Saturday, May 03, 2003
Newsweek: The Man of Virtues Has a Vice Conservative activist Bill Bennett has wagered millions in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos during the past decade
I have a connection to the older brother of William Bennett, Robert Bennett. Bob is a very powerful Washington attorney. He was the defense counsel of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North as well as Bill Clinton. He attended the same high school as me, Brooklyn Prep (he being class of 1957, I am class of 1971).
The family moved to Washington in the 50's. Bill attended Gonzaga there.
The popular author, lecturer and Republican Party activist speaks out, often indignantly, about almost every moral issue except one—gambling. It’s not hard to see why. According to casino documents, Bennett is a “preferred customer” in at least four venues in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, betting millions of dollars over the last decade. His games of choice: video poker and slot machines, some at $500 a pull. With a revolving line of credit of at least $200,000 at each casino, Bennett, former drug czar and secretary of Education under Presidents Reagan and Bush, doesn’t have to bring money when he shows up at a casino.Gambling is not sin itself, but an occaision of sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2413. "Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for GAMBLING risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant. "
I expect there to be many defenders of Bill: from liberatarians to sympathetic personal friends in the conservative movement, and people concerned with privacy and an intrusive media.
I expect there to be many people prepared to pile on -- the hypocrisy police, the immoral left delighted to have a target on the right wing, some more-conservative-than-thou-types who are going to use this to attack pro-gambling conservatives.
My take on this is Catholic as you might expect.
There really is a sin here
2477. "Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
On one hand
I believe a good case can be made that there is detraction here. If the claim is true that he doesn't bet the milk money or neglect his family. Why do we need to know this?
There's something about me that if it became public information, I would be embarassed. I suspect we all have an event or a habit that we don't want disclosed.
On the other hand
William Bennett should realize that he ought to have no expectation of privacy being a public figure. It seems almost reckless to risk his reputation in this was.
For his own sake, I hope the he does not have an addiction, an uncontrollable attraction to gambling. I hate to think what sort of stresses on his family these unpredictable gains and losses of income will have.
I think the biggest blast will come from people who will ask why didn't he contribute to the Catholic Church or some charitable foundation rather than Trump, Harrah's, MGM Mirage, etc. The appeal is that we should not consider giving from our surplus but from the core of our earnings.
Luke 21:2-4 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
But I'm not the judge of how much Bill should contribute -- I'm only saying that he's opened himself up to criticism along these lines.
I don't think we've heard the end of the story yet, either.
Update: After researching some of the business issues facing casinos, it seems that (a) Casinos themselves should be troubled about this unauthorized disclosure of their data. (b) The gambling business depends on discretion and anonymity. This is especially so for celebrities, public figures. (c) If Bill Bennett gets tagged, who is going to be next?
Also, there might be a blackmail or extortion angle to this. Someone may have demanded money from Bennett to keep this quiet and he wouldn't play along. It's a possibility.
Of all the high-rollers why is William Bennett the one exposed? He didn't argue that gambling was wrong.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:25 PM Permalink
Friday, May 02, 2003
Editor's Note: I corrected the fixed width problem of the right column as well as the moving left margin. Let me know if there's anything else that can be improved format-wise.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:14 PM Permalink
Thursday, May 01, 2003
[Norfolk Va.] Priest Who Pled Guilty to Lewd Behavior Reassigned by Diocese
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:31 PM Permalink
Newark Star-Ledger: Archbishop Myers critical of UCCB Direcotry of Youth and Child Protection
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has delivered a stern rebuke to the woman charged by U.S. Catholic bishops to assess church reform in the wake of the priest sex-abuse scandal, saying her actions have perplexed a number of bishops.
What I find perplexing is why if Archbishop Myers holds these views why would he make them known to the public through a letter to a member of the Voice of the Faithful.
From a person who should have mastered some self-control about "sharing feelings" and what to put in writing to whom, this seems terribly amateurish and awkward.
If Myers has a criticism of the conduct of Director McChesney, he should have communicated that to the UCCB or Bishop Gregory privately. What purpose is served by undermining the office and the charter McChesney has been given?
Question for Archbishop Myers -- Have you given all the information to the Bishops' Office of Youth and Child Protection that it has requested?
Blogger credit to Catholic World News, Fr. Wilson
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Armageddon Watch Dept.
Isaiah 66 (NAB)
If you found this part of the prophet's writing unclear, it no longer will be:
New York Post: Worms survived Columbia Crash
I'd like to think I'm the first blogger to see the Isaiah connection. Some other blogs are making the appropriate Science-Fiction film and novel connections.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:52 AM Permalink
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
The anonymous author of All But the Dissertation brings up the old canard -- 5 days and 5 hours after the terrorist attack in New York, Washington, and over Pennsylvania -- that in a answer to a stupid question from a reporter "Are you and the Attorney General planning to suspend the Bill of Rights?":
...We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven't seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft - fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people - and show no remorse. This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient.White House Transcript for the above text
And then the press continued to throw this word crusade around as if President Bush had declared a Christian jihad -- this was snickered as a gotcha for Ari Fleischer. This is inside the beltway game of repeating gaffs as many times as you can.
Q A question about the responsible cooperator program, that the administration announced yesterday. One of the main Arab-American organizations in the country says that the word "cooperator" has a very negative connotation in the Arabic language, that it suggests something more akin to collaborator, someone who sells out, in fact, and that this is likely to inhibit cooperation among Arab Americans in the program. Is there any thought being given to reconsider the name of this program?
Now with the perspective of some passage of time and events (like two successful wars and the capture of over 2000 Al Queda terrorists and fighters) doesn't this show more about how superficial the liberal media can be, nipping at the heels of a government that's trying to defend America and fight terrorism?
Thomas Madden in National Review (11/2001) on how clueless people are who believe that Bush meant crusade as a holy war by Christians against Muslims to impose Christianity by the sword in Asia and Africa -- rather than a political movement motivated by morality. If the now-presumed-dead Mullah Omar thought otherwise, so what? It's time to move on.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:46 PM Permalink
A constructive role for the Vatican to play
The Vatican should urge that the international debt burden of Iraq be forgiven.
At the top of the list of creditors to Iraq are France, Germany, and Russia, by the way.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:15 AM Permalink
Washington Post: Vatican Backs Halt To Md. Prayer Meetings (4/26)
The Vatican has confirmed a decision by Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler to stop prayer services that drew hundreds to worship with a woman who said she was receiving messages from the Virgin Mary.
This doesn't require much comment from me. If the people associated with the apparition are going to remain in the Church they will obey. Some links that I found:
It seems strange that in many places in their web site, they claim to submit to the will of the Church -- but they have left a lot of stuff lying around to read. They might be parsing Cardinal Keelers's decree as only forbidding the addition of new "material" and they can keep propagating what they have up to 9/2000.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:41 AM Permalink
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Sean Hannity's K-12 experience
I got hold of a copy of Let Freedom Ring and looked at page 49: Sean (who was born in 1961) attended Sacred Heart (K-8) and St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary (9-12) (this school closed in June 1979) -- I assume he attended from 1974 thru 1978. Now it is a priests residence
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:16 PM Permalink
A Sad list New York State List of Defunct Institutions -- so many of them were Catholic.
UPDATE St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary which opened with great fanfare in 1962 -- ceased as a college and continued on as a high school until 6/1979 when it closed.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 5:10 PM Permalink
Search Terms that Brought People to ExtremeCatholic
Are we having fun yet?
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 2:42 PM Permalink
Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger: Court to decide if man's fixation on teen made him a criminal
Tuesday, April 29, 2003 BY ROBERT SCHWANEBERG
Thirty-four-year-old Manuel Perez never did get a date with the 13-year-old girl he noticed in his neighborhood. But he admitted to police he "obsessed" about her, and he twice approached her in his car, once offering her a ride during a rainstorm.
This was discussed on talk radio this morning. New Jersey has made it a crime to " to attempt to lure a child into a motor vehicle for the purpose of committing a crime" and the other charge was "attempted child endangerment".
After reading the story, I don't have an opinion either way. I think that there are other facts that would be necessary for a judge or jury to evaluate that are not in the news story.
The interesting spin on the story is that Perez is being prosecuted for what he thought and not what he did.
I don't think that's quite true, because he did (as a total stranger) offer a ride to the girl -- which is, to anyone living today in New Jersey would no is irresponsible.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:33 PM Permalink
Thank you readers and linkers
Some time ago I passed 10,000 visitors which is a good milestone for a blog. Looking back I think I have been able to do what I set to do in December last year: present my events-driven commentary on the big news stories and point out smaller, curious, obscure stories on the fringe of the Catholic faith and culture.
I'm not Drudge, NRO Corner, Limbaugh, Catholic World News, or Mark Shea -- but maybe there's something they missed -- you might just find it here.
But does it meet the standard by which all human activity is measured? Does it bring greater glory to God? I pray that it does: writing a blog turns you from being a spectator into a participant in these spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant. Now, I can be doubtful and ignorant myself, so I do this only with the grace of God. Enough now with the navel-gazing, back to work.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:09 AM Permalink
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Monday, April 28, 2003
Berkshire Eagle: Divine Mercy Shrine on Divine Mercy Sunday
[The] Marians requested that a scheduled 11 buses of visitors from [Toronto], as well as from the province of Ontario, stay home this year. According to Director of Communications Kathleen Ervin, that request was honored, though several carloads of Canadians did attend the celebration.
Blogger Credit: Catholic World News
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:55 PM Permalink
New York State Lottery: Pastor is the winner of the $1,000 a week for life
Luck Had Nothing To Do With It Says Prosperous Pastor
Schenectady – New York Lottery Director Margaret R. DeFrancisco today announced Father Francis Coryer, the pastor at the Church of the Assumption in rural Redford, NY, became the 100th player to win the $1,000 a week for life top prize from the Lottery’s popular Win for Life Instant game.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:47 PM Permalink
News 12 New Jersey: Infant found in Passaic trash can
An infant wrapped in two plastic garbage bags was left in the bottom of a trash can in the City of Passaic. The seven-pound, six-ounce baby girl, who's umbilical cord was still attached, was discovered early Sunday morning by someone who just happened to hear her muffled cries.
Such stories are so routine that they don't make the New York papers even if it is only 12 miles away. So please pray for this girl and her mother.
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Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday
As you know even though the Sunday is now called Divine Mercy Sunday, this theme is not yet reflected in the scripture readings of the Mass. While my fellow Catholic bloogers focus on the Gospel, I'm going to turn to the First Reading -- which typically is from the Old Testament but is today from the New.
Acts 4: 32 - 35This is a message Dorothy Day or Vladimir Lenin would love. I imagine it is disturbing to the ears of Ebenezer Scrooge or Montgomery Burns.
Chesterton in the Distributist makes a 20th century attempt to describe this in practice.
JustPeace has an introduction to the topic.
Related to this topic are the "Living Wage", the welfare state, and the obligation of a Catholic to give alms -- the voluntary gift of goods and services to the poor.
To a Catholic, almsgiving or sharing with the poor, represents both an obligation and a voluntary act.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 3:49 PM Permalink
Rod Dreher is "back in the saddle again"
Dallas News: No more living in a bull's-eye
This is the Rod Dreher bookmark
You still have a big fan back in New York.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:23 PM Permalink
AP: Catholic Reservist refused Anthrax Vaccination
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) A 26-year-old Army reservist at Fort Drum faces a court-martial for her refusal to receive an anthrax vaccine.I think refusing to take the vaccine might be argued on pragmatic grounds (in which case she should seek to be discharged from the Army) but not on religious grounds -- I believe you can't make the case (CCC 2211, 2417) that Catholic teaching advises against this vaccine or even a right for her to refuse for conscience reasons under military authority. Her citing religious grounds I think is going to be confusing. Was she planning on becoming pregnant during her deployment?
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:07 AM Permalink
Wall Street Journal: Human Wrongs The U.N. can't define terrorism, let alone confront it
The U.N.'s Iraq fiasco demands an answer to the unambiguous question of how U.N. bodies have performed against those fixed and indispensable principles. Is it still true that Americans can anticipate a common core agenda? With the conclusion last week of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights annual session, the record speaks for itself.
Required reading for people who still cling to the idea that the U.N. can be regarded with any moral authority.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 9:04 AM Permalink
Ann Coulter (4/23/03, not a permalink) on the double standard of liberal media towards Islam and Christianity:
Liberals learned to live with Iraqi citizens being fed into plastic shredders, summary executions, maimings and unanesthetized ear-loppings. Only now have they found something truly fiendish going on in Iraq: Christian missionaries are proselytizing! On the basis of the raw terror on display at the New York Times, I gather the operating theory is that Iraqis who withstood Saddam Hussein's sadistic tyranny for 30 years will be unable to withstand a Christian missionary.Elsewhere she points out the hypocrisy of CNN knowing the truth of the death and torture in Iraq, and suppressing that knowledge -- while at the same time arguing the President Bush did not have a good reason to invade Iraq.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:46 AM Permalink
Another connection between the Christendom's victory Islam (17th C.) over and Baghdad (21st C.)
Catholic World News: the Pope beatified Father Marco d'Aviano (1631-1699), a Capuchin preacher who is a key historical figure in the liberation of Vienna from the Ottomans in 1683
This is the d'Aviano for whom Aviano Air Base is named. Headquarters United States 16th Air Force.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:37 AM Permalink
Sunday, April 27, 2003
What Traditional Catholics Will Be Wearing this Spring
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:50 PM Permalink
AP: Cockfight in the Bronx. 70 Arrested
NEW YORK (AP) -- Authorities raided a cockfight in New York City and arrested more than 70 people on animal fighting and other charges, prosecutors said.
Just a few miles from where I live. There's some discussion that these arrests show on the part of the political establishment an intolerance of cultures which enjoy this form of entertainment.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:35 PM Permalink
The Papal Signature
The Pope signs the encyclicals with his Latin Name "Joannes Paulus PP. II" -- the PP. stands for pastor pastorum or pastor of pastors.
This factoid from The Pope Encyclopedia by Matthew Bunson.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:00 PM Permalink
How the blog creates a chain of ideas
My wife mentioned that one parish was hit with two priests who had affairs with parishioners. Since there wasn't a crime involved, the cases were not publicized, but of course it's a scandal.
I remarked that I would think that with the shortage of priests that they would be very busy given the needs of the parishioners have not diminished as the number of priests have. One priest who I knew rather well involved in the scandal, was aloof, unfriendly, and presented to everyone apparently, a terrible personality. He was a priest that made everyone ask "Why is he a priest?"
I think he wound up with a great deal of time on his hands as people avoided contact with him. The Devil will find work for idle hands.
So I read a blog -- in this case ibidiem by Jesus Gil who links to this article: aftenposten (Norway) Clergyman says boredom led him to child porn and my opinion is supported.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:58 PM Permalink
Statistics for the priests (and deacons) of my Diocese (Brooklyn-Queens, New York)
My great accounting professor told us to ignore the numbers and look at the footnotes. This advice applies to this page of statistics:
[i] Released from Diocesan Assignment (RFDA); For the purpose of this statistical report this category includes those who have been released to take an assignment in another diocese or institution; those who have taken a leave due to illness; those who have taken a leave from active ministry for personal reasons. Most of those who are not expected to return to the Diocese for active ministry are those who are too sick to minister or those who have left active ministry for personal reasons. They are included in this report for the sake of consistency as canonically they still belong to the Diocese of Brooklyn.We have 379 priests working in parishes as of 10/2002.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:40 PM Permalink
Talk Radio Notes:
It makes no difference if we find WMD's, because the fact is that Saddam didn't threaten the United States with them.
It makes a lot of difference if we don't find WMD's, because it discredits President Bush's justification for starting the war.
posted by Patrick Sweeney at 12:53 AM Permalink