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Friday, November 08, 2019

Priests of EWTN

A recent conversation about EWTN brought up the following interesting question: how many celebrity priests has EWTN gone through?

This is the list I was able to come up with.
It is not clear that this list is complete.
If you can think of anyone else, please let me know.


2002: Father John Bertolucci's bishop removes him from ministry and IDs him as one of 20 child molester priests in the diocese. EWTN silently expunged him from the network.

2003: Father Ken Roberts, accused of forced gay sex with a minor. He is suspended from the priesthood.

2005: Msgr. Eugene V. Clark is discovered to have a long-term sexual relationship with a married woman. The husband eventually has to get a restraining order against his wife to keep her away from the children.

2007: Father Francis Mary Stone, host of EWTN's Life on the Rock, fathered a child with an EWTN staffer. He leaves the priesthood.

2009: the aptly named Father Alberto CutiĆ©, also fathers a child with a married woman.  He subsequently marries the woman he was seen groping on a beach, and became an Episcopalian priest.

2010: Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, admitted having sex with at least one woman, and that woman says he had sex with at least two more.

2011: Fr. John Corapi is accused of mismanaging money. An investigative panel appointed by his order alleged continuing sexual improprieties, drug abuse, and a lavish lifestyle contrary to his vow of poverty. He leaves the priesthood

2011: Fr. Michael Manning announced a one-month leave from his television show as a result of the revelation that he was involved in an inappropriate relation with his second cousin, Nancy Kotowski, the Monterey County, California superintendent of schools.

2012: Franciscan friar Father Benedict Groeschel says children seduce priests and abusers on their first offense should not go to jail 'because their intention was not committing a crime.' He is banned from EWTN's Sunday Night Prime TV show.

2013: Fr. Thomas Williams, former Legionary of Christ, fathers a child with another EWTN staffer, Elizabeth Lev, who already had two other illegitimate children. She goes on to write a book with George Weigel.

2014: Fr. Frank Pavone is credibly accused of severe financial mismanagement by two different bishops under whom he served

Then, of course, there is the close relationship between EWTN and the Legionaries of Christ. EWTN would end up buying the National Catholic Register, an LC newspaper. The Legionaries founder, Fr. Marciel Maciel, turned out to be a sexual predator.

In the space of twelve (12) years, EWTN went through a minimum of eleven (11) celebrity priests.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Statues in the Tiber

Ed Peters, the rather nonsensical canon lawyer who likes to get clicks to his blog, has certainly gone above and beyond himself. He usually just charges lay Catholics with heresy, but has now implicitly laid the charge at the Pope's feet, as if he has the right to judge the Pope. If he were familiar with canon law, he would realize that he does not.

Ed opined "{T]he faithful have the right to trust that what they see in Catholic sacred places is actually there in service to the sacred and is not simply a gesture toward some form of political correctness or the latest cause du jour" ... my heavens, that IS laughable.

For instance, would old Ed object to the placement of, say, the American flag in the sacristy, because such a placement is pretty obviously just a "gesture toward some form of political correctness"?

If someone took that flag out of the sacristy and threw it in the river, or burned it, in order to protest the presence of the profane thing in the sacristy, would Eddy see no serious problem? Would he laud the refusal to set up idols like the American flag?

And to those who object, there is no question the American flag HAS become an idol to many American Catholics. The flag is at least as much an idol to Americans as those statues are to various other people. Think about it.

How many American Catholics voted for Hillary or Bernie or Obama, all politicians who are pure anathema from a Catholic standpoint? How many American Catholics voted for Trump despite Trump's attacks on the Vicar of Christ, despite Trump's clear dissonance with Catholic Faith in immigration matters? How many continue to defend the idol that is Donald Trump even after he gave a half BILLION dollars in federal funds to Planned Parenthood?

How many Catholics ignore Catholic teaching as it applies to America because "America First!"? Yet the same people who applaud the throwing of statues into the Tiber would be outraged if the American flag were removed from the sacristy and thrown in the river.

Look, I have zero problem with people throwing the statues in the Tiber. If they want to, fine. Similarly, if bishops want to put the statues in the sacristy, I can't stop them. The sacristy is under the control of the local bishop and the Pope. The statues have no meaning to me, nor will they ever, so sacristy or burned and drowned is all the same to me. Like the American flag, the statues don't mean what other people want them to mean. Placing something in the sacristy doesn't make it holy any more than consecrating a man of priest makes him henceforth sinless. There are all kinds of people and things in the sacristy which just aren't worthy of God, most especially, when I enter the sacristy, me.

The placements of the statues are simply performance art: neither putting them in the sacristy nor throwing them in the river has anything to do with being Catholic nor with Catholic liturgy.

I can reject private revelation, like Lourdes and Fatima and be a perfectly good Catholic.

I can ignore the statues I consider ugly or unnecessary and be a perfectly good Catholic.

I can shake my head in disgust when priest or laity place a national symbol in the sacristy which represents a country that murders unborn children, embraces eugenics, and endorses homosexual marriage. I will still be a perfectly good Catholic.

The statue controversy is just click-bait for Catholics who are determined to be angry about pointless, unimportant things. It serves the necessary weekly outrage that keeps most Catholic blogs alive, but beyond lining someone's pockets, it matters not at all.
REMEMBER: “Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him, but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom. He who rebels against our Father is condemned to death, for that which we do to him we do to Christ: we honor Christ if we honor the Pope; we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the Pope. I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him.” — St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222, (quoted in Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 5: “The Book of Obedience”, Chapter 1: “There is No Salvation Without Personal Submission to the Pope”).

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The "Faithless Elector" Problem

Let me begin by saying the electoral college is a brilliant idea, unmatched anywhere else in the world for balancing political interests, and it should definitely NOT be abolished. However, a common complaint against the electoral college is the problem of the "faithless elector".  Let me explain.

When we vote for president, we aren't actually voting for the president. We are ACTUALLY voting for an elector who will then take his or her place in a very temporary institution called the "electoral college." The electoral college comes together only once every four years, after the presidential election is over. The term of office is counted in days. It is the electors who cast their votes for president, it is the electors who elect the president, not the general public.

Once in the electoral college, the elector should, if everything goes according to plan, vote for the same presidential candidate that the state s/he came from voted for. That's the idea, but the Constitution doesn't actually REQUIRE any particular elector to vote in a way that agrees with the majority vote of his or her state. Some states have state laws which put this requirement on their electors, but the constitutionality of those laws is unclear - they have never been challenged. Certainly not all states even have such laws in place. So, theoretically, the elector can actually vote for whoever they darn well please. This has created no end of entertainment over the last 200 years.

Now, the complain made against the electoral college is precisely about those "faithless electors" who vote their own conscience instead of the "will of the people" of the state that put them into the electoral college. But here's the nub: what - exactly - is the will of the people?

When we elect a senator or representative, those ladies and gentlemen (and I use both terms very loosely) often don't vote the way we want. In fact, the only thing we can count on is that they ALWAYS vote the way THEY want.

This is how they do it: if their opinion on an issue is shared by the majority of the people who elected them, then they proclaim that they are championing the majority and vote with the majority. However, if the senator or rep's opinion is only held by the minority of the people who voted for them, then the senator or rep votes the minority and claims s/he is fighting for the rights of the oppressed!


That's why we have to be very careful who we vote for. Each person in Congress, SCOTUS or the presidency is going to do whatever they damned well please. Despite our luscious illusions to the contrary, neither the majority nor the minority have any control over that. Everyone in government does whatever is in their own interests. If it happens to be in the interests of the majority, well, isn't that grand? But if it isn't, then the majority be damned. If you can't please everyone (and you can't), then you have to please yourself.

So, when it comes to representation, a "faithless elector" is pretty much par for the electoral course..It's standard issue politics. I don't see why anyone would be upset about someone doing, as an elector, what everyone already does as a senator, representative, SCOTUS judge or president. We can't very well expect higher standards for the largely faceless members of the electoral college than we have for all the other, far more permanent, offices. 





Saturday, September 07, 2019

Immigration and Original Intent

I love it when "conservatives" argue for Original Intent (tm) on gun control, but then promote Progressive arguments on immigration because they don't know any ACTUAL American history.

The Founders revolted from England in part because the King refused to maintain open borders. Read the Declaration of Independence:
"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither" 
The Founders (and present-day law) distinguished between immigration (entering the country) and naturalization (the ability to vote and hold office). Thus, the Constitution has VERY strict rules on naturalization, but none at all on immigration. In fact, there are NO federal laws restricting immigration until the 1875 Page Act, which embodied Darwinian eugenics to keep out the yellow Asian hordes. 

The only mention of immigration in the Constitution refers to the importation of slaves, the only mention of deportation (not immigration, btw - immigration is never mentioned) in federal law is the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In reaction to the A&S  laws, Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration) and James Madison (author of the Constitution) started the first federal nullification movement, wherein the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures passed resolutions declaring those specific federal laws invalid within their states. That is, Jefferson and Madison specifically and explicitly created those respective states as "sanctuary" states.

So, Trump's entire riff on this is actually a violation of the Founders' vision and constitutional law as embodied by the Founders for the first century of this country's history. The Page Act was passed in response to Darwin's work, and Trump has long been a proud eugenicist (as has virtually every President between Teddy Roosevelt and Trump, inclusive, with the sole exceptions of Reagan and GW Bush).

The history is quite, QUITE clear.
You are backing a Progressive Darwinian eugenics argument.
Yours is the argument of a damned liberal, not an argument in line with the Founders' vision.

If you want to argue that times change, and the Constitution must change with it, that's Woodrow Wilson's argument. That's a Progressive argument.

Either you are for Original Intent (tm) or you aren't.
Choose.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

How to Get Out of Being On A Jury

The elites like to control people, and the doctrine of jury nullification breaks their control, so they don't like it.

If you ever want to get out of jury duty, this is the easiest way to accomplish it. When the attorney asks, "Would X sway your ability to make a fair judgment in this case?", answer this way: 
"My opinion is my own. Gentlemen, once I am on a jury, my opinion IS the law. I stand in judgement not just of the defendant, but of the defendant's attorney, the prosecuting attorney, the judge, and even the very law itself. If I find anything in the conduct of the trial or the letter of the law that I do not like, that defendant will walk free, and - quite frankly - none of you have any recourse. I, and the eleven who stand with me on this jury, ARE the law. As a juror, I am the master of the law. You and the rest of the court are our servants, whose opinions about the law and the conduct of the trial we may choose to note, if we deem any of you worthy of our notice." 
You will be struck from the roster before you the last syllable finishes echoing from the courtroom walls. Every word of the paragraph above is true, you see, and they really don't want you to be saying that kind of stuff out loud.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Vegans and Socialism

Vegans and socialism go together like peanut butter and jelly, and have for at least a century:
"The truth is that, to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which 'we', the clever ones, are going to impose upon 'them', the Lower Orders. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to regard the book-trained Socialist as a bloodless creature entirely incapable of emotion. Though seldom giving much evidence of affection for the exploited, he is perfectly capable of displaying hatred—a sort of queer, theoretical, in vacuo hatred—against the exploiters....
And please notice that I am arguing for Socialism, not against it. But for the moment I am advocatus diaboli. I am making out a case for the sort of person who is in sympathy with the fundamental aims of Socialism, who has the brains to see that Socialism would 'work', but who in practice always takes to flight when Socialism is mentioned.
Question a person of this type, and you will often get the semi-frivolous answer: 'I don't object to Socialism, but I do object to Socialists.' Logically it is a poor argument, but it carries weight with many people. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents....
...In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England....
...It would help enormously, for instance, if the smell of crankishness which still clings to the Socialist movement could be dispelled. If only the sandals and the pistachio-coloured shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaller, and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly! But that, I am afraid, is not going to happen." 
George Orwell, "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Vaccines

I have no particular brief against vaccines. They work, they reduce and eliminate nasty diseases. They are an important tool in the medical arsenal. But, like any tool, vaccines have problems. They aren't completely safe. After all, if vaccines are completely safe, then:

  1. Why does the federal government maintain a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which pays out money to, presumably, non-existent victims? Certainly, fiscal conservatives should be trying to shutdown this federal boondoggle, right? So, why don't vaccine supporters rail against this database and these "victim"payouts as the boondoggles they are?
  2. Why does federal law uniquely insulate vaccine manufacturers from all product-related lawsuits, and force taxpayers to provide manufacturers with both complete immunity and with federally-funded, comprehensive insurance against all damage claims?
If vaccines are completely safe, there would be no need for federal law preventing lawsuits, no need for immunity, no need for a database of "victims", no need for payouts. Instead, we have federal laws insulating vaccine manufacturers, a database of victims, and a history of payouts to victims listed in the federally managed database.
I can't think of another industry that has this sweet of a deal.
If vaccines are completely safe, why waste federal dollars like this?

Now, certainly, the diseases being vaccinated against are also dangerous. For instance, measles can cause injury and death. Certainly, vaccines have wiped out smallpox, are on the verge of wiping out polio, and have greatly ameliorated many childhood diseases like measles, diptheria, pertussis, etc. Many of the childhood diseases are QUITE deadly (e.g., diptheria), and their reduction via vaccine is a boon to mankind.

However, there are also certainly discordant notes. Why are vaccines federally mandated? Japan, for instance, has no mandatory vaccine policy at all. Failure to vaccinate results in the payment of a small fine, that's it, yet Japanese vaccine compliance is very high. Japan, for instance, has a 97% measles vaccination rate and measles is no longer endemic to Japan. Japan accomplished this without government mandates and without government-funded immunity for vaccine companies. But, the Japanese refusal to implement government mandates results in Westerners writing odd paragraphs like the following: 
"Although many health-related indicators, such as life expectancy and the infant mortality rate show that the health situation in Japan is among the best in the world, there is a large gap between Japan and other developed countries in the use of vaccines to prevent serious infections. For example, the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) was only recently approved in Japan (October 2009), more than 8 years after its approval in the UK. Many common vaccines, including those for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), the inactivated poliovirus vaccine, and combination vaccines, are not yet available in Japan....
[T]he epidemiology of meningococcal meningitis, ...has an incidence of around 1000 cases per year in England and Wales [4], but only around 10–20 cases per year in Japan [5]... Meningococcal vaccines are not available in Japan."

Why does the first sentence begin with "Although"? The entire science article begins with the assumption that Japanese vaccine policies are woefully backward and absurd, because Japan does not have any government mandates regarding vaccines. Yet, if government-mandated vaccines are crucial to stopping the spread of disease, the situation that same article so blithely described above should be literally impossible. Instead, Japan is measles-free. This is documented fact. Why is the government involved in protecting vaccine manufacturers when we know this is not necessary?

To put it another way, exactly how dangerous are these diseases when compared to the vaccines we use to fight them? Well, let's take measles as an example. The United States has a population of 330,000,000. There have only been 1100 measles cases this year (and this is a HIGH year). So, the chances of getting measles is currently about 1 in 300,000.

Currently, the chance of even catching measles is less likely than the odds of dying in an airplane crash (1 in 205,552) and about as likely as getting killed by fireworks (1 in 340,733). Once you have contracted the disease, the risk of an adverse measles consequence, like pneumonia, is about 1 in 20. The worst adverse reaction is the least common: only 0.2% of the people who contract measles actually die from measles (and the risk of dying can be cut by 50% if vitamin A supplements are provided). So, which is more dangerous? The measles vaccine or the measles?

To find out, multiply the possibility of catching measles (1 in 300,000) with the possibility of serious adverse reaction (1 in 20) and you have odds of about 1 in 6 million of suffering an adverse reaction from measles. Compare this to the CDC's estimate of the likelihood of an adverse reaction to the vaccine. According to the CDC, the chance of an adverse reaction to a vaccine is one in a million. So, here is the paradox: vaccines have worked so well for the general population that an individual statistician can reasonably argue s/he is six times safer to risk catching measles than s/he is to get the measles vaccine.

Are anti-vax fears that vaccine will harm or kill their children rational? In many cases, those fears are not rational: many anti-vaxxers fear vaccines on completely irrational grounds. But not always. We must admit that some of their fears are grounded in facts which the official narrative either seriously underplays or completely dismisses. The facts demonstrate vaccines are not completely safe. The facts do not strongly support the idea that government-mandated vaccines, and government-funded protection of vaccine companies, are warranted. The discordance does raise valid questions: why DO we have government mandates and government immunity for vaccine manufacturing companies? If the individual is duty-bound to bear (possible adverse consequences of) the vaccine, from whence comes this duty? When does society have the right to compel an individual to risk personal harm in order to assure a common good?

The anti-vaxxers frequently offer irrational arguments, but the pro-vax arguments aren't fully rational either, at least not from an individual mathematical perspective. 

Both sides need to acknowledge that the other side has valid points. It is amazing how many people on both sides of the aisle are unwilling to acknowledge that the situation is not necessarily as clear-cut as either side paints it.