Re: Jeremy Lott's Crash Test Dummies:
I enjoyed your article regarding seat belt enforcement. South Carolina is a "secondary enforcement" state, where one can (theoretically) only be ticketed for failing to buckle up when stopped for another infraction.
For several years we also have run "Click It or Ticket" checkpoints on SC roads (haven't noticed one this year yet) with the media campaigns that accompany them. While advertised and hyped by local media with this slogan, care is taken to specify that "officers are conducting safety checks, which in no way violates the primary enforcement ban." Within the last 2 years, then Atty. General Charlie Condon even stated the stops were illegal, but the only guy I'm aware of to challenge it in court lost. Must'a fell asleep...
Needless to say, the "safety" checks yield about as many arrests for drugs, DUI, and the like, and are indeed, in my humble opinion, a "gateway" method for law enforcement to "interact" with drivers, usually with a slew of "safety" oriented questions like, "Where are you going to/coming from? Got anything illegal in the vehicle? Mind if we have a look?"
I've had just enough experience with both legal and criminal justice education to look at these attempt to "force" personal safety on Americans that articles like yours catch my attention. I foresee mandatory splints for skiers in the near future.
Well, I'm off to see what happens if I ride my bicycle without a helmet in Brevard, NC -- or is it Hendersonville -- a few blocks away. Anyway, they've announced they'll ticket adults on bicycles without helmets, and I'm sorta' bored -- and definitely not a juvenile....
Enjoy the site!
-- Damien Carr
Re: George Neumayr's Cardinal Godfather:
Simply to say thank you, thank you so very much. Abuses of power will continue so long as Catholics forget -- deny, is more the word -- that their episcopate are sons of Adam, just like the ones in old Tammany Hall (to use a New York image).
-- Maureen Mullarkey
George Neumayr, in his article "Cardinal Godfather," has truly made the case against Cardinal Mahony, and it is unbelievable that the people in the Church don't throw Mahony out on his butt. The Catholic Church will not rebound from the current scandal until all the enabling and secretive Hierarchical miscreants are purged from the Church.
-- Gene Brennan
First let me start by stating that I am a fan of Mr. Neumayr's reportage of the scandalous shape of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Clearly, Cardinal Mahony and his associates have failed to significantly address the problem of predatory homosexuality, and in certain instances, pedophilia. This is a tragedy for the Church. Such sinful and criminal behavior is an abomination, as is the culture of moral and doctrinal dissent that created the conditions for the commission of such behavior and the hapless response of America's prelates.
A significant point, however, must be addressed and in this where I take issue with Mr. Neumayr. I very much agree with Cardinal Mahony's less than enthusiastic response to the "study" commissioned by the American Bishop's abuse panel. While there definitely needs to be a reckoning of the actions of some American Bishops, I believe the abuse panel and its prescribed study to be the very worst way to achieve the appropriate reckoning. Gov. Keating has proved himself bellicose and disrespectful, often making remarks that indicate his deficient grasp of Catholic orthodoxy; Leon Panetta, another panel member, is a pro-abortion, Clinton administration official who was a party in defending immorality on the part of a deeply flawed chief executive. These are hardly men capable of addressing the finer nuances of appropriate moral deliberation, pastoral sensitivity, and culpability on the part of accused priests. It is greater fidelity to Catholic truth and to proper ecclesiastical discipline where the solution to this present crisis lay.
Gov. Keating and his panel have moved against the Bishops in an adversarial fashion, using the categories and implements of prosecutors and politicians, not the categories of sound moral deliberation and spiritual insight provided by the Church's two-thousand year history of ministering to the sinfulness of the human condition. The present crisis of the clergy is, at its roots, a manifestation the Bishops' failure to teach and govern their flocks according to the Church's accumulated spiritual, theological, and moral wisdom. The methods and implements proposed by Gov. Keating and his panel are secular, quick-fix, media driven solutions, and wholly unsuited to address the larger crisis of faith that underwrites clerical sexual misconduct and episcopal malfeasance.
Also, Mr. Neumayr seems not to grasp that the abuse panel's study and other proposed methods to address the present crisis is leading the American Church down a dangerous path whereby government authority is being invoked against the Church on an unprecedented scale -- at least by recent standards. These process-oriented solutions threaten to diminish the liberty of the Church (libertas ecclesia) in significant ways. The recent situation in Phoenix, Arizona, is a prime example. I can't help but think that certain unorthodox Bishops, clerics and other dissenters will be all too happy to see Church authorities subject to the whims of prosecutors, politicians, and media elites. They want nothing more than to seize control of the Church so that their agenda of infidelity can be forced on those who insist the Church should be free in the conduct of its affairs and unwaveringly faithful to doctrines at odds with contemporary sentiment.
Accused priests have the right to their good name until their name is proved not to actually be good. Some priests, who may have failed morally, but repented and lived their vocation with fidelity following their repentance, should not have their name smeared by a "study" that is incapable of understanding a particular instance of misconduct in its totality. The very human drama of sin, repentance, and the restoration of a man to fidelity -- under the influence of grace -- is the proper purview of the Church's pastors, even when they fail to do it well or even at all. The pastoral deliberations over the fitness of an errant cleric to serve (or continue to serve) is like surgery: to be done with the careful, prudent strokes of a scalpel, not the vengeful whacks of a machete. The elevation of legal process over pastoral deliberation is further evidence of the American Bishops' lack of faith in the Church's wisdom in addressing the effects of sin -- the very reason we are in the present crisis. I am quite aware that it is quite likely that many canonized saints, such as St. Augustine of Hippo, would be ineligible, under the present norms of the Bishops' Conference, to remain in ministry because of their morally profligate pasts.
However troubled Cardinal Mahony's leadership in Los Angeles may or may not be, he is quite right to insist that there are and should be limits to the amount and kind of information publicly released about accused and even guilty priests. Insisting on the prerogatives of the internal forum is not done, necessarily, to "spin" or to cover up misconduct, but rather, it is an appropriate recognition of the sacred confidentiality that should govern the internal forum deliberations that occur in the relationship between a Bishop, his priests, and the people to whom they minister. As such, this relationship forms the very foundation of the Church's freedom from state encroachment and its freedom to minister to all sinners in a space where the grace of conversion can take root. The fact that such privileged relationships have been abused does not constitute an occasion for their diminishment or abolition. If we want to truly address this crisis, the solution is not a media-driven "study" or in the outrageous comments made by a former governor, but a deepening of our commitment to the Truth(s) of the Catholic faith. In short -- fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity is the only real answer.
-- Phillip W. De Vous
Grand Rapids, MI
Re: Steven Martinovich's North Korea Can't Wait:
Mr. Martinovich is quite right when he writes:
"Taken as a whole, however, they create a powerful moral argument for abandoning U.S. President George W. Bush's policy of containment or pursuing it in tandem with policies designed to destabilize Kim's regime. While opponents of a more aggressive policy could argue that whoever replaces Kim may not be better, it's also quite safe to argue that it's doubtful they would be any worse."
But does he have any suggestions on how to bring down the Dear Leader and his sycophantic thugs? It is one thing to say something ought to be done, another to suggest a realistic strategy to achieve it. I expect our diplomats have been very busy exploring possibilities with their counterparts in places like China, Japan, and ROK, assuming any of those fine souls can bring themselves to take on so demeaning a task as serving a President of the U.S. they despise for being too much like the majority of Americans.
My own thoughts rest on the cooperation of several of the neighboring countries. If we can persuade China that a stable, democratic Korea united under the ROK government is in their interests we might be able to do something. China must be persuaded that the erratic and insane NorK tyrants are a danger to them as well as us, and that this danger is worse for their interests than keeping a NorK Commie client state around. The aim is that China accept reunification under ROK government as preferable to the insane moonbats presently ruining NorK. We cannot appeal to their humanitarian instincts; they have none.
NorK refugees are trying to get out. They flee to Manchuria, where China hunts them down and returns them to slavery and death if it can. What I suggest is that we offer China this deal:
1. China welcomes all refugees from NorK, opening the border.
2. We offer to pay for their expenses and transportation while in Manchuria and transiting to ROK. Thus the project does not cost China anything. The nitwit NGOs can do much of this on our dime; it's about time those idiots did something useful instead of just whining about US "imperialism" and nonexistent U.S. atrocities.
3. ROK accepts all refugees from NorK (their constitution requires this, but they have been reluctant to do so since it might -- gasp -- cost them money). We help out some on the resettlement costs.
4. This should gut NorK of people in no time, as with East Germany in the late 1980s. This will cause NorK either to collapse somewhat sooner than it otherwise will, or force them to start a war. I doubt their army is actually able to make offensive war in the face of both the U.S. and ROK forces, although they can uselessly kill a lot of people in trying, but if they try it that will let us blow the hell out of them with airpower. We cannot start a war, even if we wanted to, with them since our disposable military forces are occupied with Iraq and ROK won't have it. Nor would China beam approval on such an act. However, we can barter with China, acceptance of NorK collapse and reunification in exchange for a pullout of U.S. forces from ROK. We need the troops elsewhere anyway, but pulling them out now is tantamount to asking NorK to attack.
This may not work. Even if it does it all depends on China agreeing and ROK being willing to take in the refugees. These are two dubious assumptions, but this is the best scenario I can come up with for a reasonable and quick ending of this crisis, while hopefully avoiding a war. I'm sure people in our government can think of it too, and if they are not doing it, that is likely because of fatal flaws in trying to implement it, likely the dubious assumptions I mentioned above.
-- Michael Lonie
Re: James Bowman's The Thrill Is Gone:
Does it ever occur to you as a critic that the reason so many of these dopes go in for the shock thing is that these people (a) want attention in the worst way, and (b) at some level, know they don't have the talent to stand out enough to get it in sufficient quantities, so (c) they go for the shock thing as a means of last resort (that will get 'em to look at me, by golly -- Madonna, perhaps)? The problem for them is as your article describes -- a yawn to all that.
-- Stephan Hirsch
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