Thursday, May 26, 2005

Stars and Stripes & Some Ideas for Memorial Day

"A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth."

Henry Ward Beecher from " The American Flag"

Some ideas for this coming Memorial Day from

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:

-by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.

-by visiting memorials.

-by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.

-by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).

-by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.

-by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

Also, please consider adding your voice in support of the efforts to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th (instead of "the last Monday in May"). This would help greatly to return the solemn meaning back to the day, and to help return minds and hearts to think upon the ultimate sacrifices made by those in service to our country. Just one day out of the year to honor our loved ones, our ancestors, our friends who died in conflicts and wars -- not to honor war, but those that died in those conflicts and wars.

I receive many emails from people expressing their thanks for those who have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country. The following, received in 1999 and used with the author's permission, sums up all the emails I have received very elegantly, and is true to the original spirit and meaning of Memorial Day.

"This weekend I am going to do something different. I am going to buy some carnations each day and go to one of the nearby cemetaries and walk through the sections for soldiers. When I find a grave that has no flowers, I'll leave one and say a prayer for the family of that person, who for some reason could not bring their soldier flowers. I will pray for our country and all who serve or have served. For their families, who also serve by losing precious days, weeks and months spent with their loved ones who are off serving, preserving peace and the freedom we have in this country. I'll pray for the families who paid the ultimate price, who's loved ones died, or were taken captive and never returned. I'll pray for anyone who may still be held in captivity and thinks perhaps they are forgotten. I do NOT forget.

I'll say a prayer for every person on the Internet who takes a moment from their time to come to sites like yours and be reminded of what this holiday really means. And I'll say a prayer of thanks and ask God's richest blessings on you.

Thank you again.... and God bless!

Sylvia Mohr"

What a great idea! I would add to this a reading (over the next few days especially) of stories or biographies that highlight some of the many sacrifices thousands have made in order that you and I could be and remain free and live in relative security from further terrorist attacks.

Posted by Hello

Pepsi Apologizes

I received a letter from PepsiCo wherein they offer an apology. Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Perales,

Thank you for contacting us about Indra Nooyi’s recent commencement speech at Columbia University, which has created a difficult situation.

Please know how sorry we are for disappointing you – and how much we appreciate your input. Feedback such as yours has been shared directly with Indra, and she clearly regrets this unfortunate episode. With that in mind, Indra has asked us to share this statement with you:

"Following my remarks to the graduating class of Columbia University's Business School in New York City, I have come to realize
that my words and examples about America unintentionally depicted our country negatively and hurt people.

I appreciate the honest comments that have been shared with me since then, and am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I love America unshakably -- without hesitation -- and am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support our great nation has always provided me.

"Over the years I've witnessed and advised others how a thoughtless gesture or comment can hurt good, caring people. Regrettably, I've proven my own point. Please accept my sincere apologies."
-- Indra Nooyi

Thanks once more for taking the time to contact us here at PepsiCo. We truly value your very conscientious point of view, and promise to work just as diligently at regaining your trust and confidence.


You be the judge.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Life Keeps Getting Better: Juve = Champions

Life keeps getting better.

First there was yesterday's Manchester United loss, um I mean Arsenal win. Now Juventus, the best team in the world, has won the Italian League title ... for the third time in the past four seasons and the 28th time overall!

Here's the report:
Juventus claimed their 28th Italian league title on Friday without kicking a ball after rivals AC Milan were held to a 3-3 draw at home by Palermo.

The result leaves Juve, who have two games remaining, four points clear of last year's title winners Milan who have just one more match to play.

Milan, who fielded a reserve side ahead of their Champions League final against Liverpool in Istanbul on Wednesday, led 3-1 at the break thanks to two goals from Brazilian Serginho and a Jon Dahl Tomasson strike.

Carlo Ancelotti's side were all set to force Juventus to win their penultimate match at Livorno on Sunday to secure the title but Palermo struck twice inside the final 13 minutes.

A twice-taken penalty from Italy international Luca Toni got Palermo back in the match before Simone Barone fired in at the near post for a 79th minute equaliser.


Juve coach Fabio Capello has now won titles with four different clubs -- AC Milan, AS Roma and Juventus in Italy and Real Madrid in Spain.

The title is Juve's third in the past four seasons and sixth in the last 11 campaigns -- all five previous triumphs coming under the guidance of former coach Marcello Lippi.
There was also a personal milestone for Juventus defender Ciro Ferrara who equalled the record eight Serie A titles won by former Juve players Giovanni Ferrari and Giuseppe Furino.

Ferrara, who will retire from playing to join Juve's coaching staff at the end of the season, won two titles with Napoli before moving to the Turin club.

Posted by Hello

Class Is in Session. Maestro Del Piero Instructing.

I know it is a couple weeks old, but it is a beautiful shot, both the photo and the kick.

This is from the Juventus-Milan match on 8 May. Here, Alessandro Del Piero does a bicycle kick as a Milan opponent stands stunned and probably in awe, wishing he could perform such deeds in the midst of the battle of a match: "Oh, Maestro Del Piero, come fai tale? Insegnami per favore."

And yes, Juventus won, 1-0.

Posted by Hello

Not "Man" Enough

(Keane tries to console Scholes after the latter missed a penalty kick, which ended up being the difference as Manchester United lost to Arsenal in England's FA Cup Championship.)

Arsenal's goalie Jens Lehmann was the hero of the day. More from Sky Sports:
The German shot-stopper was The Gunners' only truly outstanding performer as he pulled off a string of saves to deny a lively United attack before turning away Paul Scholes' spot kick to earn Arsene Wenger's side the trophy.
It is always a good feeling when good things happen ... like Manchester United losing.

Life is good. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Letter to PepsiCo.

Here is a copy of my letter to Pepsi:

To PepsiCo. Board of Directors:

I am a regular consumer, just like many other Americans. I am upset with Ms. Indra Nooyi's comments and further upset with her attempts at an apology. Nothing was "misconstrued" (she even said in her speech, "You know what I'm talking about.") and her criticisms of the US were not "inadvertent." They were blatant.

Whether or not she and PepsiCo. realize this, her attempt to clear things up only makes matters worse because it implies regular consumers are ignorant and naive, things which this one and most of the rest are not.

I am not going to buy any Pepsi products (all of them, not just the soft drinks) until two things are done:

1. A real apology is published that acknowledges what was said was wrong and a mistake. (Even if she believes it, she should state that comments like that are not appropriate for a leader at a consumer-related business to make, at least if they do not want to suffer the economic consequences, and especially if it is one so reliant upon the American consumer society.)

2. A statement expressing the good that the US does in the world. This country is not perfect, but it is one that brings much good to the world. To list some of the many:

-Tsunami relief (we actually backed up our pledge with the funds and relief services).

-Saving Europe during WWI.

-Saving the world and stopping continued Nazi extermination of the Jews during WWII.

-Saving South Korea from Communist (and eventual death camps) North Korea.

-Trying to salvage the job the French started with the Vietnam Conflict. (We did not succeed, but we tried.)

-Standing up to the Soviet Union and continued Communist expansion.

-Being the beacon of hope and light for those living under repressive regimes.

-Saving Kuwait when Saddam Hussein invaded that country.

-Helping to stop the genocide in then-Yugoslavia. There we helped Muslims against Christians, a point too often neglected.

-Assisting with funds and services to help after the Iran earthquake.

-Bringing freedom and self-rule to Afghanistan.

-Arresting and imprisoning the evil dictator Saddam Hussein along with delivering justice to his sons. This stopped the mass murder of his own people, torture, rapes, financial rewards to suicide bombers, and all-around continual threats to anyone who displeased him. (Notice we did not catch him, torture him, and then kill him. We delivered him to be tried by a court of law, something few countries would do. Yes, the US is one of the few, just like our Marines.)

-Thus, bringing freedom and a democratic vote to Iraq.

There are many more.

No matter what happens in the world, when someone needs help, they turn to us and we do help. We do because it is the right thing to do. We do because, quite often, no one else will. We do ... because we are Americans.

We are not the middle finger to the world. As radio host Hugh Hewitt put it, we are the backbone, the spine, the shoulders upon which others are able to stand. We are also the guts and intellect when something dangerous or complex needs doing.

Nooyi's criticism is a slander upon the face of the US. It is reprehensible. This is a country that provides much relief, aid, and even hope to billions around the world. When people despair, when people want more opportunity, where do they go? Like Nooyi, they come to the United States, the land of hope, freedom, and the brave. That she forgets that may be excusable if a forthright apology is forthcoming. That she neglects that is unexcusable.

The decision remains with you. Your now-former customers are awaiting a response that respects our intelligence and more importantly respects the good that the United States of America has done for the world and millions of its own citizens.


Pepsi and the Finger

Powerline first broke the story about PepsiCo's president Indra Nooyi's graduation speech at Columbia University's Business School MBA ceremony. The scandal continues, and it should.

Nooyi compared the United States to the middle finger. She thereafter issued a statement attempting to "clarify" what she "meant," claiming that she had been misunderstood. Rrriiight.

Here is a copy of the speech. Here is a copy of the statement where she claims her views were "misconstrued" and that any criticism of the United States was "inadvertent." Rubbish.

Here are some excerpts of the speech:

As the longest of the fingers, [the United States] really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War 1.

However, if used inappropriately --just like the U.S. itself-- the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I'm talking about. In fact, I suspect you're hoping that I'll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I'm not looking for volunteers to model.

Discretion being the better part of valor...I think I'll pass.

What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. --the long middle finger-- must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand...not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S.--the middle finger--sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as a part of the hand--giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers--but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.

Better part of valor? So the US engages in inappropriate acts and since she adds, "You know what I'm talking about," nothing was "misconstrued" nor was anything "inadvertent." She said it. She meant it. Now she should pay the consequences. Their apology only made matters worse. That was not an apology. When we add this to the alleged intentional removal of the key phrase "under God" from their cans highlighting the Pledge of Allegiance, this only makes their position more transparent. Odd that this should come from a company whose CEO is a former military man.

No more Pepsi here. In fact, no more Pepsi products:

Frito-Lay Brands
Pepsi-Cola Brands
Gatorade Brands
Tropicana Brands
Quaker Brands

No more Gatorade? Guess not. Powerade here I come. Oatmeal too? Yep.

Until PepsiCo handles this appropriately by clearly apologizing to our country and further demonstrating a true understanding of the good the US and its military does in the world will I not buy Pepsi products and will I encourage others to do the same.

Hugh has more info and a link to others who have posted on this. (Scroll to bottom of this post.) As well, he points out, PepsiCo Boycott blog has already appeared. The wonders of the blogosphere.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Palestinian" Peace = The Jews' "Evil End"?

Middle East peace is an issue that perplexes many. Why can't they just get along? Some blame the Jews. Some blame the Arabs. Others blame both. However, those who are there and those who follow things closely see that there will never be a reasonable solution until there is different leadership and a different attitude on the part of the "Palestinian" Arabs. The Jews make conciliations and they get murdered Israelis in return. So they in turn respond with strong military measures. Endless cycle? As long as Arabs keep preaching hate and the destruction of the Jews will there be no peace. Israel must remain Jewish. This the "Palestinian" Arabs do not accept. This is attested to ... once again ... in a sermon preached last week. MEMRI has the evidence which backs up these thoughts.

Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is one of the most valuable and yet still unknown organizations. As they put it on their website:
MEMRI bridges the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East.
This morning Dennis Prager played one of these recordings, an official Friday sermon on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV. It was originally broadcast last Friday, May 13. Yes, that was Friday the 13th. According to MEMRI, the "preacher is Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, a paid employee of the PA."

Here is the translation of excerpts:

"Allah has tormented us with 'the people most hostile to the believers' – the Jews. 'Thou shalt find that the people most hostile to the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists.' Allah warned His beloved Prophet Muhammad about the Jews, who had killed their prophets, forged their Torah, and sowed corruption throughout their history.

"With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers.

"You will find that the Jews were behind all the civil strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations.

"Ask Britain what it did to the Jews in the early sixth century. What did they do to the Jews? They expelled them, tortured them, and prevented them from entering Britain for more than 300 years. All this was because of what the Jews did in Britain. Ask France what it did to the Jews. They tortured them, expelled them, and burned their Talmud, because of the civil strife the Jews wanted to spark in France, in the days of Louis XIX. Ask Portugal what it did to the Jews. Ask Czarist Russia, which welcomed the Jews, who plotted to kill the Czar - so he massacred them. But don't ask Germany what it did to the Jews. It was the Jews who provoked Nazism to wage war against the entire world, when the Jews, using the Zionist movement, got other countries to wage an economic war on Germany and to boycott German merchandise. They provoked Russia, Britain, France, and Italy. This enraged the Germans toward the Jews, leading to the events of those days, which the Jews commemorate today.

"But they are committing worse deeds than those done to them in the Nazi war. Yes, perhaps some of them were killed and some burned, but they are inflating this in order to win over the of the media and gain the world's sympathy. The worst crimes in history were committed against the Jews, yet these crimes are no worse than what the Jews are doing in Palestine. What was done to the Jews was a crime, but isn't what the Jews are doing today in the land of Palestine not a crime?!

"Look at modern history. Where has Great Britain gone? Where has Czarist Russia gone? Where has France gone - France, which almost ruled the entire world? Where is Nazi Germany, which massacred millions and ruled the world? Where did all these superpowers go? He who made them disappear will make America disappear too, God willing. He who made Russia disappear overnight is capable of making America disappear and fall, Allah willing.

"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew."

Islamist Dialogue: Sword and Bullets, and Kill Muslims If Need Be

When will people realize the extent of the enemy some of us are fighting? In a Reuters report, a statement posted on an Islamist website gives evidence no. 1,526,124 for why we should be fighting Islamists (Islamic terrorists) over there instead of waiting until they bring it here ... again.

The statement's most significant claim is: "Our Sunni faith stipulates that the sword and bullets be the only dialogue between us and worshippers of the cross."

Here is the Reuters article:

Iraq's Qaeda warns Sunnis against constitution

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq's al Qaeda blasted calls by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for Sunni Muslims in Iraq to participate in drafting a new constitution, saying those who did would be infidels, according to an Internet statement.

"The crusaders' hag (Rice) came to sully the land of the caliphate...and wants the participation of apostates and secularists claiming to be Sunnis," the group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said in the statement posted on Tuesday on a Web site used by Islamists on Tuesday.

"Would anyone draft the constitution other than those who do not believe in God's book...," said the statement dated May 16.

"Our Sunni faith stipulates that the sword and bullets be the only dialogue between us and worshippers of the cross."

Zarqawi's group, one of the main networks fighting the government and U.S. forces, has threatened to kill fellow Sunnis who join the new government announced late last month.

"Those of sick hearts rush to please the Jews and Christians and sell their religion for earthly interests, desiring posts," Al Qaeda organization for Holy War in Iraq said.

It also vowed in its latest statement to avenge what it said was the desecration of the Koran in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the Iraqi city of Basra and the U.S. base in Guantanamo.

A report in Newsweek magazine's May 9 issue about U.S. interrogators desecrating the Koran sparked protests across the Muslim world. Newsweek later retracted the report.

"To avenge what it said was the desecration of the Koran"? So they kill their own fellow Muslims, perhaps innocent Muslims caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? (So far, 17 are dead.) Yes, and they justify this. In another article, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is reported as saying:
The killing of infidels by any method including martyrdom (suicide) operations has been sanctified by many scholars even if it meant killing innocent Muslims. This legality has been agreed upon ... so as not to disrupt Jihad.
Agreed upon? Nice moral standard. What can we agree upon? I think the Nazis agreed on some things too. And both clearly denied/deny the intrinsic worth of every human, both clearly saw/see human dignity as a mere relative, subject to the whims of what has been "agreed upon." Zarqawi continues:
Protecting religion is more important than protecting (Muslim) lives, honor or wealth ... The shedding of Muslim blood ... is allowed in order to avoid the greater evil of disrupting jihad.
Wouldn't want to disrupt jihad. And people say this is a "great religion" or a religion of peace. Not in this manifestation, the Islamist (Islamic terrorist) variety, which is just about the only one we hear from. Where are the peaceful and moderate Muslims? Why don't they speak up and criticize and protest the alleged abuse of their faith, an abuse which, if true, would also be blasphemous, a violation of the second commandment, doing evil in God's name? I guess that kind of dialogue is verbal and not violent so we should not hold our breath.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek "Retraction" Not Enough

Newsweek finally acknowledges its errors ... kind of:
Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.

—Mark Whitaker

Editor's Note: On Monday afternoon, May 16, Whitaker issued the following statement: Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Qur'an abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

Here's how Major K reads it:
I believe in freedom of the press, but I also have a healthy respect for the truth, and do not believe that the first amendment provides a license to commit slander. But hey, if it sells magazines, who cares? - right? The Washington Bureau Chief [Dan Klaidman] issued the weakest excuse for an apology that I have seen in some time. It is another round of "It's not my fault. Don't blame me."


I doubt Mr. Klaidman's sympathies mean anything to the families of the 15-16 people killed in the rioting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As for his comments on the "lot of people who think that our war on terror and our war in Iraq is a much wider war against Islam," I wonder if it has dawned on him that this sort of widespread slander in the major media contributes to that false perception. What would be nice is if these bums actually checked their facts and did some semblance of due diligence before publishing this garbage.

I like this conclusion from Rich Lowry:
During the fallout from last year's CBS forged-documents flap, shrewd Newsweek political writer Howard Fineman said: "A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the 'mainstream media.'" He argued that the media had been identified with a crusading liberalism since Watergate and Vietnam, but their power was waning in the new political and information environment: "It's hard to know who, if anyone, in the 'media' has any credibility."

It's only getting harder. Back in November 2003, Newsweek complained in a cover story that Vice President Dick Cheney "bought into shady assumptions" leading into the Iraq war, partly because of his "dire view of the terrorist threat." In its Koran story, Newsweek itself bought into shady assumptions, partly because of the media's dire view of the U.S. military. And so the media party continues its decline.

I am sure more criticism will be levied, though not from the major mainstream newspapers or media agents. My suggestion? The same as Dennis Prager's: cancel subscriptions and boycott the magazine though let the magazine know why and also let them know what could reverse this decision: an honest accounting of what happened and a firing of someone (or "someones") at top editorial level so Newsweek could show an attempt to take responsibility for what they have caused: deaths of innocents and the cripling of the already sensitive reputation of the United States and its military in the Muslim-extremist world.

Monday, May 16, 2005

"Newsweek Lied, People Died"

As I have seen on many blogs already, but not from the mainstream media, most notably Newsweek itself, "Newsweek Lied, People Died."

Where is the outrage? Where are the calls for retraction? Where are the LA Times, New York Times, and all other mainstream media agents bringing this atrocious and death-causing story to the awareness of the public?

Paul Marshall makes fine points in "Deadly Mistake":
The shakily sourced May 9 Newsweek report that interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantanamo Bay is likely to do more damage to the U.S. than the Abu Ghraib prison scandals. What is also deeply disturbing is that the journalists who put the report out seem somewhat clueless about this reality.

Since the story was published there has been outrage and mayhem in much of the Muslim world. Demonstrations erupted in Pakistan after Imran Khan, a former cricket player and now opposition political figure, read sections from the article at a press conference.

Riots broke out throughout Afghanistan, mobs attacked government and aid-organization offices, and 15 people have died so far. Anti-American demonstrations have taken took place from north Africa to Indonesia.


This weekend, Abdul Fatah Fayeq, the senior judicial figure in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province, read out a statement from 300 Muslim clerics stating that President Bush should hand the culprits over to an Islamic country for punishment or else “we will launch a jihad against America.”

Meanwhile, in the face of Pentagon denials, Newsweek has begun backtracking.
Newsweek seemed to have had doubts about the report from the beginning, since
they ran it not as a straight news story but as a squiblet in the “Periscope” section. Now, in the May 23 issue, editor Mark Whitaker
admits that their sourcing was suspect and stated “we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.” In the same issue, Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas is more forthright, asking “How did NEWSWEEK get its facts wrong?”


Even if Newsweek publishes a full retraction, the damage is done. Much of the Muslim world will regard it merely as a cover-up and feel reconfirmed in the view that America is at war with Islam. It will undercut the U.S., including in Afghanistan and Iraq, far more than Abu Ghraib did. “We can understand torturing prisoners, no matter how repulsive” Newsweek quotes one Pakistani saying, “But insulting the Qur’an is like torturing all Muslims.”

It would be charitable to think that if Newsweek had known how explosive the story was it may have held off until it had more confirmation. If this is true, it is an indication that the media’s widespread failure to pay careful attention to the complexities of religion not only misleads us about domestic and international affairs but also gets people killed.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The "Beautiful" Liberal, the Beautiful Conservative

Just saw this, accompanied with a humorous summary. I can think of too many good captions for these photos.

Some thoughts from other thinkers that seem to apply here:

"Beautiful things are those which, when seen, please." (St. Thomas Aquinas)

"Beauty is the word that shall be our first." (Hans Urs von Balthasar)

"You can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity." (Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate in physics)

Beauty is "the glow of the true and good irradiating from every ordered state of being." (Josef Pieper)

"[B]eauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man." (von Balthasar)

"The form as it appears to us is beautiful only because the delight that it arouses in us is founded upon the fact that, in it, the truth and goodness of the depths of reality itself are manifested and bestowed, and this manifestation and bestowal reveal themselves to us as being something infinitely and inexhaustibly valuable and fascinating." (von Balthasar)

Feel free to add yours in comments below. (HT: DanV) Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friend or Foe? The Media, Not Iraqis

In the War on Terrorism, sometimes it may be forgotten who is on our side and who it is we are fighting. Here are some thoughts and reminders from a Marine Corps major who is a Cobra pilot in Iraq (HT: Hugh):

I finally have access to the internet again. I’m sitting here reading an AP story titled: US-Iraq Battle Touches on Syrian Border. For some reason, the MSM apparently still thinks we’re fighting Iraqis. Perhaps they’re out of touch…. Perhaps they’re cowering to threats….

Perhaps they have an anti-American agenda. The truth is that we haven’t been fighting against Iraq since the Spring of 2003. What we have been fighting are the variety of Islamofacist hoards attempting to take control of a freshly liberated Iraq and return it to the previous era of oppression and cruelty.

Why don’t they report that we are fighting WITH Iraqis? Why don’t they report that a significant number of “insurgents” and “militants” are made up of Syrians, Jordanians, Saudis, Pakistanis, Egyptians, and Iranians? Why don’t they report how these guys terrorize the local Iraqi populace with horrific torture, rape, and murder? Why don’t they report how the “militants” set hospitals on fire, or hide in schools, or grab children on playgrounds and use them as human shields?

... I have seen what goes on around here first hand and I know much of the MSM has seen it too. If they haven’t – they aren’t doing their job. I think they want us to lose. I think they want Iraq to lose. I think they are propaganda puppets of nihilist chaos, but too stupid and naïve to realize it. Perhaps they’re blinded by some left-over 1960’s utopian hippie dream crap….

If the leftists, the MSM propagandists, and their Islamofacist allies win, the world as we know it will soon come to an end. The “Age of Aquarius” will arrive, but it will hardly be utopia….

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Benedict XVI and Beer

I knew there was some deeper reason why I liked him:

Pope Benedict XVI gives thumbs up to beer


Thanks to the pope, a German brewery is enjoying new success thanks to his “endorsement.”

A Stuttgart brewery had been struggling to sell its wheat beer, until pictures showed then -Cardinal Ratzinger enjoying the brew every once in a while.

So when the new pope was elected, white smoke not only emerged from the Sistine Chapel, but from the brewery’s chimney as well.

This past weekend, the brewery sent a beer truck to Rome delivering 185 gallons of beer to the pope.

New Lakewood Law & Our Constitution

Lakewood has just passed some new city laws, at least one of which seems wrong and unconstitutional to this non-law school educated bloke.

Basically, the way the Press-Telegram tells it:

The City Council introduced changes Tuesday night that double the maximum fine for those convicted of having illegal fireworks and give Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies the power to cite drinkers in public and unenclosed private open areas such as a resident's front and side yards that are not gated or fenced.

The deputies' authority also expands to those having an open container of alcohol in public areas such as parks, parking lots and hospitals.

The council followed suit with state law by increasing the maximum fine from $500 to $1,000.


Sheriff's Lt. Mark Weldon said the department's intention is to use this new authority to cite raucous drinkers causing repeated neighborhood disturbances, not individuals quietly enjoying a drink.

That may be their intentions, but property rights should still matter and I still don't like the fact that they will have this new unjust authority to enter someone's property just because there is no fence. If I am drinking on my friend's front porch, enjoying the evening, they should not have the authority to enter the premises. It's real simple.

If we are breaking the law, about to break the law, then fine. Come on in. Do your job. However, I do not like police having this authority (of course, considering no law is being violated; if one was, then they could enter whether or not I was drinking). I wonder if challenges to laws like these have reached the Supreme Court.

Growing big government worries me, and growing police authority when someone is not breaking a real law worries me more.

Guess I will have to bring an E-Z put-up fence with me from now on.

Flew on God and the Critics

More and recent thoughts on former atheist philosopher Antony Flew's newfound conviction in the existence of God:

Last summer he hinted at his abandonment of naturalism in a letter to Philosophy Now. Rumors began circulating on the internet about Flew's inclinations towards belief in God, and then Richard Ostling broke the story in early December for the Associated Press. According to Craig Hazen, associate professor of comparative religions and apologetics at Biola, the school received more than 35,000 hits on their site that contains Flew's interview for Philosophia Christi, the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. At his home in Reading, west of London, Flew told me: "I have been simply amazed by the attention given to my change of mind."


Flew is also quick to point out that he is not a Christian. "I have become a deist like Thomas Jefferson." He cites his affinity with Einstein who believed in "an Intelligence that produced the integrative complexity of creation." To make things perfectly clear, he told me: "I understand why Christians are excited, but if they think I am going to become a convert to Christ in the near future, they are very much mistaken."


Flew's U-turn on God lies in a far more significant reality. It is about evidence. "Since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato's Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads." I asked him if it was tough to change his mind. "No. It was not hard. I've always engaged in inquiry. If I am shown to have been wrong, well, okay, so I was wrong."

The Impact of Evangelical Scholars
Actually, Flew has been rethinking the arguments for a Designer for several years. When I saw him in London in the spring of 2003, he told me he was still an atheist but was impressed by Intelligent Design theorists. By early 2004 he had made the move to deism. Surprisingly, he gives first place to Aristotle in having the most significant impact on him. "I was not a specialist on Aristotle, so I was reading parts of his philosophy for the first time." He was aided in this by The Rediscovery of Wisdom, a work on Aristotle by David Conway, one of Flew's former students.

Flew also cites the influence of Gerald Schroeder, an Israeli physicist, and Roy Abraham Varghese, author of The Wonder of the World and an Eastern Rite Catholic. Flew appeared with both scientists at a New York symposium last May where he acknowledged his changed conviction about the necessity for a Creator. In the broader picture, both Varghese and Schroeder, author of The Hidden Face of God, argue from the fine-tuning of the universe that it is impossible to explain the origin of life without God. This forms the substance of what led Flew to move away from Darwinian naturalism.


Unlike many other modern philosophers, Flew has a high regard for the person of Jesus. Early in the interview, he stated rather abruptly: "There's absolutely no good reason for believing in Islam, whereas in Christianity you have the charismatic figure of Jesus, the defining example of what is meant by charismatic." By charismatic, he means dynamic and impressive. He dismissed views that Jesus never existed as "ridiculous."

Later I asked, "Are you basically impressed with Jesus?"

"Oh yes. He is a defining instance of a charismatic figure, perplexing in many ways, of course." Beyond this, Flew remains agnostic about orthodox views of Jesus, though he has made some very positive remarks about the case for the Resurrection. In the journal Philosophia Christi he states: "The evidence for the Resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion." No, he still does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. However, he told me, the case for an empty tomb is "considerably better than I thought previously."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Marines Battle

Operation Matador is the name of the current battle going on in western Iraq, near the Syrian border. That it is near the Syrian border is significant.

Here is how Adventures of Chester sums things up:
On Sunday, RCT-2, comprised of 2nd Bn, 2nd Marines (2/2), 3rd Bn, 2nd Marines (3/2), and 3rd Bn, 25th Marines (3/25), began Operation Matador. These are all indicated by the blue boxes with crossed rifles and ovals, which means they are infantry units with significant mechanized portions. I went ahead and showed 3/25 as a full battalion in the image, but I believe that possibly only one company of 3/25 participated in the assault and that it was attached to 3/2 for the attack.

He also includes a detailed map to get a better idea how elaborate of an operation this is. Then in today's post, he clarifies some issues:
Third, I've figured out that the map, as I stated it would, has mistakes. There were probably two river crossing sites, since the most recent news stories detail a crossing near New Ubaydi, and a crossing near Ubaydi. They also detail crossing from the south to the north, and receiving fire from the south side of the river during the crossing. The crossing plotted is from east to west. Also, I've received an email from an Alert Reader who points out that, yes, in fact 2/2 is deployed right now -- to 29 Palms. So there may only be two battalions participating in the fight, 3/2 and 3/25, or the third may have not been named yet. In any case, it's not 2/2. I'll have to investigate this later.

I don't think the map is any more detailed than those which usually appear in MSM outlets. Two graphics from USA Today and the NY Times from the Battle of Fallujah spring to mind. The difference is that I've used doctrinal symbols and terminology as much as possible. Reporters often mix up unit sizes, battalion vs company for example, or names, or ranks of officials. And they don't use doctrinal symbols. During these rapidly evolving situations, clarity is key though, that's why we have doctrinal symbols. Speaking of journalists, this brings me to . . .

Go here to read the rest.

For more info, there is also Fourth Rail:
The Marines are methodically pushing westward, conducting detailed searches in the towns along the Euphrates. The Marines are driving the insurgents and terrorists towards the blocking force of the Marines in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment in Qaim and the platoon(s) providing over watch along the ridge overlooking Rabit. Col. Bob Chase reports the local population is proving helpful; "We are getting a lot of information from the locals in the area and a very positive reception. They are giving up locations of where these people are hiding out, and each one drives another

Then from yesterday's Chicago Tribune (registration required but it is free so do it):
As they pushed from house to house in early fighting, trying to flush out the insurgents who had attacked their column with mortar fire, the Marines ran into sandbagged emplacements behind garden walls. Commanders said Marines also found a house where insurgents were crouching in the basement, firing rifles and
machine guns upward through holes at ankle height in the ground-floor walls, aiming at spots that the Marines' body armor did not cover.


Three Marine companies and supporting armored vehicles crossed to the north side of the Euphrates River early Monday, using rafts and a newly constructed pontoon bridge. From there they were expected to roll west toward the border, raiding isolated villages where insurgents are believed to cache weapons and fighters. The offensive, planned for weeks, is expected to stretch on for several days."

We're north of the river [and] we're moving everywhere we want to go," Davis said late Monday. "Resistance is predictably low, but I do not expect it to stay that way."

In recent weeks, intelligence suggested that insurgents were using the area to build car bombs that later would be used in attacks in Baghdad and other cities. More than 300 Iraqis have been killed in insurgent attacks in the past two weeks.

A senior military official in Washington told The Associated Press that the Marines were targeting followers of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been linked to many of the most violent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The offensive that began Sunday is described as one of the largest involving U.S. troops since the assault on Fallujah last fall. It involves more than 1,000 Marines and Army personnel, backed by helicopters and jet fighters.

With the Marines pressing the assault, new details emerged about the pitched battles that took place Sunday in Ubaydi, a town perched on the tip of a bend in the Euphrates, about 12 miles east of the Syrian border. As Army engineers worked to build the pontoon bridge, waiting Marines came under mortar fire from a town they had assumed was free of the enemy.

After calling in air strikes from prowling fighter jets and helicopter gunships, the Marines entered the town in armored personnel carriers and light armored vehicles. At times the fighting was door to door as Marines sifted through areas where resistance was stiffest.


Maj. Steve Lawson of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines said his troops had found a house on the north side of town where insurgents apparently lay in ambush. Holes low in the walls allowed insurgents hiding in the basement to fire up at the Marines as they entered.After retreating, Marines in Lawson's company called in artillery and heavy machine guns to rake the house. As sporadic fighting continued Monday morning, they brought in tanks and leveled it, Davis said.

Hugh read parts of an article in today's Washington Post that describes in detail the methods employed by some of the terrorists as they waited for the Marines:
Screaming "Allahu Akbar'' to the end, the foreign fighters lay on their backs in a narrow crawl space under a house and blasted their machine guns up through the concrete floor with bullets designed to penetrate tanks. They fired at U.S. Marines, driving back wave after wave as the Americans tried to retrieve a fallen comrade.

Through Sunday night and into Monday morning, the foreign fighters battled on, their screaming voices gradually fading to just one. In the end, it took five Marine assaults, grenades, a tank firing bunker-busting artillery rounds, 500-pound bombs unleashed by an F/A-18 attack plane and a point-blank attack by a rocket launcher to quell them.


"They came here to die," said Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Hurley, commander of the team from the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, of the Marines' 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, that battled the insurgents in the one-story house in Ubaydi, about 15 miles east of the Syrian border.

"They were willing to stay in place and die with no hope," Hurley said Tuesday. "All they wanted was to take us with them.''

And since Hurley is telling us this, the terrorists failed ... once again. Here's more:

The first Marine there found the gate in the high walls around the house open; the front door was locked.

"As soon as he kicks the door, the machine-gun fire cuts him down," said Hurley, a Dayton, Ohio, police officer serving in the Marine Reserves. The Marine survived, but a second fell as well, fatally wounded. From inside, a foreign fighter fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the door.

At some point, the screamed prayers began: "Allahu Akbar" -- "God is great."

Marines fell, unable to tell the source of the screams or the shots. They fired blindly, as machine-gun rounds cratered the walls and floors around them.

"Our rounds couldn't get through the walls," Hurley said.

Survivors crawled out of the house under fire, unable to take the fatally wounded Marine with them. In the back of the house, Marines spotted two men running out. They fired. The two -- whose thick curly hair, olive skin and delicate features indicated they were not Iraqis, Marines said -- died at the back door, still holding their weapons.

Thinking the barrage had come from the two men they had just killed, the Marines reentered the walled compound. Sgt. Dennis Woullard, a Marine reservist on the Biloxi, Miss., police force, dragged out the first fallen Marine.

Farther inside, other Marines searched the house. One reached for the door of a storage closet under a stairwell. "As soon as he touches the door, the machine gun fires and cuts him down," Hurley said.

The Marines retreated, unable to bring their wounded colleague with them. Another wave went in to try to retrieve him, not realizing he was already beyond help. Machine-gun fire drove them out.

The Marines began to suspect that the insurgents were firing from a bunker somewhere in the house, Hurley said. They called in a tank, as other armored vehicles ferried the wounded away for evacuation by helicopter.

The tank fired, one round hitting a propane tank inside the compound and engulfing part of the house in a ball of orange flame. Tank cannon fired seven rounds in all, some of them meant to destroy bunkers.

'Pure Evil'

The Marines went in a fourth time. Bullets, and one chanting voice, met them. "Nobody should have survived" the tank assault, Hurley later said in amazement.

"The whole scene, it was just pure evil inside the house," said Woullard, who came out of the first foray into the house with a frayed helmet and bruised temple from one machine-gun round and a pierced water bag on his back from another.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Woullard, who fought at Nasiriyah in the first days of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. "It was an all-out ambush."

The insurgents' armor-piercing bullets were penetrating the house's interior and external walls and the outer walls of the compound, some smacking into walls across the street.

Hurley and other Marines, still under fire, were able to get to the body of the second fallen Marine through the holes that the tank had blown in the house but could not pull it past steel reinforcing bars that jutted from the collapsed walls.


At daylight Monday, a staff sergeant skilled in rocketry set up a launcher in the street across from the house. Fired from a dozen or so yards, the rockets collapsed the walls over the fighters' hiding place -- a crawl space behind the door under the stairwell.

When the Marines entered a final time, the daylight finally showed them where the bullets had come from: the floor beneath their feet. The insurgents had lain faceup on the ground below, with barely enough room to point their weapons upward, Marines said. They simply blasted through the floor.

The Marines found the last foreign fighters there, dead. There were at least two, and it was unclear whether they had bled to death overnight or been killed in the morning's rocket volley, Hurley and other Marines said.

Suspecting explosives might be in the crawl space, the Marines didn't try to count the bodies closely or retrieve them, they said. But they dropped a grenade into the crawl space, just to make sure.

The ambush at Ubaydi was a new tactic, carried out lethally, Marines said.

"No one's ever seen or heard of guys getting attacked from under a house," Hurley said Tuesday, as the exhausted young men under his command slept in other rooms of a house in Jarami. "And just the idea of a machine gun being able to fire through concrete, to get to us," Hurley said, without finishing his sentence.

Keep praying for our Marines and for their mission.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"Looking" Puerto Rican, Science, God, and First Loves

In his book God at the Ritz, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete’s usual humorous fashion breaks through as he answers two questions he says are often posed to him:

Throughout my life, I have been asked two questions. I have been asked these questions in many different places, in diverse languages, and by people of different cultures, educational levels, religious convictions, and genders. Whatever else human beings may or may not have in common, whether there is or is not a universal human nature, I somehow bring the peoples of the world together by evoking from them all the same two questions: (1) Why don’t you look Puerto Rican? and (2) How can you be a scientist and a believer?

The answer to the first question is simple: as of today at least, Puerto Ricans have not adopted a single official look. Birth in Puerto Rico is considered sufficient grounds for being Puerto Rican, confirmed by love for and solidarity with the land and its people. The answer to the second question is also simple: easily. To be a scientist, I studies hard, passed exams, and earned the professional approval of peers. To be a believer, I learned not to suppress the desires of my heart or what my heart considers essential to make sense of life, including the scientific enterprise. Nothing in my work as a scientist compelled me to suppress these demands of my deepest self, and many things made these demands even stronger, including my desire to understand the world that surrounds me. (31-32)
For anyone who has heard Msgr. Albacete, this response is expected. He is well-known as a man of great intellect and humor. In fact, the first time I heard him speak, he was introduced as someone who could have been a professional comedian had he not responded to another calling. Within the first few minutes of hearing him, this statement’s truth was borne out as the entire audience was in tears from laughter. Trained as a scientist with degrees in Space Science and Applied Physics, he never lost his love for science, as he says:

Yet the scientific method for the investigation of reality is a wonderful human achievement. Science was my first love, and as the song goes:

Un viejo amor ni se olvida ni se deja;
Un viejo amor de nuestra alma si se aleja,
Pero nunca dice adios

An old love is neither forgotten nor left behind;
An old love may withdraw from the soul,
But it never says goodbye.

Finished Papers and More Blogs/Sites

It always is a good feeling when things are accomplished. Papers finished. Semester truly completed. Hegel, Heidegger, and Epistemology done! Where's that pub?!

In the past couple weeks, I have come across some blogs/sites that I had not yet linked here. Well, thought is was about time I added them and brought them to your attention:

President Aristotle (Two thumbs up. Great insights and from an Aristotelian view, no less.)

Pardon My English

Right Wing News


Thomas Sowell

Instapundit (how come he had not been linked before I cannot say)

Captain's Quarters


Power Line

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Spring Cleaning?

Apparently, even the Jesuits enjoy a little spring cleaning every now and then. (Less now, more then.)

I always enjoy waking up and reading some news that will not only brighten my day but give me a sense of hope for the future, especially the Catholic future, even when it applies to those "in the Jesuit tradition," as they so often are fond of saying.

Editor of Jesuit Magazine Leaving
The editor of the Jesuit weekly America is leaving the magazine after the Vatican received complaints about articles he published on touchy issues such as same-sex marriages and stem cell research, Jesuit officials said Friday.

Read the rest of it here.

How do they say it, "ad maiorem dei gloriam"? All to the greater glory of God. Apparently so.

Makes me want to go back and read some de Lubac, especially his comments on the papacy.

"For a long time I had happened to say in friendly conversations: 'After Paul VI, my candidate is Wojtyla.'"

As John Paul the Great came and the 80's too, Cardinal de Lubac commented, "I suffered to see that many continued to have the same belligerent attitude toward him that they had had toward Paul VI, an attitude that springs above all from a hostility to the papacy, to the guardian of our Faith."

What about his fellow Jesuits?
"I suffer doubly today because of the attitude of some of my brothers in his regard and because of all of which this is a sign. But, as he wrote to me, 'we have firmly hoped, we will always hope, and we are and will be happy'."

"Christ is closer than ever to Peter in the insults."

"... acrimonious voices of protest are raised .... It is by some of her sons, unfaithful to their own vocation, that she is publicly ridiculed in the person of her chief pastor."

"It is a question of the very foundations of the faith, of Catholic morality and discipline, which the body of bishops united to the Pope has the mission to maintain."

"Finally, ... the dispute with the papacy is increasing in Catholicism at the time when, among Christians of other confessions, the awareness of an urgent need for unity is awakening or deepening."

"If the person of the Pope is thus disputed, it is often in reality because of what is most incontestable about him .... Throughout, it is the principle of the papacy, the very function of Peter that is the object of the dispute. It thereby receives the supreme homage. ... insofar as this function is assured, whatever the tides of history, the light of Christian revelation remains intact and what one rightly calls, in a unique sense, the Christian revolution preserves its inexhaustible power. That is the rock against which break the efforts of perversion, of rupture or 'radical change' that can always find, in troubled circumstances, so much unconscious complicity."

Spoken like a true "man of the Church," homo ecclesiaticus, as Fr. Fessio has called him.

ad maiorem dei gloriam

Friday, May 06, 2005

Liberal? Conservative? Thomist!

In his latest essay, Fr. Schall, SJ, clarifies and points out a much needed distinction:
When I am asked whether I am a "liberal" or a "conservative," I reply that I am a "Thomist." Needless to say, Thomas, who was once considered a liberal Whig, is now considered a hopeless conservative, even though what he actually held defies such simple categories.

For the rest of "On Being Neither Liberal nor Conservative," go here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

America, Hegel, Heidegger, and Epistemology

Well, the conference was great. A lively discussion on immigration made me think a second time, as Dennis Prager often says. One professor suggested open borders with a few restrictions, such as denying entrance to those with no means to support themselves or a family to sponsor them, diseases, and criminal records or alliances to terrorist-type organizations. Another suggested a much more limited immigration policy: a moratorium will be in need rather soon. Then the third offered a sort of middle position. No wonder this third advocated from a Catholic social teaching perspective.

I will be writing up more thoughts. There are many.

But for the next few days, my thoughts and writings will be centered upon Hegel's philosophy of religion, Heidegger's thinking (and metaphysics in general) in light of a criticism by Carnapp that concludes that Heidegger and anyone who partakes of metaphysical thinking is like a musician with no musical talent, and to what extent moderate rationalism (a la BonJour) can successfully appropriate Aquinas' use of intentional being. Fun stuff, I know. Jealous, I'm sure you are.

Until that is done sometime this week, these pages will be rather mute to issues of political, religious, and cultural interests.