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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Topic: Equal Time

From the Other Side: Different Perspectives on Karl Rove, Harry Potter and Tom Cruise

From the Other Side: Karl Rove is an American Hero - and a Congressman Calls for Shooting Members of the Press

The lead editorial from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 has this to say, to set us all straight -
Democrats and most of the Beltway press corps are baying for Karl Rove's head over his role in exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. On the contrary, we'd say the White House political guru deserves a prize - perhaps the next iteration of the "Truth-Telling" award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr. Wilson before the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed him as a fraud.

For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove.

… Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission.

… if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know.

If there's any scandal at all here, it is that this entire episode has been allowed to waste so much government time and media attention, not to mention inspire a "special counsel" probe. The Bush Administration is also guilty on this count, since it went along with the appointment of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in an election year in order to punt the issue down the road. But now Mr. Fitzgerald has become an unguided missile, holding reporters in contempt for not disclosing their sources even as it becomes clearer all the time that no underlying crime was at issue.

As for the press corps, rather than calling for Mr. Rove to be fired, they ought to be grateful to him for telling the truth.
As mentioned before, over at Fox News Josh Gibson agrees:
I say give Karl Rove a medal, even if Bush has to fire him. Why? Because Valerie Plame should have been outed by somebody. And if nobody else had the cojones to do it, I'm glad Rove did - if he did do it, and he still says he didn't.
And conflicted, gay, conservative, Republican-but-unhappy Andrew Sullivan is now just snide:
For the partisan right, outing CIA operatives in wartime is the patriotic thing to do. There's only one real option worthy of Bush: give Rove the Medal of Freedom.
Well, George Tenet, after admitting he and his folks got everything all wrong, got one. Why not?

Congressman Peter King, a Republican from New York, is suggesting something a bit more proactive - someone on the right side should find a way to shoot and kill selected reporters and commentators. His call for some loyalist(s) on the right to do this came on MSNBC on the Joe Scarborough Show with this:
And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove. Listen, maybe Karl Rove was not perfect. We live in an imperfect world. And I give him credit for having the guts.
This got a bit of attention (see Editor and Publisher here) as it's not every day a sitting US congressman exhorts his folks – the supporters of the president - to take up arms and shoot members of the press. (Tim Russert? The guy is irritating, yes, but hardly worth the effort.) Should roving bands of Bush supporters start shooting reporters and such King will no doubt say his comments were just hyperbola, words said in anger and he didn't expect anyone to take him literally. But one doubts he'd feel sorry.

Folks like Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly might consider the cost to his safety if he persists in saying things like this -
When you cut through the crap, this case is simple: a couple of political officials in the Bush White House decided to deliberately and systematically release the name of a covert CIA operative to the press solely in order to score some minor debating points against her husband, a man who had recently embarrassed them in the pages of the New York Times. The rest is just fluff. Either you're outraged by such a casual attitude toward national security or you aren't.
Drum has a death wish?


From the Other Side: The New Harry Potter Book is Evil

This: "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the latest installment of the wizard's adventures is set to hit the markets at 00:01 am on July 16. The publisher of the series, Bloomsbury, has promised an unparalleled media campaign to promote the book. The mammoth 672-page tale has already received one million advance orders. …"

And Reuters reports this:
Pope Benedict believes the Harry Potter books subtly seduce young readers and "distort Christianity in the soul" before it can develop properly, according to comments attributed to him by a German writer.

Gabriele Kuby, who has written a book called "Harry Potter - Good or Evil," which attacks J.K. Rowling's best selling series about the boy wizard, published extracts from two letters written to her by Benedict in 2003, when he was a cardinal. ?
Ah, the actual letters are available here -
In a letter dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger thanked Kuby for her "instructive" book Harry Potter - gut oder böse (Harry Potter - good or evil?), in which Kuby says the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy.

"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.
As noted elsewhere, the Catholic Church under the new pope is saying evolution is incompatible with Catholic faith. (Discussion of that can be found here and more briefly here.)

Science is bad. Magic is bad. What's left? Ask the pope.

But if you are put off by either idea of what is bad, perhaps you should cut the guy some slack.


The Pope and the Pussycats: New leader of the Catholic Church Loves Felines
Sandy Robins, MSNBC, Wednesday, July 13, 2005
After weeks of speculation, the cat is out of the bag - Pope Benedict XVI loves felines. It turns out that the pope is the proud owner of Chico, a black-and-white domestic short hair that lives at the pope's home in the Bavarian town of Tübengen, Germany.

Agnes Heindl, long-time housekeeper to the pope's brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, who lives in nearby Regensburg, told that Chico is currently being looked after by the caretaker of the pope's private residence.

"There's also a multi-colored tabby cat that hangs around a lot of the time and keeps Chico company," says Heindl.

Ratzinger says that while growing up, the pope and his family always had cats. But now, he says, the only cats in his own home are a "collection of porcelain plates with painted cats on them, mementos from different European vacations with my brother."
And the item goes on to explain that the revelation of the pope's love for cats has swamped the Vatican with messages from animal lovers asking for blessings and his prayers. (Did Hermione ask the pope to bless her magical cat?)

More detail:
In Rome, it is still a hot topic of conversation over cappuccino in the city's many sidewalk cafes.

But, says Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, who was in Rome for the pope's inauguration, "The street talk that the pope loves cats is incorrect. The pope adores cats."

In fact, some Catholics are asking why the pope didn't choose Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as his papal name.

According to local news reports, the pope used to walk the streets of Borgo Pio, his former Roman neighborhood just east of the Vatican, where neighbors likened him to Dr. Dolittle with a Pied Piper charm. Stray cats would run to him when they saw him coming and he used to prepare food for them daily on special plates.

The pope's publicly announced fondness for cats has once again put Rome's felines in the spotlight. Currently one of the hottest selling tourist mementos in the city is a little cardinal hat for cats that goes for $15 in stores such as Barbiconi, which specializes in clergy robes and accessories. Mahony's cats both have cardinal hats, gifts given to him during his recent trip to Rome.

Mahony, who owns two silver tabbies named Raphael and Gabriel, believes that cats are perfect pets for clergymen "because they are wonderful companions. There is almost a spirituality about them. Their presence is very soothing."

Previous popes also have kept pets. Pope Leo XII had a dog and a cat. Pope Pius XII kept caged birds in the papal apartment and a goldfish named Gretchen. Pope Paul VI is said to have once dressed his cat in a feline version of cardinal robes.

But currently, Pope Benedict XVI must abide by the rule against pets in Vatican apartments "although one cardinal has a dog and everyone in Rome knows it," says Mahony.
Okay then, if my local archbishop, Roger Mahony, has little cardinal hats from Barbiconi for his cats, my cat Harriet deserves one too. Raphael and Gabriel out here in Los Angeles aren't the only good cats. Hats for cats. Cool.

Well, studying Darwin may be really bad for your soul, as so may reading Harry Potter books, but dressing one's cat in ersatz holy vestments isn't.

It's been hard to take the Catholic Church seriously since that business with Galileo so long ago. This recent stuff isn't helping.


From the Other Side: Tom Cruise and the City of Light

In late June the actor Tom Cruise on national television strongly denounced all of psychiatry and the medical stuff concerning such things as mere pseudo-science. There is no such thing as "chemical imbalance" and all medications just mask the real problems - and vitamins and exercise will fix any problem. As one wag commented: "High school dropout Tom Cruise pulled his Scientology-obsessed, crazy train into New York this morning - his zombie virgin fiancée in tow - to grace Today Show viewers with his mastery of psychiatry." That, and other irritating celebrity news was covered in these pages here.

But it seems other are irritated by the guy too -
Some Parisians think that Tom Cruise is a sect symbol.

The "War of the Worlds" star got engaged to Katie Holmes in the French capital, but now the city's leaders have voted not to make Cruise an honorary citizen because of his membership in the controversial Church of Scientology.

In a debate this week, Paris's City Hall pledged "never to welcome the actor Tom Cruise, spokesman for Scientology and self-declared militant for this organization," according to Agence France Presse.

Cruise had been made an honorary citizen of Marseille, but his religion is considered a cult by many French authorities, and one deputy there called the star a "sect symbol."
Puns aside, this is amusing.

Posted by Alan at 17:13 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 13 July 2005 17:16 PDT home

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