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Saturday, January 14, 2006
 
A movie about me?

I've watched and admired Harrison Ford since American Grafitti in 1973.

In Firewall he plays someone around my age (although in real life he's 12 years older than me): a computer consultant working for a bank.

Harrison Ford is not a geek. That's all I can say for now.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 2:01 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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CatholicBlogWatch Dept.: Bravo for Brownback

Fellow blogger Oswald Sobrino noticed Senator Sam Brownback (KS-R) had made excellent points during the Alito confirmation hearings:

Brownback completely devastated the outrageously false contention that Roe v. Wade is some sort of "super-duper" precedent--an absurd phrase with no legal basis whatsoever that has been bandied about in both the Roberts and Alito confirmation hearings.
I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Brownback at a press event at the National Republican Convention in New York in 2004 to which bloggers were invited.

He's not high on the list of possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. He might be a balancing pick for the Vice President in the event that a pro-choice Republican is the presidential nominee.

See more at Catholic Analysis


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 1:27 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Thursday, January 12, 2006
 
What majority to overturn Roe?

I've read in more than one place that with the appointment of Judge Alitio to the Supreme Court, it is a majority to overturn Roe.

Can't anyone count to 5?

There would be only 4 safe overturn votes: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

There would be Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg as keep Roe votes.

What about Kennedy and Souter? They were both on the court and voted to overturn the spousal notification laws of Pennsylvania is Planned Parethood v. Casey

Has anyone detected any movement towards pro-life on the part of Kennedy or Souter?

The 1987 disaster that was the Robert Bork confirmation hearings gave us Justice Anthony Kennedy, a pro-choice Catholic.

Update: This item was edited to reflect that it was spousal notification which was struck down, and parental notification was upheld in Casey. Since then litigation to strike down all parental notification laws continues. I am grateful for the opportunity to correct this.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:20 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Wednesday, January 11, 2006
 
Maybe it wasn't just me who mailed it in, but I'd like to think it was me...
Rush, I'm giving this to you before I post to my blog. Let me try to write it as you would read it:
In a time a war, the question of privacy in electonic communications and the President's authority over them, was settled a long time ago. Not by Bush 41, Nixon, Johson, Truman, FDR or Wilson. No, go back another century.

At the start of an undeclared war, the President took decisive action to obtain a total interception of electronic communications.

The year was 1861, the president was Abraham Lincoln, and he ordered without judicial or congressional authority the secret seziure of the email and cell phone recordings of his day: the telegram.

As Civil War historian Shelby Foote records: "In late April 1861, for security reasons, [Lincoln] authorized simultaneous raids on every telegraph office in the northern states, seizing the originals and every copy of all telegrams sent or received during the past year."

Only days earlier, Lincoln took office and Fort Sumter was fired on. Congress would not be in session and declare war until summoned by Lincoln on July 4th later that year.

Foote, Shelby; The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville; Vintage Books: New York; page 67; ISBN 0394766236
Both Rush and Hannity started to refer to the seizure of telegrams by Lincoln this week. I mailed it over the weekend to Rush.

The power of the new media.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:26 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Auxiliary bishop reveals he was abused by priest as teenager : AP
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit has revealed he was abused by a priest 60 years ago. He is believed to be the first U.S. bishop to disclose that he was a victim of sexual abuse by clergy.

Gumbleton, 75, said in written remarks prepared for an appearance later Wednesday in Columbus that he was inappropriately touched by a priest when he was a teenager.

"I speak out of my own experience of being exploited as a teenager through inappropriate touching by a priest," Gumbleton wrote.

He also wrote that there is "a strong likelihood" some perpetrators have not yet been exposed, and the only way to ensure they will is through the courts.

On one hand, it takes courage to made such a statement of victimhood. It seems strange that we'd come to know of this by "written remarks prepared for an appearance later Wednesday" rather than years ago when the scandal broke.

This auxiliary bishop of Detroit has yet to mail in his resignation which was due on January 26, 2005.

Quoted in New Oxford Review, the bishop made his views on homosexuality known:

Earlier, America published an article by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Sept. 30, 2002) that took that same tack, and Gumbleton quoted Fr. James Empereur, S.J., as saying that "homosexuality is one of God’s most significant gifts to humanity" (italics added). So maybe it’s the heterosexuals who are afflicted with the disorder?

Now, Gumbleton did not say that homosexual activity is moral. (After all, he was writing in America, which is assiduously read in Rome.) However, that is Gumbleton’s position. Gumbleton spoke at a gathering of homosexuals at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village, saying that "We need a new paradigm for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in the Church." An astute reporter for Lesbian and Gay New York asked the Bishop what exactly he meant. The reporter said, "The Church’s official teaching is that sexual activity between two people of the same sex is always wrong. Do you mean to say that it can be moral?" Gumbleton answered, "Yes, I do." This appeared in a very friendly source, Dignity/USA Journal, Winter 1999.

Looking around at his very strong denials that homosexuality was not a problem in the priesthood because of psychological studies which proved it wasn't, one wonders about his own sincerity in making those denials given what we know now.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:32 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Tuesday, January 10, 2006
 
Bury the lead

The big news story is the good news on jobs growth and the stock market.

As Rush Limbaugh mentioned that when it (i.e. the Dow Jones Industrial Average) goes up and crosses 11,000 it is only psychological. You can bet if it fell thru 10,000 that it would not be called a merely psychological move.

As Larry Kudlow points out, there's such a positive environment now that it is to the shame of the media that they can't present this good news because it might help Republicans.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 10:11 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramboff, Ariel Sharon

I saw that as the anti-Republican vultures were gathering, the names Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist were getting mentioned in connection with Abramoff. Of course, Reed and Norquist were not indicted but they are not home free yet. The scam was to collect money from both sides of the Indian gambling question and coordinate the campaigns.

Rod Dreher notes the silence of Pat Robertson on Reed's involvement in his blog.

I wonder if Brother Pat had anything to say about the role his former protege, Ralph Reed, plays in this scandal. Reed got $4 million from Abramoff to play the Big Christian and lobby against gambling initiatives that would have harmed the interests of Abramoff's Indian casino clients. Seems that Abramoff's partners, like former Tom DeLay aide Michael Scanlon (who has also pled guilty to fraud and worked out a deal with government prosecutors), figured that Christians were useful idiots all along.
Rod goes on to quote the memo that describes how the "useful idiots" can be used.

Pat Robertson has nothing to say about Ralph Reed. By the way, I admired Ralph Reed's book Active Faith: How Christians are Changing the Face of American Politics

Pat Robertson has something to say about Ariel Sharon. That he was being punished by God for redrawing the borders as Prime Minister that he draw as General. Blogger Jonathan David Morris writes it up as I would:

Last week, when Israeli PM Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke and underwent hours upon hours of brain surgery, Pat Robertson used the occasion on his show, The 700 Club, to note that Sharon was probably being punished by God for giving land to Palestinians. Now, forget about where you stand on Middle East issues for a minute. That stuff is secondary here. Right off the bat, regardless of where you stand, what makes Robertson so sure Sharon's stroke is punishment for anything? I mean, how old is this Sharon guy? Isn't he pushing 80 already? People his age have strokes all the time. Dick Clark, for example. You mean to tell me Dick Clark's stroke was punishment for something? Like what? Did he rock a little too hard at all those New Year's Rockin' Eves? I have several problems with Robertson's analysis, but first and foremost among them is that he'd attempt to tie Sharon's failing health to his personal views on foreign policy. Why does Sharon's stroke have to be punishment? Why can't it just be a stroke?

posted by Patrick Sweeney at 8:59 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Monday, January 09, 2006
 
Girl, 15, charged with attempting to murder her baby : AP
As a newborn boy found in a trash can struggled for life today, his 15-year-old mother was at the same hospital, charged with attempted murder.

The freshman at Bergenfield High School managed to hide her pregnancy, and gave birth in the bathroom of her home Friday night. She took the body, placed him in a gym bag and dumped it in a trash can outside a deli near her house, police Sgt. Brian Monaghan said.

Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor James Santulli said the mother will be prosecuted as a juvenile.

Her son was in critical condition Monday on life support at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hospital officials.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers on Monday approved a measure that would examine why a five-year-old law providing safe haven to mothers who cannot care for their newborns has not been used more often. The law allows a parent to leave an unwanted baby at a police station or hospital without being subject to criminal charges.

Since 2000, 21 infants have been were turned over to police or hospital workers. However, 19 others _ including the Bergenfield baby _ were abandoned or killed, and six others were found dead, according to state statistics.

"This bill sets up a task force to take a look at who has been using it (the safe haven law), and who hasn't and how can we reach those people who haven't," said Sen. Diane Allen, who sponsored the bill. "We want young women, and in some cases older women, to take advantage of this more than they are."

The state appropriates $500,000 annually for outreach, which goes for advertising on television and radio as well as brochures and posters. Both New Jersey Right to Life and the Human Services Department support the formation of the task force.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey has indicated he will sign it before leaving office on Jan. 17.

News of the abandoned infant shocked residents of Bergenfield, which is still reeling from a natural gas explosion shortly before Christmas that leveled an apartment complex and killed three people.

"She had a choice, to give birth and dump the baby in a trash can," said Jeffrey Lower, a patron of the deli where the baby was found. "She knew what she was doing."

Another customer, Carol Baumuller, said she could not judge the mother.

"You don't know what that child is going through," she said. "She must have been so scared. She probably had no support system. It's a terrible thing to happen to a 15-year-old. She's a child herself."

I would say to Carol, whatever problems the mother had faced, was facing, or will face, none of it would have been helped by attempting to kill the baby as she is accused of doing. At 15, she should know the difference between right and wrong.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:30 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Sunday, January 08, 2006
 
Vatican Grants Church Trial in Abuse Case : New York Times
After waging a public battle against the Archdiocese of New York, the most prominent Roman Catholic priest in the archdiocese to be accused in the sexual abuse scandals was granted a church trial yesterday by the Vatican to determine whether he should receive the ultimate punishment of removal from the priesthood.

The priest, Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh, former head fund-raiser for the archdiocese and an immensely influential figure in Catholic circles, has fought Cardinal Edward M. Egan since 2002, when the cardinal suspended him and asked the Vatican to bar him from returning to the ministry.

Monsignor Kavanagh is the first Catholic cleric in New York to be granted a trial since the sexual abuse scandals emerged in 2002. Twelve others were denied trials by the Vatican and either defrocked or sentenced to a life of prayer and penance, archdiocese officials said.

Monsignor Kavanagh, 68, was suspended after a former student at the high school he had run told the archdiocese that during a six-year friendship more than 20 years ago, the monsignor touched him in a sexual manner and twice lay atop him and rubbed against him.

What's bizarre about this case as I review the history is the conflicting claims of "due process" and "whitewash" and the accuser speaking of his "leverage" against the Archdiocese in his spotty cooperation with the investigation. On one hand, the accuser and the accused call for transparency and openness, but have not released their own testimony, claiming, of course, a right to their privacy. The canonical trial will be in Erie, Pennsylvania -- 430 miles away. According to the Times: "Cardinal Egan had asked that that the case be moved out of New York to a 'more sedate' environment, archdiocese officials said. No date has been set." The trial will be behind closed doors with only the verdict announced.

I think no matter what the outcome, one side will claim that the process was unfair to their side. A not guilty verdict would hurt Cardinal Egan's already poor support from the priests of the archdiocese.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:44 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Stealing from the Church

Four who bought food for Catholic churches accused of stealing $2 million : AP

A top purchasing agent for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York was indicted along with his wife and two others on federal charges of pocketing $2 million while buying food products from lettuce to pancakes.

The indictment said the four marked up prices by as much as 138 percent on the items for more than 1,000 churches, schools and other institutions, and also required numerous vendors to pay money, supposedly as commissions, on their orders.

Vincent J. Heintz was general manager of Institutional Commodity Service from 1992 until March 2004, overseeing all aspects of the central purchasing service's day-to-day operation, said the indictment, handed up Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Also named as defendants were Heintz's wife, Nanette B. Melera, the food service director, and Joseph J. DeRusso and Michael J. O'Shaughnessy, who were consultants and representatives to the service.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:29 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Stealing from the poor box II

Cops Hunt For Man Who Stole From Church : 1010 WINS

When their poor boxes got robbed in the weeks before Christmas a year ago, leaders of the Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy decided to install a video security system.

A thief — the thief, perhaps? — struck again this past Christmas Eve, and now church officials hope the surveillance pays off. A suspect was caught on tape, and police have sought the public's help in identifying him.

The man stole about $625 from three poor boxes, said Father Fabian Grifone, pastor of the Catholic church, which is located on Mulberry Street and is more than 100 years old.

Grifone said he thinks it's the same thief from the previous year.

"I don't think he can be considered too good an example of humanity, right?" Grifone said Saturday evening. "Stealing from a church on Christmas Eve? Come on now. I don't think he needed it to go feed his kids."

Grifone said church officials do not recognize the man caught on the tape, who police said was wearing a gray jogging suit and a white bandanna covered by a baseball cap.

It may have been the giving season, but "it was hunting season for him," Grifone said. "Hunting after our boxes."


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:24 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Stealing from the poor box I

Poor box robbery not a first : Newsday (Dec. 29, 2005)

The arraignment yesterday of a Northport man for stealing from a church's poor box is the second of its kind on the Island in as many months.

Donald Steck, 45, was charged with two counts of petit larceny in First District Court in Islip for allegedly stealing money - on Christmas Day - from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in East Northport.

Last month, a retired NYPD sergeant videotaped a robber trying to get cash from a Malverne church donation box.

Sean Dolan, director of communications for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said even though the diocese encourages procedures and security measures, such as locks and cameras, to prevent poor box thefts, robberies in churches are difficult to stop.

"You could have the most sophisticated lock in the world," Dolan said. "If a person wants to get into the box and has access, it doesn't matter."

Steck is due back in court on Wednesday. His bail was set at $10,000.

Officers from Suffolk's Second Precinct arrested Steck Tuesday after church officials captured him twice on camera last week stealing from one of their four poor boxes in the rear of the church. Don Ferrer, St. Anthony's business manager, said officials set up a surveillance camera after one of its members noticed one of the poor boxes open and empty on Dec. 20.

"We wanted to find out who was doing it," said Ferrer, "because obviously you shouldn't be robbing a church."

Ferrer said Steck was not a member of the church.

"We might have seen him around once in a while," he said, "but he was not a parishioner."

Yesterday, it was unclear how much money Steck allegedly took before he was caught. At the time of Steck's arrest - he returned to the church Tuesday - police said he was carrying more than $20, though it was uncertain if any of that had been stolen.


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:20 PM   Permalink   HaloScan


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Two people at risk: Randal McCloy, Jr., Ariel Sharon, and the Terri Schiavo Question

I was struck that in one week we see two cases where the question on extraordinary measures being used to sustain the lives of two people who decades earlier would certainly have died without current medical technology.

Mine survivor's condition improving : UPI

Doctors say the condition of the sole survivor of a West Virginia mine explosion is dramatically improving.

Randal McCloy Jr. was transferred Saturday night from Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh to the West Virginia hospital where he was originally treated so he can be closer to his family, CNN reported.

In the accident at the mine on Monday January 2, the miners all suffered from the loss of oxygen. Carbon monoxide had built up in the area where they waited for a rescue.

Even though he was so close to death that his kidneys shut down (and as I write this, kidney function has not recovered), they want to keep him alive without a certainty of the restoration of his cognitive ability.

Report: Sharon Likely to Suffer Impairment : AP

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chances for survival from his massive stroke are "very high," but he likely will suffer some cognitive impairment, a broadcast report quoted one of his surgeons as saying Saturday.
Sharon suffered a stroke on January 4. Some news reports where quick to call Sharon's medical outcome likely vegetative (Google News Search of Sharon+vegetative)

Both men are in medically induced comas.

I pray for full recovery of Mr. McCloy and Mr. Sharon. I hope that it will be disclosed if they had given instructions to family members what to do in the event of their incapacity to make medical decisions.

The treatment of these cases -- giving them the full dignity and rights of human beings -- is a contrast to the "pull the plug" arrogance as people took Michael Schiavo's side when Terri's parents simply wanted to provide food and water for the remainder of her life.

Do people with limited cognitive ability have a right to live until the end of their natural life?


posted by Patrick Sweeney at 11:53 AM   Permalink   HaloScan


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