenan favorably cites challenge the reluctance of the late moral theologian, Richard McCormick, also a Jesuit, to affirm that the homosexual condition and homogenital acts are “good and normal.” It is said that McCormick has been outdated by developments that “initially appear threatening and disruptive” but lead to a recognition that “homosexuality can be a new name for its own embodying manifestation of Godlife.” Pope John Paul’s extensive writings on nuptial sexuality are criticized for “privileging gender complementarity and providing grounds for excluding the moral validity of expressed same-sex love.”

Homosexuality was once viewed in terms of inversion, and Fr. Keenan is taken with the suggestion that we should find consolation “in God’s revolutionary movements of inverting all things.” He concludes his reflection with this:

The open debate is an extensive one, occurring throughout the Catholic world. As they engage in this debate, moral theologians do not superficially validate personal lifestyles but rather propose a variety of criteria for assessing the morality of the way ordinary gay and lesbian persons live their lives. The debate helps us to see, then, that the Catholic tradition is rich, human, and capable of being relevant to help gay and lesbian persons find moral ways of living out their lives and the ways they are called to love. Gay and lesbian persons respond by offering, from their experience, a variety of ways of imagining not only their own self-understanding, but the way we are called to be Church. Like other groups of people who have been oppressed by, among others, the Church, they help us to see that by silencing and marginalizing them, we do harm to them, ourselves, the Church, and the gospel.

Again, the Jesuits are not alone in proposing a thoroughly revisionist sexual morality. They seem to be the most outspoken, however, perhaps because they command more effective instruments of communication and control numerous colleges and universities in this country and elsewhere. Then too, and despite the Jesuits’ diminishing numbers, prestige, and influence, there are still those who think the word “Jesuit” carries a certain intellectual cachet.

Also among those who accept the Church’s sexual ethic, there are significant differences in the understanding of the recent instruction. Father Bruce Williams, a Dominican teaching at the Angelicum in Rome, writes that the term “homosexuality,” as used in this and other Vatican documents, always has reference to genital acts—the doing of them or the desire to do them. Thus the instruction is not so much concerned with what might be called personality types but with people who act or are likely to act in ways clearly incompatible with living a life of chaste celibacy. Fr. Williams explains:

These criteria [specified by the instruction] would appear not to exclude a good number of men who might be broadly described as “gay” in common parlance. Consider a man who was homogenitally active in the past and overcame or outgrew this activity in young adulthood. He still experiences warm affection toward men, but homogenital temptations are extremely infrequent and always dismissed quickly and easily. He has never been sexually attracted to women, though he relates normally and even warmly to them also. He does not participate or take an interest in “gay culture,” though he does favor some particular political initiatives aimed at securing civil rights for homosexual people.

He is comfortable with who he is by the grace of God, and wants to give himself to the Lord’s service as a celibate priest. He is not “in the closet” about his sexuality, but sexual orientation does not enter into his self-definition; it simply is not an issue in his life, nor is he driven to make an issue of it in dealing with others. Many people might still label such a man as “gay”; he might even accept this designation, understanding it as an acknowledgment of some affectional and lightly erotic but essentially non-genital bearing toward other men. One could argue whether the appellation “gay” is appropriate here; but, as far as I can see, one cannot plausibly argue that this man has “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or “supports gay culture” in the sense conveyed by the new Roman instruction.

As many cultural observers have noted, the success of the gay ideology in recent decades has almost obliterated the memory of those who used to be called bachelors. They were understood to be those who could get along, or preferred to get along, without sex or marriage. Today it is the entrenched cultural orthodoxy that, whatever the “orientation” of one’s sexual desire, that desire and acting on that desire are essential to one’s identity and psychological well-being. Fr. Williams offers the important reminder that, contra our sex-obsessed culture, there are many people, including men who discern a call to the priesthood, for whom sex is simply not that big a deal. (Studies indicate that that is also the case with many married couples, although some of them are a bit embarrassed about it.)

The Priestly Sacrifice



Bishop John M. D'Arcy and Pope John Paul II in Rome.

A somewhat different perspective is pressed by Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne, Indiana. D’Arcy has extensive experience in seminary formation, has been a bishop for thirty years, and is widely respected for his thoughtful straightforwardness. (Not incidentally, as an auxiliary bishop in Boston he many years ago raised the alarm about priestly sex abuse in the archdiocese. For his efforts, he was exiled to Fort Wayne in 1985.) In response to the Roman instruction, Bishop D’Arcy writes:

To be happy, a priest must be convinced in his heart that he would be a good father and good husband. Like marriage, the priesthood involves making a gift of oneself to another. Pope John Paul II called it an officium caritatus, that is, an Office of Love. It cannot be an escape for someone who is afraid of marriage, believed he would not be happy in marriage or would not be a good spouse or father. The priest gives up something very beautiful—a lifelong relationship with a good woman, children, and grandchildren. [These are] needs that are deep within our humanity. He gives it up for something beautiful—to be a priest and shepherd after the heart of Christ. He must believe that Christ is calling him. It is a sacrifice. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice in the same way for a person with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. He is not drawn to marriage in the same way. Thus, immediately, there is a division in the priesthood.

Some have said that, if this document is implemented, it will lead to a shortage of priests. I do not believe that. I think the way out of the shortage is to ordain young men of quality—not supermen, which would eliminate all of us—but good men who would also make good husbands and fathers, and who can make a gift of themselves to others. These, in turn, will draw similar men.

“There is a division in the priesthood.” I expect most bishops and priests would agree with that, and can cite chapter and verse from their own experience. Those who write about a “lavender mafia” that dominates some seminaries, chancery offices, and church bureaucracies may sometimes overstate the matter. But it is no surprise that like attracts like. Generally speaking, men who are attracted to men are attracted to men who are attracted to men. Sociologists call it elective affinity.

Father Bruce Williams, O.P., and Bishop D’Arcy both affirm the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and welcome the new instruction. Fr. Williams titles his essay, “Rome and Gays: A Nuanced Response.” Bishop D’Arcy says, in effect, that it is such nuance that got us into the present mess. While the Church must be loving and pastorally concerned in dealing with everyone, he says, when it comes to the priesthood, the word must go forth that the Church is looking for manly men.

Those who are sharply critical of the instruction are slicing and dicing definitions of “transitory” and “deep-seated” same-sex desires, and disingenuously claiming to be puzzled by what on earth the instruction can mean by “gay culture.” By “gay culture” the instruction means the culture of which many of these critics are part. Particularly upsetting to some is the understanding that, if the criteria set forth by the instruction were applied when they were ordained, they would not have been ordained. The fact that they are priests, and that they think they are good priests, is, they say, decisive proof that gays can be good priests. It has a certain syllogistic charm.

The truth is that, by the criteria set out in the instruction, many who are priests today would not have been ordained. The further truth is that many of these men have turned out to be good and holy priests, despite the temptations attending the disability of same-sex attraction. The yet-further truth is that many are not good and holy priests. Rome has made a prudential judgment: With respect to giving candidates the benefit of the doubt, too many risks were taken in the past. The benefit of the doubt must now be given to protecting the integrity of the priesthood. With the new “normalization” of homosexuality in the general culture, with the acceptance of that normalization by many priests and not a few bishops, and with consequences such as the sex abuse scandals, the Church simply cannot afford to take the risks that were taken, frequently with the best intentions, in the past.

The Smell of Mendacity

There is a smell of mendacity surrounding much of the response to the instruction. The definitional slicing and dicing, the claim that the instruction means by “maturity” that one is happy being gay, rather than that, as it explicitly says, deep-seated same-sex desire is evidence of an “unfinished adolescence”—it is all evasion and mendacity. With many of the critics, it is possible to cut through the obfuscation by simply asking whether they accept the Church’s teaching that homosexual desire is disordered and homogenital acts are intrinsically immoral. The emphasis here is not on the disorder but on the act. If it is agreed that the act is immoral, then it follows that the desire to commit the act is disordered. One cannot have a rightly ordered desire to do wrong.

Those who reject the instruction and the moral doctrine on which it is based—Jesuits being conspicuous but by no means alone—render a perversely valuable contribution. They have clarified what is at stake. Which brings us back to the Truce of 1968 and what could, God forbid, turn out to be the Truce of 2005. Although the instruction reiterates the consistent teaching of Scripture and tradition through the ages, and although the document is explicitly approved by the pope and issued by his authority, will it be allowed, as it was allowed with Humanae Vitae, for official representatives of the Church to reject the doctrine and the directives, and to do so with impunity? There can be no doubt that the rejectionists have thrown down the gauntlet in challenging the still-young pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Of course, the pope, because he is the pope, need not respond on the terms or within the timetable set by those who seem determined to precipitate a crisis of authority. But a discernible and decisive response is required if such a crisis is to be avoided. In the absence of a clear response, it is more than possible that the effective leadership of this pontificate, now just getting underway, will be gravely weakened.

Among those who greatly admired Cardinal Ratzinger and were elated by his election as pope, there is a palpable uneasiness. As of this writing, he has not made what are perceived to be needed personnel changes at the top levels of the Curia. Benedict’s first major appointment, that of Archbishop William Levada to succeed him at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, occasioned widespread puzzlement. With particular pertinence to the present discussion, Levada, for all his considerable gifts, did not distinguish himself in his teaching, and his seeing to it that others taught, the Church’s moral doctrine during his ten years as archbishop of San Francisco, a city commonly called the gay capital of the world.



Archbishop William Levada

Troubling also to those who watch this pontificate with hopeful concern is Benedict’s appointment of George H. Niederauer as Levada’s successor in San Francisco. While in Salt Lake City, Bishop Niederauer had a reputation of being, as it is said, gay-friendly. He broke with other religious leaders in opposing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The announcement of his appointment to San Francisco was met with great public rejoicing by Dignity, New Ways Ministry, and other gay advocacy groups.

In an interview with his diocesan paper in Salt Lake City, Niederauer seemed somewhat ambivalent about the recent Vatican instruction. He is asked about requisites for being ordained to the priesthood, and takes the aforementioned position of dissenters on what is meant by “affective maturity”:

Nierderauer: One implication is the need for what this document calls “affective maturity,” meaning that all the loving and relating that a priest does must be centered in Christ and consistent with the priest’s commitment to Christ and the Church. This kind of single-heartedness does not allow for a relationship in any priest’s life that would weaken his commitment to Christ and his Church. Another implication of this affective maturity is that every celibate priest needs to be free to relate in a warm, human way to the men, women, and children to whom he ministers, in a manner that is genuine and still consistent with his commitment to Christ the Priest.

Interviewer: That’s all fine and good, but can a man who is homosexual be an effective priest?

Niederauer: If any priest has the affective maturity described above, and in the document, then with God’s grace, he can effectively minister as a priest. What the Church, the bishop, and the seminary must determine in the course of a priestly candidate’s formation is whether the candidate has the gifts of affective maturity, has made them his own, and is living them out faithfully.




Bishop Niederauer

Bishop Niederauer does say, “In addition, it would be inconsistent for the priest and confusing for the Catholic faithful if a priest differs from the Church in any of its moral teachings.” He does not say, at least in this interview, what that moral teaching is with respect to homosexuality, and, perhaps more significantly, he does not say what should be done, if anything, about priests who are inconsistent and causing confusion to the faithful; never mind that they are, according to Catholic teaching, imperiling their souls and the souls of others.

The statement by Niederauer that attracted most attention, however, was this: “Also, some who are seriously mistaken have named sexual orientation as the cause of the recent scandal regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests.” This is nothing short of astonishing. One can agree that it was not the cause, meaning the only cause. There is, for instance, the negligence and complicity of bishops, and of the seminaries in their charge. But to deny, as the bishop seems to be denying, a causal relationship between homosexual priests and the sexual abuse scandal is, well, astonishing. Research commissioned by the bishops themselves shows, as the whole world now knows, that more than 80 percent of the instances of abuse were with teenage boys and young men. It does not require a Ph.D. in psychology to recognize—although a Ph.D. in psychology might be helpful in denying—that men who want to have sex with boys are more likely to have sex with boys than men who do not want to have sex with boys.

Those who several years ago tried to deny the obviousness of the connection have, with notable exceptions, run out of delusions. Even the editors of Commonweal write:

At least in this regard, Rome’s concerns are not entirely misplaced. It is no secret that something went terribly wrong in U.S. seminaries in the late 1960s, the 1970s, and even into the 1980s. Both gay and straight priests, as well as former seminarians, acknowledge that, as many priests left to marry, the proportion of priests who were gay increased dramatically, and in some places, gay subcultures flourished. What role this breakdown in discipline and morality played in the sexual abuse of minors is not clear, but the idea that it played no role in a pattern of abuse in which 80 percent of the victims were male is untenable.

The appointment of Archbishop Levada to head CDF was certainly Benedict’s decision, as was the appointment of Bishop Niederauer to succeed him in San Francisco. According to informed sources, the latter appointment was made on the recommendation of Archbishop Levada.

A Defining Test

And so it is that we are faced with what may be a defining test of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. As all who know him can attest, he is in personal relations a gentle man and averse to unpleasantness. He cannot relish the prospect of a direct confrontation with major institutions such as the Society of Jesus. Early on in his pontificate, John Paul II made an effort to bring the Jesuits into closer alignment with church teaching and authority, and ended up with little to show for it. As is his custom, the father general of the society, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, remains publicly aloof.

With this pope, as with all popes, there is the fear of schism. That was a great fear in 1968. Public confrontation would undoubtedly spark a media storm of historic proportions, but, after the dust settled, where would the rejectionists go? Lefebvrism of the left, whether in this country or elsewhere, cannot hold much appeal.

Roma locuta est, causa finita est. Or so the great Augustine is supposed to have said. With respect to homosexuality and the priesthood, Rome has spoken and the question is anything but settled. An official visitation of U.S. seminaries is currently underway, and is scheduled to be completed in May. The findings will be sent directly to the curial congregation that issued the recent instruction, and the next steps will be up to the congregation in response to the directives of the pope. But that does not address the question of what will be done, if anything, about theologians and priests, backed by bishops and religious orders, who have thrown down the gauntlet in publicly rejecting the Church’s teaching and authority with respect to human sexuality.

In 1968, an effort was made to hold accountable those who are solemnly vowed to the service of the Church. And then Rome caved. We are still living with the unhappy consequences of the Truce of 1968. Of course the Church will survive. We have Our Lord’s promise on that. But no one who cares about this pontificate and the integrity of the Church’s ministry can contemplate with equanimity the consequences of a Truce of 2005.

Thomas Sowell: Banish the Concept of Nation-Building

September 20, 2007
http://www.realclearpolitics.com

If nothing else comes out of the Iraq war, it should banish the concept of "nation-building" from our language and our minds. "The track record of nation-building and Wilsonian grandiosity ought to give anyone pause," as was said in this column before the Iraq war began.

We can now add the track record of Iraq to the list of disasters.

The very existence of Iraq is a result of Woodrow Wilson's grandiose ideas about "the right of self-determination of peoples," which led to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious allied powers after the First World War.

Some of the most bitter and intractable conflicts of our time have arisen in nations carved out of the Ottoman Empire, whether in the Balkans or the Middle East.

You cannot turn a territory and its population into a functioning nation with the stroke of a pen or the drawing of lines on a map.

Real nations evolve over time out of the mutual accommodations of peoples, not by imposing the bright ideas of theorists from the top down.

No small part of African nations' problems comes from the fact that most became nations only in the sense that conquerors carved up African territories among themselves to suit their own convenience.

There was no nation of Nigeria until the British drew some lines on a map and gave it that name. There is no reason to think that such a nation would have evolved on its own, given the mutually antagonistic peoples living in that vast territory.

Iraq is an object lesson in another sense. You seldom hear about the area of the country controlled by Kurds because that has been the most peaceful and orderly part of Iraq, and the media are drawn to death and destruction.

In his insightful new book, "Mugged by Reality," author John Agresto says: "I do not believe one American, soldier or civilian, has been killed or even hurt in Kurdish Iraq since the war began -- or maybe ever."

The Kurds are a people. They are not just some folks thrown together by others who drew lines on a map. They had their own leaders before there were any national elections in Iraq.

As Agresto points out, democracy is a means, not an end in itself.

Natan Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy" argues persuasively for the international, as well as internal, benefits of democracy, seeing it as the kind of government that reduces the dangers of war.

President Bush became an enthusiast for the idea and spent hours talking with Sharansky in the White House.

Perhaps he should have spent a little time talking with Amy Chua, whose book "World on Fire" points out that democracy -- in certain kinds of societies -- is a recipe for disaster, despite how valuable it has been in Western nations.

Democracy means voting. It does not mean freedom. When we lump the two ideas together, we confuse ourselves and others.

Britain was a free country long before it became democratic. In Germany, Hitler was elected democratically. In much of Africa, democracy in practice has meant, "One man, one vote -- one time," as elected leaders put an end to both elections and freedom.

It would be wonderful to have free and democratic nations throughout the world, and that would very likely reduce military conflicts, as Sharansky and others say. But we do not ensure freedom by holding elections.

According to John Agresto, in Iraq "the 'democratic' government now entrenched is as sectarian and incompetent as we ever could have feared." He is unwilling to say that the invasion of Iraq "as originally conceived" was a mistake but he fears that it has become "a tragedy."

This is not a plea for withdrawal. Whatever the situation when we went in, international terrorists have chosen to make this the place for a showdown battle. We can win or lose that battle but we cannot unilaterally end the war.

It is the terrorists' war, regardless of where it is fought.

Ann Coulter: Is There a Trial Lawyer in the House?

http://www.anncoulter.com/
Thursday, September 20, 2007

The only "crisis" in health care in this country is that doctors are paid too little. (Also, they've come up with nothing to help that poor Dennis Kucinich.)

But the Democratic Party treats doctors like they're Klan members. They wail about how much doctors are paid and celebrate the trial lawyers who do absolutely nothing to make society better, but swoop in and steal from the most valuable members of society.

Maybe doctors could get the Democrats to like them if they started suing their patients.

It's only a matter of time before the best and brightest students forget about medical school and go to law school instead. How long can a society based on suing the productive last?

You can make 30 times as much money as doctors by becoming a trial lawyer suing doctors. You need no skills, no superior board scores, no decade of training and no sleepless residency. But you must have the morals of a drug dealer. (And the bank wire-transfer number to the Democratic National Committee.)

The editors of the New York Times have been engaging in a spirited debate with their readers over whether doctors are wildly overpaid or just hugely overpaid. The results of this debate are available on TimeSelect, for just $49.95.

"Many health care economists," the Times editorialized, say the partisan wrangling over health care masks a bigger problem: "the relatively high salaries paid to American doctors."

Citing the Rand Corp., the Times noted that doctors in the U.S. "earn two to three times as much as they do in other industrialized countries." American doctors earn about $200,000 to $300,000 a year, while European doctors make $60,000 to $120,000. Why, that's barely enough for Muslim doctors in Britain to buy plastic explosives to blow up airplanes!

How much does Pinch Sulzberger make for driving the New York Times stock to an all-time low? Probably a lot more than your podiatrist.

In college, my roommate was in the chemistry lab Friday and Saturday nights while I was dancing on tables at the Chapter House. A few years later, she was working 20-hour days as a resident at Mount Sinai doing liver transplants while I was frequenting popular Upper East Side drinking establishments. She was going to Johns Hopkins for yet more medical training while I was skiing and following the Grateful Dead. Now she vacations in places like Rwanda and Darfur with Doctors Without Borders while I'm going to Paris.

Has anyone else noticed the nonexistence of a charitable organization known as "Lawyers Without Borders"?

She makes $380 for an emergency appendectomy, or one-ten-thousandth of what John Edwards made suing doctors like her, and one-fourth of what John Edwards' hairdresser makes for a single shag cut.

Edwards made $30 million bringing nonsense lawsuits based on junk science against doctors. To defend themselves from parasites like Edwards, doctors now pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical malpractice insurance every year.

But as the Times would note, doctors in Burkina Faso only get $25 and one goat per year.

As long as we're studying the health care systems of various socialist countries, are we allowed to notice that doctors in these other countries aren't constantly being sued by bottom-feeding trial lawyers stealing one-third of the income of people performing useful work like saving lives?

But the Democrats (and Fred Thompson) refuse to enact tort reform legislation to rein in these charlatans. After teachers and welfare recipients, the Democrats' most prized constituency is trial lawyers. The ultimate Democrat constituent would be a public schoolteacher on welfare who needed an abortion and was suing her doctor.

Doctors graduate at the top of their classes at college and then spend nearly a decade in grueling work at medical schools. Most doctors don't make a dime until they're in their early 30s, just in time to start paying off their six-figure student loans by saving people's lives. They have 10 times the IQ of trial lawyers and 1,000 times the character.

Yeah, let's go after those guys. On to nuns next!

But Times' readers responded to the editorial about doctors being overpaid with a slew of indignant letters – not at the Times for making such an idiotic argument, but at doctors who earn an average of $200,000 per year. Letter writers praised the free medical care in places like Spain. ("Nightmare" in the Ann Coulter dictionary is defined as "having a medical emergency in Spain.")

One letter-writer proposed helping doctors by having the government take over another aspect of the economy – the cost of medical education:

"If we are to restructure the system by which we pay doctors to match Europe, which seems prudent as well as inevitable, we must also finance education as Europeans do, by using state dollars to finance the full or majority cost of higher education, including professional school."

And then to reduce the cost of medical school, the government could finance "the full or majority cost" of construction costs of medical schools, and "the full or majority cost" of the trucks that bring the cement to the construction site and the "the full or majority cost" of coffee that the truck drivers drink while hauling the cement and ... it makes my head hurt.

I may have to see a doctor about this. I should probably get on the waiting list now in case Hillary gets elected.

That's how liberals think: To fix an industry bedeviled by government controls, we'll spread the coercion to yet more industries!

The only sane letter on the matter, I'm happy to report, came from the charming town of New Canaan, Conn., which means that I am not the only normal person who still reads the Times. Ray Groves wrote:

"Last week, I had the annual checkup for my 2000 Taurus. I paid $95 per hour for much needed body work. Next month, when I have my own annual physical, I expect and hope to pay a much higher rate to my primary care internist, who has spent a significant portion of his life training to achieve his position of responsibility."

There is nothing more to say.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Yankees stand 1.5 back of Sox



Andy Pettitte pitched into the eighth inning and Doug Mientkiewicz came up with another big hit in a 2-1 win to sweep Baltimore.

BY KAT O'BRIEN | kat.obrien@newsday.com
10:19 PM EDT, September 19, 2007

Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees just the stingy outing they needed Wednesday night as they chase down the Red Sox in the American League East.

The Yankees beat the Orioles, 2-1, and picked up their third game in three days on the Red Sox, trimming Boston's lead in the AL East to 1½ games. With Mariano Rivera on the mound and two outs and two strikes in the ninth, the crowd erupted in applause -- a score from the Red Sox game had just flashed on the scoreboard, with Boston trailing the Blue Jays 6-1.

With the Yankees' bats struggling against the Orioles' Brian Burres, Pettitte pitched a gem in earning the 200th win of his 13-year career. The lefty gave up one run in 72/3 innings, and walked off the mound to a rousing ovation from the crowd of 53,851. Pettitte lifted his cap as he stepped into the dugout.

And just as the applause began to die down, the crowd got a second wind as phenom Joba Chamberlain entered the game in his first mid-inning appearance. Chamberlain struck out Melvin Mora swinging on four pitches for the final out of the eighth.

Rivera had a shaky ninth, loading the bases on a double and two walks. But he struck out Scott Moore looking to end the game.



Before Wednesday night's game, manager Joe Torre said Pettitte was anxious to get back. In his previous start, at Boston Friday, he had his shortest outing since the All-Star break, giving up five runs in only four innings. The Yankees rallied to win that game, but Pettitte was disappointed in his effort.

Pettitte (14-8) bounced back in a big way Wednesday night. He allowed seven hits and two walks, striking out four. The Yankees are 9-1 in his last 10 starts.

In the first four innings, Pettitte faced one batter above the minimum. He allowed four baserunners in that time, but three were canceled out by defensive plays. Aubrey Huff reached on a second-inning single but was caught stealing on a throw from Jorge Posada to Robinson Cano. In both the second and third innings, a double play helped Pettitte out.

The Orioles' only run came in the sixth. Pettitte issued a one-out walk to Brian Roberts, who stole both second and third. Roberts scored on a single up the middle by Mora. Alex Rodriguez bobbled Miguel Tejada's hard grounder but recovered to throw him out at first. Then Melky Cabrera ran down Nick Markakis' fly ball to left-centerfield for the final out.

Rodriguez made a fantastic play for Pettitte's final out in the eighth, fielding a soft grounder by Roberts and throwing to Doug Mientkiewicz, who caught it while nearly doing the splits.

Although the Yankees' offense has been the best in the majors since the All-Star break, the starting pitching has been equally impressive lately. In the Yankees' last 14 games, their starters are 8-1 with a 2.50 ERA.

The Yankees pulled ahead 1-0 when Hideki Matsui hit a long home run to rightfield off Burres. Matsui has seven RBIs in seven games since breaking out of a 2-for-31 slump.

Their only other run came in the sixth when Mientkiewicz, who opened the inning with a single, scored on a two-out wild pitch.

Burres (6-6) gave up two earned runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out seven.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Florentine Enigma

The Florentine Enigma

By Matthew Simpson

http://www.firstthings.com/

Monday, September 17, 2007, 6:50 AM

During the summer of 1502, the young Republic of Florence appeared fated to die as quickly as it had been born. Only four years earlier, the citizens of the Italian city-state had installed a democratic government after decades of oligarchic rule, first by the Medici family and then by the mesmerizing Dominican friar Savonarola and his followers. Now it verged on destruction. Cesare Borgia, the pope’s illegitimate son and a commander in the papal army, had recently conquered central Italy in a brutal military campaign, and now he threatened to make Florence the next victim of his ambition. He issued an ultimatum saying he would reinstate the Medici rulers by force unless the Republic paid him a sum of tribute money that amounted to a quarter of its entire budget.

Faced with this crisis, Florence dispatched its most loyal and capable diplomat, Niccolò Machiavelli, to confront Borgia at his court in Urbino. During years of government service, Machiavelli had proved himself to be a shrewd negotiator as well as an unwavering defender of democracy, justice, and civic virtue. When his diplomatic reports began arriving from Borgia’s court, however, they must have shocked their readers in the government offices. Rather than explaining his efforts to save the republic from Borgia’s grasp, Machiavelli filled his correspondence with the most extravagant praise of Florence’s deadly enemy, whom he called “splendid and magnificent,” adding “there is no great enterprise that does not seem small to him, and in his pursuit of glory and gains he never knows rest or fears danger or weariness.” In the end, Borgia spared the city largely because he feared provoking the king of France, who was Florence’s ally. But it must have seemed to the Florentines that their sober envoy had been lost to the lure of power politics.

In fact, this tension pervaded Machiavelli’s life and writings. A tireless champion of popular rule and civic humanism seemed to share a body with a most ruthless “Machiavellian,” who believed that the ends justify the means in politics even when the end in question is nothing more than personal ambition. To explain how these two people, the civic humanist and the ruthless power monger, could exist in one man is the challenge for all biographers of Machiavelli, most recently Ross King in his book Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power. The author of the bestselling Renaissance histories Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, King tries, quite persuasively, to explain Machiavelli’s contradictions by looking at the epoch in which he lived. The Italian Renaissance was an age of contradictions, in which science and superstition, high art and squalor, Christian piety and extraordinary vice, lived side by side on the streets of the great Italian cities. King suggests that we should not expect to find inner coherence in a man who lived in such an incoherent age. “The key to some of [Machiavelli’s] ambiguities,” he writes, “may lie in the nature of the man himself.”


Machiavelli’s numerous undertakings—diplomat, playwright, poet, historian, political theorist, farmer, military engineer, militia captain—make him, like his friend Leonardo, a true Renaissance man. Yet, like Leonardo, who denounced the “beastly madness” of war while devising ingenious and deadly weapons, Machiavelli is awash in paradoxes and inconsistencies.

Machiavelli was born May 3, 1469, the year that saw Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as “the Magnificent,” rise to power in Florence. Machiavelli grew up amid the wonders of the golden age of the Florentine Renaissance, a contemporary of the great Renaissance men Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. While little evidence survives of his youth, he seems to have received a thorough humanistic education in Latin, mathematics, and poetry, as well as some training in engineering and agriculture. The democratic revolution occurred when Machiavelli was twenty-nine, and the city’s previous officeholders were quickly replaced with supporters of the new republic. Amid this house-cleaning, Machiavelli was elected to the important post of second chancellor.

In theory, the second chancellor ran the government bureau that prepared official reports and correspondence about domestic affairs. In reality, however, Machiavelli was used as a foreign envoy almost immediately. For more than a decade, he diligently served the republic both as a high-level bureaucrat in domestic issues and as a diplomat charged with the government’s most important negotiations. Among other foreign assignments, he headed delegations to the king of France, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Holy See. He also worked with Leonardo on a stunning although uncompleted project to divert the course of the Arno River as an act of war against the city of Pisa.

Yet Machiavelli’s good fortune did not last. In 1512 the combined forces of Spain and the papacy overthrew the republic, and the Medici family regained power. The new leaders arrested and tortured Machiavelli for his leadership during the republic and his alleged participation in a plot to restore the democratic regime. Although he was soon pardoned, he was never again allowed to occupy high office, much to his displeasure. He channeled his frustration into improvements on his small farm outside the city, and into literature.

During the next few years, Machiavelli composed a small library of diverse works that included not only his infamous handbook, The Prince, but also Discourses on Livy (meditations on the writings of the ancient Roman historian), Art of War, History of Florence, and a number of bawdy comic plays, the most famous of which, The Mandrake, is considered a classic of Italian theater. The contradiction in Machiavelli’s political career, between his ceaseless work for the republic and his admiration of Cesare Borgia, was now carried over into his writing. His Discourses offered a sustained defense of the thesis that “governments by people are better than governments by princes” and “the good citizen ought to forget private injuries for the love of his country,” whereas The Prince carefully instructed tyrants how to gain and consolidate power, even against the public will, by ensuring that their “cruel deeds are committed well” and they are “capable of entering upon the path of wrongdoing.”

By the 1520s, Machiavelli had sufficiently ingratiated himself to the Medicis that he was offered a place on a diplomatic legation to Rome. But no sooner had he taken up the post than the government at home was overthrown, the republic was restored, and Machiavelli found himself in trouble with his old democratic allies for accepting employment from the enemy. The man who argued in The Prince that a stern and willful ruler could dominate “fortune” was twice undone by chance, first when the Medicis came to power and again when they lost it. He soon fell ill and died June 21, 1527, but not before exchanging deathbed jokes with his friends about whether he was headed for heaven or hell.

King interprets the contradictions in Machiavelli’s writings as an expression of deeper contradictions in his mind and character, which should be understood in their historical context. This is a useful corrective. Today Machiavelli is too often read as if he were a contemporary professor of political science struggling to produce a coherent theory of democracy, or citizenship, or justice, or some such thing. King is right to note that an ambitious, successful Renaissance statesman like Machiavelli would be unlikely to measure himself by the academic values of systematic coherence and plodding argumentation. So it is foolish to begin by looking for these qualities in his work.


The Uffizi, Florence

Yet King’s reading is not wholly convincing. While it’s true that Machiavelli was not an academic type, his works reveal an exceptionally lucid and thorough mind. It is impossible to believe King’s suggestion that Machiavelli flitted back and forth between these two radical extremes. In his Discourses, after reviewing policies like Borgia’s, he wrote “these are extremely cruel methods and inimical to every way of life, not only Christian but human, and every man should avoid them and prefer to live as a private citizen rather than as a king with so much damage to other men.” Yet in The Prince, he cheerfully described Borgia’s murders, frauds, and hypocrisy, only pausing to comment, “having reviewed all the actions of the Duke, then, I would not wish to criticize him; rather, he seems to me worthy to be held up as a model.” Some explanation is required here beyond the observation that Machiavelli was complex man living in a complex age.

Perhaps the most plausible interpretation of Machiavelli’s contradictions, one that has circulated since his own time, is that the Discourses present his true opinions on politics while The Prince is a satire intended to expose the tyrant’s secrets. It condemns his anti-democratic enemies by accepting their premises and then pushing them to their horrible but logical conclusion, much as Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” refuted the economic theory of its time by showing that, on these principles, the Irish should solve their financial crisis by eating the children of the poor. This is how Jean-Jacques Rousseau interpreted Machiavelli, saying, “While pretending to teach lessons to kings, he taught great lessons to peoples. Machiavelli’s Prince is the book of republicans.”

Yet this view also has its shortcomings. None of Machiavelli’s surviving private letters indicate that he or his friends thought The Prince was a satire. Furthermore, the hero of the work is Cesare Borgia, and it seems that Machiavelli really did admire him and his unspeakable methods. His diplomatic reports about his meetings with Borgia, which certainly were not intended satirically, were even more fawning than The Prince. Indeed, soon after meeting Borgia for the first time, Machiavelli wrote a breathless essay, the title of which ran in part, “Description of the Methods Adopted by the Duke Valentino When Murdering Vitellozo Vitelli.” The most famous picture of Machiavelli is Santi di Tito’s half-length portrait hanging in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The subject’s expression is alert, knowing, almost smiling, and completely inscrutable.

Matthew Simpson teaches philosophy at Luther College. His most recent book is Rousseau: A Guide for the Perplexed.

FORGET THE SOX; YANKS NEED SOME R&R

Jay Greenberg
New York Post



Derek Jeter rubs the helmet of Bobby Abreu as the two of them scored on a double by Hideki Matsui in the fourth inning.

September 19, 2007 -- Name: Derek Jeter. Rank: Captain. Serial number: Six-game hitting streak including 10 hits in his last 19 at bats, counting a three-run homer that bashed the Red Sox for his career umpteenth time, producing the Yankees’ biggest win of the season.

Jeter has a right knee almost as cranky as Mike Mussina was before remarkably reinventing himself two starts ago. All you get out of the shortstop, even as he climbs to third on the all-time list of hits for the all-time franchise, is the need to win the next game.

Last night, the Red Sox were 1-1 with the Jays, the Tigers 4-4 with the Indians, and the Yankees 0-0 against somebody named Jon Leicester when Jeter singled to left to lead off the fourth, starting a six-run inning that made him correct again about the only score mattering being the Yankees score.

With Jeter getting three hits, being on base four times, with Mussina pitching suddenly brilliantly, the Yanks beat the Orioles, 12-0, to reduce the magic number to make the playoffs to seven. If the Yankees go just 6-5, the Tigers must do 10-0 to force a playoff, math Jeter leaves to others like Joe Torre.

Detroit is running out of time faster than the Yankees are in their chase of the Red Sox. The manager soon will ponder the probability that a 13th consecutive postseason berth will be wrapped up by mid-next week with the division title still hanging.



Mike Mussina follows through in the first inning.

Torre knows how George Steinbrenner feels about finishing second. The manager also heard the fans cheering the Red Sox loss on the scoreboard while practically ignoring Detroit’s defeat.

Would he dare get Jeter and Hideki Matsui, who also has a bad knee, multiple days off? Not take the Yankees’ best shot at a title they proudly have owned since 1998 in order to line up Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens on proper rest for the first three games of the treacherous best-of-five?

“That’s probably the most difficult question to answer,” Torre said. “[Resting] a pitcher you are going to use in the first game, I think, would take priority over anything else.

“I haven’t thought that far ahead, but to me the postseason is the most important thing. You win the division, you play home more often, and that certainly is more comfortable. But if your team can’t win on the road you aren’t good enough to begin with.”

In the 12 Octobers since 1995, four wild cards have won the World Series, including three straight from 2002-04. One of those was the Red Sox, beating the Yankees in Games 6 and 7 at Yankee Stadium. During the parade, if anyone remembered the Yankees won the division, nobody cared.

Torre and his players have been smart to talk up catching the Red Sox. With two playoff spots available, why prioritize only one? Once one is achieved, though, there is no sense in going after the perceived better seeding, when there is little evidence of its benefit. The sooner the Yankees can pack it in on the regular season and pack Jeter’s knee in ice for a day or two, the better off they will be.

“His leg affected how he was swinging and he got in bad habits, jumping at the ball a little bit,” Torre said. “Either he’s now able to keep the weight on it, or he can deal with it better.

“But that stuff, like Matsui’s leg, doesn’t go away.”

It doesn’t look like Jeter needs rest right now. When a 6-for-36 slump prompted Torre to give Jeter a rest 10 days ago in Kansas City, the 0-for-9 in the two following games didn’t speak directly to any rejuvenating effects.

Yet by the end of the week he was igniting the Yankees again, just like it was the postseason. That’s when Jeter has been at his best. And the Yankees’ priority is fast becoming trying to assure that again he will be.

jay.greenberg@nypost.com

Funny Feminist

Patricia Heaton, Hollywood anomaly.

By Rebecca Cusey
http://www.nationalreview.com
September 19, 2007



Patricia Heaton, veteran funny-woman, is coming back to TV in the role of anchorwoman Kelly Carr, alongside Kelsey Grammar in FOX’s Back To You. You already know Heaton for her tenure on Everybody Loves Raymond, as Debra Barone, the sassy, long-suffering wife of Ray Barone, the show’s namesake. Heaton had a highly successful 9-season run as Debra, a role for which she won two Emmys.

Looking tiny in a gold dress, Patricia took time from a full day of promoting her new show to meet me in the lounge of the Beverly Hilton in July. After she graciously posed for pictures with lucky fans, we sat down and discussed her new role, her true feminism, and the experience of being pro-life in Hollywood.

Beginning with her new role, Heaton explained that her new character, Kelly Carr, is a news anchor in Pittsburgh. Slightly embittered, because she is forever overlooked in favor of her no-talent, narcissistic co-anchor (Kelsey Grammar’s Chuck Darling), Carr slogs away as a fixture in her small market anchor position. Meanwhile, Darling thrives in bigger and better markets. An unfortunate on-air tirade bumps Chuck back down to Pittsburgh, where Kelly greets him with on-air smiles, and off-air hostility. He’s surprised to find she’s had a child while he was away, rumored to be the product of a sperm bank. The secret truth, though, is that she had an unplanned pregnancy.

The storyline, because it involves single-motherhood, provides ample opportunity for a variety of comedic and dramatic nuances. Heaton points out that “As an actor, you ask ‘Are there at least five years of exploration with these characters?’ Having her be a single mom adds a whole level of opportunity to explore situations she gets herself into because she’s a single mom.”

Moreover, as the national spokeswoman for Feminists for Life, a pro-life, pro-woman organization, Heaton has special affinity for her character. Carr is a woman who refused to choose between her child and her career, and as a result found unexpected joy in an unexpected pregnancy. The choice made by Carr as a single mother, gives voice to an under-represented perspective on women’s issues, both in Hollywood and elsewhere. As Heaton points out, the so-called modern feminists get it backwards:

The feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s felt that in order to promote the agenda of equality in the workplace, which I believe in, that they had to denigrate this other very important aspect of being a woman, which is being a mother and bearing children. To even have to compare these two things is ridiculous. I think a mistake these feminists made was that you had to be more like a man to compete in the world. What that leads to is woman having abortions in order to compete. And that’s not really having a choice. So, that’s a big mistake, and you have to spend a lot of time undoing that notion.



Click to enlarge

While the philosophical debate rages, real women are making progress—even in the world of entertainment—according to Heaton. “I think one thing that Hollywood has done, which has been great for pregnant women, is that you see a lot of actresses working and still being able to have their children. I think that’s very important to see.”

Ultimately, Heaton believes that these are issues involving basic rights. At one point during our talk, she very passionately urged that, “Women need to protect their right to bear children without harassment from boyfriends, or parents, or employers, or professors, and no one should be able to tell women that they cannot bear their children, or that they should have to sacrifice their child in order to accomplish other things in life.”

Earlier in the day, at the press conference for Back to You, a TV reporter had asked, “Kelsey, you've expressed an interest in running for politics as a Republican. Patricia, you cut the anti-stem-cell ad. Is this what happens in Hollywood, if you're two of the only outspoken people of a certain kind; you end up on a show together?” The reporter’s question seemed to suppose some sort of back room, super secret, and wildly ineffective Right-of-Center cabal. Laughing over the question later, I asked Heaton if she experienced any push-back for her political stance. She said it’s been more blown up in the media, and that it’s not something that affects her daily life:

Perhaps there’s some group secretly meeting in a room somewhere plotting my demise. If so, I’m not aware of it. But I’ve just got probably the greatest gig that anybody could get with this show. Somebody out there likes me.

In the end, Heaton is excited about the opportunity to create truthful moments and make people laugh. “Inherent in any good sitcom, you have to care about the characters, and they have to seem like real people with real problems. Otherwise, you get just a bunch of punch lines. To be able to turn on a show and see characters with some of the same struggles and get a laugh out of it is important. I’m not saying we’re curing cancer or anything. But there’s a relief, a balm in humor.”

Turns out being professional, having an impeccable sense of comedic timing, and conveying heart along with sarcastic wit, trump off-camera politics.

Those two Emmys on her mantle don’t hurt either.

Rebecca Cusey is a writer in Washington, D.C.

John Stossel: Nationalized Health Care is Broken

September 19, 2007
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

Last week I pointed out that Michael Moore, maker of the documentary "Sicko," portrayed the Cuban health-care system as though it were utopia -- until I hit him with some inconvenient facts. So he backed off and said, "Let's stick to Canada and Britain because I think these are legitimate arguments that are made against the film and against the so-called idea of socialized medicine. And I think you should challenge me on these things."

OK, here we go.

One basic problem with nationalized health care is that it makes medical services seem free. That pushes demand beyond supply. Governments deal with that by limiting what's available.

That's why the British National Health Service recently made the pathetic promise to reduce wait times for hospital care to four months.

The wait to see dentists is so long that some Brits pull their own teeth. Dental tools: pliers and vodka.

One hospital tried to save money by not changing bed sheets every day. British papers report that instead of washing them, nurses were encouraged to just turn them over.

Government rationing of health care in Canada is why when Karen Jepp was about to give birth to quadruplets last month, she was told that all the neonatal units she could go to in Canada were too crowded. She flew to Montana to have the babies.

"People line up for care; some of them die. That's what happens," Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of The Cure, told "20/20". Gratzer thought the Canadian system was great until he started treating patients. "The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting. ... You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! You just have to wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! You just gotta wait six months."

Michael Moore retorts that Canadians live longer than Americans.

But Canadians' longer lives are unrelated to heath care. Canadians are less likely to get into accidents or be murdered. Take those factors into account, not to mention obesity, and Americans live longer.

Most Canadians like their free health care, but Canadian doctors tell us the system is cracking. More than a million Canadians cannot find a regular family doctor. One town holds a lottery. Once a week the town clerk gets a box out of the closet. Everyone who wants to have a family doctor puts his or her name in it. The clerk pulls out one slip to determine the winner. Others in town have to wait.

It's driven some Canadians to private for-profit clinics. A new one opens somewhere in Canada almost every week. Although it's not clear that such private clinics are legal, one is run by the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Brian Day, because under government care, he says, "We found ourselves in a situation where we were seeing sick patients and weren't being allowed to treat them. That was something that we couldn't tolerate."

Canadians stuck on waiting lists often pay "medical travel agents" to get to America for treatment. Shirley Healey had a blocked artery that kept her from digesting food. So she hired a middleman to help her get to a hospital in Washington state.

"The doctor said that I would have only had a very few weeks to live," Healey said.

Yet the Canadian government calls her surgery "elective."

"The only thing elective about this surgery was I elected to live," she said.

Not all Canadian health care is long lines and lack of innovation. We found one place where providers offer easy access to cutting-edge life-saving technology, such as CT scans. And patients rarely wait.

But they have to bark or meow to get access to this technology. Vet clinics say they can get a dog or a cat in the next day. People have to wait a month.

Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.