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Saturday, August 09, 2003

"Baseball is a public trust..."

Tony Adragna
...Players turn over, owners turn over and certain commissioners turn over. But baseball goes on.
Peter Ueberroth
You mean that Peter Ueberroth?

Hey, since you brought up baseball, I just thought I'd remind everybody counting on A.S.'s [to borrow Mickey's convention] name recognition that "[f]ame blows"
One of the problems with the word 'famous' is that people or things can achieve fame and still suck. Bob Euker is a case in point. One of the worst players to ever grace the game of baseball, as a lampoon he was offered a long-running stint as a spokesperson for Lite Beer. He went on to star in a sit-com, but never lost his connection with baseball. To this day his is one of those names you hear the broadcasters mention,as if he was some kind of big-shot. 'Bob Euker is in the stands today.'

Should we group Bob Euker and the Parthenon in the same category? I don't even want to see Bob Euker and the Parthenon in the same city. The Parthenon was a singular architectural and political achievement. Bob Euker could barely hit a baseball. The Parthenon housed an ivory and gold statue of Athena some forty feet in height, designed by Phidias, one of the great sculptors of all time. Bob Euker couldn't handle acurve-ball.
There's gonna be alota curve balls thrown at A.S. — can he hit the ball? Well, I was looking around for Pete Wilson's take on the recall & personalities — here it is
When it comes to the recall, as far as Republican ex-Gov. Pete Wilson is concerned, Democrat Gray Davis made his own mess and now has to live with it.

"Obviously, it's an extreme remedy," Wilson said this past week from Los Angeles. But Davis wound up the target largely because of the "distrust and dislike a lot of his own party felt for him," he said.

Much of that distrust, Wilson said, stems from Davis' handling of the budget, which many of the governor's legislative friends were already calling a sham last year.

Wilson isn't ready to endorse any of the potential Republican recall challengers -- yet. But he leaves little doubt that he's putting his money on the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who Wilson said "has great gifts as a potential candidate."

Especially when it comes to "pressing the flesh," Wilson said. "He's also very good on his feet. . . . He can be quite witty."

OK, but does Schwarzenegger have the brains for the job?

"I think he does," Wilson said. "He came to this country with not much more than muscles and ambition, but he's very competitive, very focused, and if he sets a goal, I think he's likely to achieve it."
I think Davis' problem isn't the budget per se, or the state of California's economy in general. A $38 billion budget shortfall in a state with a $1.3 trillion economy — the fifth largest in the world — isn't an insurmountable problem. It takes leadership, though.

The problem is that Davis isn't a leader — he doesn't inspire voters, he doesn't inspire the party he leads in the legislature... he doesn't inspire — I don't think the man even has any confidence in hisself... Californians knew that before they elected him, but the alternative was Bill Simon, and that, too, was Davis' fault...

A.S. is defintely self-confident & charismatic — that's two down — and if he can talk policy without getting too wonkish, then he wins the day. I thought his bringing the Shriver-woman along to the county building today — whether for cynical political reasons, or a sincere expression of who A.S. is — was a great move

Doom and Gloom is More Fun to Predict

Will Vehrs
You're right, of course, Tony ... despite the tumult of the recall and the nightmarish problems in California (Ann Coulter calls it "ungovernable"), the state will stay in business and life will go on more or less the same way it always has. It's just so much more fun to imagine the worst possible scenario.

I thought it would be unmanageable to have hundreds of candidates on the ballot, but as Susan Estrich pointed out on Hannity and Colmes (God, I can't believe I occasionally land there when I channel surf), Californians are comfortable with long, complex ballots because of all the propositions they confront every election day.

Early on, I think the press is heading for being very tough on Arnold, demanding that he tip his hand with substantive proposals. I wonder if that might not present an opening for former Olympic and baseball guy Peter Ueberroth. He could be the relatively non-partisan voice of quiet reason and practical policies to carry the state until a real gubernatorial election. Where's he been all these years, though?

Friday, August 08, 2003

Yeh, and California's Gonna Fall Into the Ocean, too...

Tony Adragna
Honestly, Will, I've been hearing predictions of gloom & doom vis a vis California all my life — the worst of it never comes to pass...

Actually, I like California's recall process for two reasons: a) the "tumultuous" flavor is a feature, not a bug — pots need stirrin' sometimes; b) what the punk rocker said
"One thing I got a little upset at was all these people saying that the recall election is going to be a 'madhouse.' Well, oh no, God forbid!' he says in mock horror. 'I think it's just what we need. It's a chance for every citizen to get involved with what's going to happen next.' "
As for your suggested method of culling the herd — Hope woulda been the perfect choice to referee these clowns...

QP's California Correspondent
Considers the Possibilities

Will Vehrs
Tony, I got a great email from Richard Heddleston of Palo Alto, California. He's concerned about the future of his state (he mistakenly thinks I'm "from there") and picks up on my amateurish examination of the possibilities of the California recall:
If Davis wins, there will definitely be a night of the long knives for
Cruz and others who dare. I think it will also be a lot harder for the
Republicans to hold up the budget while their special interests get
paid off. Davis will be the ultimate lame duck with nothing to lose.
His ego will be less restrained than ever. Color him Duce Davis.

If anyone else wins, the less they have promised the better for them.
There is only one fix here, where it sounds like you too live, cut
spending. Every special interest will scream when it's cut is proposed.
The next gov has to be able to say "Damn the special interests, this is
what is best for my boss, the people of California," for at least 2
years. The less promised before the election the easier to do after.

Either way, I think the Executive gains power at the expense of the
legislature. This is not good for California. And term limits will
assure that this remains a long term trend.

As to 2006, if Davis wins, his night of the long knives may take out
Bustamente and Garamendi, leaving only Lockyer who already has a war
chest. The Republicans defeated by Davis in 02 and 03 will lose in 04
as Bush campaigns here only to help in 1 or two swing house districts
and defensively to force the Dem Pres candidate to spend advertising $
here instead of elsewhere. There won't be enough Reps left in the state
to run as full slate. Hard to see uplift here.

If the newbie wins, by 06 the problem will either be under control, in
which case, they play "See, the conquering hero comes" at the
nominating convention of the incumbent's party, or the problem is not
under control and things are even worse. The former scenario precludes
lots of candidates or debating and the later anything uplifting. If the
newbie wins in '06, he starts running for the '08 nomination, assuming
Dean looses in '04. Otherwise, talk of splitting the state at the
Tehatchapies starts gaining credibility.

My expectation is the conquering hero, again a transfer of power to the

The only good news is the remote likelihood that there will ever be the
confluence of bad news and leadership the Golden State has endured for
the last 3 years and another recall is unlikely. But if the people get
into the habit, that will be really bad for the state.
Mr. Heddleston has really covered the waterfront and I'd like to see more discussion of possible scenarios before we launch into campaign coverage once the filing deadline has passed.

Speaking of campaigns, if ever there was a need for politics to imitate art, this is it--if you consider "Last Comic Standing" art. I say have a panel of Former Gov's Brown and Wilson plus one other worthy evaluate the 400 candidates and winnow it down to 10. Every week have a debate challenge--"I think I'm more of an outsider than Gary Coleman"--and let the viewers pick the winner until we have five candidates on the second ballot question.

Labor Aims at Feinstein,
Murders Own Feet!

Tony Adragna
Mickey wites, "Labor's anti-DiFi stand is confirmed here"
A quick survey of California and national labor capos in the Drake Hotel’s lobby yielded a clamorous anti-DiFi chorus. “We hate her,” said one leading California unionist. “She’s never done anything for us,” said another. “I’m not sure that Riordan wouldn’t be better for labor than Dianne,” said a third. “She’d probably appoint a clone — like [South Bay Congress Member] Jane Harman — to succeed her in the Senate,” grumped a fourth.
OK, so who is Labor endorsing
But Feinstein, all agreed, is the only Democrat who could clear the field and defeat the Republicans. And since the very thought leaves them cold, that brings labor’s chieftains back to square one — that is, to opposing the recall and having no backup plan, no down-ticket Democrat to support, at all.
And so is formulated a losing political strategy, and they know this to be true...

Remember my dear friends in the land of my birth, the place where I now reside — Maryland — was also once thought a great bastion of the Democratic Party, not having elected a Republican governor since Spiro Agnew in 1967. We've now a Republican governor who won against the feckless Lt. Governor in the administration of a fumbling Governor. The same will happen to you, and you oughtn't be surprised — does the contest Brown v. [Wilson]* ring any bells? You wanna bet that Cruz v. Arnold won't be a repeat of KKT v. Ehrlich [Doug Duncan could've been the winning Dem in that fight, just as DiFi could be in the CA recall...]

*Correction: I originally miswrote "Brown v. Deukmejian" knowing that Brown did in fact run in and lose the race for a statewide office in 1982. However, it was not the gubernatorial campaign against Deukmejian, but the U.S. Senate campaign against Pete Wilson. The point still stands, though...

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Church in Society — Tradition versus History

Tony Adragna
Not so much a quibble with the Zathras' comment as about a letter that Derbyshire blogged
Christ's church has always been a kindgom, not a democracy. As I read the Bible, it is clear that it is a top-down management style. Christ calls apostles, they call bishops, they call elders, etc. (this is the way my church functions, so perhaps this makes sense to me because it is what I am used to--I don't mean be offensive). This pattern is of course, completely contrary to today's hyper-egalitarianism...
This is a defense of "tradition" from a reading of the history of the Early Church. Now, let's have some discussion on what this really means.

I'll certinly agree that the office of Bishop has an Apostolic foundation, the essential authorities of that office having been bestowed upon Peter chosen by Christ.

But Peter and the other leaders of the Early Church would have rejected the notion that they were "Princes of the Church", at the top of a hierarchical structure — they saw themselves more akin the shepherd, which is the Latin "pastor". Their leadership wasn't about "authority" requiring "obedience" — it was about being in service to the Church, living the life of Christ & preaching the Good News.

Even the Roman Catholic Church as it's constituted today teaches that
Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly 'slaves of Christ, in the image of him who freely took 'the form of a slave' for us. Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.[Catechism of the Catholic Church 876, emphasis original]
The rest of the discussion on the constitution & authority of the "ecclesial ministry" frames the exercise as service. I'll concede that it's not "hyper-egalitarian" today, nor probably was it at the begin, either — at least not as regards aspects of ministerial priesthood. But neither was it a monarchical church as is implied by the reference to "kingdom."

And, not intending any disrespect to Latter Day Saints, this belief that "apostles... call bishops" gets at the heart of why Mormons also believe that the Catholic Church is apostate — the continued election & consecration of Bishops despite the absence of a council of apostles whose authority alone, Later Day Saints believe, it is to "call bishops." So, how do Catholics choose Bishops?

Well, today it's the prerogative of the Bishop of Rome [I think there sre some few exceptions], which involves a convoluted telling in answer to why that's so , but
Until the sixth century the clergy and the people elected the bishop on condition that the election should be approved by the neighbouring bishops. Undoubtedly, the Christian Roman emperors sometimes intervened in these election, but outside the imperial cities only, and generally in the case of disagreement as to the proper person.
So, there was some period of hundreds of years between the death of the Apostles & the 6th century when democracy — yes, ordinary lay folks included in the decision making — was the norm in selecting Bishops. This isn't "incredibly arrogant" — the Holy Spirit is just as capable at moving the sensus fidei as it is at working through ecclesiastical councils & supreme pontiffs.

'Course, Derbyshire, not meaning any disrespect to him, either, is admittedly "Church of England", which as recently as June 2002 was "debat[ing] whether its bishops should be elected by church members rather than appointed by the prime minister or the Queen" — that church is "an institution of the state..." That the CofE retains this relationship between Church & State — which does make it more Catholic than the Roman Communion — is thanks to Henry VIII, (King of England declared Fidei Defensor by Pope Leo X) who broke with Rome over the fact that he didn't want to obey Pope Clement VII's authoritative decision.[now, if that's not a convoluted enough demi-fisking of Derbyshire's defense of tradition & authority, I can put something better together, but the result is the same — the defense fails]

Go figure — despite the wishes of traditionalists, "tradition" pushed as the way something "has always been" doesn't stand up so clearly to a review of history...

Here's a proposition: The push for democracy in traditionally monarchical churches, and the call for a clergy that sees itself different-but-equal instead of special-and-separate, would, if successful, lead to a church closer to its foundation — real "fundamentalism".

The proposition is diametrically opposed to the arguments of folks — like "Traditional Catholics" who still rail against Vatican II [Folk music at mass? Liturgical dance? The priest facing me saying the Eucharist Prayers in a language the I can understand? Abomination! Heresy!! Anathema!!!] — who see the proponents of democracy & egalitarianism as radicals. I say we oughtn't mind the label — Christ was a radical in his day, too...

Below the Belt Political Commentary

Tony Adragna
"Handicap"? Height-impairment? Gary Coleman? "Watchyoutalkin'bout, Will[]?"

"Said California is the place you oughta be ...."

Will Vehrs

We could have a governor elected by 25 percent of Californians. Thirty-five percent of Californians are whackos; who knows who they could elect? That's a strong argument against the process.
--David Brooks

Count me among those who see the recall election as a nasty legacy of Progressivism, but it's in the California constitution. As I understand it, recall petitions have been circulated against every sitting Governor without success ... until now. To my knowledge, no pundit or politico ever warned us before Gray Davis that the recall provision was a ticking time bomb in the body politic. Therefore, I'm opposed to Gray Davis' legal efforts to forestall or tamper with the recall election and I think Californians, as well as all Americans, should just strap themselves in for a wild ride.

I'm not ready to handicap the recall election yet, but as much as I despise the recall provision and the bizarre spectacle it has set in motion, I think it's possible that the long-range results will be positive.

If Gray Davis survives the recall balloting, "politics as usual" goes on, big money stays supreme, and nothing much changes. Any Democrats who ran on the second ballot question will be punished by the party. Republicans who ran will probably be judged individually on their effort. Good performances might set the stage for a run in 2006, but poor showings might end some political careers.

If Davis loses and a relatively untested candidate wins with vague policy prescriptions and a small percentage of the vote, that candidate will have a tough time governing. But while the new Governor battles reactionary forces, thoughtful potential candidates for 2006 might begin really developing campaign themes and a platform that actually addresses solving state problems. Voters in 2006 will then have had the experience of a hack (Davis) and an outsider--they might finally realize they can't have it all and be receptive to a "straight talk" message.

If Davis loses and a candidate wins with a significant percentage of the vote and a platform (I'm not sure "clean up the mess in Sacramento" is enough), then it's possible that California could be governed with a strong hand. But even if it isn't, I still see the potential for an uplifting set of candidates for 2006.

Anyone want to start speculating about debates? I say Gary Coleman has some real issues with appearing on-stage with Arnold.

Human's Naturally Sit In The Corner
Thinking About Liberalizing Drug Laws...

Tony Adragna
Two views of human nature vis a vis drug legalization.

John Derbyshire writes
I am, of course, deeply skeptical about this. I am a conservative, with a rather low opinion of human nature, and I think drug legalization would be a horrible disaster.
Andrew Stuttaford responds
It should be remembered that most people are not self-destructive : in late Victorian England almost all drugs were legal and society seemed, somehow, to survive and (a reactionary like me would argue) flourish.
My own opinion on how drug laws, at least pot laws, are irrational is beautifully argued in Andrew's "I suspect that the police would prefer to deal with, say, rowdy pot smokers... than a bunch of drunks." And how! The most violent thing this used-to-be-pot-smoker ever did was shoplift a bag of Doritos from the local 7-Eleven... munchies'll make a man do some pretty ugly things...

Hank Stuever, Theatre Critic...
Political Theatre, That Is...

Tony Adragna
Hank on "California's Hot Ticket" — there's way so much good quotage that I don't know how to break out the highlights. Just read the whole thing.

I know lots of folks will disagree with Hank, but it's a great read, full of stuff like
A Code Pinker in a long carnation-colored skirt wears a sign that reads "Arianna for Governness."

Huffington steps through a side yard and out onto the quickly assembled stage.

She speaks and one is instantly reminded that her Greek accent makes her sound sort of like a grass-roots Zsa Zsa, darling.

"Today I am announcink that I am runnik for governor of the great state of California," she says. "Those are 16 words I never imagined I would hear myself say. And they are in no way based on the findings of British intelligence."

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Updated 9:50 PM

Let's Talk 'Bout Something Else...
California Sounds Good...

Tony Adragna
You know, Will, I've an aesthetic objection to the political process — it's too damned ugly. I'll get into the fray when I think there's some important matter of principle implicated, especially if it's a constitutional principle. But party politics drives me crazy, so I've not been wanting to go near the California recall story.

Except where my gut — you know 'bout my tummy — tells me that there's just something not right with the reportage-from-CW. But, I haven't had a chance to bounce this off you yet. So, here goes.

Am I seeing right when I observe a bit of CW that says a GOP candidate is going to have a hard time in CA as a function of that state being so heavily Democratic? Am I also seeing right when I observe that this bit of CW even applies to a contest between Gov. Davis & a GOP candidate? I mean, running against Davis makes the job of winning less difficult, but still an uphill battle, right?

I'm not so sure. Since WWII there have only been three Democratic governors in CA — Davis and the two Browns. The other five — Wilson, Deukmejian, Reagan, Knight and Warren — were all Republicans. Deukmejian [succeded]* the political hero of my youth — Brown the Younger — and that argues very much affirmatively for a GOP challenge to Davis if he's doing as bad as Brown was [Davis was Brown's Chief of Staff — does that 'splain anything?]

Tummy says: Davis is going down!! Some other Democrat could save the day, but it looks like they're all standing by Davis...

This California boy ain't going home anytime soon, thank God...

p.s. I resent the intimation that I need adult supervision, and I'm unanimous in that!... What the hell, it's as good a reason as any, and I'm just glad you're back, even if it's only on a "reasonably often" basis...

p.p.s. We all know what happened to Earl Warren, but where the hell did Pete Wilson disappear to? Here's a guy who was a state assmblyman, mayor for many years of San Diego, U.S. Senator, and two-term governor, and it's like he doesn't even exist anymore — sheesh, even Jerry Brown made a comeback...

Update — He's Baaack! "Arnold Schwarzenegger to Run for Calif. Governor"
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6 -- In an announcement that reshaped California's tumultuous recall election, film star Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that he will be a candidate in the race to succeed Gov. Gray Davis (D) if voters oust him in this fall's recall election.

The Hollywood icon's unexpected announcement on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" followed a summer-long flirtation with a campaign that many Republicans have said would offer a sure ride to victory -- and perhaps the GOP's best chance in years to improve its bleak political standing in the nation's most populous state...

Schwarzenegger's announcement came hours after Davis got a needed boost from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said in a separate announcement that she will not be candidate...

But Schwarzenegger's decision to mount a campaign poses a huge new challenge for the beleaguered governor, whose allies worry that the actor can wage a formidable campaign because of his celebrity, wealth and moderate views on many political issues.

Feinstein said today that she did not run because she believes that Davis and the Democratic party can beat the recall. But in a conference call with reporters, she criticized the campaign Davis is waging against it, saying that he needs to show voters he is working forcefully on their behalf--and not just denounce the recall as a right-wing conspiracy.

"That's a failed strategy from the get-go,'' Feinstein said.
Plus, Arianna Huffington declaring an independent candidacy. And Dems still haven't ruled out putting somebody up against Davis — Rep. Loretta Sanchez's name cropped up — but it's gotta be somebody of Fenstein's stature.

I think Fienstein's parting shot 'cross Davis' bow says it all...

*Correction: The mind is a terrible thing — mine more so than others. Writing from flawed memory, I mistakenly wrote that Deukmejian "won against" Jerry Brown in 1982. Brown's defeat in '82 was at the hands of Pete Wilson in the U.S. Senate contest of that year.

NPR, My Source for Episcopalian News

Will Vehrs
Tony, you pot-stirring man, how do you keep up with both international law disputes within the blogosphere and religious schisms around the world, all at once?

Last week Canon Robinson gave an NPR interview that I thought concentrated way too much on his sexual orientation and not enough on his prospective church leadership role. Granted, NRP was goading him to talk about it, but I was disappointed that he wasn't "turning the other cheek" enough to his critics. That's where my "leading with it" comment came from.

This afternoon, however, I thought his tone was different as NPR went to the well with him one more time. He seemed to want to put the controversy behind him and reach out to his critics.

I'm going to try to start posting reasonably often again, if only because you've been operating unsupervised for too long, Tony. I've got some things to say about the California recall, Howard Dean, and other dog days of August topics.

Welcome Back, Will!

Tony Adragna
You've been sorely missed, dude!

Yes, I agree fully — Canon Robinson's sexual orientation shouldn't be an issue...

But, I don't see how he could've avoided the issue. I haven't seen anything pointing to the conclusion that Robinson "seems determined to lead with it." The best Fred Barnes could do is this
Robinson has said his aim is not to be a "gay bishop," but his connection to Outright and his public appearances with his gay partner may make that label unavoidable.
Thst's it — the "label unavoidable." How 'bout giving some thought to whether the label is deserved.

Why was this an issue at the Convention? Simple: Robinson's sexuality, as well as the relationship he's in, is at odds with the tradition that says homosexuality is a sin. The only way Robinson could've avoided the issue would've been to perputuate a lie — closet himself...

The "Pot stirring Man"* Outdone Hisself This Time...
... Can More Fuel Be Put On This Fire?

Tony Adragna
Mark Kleiman emailed a heads up to his Glenn Reynolds fisking of yesterday — my "war crime" post figures in the fisking of an Instapundit entry — asking if I thought his treatment of me fair and for any other comments. The following is my response, reiterating the rationale in the blog entry
Professor Kleiman,

Excepting the mispelling of my last name -- one of those Greek derived Sicilian toponyms -- I think your treatment of me fair. I don't even object to the entry being characterized as "convoluted" -- discussions of international law often are exactly that. Just note that I deliberately didn't delve into addressing the moral proposition because that wasn't the question put to me. Would it help if I admit arguendo that if this was in fact a hostage taking, then it's wrong not just because it's illegal, but because it violates what I consider a moral imperative? I'm just not convinced that there was a hostage taking.

I did read Phil Carter's comments on Geneva IV and the principle of distinction. Those comments aren't dispositive. Sure we can't take hostages or deliberately disregard distinctions between combatants & non-combatants -- now prove that either of those two things happened.

Analogies to domestic law aren't particularly helpful. Certainly threatening statements may be prosecuted at domestic law. But it's also true that going undercover as a gang member to catch gangsters is OK, while dressing up as an enemy combatant loses one the conventional protections -- such conduct may be prosecuted as spying. So much for trying to clarify the issue.

I'll admit that the "doesn't deserve the attention" line shouldn't have been written. It was overreaction to all the assertions that the conduct is clearly illegal -- I think even you would admit that if there are good legal arguments rebutting the assertions, then it's not quite so clear that there was a "war crime."
I din't bother with a defense of Glenn — he's very capable of defending himself.

Seems, though, that Glenn needed more defending than did I. While I disagree with Professor Kleiman on whether the note passing is worthy of moral outrage, he communicated to me that "I think we see eye to eye; my objection was more to Glenn's characterization of your piece than to the piece itself."

But, am I not guilty of the same offense as Glenn? — after all, my "doesn't deserve the attention" line really is no less than a dismissal of the asserted charge that the incident was a "war crime." And the rationale is the same — all of the "wolf-crying and outright lying about U.S. 'war crimes'" has lead me to a place where I'm more skeptical of folks making the charge than I am of those defending against.

But, I still shouldn't have written that last line — certainly, the charge is serious enough that it deserves examination, rather than a rush to judgement.

[I'll pause here to note, as I hope I've not given the wrong impression to folks who aren't regular readers, that I'm not in a position to offer an authoritative "legal opinion" on this case, or any case, hence the "scare quotes." Notwithstanding my law librarianship & self-instruction on various topics of interest to me — one of those being international law — I'm neither credentialed, nor even degreed. I hope that doesn't change Kleiman's opinion of my argument...]

Re those folks I was admittedly "overreact[ing]" to, The Minuteman takes one to task in a decidely not "timid and ineffectual" defense of The Instapundit...

* "Pot stirring Man" is my official designation over at The Refuge... I've no clue why The Bellicose Woman so tagged me...

The Prodigal Returns

Will Vehrs
Tony, it's been so long since I've posted here that I didn't recognize the screens. I'll try to muddle through ....

You've been covering the latest religous controversy quite well, but I thought I'd add my two cents.

I am an Episcopalian, having been baptized into the faith in 1973. I'm not a theologian and, truth be told, it's been some time since I sat in on an Episcopalian Mass. Were I an actively practicing Episcopalian attending Mass, though, it would not matter one whit to me if my priest or the presiding bishop were gay.

That said, it bothers me that Robinson's sexuality is such a burning issue and that he seems determined to lead with it. It also bothered me deeply that those hurtful charges were hurled against him at the last minute.

I've never considered for one minute if a priest or bishop was married or single, gay or straight. Maybe I'm naive or haven't paid attention, but I don't see other church leaders discussing their private lives so openly. The personal sexual orientation of an Episcopal priest or bishop shouldn't matter. I don't want a priest who feels he or she represents hetrosexuals in a special way, just as I don't want one who purports to represents homosexuals in a special way. I want a priest who represents all of God's children and ministers to their individual needs and needs as a congregation without imposing his or her lifestyle choices.

I hope Bishop Robinson can change the hearts and minds of those who opposed him through his good works.

Epilogue: Canon Robinson's Election Confirmed,
Charges Dismissed After Investigation

Tony Adragna
The sexual harrasmment charge turns out to be about to be about what I thought — from today's WaPo
[Bishop] Griswold, as presiding bishop, assigned Bishop Gordon P. Scruton of western Massachusetts to oversee an investigation. Scruton reported today that his committee spoke by telephone with the Vermont man, who complained that Robinson "made him feel uncomfortable" by touching his arm and back during two brief conversations at a church gathering in 1999.

Scruton noted that the incident took place in public, and he said the Vermont man "acknowledged that other people could have seen the exchange as natural and normal." The man also said he did not wish to bring a formal charge, "had no desire to pursue the matter any further" and regretted using the word "harassment" in an e-mail complaint he sent to many Episcopal bishops late Sunday evening, Scruton said.
[While belly-up-to-the-bar last night, with Thomas Nephew and Brett Marston at Old Ebbit Grill, I surmised that this was what happened — I even put a hand to Thomas' shoulder in a crowded barroom where everybody could see...]

The pornography charge is even more baseless than I thought. I asked the question, "is it unbelievable that [Canon Robinson] didn't scrutinze the website, and therefore wasn't aware of the offensive materials?" But there's a question that I failed to ask: Was he even aware of the web site?
The other allegation was that Robinson was closely associated with Outright, a gay youth counseling group whose Web site had an indirect link to pornography. Scruton said his investigation found that Robinson helped found the group's New Hampshire chapter in 1995 but had not been involved with it since 1998, four years before the Web site was created.

"I see no evidence that Canon Robinson was aware of or associated with the Web site or its contents," Scruton concluded.
'Nuff said?

Nope! The Episcopal Church — the entire Anglican Communion, actually — has, at best, a bumpy road ahead toward reconciliation. This is in fact a story of radical break from tradition, and I'm not so quick as other defenders of Canon Robinson to dismiss the threat of schism. But, I've no problem with such radicalism, even when it may lead to schism, where conscience informs me that tradition is wrong.

'Course, my opinion may not matter much since I'm not Episcopalian... yet! I'm contemplating taking some radical action — like, breaking my ties with the Roman Communion...

Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Updated 9:15 AM

Problems for Bishop-elect Robinson?...
Or, Are the Charges Sexed-Up?

Tony Adragna
Rev. Gene Robinson's cofirmation has been delayed due to allegations of, to put it mildly, sexual improprieties — I mean, charges that go beyond himself being gay & in a same sex relationship.

I can't speak to the charge that he "sexually harrassed" David Lewis — it's one man's word against another's, and it's just as likely that Mr. Lewis took things the wrong way as it is that Rev. Robinson was up to no good. I'll wait to hear more.

But the other matter is one that very likely isn't what it seems. Starting with Fred Barnes' article, I tracked down the source of the story, and it ain't pretty — these things never are
One of his much touted ministry accomplishments has been the creation of "OUTRIGHT", an Internet site with the following mission statement...

On examination, the site which he says is geared for 12 to 22-year olds, provides Internet links that will take these vulnerable young people directly to hard core pornography.

This is not the ethereal and suggestive world of PLAYBOY, it is hard core entree for young people into degeneracy. The reason every state makes sex with minors illegal is that legislators know that young people can be easily lead astray.

The message from these vivid and graphic links that include oral sex and other sexual activity have the additional momentum of the powerful approval of the church and a bishop-elect, whose ministry has spawned the "OUTRIGHT" site...

These links look like they are out of the NAMBLA playbook. NAMBLA is the North American May Boy Love Association that promotes sex between adult men with boys...
Let's start with where journalism should always start — some facts.

What is Outright and who founded the organization? While the story got the "mission statement" correct, the suggestion that it's a "ministry" that exists as an "internet site" is woefully misleading, maybe purposefully so. And it is true that Rev. Robinson was co-founder of a chapter of Outright — his official bio says, "He is one of the founders of Concord Outright" — but not true[call it "false", a "lie"] that Outright and its website are his "creation"

Here's what Portland Outright has to say in its news release
On Monday, August 4, 2003 Outright in Portland removed a link from our website to, a resource for bisexual people. We were not aware that contains a link to an erotic website. We do not believe the link in question is appropriate on our website for the population we serve. We want to thank the media for alerting us to a link that we were unaware existed.

Many autonomous and loosely affiliated gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth groups throughout Northern New England have adopted the organizational name of "Outright". Outright in Portland is the first Outright organization, founded in 1987. Outright in Portland provides web-hosting services and links as a courtesy to other Outrights. The website was developed in February 2002.

Bishop-elect Reverend Gene Robinson has not been involved, at any time, with our Outright organization in Portland or our website and its content. This is clearly an attempt to discredit his important nomination.
AHA! — the Portland chapter provides "web-hosting services and links"! That must be why Portland's links page looks exactly like Central Maine Outright's links page, and from the above description of Concord Outright's links, I feel very sure that it was the same template populated with the same links. In fact, if you click through Portland's links to other Outright chapters, you'll find that of the chapter websites hosted on Outright's net [Augusta, Ellsworth, Portland, & Concord] , all are identical except for chapter specific content.

Should Canon Robinson have made a point of clicking through the links on Outright's website to make sure there was no there there? You can certainly make such an argument. But, is it unbelievable that he didn't scrutinze the website, and therefore wasn't aware of the offensive materials?

As for the writer above making reference to NAMBLA — when rational arguments won't do, let's heap on the demagoguery. I previewed the porn in question [ not just the site admitted to in Outright's news release -- there're more at at least one other linked page... actually, I think I've subscribed to a few of 'em in the past] and can attest that none of them have anything to do with man-boy love. All models over 18 years old, and few of them older than early twenties — about what the average young gay guy is looking for.

I'll concede that it's not the stuff you ought be able to find at a website that seeks to provide "support, education, advocacy, and social activities" to youth. But, neither is it the stuff of NAMBLA.

So, what we've got is a charge of sexual misconduct that may not be that. A story that misrepresents — grossly exaggerates — Canon Robinson's role with Outright and its website. And, we've got a mischaracterization of the porn content as something that even myself finds offensive.

What this story seems to be, in my opinion, is a sexed up moral indictment against Canon Robinson — can't get him just for being gay, not even for living in a gay relationship, so we best come up with something that even his supporters can't defend him on...

Update: Something I should've made clear, if I didn't, about the above referenced porn is that none of it was on Outright's net, nor on the sites linked to directly from Outright. The porn sites are, literally, at least "two or three clicks" away from Outright. Today's WaPo front page story
The allegation involving pornography was brought to the attention of church lawyers Sunday night by the American Anglican Council, a Washington-based group devoted to orthodoxy that has vigorously opposed Robinson's election.

AAC's president, the Rev. David C. Anderson, said its members found an Internet link from the Web site of Outright, a secular outreach program for gay and bisexual youth, to a pornographic Web site. He said Robinson was a co-founder of the Concord, N.H., chapter of Outright and has publicly praised its efforts.

Anderson conceded that there is no evidence that Robinson had anything to do with the Web site or was aware of the alleged link to pornography. "He may be completely innocent, and he deserves a chance to defend himself," Anderson said.

One of Robinson's supporters, the Rev. Susan Russell, said it took "at least two or three clicks" to get from Outright's Web site to a pornographic one.
The sexual harrassment charge is another matter, though I still think it probably isn't what it seems — the Catholic Church's abuse of minor boys this case isn't.