Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Orange Revolution comes to the White House

President George W. Bush talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in the Oval Office, Monday, April 4, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper

Yesterday the Orange Revolution came to Washington, D.C., as President Viktor Yushchenko of the Ukraine met with President Bush. A video of their joint press conference is available here.

Excerpts from the two leaders' remarks are provided below. Although President Bush spoke first at the joint press conference, I have provided excerpts of President Yushchenko's remarks first below out of respect for the Ukrainian President. President Yushchenko still literally wears the scars from his election campaign against the corrupt, Putin-backed candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych - the former Ukrainian Prime Minister - apparently had Yushchenko poisoned with dioxin during the campaign. See here for some background.

President Bush and President Yushchenko shake hands after a press availability on Monday, April 4, 2005. The Ukrainian President and his wife visited the White House for the day. White House photo by Paul Morse

President Viktor Yushchenko:

* * *

Mr. President, dear American friends, for me, for my wife, it is a great honor and privilege to be received here in the White House and to hear the words that are addressed to my country, my nation, my homeland.

Our ideals are simple and eternal: We want democracy and freedom -- our apparent European aspirations, which we were discussing from the first days, many days before the Maidan events when me and my team went into the politics. This is my vision; this is the vision shared by my team. This is something that my father taught me.

The legacy that we inherited is a very difficult country; Ukraine, where the rule of law did not exist and human rights were not observed; where half of the national economy is a shadow. The humiliated profession of journalism, the journalists wanted to speak the truth and stood against the official power, they could pay dearly. Dearly -- I mean it -- they could pay their lives for it. We're talking about the country where the number one problem remains to be corruption. We're talking about the country where the huge problem remains the problem of poverty. We realize all those challenges. We realize that it's only -- the work that has to be done by the Ukrainian power will help cope with the problems that the country inherited.

However, it is very important, Mr. President, to feel that we have partners standing by, that we are not left in solitude in coping with these troubles. Our conversation began with my saying that, for Ukraine, it was a very long road to the Oval Office. I do appreciate the attention that you display and the words that you have said. And I would like to, once again, reiterate that the ideals of Ukraine are democracy, which we perceive as the priority of people's interests in political, economic and other areas of development. These are freedom of speech that are the oxygen for democracy, this is a market economy which grants equal rights to people, this is the reliable system of social guarantees that secure protection to the weak.

Shortly speaking, the ideals for the new Ukraine are the ideals shared by the Western civilization. I fully concur with my American colleague in his saying that the freedom is not the gift for America, this is the Godly gift.

* * *

President George W. Bush:

* * *

Thank you. It's an honor to stand with a courageous leader of a free Ukraine. Mr. President, you are a friend to our country and you are an inspiration to all who love liberty. Welcome to America, and we're pleased to welcome your wife, as well. We're looking forward to having lunch with you.

President George W. Bush gestures to Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko Monday, April 4, 2005, during a press availability at the White House.White House photo by Paul Morse President Yushchenko was the first head of state I called after my inaugural address. I told him that the Orange Revolution was a powerful example -- an example of democracy for people around the world. I was impressed, I know millions of my fellow citizens were impressed by the brave citizens who gathered in Kiev's Independence Square and rightly demanded that their voices be heard. It's an impressive moment, Mr. President, and an important moment. I've oftentimes told our fellow citizens that the world is changing, freedom is spreading -- and I use Ukraine as an example, along with Afghanistan and Iraq, about a changing world. A world, by the way, changing for the better, because we believe free societies will be peaceful societies.

Mr. President, I appreciate your vision. I want to thank you for our discussion we just had. We discussed a lot of matters. We talked about the neighborhood, of course. We talked about your commitment to fighting corruption; your deep desire to introduce principles of the marketplace in Ukraine. I told the President that our nation will stand by Ukraine as it strengthens law enforcement, as it fights corruption, as it promotes a free media and civil society organizations. To this end, I've asked Congress to provide $60 million for new funding to help you in your efforts, Mr. President.

* * *

For more on President Yushchenko's historic visit, see this post at the excellent Orange Ukraine weblog.

I see a long, friendly, and productive relationship for the Ukraine and the United States going forward. Best wishes to President Viktor Ukraine as he works to end corruption in his country and as he works to bring freedom of the press and other individual liberties to the long-suffering Ukrainian people.

President George W. Bush and Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko are joined at the podiums by first ladies Laura Bush and Kateryna Yushchenko on Monday, April 4, 2005, in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse

Some additional photos are available here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan worked together to assist the Solidarity movement in the liberation of Communist Poland

Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan hold discussions at the Vatican

Via Newsmax:

* * *

After Archbishop Karol Wojtyla's rise to the papacy in 1978, he soon ignited a prairie fire for freedom in his native Poland.

The Russians had become unnerved by the discontent brewing in Poland, a nation that had remained a Soviet satellite since Russia "liberated" her from Nazi occupation after World War II.

As early as 1981, the Reagan administration had warned both Moscow and the Polish government against taking action against Poland's growing Solidarity movement.

When the Russians appeared to be on the brink of an invasion – similar to ones they had launched to crush freedom movements in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, President Reagan's White House made clear the U.S. would not be acquiescent again.

* * *

June 7, 1982[:] . . . a private Vatican meeting [was held] between President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The two men were alone for 50 minutes and the subject of their discussion was Poland and the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Writing in "The Holy Alliance, Ronald Reagan and John Paul II," one of the Pope's biographers, Carl Bernstein, described what happened: "Reagan and the Pope agreed to undertake a . . . campaign to hasten the dissolution of the communist empire … Richard Allen, Reagan's first National Security advisor [was quoted as declaring] ‘This was one of the great . . . alliances of all time.' "

* * *

In October of 1982, President Reagan took the first open step to exert pressure on Poland's Communist masters.

Following that government's outlawing of the Solidarity movement, which the Pope had publicly and covertly supported, Reagan suspended Poland's Most Favored Nation trading status, costing cash-strapped Poland some $6 billion a year in sales.

Solidarity was the weapon that the Pope and the U.S. would use to batter down the tyrannical Polish Communist government.

The trigger was an unemployed electrician, Lech Walesa, who had worked at the Gdansk shipyards. He was one of the leaders in a clash there in December 1970, was fired in 1976, and in 1980 became leader of the labor movement that became Solidarity.

Under the iron hand of the Communist regime, that movement could not survive on its own.

The mastermind of the U.S.-Vatican strategy was Reagan's CIA director, William J. Casey. A famous World War II spymaster and also a devout Catholic, Casey saw the Vatican as a secret conduit to supply the Solidarity movement with the financial resources it needed to survive and grow.

The clandestine U.S. support using the Vatican's Catholic network grew to $8 million a year during the mid 1980s. High tech communications equipment was smuggled in along with printing equipment, supplies, VCRs and freedom tapes.

Thanks to the Vatican's covert pipeline, over a seven year period 1,500 underground newspapers and journals and 2,400 books and pamphlets were circulated.

Using CIA supplied equipment Solidarity was even able to insert slogans and messages at breaks during soccer matches.

By 1988 Solidarity was strong enough to stage nationwide strikes in 1988 which forced the government to open a dialogue with it.

* * *

As Jesuit scholar Thomas J. Reese, S.J. has written, the Pope's "support of Solidarity in Poland began the avalanche that swept Communism from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union."

During Solidarity's years of confronting both Moscow and the Polish government the danger of armed Soviet intervention in Poland in the face of the growing anti-Communist movement was always present.

In the end, however, Soviet domination of Poland and Eastern Europe ended, along with the Soviet Union itself, without a shot being fired, thanks to the alliance between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II – an alliance formed between two men who understood the evil nature of communism and knew how to bring it down.

* * *

Another staunch foe of Communism, The Right Honorable Baroness Margaret Thatcher, wrote moving eulogies for both Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Now we all need a Terry Schiavo bracelet: "If I'm incapacitated, I want to live!"

Now we all need a Terry Schiavo bracelet: "If I'm incapacitated, I want to live!" (That used to go without saying.)

If my (soon-to-be) ex-spouse could pull the plug on me while I was incapaciated in the hospital ... she'd do it in a second. And she'd have me cremated quick - with no autopsy. Kind of like - well - you know who.

In the words of Mark Steyn:

* * *

Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

* * *

During another Easter season, five years ago, the Clinton Administration and the INS rolled over the Florida State court system - to seize Elian Gonzalez (as opposed to today's non-seizure of Terry Schiavo) - in a way that would make today's Republican Congress and President blanch.

I'm off to order my "Let me live!" bracelet now...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Move over Brad & Jen. Britney Spears is knocked-up!

Britney Spears is pregnant per the Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that Britney Spears is pregnant.

I kind of saw this coming...

Via the Drudge Report.

Seriously though - good luck to Brit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

National Health Care in practice: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

Socialized Medicine in Action: Canadians Face Long Waits for Health Care

Socialized health care in practice:

* * *

TORONTO [March 21, 2005]- A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

* * *

More from, of all places, the New York Times:

Full Hospitals Make Canadians Wait and Look South

* * *

MONTREAL, Jan. 15 [2000] - Dressed in her orchid pink bathrobe and blue velour slippers, douardine Boucher perched on her bed at Notre Dame Hospital here on Friday and recounted the story of her night: electric doors constantly opening and closing by her feet, cold drafts blowing across her head each time an ambulance arrived in the subzero weather, and a drug addict who started shouting at 2:30 a.m., "Untie me, untie me."

But as nurses hurried by on Friday morning, no one thought it remarkable that Ms. Boucher, a 58-year-old grandmother awaiting open heart surgery, had spent a rough night on a gurney in an emergency room hallway. After all, other hallways of this 3-year-old hospital were lined with 66 other patients lying quietly on temporary beds.

To explain overflowing hospitals here and across the nation, Canadian health officials are blaming the annual winter flu epidemic.

But, at the mention of flu, Daniel Brochu, the veteran head nurse here, gave a smirk and ran his pen down the patient list today: "Heart problem, infection problem, hypertension, dialysis, brain tumor, two cerebral hemorrhages." On Thursday, he said, crowding was so bad that he was able to admit one patient only after the ambulance crew agreed to leave its stretcher.

* * *

The siren song of socialism must be fought forever. This is because there will always be suckers who actually think they can get someting for nothing. And there will always be politicians who are willing to get those suckers' votes...

No National Health Care in America? That's just sad.

Via Fark, Yahoo News and The New York Times.

Speaking of health care ... here's more than you ever wanted to know about circumcision. Via Classical Values.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Jane Fonda: Moral Compass of the Vietnam Era Left

Jane Fonda, moral compass of the Vietnam Era Left

While leading the anti-war movement with John Kerry, supporting the Communist Vietnamese, and helping American POW's get extra torture, Jane Fonda, moral exemplar, was also:

(1) having sexual threesomes with her French director husband, and

(2) "ceased eating except for crusts from his bread and rinds from his camembert."

Bob loses reason to smile as Feds raid Enzyte's headquarters

Enzyte Bob loses his mojo

Smiling Bob - of Enzyte's ubiquitous commercials - just lost that loving feeling. The Feds have raided Enzyte's Cincinnati headquarters. Bob's little missus back at the clubhouse has gone looking for the golf pro.

Via Fark. Original Fark post, with comments, here.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Legend of the Spear of Destiny

The Legend of the Spear

The Spear of Destiny, also known as the Spear of Longinus and the Heilige Lance — Holy Lance — is one of the most important Christian relics of the Passion of Jesus Christ. As first described in John 19:31-37, the Spear was used by a Roman soldier (Gaius Cassius, later called Longinus) to pierce the side of Christ as he hung on the cross. The Spear, bathed in the blood of the Lamb and playing a significant role in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, is believed to have acquired tremendous mystical power. The first sign of that power was the purported healing of Gaius Cassius’s failing eyesight by blood from the wound. The centurion later become an early convert to Christianity.

The Spear subsequently passed through a multitude of hands, coming into the possession of many of Europe’s most important political and military leaders, including Constantine I, Alaric (the Visigoth king who sacked Rome in the year 410), Frankish general Charles Martel, Charlemagne, Frederick of Barbarossa, and Frederick II. A leader who possessed the Spear was said to be invincible; Charlemagne and Frederick of Barbarossa were undefeated in battle until they let the Spear fall from their hands. A legend arose that whoever claimed the Spear “holds the destiny of the world in his hands for good or evil.”

As a young man Adolf Hitler was fascinated by the Spear of Destiny, which he first saw displayed in the Hofsburg museum in Vienna, Austria in 1909. Hitler was familiar with the legend of the Holy Lance. His interest in the relic was further amplified by its role in the 1882 opera Parsifal — by Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner — which concerned a group of ninth-century knights and their quest for the Holy Grail. Hitler’s fascination with the Spear was pivotal in sparking his interest in the occult, which gave birth to his ideas on the origins and purpose of the Germanic race and contributed to his belief in his own destiny as a world conqueror.

On October 12, 1938, not long after the German annexation of Austria, Hitler ordered the S.S. to seize the Spear and other artifacts from Vienna. They were taken by train to Nuremberg, where they were stored in St. Katherine’s Church. The Spear remained in St. Katherine’s until 1944, when it was moved to a specially constructed vault beneath the church, built in secret and at great expense, intended to protect it and the other stolen relics from Allied bombs. Nuremberg was captured by Allied troops in April of the following year. The vault was subsequently discovered by American Army officers. The Spear was confiscated by American forces on the afternoon of April 30, 1945, less than two hours before Hitler’s suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin. Like the Spear’s previous owners, Hitler perished after the relic was taken from him.

Was It Real?

Like most holy relics, the history of the Spear of Destiny is complex and difficult to authenticate. The earliest reports of the Spear were circa 570 A.D., when it was said to have been on display in the basilica of Mount Sion in Jerusalem alongside the Crown of Thorns. The point of the spear’s blade was apparently broken off following the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 615 A.D. The point, set into an icon, found its way to the church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople and later to France, where it remained in the Sainte Chapelle until the 18th century. It was briefly moved to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris during the French Revolution, but it subsequently disappeared. Meanwhile, the rest of the spearhead was transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople sometime in the eighth century. It was taken by the Turks in the 14th century and sent by Sultan Bajazet as a gift to Pope Innocent VIII in 1492. Innocent ordered the relic placed in Saint Peter’s in Rome, where it remains today, although the Catholic Church makes no great claim as to its authenticity.

There are several other competing relics in different locations. One such “Holy Lance” was allegedly unearthed by Crusader Peter Bartholomew in Antioch in 1098. That Lance is now at Etschmiadzin in Armenia; scholars believe that it is not actually a Roman lance but the head of a standard, although it may have an interesting history of its own, separate from the legend of the Lance. Another claimant has rested in Krakow for about eight hundred years. Hitler’s lance was the fourth Spear, called the Lance of St. Maurice and the Holy Lance of Hapsburg, which is part of the Reichkleinodien (Imperial Regalia) of the house of Hapsburg. This spearhead is bound with gold, copper, and silver threads to a nail — purported to be one of the nails of the Crucifixion. The earliest verifiable account of this Spear was its use in a coronation ceremony in 1273. It rested in Nuremberg during the Middle Ages, but by the early 20th century it was placed on display at the Treasure House of the Hofsburg museum in Vienna, where Hitler saw it in 1909. This Spear has no greater claim to authenticity than any of the others, although Hitler — who conducted his own less-than-rigorous investigation into its history — was firmly convinced that it was the genuine article, leading to its confiscation by the S.S. in 1938. In 1946 the Spear and the rest of the Imperial Regalia were returned to Austria. Today they are once again on public display at the Hofsburg museum. The spearhead of the Holy Lance of Hapsburg It should be noted that all the various purported Holy Lances are only spearheads, not complete weapons. The spear used by Longinus was most likely a Roman hasta (long spear), an iron head mounted on a hardwood shaft roughly 12 feet long. The shaft of the Spear either was not preserved or was lost to the ravages of time.

The Spear in the DC Comics Universe The Spear was introduced to DC Comics continuity in February 1977 in Weird War Tales #50. In the DC Comics universe the relic seized by Adolf Hitler was indeed the real Spear of Longinus. It has a history every bit as remarkable as Hitler believed and it possesses real — and exceptionally formidable — mystic powers.

The DC Comics universe Spear is somewhat different from the various real-world relics. It is usually depicted as a short spear, perhaps four feet long, rather than a hasta. It is also intact: the spearhead was never separated from the shaft, and recent evidence suggests that the Spear cannot be damaged or destroyed by any conventional means.

It has never been revealed precisely how Hitler acquired the Spear in the DC Comics universe. It may have been displayed in Vienna and seized in 1938, just as the Hapsburg Spear was in real life. In the eighties the supervillain called the Wizard claimed to have provided Hitler with the Spear, but the Wizard’s former villainous colleague Per Degaton maintained that the Wizard was in Tibet at that time and had nothing to do with it (America vs. The Justice Society #3 and #4). In any case, the DC universe’s Hitler did not entrust the Spear to his lackeys at Nuremberg, choosing instead to keep it with him in Berlin.

In November 1940 Nazi agents in Scotland captured three American “mystery men,” Batman, the Flash, and Green Lantern. The three heroes had been dispatched by President Franklin Roosevelt and William Stephenson, the head of British intelligence, to investigate reports of a planned German invasion of Great Britain. At a specially convened rally in Berlin hours later, Hitler prepared to unmask the three Americans and then slay them with the Spear of Destiny as a demonstration of German superiority. He was interrupted by the arrival of two more American heroes, Dr. Fate and Hourman, who quickly freed the three captives.

Enraged, Hitler called on the mystic power of the Spear. Despite the Spear’s origins as a Christian artifact, Hitler’s philosophy was a decidedly un-Christian one, influenced by Frederich Nietszche and Teutonic myth as interpreted by Wagner. As a result, most of the magical effects Hitler produced with the Spear took the form of figures from Norse mythology. His cry of rage summoned a flight of Valkyries, the sword maidens of Wotan, riding the winged horses of legend. At Hitler’s command, the valkyries attacked the American heroes, engaging them in battle high above Berlin.
Exultant at this sign of his own power and German’s dominance, Hitler ordered his commanders to begin Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Great Britain, which had been scrapped months earlier as a result of poor weather in the English channel.

At the same time an experimental long-range bomber was dispatched across the Atlantic to attack Washington, D.C. in hopes of killing President Roosevelt. As the beleaguered heroes pursued the valkyries, who headed out over the ocean to escort the bomber on its way, Dr. Fate issued several mystic summons, enlisting the help of other American mystery men. Drawn to England by Fate’s magic, the Atom, Hawkman, and the Sandman joined British troops in repelling the first wave of German invaders.

Just as they realized that they stood no chance against the full might of the Nazi force, they were joined by the Spectre, the recipient of Fate’s fourth summons. Growing to enormous size, the Spectre strode into the English Channel and singlehandedly laid waste to the entire German fleet, crushing ships and men like toys.

Note: In pre-Crisis continuity, these events took place on Earth-2. There is no evidence that the Earth-1 Hitler possessed the Spear of Destiny, or if he did, that it played any significant role in the war. The Earth-1 Spear’s history may have followed that of the real-world Spear. In post-Crisis continuity neither Superman nor Batman had yet appeared in 1940, and they did not take place in these events. In the post-Crisis history, the valkyrie succeeded in killing Roosevelt. The Spectre appealed to his own master and enabled Roosevelt to return to life, leaving those involved with no memory of his death. The story was retold in Secret Origins (2nd series) #31. Hastily regrouping, the nine assembled heroes engaged the valkyries, but were unable to prevent the Nazi bomber from reaching the American mainland. They were rescued at the last minute by the arrival of Superman, who demolished the German bomber and intercepted its deadly cargo. Minutes later, the Atom prevented one of the valkyries from striking down President Roosevelt in the Oval Office.

Their mission a failure, the valkyries vanished, returning to whence they came.
At Roosevelt’s suggestion, the heroes agreed to form a permanent team, for which Superman provided a name: the Justice Society of America (DC Special #29). A little over a year later, in the wake of the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt convened the All-Star Squadron, an organization of all American mystery men and metahuman heroes of the era. The Squadron was enlisted to invade the Japanese mainland in the hope that their assembled might would bring about a swift end to the war.

Unbeknownst to the heroes, however, Hitler apparently spent part of the previous year further investigating the power of the Spear of Destiny. With the help of a Japanese sorcerer and scientist known only as the Dragon King, who was in possession of the Holy Grail, Hitler created a mystic barrier surrounding Axis territory. As the All-Star Squadron discovered with disasterous results, any hero vulnerable to magic who entered the Spear’s “Sphere of Influence” fell victim to a magical compulsion to serve the Axis cause.

In their first encounter with the Sphere of Influence, the unaffected heroes managed to forestall a disaster by luring their magically entranced comrades out of the range of the compulsion spell, and beat a hasty retreat. Afterwards, the Allied commanders, realizing the potentially horrific consequences of the most powerful American heroes falling under Nazi control, ordered all metahuman operatives to stay out of Axis-controlled or disputed territory, thereby confining many of the heroes to the home front (All-Star Squadron #4).

Note: In pre-Crisis continuity, the Sphere of Influence affected only those heroes with mystical abilities or an unusual vulnerability to magic. The heroes most at risk included the Spectre, Dr. Fate, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Shining Knight, Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt, Sargon the Sorcerer, Zatara, and Earth-S’s Captain Marvel (and the rest of the Marvel Family). Non-magical metahumans (e.g., Johnny Quick, the Ray, the Human Bomb), heroes whose powers were derived from purely mechanical sources (e.g., Robotman, Commander Steel, Starman), or heroes with no superhuman powers (e.g., Manhunter, Wildcat, the Americommando) were not affected. In fact, in the summer of 1942, with both their mystical powers on the wane, Dr. Fate and the Spectre were able to create a spell to temporarily shield themselves from the Sphere of Influence for a humanitarian mission in Europe (Young All-Stars #27). In post-Crisis continuity the Sphere of Influence apparently affects all metahuman heroes, even those whose power is not derived from magical sources. In National Comics (second series) #1, for example, the Flash feels the edges of the Sphere of Influence while on a mission in Dresden in early 1945. Presumably, nonpowered and purely mechanically based heroes were still not affected. The Spear of Destiny’s influence served to keep the majority of the Allied heroes from playing an active part in the war either in Europe or in the Pacific. In the final months of the war they discovered that the range Sphere of Influence was weakening as the Germans and Japanese lost ground, enabling them to venture cautiously into some previously restricted territory (National Comics (second series) #1).

With Allied troops nearing Berlin in mid-April of 1945, Hitler feared that the war was lost. Unwilling to accept defeat gracefully, he determined to avenge himself upon the German people who had proven unworthy to carry out his dreams of conquest. He attempted to use the power of the Spear of Destiny to bring about Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods as he pictured it from the final chapter of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung cycle.

Although Hitler never knew it, he came perilously close to succeeding. The Spear’s power ripped a hole in the sky, unraveling the fabric of the universe as Hitler’s vision of Gotterdamerung drew to a close. To stop it, the Justice Society of America traveled back in time from some fifty years in the future and entered the Ragnarok cycle. By intervening in the battle, the Justice Society prevented the cycle from reaching its conclusion, saving the world at the cost of being forced to endlessly repeat the events of the battle — apparently for all eternity (Last Days of the JSA Special).

In 1945 Hitler knew only that his last efforts had failed; the power of the Spear had at last deserted him. Not long afterward, he committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin, alongside his wife, Eva Braun.

Moments after Hitler’s death, the Spear was removed from his bunker by a mysterious figure, who was pursued by a pair of American soldiers. One of the soldiers was slain, but his comrade, Sergeant Baxter, tracked the Spear to the home of Baron Kragen, a mad German nobleman who hoped to use its power to revive the Third Reich. Baxter killed Kragen and his daughter, Ilse, but was himself slain by the Baron’s Chinese manservant, who claimed the Spear for himself.

The Spear was subsequently taken to China, where its power aided Mao Tse Tung’s Communist revolution, and later to Korea, Laos, and Cambodia (Weird War Tales #50). It eventually fell into the hands of the Soviets and was transported to Russia, where it remained until about three years ago, when it was seized by agents of Kobra the Conqueror. Kobra later attempted to use the Spear to destroy the Spectre. Although he was ultimately unsuccessful, he did discover that the Spear had the power to harm the Spectre’s ectoplasmic form (Armageddon: Inferno #1-#3).

After Kobra’s defeat, the Spear was retrieved by American intelligence operative Eve Eden (Nightshade) and delivered to Sarge Steel, the U.S. secretary of metahuman affairs. It was crated and filed in a warehouse for future study (Spectre (3rd series) #21).

The Spear was subsequently forgotten for about a year until the Spectre destroyed the Balkan state of Vlatava, leveling that nation and wiping out virtually all of its population (Spectre (3rd series) #13). In the wake of that incident, the U.S. government hired occult researcher Professor Nicodemas Hazzard to find a weapon capable of destroying the Spectre. Interviewing the surviving members of the Justice Society of America, Hazzard learned of the Spear’s existence from Wesley Dodds, the former Sandman (Spectre (3rd series) #20). He discovered its current location and arranged for it to be removed from its warehouse.

The Spear was entrusted to Superman, who agreed to confront the Spectre and, if necessary, use the Spear to destroy him. Unfortunately, Hazzard’s investigation had neglected one crucial detail: the Spear’s power was still infected by the madness of Adolf Hitler, making anyone who wielded it subject to megalomaniacal delusions (Spectre (3rd series) #21).

Superman confronted the Spectre, but was overcome by the Spear’s curse. The Man of Steel was subjected to a grim, vivid hallucination in which he used the Spear’s power to conquer and ultimately destroy the world. Superman was able to break free of the Spear’s influence before he lost control, although he realized that he could not use it against the Spectre. Instead, he and the Spectre came to an agreement that there could be no future atrocities like Vlatava, an arrangement that Superman later conveyed to Sarge Steel and the President. Recognizing the danger that the Spear represented, Superman enlisted the Spectre’s help of disposing of it. The Spectre flung it into Earth orbit, buried at the center of an enormous mass of ash and debris from Vlatava (Spectre (3rd series) #22).

Months later a conspiratorial organization called the National Interest retrieved the Spear of Destiny from space (Spectre (3rd series) #47). They once again attempted to use the Spear against the Spectre, who only narrowly escaped destruction. Afterwards, the Spectre hurled the Spear towards the sun, hoping to put it further out of reach (Spectre (3rd series) #50).

Recently, the Spectre, no longer bound to the ghost of Jim Corrigan, was possessed by the fallen angel Asmodel, who used the entity’s power to lay waste to creation. As Earth’s heroes organized against the Spectre, Captain Marvel, accompanied by Starfire, located the Spear of Destiny, still on its journey towards the sun, and returned it to Earth (Day of Judgment #3). Asmodel was subsequently defeated by the spirit of former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, now bound to the power of the Spectre (Day of Judgment #5). Jordan subsequently entrusted the Spear to the Sentinels of Magic, a loose-knit group of magic-wielding heroes including Sentinel, Zatanna, Dr. Occult, Faust, and the Blue Devil. The Sentinels hurled the Spear of Destiny into the sun after casting a spell to ensure that only they would be able to retrieve it (Day of Judgment Secret Files & Origins #1).

The Spear’s Powers The exact nature and extent of the Spear’s powers remain ambiguous. However, even those with no formal magical training have been able to use it to produce world-altering effects. Aside from the Sphere of Influence, Adolf Hitler used the Spear’s power to summon a flight of real, tangible valkyries and, in April 1945, nearly succeeded in unleashing the devastation of Gotterdamerung onto the Earth and bringing about the end of the world. Others with no mystical inclination have nearly succeeded in destroying the Spectre, one of the DC Universe’s most powerful magical entities, by simply using the Spear as a melee weapon. The Sphere of Influence itself was an extremely formidable spell, capable of automatically controlling the minds and wills of the most powerful metahumans and sorcerers at tremendous distances without even requiring the conscious volition of the Spear’s wielder. It should be noted, however, that the Sphere was created by Hitler in partnership with a Japanese occultist called the Dragon King and bolstered with the power of the Holy Grail. A feat of such magnitude may not be possible without the assistance of a more competent magic-user.

Evidence strongly suggests that the Spear cannot be destroyed, at least not by any conventional means. The Spear has three times survived being accelerated to the escape velocity of the Earth (each time it was thrown into space), and its recent disposal by the Sentinels of Magic indicated that even being thrown into the sun did not actually destroy it (although it does obviously make it more difficult to retrieve).

* * * * * *

For more information on the Justice Society of America and the other Golden Age heroes mentioned here, check out David Stepp’s Comics Archives and Justice Society Fact File and Mike Kooiman’s Justice Society Chronology.

For more information on Adolf Hitler’s obsession with the Spear, there’s a book by the late Trevor Ravenscroft, entitled Spear of Destiny: The Occult Power behind the Spear which pierced the side of Christ...and how Hitler inverted the Force in a bid to conquer the world (Samuel Weiser, 1987, ISBN: 0877285470). It’s entertainingly demented, although far from credible as serious history. Ravenscroft also wrote a sequel, entitled The Mark of the Beast: The Continuing Story of the Spear of Destiny, (Samuel Weiser, 1997, ISBN: 0877288704), which I have not read.

With thanks to Aaron Severson, whose research on the spear of destiny appears at ourworld.cs.com and at tombraider4u.com.

A photo of the spear of destiny is available www.3dphoto.net/stereo/world/europe/austriland/spear_of_destiny.html.

Here is the relevant passage from the Book of John as quoted by Severson:

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.

But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’s side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

John 19:31-37

And, yes, the spear of destiny plays a pivotal role in the new movie Constantine.