LETTERS

Your take on the Catholic Churchx92s child-abuse problem, including a priest and a parishioner.

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AL QAEDA TO LEBANON?

No wonder Rumsfeld is worried. And, once again, the Iranian connection is foremost.

CLASSIC INSULTS: Of course, you canx92t beat Shakespeare. Herex92s a classic from King Lear:

OSWALD What dost thou know me for?
KENT A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

Now tell us what you really think.

BIAS WATCH: Who on earth wrote the headline for this AP story from Atlanta?
Update: they changed it. The original headline was: “Bush gets mixed reception at black school.”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: x93No war ought ever to be undertaken but under circumstances which render all intercourse of courtesy between the combatants impossible. It is a bad thing that men should hate each other; but it is far worse that they should contract the habit of cutting one another’s throats without hatred. War is never lenient but where it is wanton; when men are compelled to fight in self-defence, they must hate and avenge: this may be bad; but it is human nature.x94 – Thomas B. Macaulay, “Milford’s History of Greece” 1824.

SULLY AND HITCH

Well, itx92s not exactly Starsky and Hutch, but Hitchens and I will be on C-SPANx92s Washington Journal tomorrow morning from 8 to 10am ET. God help me. I havenx92t got up that early since around 1987.

APOLOGIES: Ix92m sorry for the lurid blue of the site this afternoon. Following Murphyx92s law, I made a small formatting error, and then, before I could fix it, our server did something I donx92t understand and I had to wait several hours before it was fixed. Grrr. On a happier note, 20,000 people came to the site yesterday, and made 38,000 visits. Thanks.

BROOKS ON A ROLL

I knew David Brooks would like the State of the Union. In my opinion, he is wiping the floor with Joe Klein today in their riveting discussion about the war. Herex92s a beaut from the Slate dialogue:

x94Another nice thing about the State of the Union speech was the way it contradicted the pollsx97which indicated that Bush should focus on the economy. But if Bush wasn’t speaking softly and carrying a big stick, he was doing something more appropriate for the moment. He was behaving in a Churchillian manner. He was jolting the country out of a creeping illusion of normalcy. He was giving a blood, sweat, and tears booster shot. He was galvanizing the public because in times of conflict, national morale is the resource the nation must depend on. Actually, by the bloodthirsty standards of most war speeches, I thought his speech was restrained.x94

Amen, David. Amen.

SALON SPINS PUNDITGATE

Interesting piece by Eric Boehlert in Salon today, arguing that Ix92m tougher on Paul Krugman than I am on the other Enron pundits because I have an ideological ax to grind. Well, of course, hex92s right to some extent. I have long found Paul Krugman an insufferably pompous, shrill, Bush-bashing pseudo-populist and so it was particularly galling to see him neck-deep in corporate cash. But to say I let the others off is a little much. I exposed Bill Kristolx92s money. Despite the fact that I work for the same paper and share many of his views, I also laid out in full Irwin Stelzerx92s paper trail. Stelzer is also a close friend of Rupert Murdoch who owns the newspaper, the Sunday Times of London, that provides me with my largest source of income. I asked Peggy Noonan x96 facetiously – whether she had shredded her 1099s. The reason I was fair to Kudlow is because he was extremely forthcoming, honest and open about the whole thing x96 in extreme contrast to Krugmanx92s increasingly deranged spin. I helped pioneer the reporting of all this x96 and it has disproportionately affected the right. I confess to a little ideological schadenfreude with Krugman. But I donx92t think itx92s fair to say I gave everyone else a pass. How many other right-leaning pundits would finger four conservatives the way I did? I mean, I even beat Conason to the punch.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” x96 John Stuart Mill.

Ix92LL SAY: x93Our new report finds that relationship management must evolve x97 and quickly x97 if asset managers are to meet the demands of their high net worth clients.x94 x96 Arthur Andersenx92s home-page.

THE CHURCH AND CHILD-ABUSE: Itx92s not just Boston. Los Angelesx92 Cardinal Mahoney has also been implicated in covering up several huge child-abuse cases involving priests in the past few years. No one ever seems to get punished, even though some of these priests and bishops and cardinals seem to have known about this hideous pedophilia for years, and acquiesced in it. Herex92s a passage that haunts from a gripping piece by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times:

“x92After he molested me, he would bless me,x92 says the former altar boy, who was an adolescent at the time and now lives in Southern California, having struggled for years with alcohol, drugs, anger and shame. x91It’s very confusing. I was in the center of my mother’s life, the church, and she thought I was doing constructive things by being with the priest. After we did these things, he’d put his hand on my head and make the sign of the cross.x92 The former altar boy said he’d like to write a book, and I asked what exactly it would be about. x91I don’t know,x92 he said. x91About a happy go-lucky kid that met a priest and learned how to hate himself.x92x94

It seems to me that those of us in the Church have a real responsibility to ensure that these unspeakable crimes are not only exposed but punished with the full force of the law.

ITx92S WORSE IN BRITAIN: Enron Punditgate hasnx92t quite hit Britain on the pundit level. (By the way, any bets on whether the New York Times will ever report on this story?) But in some ways, itx92s worse in Blighty. The man in charge of the actual Press Complaints Commission x96 the national press ombudsmen in Britain x96 has been an Enron director for eight years on a $125,000 annual salary. So even the referee has been bought and paid for over there.

x94TREMBLING BEFORE G-Dx94: I went to see this intense documentary tonight about gay orthodox Jews. I hope it gets wide audiences. In subtle but beautiful ways, it revealed the tenacity of so many gay Orthodox to love their faith and to love themselves. Of course, it resonated with me. The courageous way in which these people endure such pain, such rejection from their families, such unwitting cruelty even from many of the religious people who are trying to understand, is, to me, an inspiration. I understand the reason that some simply feel obliged to choose between God and their inner being and simply leave their faith tradition. But I admire those who refuse to buckle under to this dichotomy, who stay with their faith x96 and not in some watered-down way, but in a real, living, devoted, passionate way. You can see too – tragically – how these brave souls are not only isolated from their traditional community but also then have to endure hostility, contempt or just indifference from the gay community they try and join. It can be a deeply isolating experience, especially when they believe they are trying to help others, to build bridges, to reform dogmas – and yet some of their own gay brothers and sisters see them as the enemy, a representative of beliefs that have oppressed every homosexual of whatever religion. Some of this hostility, born of pain, is understandable. But it skewers the souls of gay, religious people as much as anyone. The gay movement has come a long, long way toward greater respect for religious people and their faith, but there is still some way to go.

A SAVING REMNANT: This film dramatically shows the experience of living in many worlds, many emotions, at once, and the tenacity it takes to elide or deny none of them. And as I witnessed the joy of these gay Orthodox people and their love of God and then the pain that their world still inflicts upon them, I remembered again those things that I have almost left behind, but can never forget. When you watch a grown woman sob on her partnerx92s shoulder because her father still cannot treat her fully as his daughter, you remember the reality that still exists out there. You realize again the pain and despair that many young and old gay people are feeling even today, caught between a faith they believe in and a x91holyx92 life they cannot humanly lead, however hard they try. It rips me up, knowing that this is happening now x96 again and again x96 to children torn from their families, and to adults removed by their fear and shame from their deepest emotional selves. That is why patience with the pace of acceptance of homosexuality is so hard – because the pain is still so deep and so wide. And the questions and sorrow and self-doubt and lack of self-esteem never fully go away. Each time you encounter yet another condemnation of homosexuality, yet another casual insult to your very emotional integrity, the wounds open again, until you learn to live with them as open wounds, never fully healing, always susceptible to new damage and pain, but manageable like an affliction that can always be hidden but that never goes away. You can be healthy but never completely healed, and you learn somehow to live that way.

TRANSCENDING THE CONTRADICTIONS: How to love onex92s faith when it rejects you? That, I believe, is when God comes in and somehow makes it inevitable, when He lifts you up and helps you see things that you didnx92t understand before and gives you the task of trying to bear witness to that in your life and your work. That is what this documentary did. It showed how deeply the rejected can still love their faith, how their stigmatization can even intensify that faith, how, paradoxically, they may know God more fully and intensely because of this than many others. This film revealed these dogged people of faith as a saving remnant of our world. It was, if you will pardon the expression, a mitzvah.

RESIGN, CARDINAL LAW

My friend Mike Kelly gets it exactly right in the Washington Post today. The archdiocese of Boston has essentially been protecting child-abusers for years among its clergy. Even now, Cardinal Law uses Clintonian wriggling to avoid full repentance and responsibility. Itx92s outrageous that Church-protected child-abuse has been allowed to go on for so long. Catholic friends of mine tell me they find it hard to go to Mass any more out of shame and anger. The only way out is new leadership at the top. Anything else will seem to perpetuate the cover-up and continue to undermine the Churchx92s urgent pastoral and spiritual responsibilities.

LEDEEN GETS IT: x93This may have been the first time in American history that an intense internal debate over foreign policy was settled in a State of the Union speech. For many months now, the administration has been divided between those who believed we could make a deal with the Iranian regime, and those who insisted that we had to fight the mullahs. That dispute was settled tonight, when the president correctly and forcefully denounced the unelected rulers of Iran who ignore the desires of the Iranian people for freedom. And as between those who have been arguing for a “go slow” approach to Iraq and those who have been insisting that we cannot wait because time then works in favor of our enemies, the president eloquently rejected the go-slowers. And while he was at it (you just gotta love this guy, he really goes for it), he delivered a few zingers to our “timid” allies. I trust the French translation will be accurate.x94 x96 Michael Ledeen, National Review Online.

THE REASON FOR 84 PERCENT APPROVAL: Just read this Balz/Woodward account of Bushx92s biggest week. It blew me away.