Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Statue of Standing Tri-Loka Buddhas in One Stone of Unified Silla


A story on the remarkable 1,300-year-old piece of religious art pictured above, and its remarkable finding — Statue of Buddhas could be the next national treasure. Jeong Young-ho, the head curator of the Dankook University Museum, calls it "typical Korean Buddhist as the three Buddhas all have protruding eyes and gentle and friendly smiles on their faces." On its finding, about 30 minutes from where I blog:

    The statue was found in 1965 by a farmer growing vegetables next to the road from Bulguksa, a famous temple in Gyeongju, to Seokguram Grotto, which contains a 3.5 meter (11.5 feet) granite carving of Buddha.

    But the farmer kept the discovery private. After his death, the statue was left to his son.

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The Rally for the Republic

A report on the gathering of those who are "anti-war, anti-government regulation, anti-immigration, anti-taxes, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-outsourcing, pro-individual liberty, pro-civil liberties and pro-Paul" — Ron Paul followers gathering for own convention.

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Sokcho Dongmyeongdong Catholic Parish

A bit weird, but it works — 천주교속초동명동성당.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

¡Viva Bacardi!

A review of a forthcoming book, which "is at once a colorful family saga and a carefully researched corrective to caricatures of decadent pre-revolutionary Cuba and the 50-year disaster of Fidel Castro's rule" — Rum and Revolution. We learn that Bicardi Rum, a "patriotic firm with a long history of supporting social welfare reforms," "played an important role in the island's social, political and economic history" and its family was "known as good Santiago citizens, generous and warmhearted and fair." The article notes that "Bacardi family members supported the Cuban revolutionaries, including Fidel Castro and the broader M-26-7 organization" but went has since "donated generously to exile organizations that have opposed Castro for the past half-century." They sound like my kind of aristiocrats.

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Orissa Update

  • A report that "10,000 people are fleeing Hindu nationalist violence in Orissa" and "100 are feared dead" — Indian Christian still face Hindu genocidal pogrom.


  • On those who are helping — Christians getting some aid from Hindus & Muslims.


  • This is being called "the greatest disaster in the history of a Christian community in India" — Church Protests Attacks in Orissa.
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    McCain Did Good

    I vote in a state that will go to his opponent, so I have no need to vote for him, but this choice means that, as much as I had wanted to, I might not hope that he loses — McCain Selects Strongly Pro-life Governor, Mother of Five Sarah Palin for Running Mate. Governor Palin, we learn, is "a Christian," "a long time member of Feminists for Life and a mother of five children," and a "former beauty queen." And many of you will remember this: "Palin proved her pro-life credentials in a powerful way earlier this year year when she gave birth to her fifth child, born with Down Syndrome, despite receiving pressure from doctors to abort." Said she:
      "Trig is beautiful and already adored by us," said Palin on the day after her son's birth. "We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."
    Also, she "is opposed to same-sex 'marriage,' though she has said in the past that she has homosexual friends and shares their concerns about discrimination." That is close to this blogger's position.


    All that said, I appreciate the Young Fogey's take on the matter, whence the above photo comes — Beauty and the beast. Of course, the best case scenario might be for Senator McCain to win, have his presidency declared unconstititional as he is not a native born citizen, and have President Sarah Palin in 2009.

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    "Baby Souls Mourning"

    "With abortion becoming less taboo in Taiwan, several dozen Buddhist and Taoist temples are offering a 'baby souls mourning' service during ghost month, a time when Taiwanese honor wandering ghosts in the hope they will be placated and cease to haunt the living" — Taiwanese seek reincarnation for aborted babies. The article continues: "In offering the baby souls service, the temples — longtime opponents of abortion — are recognizing a reality they nonetheless regret: Abortion is on the rise."

    Taoist priest Chen Chun-kai is quoted with this truth: "We tell the women fetuses are complete with souls and must not be removed on a whim." The utterance of such natural law truths are welcome, but the practice could be open to abuse, by offering what is touted as "a chance to help unborn children be reincarnated, possibly into well-to-do families, provided the mothers pray hard enough." And this is clearly an abuse: "Taoist monk Chi Chin-cheng charges 2,000 Taiwan dollars (US$64) to reincarnate aborted fetuses by e-mail."

    Of course, just as in the West, the usual suspects are up-in-arms against any hint that abortion might be wrong: "Tsai Wan-chen, secretary general of feminist group Taiwan Women's Link, says Taiwan needs to step up sex education, rather than practice superstition." She bemoans the fact that Taiwanese schools "still mainly teach students to avoid premarital sex, not addressing their sexual desires and the need for birth control."

    American Buddhist scholar Frank M. Tedesco has constrasted similar "baby souls mourning" rites in Japan and Korea ─ Rites for the Unborn Dead: Abortion and Buddhism in Contemporary Korea:
      There is no common or public practice of rites for aborted fetuses in Korea as is practiced in Japan. There are no red bibbed statues of Ksitigarbha (Japanese: Jizo; Korean: Chijang) to be found on streets and cemeteries in Korea like you can observe in Japan. Nor are there commercial newspaper ads for mizuko kuyo ("water baby offering rites") as found in the Japanese press. Japan has thousands of temples where aborted fetuses are memorialized; Korea probably has no more than ten or twelve sanctuaries where ceremonies for aborted babies are performed.
    There is a Korean Buddhist temple near where I live, Manbulsa: Temple of 10,000 Buddhas, Million Lanterns, where the "red bibbed statues of Ksitigarbha" pictured below can be seen and where "water baby offering rites" are held:

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    There Was and Is a Pro-Life Candidate in the Race

    Chuck Baldwin has penned this piece against an opponent — John McCain Pro Life? What A Joke! An excerpt:
      Had John McCain and his fellow Republicans truly wanted to end legal abortion, they could have passed Congressman Ron Paul's Sanctity of Life Act. Year after year, Dr. Paul introduced this bill, and year after year, it sat and collected dust in the document room on Capitol Hill.

      What would Congressman Paul's bill do? It would do two things: 1) It would define life as beginning at conception and, thus, declare the personhood of every pre-born child. 2) Under Article. III. Section. 2. of the U.S. Constitution, it would remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Court. In practical terms, Dr. Paul's bill would overturn Roe v. Wade and end legal abortion-on-demand. So, where was John McCain? Why did he not support Ron Paul's bill and introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate?

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    Helen Rittelmeyer on Punk Rock Conservatism

    "Am I right in assuming that everyone finds the punk rock story compelling?" she asks — Punk Rock is Conservative; Conservatism is Punk Rock. What I find most compelling, and most conservative, about the "punk rock story" is its DIY ethic, which "questions the supposed uniqueness of the expert's skills, and promotes the ability of the ordinary person to learn to do more than he or she thought was possible." It is, if anything, Distributivism.

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    John McCain, War Criminal

    "If Catholic principles are applied with any rigor John McCain is a war criminal," says Daniel Nichols — Blowout. More:
      And while it would be politically disastrous to raise the issue with the American electorate, who by vast majority have no problem with Total War, so long as it is waged by America the Righteous and not, say, by Muslim extremists, to those Catholics who approach war with the same moral rigor as they approach abortion, McCain’s record is alarming. He was not, as is often misreported, a fighter pilot. Rather, he flew bombing missions over North Vietnam.

      Twenty three of them.

      Some estimates say as many as a million Vietnamese were killed by the American bombing campaign. While it is impossible to know how many civilians were killed in McCain’s 23 missions, it is safe to say that if elected he will have directly, by his own hand, taken more human lives than any other president.

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    The Absurdity of the Korean-American Military Alliance

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    Economist Chang Ha-Joon on Industrial Switzerland

      Switzerland has the highest per capita manufacturing output. It is not making its livelihood off of services. Manufacturing output is 24 % higher than Japan and 2.2 times higher than the United States. It is the most industrialized country in the world and yet we think it depends on services. We Koreans have a lot of misconceptions like these.
    From an article with which we might perhaps find much to disagree, but also much food for thought — ‘Do not follow the U.S. capitalism, treat it as a wicked teacher’. As a Rust Belt native, I can certainly agree with the foolishness of destroying a manufacturing base in order to create a "service economy." While browsing at a local bookshop recently, I came across his book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. It looked quite interesting.

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    Gems From Professor Clyde N. Wilson

    Two selections from his latest — Not to Worry:
      I sometimes wonder whether American decline is most due to Northeastern greed and hypocrisy, Southern inertia and cynicism, the simple-mindedness and gadget-mania of Midwesterners, or the solipsistic nihilism of Californians. At any rate it is a deadly mixture and the ingredients ought to be separated out for the good of Americans and of the world.

      [....]

      The U.S. has jumped into the middle of civil wars in foreign countries before before—Vietnam, Nicaragua. But Junior Bush is the first actually to start a civil war without knowing which side he was on.

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    Gernika in Afghanistan


    The above is a hideously ugly painting depicting a hideously ugly atrocity (I've never hated modern art because it is the only medium to express the ugliness of our times), the type of which has become so commonplace that it only merits a headline in the alternative press — UN Says Has Evidence Air Strikes Killed 90 Afghans, Including 60 Children.

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    Father Simon Chun Jong-hun Sent Abroad

    The "priest who exposed tax evasion by Samsung executives" and participated in "protests against U.S. beef imports" is being sent "abroad to take care of Korean Catholics" — Social Action Priest's Sabbatical Year Draws Media Speculation. He was president of the Catholic Priests' Association for Justice (CPAJ), which, the report reminds us, is "an association not endorsed by the local Church hierarchy."

    Of course, it goes without saying that the hierarchy is absolutey correct in distancing itself from these rabble-rousing priests and trying to limit their influence. I made my position clear in this article — Have Korea's Protesting Priests Chosen the Right Fights?

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    Pastor Roger Schutz and the Limits of Œcumenism

    I know the fact that "Wojtyla and Ratzinger gave him communion" should scandalize me, perhaps make me a sedevecantist, but for whatever reason, I remain untroubled by this report — Was the Founder of Taizé Protestant, or Catholic? A Cardinal Solves the Riddle. We are nearing Soloviev's Apocalypse, I believe, in which "resistance comes from Pope Peter II, John the Elder, leader of the Orthodox and Professor Ernst Pauli, representing Protestantism."

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    Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding

    His Excellency "was taken away by police Sunday" after he "had celebrated Sunday Mass in the cathedral earlier that morning" — Another Chinese Bishop Arrested. A brief biography:
      Bishop Jia, 73, has already spent 15 years in prison, from 1963 to 1978. Since 1989, he has been under strict police monitoring. His arrest on Sunday marks the 12th time he has been detained by police.

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    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Demographics is Destiny, Even in China

    "For the last 30 years, demographics in the People's Republic of China (PRC) have been a very strong ally of economic growth," notes Derek Scissors, Ph.D., who goes on to suggest that with current trends, "the much-heralded era of Chinese economic leadership could stop almost before it starts" — Rural population may reverse China's growth.

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    I'm So Bored With the D.P.R.K.

    This is the umpteenth time I've read this headline in the past fifteen years — N.Korea Halts Nuclear Disablement. It's high time for he U.S.A. to wash our hands clean of this drama, pull our troops from the peninsula and from U.S.S. Japan, and let the Koreans, Chinese, Russians, and Japanese work this one out.

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    Anti-Christian Pogrom in Orissa

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    The Bishops on Senator Biden

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    Christ-Haunted Eumseong County

    We just returned from a half-week in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province, a fine a place as any for a family vacation. We swam in creeks, took walks in woods, and grilled meat. We went to a "junk art gallery" and a bizarre sculpture garden at a mental hospital.

    Dona Got a Ramblin Mind by the Carolina Chocolate Drops served as the soundtrack for our various travels; American mountain music was eerily appropriate for the Korean landscape. The hills were dotted with little churches everywhere, more than I have ever seen in any rural part of Korea, and I remember no signs of Buddhism. My wife spoted a church bus which had as a message painted on its side, "Alcohol and Tobacco are Drugs From the Devil."

    But unlike the "Christ-haunted South" Flannery O'Connor wrote about, here there were many Catholic churches. Every village seemed to have one, and the ones we saw were decades old and only 20 or 30 pyeong in size, smaller than my apartment. Most majestic of course was the cathedralesque Gamgok Parish Church, completed in 1930. It was the only Korean parish I have visited in which parishioners removed their shoes before entering the sanctuary. It was also the only Korean parish I have visited in which parishioners knelt during the Consecration. Strangely, however, it was also the only Korean parish I have visited in which parishioners adopted the Orans Posture during the Lord's Prayer.

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    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Headin' for the Hills

    We'll be in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province till Wednesday, when posting will resume. On Sunday, you'll be able to find us here:




    Robert Koehler has more photos and some history of "one of Korea’s oldest—and certainly one of its most beautiful—Catholic churches," which "sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Gamgok like a sentinel" — Gamgok Parish Church. The Korean site — ▒ 감곡 매괴 성모성당 ▒▒▒▒.

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    Friday, August 22, 2008

    If We Are to Have Executions, Let Us Make Them Public

    The Carolina Chocolate Drops' frenetic version of the ballad of Tom Dula, from the recently arrived Dona Got a Ramblin Mind album, makes the Kingston Trio's version unlistenable. It's an easy two-chord song which I've added to my limited repertoire, and the chorus as been on my lips incessantly:
      Hang your head, Tom Dooley,
      Hang your head and cry;
      You killed poor Laurie Foster,
      And you know you're bound to die.
    It's a bit macabre, and I was at a bit of a loss when my five-year-old daughter asked me to explain the song; I sometimes forget she speaks English. I did my best. But her question got me thinking about the death penalty, about which I am ambivalent. Capital punishment, from what I understand, was seen by Saint Thomas Aquinas "as a necessary deterrent and prevention method, but not as the means of vengeance." In modern society, and in my own dark heart, I see no need for the death penalty other than vengeance, which I guess means that I should oppose it.

    The character in the song which begins this post was executed publicly, as was everyone else in those days. Many look back to that practice as being less civilized than ours, which is to get rid of people clinically and, apart from a few chosen observers, away from the public eye. But the act is carried out in our name, and paid for by our taxes. It is our duty to be there.

    On the unpleasantness of killing for food, traditionalist farmer Gene Lodgson wrote that "families [used to] get together for a butchering day and make of it a kind of party, that is spread the repugnance out over a larger group of people" — Yes, I care for animals and then I eat them. We should also "get together for" an execution day but perhaps not "mak[ing] of it a kind of party," although that might be an understandable way to "spread the repugnance out over a larger group of people," which is what is really needed.

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    On the Jukebox




    Above are a medley and a performance of the hottest track from the Carolina Chocolate Drops' absolutely wonderful album Dona Got a Ramblin Mind, which arrived just yesterday.

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    White Minority


    I first saw the headline — In Santa Paula, a white minority blames the poor for the town's problems — as little more than an invitation to post the above Black Flag video. But upon reading it, I found much food for thought. It's a tangled web, as well as an interesting story.

    "Let the free market run," says "one of the leading voices in town calling for a moratorium" on "'low-end' housing until it represents less than 15% of the housing stock." That might seem ironic, but the article notes that "[o]f particular concern" is "government-subsidized housing." On the other hand, the opposition to the moratorium is also seeking free market solutions, by "asking people to spend their money locally rather than driving to the malls and the big-box stores in Ventura and the San Fernando Valley" and suggesting that such a moratorium "would be doing nothing to build community" and would be in fact "social engineering."

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    Police State, USA

    A report that "a Justice Department plan to set new guidelines for FBI investigations that would widen powers to investigate people without basis for suspicion" — US lawmakers raise concern about FBI powers. The laymakers in question are "four Democratic senators -- Russ Feingold (Wisconsin), Ted Kennedy (Massachusetts), Richard Durbin (Illinois) and Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)." Let's face it, their party is better on civil liberties than the other party.

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    "Who is Randy Scheunemann?"

    Patrick J. Buchanan exposes "the principal foreign policy adviser to John McCain" as "a dual loyalist, a foreign agent whose assignment is to get America committed to spilling the blood of her sons for client regimes who have made this moral mercenary a rich man" — And None Dare Call It Treason.

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    Skyscrapers and Hemlines

    Mark Thornton notes "record-setting skyscrapers coincide with great economic downturns in the world economy" — Skyscrapers and Economic Cycles. Interviewer Lew Rockwell notes that women's hemilnes are falling, an ominous sign according to the Hemline Theory.

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    A John McCain Anti-Endorsement

    Phillip Butler on the Manchurian candidate's infamous "quick and explosive temper" — I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button. As a Confucian, I like this bit:
      People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 1/2 years later, so he was a POW for 5 1/2 years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

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    Two From the Archdruid

    John Michael Greer looks to the future, including a bit from his "User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age" — The Long Descent (excerpts from new book) and The tempo of change.

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    The Coming End of the Command Economy in the D.P.R.K.

    Kim So Yeol reports that "North Korea cannot return to a planned economy from the current, spontaneously generated free-market economy" — North Korea Cannot Stop Free-market Flow.

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    Chestertoons

    Sent by a reader, some animated wisdom from "The Apostle of Common Sense" — Chestertoons.

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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Free Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying!


    The two elderly heroines of property rights had complained of "receiving insufficient compensation when their homes were seized for redevelopment" and were sentenced to "an extrajudicial term of 're-education through labor' this week for applying to hold a legal protest in a designated area in Beijing" — Two Women Sentenced to ‘Re-education’ in China.

    The sentence was "extrajudicial" in that it was handed down not by any court but by the Beijing police. The report states that "the police told the two women that their sentence might remain in suspension if they stayed at home and stopped asking for permission to protest." That's a lot of power for the police to have, which means that China is still a police state.

    [link via The Marmot's Hole]

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    Enough of Medal Counts!

    Manuel Lora has "had enough of athletes wrapping themselves in flags and eagerly waiting to sing the state song" — Olympic Pride or Nationalist Pride? He highlights one particular absurdity of the games: "Most media will keep track of who (by country!) has obtained the highest number of medals and declare winners in such a way." It was not also so; a week ago, Taki Theodoracopulos gave us a bit of history of this innovation: "The Cold War saw nation-by-nation medal counts, although counting was against the spirit of the games" — No More Girls in Bikinis.

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    America's Unwinnable Wars

    Professor Clyde N. Wilson questions, among other ideas, that of "[d]eclaring war against invisible enemies who can never be defeated—poverty, drugs, terrorism" — More Great American Inventions.

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    Bill Kauffman Reviews Gore Vidal

    And notes that his subject "has been a contumacious patriot of the Old Republic for nigh the entirety of the post-Republic era" — The Last Republican. An excerpt on his subject's politics:
      ... Vidal, as a good Anti-Federalist, views the president, whether Democrat or Republican, as “a dictator who can only be replaced either in the quadrennial election by a clone or through his own incompetency.” Executive orders, executive agreements, executive privileges: he would scrap them all. He admires the Swiss cantonal system and would borrow from it to revive our torpid federalism. He favors national referenda, a pet cause of his grandfather, one of the first proponents of the war referendum that later took shape as the Ludlow Amendment. He would “stop all military aid to the Middle East,” repeal “every prohibition against the sale and use of drugs,” and “withdraw from NATO.”

      He is very much in the American libertarian vein, though his conviction that “monotheism is the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race” is unlikely to appeal to many conservative readers. He is a Bill of Rights stalwart, however, who takes the now wildly unfashionable view that kooks and outcasts have liberties, too. These include the Branch Davidians, who “were living peaceably in their own compound at Waco, Texas, until an FBI SWAT team ... killed eighty-two of them.” As early as 1953 he spoke of “these last days before the sure if temporary victory of that authoritarian society which, thanks to science, now has every weapon with which to make even the most inspired lover of freedom conform to the official madness.”

      He patriotically detests the National Security State, which hijacked the country circa 1950 and has not given up the controls yet. In the late 1980s, Vidal called for a “neo-Clayite” candidate to campaign on internal improvements and avoidance of foreign quarrels. I wish he had run the race himself. But by 1992, three such men were running: Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, and Pat Buchanan, in the most interesting political year of the post-Republic era. Each, in his particular way, appealed to heirs and offshoots of the old Thomas P. Gore/Bob LaFollette/America First populist tradition. Vidal sensed a “potentially major constituency—those who now believe that it was a mistake to have wasted, since 1950, most of the government’s revenues on war.” He scorned Buchanan’s Catholic understanding of sexuality but conceded that “he is a reactionary in the good sense—reacting against the empire in favor of the old Republic, which he mistakenly thinks was Christian.”
    More than a decade ago, long before I knew anything of "the old Thomas P. Gore/Bob LaFollette/America First populist tradition," I remarked to a colleague that Jerry Brown, whom I supported in '92, and Pat Buchanan, who I've admired since the '80s, were my two favorite political figues.

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    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Did the Chinese Spark the European Renaissance?

    An author who first book argued that "the 107-strong armada of Zheng He's sixth voyage of exploration reached Latin America, the Caribbean and Australia, circumnavigating the globe a century before Ferdinand Magellan," has written a second book which "contends that Chinese advances in science, art and technology - brought by a cultural delegation that sailed first to Cairo and arrived in Tuscany in 1434 - shaped the Renaissance" — Gavin Menzies: mad as a snake - or a visionary?

    Says the author, "The idea that Europeans dreamed up everything in the Renaissance is just to make history more romantic." Not to dismiss the importance of the Four Great Inventions, but perhaps Mr. Menzies himself is guilty of trying "to make history more romantic." Notably, the article mentions that "[m]uch of the critical flak has come from the National University of Singapore."

    (I'm reminded of Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods?, which in essence argued that the darker peoples of the world could not have possibly been behind their own technological acheivements; they must have had the help of... aliens. A new trend seems to argue that the fairer peoples of the world could not have possibly been behind their own technological acheivements. That said, let us not over-react and claim that Europe was not profoundly influenced by ideas and innovations from what used to be called "The Orient.")

    Whatever the case, the seven-foot tall Muslim eunuch Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433) (or Cheng Ho for my fellow Wade-Giles aficionados) was a fascinating figure.

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    Why the Rev. Chuck Baldwin Will Get My Vote

      Think about it: 232 years after Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, and after our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defend that document, our nation's leaders from both major parties are in the process of ceding America back to the kind of global empire from which we fought to break free.
    He's the only one saying truths like the one above — America's Greatest Threat.

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    Time to End the Entangling Alliance to End all Entangling Alliances

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    Georgia Still on The Old Right's Mind

  • The Antiwar.com editor speaks his piece — Justin Raimondo Discusses South Ossetia on al-Jazeera.


  • "Every agreement that President Reagan made with Mikhail Gorbachev has been broken by Reagan’s successors," notes the former's former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury — Are You Ready for Nuclear War?


  • Some advice from the Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation — Leave Georgia Alone, George.
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    When Paleolibertarians and Neoconservatives Clash

    It makes for great TV, unlike that we'll ever be able to see within our borders — Justin Raimondo vs. Christopher Hitchens on al-Jazeera. Now I know where former CNN International anchor Riz Khan went.

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    The Ox

      We read in the Bible of war-horses; of horses drawing chariots. But we never find an allusion to horses employed in the tillage of the land; for which by their gentleness, by the nature of the food which they require, by their great docility, oxen seem to have been formed by nature.
    Thus spake "that feisty old gadfly William Cobbett, who flourished (and I do mean flourished) from 1763 to 1835," quoted by Gene Logsdon — Oxen power for family farms.

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    Bacevich on the Imperial Presidency and the National Security State


    Paul Rosenberg calls the show from which the above video excerpt comes "one of most amazing programs Moyers has done, period, in all his years on television" — Andrew Bacevich: Hard Truths About America Gone Astray. The full show can be viewed by following this post of mine yesterday — Andrew Bacevich Speaks Truth to Power (and to Bill Moyers).

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    Numbers

    Interesting news about speakers of languages whose numerical system consists of "one, two, few and many" — Aboriginal children 'can count without numbers'. The study "suggests that we have an innate system for recognising and representing numerosities... and that the lack of a number vocabulary should not prevent us from doing numerical tasks." Does that include Calculus?

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    The Amethyst Initiative

    "College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities" have come to the realization that "current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus" — College presidents seek debate on drinking age.

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    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    More Evidence of the Pope's Classical Liberalism

    It can be found, if one so pleases, in the interpretations of His Holiness' comments that led to this story — Pope warns Italy in danger of returning to fascism. The headline comes days after this one — Vatican distances itself from Catholic magazine's warning of fascist revival. This less sensationalistic headline offers less interpretation — Pope warns of dangers of racism.

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    A Cold Warrior Comes in from the Cold

    Patrick J. Buchanan on "the insanity of giving erratic hotheads in volatile nations the power to drag the United States into war" — Who Started Cold War II? More:
      From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, U.S. presidents have sought to avoid shooting wars with Russia, even when the Bear was at its most beastly.

      Truman refused to use force to break Stalin's Berlin blockade. Ike refused to intervene when the Butcher of Budapest drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood. LBJ sat impotent as Leonid Brezhnev's tanks crushed the Prague Spring. Jimmy Carter's response to Brezhnev's invasion of Afghanistan was to boycott the Moscow Olympics. When Brezhnev ordered his Warsaw satraps to crush Solidarity and shot down a South Korean airliner killing scores of U.S. citizens, including a congressman, Reagan did – nothing.

      These presidents were not cowards. They simply would not go to war when no vital U.S. interest was at risk to justify a war. Yet, had George W. Bush prevailed and were Georgia in NATO, U.S. Marines could be fighting Russian troops over whose flag should fly over a province of 70,000 South Ossetians who prefer Russians to Georgians.

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    Baby Survives Abortion and Five Hours in the Cooler

    And her mother's doctors are talking of a "medical miracle" and "divine intervention" — Doctor: Premature baby came 'back to life'. Doctors said "the fetus was showing no signs of life" so "they performed a second trimester abortion by inducing labor prematurely." Then, "the baby girl was born without a pulse" and "was pronounced dead and transferred to the hospital's morgue." After that, "when the child's father asked to see the remains five hours later, doctors discovered the child had begun to show signs of life, including breathing." Sadly the baby "has a very slim chance of survival," but after overcoming such hardships and with prayers, God only knows.

    While scientists tend to be much less religious than the general population, medical doctors tend to be more religious than the general population — Survey shows that physicians are more religious than expected. Stories like the above are more common than one would expect.

    [link via New Oxford Review]

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    T.S. Eliot's Confucian Classmate

    The Vermont Traditionalist links today to a fascinating article penned by A. Owen Aldridge — Irving Babbit and Lin Yutang. Of his teacher, the student said the following:
      Babbitt’s humanism, however, is different from that of the Renaissance, opposed as it is to religion, on one hand, and to naturalism, on the other, something like the theories of the Sung dynasty. Babbitt, therefore, respected our saint, Confucius, and our contemporary disciples of Confucius respect him in turn. I am not saying this to make fun of Babbitt, for I myself admire him personally. [Unlike Confucius,] he did not travel around to find an official job, nor did he offer comfort to those who failed.
    Two more excerpts on the philosphy that guides this blog:
      Lin associated Confucianism more explicitly with humanism in a phrase “Chinese humanism or Confucianism.” The essence of Chinese humanism he defines as “the study of human relations [jen lun] through a correct appreciation of human values by the psychology of human motives to the end that we may behave as reasonable human beings [tsuo jen]. . . . The Confucian point of view is that politics must be subordinated to morals, that government is a makeshift of temporization, law a superficial instrument of order, and police force a foolish intervention for morally immature individuals.”

      [....]

      Lin’s vindication of the good life in contrast to Babbitt’s work ethic is understandable from the perspective of Chinese philosophy. The pleasure principle is a doctrine of Taoism, a philosophy competing with Confucianism that Babbitt strongly condemned in his Rousseau and Romanticism for its alleged dependence upon nature and primitivism. Lin, however, accorded equal prominence to the two systems. His respectful comparison of Babbitt’s thought to that of Confucius may be contrasted with an ascerbic treatment by T. S. Eliot of what he termed Babbitt’s “addiction to the philosophy of Confucius.” In this connection Eliot remarked that he could not “see how anyone can understand Confucius without some knowledge of Chinese and a long frequentation of the best Chinese society.” This requirement of acquaintance with the Chinese language for an American merely to comprehend a Chinese philosopher is tantamount to saying that a Chinese Christian cannot understand the religion he professes unless he knows Greek and Hebrew.
    Lin Yutang's The Importance of Living is as good an introduction to Chinese thought as any, and Irving Babbitt, as you know, merits a chapter of his own in Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind, as does T.S. Eliot.

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    Andrew Bacevich Speaks Truth to Power (and to Bill Moyers)

    "Is an imperial presidency destroying what America stands for?" is the all-important question under discussion — Andrew J. Bacevich: Part I and Andrew J. Bacevich: Part II. Or, if you prefer, read Transcript. This is probably the most important interview on television in recent years.

    [link via Catholic and Enjoying It!]

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    Chuck Baldwin or Cynthia McKinney for Peace

    Angela Keaton of the Antiwar.com Blog explains why the two were not included on a recent "front-page template with the images of John McCain, Barack Obama, Bob Barr and Ralph Nader below the caption, We are holding their feet to the fire: Without fear or favor" — An Apology to Cynthia McKinney and Chuck Baldwin: "The reason is simple. Former Representative McKinney and the Reverend Baldwin are unequivocally antiwar."

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    Medals, Schmedals

    Evan McLaren quotes sportswriter Stefan Fatsis — Medal Obsession Disorder:
      My question here is whether this should matter at all. Because, what do we want? Do we want a system in which athletes and their parents make a few sacrifices or large sacrifices in order to succeed in these sports that they love, sports that only get attention every four years? Or do we want one in which kids are drafted by the government at age three to become gymnasts and weightlifters and divers?

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    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Post-Traumatic Scientism

    If you read anything today, read this piece by Mark Sunwall reporting that "[t]he Pentagon is spending an unprecedented $300 million this summer on research for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury" — The State in Denial: Can Scientism Recover Our Moral Memory? To whet your appetite, the first paragraph:
      No doubt the opportunity for extended research reported on by USA Today will be welcomed as one of the more benevolent spin-offs of the war in Iraq, even while what is called research might more correctly be termed reparations and serves to mask the fact that combat-related post-traumatic injury resulting from that war was 100% preventable...at least as late as 2003. But then, instead of moral memory, today we have scientific inquiry into the loss of memory. This latter must be considered a phenomenon not an effect, since an effect implies a cause, and in the blinkered world of scientism there can be no discussion of causes, other than physiological ones.

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    Dr. Nouriel Roubini Says the End is Near

    Stating the obvious, he "believes we face a housing bust, a huge credit crisis, an oil shock and a deep recession" that may be just the beginning of what he has called "a nightmare hard landing scenario for the United States" — Meet the Economist Who Thinks We're Doomed. He argues that the "true cost of the housing crisis will... [be] something between a trillion and a trillion and a half dollars." He also reminds us that "[o]ur biggest financiers are China, Russia and the gulf states... rivals, not allies" and that "[t]his might be the beginning of the end of the American empire."

    Congressman Ron Paul and those influenced by the Austrian School Economists have been saying this for years without the calls for massive government intervention.

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    Offensive Nationalism, Defensive Patriotism

    Before discussing "the Georgian-Russian miniwar," Alan Bock makes some interesting comments on the above — A Familiar Enemy:

      George Orwell once made an important distinction between patriotism and nationalism, one that has since been elaborated upon many times by others, notably the quirky but often insightful historian John Lukacs, but that still has not caught on sufficiently, apparently, to have much of an impact on what we might call our national consciousness:

      "By 'patriotism' I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one … has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unity in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

      I rather like a simplified version of the distinction, to the effect that patriotism is love of one's own country or place while nationalism is hatred of or hostility toward some other country or place. Some might also link patriotism to responsibility, in that a patriot loves his country enough to recognize and want to correct its shortcomings, while a nationalist either recognizes no faults (and insists that anyone who does is a traitor) or constructs elaborate justifications for whatever his or her government has done in his or her name. One might note also that patriotism is peaceful until forced into defending oneself, while nationalism is forever spoiling for a fight.

      Patriotism is an ancient emotion that most people feel about the place they call home, while nationalism is inextricably tied to the growth of the nation-state beginning in Europe around the 16th century.

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    A Twenty-Year-Old Rendition of Los Lobos' La Pistola y el Corazón

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    A New Blog

    Patrick J. Ford, whom you may know from The American Conservative's blog, has started a new blog of his own that I think readers of this one will enjoy — The Northern Agrarian. He promises "to comment on current issues from an Old Right, America-First, anti-modernity agrarian point of view."

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    The Old Right and Peace

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    Antiwar.com Warriors Speak on Georgia

  • A video-clip of the editor, who dares to publicly smoke a cigarette — Justin Raimondo on Russian TV.


  • An audio clip of an interview with an old rightist on "why he thinks the Russian action on behalf of South Ossetia was justified, comparisons between Russian moves in the Caucasus to interwar Germany and Britain, the stupidity of the war guarantees and new missile defense systems going into Eastern Europe, the limits of American imperial power and the question of whether the administration gave Saakashvili the green light to attack South Ossetia" — Scott Horton Interviews Pat Buchanan.
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    Andrew Bacevich's Latest

    In an article carried by Asia Time Online, the military historian and retired colonel "argues that the US does not need a bigger army, it needs a more modest foreign policy" — Is perpetual war our future? Chief among the important points he makes is that "the Western moral tradition has categorically rejected the concept of preventive war" and, for realists, "even setting moral considerations aside, to launch a war today to eliminate a danger that might pose a threat at some future date is just plain stupid." He also says, "Since the end of the Cold War, the tendency among civilians - with Bush a prime example - has been to confuse strategy with ideology," and then continues that "ever since the Vietnam War ended, the tendency among military officers has been to confuse strategy with operations."

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    American Presidential Credibility

    Jeffrey Fleishman on one of the many casualties of the misadventure in Iraq — Arab world sees Bush's response to Georgia-Russia crisis as hypocritical.

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    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Il Giardino Armonico Perform La Couperin


    Above, Il Giardino Armonico's Vittorio Ghielmi (Viola da gamba) and Luca Pianca (Liuto attiorbato) perform Antoine Forqueray's composition. I came across the DVD today and wanted to do some research before dropping ten bucks. Needless to say, I'll buy it on my next trip to the music shop.

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    Friday, August 15, 2008

    The Galileo Canard

    Struck down for the umpteenth time, this time by Thomas E. Woods Jr. — Galileo, Science, and the Smirking Chimp. He takes apart the "insidious Enlightenment myth" that "[t]he Church's influence on the world has been one of obscurantism and repression, and what progress our civilization has enjoyed has occurred at the hands of religious skeptics." The author laments the fact that "parroting the Church-as-obstacle theory out of ignorance of six decades of scholarship will still win you the applause of the half- educated." He says:
      [I]t wasn't until the 1950s that we learned how instrumental the Late Scholastics had been in developing the discipline of economics, centuries before Adam Smith. It has been only within the past two decades that we have fully discovered the extent to which the natural-rights tradition flows from the canonists and popes of the High Middle Ages. The truth about the Church's influence on the sciences began to emerge only in the mid-20th century. And so on -- and on and on.
    The author's book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, is one of the books I ordered with my payment for my chapter of Ron Paul: A Life, my first professional piece of writing. The book is also available in Korean translation — 가톨릭 교회는 어떻게 서양문명을 세웠나. Teaching English at one of Asia's top science and technology universities, where, much to the suprise perhaps of many in the West, there are a large number of Christians among the faculty and students, and I will steer those interested to this book. Ans as you know, this blog is named after a "Jesuit polymath, astronomer, humanist and Renaissance Man" — Matteo Ricci, S.J.

    Of course, the best take down of this particular canard was from a materialist, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), a.k.a. "Darwin's Bulldog," who had set about to prove the Church an "enemy of science," but instead found himself shocked by the truth about the trial, as explained by George Sim Johnston in The Galileo Affair:
      The Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who had no brief for Catholicism, once examined the case and concluded that "the Church had the best of it." The most striking point about the whole affair is that until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for the new astronomy. It had encouraged the work of Copernicus and sheltered Kepler against the persecutions of Calvinists. Problems only arose when the debate went beyond the mere question of celestial mechanics.

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    Another Day of Georgia Analyses from the Old Right

  • "A politician's hubris causes untold human suffering," notes Justin Raimondo, mincing no words — Mikheil Saakashvili: War Criminal. He presents damning evidence from "[t]he decidedly apolitical, non-ideological Web site Reliefweb" that "[t]he Georgians were the aggressors here, and not only that, it was a particularly vicious sneak attack, undertaken while 'peace talks' were supposedly taking place."


  • "Mikheil Saakashvili's decision to use the opening of the Olympic Games to cover Georgia's invasion of its breakaway province of South Ossetia must rank in stupidity with Gamal Abdel-Nasser's decision to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships," says Patrick J. Buchanan — Blowback From Bear-Baiting. Noting among "Americans... many fine qualities... [the] capacity to see ourselves as others see us is not high among them," Mr. Buchanan asks, "How would we have reacted if Moscow had brought Western Europe into the Warsaw Pact, established bases in Mexico and Panama, put missile defense radars and rockets in Cuba, and joined with China to build pipelines to transfer Mexican and Venezuelan oil to Pacific ports for shipment to Asia?>


  • "Paying attention to the real work of the AEI is almost enough to turn a person into an anti-American world socialist… but perhaps that’s precisely the point, given the ideological backgrounds of so many of the neoconservatives there," says Karen Kwiatkowski — Is the American Enterprise Really War in the Caucasus?. She describes how the neocon think (?) tank "pos[es] as an organization that advocates for freedom of individuals rather than the state" but "continues to shill for war, global conquest, and to promote a kind of fantastic Washington mastery-of-the-planet idea."
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    President Bush vs. the Bush Administration

    It appears that the president has stood up to the Likudniks in his own administration who mistake Tel Aviv for the capital of America — U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities. I've often thought the most sympathetic figure in this disastrous administration has been the man that gives it its name. Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI talked some sense into him in their recent meetings.

    [link via LewRockwell.com Blog]

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    Yang Jisheng, "China's Solzhenitsyn"

    A report on the release of a book thet "in two volumes and 1,100 pages -- establishes beyond any doubt that China's misguided charge toward industrialization -- Mao's "Great Leap Forward" -- was an utter disaster" — When China Starved. From the book's first paragraph:
      I call this book Tombstone. It is a tombstone for my father who died of hunger in 1959, for the 36 million Chinese who also died of hunger, for the system that caused their death, and perhaps for myself for writing this book.
    The book chronicles how "[a] combination of criminally bad policies (farmers were forced to make steel instead of growing crops; peasants were forced into unproductive communes) and official cruelty (China was grimly exporting grain at the time) created, between 1959 and 1961, one of the worst famines in recorded history."

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    The Korean Episcopacy on Today's Holy Day and Holiday

    Their Excellencies "have reminded Catholics that their country is filled with the spirit of Saint Mary, who humbly obeyed her God of the poor" — Bishops See Marian Spirit In South Korea's Roots. Excerpts:
      "Commemorating the Liberation Day on Aug. 15, 1945," the letter also says, "we reflect the Korean people's suffering and the sore pain of division of the country along with the overflowing joy of liberation."

      In 1945, on the day the Universal Church traditionally marks the Feast of the Assumption, South Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule with Japan's defeat in the Second World War.

      Noting that "the Liberation Day of Korea coincides with the feast," Bishop You said, "Here, we can find historical teachings from the life and prayers of Mary of Nazareth, who overcame the pain of the times with faith."

      [....]

      Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul, in a letter published in the archdiocesan weekly bulletin for Aug. 15, acknowledged that Korea's Church "extraordinarily respects and loves Blessed Mary."

      "Our faith ancestors kept their faith seeking the intercession of Mary in spite of severe persecution," he said. Moreover, he pointed out, Korean Catholics have believed that because of the protection of Saint Mary, guardian of the Korean Church, Korea was liberated from Japan on her feast."

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    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Tomorrow's Holy Day and Holiday

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    Big Banks, Big Government, Big Money

  • "Only 5% of the money in circulation is created by the government;" The Distributist Review's John Médaille informs us, "the rest is created by the banks... out of thin air, out of nothing" — The Money Power. Click on the link to read and learn.


  • The Lew Rockwell Show interviews Jörg Guido Hülsmann and Tom DiLorenzo — Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle and Hamilton's Curse. Click on the links to listen and learn.
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    Great Wall Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

    "Rich and warm, with notes of sweet, ripe, black-skinned fruits, it finished with a tannic, tar-like quality and firm acidity," exclaims Beppi Crosarial, saying "it seemed somewhere between a modern Tuscan cabernet and an old-style Barolo" — No practical joke: China's reds. All that means little to me, but there's hope for drinkable red wine from somewhere closer than France, California, Chile, Argentina, Australia, or South Africa.

    [link via LewRockwell.com]

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    AIPAC and the End Times

    "Having watched John McCain and Barack Obama resolutely pledge their allegiance – and their countrymen's lives and treasure – to the defense of Israel via AIPAC, the media, and personal meetings with Israeli leaders," begins Michael Scheuer, "it is worth asking what could possibly drive these men to so ardently commit America to participation in other people's religious wars" — The Lobby Like No Other Wants a War Like No Other. The former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden goes on express "realities [that] lie unspoken because of the lobbying efforts of AIPAC and the pro-Israel mantras of the politicians it purchases:" "(1) U.S. survival is not at stake in the Israeli-Muslim war; (2) the taxes of Americans should not be spent to defend theocratic states; and (3) holy books are insane tools to use as guides for U.S. foreign policy."

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    Neocons and the War in Georgia

  • "Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?" asks Robert Scheer— Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?


  • "The neoconned Bush Regime and the Israeli-occupied American media are heading the innocent world toward nuclear war," begins Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration — "President Bush, Will You Please Shut Up?"


  • "Ever wonder why every pundit in America seems to believe that the latest war in the Caucuses amounts to evil Soviet-Czarist Russia attacking poor little democratic Georgia?" asks Richard Spencer — The Israel-Washington-Georgia Network.


  • Most worrisome of all, Thomas DiLorenzo reminds us that "this [is] how world wars get started"— American Troops Are Now On The Ground . . .
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    Taki Theodoracopulos Takes Down Taekwondo

    It's "a phony martial art that resembles touch football" says the paleoconservative writer and former captain of the national Greek karate team, calling for its elimination from the Olympics along with other "sports" — No More Girls in Bikinis. "Rhythmic underwater dancing has more to do with entertainment than with sport," he says, and "beach volleyball... has more to do with Playboy than with what the ancient Greeks had in mind." His proposal:
      So here’s Chronicles’ blueprint to save the bloated, cheating, corporate games: First and foremost they have to return to their original site, Olympia, in the northwest Peloponnese, where their spirit lives on. Shaded by olive, pine, and poplar, scented by oregano and thyme, the games would be restricted to track and field, wrestling, boxing, swimming, and equestrian events. Nothing else. No tennis, no football, no baseball and other invented sports. Greed, corruption, and commercialism would be eliminated at a stroke. Only amateurs need apply. The pros have their own world championships and other drug festivals. The Olympics will remain pure, and the winners will enjoy eternal glory.
    Hear, hear!

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    The Birth Control Pill, A Crime Against Nature

    News that it "could screw up a woman's ability to sniff out a compatible mate" — The Pill Makes Women Pick Bad Mates. Here's how:
      Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are involved in immune response and other functions, and the best mates are those that have different MHC smells than you. The new study reveals, however, that when women are on the pill they prefer guys with matching MHC odors.
    Who'd have thought that blocking something as fundamental as the fertility cycle could have far-reaching side-effects? They extend even farther; let us not forget this report on the unreported havoc wreaked by "estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek" — Contracepting the Environment.

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    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Jeffrey Tucker Reads Bill Kauffman

    He hails Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism, the best book I've read this year, as "a super-entertaining, very-well researched, and enormously enlightening history of how middle America has traditionally been the largest and more effective force of resistance to the imperial Garrison state" — Regular Folks Who Hate War.

    Mr. Tucker presents that inconvenient truths that our "founders warned not only against foreign intervention but even any standing army at all" and that in both world wars, "the left was on the side of the war, with the hope that the state would try an experiment in national economic planning, crush old-world forms of government abroad, and usher in progressive policies such as income taxes, central banking, and presidential dictatorship." He also reminds us that "to be a conservative... means to favor the human scale and to oppose far-flung attempts to remake the world through elite manipulation."

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    Antiwar.com on Georgia

  • Editor Justin Raimondo on "Bill Kristol and the Menshevik myth of democratic Georgia" — 'Poor Little Georgia' – Not!


  • Doug Bandow says that "Georgian and Russian perceptions of potential NATO support for Georgia almost certainly radicalized both sides, making war all but certain" — Playing with Fire.


  • Anthony Gregory on "how the American establishment and media have portrayed this conflict as just another case of Good vs. Evil, with the U.S. ally, Georgia, clearly in the right and Moscow clearly in the wrong" — The Seeds of Another Cold War?


  • Peter Hirschberg shows just how entangling the alliance is — Israeli Arms Sales to Georgia Raise New Concerns.


  • "It’s touching how American neoconservatives who have no regard for international law when they want to invade some troublesome country have developed a sudden reverence for national sovereignty," says Robert Parry — Neocons Now Love International Law.
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    Psychology Today on Siblingless China

    "Coddled from infancy and raised to be academic machines, China's only children expect the world" — Plight of the Little Emperors. The situation of kids "buckling under the pressure of their parents' deferred dreams" is true of Korea and Japan, which have "acheived" even lower birth-rates without resorting to state violence.

    The article focuses on the psychological issues resulting from the inhumane policy and practice. There are also familial implications, as children growing up with siblings have trouble adjusting to married life. In Beijing, I've read, it is increasingly common for couples to live in separate apartments. I know Korean professionals who do the same. There may also be geopolitical implications. Sex-selective abortion being a side-effect, hundreds of millions of "extra" males might see war as a way to act out their frustrations.

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    The Washington-Tbilisi Axis

  • "The president of tiny Georgia must have caught a case of his pal Bush's war lust to attack a Russian ally and think he'd win," says "War Nerd" Gary Brecher, writing from Moscow — Georgia Tries out the Bush War Doctrine, Loses Badly.


  • "The question is whether President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are encouraging Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to force the next US president to back the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military agenda of the current Bush administration," says F William Engdahl — Russia marks its red lines. "Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq, and there are even possible nuclear consequences."


  • M K Bhadrakumar on the implications of an attack made "with encouragement from the United States" that "killed 13 Russian soldiers and injured 150 and took over 2,000 civilian lives, mostly Russian citizens" — The end of the post-Cold War era.


  • Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, on the fact that "without America there would be no war in Ossetia and no war between Russia and its former constituent part" — The Moronic Party.


  • "At this point, the Georgian attack on South Ossetia appears to have been a terrible miscalculation by the Georgians and their US and Israeli advisors, who have been trying to solidify control over the oil pipeline in recent months," says Vox Day — Blackfive thinks too logistically. He notes that "there's even some reason to believe that the foreign advisors may have been in the forefront of the attack."
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    The Tetragrammaton

    Pope Benedict XVI is really cleaning house — No 'Yahweh' in songs, prayers at Catholic Masses, Vatican rules. Here's the reason behind the ruling:
      "As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: 'Adonai,' which means 'Lord,'" the Vatican letter said. Similarly, Greek translations of the Bible used the word "Kyrios" and Latin scholars translated it to "Dominus"; both also mean Lord.

      "Avoiding pronouncing the Tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the church has therefore its own grounds," the letter said. "Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated."

      The two Vatican officials noted that "Liturgiam Authenticam," the congregation's 2001 document on liturgical translations, stated that "the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew Tetragrammaton and rendered in Latin by the word 'Dominus,' is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning."

      "Notwithstanding such a clear norm, in recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel's proper name," the letter said. "The practice of vocalizing it is met with both in the reading of biblical texts taken from the Lectionary as well as in prayers and hymns, and it occurs in diverse written and spoken forms," including Yahweh, Jahweh and Yehovah.
    I just saw it the other day on a Catholic grave in a Korean translation of the phrase "Dominus regit me" which begins the Psalm 22. I never liked pronouncing it, even as a kid in Lutheran Sunday School, perhaps some atavistic reaction resutling from being a Jewish octoroon. (My paternal grandmother's Hungarian Gypsy mother and Romanian Jewish father met on the boat.) It also took me a long time to overcome my aversion to pork.

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    Korea's Green Parish

    Father Aloysius Bang Kyeong-seok of Kasuwon Church in Daejeon describes his parish that "makes use of the constant temperature of soil or water 150 meters below ground to cool or warm the air" — Geothermal Energy Helps Parish Conserve Environment, Save Money.

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    Ex tenebris lux

    Elizabeth Cameron, a sixteen-year-old girl who "defied the world's wisdom" — "Why I Love the Baby of the Man Who Raped Me".

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    The Fake Olympics

    I'm shocked — shocked! — to read these two headlines today — Olympic Fireworks Faked For TV and Olympic child singing star revealed as fake.

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    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    The Cultures of Death, First Names, and Third Parties

    Patrick J. Buchanan has penned a no-brainer — A Catholic Case Against Barack. My major beef with the article is that its esteemed author insists on calling the senator "Barack." I doubt this is racist, as I was indocrinated to conclude; Mr. Buchanan was the first presidential candidate I can remember who chose a black woman, Ezola B. Foster, as a running mate. (Please do not comment with some postmodern deconstructionist definition of "racism;" one cannot be a racist and choose a member of the hated race as a running mate.) Of course, Senator Obama's first name is distinct, as is Senator Clinton's, and as is not Senator McCain's. Still, it seems disrespectful and, far worse, casual and informal.

    Of course, Mr. Buchanan is right about "the most pro-abortion member of the Senate" and his support for "the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion, where the baby's skull is stabbed with scissors in the birth canal and the brains are sucked out to end its life swiftly and ease passage of the corpse into the pan." Of course, a Catholic could vote for Senator Obama, if he did so for reasons other than his being "an abortion absolutist," but should a Catholic vote for him? Atheist civil libertarian Nat Hentoff came to the conclusion several months ago that "on abortion, Obama is an extremist" — Infanticide candidate for president.

    Of course, abortion is not an issue that is decided by the president. He has his bully pulpit and his right to appoint judges, for which the Republicans are to blame for Roe v. Wade, which did not legalize abortion but rather nationalized it. So, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for Senator Obama for other issues that are the president's to decide: in this age of the imperial presidency, first and foremost foreign policy. But as we've sadly learned, Senator Obama is only slightly less terrible than Senator McCain in this area.

    So, why not vote for the Constitution Party's Chuck Baldwin or the Libertarian Party's Bob Barr? (I'm leaning toward the former, as he is far more radical.) Heck, why not cast a vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? All four of these are far, far better on the presidential issues than are the two candidates The War Party has offered us.

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    The WaPo Lectures Russia

    An American newspaper that beat the drums for the invasion and conquest of Iraq now declares that "invasion and conquest are not acceptable modes of behavior" (even though "invasion and conquest" are not what has occurred) — The Invasion Continues. The subtitle: "The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest."

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    A "Suicide" in Iraq

    Elizabeth Higgs on the death of a woman the U.S. Army wants us to believe "punched herself in the face hard enough to blacken her eyes, break her nose, and knock her front teeth loose... douched with an acid solution after mutilating her genital area... poured a combustible liquid on herself and set it afire" and "then shot herself in the head" — U.S. Army Private LaVena Lynn Johnson, RIP. The author says "one third of the women who serve in the military are victims of sexual assault by a fellow soldier" and mentions "an emerging pattern of 'suicides' of women soldiers who were also victims of sexual assault."

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    Man-made Blackholes and Other Doomsday Scenarios

    We made it through the weekend — The Large Hadron Collider was tested this weekend and a black hole hasn’t destroyed the Earth…yet. But will we make it through the century? Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, author of Our Final Century?: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-first Century?, citing "unholy political and scientific alliances," gives us a 50/50 chance. Here, he speaks:

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    Of What the Master Never Spoke

    "Confucius was more concerned with the here-and-now than with abstract questions of metaphysics and fate," says sinologist Sam Crane — The Silences of Confucius. That is the beauty, and applicability, of the philosphy, and illustrates why a devout Catholic like this blog's namesake, Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J. , could call himself a "Western Confucian (西儒)."

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    John Zmirak on Non-Interventionism

    From his comments on the goings-on in the Caucasus — None of Our Friggin’ Beeswax:
      To reject interventionism, there’s no need to retreat into a national selfishness, shrugging our shoulders in apathy at the sufferings of others. Instead, we should ground our resistance to American meddling in humility: We lack the knowledge, the wisdom, the prudence, to micromanage every other country on this earth.
    I'm reminded of the greatest one-sentence foreign policy statement of recent times, which serves as the tag-line for my side-blog, The American Anti-Imperialist: "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us" ─ George W. Bush, October 12, 2000.

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    Fr. Vincent McNabb's Great-Grandnephew on Austro-Libertarianism

    This is interesting — Distributist Descendant Likes Woods' "Darn Good Book". The best thing I've ever read on the controversy was posted as a comment by a reader of this blog, Araglin, and quoted by me in this post — The Austrian School and Distibutivsm.

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    Catholic Priest, Zen Master?

    I'm all for learning about other religions and honoring the truths they hold, but it appears that Father Kim Alfonso Hak-boum, who grew up in Argentina and America, may have crossed the line into synctetism — UCAN Interview - 'Jesus Was A Grand Zen Master'.

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    Must-Read Analyses on Georgia

  • "The Georgian push into the breakaway region of South Ossetia was not intended to hold it, but to destroy it, ending secession by liquidating its people," says John Helmer — Russia bids to rid Georgia of its folly. Washington's man in Tblisi, a kleptocrat accused of "seizing the country's resource, port and trading concessions," launched the attack because "his political base has cracked and his domestic support is dwindling." Mr. Helmer reports that "[p]ublic opinion in Georgia already pins the blame on Saakashvili for the folly and loss of the Ossetian adventure."


  • "The strategy of Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili is... to globalize the conflict and turn it into a central front of a new struggle between Moscow and the West," says Brian Whitmore — Saakashvili overplays his hand. Thank God that "the West has not taken the bait." The does not exonerate Russia, who is now "bombing civilian targets and Georgian cities."


  • "If senseless bloodshed is to be stopped and peace is to be restored to the Caucasus, Western and US leaders will have to activate several additional brain cells, and stop mindlessly repeating the meaningless phrase 'Georgia's territorial integrity,'" says Abkhaz linguist Dmitry Orlov — The trouble with Georgia. The author offers a really fascinating portrait of a region he knows well.


  • "The black-and-white reading of the horrific violence in South Ossetia overlooks the role of the ‘war on terror’ in destabilising the region," says Brendan O’Neill — Georgia: the messy truth behind the morality tale. The author find it "remarkable how quickly other people’s bloody tragedies can be transformed into simple morality tales by Western observers sitting in cushioned, air-conditioned offices."
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    War Clouds Over Persia (and the World)

    A report that "preparation for the UN decision on new sanctions against Iran" is resulting in worrisome escalation — War ships, planes, missiles amassing around Gulf. "Tehran considers blockading the Strait of Hormuz," says the report. Oman's blockading of the Strait of Hormuz led to nuclear war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the chilling Countdown to Looking Glass (1984).

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    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Faith, Reason, Beauty

    Sandro Magister's latest report — The Pope Theologian Says: The Proof of God Is Beauty. An excerpt of what His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said:
      The arguments presented by reason are absolutely important and indispensable, but there always remains some disagreement somewhere. If, instead, we look at the saints, this great luminous arc that God has set across history, we see that here there is truly a power of goodness that lasts over the millennia, here there is truly light from light.

      And in the same way, if we contemplate the created beauties of the faith, these simply are, I would say, the living proof of faith. Take this beautiful cathedral: it is a living proclamation! It speaks to us on its own, and beginning with the beauty of the cathedral we are able to proclaim in a visible way God, Christ and all of his mysteries: here these have taken shape, and are gazing back at us. All of the great works of art, the cathedrals – the Gothic cathedrals, and the splendid Baroque churches – all of them are a luminous sign of God, and therefore truly a manifestation, an epiphany of God.

      Christianity involves precisely this epiphany: that God has become a veiled Epiphany, he appears and shines. We have just listened to the sound of the organ in all its splendor, and I think that the great music born within the Church is an audible and perceptible rendering of the truth of our faith: from Gregorian chant to the music of the cathedrals to Palestrina and his era, to Bach and then to Mozart and Bruckner, and so on... Listening to all of these great works – the Passions by Bach, his Mass in B minor, and the great spiritual compositions of 16th century polyphony, of the Viennese school, of all of this music, even by minor composers – suddenly we feel: it is true! Wherever things like these are created, there is Truth.

      Without an intuition capable of discovering the true creative center of the world, this beauty cannot be created. For this reason, I think that we must always act in such a way that these two things go together, we must present them together. When, in our own time, we discuss the reasonableness of the faith, we are discussing precisely the fact that reason does not end where experimental discoveries end, it does not end in positivism; the theory of evolution sees the truth, but sees only half of it: it does not see that behind this is the Spirit of creation. We are fighting for the expansion of reason, and therefore for a form of reason that, exactly to the point, is open to beauty as well, and does not have to leave it aside as something completely different and irrational.

      Christian art is a rational form of art – we think of Gothic art, great music, or the Baroque art right here – but this is the artistic expression of a much broader form of reason, in which the heart and reason come together. This is the point. This, I think, is in some way the proof of the truth of Christianity: the heart and reason come together, beauty and truth touch. And to the extent that we are able to live in the beauty of truth, so much more will faith again be able to be creative, in our own time as well, and to express itself in a convincing artistic form.

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    Jeong Hyeonrak, Requiem æternam...

    This morning, I went to my uncle-in-law's funeral. It was a Protestant affair, as he had received the Sacrament of Baptism just three years ago at the urging of his daughter-in-law, and was quite moving. Some hymns were sung, a sermon given, and the Apostles' Creed and the The Lord's Prayer were said.

    My uncle-in-law was eighty, and was one of my favorite in-laws. He had been an interpreter during the Korean War, and liked to speak English (mixed with Japanese) to me when we drank. Although he embraced Presbyterianism near the end of his life, he rejected the Teetotalism 19th American missionaries convinced Koreans was part and parcel of following the One whose first miracle it was to turn water into wine. The deceased's sister, against the wishes of his daughter-in-law, poured some Soju on his grave after the prayers had all been said. I was always impressed by the fact that no matter how much he drank, he always noticed when my cup was empty and filled it. (In Korea, one never pours one's own drink.) He'll be missed.

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    Republic, Si; Empire, No


    The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic by Chalmers Johnson is essential reading for those who love the Old Republic and hate the un-American Empire that has replaced it, as are the other books from The American Empire Project above which I have read. Prof. Chalmers documents four sorrows: (1) "a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans," (2) "a loss of democracy and constitutional rights as the presidency fully eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from an 'executive branch' of government into something more like a Pentagonized presidency," (3) "a system of propaganda, disinformation, and glorification of war, power, and the military legions," and (4) "bankruptcy."

    I fear the Rubicon has already been crossed and that the America-haters of recent administrations and their backers in the popular press and talk radio have already suceeded, and all there is left is to keep the flame of liberty alive as we descend into new Dark Ages.

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    A Return to Paganism?

    "The Young Fogey" posts some wisdom — C.S. Lewis on the claim that ‘society’s reverting to paganism’:
      When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into Paganism, I am tempted to reply, ‘Would that she were’. For I do not think it at all likely that we shall ever see Parliament opened by the slaughtering of a garlanded white bull in the House of Lords or Cabinet Ministers leaving sandwiches in Hyde Park as an offering for the Dryads.

      If such a state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have something to work on. For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently convertible to Christianity. He is essentially the pre-Christian, or sub-Christian, religious man. The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much as a divorcee differs from a virgin.

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    The Sage of Batavia Speaks

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    Miracle in Hawai'i

    Blessed Joseph de Veuster is on his way to sainthood — Hawaii teacher's cure clears way for a new saint. An excerpt:
      On a doctor's visit on Oct. 2, 1998, a month after cancer was first detected in her lungs, doctors expected the tumors to have grown. Instead, they had shrunk, and by May 1999 tests confirmed that they had disappeared without treatment.

      Chang and a half-dozen other doctors, including a cardiologist, oncologist, pathologist and radiologist, couldn't explain it. Chang, who does not belong to any religion, urged Toguchi to report it to the Catholic church.

      The Vatican conducted an extensive review and concluded Toguchi's recovery defied medical explanation.

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    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    Münster and Nagasaki

    "At 11:02 AM, two-thirds of Japan's Catholics were annihilated," wrote yours truly last year about today's grim anniversary in a brief history of Japan's historic center of Catholicism — The Holy City of Nagasaki. "On that day that will live in infamy, more Japanese Christians were slaughtered than had been martyred in four centuries of brutal persecution." Urakami Cathedral, the largest Christian church in Asia, was the siting target.



    Less than two years earlier, in a perhaps less dramatic but equally sinister bombing, Major Ellis B. Scripture, navigator with the American 95 Bomber Squadron, was "informed that our objective was the entrance to Münster cathedral" — A bishop under the moral bombs. The targeted cathedral was the seat of the cleric hailed by The New York Times in 1942 as "the most relentless opponent of Nazism," who publicly called Der Fürher an "immoral bastard," His Eminence Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Münster (1933-1946), known as the "Lion of Münster."



    Were these deliberate attacks on The Catholic Faith? The 32nd and 33rd presidents were both Freemasons after all, 32nd and 33rd degree respectively. Could the Lodge have been behind these anti-Catholic atrocities?

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    Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.