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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

We treasure our freedom and we acknowledge with gratitude all of those whose authentic patriotism has inspired their devoted service in all of the branches of the military. Theirs was a commitment to a just and lasting peace. The devotion to duty, the tedious routine of daily service, the terrible separation caused by deployment, and the strain on military families –both today and yesterday--inspire our admiration. With prayers for those who have finished their earthly pilgrimage, we also reverence the service rendered by the men and women in uniform and their families today. We can offer no better monument to their memory than our pledge to strive earnestly and to engage faithfully in fruitful endeavors so that all people might enjoy their human rights and live in harmony.
--Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, USA

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 10:51 AM. |

The Sestak Dealmaking Should Be Condemned

I'm bothered that the agreement the White House tried to make with Joe Sestak is not being condemned more than it is. Let's take the White House at their word, that it offered Sestak an unpaid advisory board position in order to get him to drop out of the Pennsylvania senate primary. The sense I'm getting from most pundits and commentators is that "this is no big deal because it happens all the time." This really bothers me. Shouldn't the proper response be "I don't care that it happens all the time, this is an abuse of authority and of the public trust that should be condemned as unethical and illegal"?

Consider a city council which has the authority to award a contract for garbage removal to any company it chooses. We would hope that the city council makes its decision in awarding the contract based on the competence and expertise of the particular garbage-removal company and based on what is in the best interests of the public. Suppose the council approaches one company and offers it the contract in exchange for a political interest that favors the city council. I know this type of thing happens all the time, but I don't care; this is an abuse of authority and of the public trust that should be condemned as unethical and illegal. Our society rightly recognizes that this as an abuse, and so, it legally prohibits it and is often able to bring criminal charges against the government official.

Isn't this an analogous situation? The White House has the authority to award a non-paying advisory board position to any person it chooses. We would hope that its decision in choosing a person for the advisory board is based on the competence and expertise of the particular person chosen and based on what is in the best interests of the public. If the White House instead approaches a person and offers him the position in exchange for some political interest, isn't this a similar abuse of the public trust? I don't care that it happens all the time, shouldn't we condemn it whenever such a deal becomes public knowledge? If we say "who cares, this happens all the time," aren't we implicitly condoning the White House's action here?

Do we really want to approve of a political system in which the White House has the ability to use advisory board appointments as bargaining chips, the ability to offer these appointments in exchange for personal political favors?

Fumed by Thales at 8:07 AM. |

Saturday, May 29, 2010

For the Illiterates who post in the comments

quod erat demonstrandum, from the comments themselves, that a number of visitors to FUMARE are illiterate.  They may be able to sound noise of letters they observe, but seem unable to comprehend what they read.

For me, I don't read.  I like books with pictures and drawings, and I watch TV, like Hogan's Heroes reruns and documentaries about the secret international nazi base camp in Argentina, which recently blackmailed the financial banks, who in turn conned the TARP bill. 

Fortunately, for all of us, there's Good News, Everyone!  If you wanted to read Professor Rice's speech at Christendom College this year, but couldn't get past all the big words and sentence constructions, they've released the video (four parts, and the timing of the parts is perfect for intermission time where you can refill your drink, get a sandwich, or all of the other things needed to be done)
pt 1:

pt 2:

pt 3:

pt 4:

I don't expect any intelligent comments, save for those coming from my fellow Hogan's Heroes fans.

UPDATE:  I forgot to include some mandatory Monaghan bashing in order to fulfill my duties as a shill for the academic terrorists.   Kind of hard to compare Monaghan to any of this... as that would be like trying to find a place for a moron on MIT faculty.   Monaghan isn't smart enough to realize that when he kicked this guy out, he stated that the Ratio was no longer welcome at Ave.  I doubt they even know who Czisek is down there anymore.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 9:49 AM. |

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama, Monaghan, they're the same to me

Interesting that, on the eve of Memorial Day, Obama announced that he's not going to go to Arlington National Cemetery.

Why not?  Even if the stated purpose is real, namely, that he wants to honor a promise, then can't the one guy in the United States who has the entire Air Force at his disposal make that happen?

Like Monaghan, who in my opinion is psychopathic, there is a cult like following of people self-deputized to defend anything he does.  These followers will abusively spout the most irrational garbage at any criticism of their chosen idol.

But beyond the useful idiots, why?  Why is Obama sloughing off Arlington?  And why did he feel the need to have a cover story that makes a moral appeal?  (that's what Monaghan does in my opinion, too -- always rationalizes his misdeeds with a story that will have emotional appeal to the cult followers).

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 7:38 PM. |

"If you deny me before men..."

Father Michael Kelly SJ has been executive director of UCA News since Jan. 1, 2009. He has worked in radio and TV production since 1982 and as a journalist in Australia and Asia for various publications, religious and secular.

The dynamic equivalent translation of the above = "stultissimus."

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 1:10 PM. |

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jackson Labs: No Assurances To Anyone

AveWatch has an audio clip of a Naples Press Club interview with a Jackson Labs VP. The reporter asks about the nature of Jackson Labs's stem cell research, the proximity of the new facility to Ave Maria (and the fact that Jackson Labs might even have Ave Maria's blessing), and whether Jackson Labs has made any assurances about what it will or will not do at the facility.

The Jackson Labs VP starts by giving a highly evasive answer about what kind of science it pursues, but pretty much states that Jackson Labs will do anything and everything possible "to pursue the truth wherever it leads us." I think it's fair to assume that Jackson Labs has no problem with pursuing "the truth" by means of human embryonic stem cell research.

The VP then says that Jackson Labs has made "no assurances to anyone about anything," regarding what scientific procedures would be acceptable at an Ave Maria facility. The VP adds that requiring some limitation on Jackson Labs's scientific practices as a condition for building near Ave Maria Town "would not be an acceptable position for us."

The reporter asks whether anyone has broached this possibility with Jackson Labs. The VP says that "Nobody has asked us not do anything."

Well, I guess that answers one of the questions I had, about whether Monaghan required assurances that Jackson Labs wouldn't engage in unethical science before approving the land sale. The answer is no. Sigh. So Monaghan solicits donors by citing the problem of embryonic stem cell research, while at the same time approving a new lab that is in the embryonic stem cell research business. Real nice.

Fumed by Thales at 12:46 PM. |

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Thought Experiment Reboot

After some good discussion, I think my thought experiment about a gas company manufacturing and marketing cyanide gas for human-killing is unfair. Part of my confusion resulted from my poor understanding about human embryonic stem cell research.

In human embryonic stem cell research, a human embryo is first created and then its stem cells are extracted, resulting in this human being's death. The extracted human embryonic stem cells, however, can continue to grow and replicate in a lab setting. This phenonemon, "a family of constantly dividing cells," is a "stem cell line." (from Wikipedia). Research companies can then obtain a stem cell line from the first company. I suppose it is kind of like buying a bit of yeast from an existing batch of someone's original recipe, which you can use to grow your own yeast.

So, it appears that Jackson Labs and its customers grow and experiment on human embryonic stem cells. However, it is probable that they are not actually creating a human embryo and extracting its stem cells. Instead, they are obtaining already-created embryonic stem cells from another source. Therefore, Jackson Labs and its clients are not actually killing human embryos.

And that is where my thought experiment is unfair. For the gas company, its clients are in the business of human-killing and the gas company produces a product which is tailored for this human-killing. For Jackson Labs, its clients are NOT in the business of embryo-killing. Instead, they are in the business of experimenting on cells from an already-killed human being. They are one step removed from the immoral act of killing an innocent human being. I concede my thought experiment is flawed.

But that doesn't mean that Jackson Labs is out of the woods. Far from that. Experimentation on human embryonic stem cell lines, even if they are obtained from someone else, is still highly unethical. My criticisms of Jackson Labs and my concerns about Monaghan's sale of land still remain.

Here is my next attempt for a thought experiment. Suppose a biotech company, BioCo, produces and markets a special compound that helps with the experimentation on human corpses. BioCo tests its product and experiments on human corpses itself at its facility. Though BioCo and BioCo's clients don't kill any human being themselves, they do obtain all of their human corpses from another source. Is BioCo acting ethically? I think not.

Fumed by Thales at 2:17 PM. |

So Jackson Labs Does Experiment on Human Embryos? [UPDATE:.... on Human Embryonic Stem Cells?]

AveWatch has done more investigation. Based on Jackson Labs's own literature, Jackson Labs provides a service to human embryo researchers around the world: examination of cellular pluripotency by in vivo teratoma formation.

I'm not a scientist, so if I'm not understanding right, please correct me on the science. In addition to creating mouse cell lines for human embryo research, another service that Jackson Labs provides is that it will take human embryonic stem cells, implant them into mice, and then monitor them for the formation of teratomas (which are noncancerous tumors). From Jackson Labs's fact sheet: "The ability to form teratoma in vivo is a defining feature in evaluating the quality of hES cells." Having Jackson Labs monitor teratoma growth, thereby evaluating the quality of human embryonic stem cells, is a useful service to embryonic research facilities that need good quality embryonic stem cells for their research.

So, I think this means that although Jackson Labs technically does not do research on human embryonic stem cells, it does experiment on human embryonic stem cells.

To analogize to my cyanide gas company: Not only does the company manufacture and market cyanide gas for killing human beings, it actually tests the gas and monitors its effects on human beings at its facility.

Does Monaghan have assurances that this type of experimentation with human embryos won't be happening at the Ave Maria facility?

UPDATE: Commenter "anonymous" says I'm being imprecise in my post. "anonymous" argues that Jackson Labs is not engaged in the destruction of human embryos. Instead, Jackson Labs apparently uses "illicitly derived cells" and "conducts tests on cells from a human embryonic stem cell line."

I was imprecise; I didn't mean to imply that Jackson Labs creates human embryos on site, because I don't think they do. I was using "experimentation on human embryos" to mean "experimentation on human embryonic stem cells."

I admit I'm not a scientist so I might be wrong on this whole issue. From what I can discern from the fact sheet, Jackson Labs uses PA-1 ovarian teratocarcinoma cells as a control for comparison to human embryonic stem cell formation. If the PA-1 cells are not derived from human embryos and if Jackson Labs doesn't have human embryonic stem cells on site, then maybe Jackson Labs is even in a better moral light than what "anonymous" is saying. On the other hand, as commenter "Fronkenshteen" argues, Jackson Labs appears to at least do training on human embryonic stem cell lines.

So, I guess my question better stated this way: Is it unfair to say that Jackson Labs experiments on human embryonic stem cells?

Fumed by Thales at 7:40 AM. |

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Home Run

Professor Rice's 2010 Commencement Address for Christendom College.


Wait a minute! I know those guys!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 4:08 PM. |

Congratulations, Ave Maria Law Graduates for 2010!

This past weekend, the Ave Maria School of Law conducted its 2010 commencement exercises, with Jeb Bush as the commencement speaker.

My sincere congratulations to the 84 graduates! Good luck in your legal career!

The Ave Herald has links.

If you were there for the event, let us know about it in the comments.

Fumed by Thales at 12:19 PM. |

Thought Experiment: Gas Company and Formal Cooperation with Evil

Here is a thought experiment:

A chemical company manufactures a cyanide gas compound. The company then markets its product with a fact sheet entitled "Resources for Killing Human Beings." The fact sheet says:
-that the company produces a gas compound "that facilitates the killing of humans"
-that the company "offers a wide array of gas compounds for killing humans"
-that the company can "produce or enhance gas compounds with specific properties that facilitate the killing of humans".

The gas compound can be used in other non-human-killing ways, which are entirely moral.

Is the company acting ethically? Is the company committing formal cooperation with evil? Or is the company committing some level of material cooperation with evil (that might be either morally permissible or impermissible)?

(Also, is my thought experiment an unfair comparison to this scenario?)

Fumed by Thales at 11:29 AM. |

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Naples News Interview with Jackson Labs VP

Naples News has an interesting interview with Jackson Labs vice president and COO Chuck Hewett, regarding potential plans to build a hospital, a charter school, and more, next to the Jackson Labs facility near Ave Maria University. An excerpt from Hewett:
It would not make any sense of us at all to come to an area like Collier County where there's no research infrastructure, no research hospital, no medical school, unless we could envision a future where those would start to come together.

We do envision that. I fact, I’ve had discussions as recently as this morning over breakfast with a party who is very interested in creating a hospital next to us. It would be a specialty hospital at first, perhaps a general hospital over time. We're having conversations with a party that would like to have a science and math high school at the site. We very much will need to attract a good medical school with a research and clinical focus.

And I think it's fair to say that the land owner under the right terms would be willing to donate land to all of those not-for-profit entities.
That would be the nucleus of a community that would then start to grow.
Is he talking about Monaghan in this last paragraph? As long as there is no formal or immediate material cooperation with evil such as human embryo stem cell research, then bring on the development!

HT: AveWatch

Fumed by Thales at 11:42 AM. |

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Bishops' Real Agenda

Chris Manion has a powerful piece in this week's issue of The Wanderer. Here's a portion:

For almost 100 years — especially since Archbishop Joseph Bernardin planted the USCC's flag firmly on the left 40 years ago — our bishops have advocated a wide range of liberal social welfare initiatives. They have also strongly opposed abortion. So what's the score in 2010? Abortion is still legal, but the liberal social welfare agenda has prospered — and so has the USCCB. Catholic "social justice" bureaucracies flourish, from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to the huge USCCB headquarters in Washington. The bishops' anointed experts have developed strong ties with the Washington left, on and off Capitol Hill, and those ties have paid off.

Today the Church receives two billion dollars a year from the government for Catholic Charities, tens of millions more for Catholic universities and hospitals, and tens of millions a year more for the USCCB itself.

With that scorecard, would the average Washington politician draw the conclusion that the life issues — especially abortion — are the bishops' first priority?

Politicians might not be saints, but they're not dumb. Politicians also understand the law. So they notice when bishops refuse to implement Canon Law (and Canon 915 is mandatory, not optional) in the case of even the most flagrant Catholic pro-abortion scandalmongers. Politicians draw the logical conclusion. And politicians are also well aware that, as Cardinal McCarrick judiciously put it a few years back, Catholic bishops do not want to “alienate” important pro-abortion Catholics on Capitol Hill because "[taxpayer] money is needed for Catholic hospitals, charities, and education."

Read the the whole piece here. Strong medicine for the Successors of the Apostles.

Fumed by Petronius at 6:15 PM. |

Why Ecumenical Gatherings are Generally a Bad Idea


Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 8:36 AM. |

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Afternoon Mozart

You gotta love Gulda!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 3:27 PM. |

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Afternoon Blues

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 3:10 PM. |

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ernie Harwell, 1918-2010

Requiescat in pace.

Fumed by Thales at 8:34 AM. |

Monday, May 03, 2010

AMU's Golisano Supports Charlie Crist

So Tom Golisano, that alleged pro-life hero recently honored at Ave Maria University, has thrown his support behind pro-choice politician and model of political hackery, Charlie Crist. That's something to be proud of, Ave Maria University!

More about this and about a continuing investigation of Golisano's election activities at AveWatch.

Fumed by Thales at 11:02 PM. |

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bishops and the Arizona Immigration Law

U.S. Bishops are denouncing the new Arizona immigration law: Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB's committee on Migration, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, Arizona's three bishops Wall, Olmsted, and Kicanas, and of course, Los Angeles's Cardinal Mahony.

I'm disappointed in the bishops and I'm getting really bothered by the tone of opposition to the Arizona bill. I get the impression that the opposition has not read the bill and doesn't understand it. I think it is demagogic of the opposition to make ridiculous comparisons to Nazi Germany. I think I'm bothered because I have heard so few reasonable arguments coming from those opposed to the Arizona law. It's offensive to require immigrants to carry ID? Federal immigration law already requires this. It's illegal or dangerous for the police to have the ability to stop you on "reasonable suspicion"? Police already have the ability to stop you on reasonable suspicion. It's like Nazi Germany to have police ask for papers when they stop you? I don't hear the Nazi comparison when I have to show my drivers' license when I'm pulled over for speeding.

Here is a good response to objections to the Arizona law. I find it disappointing that the bishops, and all of the critics of the Arizona law, seems to be so irresponsible and unmeasured in their opposition.

Am I wrong? What is your position on the Arizona immigration law? What do you think about the stand of these bishops?

UPDATE: Another question I have for the bishops and for those opposed to the Arizona law: What is their position on immigration in general? Are they opposed to all immigration regulations? I'd have more respect for the Arizona law opponents if they had the intellectual honesty to either admit that they oppose all immigration regulations whatsoever or to admit (if they are unwilling to say that all immigration regulations should be scrapped) that they haven't offered an alternative method for handling the immigration issue.

Fumed by Thales at 11:00 AM. |

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Roma locuta.

LC/RC to be under direct papal control.

Deo gratias.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 5:56 PM. |