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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Lady of the Universe vs. The Lady of the Street

My colleagues well know my disdain for women in public life. Take Katie O'Beirne. Enough said--we're all on the same page. Read on.

The gals generally take hard lines and are tenacious fighters. Their intellects are sharp (ok, Katie might be an exception) and often better their male opponents in an argument. Nevertheless, there is just something distasteful about a woman sullying her hands with the affairs of war, law, and politics--she becomes a veritable Lady of the Street.

Rather than being a Lady of the Street (or the Head of State's Mistress) she could be the Lady of the Home--which is nothing other than being the Lady of the Universe. I think sane women choose the latter. Sometimes the Lady of the Street will extol the Lady of the Universe. Perhaps she'll write articles on "true womanhood" or extol the work of the stay at home mom in a speech at a D.C. luncheon, and these are excellent contributions! Unfortunately, too many times these gals often tend not to "walk the walk" in their own lives. Similarly, they are often struck with an elitist bent that tends to look down upon the work of the Lady of the Universe. Hmmm....universalizing the street perhaps?

Why do I bring this up now? Well, #1 because I haven't gotten any nasty comments or death threats lately and I miss them; #2 to show that the Lady of the Home = the Lady of the Universe; #3 to ask why anyone really gives a rat's behind about this.

Besides I am gone for the weekend with "My Lady of the Universe" and had to post somthing today that will keep everyone busy until Columcille tells us of his new home business of selling manure for distributist gardens, and Thursday demonstrates how a potential Iranian ICBM can be shot down by tweaking one's XBox to another frequency while playing Halo.

See you next Tuesday, fratelli et sorelli!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 4:37 PM. |

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The slings and arrows of misfortune.

Although I recently saw fit to lambast an article in Technology Review, I do not wish to dissuade anyone from reading it--merely ignore its ardent desire for embryonic stem cell research. In fact, I highly recommend a current multi-part article by Mark Williams on the proliferation of missile technology. The first part details the Lebanon War and the democratization of missile technology, while the second part regards the democratization of cruise missile technology, and makes a compelling predication of what an outright conflict with Iran might entail. Suddenly, the Navy does not seem such a safe enlistment option.

Fumed by Thursday at 8:34 PM. |

Army Training, Sir!

I have a road march tomorrow and I thought a gratuitous Army clip would be in order.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 5:19 PM. |

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fumare: The Married

Mr. and Mrs. Thursday

Mr. and Mrs. Sine Metu

Mr. and Mrs. AMSOL Pioneer

Mr. and Mrs. Law Dog

Mr. and Mrs. Down South

Mr. and Mrs. Columcille

Mr. and Mrs. Advocatus Militaris

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 5:09 PM. |

Ernesto Update (1100 EDT TUE AUG 29 2006)

WTNT35 KNHC 291431

1100 AM EDT TUE AUG 29 2006
















Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 11:09 AM. |

Going Places?

City of God, or "Soap City"?

Following on the feast day of St. Augustine and continuing on with the debate on the Just ordering of the Economy from last week, Columcille gives you another Capitalist propaganda cartoon from 1948 to mull over.

As you sit back and watch this film, rest assure in knowing that Capitalism produces much fruit:

- Real evil in the human heart and in the social system is automatically weeded out through the self-correcting mechanism of the market,
- In a Capitalist system, everyone can become a tycoon with just a bit of imagination and hard work (never mind the issue of the necessary free time and capital needed to do all those soap experimentations),
- Capitalism = progress; the market system automatically creates progress for all (as long as progress; is narrowly defined in material and technological terms),
- If you work for a Corporation, it will take care of your every need, especially a secure life - plenty of money, health care, insurance, vacations, even a home (oh, right, this is a propaganda film from 1948, not a documentary from 2006),
- Corporations are natural and good for everyone - it is a mark of business success - as too are the financial and capital markets that lead to "Soap City" as the natural and just ordering of our civil society,
- Capitalism automatically leads to product "improvements" (as long as "improvements" are narrowly defined as those characteristics that best appeal to the consumptive nature in man).

To add more fuel to the debate, check out http://www.economyincrisis.org

"If the citizens themselves devote their life to matters of trade, the way will be opened to many vices. Since the foremost tendency of tradesmen is to make money, greed is awakened in the hearts of the citizens through the pursuit of trade. The result is that everything in the city will become venal; good faith will be destroyed and the way opened to all kinds of trickery; each one will work only for his own profit, despising the public good; the cultivation of virtue will fail since honor, virtue's reward, will be bestowed upon the rich. Thus, in such a city, civic life will necessarily be corrupted."
- Thomas Aquinas, On Kingship (III, 3)

Fumed by Columcille at 10:26 AM. |

Monday, August 28, 2006

Feast of S. Augustine

An acqaintance of mine--a WWII veteran and survivor of the Bataan death march--told me that the one book that he read and re-read during his service in WWII was the Confessions of St. Augustine. I suppose the prospect of one's death tends to focus the mind. Soldiers do a thankless job and are exposed to such horror and evil that they need and thirst for God, especially since they themselves know that their meeting with Him may be right around the next corner. Anyway, this old soldier took such comfort in the great saint's words that he could not exhaust the riches of the book or its human and spiritual insights. (What a relic that dog-eared copy of the Confessions would be--having likely survived in the cargo pockets of that soldier's uniform trousers!)

Augustine was a very gifted intellectual, but also a man who was racked with the desires of the flesh and what might be described as concupiscence on overdrive. His famous utterance, "O Lord make me chaste, but not yet" attests to his struggle with intellectually knowing what is true, good and beautiful, but not having gotten control of his own disordered self to choose true love over a lesser "perceived" love. Echoes of St. Paul's "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" abound in the Confessions--be it fleshly desires for sensual pleasure, for glory, for recognition. How very human indeed!

A man reading this work in a foxhole in 1942 would be able to relate to the 4th century saint, because it is the story of the human condition. Likewise, you and I, living as we are in a concupiscence-driven society 17 centuries later, can still recognize the struggles that this most human of saints endured. Who could also forget Augustine's emotional attachments? He recounts why he went to shows--to cry and be moved! Here is a guy who for a long time never grew up. He was taken in by the emotion of what he saw, heard and smelled. He judged the goodness of something by the emotional effect it had upon him. Not unlike many today who judge their faith by experience alone--be it the smells and bells of the Tridentine Mass or the "couldaboughtahonda" jibberish of the charismatics--rather than the confoming of the mind to reality and recognizing God's revelation--even in the mundane task of chasing a disabled child in the vestibule of the church while the Mass is being offered.

Yet, behind Augustine's struggle (which in some sense is the struggle of every human being) there was a person who prayed for him. A person who never lost faith in the One who would unite her son eventually with Him. St. Monica, the woman who one time carried her little son as a small child, wished to carry him in her bosom of faith during his most troubled times. Again--how very human! No doubt my soldier friend's mother prayed for him while he was away at war. No doubt my mother prays for me! Likewise, behind each and every human being there is someone who cares for him and prays for him. Even the most forgotten person on the streets of Darfur has a cloistered Carmelite praying for him. Do not underestimate these prayers! God's grace motivates and goads us into action--sometimes we don't know whence it comes. Likely, it comes from our mothers, even our spiritual ones.

When Augustine did finally convert, he recognized the many prayers that his mother offered for his soul and his conversion. Truly one of the most moving episodes in the Confessions is the Augustine's recounting of his mother's death. The Latin is so beautiful it bears reproduction here:

Ad haec ei quid responderim, non satis recolo, cum interea vix intra quinque dies aut non multo amplius decubuit febribus. et cum aegrotaret, quodam die defectum animae passa est et paululum subtracta a praesentibus. nos concurrimus, sed cito reddita est sensui, et aspexit astantes me et fratrem meum et ait nobis quasi quaerenti similis: ubi eram? deinde nos intuens maerore attonitos: ponitis hic inquit matrem vestram. ego silebam et fletum frenabam. frater autem meus quiddam locutus est, quo eam non in peregre, sed in patria defungi tamquam felicius optaret. quo audito illa vultu anxio, reverberans eum oculis, quod talia saperet, atque inde me intuens: vide ait quid dicit. et mox ambobus: ponite inquit hoc corpus ubicumque: nihil vos eius cura conturbet; tantum illud vos rogo, ut ad domini altare memineritis mei, ubiubi fueritis. cumque hanc sententiam verbis quibus poterat explicasset, conticuit et ingravescente morbo exercebatur. Ego vero cogitans dona tua, deus invisibilis, quae immittis in corda fidelium tuorum, et proveniunt inde fruges admirabiles, gaudebam et gratias tibi agebam, recolens, quod noveram, quanta cura semper aestuasset de sepulchro, quod sibi providerat et praeparaverat iuxta corpus viri sui. quia enim valde concorditer vixerant, id etiam volebat, ut est animus humanus minus capax divinorum, adiungi ad illam felicitatem et conmemorari ab hominibus, concessum sibi esse post transmarinam peregrinationem, ut coniuncta terra amborum coniugum terra tegeretur. quando autem ista inanitas plenitudine bonitatis tuae coeperat in eius corde non esse, nesciebam; et laetabar admirans, quod sic mihi apparuisset, quamquam et in illo sermone nostro ad fenestram, cum dixit; iam quid hic facio? non apparuit desiderare in patria mori. audivi etiam postea, quod iam, cum Ostiis essemus, cum quibusdam amicis meis materna fiducia conloquebatur quodam die, de contemtu vitae huius et bono mortis, ubi ipse non aderam, illisque stupentibus virtutem feminae -- quoniam tu dederas ei -- quaerentibusque, utrum non formidaret tam longe a sua civitate corpus relinquere: nihil inquit longe est deo, neque timendum est, ne ille non agnoscat in fine saeculi, unde me resuscitet. ergo die nono aegritudinis suae, quinquagensimo et sexto anno aetatis suae, tricensimo et tertio aetatis meae, anima illa religiosa et pia corpore soluta est. (Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 11.)


Sit ergo in pace cum viro, ante quem nulli et post quem nulli nupta est, cui servivit fructum tibi afferens cum tolerantia, ut eum quoque lucraretur tibi. et inspira, domine meus, deus meus, inspira servis tuis, fratribus meis, filiis tuis, dominis meis, quibus et corde et voce et litteris servio, ut quotquot hoc legerint, meminerint ad altare tuum Monnicae, famulae tuae, cum Patricio, quondam eius coniuge, per quorum carnem introduxisti me in hanc vitam, quemadmodum nescio. meminerint cum affectu pio parentum meorum in hac luce transitoria, et fratrum meorum sub te patre in matre catholica, et civium meorum in aeterna Hierusalem, cui suspirat peregrinatio populi tui ab exitu usque ad reditum, tu quod a me illa poposcit extremum uberius ei praestetur in multorum orationibus per confessiones quam per orationes meas. (Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 13.)

St. Augustine pray for us and those who pray for us.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 11:54 AM. |

A good organ is hard to find

In case you missed it, a unifying conference was held earlier this month in Sacramento, CA. Of course, it was only unifying if you toe the liturgical line endorsed by our good friend David Haas. Some of his thoughts are incisive enough to merit special distinction, so take a look:

Conference: "We need to resist going down the black hole of anger regarding how we translate our texts, what we will sing, or which musical styles are most appropriate for our Masses"

Translation: "If everyone would just follow accept that I have the authority to change every hymn you've ever sung to neuter it and otherwise make it unpalatable and ungainly, we'd get along much better. Come on, I wrote 'Blest are they'. Like Tantum Ergo compares to that!"

Conference: 1) Haas urged music leaders to reject "musical snobbery of any kind"; 2) to expand their parishes' musical repertoire beyond "what you like"; 3) and to learn from their assemblies and "listen to their voices," for the liturgical celebration is not about how well one sings or plays music. " 4) As pastoral musicians, we must decrease and our assemblies must increase"

Translation: 1) It doesn't matter if it's good, it's what we gave you; 2) expand your horizons until it includes Haas and Haugen- that's far enough, and then let's eliminate most everything up to that point too; 3) listen to the people in the pews unless they're music snobs who haven't sufficiently broadened their musical horizons to include poorly played pithy music; 4) In fact, we've decreased so much you better put us right next to the alter so everyone knows exactly whose mustache quivers at every high 'f'.

I'd include more, but I'll let you read while I get back to practicing the kazoo for our next church music fund raiser at the piggly-wiggly. Let's not forget about royalties!

Fumed by Bendrix at 10:52 AM. |

Friday, August 25, 2006

Still unethical stem cells.

I have a penchant, no strike that, an addiction for news on all things scientific and technological, whether it be news on the lastest smartphone or an article on the proof for dark matter, which is phenomenally exciting, really. I freely admit that this addiction often interferes with my pursuit of higher, more important topics, topics which by right deserve prominence. Nevertheless, I am frail. So frail that I spend much of my free time in one futile, continuing attempt to stay current on technology news.

Such is the case with MIT's Technology Review and their Emerging Technologies Update, a daily update on recent advancements in technology. Recently, I have been struggling with reading this update while not neglecting my everyday duties. This struggle has left me aggravated. Yet, recently I realized that so much of technology news is only incremental at best and inconsequential at worst. The worst happens when the theory upon which the new finding stands is ultimately debunked. After all, modern science is really about the search for truth through theoretical trial and error, with technology merely being its artful application.

While this realization promises to free me from my sisyphean task, until that time I remain on my guard against allowing this vice to overshadow my innate desire for truth. Much of modern science, as I am sure you are aware, is dripping with patronizing condescension and outright disdain for the wisdom of antiquity and revealed truth. So much so, that to wholly embrace modern science, one must renounce certain firmly established truth. I have found so many examples of this phenomenon, yet it still does not cease to amaze me. These scientists devote their lives to crafting theories that will ultimately be used to create some useful artifact, only to deny that a similar process by a more capable Being could have ever resulted in the world around them--rather arrogant and hypocritical. The truth, however, is an object to be loved for its own sake, not to be scorned for the sins of its courtiers.

This eschewal of certain truths by modern scientists can lead to the most abysmal of errors that, were it not for the gravity of them, would render the scientist no more than an object of jest. Case in point: the article, "Ethical Stem Cells?" from Technology Review, in which the author posits that a new method for developing embryonic stem cell lines removes the ethical argument against such research. The method provides for the development of stems cell lines through the cultivation of a single cell which is normally removed from embryos destined for in vitro fertilization so as to provide a means for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), otherwise known as genetic testing. Normally, the single cell is tested, and thereby destroyed. The scientists in the article, though, advocate that the single cell be allowed to divide, thus creating one cell for the genetic test, and one for a stem cell line. The article states that the unfortunate embryo who has had a cell so removed is not harmed by the procedure. (Actually, the article prevaricates: "There is no evidence that children born from PGD embryos are harmed by the procedure." Child born from PGD embryos, as if the embryo was not the child.) The scientist who heads the research actually claims, "There is now no rational ethical argument against stem cell research, now that we can preserve the embryo." (Emphasis added). At least the article's author had enough sense to include a question mark in the title, to signify that such a conclusion is not certain.

Aside from the poor child being one cell short of a proper human embryo, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to explain why this scientist is so profoundly stupid.

Fumed by Thursday at 10:19 PM. |

Happy 50th Anniversary: Prof. and Mrs. Charles E. Rice

August 25, 1956 is a paradoxical and significant date. This date is paradoxical in the sense that G.K. Chesterton remarked:

The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr; he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need.

On this date 50 years ago, Professor Alfred Kinsey, noted nutjob and one of the architects of the culture of death, died. That very same day, a young man and his bride pronounced their intentions--before Christ and His Church--to love each other until death and to accept children lovingly from God. That they did and continue to do. In an age that has a morbid fascination with death and sterility, Prof. and Mrs. Rice are the Saints that are the antidote to the Kinseys, the Singers, and haughty cultural elites everywhere. The gentlemen of FUMARE honor you and all you have done for the Church and the culture. May our prayer for you be the prayer that was uttered at your happy wedding day 50 years ago:

O God, by Your mighty power You made all things out of nothing. First, You set the beginnings of the universe in order. Then, You made man in Your image, and appointed woman to be his inseparable helpmate. Thus You made woman's body from the flesh of man, thereby teaching that what You have been pleased to institute from one principle might never lawfully be put asunder. O God, You have sanctified marriage by a mystery so excellent that in the marriage union You foreshadowed the union of Christ and the Church. O God, You join woman to man, and You endow that fellowship with a blessing which was not taken away in punishment for original sin nor by the sentence of the flood. Look, in Your mercy, upon this Your handmaid, about to be joined in wedlock, who entreats You to protect and strengthen her. Let the yoke of marriage to her be one of love and peace. Faithful and chaste, let her marry in Christ. Let her ever follow the model of holy women: let her be dear to her husband like Rachel; wise like Rebecca; long-lived and faithful like Sara. Let the author of sin work none of his evil deeds within her; let her ever keep the Faith and the Commandments. Let her be true to one wedlock and shun all sinful embraces; let her be grave in demeanor, honorable for her modesty, learned in heavenly doctrine, fruitful in children. Let her life be good and innocent. Let her come finally to the rest of the blessed in the kingdom of heaven. May they both see their children's children to the third and fourth generation, thus attaining the old age which they desire. Through the same, Christ Our Lord. Amen.

May the God of Abraham, the god of Isaac, and the God of Jacob be with you: and may He fulfill His blessing in you: that you may see your children's children even to the third and fourth generation, and thereafter may have life everlasting, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, God, world without end. Amen.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 2:09 PM. |

Wake Up the Echoes

One of the articles of our faith that we acknowledge is that the two most important positions in the Roman Catholic Church are the Supreme Pontiff and the Head Coach of Notre Dame Football. We know this from the constant tradition of the Church, from the witness of saints and from the testimony of the faithful and all those who have seen wonders.

S 02 @ Georgia Tech
S 23 @ Michigan St.
O 28 @ Navy (Baltimore)
N 11 @ Air Force
N 25 @ Southern Cal

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 10:24 AM. |

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Simple Gift of Love

Some time back, parishioners at Polish parish in Chicago donated their precious jewels and whatever they could give for the fashioning of a new monstrance. Elderly folks, young folks and people at all levels of the economic strata donated what they could for the creation of this beautiful throne for Our Lord. They were not required to give, but out of the generosity of their hearts they did. Some gave beautiful diamonds, others very expensive gold, still others precious gems that once adorned their necks or fingers.

I can't help but consider who the people were who donated their precious jewelry for Our Lord. Surely there were those who were well off and could afford to part with some of their jewels. Not to denigrate this contribution, for I am positive that Our Lord is pleased by such generosity. But I wonder about the very simple folks, not as economically well off, who gave. I imagine there were a fair number of widows who donated their simple wedding bands--perhaps of a deceased spouse, perhaps their own as well. The names of these good and faithful people are known to God alone, but "the widows' mite" contributed richly to the creation of this gift. That simple contribution of a gold wedding band, symbolic of that richest of all riches--a lifetime's worth of love--is now the very throne where the Lord of Love resides for all to see. More than that, that love which was the lifeblood of that married couple for so many years is now on display for the whole world united, as it were, to that Font of Love and longing of man's heart.

Sometimes the best gifts are those that are unseen. Yet every now and again, God wants to brag and shows them off.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 5:23 PM. |

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

God at Bruno's

Some weeks back--prior to his surgery--the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago appeared on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. He made an interesting comment that I have been mulling over for the last several weeks which I consider appropriate for a FUMARE post. (Unfortunately, intervening events have occupied my attention.) Anyway, the discussion centered around evangelization. How do we evangelize? Where do we go? What is the manner in which it is accomplished? The good Cardinal had a splendid idea--an apostolate of theologically astute bartenders and taxi drivers! What better place to talk about the highest things than in a place where one can enjoy a barrel of barley brew! Some of the best conversations can be held in a bar. Likewise, it is not uncommon to find some tortured soul pouring out his heart to the man behind the bar. I recall a particular time where the truth of this hit me--long before the Cardinal's EWTN appearence.

As regular readers of my posts know, I recall with gratitude and affection the old Jesuits who taught me at my undergraduate school. One of those saintly old men taught philosophy and I was privileged to take a directed reading with him during the summer of '97. What was unique about this seminar was that the readings were in the original Latin. The topic was "Aquinas on the Infinity of God" or some such thing. It was challenging, wonderful and frustrating for a young skull full of mush as mine was. There were three of us in the class--I being the lone undergrad, one graduate student and one fellow, Bob, who had studied philsophy under the great Thomist Fr. Joseph Owens at the Pontifical Medieval Institute at the University of Toronto years before. Needless to say, the intellectual horsepower in that class was overpowering and I was just eager to get the scraps that fell off the table of my Jesuit mentor.

On one occasion, after class, Bob invited me to grab a drink at the bar across the street from the campus--Bruno's. It was a hot July day, probably about 2pm, and I thought a nice cold one was absolutely in order. Bruno's is the proverbial neighborhood "old man bar." It didn't attract the hip college crowd, but every now and again a guy would bring his stunningly beautiful girlfriend there for a drink, much to the delight of the regulars and the bartenders. Anyway, Bruno was the local guy who had run the bar since the 1950's. He was a member of St. Ignatius Church, the local parish, and his customers ranged from the local transients to neighbors who had been coming for years--white collar and blue collar--to many in the university community. But I digress.

Father had just assigned us a reading and Bob and I went to Bruno's to discuss it over a cold one (or ten). It is a reading that I am still trying to make heads or tails of: Fr. Maurice de la Taille, S.J.'s The Hypostatic Union and Created Actuation by Uncreated Act. Just saying it is a challenge. In any event, as the sweat poured down our MGD's, we began to discuss that greatest of mysteries--the hypostatic union. The more we drank the more we got into it. Philosophical and theological inquiry seems to be enhanced by the imbibing of strong beverages (not that MGD is very strong).

It occurred to me then that the key insight of the hypostatic union--which is none other than trying to understand the mystery of the Incarnation--is the fact that God became man, so that man could become like God. The Second Person of the Trinity didn't have to redeem man in this way, but He did. The only reason that the Angelic Doctor could could give for such an act is actually quite simple: God wanted to show His love for us. God became a man like Bruno, Bob and me. He became a man like the transient who walked in--smelling of unmentionable things. Not only did He become man like us, He became man for us. He saw each of His creatures as valuable and lovable. He wanted to let His creatures know that He understood their problems, knew their needs, and loved them in a way that no one else would ever love them. He condescended to become like us, so that we would ascend and become like Him--the way we were created to be. Looking around the bar, I saw "imagines Dei"--fallible, weak, broken, but lovable and worth dying for.

Let's start that apostolate now.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 6:52 PM. |

Make Mine Freedom

Fumed by Columcille at 6:19 PM. |

Make Mine Distributed Freedom

When we talk about heresy, the church always has a way of putting it into terms. The dominant heresy of the neo-conservatives both in and out of the Church today is ECONOMISM.

But what is economism?

This consistent image, in which the principle of the primacy of person over things is strictly preserved, was broken up in human thought, sometimes after a long period of incubation in practical living. The break occurred in such a way that labour was separated from capital and set in opposition to it, and capital was set in opposition to labour, as though they were two impersonal forces, two production factors juxtaposed in the same "economistic" perspective. This way of stating the issue contained a fundamental error, what we can call the error of economism, that of considering human labour solely according to its economic purpose. This fundamental error of thought can and must be called an error of materialism, in that economism directly or indirectly includes a conviction of the primacy and superiority of the material, and directly or indirectly places the spiritual and the personal (man's activity, moral values and such matters) in a position of subordination to material reality.

- John Paul II, Laborem Exercens

This little propaganda film (from the Acton PowerBlog) uses communism as a foil to assert a world view which is basically economisitic (the separation of labor and capital) and casts it as THE American WAY. Those familiar with the Distributivist & Agrarianist movements of the last century will know that these lost a lot of steam because of the urgent demands of WWII and then the ideological pressures of the Cold War - a foil works.

One can't effectively argue the nuances between the solidarity and localism of a "business economy" (as JP II would term it), and the aggressive dominance of Big Business and Big Government which capitalism creates when fighting a war - ideological or physical.

This little cartoon is ironic when viewed from our current crisis of oil, pollution, Big Brother government, and the attack of Big Business on the family.

The "voice of reason" character sums up the ideological position of Capitalism: "It's not perfect, but look at all the benefits . . ." Back 50 years ago, this was a powerful argument, but with today's society where Globalized capitalism is stripping America of its productive capacity and a family needs two incomes to pay for housing, this argument is losing its strength.

Columcille thinks the Chesterbelloc were prophets ahead of their time and sees more and more interest in the Church's teaching on the moral ordering of economic life and the thinkers who took it seriously . . . unlike so many of our neo-conservative Catholic pundits today.

One conservative Catholic who knows the time of day has included this term in his new book.

Fumed by Columcille at 5:43 PM. |


For all of those Alumni (all 3-5 of you) who complained that the Alumni Association Board of Directors didn't "take the pulse of Alumni" before voting no confidence in Dean Dobranski a number of months ago, FUMARE has a special treat for you. POLL RESULTS (sort of)!!

Yesterday, the Alumni Association released the results of the survey they took some months ago of Alumni. Yes, that's right, an honest to goodness survey meant to get Alumni opinion on the proposed move of AMSL to Florida.

A significant number of Alumni responded (62), maybe 3 times more than attended the side show forums in Ann Arbor or D.C. (the latter being affectionately known as "Fun with Kate," or "How Not to Conduct an Objective Inquiry into Alumni Opinion").

Let's have a look at the results shall we?

Question I: I believe that AMSL's contemplated relocation to Florida is in the immediate best interests of AMSL.

Agree = 1%; Disagree = 94%; No Opinion = 2%; Further Information Needed = 3%

Question II: I believe that AMSL's contemplated relocation to Florida is in the long-term
best interests of AMSL.

Agree = 2%; Disagree = 71%; No Opinion = 2%; Further Information Needed = 26%.

Question III: If AMSL were to relocate to Florida, I believe that continued operation of a
branch campus or dual campus in Michigan is in the immediate best interests of AMSL.

Agree = 61%; Disagree = 16%; No Opinion = 2%; Further Info. Needed = 21%

Question IV: If AMSL were to relocate to Florida, I believe that continued operation of a
branch campus or dual campus in Michigan is in the long-term best interests of AMSL.

Agree = 45%; Disagree = 18%; No Opinion = 1%; Further Info. Needed 35%.

Not surprisingly, the reasons for Alumni opinion were all over the board, but note that money concerns were not a top consideration. Because Alumni are stupid? No because we know we can fundraise for a school that lives up to its mission, even in the way it treats its own, AND when we follow God's law in the treatment of others and put our noses to the proverbial grindstone, God provides.

Also, let's do away with the notion that most Alumni have been incited to hate Florida, or that they don't want to change from Michigan because they are used to it and are soured on Metro Naples. The top 5 Alumni concerns:

1. Stability of the Institution;
2. Attrition of existing faculty (yep, that's right Ms. O'Beirne, that's a close number two, and most Alumni think losing existing faculty is a BIG loss);
3. Future recruitment of quality students (the numbers continue to drop in quality);
4. ABA Accreditation questions/concerns; and
5. Future recruitment of credentialed faculty.

Tommy More already linked to this, but get the full survey results

We will look on with interest to see if the Feasibility Study accurately reflects Alumni opinion.

Fumed by TheLawDog at 1:29 PM. |

First, Smash the Television Set

"First, negatively, smash the television set. The Catholic Church is not opposed to violence; only to unjust violence; so smash the television set. And, positively, put the time and money you now spend on such entertainment into a piano so that music is restored to your home, common, ordinary Christian music, much of which is very simple to play." - John Senior, The Restoration of Christian Culture

As a reminder of how twisted our culture has become, Mercator.net (which will soon be linked on the right) has the article below in its newsletter Family Edge (free email delivery).

Children are creatures of habit and will learn to be comforted by that which is there for them. Perhaps we should consider more carefully the use of television, even for putatively good purposes like having the opportunity spend time with another child or get some other important task accomplished. It is an unnatural thing for a child to be comforted by the television more than by its mother and, I would argue, can do nothing by serve to distort the child's understanding of the nature of a family.

The distracting power of television can be a boon to children undergoing painful medical procedures, an Italian study has shown. But the results are also disturbing because they showed that cartoons were even more comforting to the kids than their mother's attention. Lead author Dr Carlo Bellieni, a father of three and a neonatologist and paediatrician at the University of Siena, said the study demonstrated "the excessive power of television".
The study involved 69 children aged 7 to 12 who were separated into three groups and then asked to rate their pain when jabbed with a needle used to take a blood sample. The children's mothers also rated the pain. Those watching TV cartoons reported half the pain of those being soothed by their mothers, and one-third the pain of those who just sat in a hospital room with mothers who didn't try to comfort them.
"The power of television is strong and it can be harmful for children if it is stronger than the force made by the mother to distract children," Dr Bellieni said. "I believe that this power must be controlled and reduced." ~AP/ My Way News August 18

Fumed by Down South at 1:27 PM. |

Are you a pizza?

Following up on Thales' idea, I'm considering making something like this button available via CafePress. Probably $1.50 to $2.00 each with shipping, less in quantity. If there's enough support for the idea, we'll do it. Let me know via e-mail (interest only, not actual orders). Anonymity guaranteed.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has responded, both here and to my e-mail address. We are looking into the logistics of printing these up in a cost-effective manner, and will keep you posted.

Fumed by Ryder at 3:51 AM. |

Remember those Alumni Association surveys?

The Ave Maria Alumni Association Board has released a redacted report detailing the results of the recent alumni survey. It is the first item posted on their interim website.

Fumed by Tommy More at 12:05 AM. |

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Strategy for the Battle: Buttons

Though I generally agree with the positions of my colleagues here at FUMARE, I've disagreed with approaches they've sometimes taken, as Advocatus Militaris mentions in his post below: yes, I think Advocatus pushes the limits sometimes, and yes, I find Columcille's dog pictures disturbing. When it comes to discussing the current plan to move to Florida, I've tried to proceed with care and tact.

Now, towards the end of his post, Advocatus has this sentence: "The bottom line is that this controversy is not just about AMSL, it is about upholding the dignity of the human person and ensuring that people are not treated like pizzas."

That got me thinking. I might have a strategy that we can all agree on. And it's a tactic that hasn't been tried yet. Vocal questions and concerns to the administration and the Board of Governors seem to be dismissed, so how about silent protests showing united resolve? Something along the lines of Tinker v. Des Moines armbands? I suggest buttons. You know, those big round metal buttons pinned to your shirt with a safety pin. Imagine: students and professors together displaying buttons in the classroom; alumni prominently wearing buttons as they work in their respective law firms; FUMARE readers across the country sporting buttons as badges of solidarity. This post is half-jesting, but what do you think? Here is what I suggest as a design:

Fumed by Thales at 7:03 PM. |

FUMARE: Asking the Right Questions

"FUMARE - upholding the dignity of the human person and ensuring that people are not treated like pizzas."
- A.M.

Q: What is a cafeteria Catholic?

A. A Catholic who accept the teachings on social justice but reject the teachings on personal morality, especially sexual morality.

B. A Catholic who accept the teachings on personal morality, especially sexual morality, but reject the teachings on social justice.

C. Both A & B

D. Neither A nor B - there is no such thing as a cafeteria Catholic, only Catholics and heretics.

Our esteemed blogger Torgo has been examining this issue in depth, have a visit for a hint if you are stuck.

Fumed by Columcille at 5:26 PM. |

Happy 39th Birthday!

Lest you think that we're "All Ave, All the Time" check out this important milestone.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 1:45 PM. |

Fumare Keeps Smoking, the AMSL Administration Continues to Reek

For those of you who have not dusted off your Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD) in some time, a refresher is needed. The verb--and I'll use the infinitive form for ease--fumare literally means "to smoke" or "to reek." Our first post was on this very topic and, though not quoting directly the OLD, it did reference an old mainstay, the Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary. I begin this post this way because it is clear that to some we are "smoking" and to others we merely "reek."
In any event, the developments at our alma mater over the past year have brought this blog into the center of the controversy. There are other blogs (i.e., WhoseAMSOL and WhichAve) out there which serve as a repository for documents and commentary on the controversy and are an invaluable resource for those who want to get a good historical perspective on the many issues that make up the current crisis at AMSL. But allow me to toot our horn--Fumare is THE place to be!

It has come to my attention that this blog is well read by all those interested in the controversy both on the ground at the school as well as in far off places such as Washington, D.C., Germany, LA, South Bend, Boston, Chicago and even Rome itself. (No, I'm not talking Cardinal Marotta, I am referring to these guys.). The people who read us are also varied: attorneys in the NY Attorney General's office, a graphic designer in Boston, a small business owner in Cleveland, interested women religious, a high powered lawyer for a major firm in Chicago, a professor at Georgetown University and friends in every walk of life. Needless to say, the information of this conflict has gained national attention by this blog. Having such an audience naturally gives us pause. Who would've thought little FUMARE could get such readership--after all, we are just a bunch of lawyers who want to talk about the things that interest us.

We are all different gentlemen, working in different areas of the law, and have different approaches. The different "approach" is what gets people worked up. Fair enough. As we have seen over the past several weeks, FUMARE is not a groupthink enterprise. My well placed "go to hells" are not tactics that are preferred by the likes of Ryder, Thales and others. Personally, sometimes I think Columcille is on crack (Did you see that dog-face? I still have nightmares!). Furthermore, Thursday and I have differences in opinion as to approach, etc. What is certain, however, is our love for our alma mater, and our recognition that the Administration, TM and the inaction of the BoG have been the cause of the discord at the school.

In order to address the situation we have posted links to essential documents and pieces in various national publications. We have also linked to commentary in the Catholic Press, such as the New Oxford Review, The Wanderer and also to other Catholic bloggers who comment on the situation. Among my brothers, I have been the primary poster of parodies, fun contests (ask GenXSurvivor--he should have his prize by now!), and anything to demonstrate absurdity by being absurd. I make no apologies and will not take anything back. Readers know that I do not censor comments even when they disagree with me (I still can't believe that is possible!). Those who call for me to stop what I call the "fun stuff," you are barking up the wrong tree. I will continue to have fun at the expense of those in power who may talk the talk but do not walk the walk.

The bottom line is that this controversy is not just about AMSL, it is about upholding the dignity of the human person and ensuring that people are not treated like pizzas. FUMARE will continue to expose these unjust and inequitable actions.

P.S. Don't forget to write respectful letters to the BoG.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 10:00 AM. |

Alumni Association Board Action

From the looks of their interim website, the Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association Board has condemned the actions taken against Professor Rice, and has renewed its call for the immediate resignation or removal of the current dean, Bernie Dobranski.

Direct links to the Cover Letter and Bill of Particulars, in PDF format.

I wonder how many more of these will be necessary before the Board of Governors realizes it has a fiduciary duty to the institution Ave Maria School of Law, not to their friends Bernie and Tom. If you need proof that the Board is in the Dean's pocket, look no further than the fact that, after a no-confidence vote by the faculty, a no-confidence vote by the alumni association board (cum Monday's renewed call for immediate resignation or removal), and a widely-supported student signature drive at the law school last semester, the Dean remains in his cushy $350k+ position as official Monaghan backscratcher. All the while, the media continues to have a field day [Wall Street Journal] [New York Times] with the ineptitude of our "founder," as Dobranski introduced Monaghan to the incoming 1Ls at Monday's Orientation.

Let the Board know that they need to protect our beloved alma mater, folks.

UPDATE: The Alumni Association Board of Directors will be distributing its Feasibility Study Committee Summary of Alumni Response on the proposed move to Florida. Stay tuned.

Fumed by Tommy More at 12:07 AM. |

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ms. Riley Also Leaves Us Wondering: Who Demanded the Edit Job?

Over the course of Fumaristas discussing the recent WSJ article on Tom Monaghan and his exploits, it was noticed that a certain section of the article disappeared from the story:

A number of professors have resigned; some have launched lawsuits; the
contract of a prominent emeritus professor from Notre Dame was not renewed.
Faculty reported the college's administration to the Department of Education for
fraud involving financial aid in 2002. (The school denied any wrongdoing, but
paid back about $300,000; the investigation hasn't been concluded.)
now one of those professors has been told that he must recant his testimony to department officials if he wants his contract renewed. (A university official acknowledged this was true, which may leave the school open to criminal conspiracy charges.)

Compare the above to this:

A number of professors have resigned; some have launched lawsuits; the
contract of a prominent emeritus professor from Notre Dame was not renewed.
Faculty members reported the college's administration to the Department of
Education for fraud involving financial aid in 2002. The school denied any
wrongdoing but paid back about $300,000. An investigation by the education
department's inspector general hasn't been concluded.

Something is very fishy Ms. Riley . . .

You can find the original cached version here.

Fumed by Columcille at 12:14 PM. |

Ms. Riley Leaves Us Wondering: Who's the Dumbest?

"I've always believed in hiring people smarter than I am. I should be the dumbest one in the room." He's not.


(Stay tuned for details on FUMARE's latest contest!)

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 6:42 AM. |

Saturday, August 19, 2006

WSJ Piece on TM


Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 12:20 AM. |

Friday, August 18, 2006

Did You Ever Have A Psycho Girlfriend Who Gave Back Everything You Ever Gave Her and Left It In A Cardboard Box On Your Front Porch?

It seems that Dean Dobranski is so terrified of Professor Rice showing his face on campus, that he took the liberty of packing up his office and sending it UPS Next Day Service to beautiful Mishawaka, Indiana!

These pictures recently obtained from the investigative journalists at FUMARE show the boxes at the Rice Homestead. More than that, they weighed a total of 146 pounds. Let's see 146 pounds x UPS Next Day Service Rate...well...it totals a decent chunk of change out of the school's money. Surely the cash could better be applied for cost of living increases for the faculty!

N.B. The long skinny package to the right of the porch photo is a picture of Our Lady and the Litany of Loreto. So I guess one could say that Our Lady has been removed from AMSL along with Prof. Rice.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 5:16 PM. |

Cardinal Comments on Rice Expulsion

ROME (AP)--Why would the internal struggles of a law school in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States matter to an elderly Cardinal of the Catholic Church in Rome? Well, if that school fashions itself as the bearer of a tradition that safeguards the dignity of the human person and the common good and affirms Catholic legal education's traditional emphasis on the only secure foundation for human freedom--the natural law written on the heart of every human being, then surely it would interest this 98 year old canon lawyer and Prince of the Church. Giovanni Cardinal Marotta, who made international headlines last June for calling Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy a "fat drunk," is one of the most senior officials of the Catholic Church and an acute observer of things legal and political. The tumultuous events surrounding the Ave Maria School of Law over the last year have not only gained the attention of legal and educational observers in Michigan, but now also at the very epicenter of Catholicism--Rome. Cardinal Marotta is known for his quick wit, his penchant for pithy Latin phrases, and his delight in controversy. He is also a long time collaborator and friend of Professor Charles E. Rice.

It seems that the recent firing of Professor Charles E. Rice is what aroused anger in the elderly Cardinal. "Administratio Ave Mariae Instituti Iuris delenda est! Carole, ad multos annos! Oremus pro invicem." he was quoted as saying from his residence at the Villa Santa Zita just outside Rome. The Dean and President of Ave Maria School of Law, Bernard Dobranski, fired Rice in a August 11, 2006 Letter and cited Rice’s "baseless and personal attacks on the Board [of Governors]" of the Ave Maria School of Law over recent controversies at the school. The alleged attacks are attributed to a letter sent by Professor Rice on May 5, 2006. Shortly before this letter, both the law school's faculty and the school's Alumni Association Board of Directors had both issued Resolutions of No Confidence in the Dean's leadership and failure to address substantive questions regarding a possible relocation of the school to Florida.

"His Eminence has always been a great champion of the natural law and had worked closely with Professor Rice on a number of projects," says Marotta’s former student, Fr. Hilario Lim, J.C.D., canonist and member of the Roman Rota, the Catholic Church's Supreme Tribunal. "Hearing of what the Dean did to Professor Rice is--I am speechless. I can't say any more than that. Truly it is a sad day." Cardinal Marotta had worked with Professor Rice on developing a comprehensive natural law Jurisprudence curriculum for Roman seminaries and canonical schools that incorporated the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas and recent Magisterial documents. "I recall the times when His Eminence would be trading barbs with Professor Rice. It was very humorous," said Lim. "On one occasion, they were working on a syllabus to be used in some of the Roman seminaries. Suddenly--and without warning--His Eminence took off his pectoral cross, rolled up his sleeves, and challenged Rice to a boxing match. I was stunned. It seemed to come out of nowhere! Needless to say, Rice took the challenge and the two took the sparring outside—right out on the veranda of the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith! Quite a crowd gathered—including Cardinal Ottaviani himself." (Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani was the then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one time superior to Cardinal Marotta.) "It looked like Rice was going to have his way with His Eminence," Lim continued, "but it was the other way around. Everyone had a great time and His Eminence bought Professor Rice a Guiness afterwards. What a wonderful friendship."

It seems that Cardinal Marotta is the most recent in a long line of supporters of Professor Rice. What the outcome of this latest controversy will be no one knows, but what is known is the love and devotion students, colleagues and people have for Professor Charles E. Rice.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 4:40 PM. |

Is opposition to the move to Florida unreasonable?

Let me propose a question to those supporting the move to Florida and the Dean's actions. And let's take away the rhetoric, and get down to the facts.

It is undisputed that the current controversy at Ave Maria School of Law is dramatically hurting the school, alienating faculty, alumni, and current and prospective students. The source of the controversy is Mr. Tom Monaghan's plan to move AMSoL to Florida. He thinks that he is acting in the best interests of the school. Fair enough. Those supporting Mr. Monaghan say that since he is the main donor and/or founder of the school, he can move it if he wants. Fair enough.

Certain faculty, students, and alumni have voiced concerns to the Board of Governors about the move to Florida. They believe that the move, at this time and in this manner, is not in the best interests of the school. In addition, they've voiced concerns about the governance of the school and the strong influence Mr. Monaghan exerts over the school, arguing that as a donor, Mr. Monaghan should not be able to move the school simply because he wishes. These concerns have been voiced in no confidence votes. They've also been voiced by Prof. Rice in his letters and in his former position on the Board of Governors itself.

So far, these concerns about the move to Florida have not been adequately answered. The no confidence votes were waved off by the Board of Governors as being without merit and have not yet been addressed. Prof. Rice's concerns were dismissed as baseless, and he was removed from the faculty of AMSoL because his current position with regard to the move to Florida is incompatible with him teaching at AMSoL.

I believe there are only two ways to think about all this:

1. The Board of Governors and Dean Dobranski are right to shrug off the no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters, because the concerns they state are meritless and baseless; and holding the position that Mr. Monaghan's plan is contrary to the best interests of AMSoL is an illegitimate position to take.

2. The no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters state legitimate concerns about what is in the best interests of AMSoL, and they are not being adequately addressed.

My question is to those supporting Mr. Monaghan and the move to Florida. Are the concerns stated in the no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters without merit? Are they illegitimate concerns that don't deserve a response? Is holding the position that Mr. Monaghan's plan to move the school to Florida is not in the true best interests of the school a position that is unreasonable and incompatible with supporting AMSoL?

I would like to hear answers to these questions. If you don't think that I'm fairly stating the issue or that I'm misrepresenting something, please let me know.

Thoughtful and respectful comments please. I want a true discussion, with minimal hyperbole and vitriol from both sides, and so, I will be editing and/or deleting comments as I see fit.

UPDATE: I've updated the post to make clarifications and to better state the issue based on comments posted.

Fumed by Thales at 10:41 AM. |

Make yourself heard!

One week ago today, Dean Bernie Dobranski summarily fired Prof. Charles Rice from his position as Visiting Professor at Ave Maria School of Law. In the intervening week, we've done a lot of hand-wringing and well deserved finger-pointing at those responsible for the travesty. We've also learned of the impact this and other missteps of Dean Dobranski have had on the current and incoming student body.

Action is being taken by representatives of the various constitutencies at the law school, and more will be said about this in later posts. But there is action that you, as students and alumni directly impacted by the atrocious administration of our beloved law school, can be taking as well.

Talk to the Board of Governors. Be polite. Be direct. And most of all, be heard. The Dean has been blessed with a silver tongue and has apparently used that gift to convince remaining and new members of the BoG to forego their fiduciary duties to the institution by subordinating themselves to the will of the "primary benefactor" of the school, Tom Monaghan. The end result, as we have seen, is a de facto sole proprietorship which leaves the fate of a once-promising law school in the hands of one man of questionable qualifications for such a task. An objective Board, when faced with such a situation, would vote to dissolve the corporation before violating their duties thereto. Recent events have shown our BoG to be less than objective.

Will a letter, call, or e-mail to members of the BoG change any minds? Perhaps. The only way to know is to try. And -- whether or not minds are changed -- the BoG members should be clear on one point: students and alumni are interested, concerned, and want them to act in a fashion that is best for our alma mater. Leave them with the inescapable conclusion that we do not want any more of our beloved faculty terminated, and that it is the Dean who should be dismissed. Make it manifest that men and women of integrity should not cooperate in the Dean's breaches of fiduciary duty.

Look to the fate of Ave Maria College. Ave Maria Law does not belong to Tom Monaghan! Stop the Dean from dismantling our beloved law school! If the firing of Prof. Rice doesn't move you to act, what will?

Current Board of Governors

Reverend Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.
Franciscan University of Steubenville
1235 University Boulevard
Steubenville, OH 43952
740-283-3771 - main line

Professor Gerard V. Bradley
124 Law School
P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556
574-631-8385 (phone)
574-631-4197 (fax)

Dean Bernard Dobranski
6225 Wester Church Road
Dexter, MI 48130

Mr. Thomas S. Monaghan
5140 Turtle Point Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan
Office of the Cardinal
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022-4134
["Your Eminence" - no “Dear”]

Professor Helen M. Alvare
The Catholic University of America
Columbus School of Law
3600 John McCormack Road NE
Washington D.C. 20064

Professor Robert P. George
Princeton University
Corwin Hall 244
Princeton, NJ 08544

His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida
Archdiocese of Detroit
1234 Washington Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48226
["Your Eminence" - no “Dear”]

Mrs. Kate W. O’Beirne
7014 Holy Road Dr.
McLean, VA 22101

Mr. William F. Harrington
Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP
One North Lexington Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601

The Honorable William H. Pryor
Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse
1729 Fifth Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203

Mr. Peter Carfagna
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
1400 McDonald Investment Center
800 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114-2688

Michael Uhlmann, Ph.D.
Claremont Graduate University
150 E. 10th Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Mr. Bowie Kuhn
136 Teal Pointe Lane
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Reverend Joseph D. Fessio, S.J.
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119

Fumed by Tommy More at 10:38 AM. |

Lessons in warcraft.

No. 4: The object of war is to defeat your enemy, not make them stronger.

Hizbollah is taking the lead in rebuilding Lebanon, and they are handing out cold, hard cash to those whose houses were bombed by Israelis. I'd say that Israel only served to embolden their enemies. Not a good thing to do.

Fumed by Thursday at 9:53 AM. |

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Casualties of Caesar Bernie's Governance

Of course, it was inevitable. Like passengers fleeing a sinking ship, no less than 15 students have transferred from Ave Maria Law to escape Bernie Dobranski's tyrannical administration. It can safely be said that the number would be higher, were it not for the ABA's limitation on transfer credits. Though the students will indubitably be taught the law by faculties with lesser talent, they will assuredly be attending schools with better administration.

The transfer students are among the top of their class, and, based on law review announcements, it is evident that 5 of the transfers were new members of Ave Maria Law Review. Such a mass exodus of talented students is a loss to an institution that, were it not for Tom & Bernie, would be a first tier law school.

The current student body is not alone in suffering casualties. As a direct result of Bernie's contemptible termination of Charlie Rice, at least one member of the incoming class has written off his admission fee and told the school to forget his application. He would rather put his education on hold and seek admission elsewhere next year.

Fumed by Thursday at 3:07 PM. |

Better thoughts than mine

If you haven't been paying attention, First Things is conducting a facinating experiment on its website in which regular contributers to the Journal have agreed to post blog-style entries through the day on various topics. R.R. Reno has a good one that begins with a quote from Seneca (the Roman, not the tribe), so you know its going to be good. It may bring to mind a certain situation with which some are familiar. Look here.

Also, this appeared a couple weeks ago, and most definately merits an appearance at your next picnic or the dinner table, depending on your habits.

Fumed by Bendrix at 1:52 PM. |

Old litigation habits apparently die hard

Case in point: Drudge has this transcript of Greta "Aruba" Van Susteren interviewing the brother of the guy trying to get his 15 minutes by "admitting" to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

For those litigators in the room, tell me the transcript doesn't read like a deposition. It's uncanny! Just imagine the two of them in a conference room, with a court reporter at the end of the table.

As I said, old habits die hard.

Oh, and she still suffers from "All right-itis," a common issue with new litigators but one you'd expect to see under control in the older ones.

Fumed by Ryder at 11:45 AM. |


For those of you who have just learned that you have lost the distinct honor of taking Jurisprudence from Professor Charles Rice, allow me to give you a small sampling . . .

We may have positively identified Rice's oft-cited, frequently-involked "Boobus Americanus":

Fumed by TheLawDog at 1:10 AM. |

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fighting the Culture of Death at AMSOL

Although Prof. Rice would never compare himself to John Paul II, Columcille recognizes a similarity in the struggle for the soul of AMSOL as that depicted on the cover of The Winning Side.

Prof. Rice has been a keen observer of the corruption that has creeped into our civil society and he has fought it vigorously throughout his career.

In these clash of cultures, we know that Prof. Rice is on the Winning Side regardless of what happens to AMSOL and family. We know this as sure as we know that millions will not flock to Bill Clinton's body lying in state (sorry for the pun), as they did when John Paul the Great passed over.

And it is why Prof. Rice is publishing a new book this October called The Winning Side: Why the Culture of Death is Dying.

(edited for taste - Columcille)

Fumed by Columcille at 4:43 PM. |

Alumni Association Board Comments on Rice Firing

Looks like the Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association Board has an "attitude of gratitude" for Dr. Rice, as shown by the letter recently posted to their interim website.

Fumed by Tommy More at 3:25 PM. |

Professor Rice Responds

After learning that Dean Dobranski had fired him, Professor Rice sent this letter to Dobranski on August 15, Feast of the Assumption.

Fumed by Tommy More at 12:14 PM. |

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I AM happy to be with you tonight for I strongly believe that FUMARE (or Radio Free Ave) and the Fumantes are vital to success in the battle for men's minds.

Many of us learned during the war that the most potent force is spiritual; that the appeal to men's minds produces a dedication which surmounts every trial and test until victory is won. To toughen, strengthen, fortify such dedication to the cause of freedom is the mission of FUMARE.

Substantial progress has already been made. The free world is growing stronger because its peoples are growing in their determination to stand together and in their faith that freedom and justice will triumph. FUMARE, each day of the year, nourishes this growth. Here at home, we Catholics face the future with confidence. But we must also face up to the dangers that still lurk about us. We must ever work to strengthen our posture of defense and to reinforce our alliances and friendships in the free world.

While we maintain our vigilance at home and abroad, we must help intensify the will for freedom in the satellite entities behind the Iron Curtain of the Ave Maria Foundation (AMF). These entities are in TM's backyard; and only so long as their people are reminded that the outside world has not forgotten them--only that long do they remain as potential deterrents to TM's aggression.

The great majority of the captives in these satellite entities have known liberty in the past. They now need our constant friendship and help if they are to believe in their future.
Therefore, the mission of FUMARE merits greater support than before. It serves our security and the cause of peace. I have long given the Fumantes my strong endorsement. I did that because I am familiar with their purposes, their operations, the people who run it, and, perhaps, most important--its hard-hitting effectiveness as an independent Catholic enterprise.

I know that our country and our friends behind the Iron Curtain of the AMF can count on you for active participation and leadership in this most critical of all battles--the winning of men's minds. Without this victory, we can have no other victories. By your efforts, backed up by the faculty of AMSL, we can achieve our great goal--that of enabling us and all the peoples of AMSL to enjoy in peace the blessings of freedom.

President Ike's private secretary, Buttercup, sent this our way. May our benighted brethren profit from this and take courage in the victory that is to come!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 2:40 PM. |

Monday, August 14, 2006

Goodbye, Good Man

It is with sorrow that I report to Fumare's readership the firing of Prof. Charles Rice by Ave Maria School of Law's current dean, Bernard Dobranski.

Dr. Rice is a Notre Dame Law School professor emeritus, an internationally-acclaimed author with several books on the Natural Law, current EWTN host of "The Good Code," which covers the same themes as his books, and -- until last Friday -- teacher of arguably the most fundamental class offered at Ave Maria School of Law: Jurisprudence. (Prof. Rice taught other classes at AMSL, including First Amendment, but none more crucial to the professed mission of the law school than Jurisprudence.)

Click here to read Dobranski's August 11 letter to Prof. Rice. Given what the letter sets out to accomplish, it should surprise nobody that Dobranski blames the firing on Prof. Rice's own letter of May 5, 2006. Interestingly, Dobranski waited until just after the recent New York Times article and other negative publicity -- the truth of which must have stung -- before lashing out as he has.

In the meantime, it is the current and future student body of Ave Maria School of Law that will most suffer from Dobranski's latest misstep.

UPDATE: Don't just take my word for it. Here is what the law school said about Prof. Rice before he disagreed with Dean Dobranski:

Charles E. Rice will teach Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence at Ave Maria School of Law. He is a Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1969.

"I regard it as a privilege to be a visiting professor at the Ave Maria School of Law," said Rice. "Ave Maria, unlike any other law school, combines a solid, nuts-and-bolts legal education with a systematic study of the moral and social teachings of the church and their application to the law and society."

Rice is an internationally recognized Constitutional Law scholar. He has authored a number of books, articles and briefs involving the right-to-life, euthanasia, and bioethics, and serves as a co-chair of Free Speech Advocates, a project of Catholics United for Life.

Rice has been a consultant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a member of the Education Appeal Board at the U.S. Department of Education (1981-93). In 1996, he was named to the board of trustees of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

A member of the New York Bar since 1957, Rice engaged in private practice in New York City until 1961 and has taught law as a lecturer at C.W. Post College and New York University, and as a professor at Fordham University.

Rice received an A.B. degree from the College of Holy Cross, a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School, and a LL.M. and J.S.D. from New York University.
UPDATE TWO: On August 15, Professor Rice responded to Dean Dobranski. Click here.

Fumed by Tommy More at 4:39 PM. |


To Mz. [name], self-titled priest:

Grace and peace from God our Father,
we your humble servants send,
and our true Mother, Mary Blessed:
may her prayers to you extend.

Recall our previous exhortation
where we explained the Church's view
that male-exclusive ordination
is willed by Christ, but not for you.

With great distress we have discovered
your voyage on the Monongahe'
where you and other stubborn women
mimicked priestly rites at sea.

We must explain that your position
and your ill-fated expedition
require penance and contrition
to our Heavenly Physician,
and lead us to a tragic course
which we regret, but must enforce.

Since you knew your situation
when attempting ordination,
we, in thorough consultationwith your Bishop [insert See],
now impose excommunication
under canon 1319.

From Eucharist you must refrain
and other liturgy withdraw;
From parish office now abstain
and sacramentals, sayeth the law.

We hope for reconciliation
which you may seek in expiation
by calling us at this location
(but not next week, we're on vacation).

Given in Rome, this 14th day of August, in the Year of Our Lord 2006, the Feast of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe.

William Cardinal Levada

Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei

*Thanks to all contestants in the inaugural FUMARE reader's contest. After a painstaking process of separating the wheat from the chaff, and having wept at the beauty of some of the notifications, the judges have deemed GenXSurvivor to be the winner and reigning canonical, theological and poetical guru amongst FUMARE readers. Though we were disappointed that he chose not to use dactylic hexameter, his poetic skill rivals that of The Poet himself. GenXSurvivor will be receiving his prize via U.S. Mail later this week--that prize being 2 copies of Dominus Iesus (one in Latin and the other in English) and the guide "How to Smoke a Pipe." We hope that GenXSurvivor will profit from these prizes and that it will enhance his forthcoming contributions to FUMARE. Thanks to all our contestants!!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 10:41 AM. |

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Details forthcoming!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 8:57 PM. |

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ninja Squirrels

See what I mean? Florida is nuts! Not only do you have to worry about hit-and-runs that leave you dismembered and alligators that stalk you while you jog, but now sea turtles? and SQUIRRELS?!?!

Watch out!

Fumed by Thursday at 3:11 PM. |

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What Would Apocryphal Jesus Do?

From The Gospel of Thomas:

"4. After that [Jesus] was again passing through the village; and a boy ran up against Him, and struck His shoulder. And Jesus was angry, and said to him: Thou shalt not go back the way thou camest. And immediately he fell down dead....And the parents of the dead boy went away to Joseph, and blamed him, saying: Since thou hast such a child, it is impossible for thee to live with us in the village; or else teach him to bless, and not to curse: for he is killing our children.

5. And Joseph called the child apart, and admonished Him, saying: Why doest thou such things, and these people suffer, and hate us, and persecute us? And Jesus said: I know that these words of thine are not thine own; nevertheless for thy sake I will be silent; but they shall bear their punishment. And straightway those that accused Him were struck blind....And when they saw that Jesus had done such a thing, Joseph rose and took hold of His ear, and pulled it hard. And the child was very angry, and said to him: It is enough for thee to seek, and not to find; and most certainly thou hast not done wisely. Knowest thou not that I am thine? Do not trouble me.

14. And Joseph, seeing that the child was vigorous in mind and body, again resolved that He should not remain ignorant of the letters, and took Him away, and handed Him over to another teacher. And the teacher said to Joseph: I shall first teach him the Greek letters, and then the Hebrew. [H]e wrote out the alphabet, and gave Him all his attention for a long time, and He made him no answer. And Jesus said to him: If thou art really a teacher, and art well acquainted with the letters, tell me the power of the Alpha, and I will tell thee the power of the Beta. And the teacher was enraged at this, and struck Him on the head. And the child, being in pain, cursed him; and immediately he swooned away, and fell to the ground on his face. And the child returned to Joseph's house; and Joseph was grieved, and gave orders to His mother, saying: Do not let him go outside of the door, because those that make him angry die."

Fumed by Sine Metu at 11:55 PM. |

Baltimore Catechism, No. 2, Questions 264, 266

264. What is the eighth commandment of God? The eighth commandment of God is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

266. What does the eighth commandment forbid? The eighth commandment forbids lies, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, and the telling of secrets we are bound to keep.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 12:22)(emphasis added)


Thus sayeth the Baltimore Catechism which had taught all of those who went through Catholic schools until at least the mid-1960's. The good Sisters would put Catholic children through their paces in learning the little catechism which was so rich in theological and moral education. We would do well to return to the Baltimore Catechism and even read it as adults as a sound and sure guide to the teachings of Mother Church.

As lawyers, we were trained for legal reasoning through the ever-popular and ubiquitous "hairy hypo." The goal of such a method was to get the law student to look at a fact pattern, spot the issues and apply the law. In that spirit consider:

(1) Mr. M., an exceedingly generous philanthropist, has reached a time in his life where he wishes to finally rid himself of the burden of material wealth. To accomplish this goal, he wishes to promote his devoutly held religious beliefs and "save souls." He sees that the best way to do this is through education. So Mr. M. decides to commit vast amounts of his fortune to the creation of what he hopes will be a world-renown religious University in a swampy little outpost. As part of his plan he partners with a land developer to create a new "town." The centerpiece of this town will be the religious based University. Mr. M visited a gathering in Boston, Mass. to explain his plan. Notably he said:

"We'll own all commercial real estate," Mr. M. declared, describing his vision. "That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in [the] Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in [the] Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in [the] Town."

(2) Predictably the ACLU and other civil liberties groups promised to file suit if such a vision were ever implemented--citing Marsh v. Alabama other US Supreme Court constitutional precedents to support their view. Increasingly, there was more heat placed on Mr. M. and his vision. This prompted a PR campaign where Mr. M. clarified his view:

"There are a lot of misconceptions," [Mr. M.] said.

"I would say I just misspoke," [Mr. M.] said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "The town will be open to anybody."

Mr. M's partner in the venture also added:

"We are not going to censor any of that information, but in deference to [the] University, we are going to request that they not sell that merchandise but we are not restricting," said [developer] chief executive...."The misconception we're trying to clarify is that this is not going to be a strictly Catholic town. ... I think it would be boring if in fact it was all Catholic," [developer chief executive] said.

The two further went on national talk shows clarifying their view.

(3) Things calmed down for several months and Mr. M. attended a First Friday breakfast in a major city. He was invited to be the guest speaker and gave his vision once again of his venture--university and town:

"We control 50 percent of the development," he said. "Our plan is that no adult material will appear on the town's cable system and the pharmacy will not sell contraceptives."

Directions: Spot the issue and apply the law.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris, Man of the Year at 2:25 PM. |