The Long View 2007-07-20: Surge; Motu Proprio; Bees; Worms; Natural Law

1555 engraving of rain of fishBy en:Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) - 16th century engraving from en:A Description of the Northern PeoplesPreviously uploaded to fr.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain,…

1555 engraving of rain of fish

By en:Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) - 16th century engraving from en:A Description of the Northern PeoplesPreviously uploaded to fr.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain,

I enjoyed John’s occasional forays into Fortean phenomena, such as rain of animals. This goes along with his general sense that reality is stranger than fiction.

Surge; Motu Proprio; Bees; Worms; Natural Law

It has taken four years, but the Bush Administration has finally begun to try to explain what it is doing in Iraq. At any rate, it is encouraging satellite interviews with US commanders. The intent may not be partisan, but the effect could be. So, at any rate, we may judge from these remarks by Mark Steyn and guest host Dean Barnett on Hugh Hewitt's Townhall:

Dean Barnett: [Y]our good friend, and your former colleague at the Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan, said that Petraeus’ appearance on this show pretty much announced him as a GOP tool...And I haven’t heard any left wing media outlet, let’s say Keith Olbermann, or someone of that ilk, say I tried to get Petraeus, but I couldn’t.

Mark Steyn: No, and in fact, they’re very uninterested in hearing about specific military operations, how they’re going, how well they’re going, what the mood of the troops is, and what the strategic thinking at the Pentagon is, because in effect, they’ve decided their position on Iraq, and it’s impervious to anything that’s happening on the ground. So in that sense, that’s the reason General Petraeus may sit around waiting for invitations from certain shows, and he’s just not going to get them.

What was the recent Senate debate on setting a date-certain for the withdrawal of US troops about? Arguably, the Democrats wanted to ensure a defeat for the Bush Administration during next year's election campaign. However, though they would have been pleased with that outcome, the more economical hypothesis is that they just needed fund-raising matter for their base. It is unlikely that they are following events on the ground closely enough to worry that the Surge might be working (and again, the Surge's goals are fairly modest, though there has been unexpected good luck in Anbar Province because of the alliance with the local sheiks). If the Iraq can hold together long enough for another round of parliamentary elections, the Sunnis will not boycott the voting this time, and a workable government will be possible.

As for General Petraeus, the Democratic media would be wise to cultivate him. If the situation in Iraq does improve, they will need him as the explanation, so that they need give no credit to Bush.

Incidentally, one of my nephews has just joined the Army. I went to his going-away party last Sunday. Yes, I would be happier if he spent his hitch fixing Jeeps in Kansas.

* * *

I created a Google Alert for the term "Motu Proprio" some time ago, interested as I was in keeping abreast of news about the impending reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass. The eschaton immanized on July 7, but little motu proprio links still flutter into my Inbox every day. In fact, I now realize that I will be getting more of these rather than fewer as time goes on. Here is one that arrived today: it views the reception of the motu proprio from the most common angle so far.:

July 19, 2007 - New York - The American Jewish Committee welcomes the Vatican's concern for replacing a prayer calling for the conversion of Jews in the Tridentine Latin mass.

"We appreciate the statement by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, making it clear that efforts will be made to replace the disturbing Good Friday prayer for Jewish conversion found in the 1962 version of the Latin Tridentine mass," said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's international director of Interreligious Affairs.

Again, I think that this is a manufactured issue. The service for Good Friday has nothing to do with the regular Masses for the rest of the year; and in any case, the text of the 1962 Missal really isn't objectionable. Far more interesting is this other link, because it is the beginning of what will be a continuing controversy:

The Tridentine Latin Mass will return to St. Mary’s by the Sea in Huntington Beach [California]...The parish’s former pastor, the deceased Father Daniel Johnson, said Mass according to the Missal of Pius V ...Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod Brown ended the celebration of the old rite at St. Mary’s, though another priest had offered to say it....[The new pastor] Father Martin Tran, clashed with traditionalist parishioners...In his letter to priests., Brown noted that it is “their prerogative to ‘willingly accede’” to the request of parishioners for the Tridentine Mass. In his bulletin announcement, Father Tran said, “as your Administrator/Pastor I wholeheartedly ‘accede.’” The Mass, he said, will be celebrated at noon on Sundays and will have readings from the “current Lectionary” – that is, the readings used in Sunday Masses according to the Missal of Paul VI, the so-called “Novus Ordo.”

The cancellation of that Tridentine Mass in Huntington Beach was a major scandal in conservative circles. The scandal now will be the attempt to incorporate elements of the Novus Ordo into the Tridentine. Benedict XVI's motu proprio actually contemplates this development. Other persons, however, have explained to me at length why the old lectionary (the scripture readings that the people would hear in the vernacular as well as Latin on a Sunday) are integral to the old Mass.

Either practice is permitted, which is why there will be a fight.

* * *

Many readers continue to be concerned about the missing bees. I know this because your anxiety has stricken you with silence on the matter. In any case, we now have evidence that there was no Rapture of the Bees:

The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain's honey industry. ..Now it seems to have crossed the Atlantic and is present in Canada and Argentina, he said. The Spanish researchers have not tested samples from the United States, where bees have also gone missing....Treatment for nosema ceranae is effective and cheap -- 1 euro (US$1.4) a hive twice a year -- but beekeepers first have to be convinced the parasite is the problem.

Okay, buy why is this happening now? And should not resistant strains of Western bees evolve fairly quickly?

* * *

Worms Fall from the Sky in Jennings [Louisiana]: Yes, they do. Look:

Jennings Police Department employee, Eleanor Beal was just crossing the street to go to work when something dropped from the sky.

The sky wasn't falling. She says it was worms, large tangled clumps of them.

Beal says, "When I saw that they were crawling, I said, 'It's worms! Get out of the way!'"

She even called her co-worker outside to prove she wasn't making it up.

Sure enough, she saw worms, and globs of them.

Where they came from is a mystery, but some believe that a water spout spotted less than five miles away at that same time near Lacassine Bayou could have something to do with it.

Eleanor Beal says she hopes she doesn't see it again.

Charles Fort never made anything up, you know.

* * *

Meanwhile, Instapundit is blogging the search for a basis for human rights. He gives us a long quotation from an article by Arthur Allen Leff:

And here's a passage from his Memorandum from the Devil, 29 Stanford Law Review 1479 (1977) addressed to Prof. Robert Unger, who ended his Knowledge and Politics with the plea "Speak, God." Leff, the least diabolical of people, nonetheless responded in character:

Or to put it another way, one more congenial, I think, to both of us, by dispensing with God we did more than just free ourselves of some intellectual anachronism. We also dispensed with the only intellectually respectable answer to the ultimate "Why is it right to do X?" It was not so very long ago that most people (and I, too) could and did answer: "It is right to do X because God says so." That answer was at least intelligible, the only one that did not depend upon mere sublunary assertion, the only one that even if it too involved the transformation of fact into value, was not for that reason insufficient. For assuming that God existed, and had commands, it was He who was evaluating our actions. He was not part of our evaluation system, nor were his evaluations subject, or even amenable, to our evaluations of them.

I have not read the article, so I don't know whether the author develops this point. However, it is not at all clear that, for theists, divine command is the only respectable ground for morality. There are problems with the use of any command as the basis for a moral imperative. Kant knew this; so did Thomas Aquinas. The better arguments focus not so much on what God says as what He is, which is reflected in His creation.

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Hits to my website have about tripled in recent days. Does anyone know why?

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