The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Making Waves In The Kiddie Pool

Politically, in case you hadn't guessed, I tend to be a liberal libertarian. Which is why I so utterly have always opposed George W. Bush, who is a conservative (radically so) authoritarian, radically so.

In both the Republican party and the Democratic party, each of which I was a member of for about 15 years, the problems that I had was WITH the authoritarians.

It has been interesting to listen to John Dean, as he moved from radio show to radio show, talking about authoritarianism, and pushing his then-new book, Conservatives Without Conscience. [Excerpt here]

According to Glen Greenwald's review of the book, posted at Crooksandliars.com on 23 July 06:

Dean contends, and amply documents, that the "conservative" movement has become, at its core, an authoritarian movement composed of those with a psychological and emotional need to follow a strong authority figure which provides them a sense of moral clarity and a feeling of individual power, the absence of which creates fear and insecurity in the individuals who crave it. By definition, its followers' devotion to authority and the movement's own power is supreme, thereby overriding the consciences of its individual members and removing any intellectual and moral limits on what will be justified in defense of their movement.
Now, Lee Iacocca is flogging "his" book, and a chapter was released, which was forwarded to me by bornagaintextileworker, originally from doc. (Ah, the alternate universe of internet names!)

It was ghostwritten by a "with" writer (a "with" writer gets a credit, and is a Brahmin in the deeply caste-and-cash-driven world of ghostwriting) named Catherine Whitney. What that "with" means is that Whitney did all the hard work and Iacocca gets all the credit for "his" book. By the time you see him on the Daily Show, that "Catherine" person will be out of sight and mind.

It goes precisely like this:

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
By Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney

I. Had Enough?

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to-as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them-or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?
To that, add, where have all the journalists gone? (Et al, etcetera, ad infinitum, amen.)

But consider this: Iacocca is making a grand appeal for a leader (but, in all probability an AUTHORITARIAN leader, since that's what business loves). Certainly a BETTER leader that George W. Bush, and his sock-puppet hand Dick Cheney, agenting for whomever they take their marching orders from.

That's easy.

But still an authoritarian.

Well, let's consider the great authoritarian center from whence our society now springs: the school system. You might argue that the public school system is a failing, quasi-fascist, certainly authoritarian institution (where a principal in Omaha is suspended for allowing her school's newspaper to explore a racially-charged word in a racially mixed and balanced school). The original idea might have been the necessary investment of society's resources for the continuance OF this society, which DEPENDS on an educated and informed populace.

Why do you think that "freedom of the press" is co-equal to "freedom of religion," and "freedom of speech"? (The First Amendment.)

But, in practice since the Second World War, the public education system has become an authoritarian system devoted to driving initiative AWAY from students, and encouraging a "go along to get along" attitude. Indeed, the students who MOST accept authority tend to do best!

And then we send the most cowed of our students to universities, (the rebels have pretty much been weeded out by the "permanent record" at this point) where the same authoritarian matrix applies. At this point, the "students" are no longer wards of the state with few rights, and many have reached their majority.

And the rationale SHIFTS, but the authoritarianism remains. Freedoms and the Bill of Rights are now guaranteed, except in actual practice.

This model has created its own self-perpetuating version of the Peter Principle: the conformity rises until it sours.

But whether it sours or not (a debate best left for another day), conformity surely does rise.

And in the authoritarian model, the "liberty" vanishes by incremental degrees as the obedience rises in like measure.

I do not propose any solution herein. My only point is to point out that the "leaders" have vanished because success in this increasingly corrupted system lies in conformity. I ran for office in 2004, on the centennial of the first primary, in the first state in which it was practiced, to try and understand what had gone wrong. (The Oregon newspapers failed to notice the centenary, and the election itself was trumped by the media hubub over an ex-governor's affair with his underage baby-sitter a quarter century earlier.)

I came to know this much: The smoke-filled back rooms in which corrupt political machines selected candidates that the general primary election was created to reform had turned into smoke-free back rooms in which political insiders selected candidates. It was noted that most primary races were unopposed!

The "candidates" arise through back-room machineries, and, in comparison to corporate and institutional funding of pre-selected candidates, individual contributions are a joke. A bit of camouflage on the Golden Pig. The entire process is a matter of media creation, getting sound bites, hiring political consultants, sending out timed mailings, perhaps radio and/or television ads, which invariably show the smiling candidate kissing babies, nodding sagely at old people, and sitting in some rustic setting listening to REAL FAMILIES. (Or real working people, or real homophobes or whatever).

But "leaders"? No: followers of the "rules." Followers of the money. Followers of the Party Line. Not leaders at all. Those get winnowed out very early in the process.

The press is awed and cowed by the authority, and, having proven their willingness to go along and not make waves in journalism school, they fit nicely into the well-oiled bureaucracy of the newsroom, whether a newspaper, television, or radio.

It matters very little, since virtually all news comes from the Associated Press. Period. Where there had formerly been a robust press, with multiple newspapers in every city, now they are one "traditional newspaper" and one "alternative paper."

The "traditional" newspaper is where you buy obituaries (part of the mortuary fee) and is generally a reprint of whatever the AP wire has that the editors believe the locals want to read. Increasingly, there is very little "local" writing in the newspaper. The same increasingly holds true for television, and much moreso for radio, whose news tends to be almost entirely AP driven (along with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or FOX syndicated sound bites, according to which service the station subscribes to-although it really doesn't matter all that much: the aforementioned news is, itself, mostly read from the AP wire.)

The "alternative" newspaper is usually filled with crap writing, a lot of music, art and movies coverage, and given away free because it's advertising driven. (And worth every penny, generally).

When you're advertising driven, you don't write anything that would make waves or drive off advertisers.

Which may be why, when Clear Channel and Cumulus Broadcasting (San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA respectively) bought up nearly all the radio stations in this market (twelve, AM and FM between then as I recall) and the NBC affiliate UHF broadcast TV station not a PEEP was made about it in the local newspapers, and when a "cover story" was done (with a lot of prompting by yours truly) by the "alternative" paper, the fact that two media giants had just wiped out local radio in Eugene was weirdly elided over*-don't want to upset potential advertisers.

[*The article focuses entirely on the "national" issues, and doesn't much get into local stuff. It is kept at a "safe" distance without ever broaching the "taboo" topic of the complete loss of local control of the airwaves. Don't make(air)waves! Don't upset advertisers. Be hard-hitting, but somewhere else! KRVM is still kicking, BTW]

Where have all the leaders gone? Why is there no protest? Why are we sitting mutely, our outrage only expressed in the harder pressing of the buttons on the remote?

Are we REALLY David Lynch's "Angriest Dog in the World"?

Perhaps, it's because we no longer question authority-even when it's crazy. Because non-conformity is weeded out so effectively, even as we, hilariously, maunder on about "promoting diversity." Diversity, yes. But a diversity of conformity, surely. And, in the name of "diversity," ever harsher authoritarian measures have been taken.

If you think it's just the public schools, think again: In a "private" school, the few rights that the students had in public schools are a thing of the past. COMPLETE authoritarian rule is now the norm, and even a proud selling point to parents seeking to escape a society that they don't want their precious little darling rubbing elbows with.

Authority: conformity. There can be no other way. We have bullied our way into a populace that ACCEPTS these outrageous power grabs of authoritarianism-gone-wild because we were RAISED in a system of outrageous power grabs. We learned to just go along in school, and now, the whole nation is just going along, Mr. Iacocca.

Go along to get along. If you're Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Invertebrate, NV), and correctly note that the military portion of the war in Iraq is hopelessly lost, you are PILLORIED by the national media for "bravely" pointing out a self-evident fact.

Go along, Harry. Get along, Harry.

(And I will never pick Harry Reid as my shining example of Leadership In Action.)

But I should remind you that the American army started out as TWO armies, both of which fought and won significant battles. There was the standing, traditional, authoritarian army, and there were the militias, who arrived, organized, fought the threat, and then returned to their homes, disbanding until another threat was perceived.

For more than 230 years, our armed forces were organized along the same lines: a balance between state militias (National Guard) and the regular armed forces, and right now, that is being rapidly eroded, just as our freedom from authoritarianism is being eroded.

Where have the leaders gone, Mr. Iacocca?

Surely you know that when you herd sheep, you don't need nearly as many herders as when you herd cattle. And not nearly as many herders as when you herd cats.

Revolutionary America herded cats.

Present-day America herds sheep.

Which is why we don't need so many leaders. And why our country has gone from being the largest exporter of finished goods to the largest importer of finished goods, and the largest exporter of raw materials in the past 25 years.

Oh, we have authoritarians in abundance, but we suffer from a dearth of original thinkers. We have petty satraps who throw their weight around aplenty, but we have few contrarians.

I'll tell you a truth about America that I learned: if you rebel, and you are in the right, they will shudder. A significant portion of the general population will even be angry with you-not about whether you are right or wrong-but simply because you caused a ruckus.

It is a great irony of our society that the heroes we love to watch in the movies-the maverick, the lone crusader, the one-man-against-city-hall-are PRECISELY the people that we absolutely would NOT tolerate in our workplace or our life.


It got you through an authoritarian grade school. It got you through an authoritarian high school, and an authoritarian university system. (After the rebellions of the 1960s, a generation of Administrators has found a way to put you ALL on double-secret probation-no more of THAT mickey mouse. Nosiree bob.)

Where have all the leaders gone, Mr. Iacocca? They vanished when the schools decided to go back to dress codes, without bothering to worry about the Supreme Court. They vanished when it was decided that American History and Civics were just too controversial, and the giant textbook publishers (to save money) would only publish the texts that the MOST censorious school boards in the country found uncontroversial-substituting "go along to get along" for actually teaching the only core mission that the schools have.

Those leaders disappeared when we decided to structure every waking moment of every child's life, and to hand them textbooks that were more graphic novels than "books," when we had provided a generation of conformity for the job market, who eagerly accepted them into their mills. When we busted the unions, hired illegal workers, outsourced our jobs and manufacturing, and sent generations into a cycle of perpetual debt by making usury (loan sharking) not only legal, but the preferred method of doing business.

In the novels of the 1940s and 1950s, loan sharks and their brutal leg breakers charged outrageous interest of ... ten and fifteen per cent! A little history detour might be in order here:

From PBS' FRONTLINE report "The Secret History of Credit Cards":

By 1980 Citibank was being squeezed between New York state usury laws and double-digit inflation rates. "You are lending money at 12 percent and paying 20 percent," Mr. Wriston explained. "You don't have to be Einstein to realize you're out of business.''

The bank employed 3,000 people in its credit card unit in Long Island at the time, a fact that Mr. Wriston hoped would entice New York lawmakers to offer relief. "All you have to do is lift the usury ceiling to some reasonable amount and we'll stay here," Mr. Wriston recalled telling New York's political leaders. "And they said, 'Ah, ha! You really won't move. We're not going to do anything.'"

What allowed Wriston to make good on his threat to leave New York was a little-noticed December 1978 Supreme Court ruling. The Marquette Bank opinion permitted national banks to export interest rates on consumer loans from the state where credit decisions were made to borrowers nationwide.

... With bipartisan support and backing from South Dakota's banking association, Janklow proposed a special "emergency" bill. "Citibank actually drafted the legislation," he said. "Literally we introduced it, and it passed our legislature in one day."

The arrangement ultimately brought 3,000 high-paying jobs to South Dakota and a host of new suitors from banks across the country. Citibank seemed to just be the beginning.

"It did fall out of the sky," Mr. Janklow said. "I was going to sleep at night thinking that we were the new financial center of America."

But other states were quick to catch on. Delaware, which passed similar legislation the following year, would foil Mr. Janklow's dreams. "By that time, we'd captured a lot, but we thought we were going to get them all. Chase, Manufacturer's Hanover, Chemical -- they all went to Delaware. They were coming here," he said.

South Dakota would never become the next New York or Hong Kong, but Bill Janklow carved out a niche in credit card operations that remains one of the largest sources of jobs in the state. "The tragedy to me is that if Delaware would have waited one year," he said, "we would have had 20,000 more jobs in this state today."
Thank you, US Supreme Court. FRONTLINE continues:

[In 1991] Sen. D'Amato proposed national legislation to cap credit card interest rates at 14 percent. After some 30 minutes of debate, the Senate voted 74-19 to approve the measure.

Panic swept through the banking industry. By Friday, economists were speculating about huge bank failures and the stock market plunged. The fervor for reform quickly cooled. In a television interview that weekend, Vice President Dan Quayle said if the proposed cap survived a House vote, it would likely be vetoed. By Monday, the tough talk about a national usury law became a call for a study of industry pricing practices.

Still, the industry was shaken. It was not just that the Big Scare signified an end to the comfortable and lucrative 10-point spread of the 1980s. It also marked a critical turning point in the broader evolution of the credit card -- from a mass-marketed, straightforward loan at 18 percent to a highly complex financial arrangement with ever-shifting terms and prices.
Wooo. Many VISA and Mastercard franchises charge 29% and more. And a compliant congress passed a bankruptcy bill a couple of years ago to protect the loan sharks' rights.

What's scary is the thought that at 14 percent the banks would go BELLY UP! Two percent above what New York State had considered USURY wouldn't keep them in business. Good ghod: how much is enough? (To Greed, that question HAS no answer.)

Hell, many of these "title loan" outfits actually charge annual interest rates that run 3 digits!

Who can AFFORD to make waves?

But isn't that what a "leader" does? Makes waves?

Where did all the leaders go, Mr. Iacocca?

Gee. I haven't a clue.


Friday, April 27, 2007

So What Am I? Chopped Liver?

I've an old conundrum that a Quaker Grandmother resolved for me the other day:
The 300th anniversary of Quakers in North Carolina

Yet many Friends are hesitant to trumpet our own triumphs as a religious society-consistent with the Quaker virtues of meekness, humility, and understatement-if not of honesty and integrity! But this is a week to be proud and tell our story, not only to each other, to the world as well. As the scripture enjoins: time to take the light out from under the bushel. As my mother was wont to say, "She who tooteth not her own horn, the same shall not be tooted!"
So, here's my toot (in most unQuakerlike language, cause I'm not a Quaker—only come from Quaker stock) to get their attention:

Dear Editor & Publisher:

I am so goddamned impressed that you would devote so much time to the new technology of electronic journalism, but retain the hoary and creaky medaeval conception of who is a "journalist." Nothing like falling outside the pigeonholes in a field that has yet to be defined.

Who am I?

You know, I am credited, in part, with breaking the story of how a cabal of Cato Institute "libertarians" tried to stealthily place 35 ballot measures in dozens of states, flying under the radar, and using techniques they'd honed back in the 1990s "Term Limits" campaigns, not realizing (like yourself) that the internet has changed the rules.

Don't believe me. Believe PBS: http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/238/hart-williams.html

Or, if you will, believe the BISC website "Who is Howie Rich?"

Hart Williams' narrative of deception on Howie Rich is one of the best investigative pieces available. Check out Unlimited Terms of Endearment XIX: Breaking News and this post about Howie Rich's entry to the New York Times and this post about how the media has ignored this story for some recent developments.

There are dozens and dozens more. But brevity and modesty prevent their further listing here.

Rich & F(r)iends lost 34 of 35 ballot initiatives , often tossed out by the courts for "pervasive fraud."

[A couple more stories just from THIS WEEK:
Where was the mighty New York TIMES? Nowhere, except for an unctuous piece on "Eminent Domain in Idaho" that was months behind the blogosphere, and fundamentally bought the propaganda of the scam artistes. (And no, I'm not claiming complete credit. A lot of bloggers unearthed significant chunks of this story, most especially the amazing Sandlapper at DailyKos). The "mainstream" media NEVER really caught on to the story, but in places LIKE Idaho, Howie's interference in what was perceived to be an IDAHO issue caused what should have been a "slam dunk" to go down to defeat by a margin of 3-1 (75%-25%).

Hell, my blog suggestion in July "New York CITY!!?!" from the old salsa commercial was a reality in opposition advertising by November, and had the Governor of Montana and a couple dozen Montana Democrats on the steps of the state capitol in August.

And that's a legitimate news question: What is a Manhattan Real Estate investor doing financing ballot initiatives in a dozen Western states, including the ENTIRE West Coast?

THAT, sir, is journalism and investigative reporting.

High Country News reporter Ray Ring won a (deserved) Polk Award for his work on the Howie Rich story.

[And note Mr. Ring's acknowledgement of my work. ... and this appreciation of BOTH efforts. ]

Ray Ring got the only audio interview of Howard Rich. I found the only photographs of Mr. Rich other than the single "official" photo on the Americans for Limited Government website. (One would think that a story that launched a thousand news articles would have had ONE enterprising news photographer getting a photograph of Howard "Hughes" Rich. Wouldn't you? Good lord.)

My pro bono journalism has received scant print attention, much praise in the blogosphere, and the utter cold shoulder from "print/electronic"hybrid media punditocracies like yours.

I'm SORRY that I jumped ahead of the evolutionary curve. I'm SORRY that I don't fit in any of your old medaeval pigeonholes. I'm SORRY Mr. Edison invented the light bulb, and that the quill pen has been outdistanced, but what the HELL are you doing by merely rubberstamping the thus-far absurd attempts of the old media to pretend to be new media?

And why am I consigned to limbo for having, possibly, effected one of the most stunning coups in journalism last year? The blogosphere's effect on the election was SO stunning, in fact, that, rather than acknowledge us, TIME Magazine (that old whore) came up with their "It's YOU" Person of the Year cover, as if to CONSCIOUSLY marginalize us. (Hmmm.)

No, goddam it, I read about your "nominations" for various prizes, and all I see is a bunch of sad-sack dinosaurs to whom you mistakenly ascribe warm-bloodedness.

I got news for you, pal: the age of Mammals has arrived. You can hatch all the leathery eggs you want, but I'm not going gently into that good night of obscurity after busting my ass on a story that the voters took to heart, and the national media utterly fucked up on.

So, yes, this is a protest: I will not be silenced. I will not be marginalized, and I will NOT be ignored. The high praise that the Rich gang left-handedly gave me* is mirrored in no wise by the "mainstream media" (and their camp followers, evidently, like yourself) who seem more than willing to admit that the Earth is a sphere, while maintaining at the same time that if you sail too far out, you'll fall off the edge.

You can't have it both ways. Shame on you.


Hart Williams

"There's an arrogance in the scientific
community that they know better than
the average individual."
- Andrea Lafferty,
Traditional Values Coalition
NEW YORK TIMES 7-11-2004

    [* I am the "Daily Kos" blogger referenced on Angry Left Exposed, was the target of an official smear campaign, and am fascinated that THEY admit by negation that I was extremely effective, but the brain-dead national media remained (and remain) for the most part in a deathlike torpor.
    So, how come I don't rate a mention, a nomination, etc.? I guess because I don't spend all my time in infantile self-aggrandizement, or endless self-promotion, self-nomination, or, as in YOUR case, don't "fit" into the "Old School" definition, even though, as in the case of new media, it is a hopelessly quaint and outrageously outmoded set of pigeonholes.

    I am reminded of the first XRCO awards in 1984 (X-Rated Critics Organization) in which the founders minted endless "film" awards, while ignoring video almost entirely. The following year, there were only a couple of films that were even released, and the year after that, none at all were filmed or released. Try to be careful about setting up your blacksmith's shop outside that Henry Ford fellow's new manufacturing plant. The carriage trade might not be a growth industry.]


    Well, that'll win Friends and influence People.


    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Today's Blog


    political cartoon by hw


    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Boston

    NOTE: As with any good novel of detection, the reader is advised to take care in deciding the guilt or innocence of the suspects until the end has been reached. The Butler MAY not have done it. Then again, the Butler might just be guilty as sin.

    Dear Cardinal O’Malley,

    I am not a Roman Catholic.

    However, I had formerly held Your Eminence in reasonably high regard—that is, until last week, when you unleashed a torrent of vitriol against, first, my friends and fellow bloggers over at Preemptive Karma and The Democratic Daily, and thence across North America and even to Europe and the furthest corners of the Earth (e.g. Arkansas).

    I am disturbed by this, of course, Your Grace, since I’d like to see you as the fine, charitable Christian gentleman, Prince of the Church, and all-round nice guy I had formerly believed you to be. But your words on the internet disturb me gravely, Your Reverence.

    Please understand that I hold Catholics and Catholicism in high regard, and I would go so far as to venture that some of my best friends are Catholics. So, I do not understand your sudden antipathy to myself and to others on the internet.

    Following the United States Supreme Court abortion decision last week, I am at an utter loss to explain the vitriol of your statement:

    April 18, 2007 at 07:37 PM

    As a Catholic, I like to think it is the fact this 5 member majority is all Catholic that made it possible for them to prophetically see past the lies, distortions, and phony comnstitutionalism (sic) of the pro-baby killing position.
    The fact they can see in the constitution what Pelosi, Kennedy, Kerry, etc. can't see makes one wonder what evil is at work in them, blinding them to what is true. Could it be the selling of their souls for fame and power???

    I must admit that I was utterly shocked to read this, having written an article also asking if there was a connection between the ‘coincidence’ that last week’s decision in Carhart was obtained with a 5-member Catholic majority. It shocked me nearly as much as your opinion of John Kerry, who is, I believe, one of your parishioners.

    Frankly, the vitriol unleashed against myself—and other bloggers who had pointed out the connection—seems astonishing in light of this bald-faced assertion of political fact. I am surprised at you, Cardinal. Even did I believe that you held such views, I can hardly believe that you would be so impolitic as to make such accusations of Senators Kerry and Kennedy.

    Surely you could have taken them aside, privately, and explained the present mercantile status of their eternal souls?

    And “the pro-baby killing position” seems, again, a counterproductive term, whether you believe said position to be such privately or not. Still, it IS your Archdiocese, Your Worshipfulness, and it is not my place to tell you how to run it.

    Your comments on that case on the internet in the past week have seemed very disturbing, not the least of which because they are so contradictory.

    At first this was very puzzling to me, given your statements like this that appeared, a mere two days later, when Becky at Preemptive Karma pointed out the selfsame connection, mostly by quoting a Monty Python skit from the movie “The Meaning of Life.”:

    04.20.07 - 3:44 pm

    Hey! Take your bigotry and go join Stalin, Pol Pot, and The French Revolutionary Terror promoters.

    These 5 Catholics worked their way up by embracing and espousing a certain judicial philosophy. They were supported by and put on the court by non-Catholics because they had that philosophy. That all you can see is their religion just shows what kind of a bigoted, ignorant hater you are.
    Are you SURE, Your Worshipfulness, that invoking “Stalin, Pol Pot, and The French Revolutionary Terror promoters” was the best way of making your point? I would not presume to offer advice, but I might merely point out the decidedly “unChristian” tenor of the remarks, should you wish to revise them. Now, two minutes later, you stated further:

    04.20.07 - 3:46 pm

    And by the way only 25% of this country is Catholic, but almost 70% oppose partial-birth abortion which I am sure is why the pro-abortion people want to stir up bigotry--to try to win the debate by going throough (sic) a corrupt back door.
    Your position seems, at best, contradictory, Cardinal O’Malley, Your Eminent Grace. Especially when you decided that wasn’t enough, and posted this, as well:

    04.20.07 - 5:29 pm

    I don't care what you believe about abortion. The issue is dragging in the religion of the 5 whose judicial philosophy got them onto the Supreme Court--put there by people who mostly were non-Catholic but who were pro -life as well as literal constructionists on the Constitution. Couldn't Justice Ginsburg's liberal attitude been shaped by a liberal Jewish background---SO WHAT? (dash is sic) If her side had won and people started writing about her Jewish roots there would be screaming and yelling (rightfully) about anti-Semitism.

    But, of course, if Catholics are in the majority and you don't like the decision, then let's bring in some good-old fashioned anti-Catholic bigotry to save the day.
    In the most recent poll almost 70% of Americans oppose partial-birth abortion--Catholics are only 25% of the population. Are we to live in a dictatorship that says democracy is for everyone but those whose morals are the same as Rome's and they can't try to influence a majority that will affect the philosophy by which Court Justices are chosen.
    Now, again, as a matter of practical politics, defending the Catholic Church by comparing it to anti-semitism seems a tad bit hypocritical, given the Church’s long history in Europe. But this comment seems completely over the top, Your Exalted Cardinalship, Sir.

    And this strategy of conflating anti-semitism with noting that the majority opinion of the Supreme Court was fashioned by and only from the five Catholic jurists on the court seems to be intentional on your part, since you posted further that:

    04.20.07 - 8:36 pm

    Kevin--if all 9 justices were Jewish and agreed on a decision based on a shared authentically American school of constitutional law, then it would be clear anti-Semitism to prattle about their religion--and I think most Americans would agree it would be anti-Semitism

    But 5 Catholics make a decision based on a genuine American school of constitutional law--and we're supposed to believe that the opponents of the decision are bringing up the justices' religion out of the purest motives. Please! We Catholics-and all other fair Americans-- aren't that stupid.
    And that’s not the worst of it. At the same time, you posted this on the Democratic Daily (typos are all sic):

    April 20th, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    What you should do is apologize for using such a bigoted phrase for only bigots believe that faithful Catholics are merely following "MARCHING ORDERS FROM ROME" when they make a decision based on certain American constitutional principles you apparently oppose. You use hateful, bigoted, nasty, insulting, derogatory comments like "MARCHING ORDERS FROM ROME" and then accuse pro-lifers as being the originators or causes of hatred.It is phrases like this that to believing Catholics are the equivalent of using phrases like "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are to Jewish people. . And noone is stating that someone can’t disagree-that is your spin.

    You know clearly what I am strongly objecting to-the imagery and words denoting that Catholics are nothing but Vatican robots following "MARCHING ORDERS FROM ROME."
    Really, Cardinal: Don’t you think you’ve pushed the “anti-Semitism” parallel a bit too far? Especially when the late Pope, John Paul II apologized in 1998 for the Church’s failure to do or say anything about the Holocaust? (Oh, and "noone" is from e. e. cummings' poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town" but isn't an actual WORD in English, Your Eminent Worshipful Gracefulness.)

    And, again, using phrases like: “phrases like ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’” seems—to a layman like myself—politically inauspicious rhetoric, at best. But you know your trade better than I, I'll admit.

    As I said, I was very puzzled by all of this. How could you maintain that it was the Catholicism of the five jurists that had produced the Carhart decision, but then maintain that any non-Catholic pointing out the same connection was making “hateful, bigoted, nasty, insulting, derogatory comments”? Since this confused me, I thought I’d need to dig a little further before I could make any intelligent commentary. I began looking for other comments you’d made recently, to see if they would illuminate your position.

    What did you mean by this from the Catholic News Agency’s site?

    30/03/2007 11:54 AM EST

    Sadly, the intolerance on behalf of homosexuals which is sweeping across Europe and America is clearly part of the death and decay of Western Civilization which will inevitably turn these areas into Moslem lands.
    Are you saying that Moslems come from homosexual marriages? I really don’t quite understand, your Eminent Graceful Worshipfulness.

    And how do you explain this, posted earlier this month:

    Posted April 11, 2007 3:55 PM

    After reading this bigoted anti-Catholic rant, it reminds me of the fact that the most hate-filled and vicious people are the ones who deny and deny it as this writer did in various ways. As for discrimination, polls repeatedly show that there are very, very few orthodox Catholics or orethodox (sic) Christians employed in the MSM. Only a moron or fool would believe that this is by accident.
    I find that chillingly disturbing, Your Graceful Eminent Worshipfulness. But it’s not sui generis, by any stretch. This from just last summer:

    20 Jun 2006 01:01:16

    What difference does all this make? According to American statistics the churches which have adopted all the poltically correct morality (pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, etc.) are committing self-genocide. In only one or two generations the mostly geriatric Episcopal Church will cease to exist except as an historic tribal memory.
    Really, Your Most Exalted Worshipful Graceful Eminence: Was that what you meant to say about the Episcopalians? And what about this, which you wrote to an English newspaper on February 19th:

    If Catholics become the permanent majority of practicing Christians in England it will be interesting to see if Catholics ask for the return of those grand and beautiful cathedrals and churches built by their Catholic ancestors before the Protestant Reformation (like Canterbury or Westminster Abbey)-a movement that in many places tried to destroy those grand Catholic edifices raised to the glory of God.
    Was that really politic to post, Cardinal? No criticism implied, but I merely bring it to your august attention. Still, it seems to get worse: Not content with attacking non-Catholics, you seem deeply aggrieved at persons WITHIN the Church with whom you disagree:

    Nov 28, 2005 9:05:19 PM

    The secular (mostly anti-Catholic) media loves stereotyping people they are out to damn. Dorothy Day on doctrine was hard core "right." She also was humble and frequently said if Church authorities told her to close up the Catholic Worker, she would. Today's so-called "liberals" in the Church are frequently narcissistic exhibitionists who get a cheap buzz out of their public antics. They pride themselves on so-called "independent" thinking, but are too intellectually challenged to realize they are just stooges for some of the worst pathologies in American society.
    You seem to be drawing a narrower and narrower circle, Your Exalted Graceful Eminance. And when I read something like this, I am deeply agitated by what seems an increasing (seeming) bellicosity on your part:

    March 3, 2007 - 4:33 PM

    I find your oohing and aahing over [Democratic presidential candidate John] Edwards sickening. As a Catholic I was willing to overlook his hiring a viciously anti-Catholic blogger at first. But then when he refused to show them the door when it was publicly called to his attention (if he did not already know) it was telling Catholics that callous nastiness toward Catholics on the internet is just fine with him. There are thousands of Catholics like myself who will not forget this gratuitous insult --even if it is not something on your radar worth bothering with.
    But, finally, what is most disturbing to me, Your Most Puissant Graceful Reverence, is that you’ve begun to refer to yourself in the Third Person. While this should in no wise be taken as a criticism, mayhap, this affectation MIGHT indicate something more than mere doctrinal differences or generalized peevishness, to wit:

    July 29, 2006 09:01 PM

    Apparently the Catholic Church in Boston is riddled with liberal Protestant moles for news stories here make it seem her unCatholic and heretical activities were blatant and well known yet she kept moving up Church ladders. Whoever was behind her doing the pushing should also be fired. Even under Cardinal O'Malley--who seems basically decent and orthodox--this archdiocese continues to be ravaged by apostasy, heresy, and moral decadence. Maybe Jesuit B.C. and Weston School of anti-Catholic theology is behind a lot of this because they have long since become trashers of anything traditionally orthodox Catholic and yet seem to have a corrupt undue influence here with ex-priests (like Thomas Groome a bigshot there) at BC leading the rebellious parade.
    “Apostasy, heresy and moral decadence”? These truly seem an immoderate choice of words, Your Wizardry, Sir.

    Now, I realize that you could not say such things personally, so as not to disgrace the high office which you hold and the necessary constraints under which you must, needs, operate, Your Most Eminent Puissant Holiness, but your official spokesman on the internet has been spreading this message—that I can only presume comes with your blessing, or at least tacit approval—and, as it turns out, your spokesman has been screeching at people far and wide in Defense of the Faith.

    I realize that it might be confusing, with such a large organization to pinpoint said spokesman, so I’ve taken the liberty of narrowing out his platoon for you, so that you can directly address my questions without any broken links in the Chain of Command.

    I am speaking, of course, of Deacon John M. Bresnahan of the Holy Family Parish, of Lynn, Massachusetts. (That would be North Boston, I believe). He has been a deacon there, by his testimony, for 27 years, so I cannot doubt that he speaks for you.

    But, in case you don’t have his address handy, I have taken the liberty of providing it here:

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan would be, in your Excellent Graceful Eminence’s organizational chart (or, order of battle, if you prefer) located in the North Region (Most Rev. Francis X. Irwin, DD, ACSW, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston), Vicariate II, Lynn, Massachusetts: the Holy Family Parish, Rev. Gregory J. Mercurio -- (617) 599-7200.

    I am sending a copy of this through your spokesman’s email address, so that I can be sure that it gets to you immediately:

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan
    Please let me know when you receive it. Aside from the obvious question of WHY you’re attacking authors in Oregon, Washington, Georgia, England, Arkansas and elsewhere, I must wonder why you are so upset that a few of us mentioned the five Catholic jurists who fashioned the Carhart decision. It doesn't seem fair that you can and we can't.

    I would humbly and sincerely request an explanation of what, exactly, you meant when you wrote on the Democratic Daily:
    Deacon John M. Bresnahan Says:
    April 20th, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Pardon me--the phrase your writer used was "MARCHING ORDERS TO ITS MEMBERS" (SAME BILGEWATER) and it was authored by your partner in "trashing the Catholics to discredit a judicial philosophy" and presumably approved by you, the editor, and now defended by you.

    Yet every American history book I have read --and that is many as I am a retired U.S. History teacher with a ton of courses in this area--when they get into immigrant and Catholics in America History give this "robotic," "marching orders" imagery as the classic hate-filled battle-cry of bottom-dwelling bigots. AND YOU APPROVED ITS USE AND NOW DEFEND IT" by not apologizing. Do you really believe Alto, Thomas, etc. were merely following MARCHING ORDERS??

    And they don’t really believe the authentically American judicial philosophy they espouse???? And if you believe they really believe this philosophy--then why bring up their religion at all--except to get points from bigots.
    I’m pretty sure I’m not a bigot, but I could be wrong. The same holds true for the bloggers at Preemptive Karma and The Democratic Daily. These seem especially damning charges against us for stating what you yourself had stated on the same day as the Carhart decision, elsewhere.

    And “BILGEWATER” ??!??! (Perhaps Your Eminence might want to upgrade his thesaurus with a more modern edition.)

    Finally, this:

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan Says:
    April 20th, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    As usual, when liberals throw hatred around and are called on it, they just attack the one upset at the hatred and call it "disrespectful" or something similar-- never opening up their minds to the hate they are (maybe unconsciously) stirring up by the language or imagery they are using.And of course --unlike Bill O’Reilly (who I rarely watch and don’t like much)--liberals usually make sure they get the last dig (frequently unfair) in. My last word: Why should imagery and words that are so bigoted even the Klan used them get any respect, whether anti-Semitic, rascist, (sic)or anti-Catholic- imagery or words.
    Could you please clarify the language here?

    Anxiously awaiting your Most Holy Illustrious Worshipful Eminent Reverence’s reply, Your Excellency, I am,

    Sincerely Yours,

    Hart Williams,

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Catholic Bashing

    "Publish and be damned."
    -Duke of Wellington, c.1825

    Many Americans have long held that the specter of 'theocracy' is a thing to be devoutly avoided and vehemently opposed-myself among them.

    Well, I got news for you: if, as noted a few days ago, the first major "all Catholic" 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court is any sort of harbinger, the United States government is now 1/3 a theocracy. This is worthy of mention in a world where (metaphoric) ink gushes in profusion whenever Angelina Jolie sneezes or Dick Cheney lies.

    But, over the weekend, a spike in my readership led me to a cluster of websites, all of which, it seems, were sparked by a "Catholic" blog called "First Things."

    Among the insulting and politely ad hominem attacks contained therein lay the implicit accusation that my commentary of last Thursday ("Catholics-5; The Rest of Us-Nothing" see the comments, as well) made me an anti-Catholic 'bigot.' Fine: you be the judge. We'll deal with the bigotry further on. But ....

    Perhaps the most insulting formulation of all is the one which is not ever spoken, but only exists, by implication, deep within the recent Catholic formulation that abortion is an horrific sin:

    That God thinks we are so stupid that we can't be allowed to control our animal passions (while maintaining, at the same time, that we MUST control our animal passions) and that every pregnancy be brought to term.

    And that God prefers children to be seen as punishments, rather than blessings.

    And yet that's what we have, when, beneath the smooth veneer of sacramental manners, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus writes:

    The Supreme Court and Reasonable Hope
    By Richard John Neuhaus
    Friday, April 20, 2007, 11:04 AM

    I'm not convinced that this week's Supreme Court decision on partial-birth abortion is as good as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says it is, but I certainly hope she is right. She says it is alarming; it reflects manifest hostility to the unlimited abortion license imposed by Roe; it supports judicial deference to the legislative branch; it permits moral and ethical considerations to impinge upon law; it treats sympathetically such traditional notions as a mother's love for her child; and it is a first step toward reversing the abortion regime established by Roe. As I say, I hope she is right, but I expect she may be exaggerating somewhat ....
    So, by implication, the "Father" is in favor of the following LEGAL program of our government:

    • Manifest hostility towards abortion

    • Utter judicial deference to congress (who never formulate unconstitutional laws, evidently)

    • The use of extra-Constitutional 'moral and ethical' judgments to influence, negate and control the law,

    • The enshrinement of "motherhood,"

    • The reversal of Roe v. Wade (an almost trivial addition to the monstrous formulation already outlined)
    Gee: since I oppose ALL of those "legal" conceptions, does that make me an anti-Catholic bigot? After all, Joseph Bottums' accusations against me (and against Becky at PreEmptive Karma, among others) is fully embraced by Fr. Neuhaus. ("And I am one with Joseph Bottum on the additional points he made yesterday ...")

    Bottums wrote:

    A “chill wind is blowing from Rome,” announced one leftist site in a blog post titled “Catholics—5; The Rest of Us—Nothing.” The five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court formed—for the first time since Alito joined the Court—the complete majority on a decision. I think that we’re probably going to have to wait for the new fund-raising letters from NARAL and Planned Parenthood before we see the highest pitch of anti-Catholic rhetoric coming out of the Carhart decision. But for those who can’t wait, you can find the first groundswells here, here, here, here, here, and here.
    [Note: the third "here" refers to my friend Becky's posting at "PreEmptive Karma"—a posting, by the by, made in the same HOUR that I posted "Catholics 5" and which now contains 75 comments, nearly ALL of which screech about "bigotry" and "bias," even as they speciously pooh-pooh Becky's point as sheerest fiction.]

    Well, aside from rejecting the convenient slur "leftist" as characterizing my work and writings, I hurl the charge of bigotry back in the teeth of the anti-woman, anti-secular and anti-human church, the laughably-entitled "Catholic" church:

    Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive: "The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found" (Scientific American). 2. Including or concerning all humankind; universal

    -The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000.
    We'll pass over the "liberal" portion. Clearly 'catholic' in this case is advertising hype, although it must be recognized that, at over one billion adherents, the Roman church is the largest religious sect in the world-an accomplishment achieved during the tenure of Pope John Paul II. But 'catholic'? Clearly not. A quick drive-by of the more prominent steeples and stupas of your community will put the lie to that claim.

    When they lie to you in the title, you have to bring a whole fleet of salt trucks for the rest. This is not to say that I am 'against' Catholicism: but I am against the attempt by the papal office in Rome to meddle in the secular politics of my country.

    If that's bigotry, then I'm a bigot.

    And this threat is a very real one:

    'Catholicism' has become the largest single Christian sect in the USA, claiming a quarter of adherents, and is RISING, due in no small part to the massive influx of immigration from the almost universally Catholic countries of the Americas south of our border. So, this is no small matter.

    Then-Cardinal Joey Ratzinger prevailed upon American Catholic clergy to DENY then-presidential candidate (and Catholic) John Kerry communion for his fractured stance on abortion-as a secular officer of a secular Constitution, he was in favor of a woman's "Right to Choose" (an euphemism, itself), but personally against it, as a Catholic.

    Coming from the office of the Inquisition (since renamed the kinder, gentler "Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith") this sent a chilling message to the Orthodox. This was nothing new in the papacy of John Paul II. While he was a likable chap, within the mechanism of the Church itself, he was reactionary to the core: John Paul II/Karol Wojitla personally revived the office of the Inquisition, among his other 'accomplishments':

    To Catholics, I write to remind them of what each of them knows but seldom acknowledges. Karol Wojtila forced the best minds out of the Catholic Church, or at least to the extreme margins of the Church. Wojtila sanctified the baroque reproductive/sexual bugaboos that infest the Catholic Church while striving to ideologically lobotomize the Catholic clergy and laity ... The record shows that Karol Wojtila was a charming man and a master of international public relations, but he was a political and cultural reactionary to his core.


    1. Among Wojtila's first actions as Pope was to attack freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech in Catholic universities. Progressive theology, feminist thought, and "liberation theology" were driven from accepted Catholic discourse. Catholic universities in Europe and North America have lost their best scholars in the humanities and have sunk into being miserable intellectual ghettoes with respect to history, philosophy, theology, and related fields.

    2. Wojtila revived and strengthened the Office of the Inquisition under the infamous Cardinal Ratziger. The "Holy Office" was near abolition under the two previous pontiffs, but Wojtila wielded the Inquisition as his special shock troops in a relentless campaign to silence all varieties of opinion other than his own. Repression of thought at the level of the diocese and parish became commonplace again after a blessed reprieve in the 1960s and 1970s.


    6. In the United States, Wojtila in 1980 forced Father Robert Drinan, one of the nation's leading elected progressive politicians, to resign from Congress (under penalty of being forced to leave the priesthood). At the same time, Wojtila fostered the alliance of right-wing American Catholic bishops with the "Christian right" on the issues of abortion, women's rights, and homosexuality. In North America and beyond, a double standard has been applied by Wojtila for Catholic clergy involvement in political causes. Advocating for progressive causes has been forbidden as impermissibly "political" while advocacy and alliances against abortion, contraception, and women's rights has been approved as necessary "witnessing" to Catholic values.
    I would suggest that you read the whole article. The thrust, continued by Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger, cannot be denied. He was, according to some, the ARCHITECT of John Paul II's "Culture of Life" stance.

    [*An interesting side note, before he became pope, Ratzinger was in charge of the pedophile priests scandals. His response? Stonewall:

    ... in 2001, then-Cardinal Ratzinger signed a letter sent to all bishops, asserting the Church's right to hold secret inquiries and keep the evidence confidential for 10 years after the victims reached adulthood under pain of excommunication.
    The same writer makes this point:

    And indeed, as far as I know, not one, not a single priestly predator has ever been excommunicated for their crimes.]
    Open meddling in the politics of the United States, and the deliberate and conscious suppression of any Catholic voices not his own. American Catholics-the most notoriously free-thinking and papal disobeying-have garnered the new pope's special attention, most especially in the arena of abortion.

    Father Frank Pavone's extreme actions were personally endorsed by John Paul II, and one of Benedict XVI's first actions was giving Pavone's "Priests for Life" a special dispensation-cutting them loose from priestly responsibilities to engage in full-time anti-abortion work, and to get involved in politics, as I reported here.

    Their first political act was to have been a "Terri Schiavo" style initiative in Nebraska, but a lack of enough signatures stopped the effort-until 2008. Here's some pictures of his January 2006 trip to Nebraska, by a WEIRD coincidence, EXACTLY as they were setting up the state for the "Schiavo" initiative ballot petition and signature drive.

    [*Now go to http://www.cuf.org/news/index.asp and look at the the 'official' photo of the new pope, and please TELL ME whether you think that this face was created by a lifetime of charity and Christian love, or by something else. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, or, "Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face." - Albert Camus]

    So, mentioning any of this is "anti-Catholic"?

    Indeed, one of the best examples of the "new" Catholicism is Fr. Richard John Neuhaus himself, whose blog initially attacked me (and Becky, and four other bloggers).

    According to his Rightweb profile:

    "Father Richard," as he is known to President George W. Bush and many others, is a Catholic priest and the president of the neoconservative-aligned Institute on Religion and Public Life (IRPL). He has been a leading figure for decades in what some observers view as a conservative, Catholic-driven culture war against progressive and mainstream Protestant churches. Neuhaus has also been a close, if unofficial, adviser to the George W. Bush administration. Described by an administration official in a 2005 Time magazine article as having "a fair amount of under-the-radar influence" on policies ranging from stem cell research to cloning, Neuhaus has apparently had a significant impact on Bush's thinking. The president once said that the priest "helps me articulate these [religious] things" (Time, February 7, 2005; Andrew Weaver, "Neocon Catholics Target Mainline Protestants," MediaTransparency, August 11, 2006).

    He is a "political" priest, given a political appointment. Wikipedia notes:

    Neuhaus supported the mainline (ELCA) wing of American Lutheranism before converting to Catholicism on September 8, 1990. A year later, he was ordained a priest by John Cardinal O'Connor. He was a commentator for the Catholic television network EWTN during the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

    He promotes ecumenical dialogue and social conservatism. Along with Charles Colson, he edited Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission. This ecumenical manifesto sparked much debate; some Catholics and evangelicals claimed that Neuhaus and Colson had compromised major doctrines to promote a neoconservative agenda and unfairly demanded that both branches of Christianity stop trying to convert the other's members.
    Ordination ONE year after converting? One can safely conclude that's less doctrinal than political.

    An example of both Neuhaus' doctrinal fanaticism and his politesse can be found in his essay "Is Mormonism Christian?"

    Neuhaus makes the clear distinction:

    For missionary and public relations purposes, the LDS may present Mormonism as an "add-on," a kind of Christianity-plus, but that is not the official narrative and doctrine.

    A closer parallel might be with Islam. Islam is a derivative of Judaism, and Christianity. Like Joseph Smith, Muhammad in the seventh century claimed new revelations and produced in the Qur'an a "corrected" version of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, presumably by divine dictation. Few dispute that Islam is a new and another religion, and Muslims do not claim to be Christian, although they profess a deep devotion to Jesus. Like Joseph Smith and his followers, they do claim to be the true children of Abraham. Christians in dialogue with Islam understand it to be an interreligious, not an ecumenical, dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue is dialogue between Christians. Dialogue with Mormons who represent official LDS teaching is interreligious dialogue.
    But he's slick enough to recognize that he's talking to Mormon readers, and adds this conclusion:

    As for the rest of us, we owe to Mormon Americans respect for their human dignity, protection of their religious freedom, readiness for friendship, openness to honest dialogue, and an eagerness to join hands in social and cultural tasks that advance the common good. That, perhaps, is work enough, at least for the time being.
    But, perhaps, only a fool would ignore the clear implications: If you're working with us, you're our buddies ... until we don't need you anymore. Then, watch out!

    But he is happy, through his lackey, Joseph Bottums (editor of Neuhaus' magazine First Things), to attack me, and other bloggers. We must be quite a threat.

    This neatly parallels Fr. Frank Pavone's willingness to work with the most extreme of anti-abortion fanatics (see the Village Voice article cited above).

    All of which leads to a few inexorable conclusions:

    First, that the "culture of life" is actually anti-life: children are viewed as a punishment from God, which the Church must enforce by WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY, and

    Secondly, that ANY MEANS NECESSARY is the ruling agenda.

    So, if I note that the Roman decree has been faithfully adhered to by the five Catholic jurists of the Supreme Court, in rationalizing a complete about-face (just as politely shielded with legalisms and euphemisms as Neuhaus' statement on Mormon apostasy), then I am merely noting that the sun rises in the morning and sets at night.

    I do not claim that Pope Benedict XVI ORDERED the jurists to vote in their peculiar manner and that they obeyed, but the connection cannot be said to be merest coincidence.

    It is irrefutable that: The Vatican has attempted to interfere in US politics over the issue of abortion. Both directly and indirectly.

    That the selection of Samuel Alito, Jr. and John Roberts to the Supreme Court was undertaken in consultation with Catholic representatives, such as Fr. Neuhaus.

    That the outcry against the "Catholic" Supreme Court decision was muted at best, and almost non-existent (proof: that they would have to dig ME up as the prime exponent of "anti-Catholic" bias).

    That a sect with 25% of all United States Christians claiming "bias" and "bigotry" and anti-Catholic witch-hunting cannot be operating from a rational base, but, rather, is playing the equivalent of the "race card," so famously invoked in the O.J. Simpson trial.

    WERE there a strong anti-Catholic strain in American politics, HOWLS would have been heard when Ronald Reagan established a diplomatic mission at the Vatican on January 10, 1984.

    Yes, the US maintained diplomatic relations from 1797 to 1870, because the Papal states were legitimate STATES. When they lost their land, we ceased our relations, unwilling to, essentially, have diplomatic relations with a Church. In 1984, Reagan overturned this ancient American precedent and thought.

    Similarly, Bush's remarks at the 2001 dedication of the "Pope John Paul II Cultural Center Dedication* and his "visit" to the Pope in March 2002 fly in the face of American (Protestant) tradition and an unwillingness to intermingle church and state politics in an avowedly SECULAR nation.

    It is, politically, every bit the abomination that Bush's appearance in uniform was: a deliberate sneer at a cherished political tradition -- that no president since Washington has ever donned military garb, to remind all and sundry that the "Commander-in Chief" is ALWAYS a civilian, and that the military is always under civilian authority. And we've had more than our share of generals in the presidency: it was under President Ulysses S. Grant that diplomatic ties to the newly-landless papal state were dissolved.

    [* "The pope reminds us that, while freedom defines our nation, responsibility must define our lives. He challenges to live up to our aspirations. To be a fair and just society, where all are welcomed, all are valued, and all are protected. And he's never more eloquent than when he speaks for the culture of life."]
    The charge that these moral authoritarians who brook NO dissent, who believe that a secular nation is merely misguided and MUST adopt Catholic dogma ... the charge that THEY are being oppressed is laughable on the face of it.

    I cheerfully fling the charges of 'bigotry' and 'bias' laid out here-and elsewhere-back in their collective teeth.

    If you're on the side of the angels, why adopt the tactics of the Opposition?

    And how come the "Vicar of Christ" has a face that belies that eponymous allegiance so disturbingly?

    Were this Catholic bashing, I would have prominently mentioned that Ratzinger had once been a member of the Hitler Youth-a charge neatly explained away in a thousand pro-papal articles. I do not dispute their arguments.

    No: the only bashing here is coming FROM Catholics, not from my quarter.


    Postscript: Here's a smattering of blogs that are calling for my head over " Catholics -5; The rest of us - Nothing":

    Let 'em know what YOU think.