Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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Preliminary reaction to President Bush's State of the Union:
I'm with you all the way on the war with Iraq. Send in the bombers.

I understand Bush's constant alternation between themes of international aid and themes of the war against terror are designed to underscore how the U.S. works for both development and self-defense in the realm of international affairs.

But $15 BILLION for AIDS treatment and prevention in AFRICA? Are you on CRACK? $15,000,000 sure. $150,000,000 you're pushing it. But $15,000,000,000? On a disease that can be stopped with two words: "Stop screwing!"? CRACK, I say. Surely the homosexual and profligate lobby isn't THAT important that we have to appease their opposition to the war with such a massive waste of cash?

NOTE: Bush said he didn't care what the UN ultimately decided no less than three times. Hurry for Texan presidents. That pretty much makes up for the aforementioned lapse into complete insanity.

(On Bush's remark: "Saddam Hussein has demonstrated patent disregard for the United Nations..." Zorak commented spontaneously: "Like you just did..." lol)

Also note Bush is clearly is making up for the complete dearth of God-language in the previous administration. I'm still blown away at every mention of God, faith, and Providence, despite 5 or 6 key phrases like this in the speech...

That's it. Oligarch is tired. Going to bed.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/29/2003 01:12:00 AM | link

I'm sorry I haven't blogged this week. I've been working my kiester off: three classes to prep for, and writing an article for the Pythagorean brotherhood's big reunion. Thank God for mountain dew, tea, whiskey and nicotine.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/29/2003 12:59:00 AM | link

Went to the March for Life today. Mark Shea got this right:

It was very cold out there. I thought there were fewer people this year than last, but Nellie Gray said there were more.

I saw the post-March highlights later that night on CSPAN. Scanning the crowd, the camera came to rest on one sign that said: "John Paul II: Send a REAL bishop to the Arlington Archdiocese!" Clearly several camps of dissatisfacton still persist concerning Loverde's attitude toward Eucharistic reception and the Father James Haley case.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/22/2003 10:31:00 PM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/17/2003 12:02:00 PM | link

Would that more bishops would join in the practice of sending encyclical letters to their flock like this one! It seems the March for Life has motivated the American Bishops to add January 22nd to the liturgical calendar (see below, in bold).

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

As slavery was the great moral and ethical crisis of American History, in our own times, the worst moral blindness finds its expression in abortion. There is a sadness in my own heart that wells up each time I recall the tragic mistake of our Supreme Court in the decision of Roe vs. Wade that opened the flood gates of abortion. This egregious betrayal is akin to the Dred Scott decision in the radical way that the court devalued human life and excluded innocent human beings from the protection of the law. After three decades and millions of abortions, the danger of complacency is great.

Every Catholic must work to promote the Gospel of Life in all its facets; not to do so is to fail in our mission to make this a better world where people take care of each other and make sacrifices for the most weak and vulnerable. Our obligation to protect and nurture human life does not end when the baby is born; but the other works of mercy and social entitlements are meaningless to the baby girl who has died a victim of partial birth abortion. As a society, the first thing we can do for a child is to respect the inalienable right to life that comes to us from God and is enshrined in the foundational documents of our nation.

This year, as I have done for the last 30 years, I shall go to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and there with young people, priests and faithful veterans of the cause of life, we will pray for the end to abortion in our country and in the world. I am so proud of the fact that each year we are joined by thousands of young people who pray with us at Mary's Shrine and then walk in the March for Life. Their faith and idealism fill me with hope. They are there despite the hostility of so many advocates for abortion who want to ridicule our cause and dismiss us as "social conservatives." But the cause of life cannot be dismissed. Life is precious and the defense of life is both a privilege and a duty.

We pray for just laws that will protect human life, but we must work to change human hearts to make room at the table of life for all our brothers and sisters. A huge challenge is to change people's attitude towards adoption. We are confronted with the strange logic that somehow it is better to kill a child rather than entrust a child to a loving family. Thousands of childless couples are longing to give a home to an unwanted baby. In our Church we must celebrate adoption and support birthmothers and adoptive parents who want to give life a chance. We must build a society where every baby is wanted.

The kinds of changes we strive for demand spiritual renewal and prayer. It is in prayer that we will experience God's power and love. In prayer we shall learn compassion for the unborn child, for the mother and even for the abortionist who tramples the noble vows of the Hippocratic Oath.

We must not allow our rightful indignation over the crime of abortion to diminish our love and concern for those involved in these horrendous situations. Recall how Dorothy Day, whose cause has been presented for sainthood, in her youth opted to have an abortion after her lover abandoned her. Likewise, Dr. Nathanson the champion of NARAL and personally responsible for thousands of abortions has become Catholic and a staunch defender of human life. God's grace can turn people's lives around; we must never cease to proclaim this consoling truth.

As a community of faith we need to reach out to women who have had the misfortune to have aborted their child. We must try to help them to recover spiritually and psychologically from the violence that abortion causes women. We are grateful for Project Rachel, which has been a powerful instrument of healing for the families of aborted children.

This year by a vote of the United States Bishops' Conference and confirmation by the Holy See, it is a particular law of the Church for Catholics of the United States that January 22nd will be observed as a day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person through abortion and as a day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

The liturgical calendar (Ordo) states that the Mass for Peace and Justice should be celebrated with purple vestments. It is also a day when we are all asked to fast and pray and to make sacrifices as we do during Lent. I would certainly encourage people to try to attend Mass on that day and to pray the rosary.

Even as we pray for changes in our laws and in the hearts of our fellow citizens, we must redouble our efforts to work for a more just and caring society where women will be less prone to abort their babies. We need to get the word out that our faith community stands ready to help every woman in a difficult pregnancy.

The Catholic community must stand ready to help those families that are suffering economic insecurity and are most vulnerable to "facile solutions" promised by a culture of death. We must also do a better job of preparing our young people for a vocation of marriage and parenthood.

Let me say a word of thanks to our brothers and sisters who are already working tirelessly to make the world safe for unborn children and to those who are helping women contemplating an abortion or who have already had an abortion.

We must embrace the Gospel of Life not in a spirit of self righteousness but with humility and compassion and also with a sense of fulfilling the mission that Christ has entrusted to His disciples. Christ has not sent us to judge or condemn people but to invite them to conversion and to life. Our quest for respect for life is not a political issue, it is a moral imperative. Life is precious at all stages, and we must be prepared to defend life through all the stages of life whenever it is threatened.

I pledge my prayers for all of you but especially for our young people that you will all be apostles for the Gospel of Life and that together we may make ours a better world; a world where human life is deemed precious and where we bear one another's burdens with compassion.

Devotedly in Christ,
Most Reverend Sean P. O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap.
Bishop of Palm Beach

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/16/2003 01:55:00 PM | link

Nice to see this old post nets me #10 on Google for "Tirolean Spa," which generated a hit today.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/16/2003 11:33:00 AM | link

Metaphysics beats Phenomenology 2-to-1, say experts.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/16/2003 11:18:00 AM | link

Greetings to the Google searcher looking for: "Men, midlife crisis, how to help." See above.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/15/2003 03:15:00 PM | link

"Plato, who, in the crisis of the first wave of Greek enlightenment, engaged in a struggle with its destructive forces precisely by adapting what was necessary in it, has described with great accuracy, especially in the Gorgias, the various exponents of the Enlightenment. First, he presents Gorgias himself, the literary connoisseur, successful and firmly established in his bourgeois respectability -- but without foundation, and in the last analysis, a nihilist. His assistant, Polos, is more radical by a generation; he abandons which is left of those customs that were once supportive but have become irrational and thus pitilessly reveals what they formerly concealed -- the fundamental illogic of such thinking. The third figure on this scene is Callicles, the political pragmatist, for whom the question of truth and the realization of goals are two completely different things: 'The search for truth is an obstacle to him who wants to accomplish something practical.' Enlighenment in this sense is illogical reason, for which only the knowable is valid and which, therefore, loses itself more and more in the makable. Culture is equated with the extent of one's knowledge; only the empirical has value. But this means ruin for man.

"For the Christian, the learned person is not the one who knows and can do, but the one who has become most and most purely man. But one can neither become nor be that without letting oneself be touched by him who is the ground and measure of man and all being. That is why a very simple person who bears within himself a sense of values and, thus, a sensitivity toward others, toward what is right and beautiful and true, is immeasurably more learned than the most experienced technocrat with his computer brain. Augustine experienced this in the case of his mother: while, he with his friends, all of whom came from the academic world, stuggled helplessly with the basic problems of humanity, he was struck again and again by the interior certainty of this simple woman. With astonishment and emotion, he wrote of her: 'She stands at the pinnacle of philosophy.'

"Consequently Catholic educational activity will never equate the learning of a people with the number of its academicians; will never equate diploma with learning, will never make enlightenment its only goal; but will always press for those accompanying factors without which the increase of learning becomes, at the same time, the destruction of culture.

"From this it is evident that the equality anchored in the doctrine of the creation cannot mean uniformity -- for which reason, the notion that the equality of man must find expression in, for instance, nondifferentiated schools must seem questionable to the Christian, who on the contrary, will be moved to defend the plurality of educational models. Christian faith, which acts on the conviction that every human being has a particular vocation, will be more inclined to point to the equality of the various models and recognize, in the symphony of the many vocations, the unity and equal value of all.

"On the other hand, a society and a humanity will not long endure in which persons in service careers -- in hosptials, for instance -- no longer find meaning in their service [because it is not intellectual], and universal irritation, mutual suspicion, destroy life in common. God's revelation was to the simple -- not out of resentment against the great, as Nietzsche would have it -- but because they possess that precious naivete that is open to truth and not subject to the temptations of nihilism. This should be the foundation of the great respect the Christian should feel to those who are simple of heart. Christian education must be many-leveled, differentiated, but nevertheless one in the fact that it is an education for reverence, for the overcoming of prejudice and the search for true equality in the midst of diversity. That is how it serves peace; that is how it serves humanity. That is how it is truly conformable to the faith.

-- J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 340-342.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/14/2003 10:30:00 PM | link

JB of Kairos Blog writes:

I will not have guns in the house, but the lad will go shooting with his grampy and me at least a few times. He *will* learn firearms safety, so all the morons who don't teach it to their kids but leave loaded guns around (happened to me when I was a kid) won't have to deal with my kid accidentally shooting their kid.

Ayoob makes the same point in The Gravest Extreme, and I think it is well worth iterating: Teach your kids about firearms when they are old enough to be by themselves with others. Knowing how to safely decock and / or unload a gun can save a life, and prevent untrained children from causing others serious harm with the gun. Of course, calling an adult to report an unattended, loaded firearm is the next step, just like calling the fire department comes after running out of the house.

The Germans lost at least as much because the Russians killed so many of them as anything else. I'm not saying we couldn't have won without them, but it would have been very, very much uglier for US troops if the Roooskies hadn't softened them up quite a bit.

Good point. You're right. If Russia hadn't sapped much of Germany's strength, even if we brought the entire force of the Pacific Theater to bear upon Europe after conquering Japan, it would still have been quite a mess. It is complicated and somewhat pointless to engage in counterfactual historical speculation, but I still think the Allies could have done it.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/14/2003 09:50:00 PM | link

Pushin' Guns Again
Eve and I shot pistols last Thursday and had a nice time. She shot a Glock 19 (9mm) while I shot the Glock 22 (.40 cal) since the mid-size Glock 23 was out of service. I like to bring newbies to the range for the very reason Eve notes in her post: to show the utter irrationality of liberal pistolphobia. Once a person has handled a gun for a while, he becomes much more reasonable in his approach to handgun laws.

The anecdote Eve refers to, from Jane Galt's site, makes a good point: Good character formation is the irreplaceable foundation for gun safety. Respect for paternal authority and early familiarity with guns are essential to eliminating adolescent irresponsibility with firearms. Those households without strong parental guidance should keep all guns meticulously under lock and key or avoid having them in the house all together. I will add a converse point: Households with overprotective parents should do likewise, since the suppressed adolescent drive for self-determination and the fascinating power of firearms can make a deadly combination.

I was going to add a rousing personal story from my high school days illustrating this, but blogger burped, and lost my earlier post, so that will come later.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 09:14:00 PM | link

My custom-made bumpersticker.
E-mail me if you want one. Cost: $5.

(Those that know me in real life: Payment by any means, including PayPal.
Those that don't: Money order or Pocketpass)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 03:26:00 PM | link

Food as Political Statement

Fr. Jim displays the gift of discernment of spirits when he writes:

After I stopped laughing, you came immediately to mind. You weren't one of the burger flippers, were you?


Iraqi barbeque

"Members of Pomona College's Conservative Union dished up a rebuttal this month to what they called the 'dirty hippies' who were fasting as part of a 56-hour anti-war protest. While the ascetics questioned American foreign policy, the conservatives asked only one thing: War, what is it good with?

"Potato salad, for one. And 'all-American beverages' like Coronas and Heinekens, according to union members. Those were just some of the vittles [sc. victuals -- O.O.] available, along with hot dogs and 'warburgers' at a Barbeque for a Free Iraq held as a counterprotest and 'parody' of the fast .

"The event was not explicitly pro-war, according to a campus-wide e-mail announcement, but just a chance for 'people who think ousting Saddam is a good idea' to meet.

"Anti-war protesters, in the waning hours of their fast, did show up at the barbeque. They came not to eat, but to draw peace signs on the American flags that were being distributed."

—Richard Morgan in "What's Eating Them" in the Nov. 29 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

I have to admit, I like the idea. I've only been involved in two food-centered protests, one of which is worth blogging. (Warning: What follows is gross.)


When Randall Terry came to the Yale Political Union, a number of us conservatives expected a fight and were used to matching sensationalist liberal rhetoric with even better, more sensationalist liberal rhetoric. (We preferred Socratic dialogue, but at such a frenzied clash of opinions, discussion was impossible.) A friend devised the following satire along the lines of Jon Swift's "A Modest Proposal": If pro-choicers deny that a fetus is a human being, then it must simply be animal meat, since it's clearly not vegetable or mineral. And if it's animal meat, there's nothing wrong with eating it. Given that liberals unilaterally support a "woman's right to choose" and feeding the poor, why not combine the two?

Thus, abort-a-burgers was devised. Kinkos (reluctantly) made up a large 4 foot by 2 foot poster, depicting a two-storey building. At the top, abortions were being performed. The detrius was thrown down a chute, into a meat grinder, and onto a patty-making machine, which deposited the patties onto a grill. The bottom storey was a MacDonald's-like restaurant, where the poor could receive a free meal. I should also add we'd recently seen the movie Soylent Green. ( and !).

My friend's fiancee, dressed in a conservative little outfit with apron and serving tray (to heighten the irony), offered small meatballs she'd cooked to those entering Battell Chapel to protest Randall's Terry's oration. "Won't you try an abort-a-burger? They're delicious. They support a woman's right to choose, and they help feed the poor!"

I know this is really, really gross. And callous. Terry actually disliked it. We did not know of the (possibly legendary) Chinese delicacies based on human fetuses and placentas, or else we would have certainly included it as part of an outreach to multiculturalism. Yes, we were being obnoxious that day. (I should add that this was before I learned the virtues of tact, empathy and discretion in approaching an opponent.) And that little stunt was only one bolt in a quiver of rhetorical gambits designed to provoke reconsideration of the claim that "fetal material" was not human. So if it's not human, it's not cannabalism, and therefore not disgusting. The shortcoming of the argument, of course, rests on the fact that one can argue that fetal material is genetically human but not a complete human being; rather, it is merely a "growth" and thus still cannabalism. But anyone who argues that a fetus is equivalent to a wart is wacked in the head. I don't know many warts that turn into scientists, composers and politicians after 20 years of care and development. (Well, maybe a few have turned into politicians.)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 02:32:00 PM | link

Just when you think all-Japanese spam is bad, I get an e-mail that says "Collaboration offer" then a page of this:
خدمة مميزة لم يسبق لها مثيل' (Your browser may not be able to render the Arabic characters.) It is apparently for a travel-related promotion. Yeah, I'm likely to try anonymously-sponsored Islamic travel any time soon: "See the world's greatest buildings. Return trip free."

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 02:26:00 PM | link

A casual observation that Sept 11th is still with us on a visceral level. Rounding New Rochelle on the Amtrak, I began to scan the familiar illuminated night-time skyline of Manhattan for the gaping hole where the World Trade Center once stood. After looking at it for a few minutes, and musing about what a fuel-air explosive would look like over Baghdad, I notice the guy across from me has abandoned his laptop and is doing the same thing. I look down the rest of the business class car, and about half the people I can see are peering out the window, in the same general direction, which they did not do for the skylines of other equally compelling vistas like Philly or Wilmington.

(rant on)
When will we get over the diplomatic charade of "UN weapons inspections" and just blow the hell out of Hussein? NPR (yes, I do listen to it on occasion) had a wonderful dialogue between two commentators, one of whom summed up the inanity of the inspections as follows: "You've got a country the size of California being inspected by a task force the size of a small county police division (88 men), and the Iraqis know we're coming, and the stuff is easily moved."

You might counter that there are "diplomatic advantages" to the facade of inspections. But this only begs the question of why there is a "diplomatic advantage" attached to an action that is inherently inane. What moron thinks that these inspectors are going to find anything unless (a) a massive amount of dumb luck helps them, or (b) the Iraqis really screw up (Abdullah! You're trailing anthrax spores all over the place! Can't you see your 80 lb sack has a hole in it?) or (c) they want us to find something. OK, I am not going to rant about that any more. I'll add one thing that's been stewing for a while:

From a military perspective, who the hell cares if we have an "international coalition"? I can see there might be long-term political advantages to acting in solidarity with some allies, although that sets up a dangerous precedent of having to convince unappreciative jackass arms-whore nations like France that we are worthy to fly over their airspace, etc. What I am absolutely sick of, however, is the constant flustering of the liberal media about whether "we will be able to do the task," especially "by ourselves." Excuse me!? When was the last time we ever fought a war and said, "Whew! That was a close one. Thank GOD the Canadians (or Greeks, or English, or French, or Germans) were there to help out." Maybe in the late 18th century. Maybe.

All the hand-wringing that preceeded the Persian Gulf War was at least partially understandable given our nation's long-standing anxiety about fighting any distant conflict after Vietnam. But a large portion of negative media anticipation of the war was little more than an intentional attempt to demoralize the public about fighting a war the liberal media did not support. Regardless of why they disagreed with the ethics of the Persian Gulf War, it is fundamentally immoral to try to sway public opinion about the ethicality of the war by saying we can't win it when clearly we can, and did. That's the typical liberal response: Duplicitous manipulation of the public's emotions using language as a subterfuge. The proper counter-response is logic, morality and a smack. Consciously undermining the morale of the US Armed Forces based on false information should be treated as two steps removed from the way we treat deserters.

Yet the same tactic is still being used today, after we defeated "the fourth largest army in the world" with amazingly low casualties on our side in a lightning-fast conflict. The only point that should be made after a liberal worries about whether the army is too small is: "So why did Clinton reduce it?"
(rant off)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 02:10:00 PM | link

The Old Oligarch recently made a really hectic trip to CT and back in just 36 hours. So my brain is scrambled. Of course, I will present you with the fruits of that scrambling:

Need a catchy promotional image and moniker for your Catholic institution's underground Ratzinger-appreciation society? How about the Jacquard Rats? (J. Card. Ratz.)

You could use pictures of rats in Jacquard sweaters doing neat things, like this:

Or this one, which I know depicts mice, but recalls the lace mozzetta of cardinals:

The Rat herself ought to festoon her page with rat-artwork, and the rat haikus from the aforelinked pages. She could also have an appreciation of Cardinal Ratzinger section on her blog, but I doubt it.

Don't forget to read The Ratzinger Fan Club website (and the newly inaugurated Avery Cardinal Dulles website), and get your Ratzinger Coffee Mug or Beer Stein at the store.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/13/2003 12:29:00 PM | link

I am a Fieldmarshal (ENTJ). (No comparisons to Rommel please.) More here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/08/2003 12:29:00 PM | link

Cool Tool: BlogTree, a site devoted to tracing the "genealogy" of weblogs. See your blog "siblings" and "cousins." Readers of Eve Tushnet and Amy Wellborn should sign up to assist everyone in finding their relatives in the blogosphere. Click below for my "pedigree," which is quite meager so far:

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/08/2003 09:00:00 AM | link

It's a new year, so I polished up the template. I've tried to add a number of links to those whose presence I should have long ago recognized. If you want a reciprocal link, and haven't gotten one yet, e-mail me.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 1/08/2003 08:56:00 AM | link


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