Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday

It is the 230th birthday of the Marines. Joe Carter has a good reflection on why he loves being a Marine:

I served my country because I love freedom. I love it so much that I was willing to sacrifice some of my own freedom, or even my life if necessary, to secure it for myself and my nation. The young girl had the luxury of being uninformed about the military because my fellow Marines had bought that liberty for her. For 230 years, Marines had paid the cost to allow her to have the freedom to think - or not think - as she chooses.


After 9/11, we lost much of our innocence and it’s unlikely you'll find college students, even at Evergreen, who are unaware of the Marines. But it has been four years since the terrorists attacked us on our own soil; time enough to allow us to relax our guard, if only slightly. We haven’t won the war on terrorism yet, and we have many battles ahead -- including years of hard work in Iraq. But we should all take pride in the men and women of our military whose constant vigilance keeps the enemies outside our gates.

It is a good and short read. Well worth your time.

Froggy has birthday salutations too, "Happy Birthday Teufelhunden," but with a reminder:

Just don't forget it is Navy Corpsmen that keep you all in business!

Spoken like a true SEAL.

Teufelhunden? Devil Dogs. Here's the story.
As well, Mackubin Thomas Owens has his own Marine birthday reflection:
On November 10, 1775, 230 years ago, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of two battalions of Marines. Tradition says that the earliest recruiting of Marines took place at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, owned by Robert Mullan, who later became a Continental Marine officer. The Marines' first operation was a raid on a British base in the Bahamas. As I like to say, the Marine Corps was formed in a bar and then immediately went on a Caribbean cruise.
... As Marine general Jim Mattis says, "The Marines: no better friend, no worse enemy."
And these Marines did a remarkable job against some pretty tough odds. As [Jim] Webb writes:

Dropped onto the enemy's terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America's citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompetently on a tactical level should consider Hanoi's recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total U.S. dead. Those who believe that it was a "dirty little war" where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that it was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought — five times as many dead as World War I, three times as many dead as in Korea, and more total killed and wounded than in all of World War II.

Significantly, these sacrifices were being made at a time the United States was deeply divided over our effort in Vietnam.
As I always do, I'll be attending the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this year. It's one of the great social events of the year here in Newport, and there will be Marines as old as 90 and as young as 18. What do they have in common? That old and young alike are members of a remarkable martial fraternity — the United States Marine Corps. That those who have gone before have set a high standard. That those who can meet that standard ought to be very proud of themselves.
At the ball, I'll drink all the official toasts, but I'll save a special one for Jack, Carl, and all the rest of my "band of brothers." They lived up to the standard and have now passed it on to the latest generation. Happy Birthday, Marines, and Semper Fidelis!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Truth about the War in Iraq

Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.

Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is. Although doing so will require going over ground that I and many others have covered before, I hope that revisiting this well-trodden terrain may also serve to refresh memories that have grown dim, to clarify thoughts that have grown confused, and to revive outrage that has grown commensurately dulled.


... In his press conference on the indictment against Libby, Patrick Fitzgerald insisted that lying to federal investigators is a serious crime both because it is itself against the law and because, by sending them on endless wild-goose chases, it constitutes the even more serious crime of obstruction of justice. By those standards, Wilson—who has repeatedly made false statements about every aspect of his mission to Niger, including whose idea it was to send him and what he told the CIA upon his return; who was then shown up by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having lied about the forged documents; and whose mendacity has sent the whole country into a wild-goose chase after allegations that, the more they are refuted, the more they keep being repeated—is himself an excellent candidate for criminal prosecution.

And so long as we are hunting for liars in this area, let me suggest that we begin with the Democrats now proclaiming that they were duped, and that we then broaden out to all those who in their desperation to delegitimize the larger policy being tested in Iraq—the policy of making the Middle East safe for America by making it safe for democracy—have consistently used distortion, misrepresentation, and selective perception to vilify as immoral a bold and noble enterprise and to brand as an ignominious defeat what is proving itself more and more every day to be a victory of American arms and a vindication of American ideals.

By the way, why did we not hear that much about the 1.7 metric tons of radioactive material found ... you guessed it ... in Iraq? This story (from BBC News) is from July 2004.

The US has revealed that it removed more than 1.7 metric tons of radioactive material from Iraq in a secret operation last month.

"This operation was a major achievement," said US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in a statement. ...

Along with 1.77 tons of enriched uranium, about 1,000 "highly radioactive sources" were also removed.

The material was taken from a former nuclear research facility on 23 June, after being packaged by 20 experts from the US Energy Department's secret laboratories.

It was flown out of the country aboard a military plane in a joint operation with the Department of Defense, and is being stored temporarily at a Department of Energy facility.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog - the International Atomic Energy Agency - and Iraqi officials were informed ahead of the operation, which happened ahead of the 28 June handover of sovereignty.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Standing Up and Speaking Out ... Unless You're Catholic?

In an earlier post, I mentioned the difficulties going on in the Sacramento area, where a teacher at a Catholic school was dismissed for deliberate public actions that were contrary to the Catholic faith--supporting the alleged "right" to kill a baby in the womb and escorting women into the local Planned Parenthood, that place where women can go and have their babies killed--which was then followed by the expulsion from the Catholic school of the fifteen-year-old girl whose mother reported the teacher's actions.

Well, as usual and expected, the events continue (also found here):

A former Loretto High School drama teacher alleged Thursday that her firing last month for having volunteered at a Planned Parenthood clinic was a case of sexual and religious discrimination and violated her free-speech rights.

Marie Bain, 50, of Sacramento, filed two separate employment complaints Thursday with the state against Loretto, the religious order that sponsors the school, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and Bishop William K. Weigand.

One complaint - with the state Department of Labor - calls for an investigation of the employment practices of the diocese. The other - with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing - is a first step toward a lawsuit.

This is ridiculous, but it is also the way things go in this country. Certain groups are not tolerated to run their organization in the way they see fit, in a way that is in accord with their beliefs. What happened to tolerance? Why can't an employer, especially a religious-based one, dismiss an employee who does not share its vision, dismiss an employee who publicly acts in a way that is contrary to the goals and mission of the employer?

"Loretto rightly prides itself as an academic institution committed to vigorous debate of ideas and beliefs," said Bain's attorney, John M. Poswall of Sacramento. "Unfortunately, the action of the bishop, cowering to noisy fundamentalists, threatens to turn Loretto into a Taliban-style institution of thought control and repression."

"Taliban-style"? Perhaps this shows their lack of justification for what they are doing.

I don't know about Loretto, but the diocese of Sacramento and most Catholic schools (at least through their mission statements) claim to be institutions committed to transmitting the values and moral outlook of the Catholic Church. Truth, or even what the Church's institutions put forth as truth, outweighs the so-called "debate" Bain's attorney speaks of. Debate is fine and it has its place. The position of a Catholic school teacher who is seen as a role model is not the place for one who publicly disagrees with a key teaching of the Church, at least not if you want to support and promote that moral teaching. It sounds like the bishop wants just that while the school is not as committed.

Weigand called for Bain's firing in early October in response to demands from an anti-abortion activist and mother of a Loretto student.

Weigand argued that Bain's previous volunteer work presented an irreconcilable conflict with church teachings and set a poor example for students at the all-girls school.

Poswall stated in the complaint that Bain's firing constituted sexual discrimination because it targeted "her beliefs and actions related to women's reproductive rights" and sought to make "an example of her as a woman, to other young women."

School officials knew Bain was not a Catholic and had her "own personal beliefs" when they hired her in August, Poswall stated.

Punishing her for having supported opposing values in the past is tantamount to religious discrimination, Poswall said.

Regarding the free speech claim, Poswall argued that Bain's volunteering was akin to a "political activity," which is a protected class of speech and a "fundamental right of all California employees."

There are a few issues here, but the fundamental one seems to be whether or not a private organization--religious-based at that--can expect its employees, at minimum, to not act deliberately and publicly against the mission and tenets of the employing organization.

Teachers employed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles sign an employment agreement wherein the following statement occurs:

The Teacher is called to be a role model and a witness to the Gospel of Christ and, therefore, the Teacher shall adhere to proper conventions and Christian morals. The Teacher shall maintain by words and actions a position that is in conformity with the teaching, standards, doctrines, laws and norms of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

I would presume Bain signed a similar document. If so, her actions supporting and promoting abortion do not "adhere to ... Christian morals." Further, it is clear that her actions as a volunteer at a place that kills babies in the womb are not "in conformity with the teaching, standards, docrtines, laws and norms of the Roman Catholic Church." Questions remain. Did she sign such an agreement? If so, she should not have any case in court. If she did not, she still should not prevail in this matter because a religious organization should be able to dismiss employees who do not share its religious mission. That is fundamental. What happened to religious freedom? Or does that not apply to the Catholic Church?

Here, the bishop has the right, the authority, and especially the duty to ensure that teachers in Catholic schools do not cause scandal by deliberate behavior that is directly at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. What the principal does not do must be done by the bishop.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Teacher Employment Agreement, one of the causes for termination is

... [P]ersonal conduct constituting bad example to students according to standards of the Roman Catholic Church as interpreted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

It is only a shame that the school itself and its principal did not do something sooner, like standing with the Church, standing with Christ, in either guiding this teacher to the truth of the humanity of those killed in abortions or dismissing her on their own. Either of these would have avoided the scandal and disturbance that ensued when the bishop had to get involved.

And Katelyn, the fifteen-year-old girl, would still be a student at the Catholic school she wanted to attend.

Sadly, that is not how things have transpired, and as a result she is now subject to some vile attacks on her blog, Stand Up and Speak Out, all because she did what we teach our youth, Catholic and non-Catholic, to do: stand up and speak out when there is a clear and serious wrong happening in our midst. To do otherwise is to betray those being wronged. The voice of the innocent children could not be heard. Instead, we heard Katelyn's. I thank her for that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Supreme Court Bingo? A Catholic Majority on the Bench

In light of the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the SCOTUS, some have realized this could create a Catholic majority on the SCOTUS bench. What might that mean?

Joseph A. Tranfo at BenedictBlog speculates:


10) Meat-less Fridays all year round in the Supreme Court cafeteria;

9) Oral arguments in Latin;

8) The bones of Chief Justice Marshall will be disinterred and placed in a glass coffin in the center of the Supreme Court bench;

7) Collections between each session of oral argument;

6) Supreme Court windows replaced with stained glass;

5) On close votes, the Justices will consult a statue of St. Thomas More. If the statue weeps, they affirm; if no tears, then they reverse.

4) Incense at the start of each session;

3) Supreme Court opinions will be deemed infallible and unreviewable by any earthly authority [Ed. - Sorry - that does not appear to be a change at all]

2) Catechism of the Catholic Church will now be "persuasive authority";

And, the number one change which a Catholic majority would make to the Supreme Court . . .

1) Wednesday night bingo!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Catholic Anti-Catholic Bigotry?

My somewhat small and handy Diamond English Dictionary (somewhat common amongst college students in England, at least it was when I was there) defines a "bigot" as a "person intolerant or not receptive to ideas of others, esp. on religion." (46) Hmmm.

I bring this up because of the following story:

A drama teacher at a Catholic high school in Sacramento was fired Thursday after church officials learned she had previously volunteered at an abortion clinic, school officials said Friday.

Marie Bain, 50, of Sacramento, who had taught at Loretto High School since August, was dismissed after a student's parent obtained pictures showing Bain escorting people into a Planned Parenthood clinic last spring.

Now, you might think I am speaking of bigotry towards the teacher. Not so. A Catholic school should be able to expect its teachers (and thus role models) to be supportive of Catholic teachings--the very thing the school is supposed to stand for--and even try to live in a way that is not directly and intentionally at odds with such tenets:

Dom Puglisi, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Sacramento, said parents have a right to expect their students will be taught in accordance with Catholic principles. And allowing teachers to publicly display contrary beliefs sends the wrong message, he said."It sounds like we play hardball, but they know up front, whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic, that these are Catholic schools and we go by the teachings of the church and Rome," said Puglisi.

The local newspaper has run articles on this:

Teacher fired for work at clinic [You can also read it here.]
By Todd Milbourn and Cameron Jahn -- Bee Staff Writers Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, October 15, 2005

Anti-abortion mother got teacher ousted [Or here.]
By Todd Milbourn -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, October 22, 2005

I bring this up because the girl who is responsible for letting someone (her parents) know about the teacher's public and contrary-to-Catholic-teaching activities was recently expelled from the school.

That's right. A Catholic school expelled a Catholic student who was supporting Catholic teachings. I have not found any official reason for the expulsion, but I will post it as soon as I find one.

In a post dated Oct. 31, 2005, Katelyn Sills, the high school student in question, writes:

Expulsion from Loretto
As of Saturday, October 29th, I was given official notice by express mail that I am expelled from Loretto High School. This was given completely without forewarning, without a meeting, and without a chance to say goodbye. My family is now seeking legal advice, and more details will follow.

Now, I actually am not surprised by this action. Saddened, but not surprised. In the world of education, there is little open discussion and free inquiry from schools run by leftist-minded folk, especially those in favor of a woman's right to kill her child. As well, within Catholic schools there is an unofficial but prevailing attitude (amongst the admin.) that tolerates pro-abortion views and even activities but tries to stimy activities that aim at protecting the unborn and innocent child in the womb. I have seen it for many years and from many folks in positions of authority at Catholic institutions. Like I said, saddened, but not surprised.

It is a very sad day, indeed, when persons in official Catholic positions lend support to those who contribute and promote practices that are contrary to Catholic teaching (the killing of innocent children in the womb) and further when they punish those who aim to support and uphold the Catholic Church's longstanding and clear teachings.

Sad indeed. Perhaps even bigotry.

Bishop Weigand's letter on the dismissal of the teacher (in .pdf) or you can read it here in regular format.