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Re: Pulpit Protest


OK, we seem to be getting a fast-growing consensus that a church service is not an appropriate place for a protest, even a silent one. What, then? Ideas? (Just to be clear, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a church in which the pastor was pounding the pulpit backing the war to the hilt, either, and making those who are in good conscience opposed to it feel like they’re morally worthless. Praying for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and for protection and divine guidance for our leaders, seems to me to be the appropriate stance.)

Peace Is Flowing Outside Iraqi Mosques



Praying For The Boys At War


I think Rod hits on something that involves more than churches. Americans don’t, still, act like we are at war. In fact, we talk about the Iraq war, as if we haven’t been at war since Sept. 11. Iraq’s a battle in a larger war, albeit a key one. And, yeah, we have soldiers on duty and at work this very minute, as we have had for quite awhile now. Just now are we getting back to the “God Bless America”s and flagwaving we saw so much of immediately post-Sept. 11. I think the forgetting to pray for the armed forces and our leaders, etc. is just another symptom of that.

Web Briefing: January 24, 2015

Standing Up...


Call me a coward, but I would not stand up and turn my back because a lector or priest lead a pray that “our leaders to learn to wage peace, not war.” I sent out very few Christmas cards this year, most of those I did send out read “Peace on Earth.” I was not implicitly trashing the president or our armed forces. I wouldn’t be embarrassed, Rod, that you didn’t blurt something out or walk out that Sunday, after all, that’s not the whole point of the Mass anyway–it’s not a townhall meeting. But readers who encounter similar situations might say something after Mass/services, and perhaps they’ll hear an addendum the following week. I’m not convinced A.N.S.E.R. is the average U.S parish. I think whoever put together the petitions probably just didn’t think of it.


Peace and The Pulpit


I’ve gotten lots of e-mail from my piece of last Friday, re: the peacenik pastors and bishops. First, a big shout-out to the Mormons, a number of whom wrote to say, “Hey, we support the president, and there are lots of us!” Second, I’ve noticed that there are many people, Catholic and Protestant, writing to say they’ve absolutely had it with the constant peace sermons in their churches, sermons that don’t even acknowledge that sometimes, force is the only way to deal with evil. They’ve had it with Bush-bashing from pastors. They’ve really had it with the refusal to pray for the president and our troops during this time of war, except to petition God to make them choose peace, no matter what.

I have an idea. It comes from my own embarrassment over sitting there in the pews a couple of weeks ago and not speaking up. I was at St. Agnes parish, a fairly conservative church in Manhattan, when the pastor recited the antiphonal “prayers of the people” during that part of the mass. His only mention of the war was to ask God to cause “our leaders to learn to wage peace, not war.” Everybody said, unthinkingly, “Lord, hear our prayer.” I wish I had blurted out, when the pastor finished his litany, “Lord, guide and protect our president and our soldiers during this time of crisis.” I bet nearly everybody in the pews would have agreed with me. But you know how we Catholics are, always sitting there in silence, never openly objecting to anything our pastors say.

I’m embarrassed by my silence of that night. From now on, why don’t we insist that prayers for the protection and guidance of the president and our military be allowed into our church services? What could possibly be objectionable about that, even to anti-war churchgoers? And when pastors start unfairly trashing the president and the country, explicitly or implicitly, stand up silently and turn your back to them. Or protest in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Just don’t be silent out of fear of disapproval. You might be surprised by how many of your fellow churchgoers agree with you, but are afraid to say anything about it.

The Unreadable Walker Percy


OK, I’ll cop to what amounts to heresy in my circles, but I have never been able to get past the first hundred pages of any Walker Percy novel. I like Percy’s sensibility, and really enjoy his nonfiction. But his fiction leaves me cold.



I was on C-SPAN the other day and got assailed by a poor woman who maintains that vaccines cause autism. I disagreed, and have been getting a steady diet of e-mails about this. Does anyone know—is there an organized group of parents of children with autism, and where does the paranoia about the federal government and vaccines come from? I sympathize with these parents, but it seems someone is playing on their grief and fear in a very unhealthy way…

That Guardian…


…piece also complains about NR’s latest cover. Here’s an image for those who haven’t seen it.

Dems Non-Filibuster Filibuster Estrada


Just minutes ago, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle announced that
Democrats will not allow a vote on the appeals court nomination of Miguel
Estrada. Daschle told reporters that Estrada has not given the Senate
enough information about his legal views to merit a vote. “The issue is our
view that every nominee has an obligation to be forthcoming with information
about his positions, with information about his record,” Daschle said. “If
we get the information, we will let every senator make his or her decision.”
If not, Daschle said, “We will continue to debate this issue.”

Republicans are pledging to stand firmly behind Estrada, and they vow to
debate the nomination for as long as it takes to win. A short time ago,
Majority Leader Bill Frist said, “We’re willing to stay today, tomorrow,
tomorrow night, the next day, the next night, possibly Saturday, possibly
into the recess.” Frist told reporters, “I don’t want to be in a position
that the other side of the aisle says, ‘You didn’t give fair and adequate
time for discussion.’” But he added that a filibuster of Estrada would have
“dramatic political fallout” for Democrats.

Despite all the talk, it is still not clear whether Democrats plan to
launch a formal filibuster. But there is no doubt that they plan to block
the nomination for as long as possible while Daschle tries to gather the 41
votes required to uphold a filibuster. And so far, as Frist’s comments
indicate, Republicans have not yet decided to press the issue.

Stop The War On Pot


Well, the anti-pot warriors have now really gone too far—they busted the “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell” guy and threatened him with jail time. Fortunately, the judge has dismissed the case. But this may not be good for “Steven’s” Dell career. I hope drug czar John Walters is proud (he apparently stays awake at night worrying that young actors in New York City might be smoking pot). On the other hand, Steven was being phased out of the Dell ads anyway. But those ads have maintained their compulsive watchability. I can’t remember a time in the last year when I haven’t stopped to watch a Dell ad all the way through, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

Memo to Suits


Liechtenstein is for rent. Can we buy? Advantages: NRO stronghold in Europe. Another “nation” for the Iraq war. Stamps with Cosmo. Monkeys willing to pay really high rent to be near the Goldbergs. I’ll work 365 days but will look out the window and think I am on vacation.



Here’s my latest Saudi take. Not much new, except to note that the Saudis buy the Paul Wolfowitz view of the Iraq war—it will change the Middle East, which is exactly why they’d prefer that it didn’t happen.



The tiny principality of Liechtenstein is putting itself up for rent in a bid to attract corporate conferences and bolster its tourism industry, a local official said on Friday.

The new “Rent a State” scheme lets corporate clients symbolically take over the tiny country of just 33,000 residents tucked away among the Alps between Switzerland and Austria.

Make Them Veto


One theory of French thinking holds that they are being such a pain because they want us to stomp off and attack Iraq without going to the Security Council, thus relieving them of making the difficult choice between us and Germany. We should make them choose. Also, those of us who said a long time ago—in opposition to the Chuck Hagels of the world–that going back to the U.N. would only kick-the-can-down-the-road over disagreements about the war have been proven right with a vengeance. In retrospect, the best policy would have been to attack as soon as possible. The delay has only increased tensions with skeptical allies and allowed the global anti-war movement time to build. Most of those countries who were going to with us probably would have been with us anyway. And right now the France-German Europeans would probably be complaining about the U.S. not doing enough to re-build Iraq, rather than busying themselves with tearing up the Western alliance.

Contain This


Morton Halperin makes an unconvincing case for containment of Iraq in the Washington Post today. A couple of points:

1) He argues that Saddam would never use WMD against us because he can be deterred. True (more or less). But he can also deter us, which Halperin implicitly acknowledges by suggesting that Saddam might use WMD if we attack him and that this precisely is a reason not to attack him. Textbook deterrence at work. If Saddam can use his existing attenuated WMD capability to prevent us from attacking him after a decade of defiance, he obviously could use a beefed up WMD capability to deter us from attacking him in other, more dire circumstance—say, if he invades Kuwait again. It is against this possibility that we must guard.

2) Halperin argues we can keep Saddam from getting more WMD with inspections and tighter sanctions. But inspections are a function of the seriousness of the military threat against Saddam. If we back off now, that threat evaporates and eventually inspectors do too (see the 1990s). As for sanctions, Halperin is out of touch with reality. France and Russia picked apart the sanctions regime in the 1990s, and will do so again as long as they know Saddam is staying in power, because he will have oil contracts and other business to dole out (Ken Pollack’s book is especially good on this point).

3) Halperin doesn’t make this argument, but many other opponents of war do, and it’s related to his deterrence point—Saddam would never give WMD to terrorists because he would be found out and we would make a devastating response. But links to terrorism are too murky for such cut-and-dry statements. Iraq may have had a role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack—we’ll probably never know. After 9/11, we suffered an anthrax attack—we still don’t know who was behind it and probably never will. Also, why would Saddam be so sure we’d make a devastating response? If we won’t follow through and attack him now, Saddam—and every other terrorist and rogue around the world—would have understandable doubts about our ability to follow through on anything.



The Guardian is still in the wrong: Jonah’s long been an advocate of giving full credit to Groundskeeper Willie for “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.



…someone must have been listening to Ramesh.



At last! Poppa Goldberg (junior) is mentioned by name..

Cricket and Courage


Today’s London Times is reporting this tale of courage. In the US this story probably won’t receive as much publicity as it should. It revolves around a sport (cricket) that relatively few Americans play and a country (Zimbabwe) that, even now, too few people care about. Read the story and salute two brave men – Henry Olonga and Andrew Flower.

Families of Suicide Bombers Rewarded With Saudi Royal Treatment


From the Arab News: “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd is hosting a large number of pilgrims from different parts of the world, including 1,000 relatives of Palestinian martyrs, to perform Haj this year.”

Palestinian Ambassador Mustafa Deeb said King Fahd had ordered special Saudi Arabian Airlines flights to carry the Palestinian pilgrims from the airports in Amman, Areesh and Cairo to Jeddah.

Ambassador Deeb thanked King Fahd on behalf of President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for the noble gesture.


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