Bloggers Smith and Jones

Wednesday, May 31, 2006



The LA Times, west coast media puppet of the ACLU, carried, on 05/26/06, a news item which should be a clarion call as loud as Tom Paine’s "Common Sense."

An RC church in Huntington Beach, Orange County (that's the wealthy county that went bankrupt rather than pays its bills) told a parishioner who knelt during part of the Mass (the Agnes Dei to be specific), he had committed a MORTAL SIN, and would no longer be welcome in the Church and could not receive Communion or other sacraments.

The church in question is in the diocese of Orange, which is composed of many churches. ( a Diocese is run by a Bishop).

Having 19 years of exposure to Catholic education, I was appalled by this quintessential stupidity on the part of the priest in question, and I should not have been. The Roman Catholic Church is composed of mortals, who all share the failings of that condition of being human. The Church has been witness to the entire range of stupidities and cupidities to which humanity is addicted. The fact that such basic faults and failings exist in the present world and have for the 2,000+ years of the Church’s history, has always been, for me, the best proof of the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, regardless of venal, corrupt Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and Curates, schisms and any sin of which mankind is capable of conceiving, the Church has lived through it all, as it has continued its holy task.

Having said that, the question is, "Why am I so fed up?"

I am weary of incompetence rising up to, probably, just below the Papacy. I know of the criminal behavior of some clergy in the U.S., and the protective net thrown over the felons by too many of their superiors (?). We see the financial screw-ups from era to era (Luther's main appeal was Rome's addiction to simony) and, more recently, the Banco Ambrosio scandal, complete with the hanging of one of the Vatican’s bankers from a London bridge, supposedly a suicide, but perhaps murder most foul.

This is an extremely truncated comment on the failures of the humans who compose the Church. (I'm sure in many nocks and crannies around the globe, many are engaged in trying to be the next "Dan Brown, applying themselves with diligence .if not due... to their task! Just in passing, I might say that I admire the genius of Rowling, as compared with the competent technician attributes with which Brown is endowed.)

There are manifold difficulties with the Church, but the one that exists and subsumes all others is lack of modern organization. Roman restaurants would shutter by the dozens if a structure suitable for their they define them...were created.

Am I suggesting the Church hire Booz, Allen? Why not...although they would have to find. if possible, an Italian counterpart. Roma does not readily embrace change; we, the "sheep" must force the issue.

Ventilate the issue all you sheep; especially those who bleet the most.



All that Jones says hits the mark. Far too many Roman Catholic Church clergy, who daily are charged with the challenge of guiding the spiritual lives of their members, can be found utterly failing in this task. Unfortunately, many, if not most, Catholics can cite one or more stories about erroneous, uninformed, heartless and even cruel actions taken by this or that priest that led members to seriously question, and even abandon their faith.

Clearly, as witnessed by the above-noted L.A. Times story, autocratic, uncaring and misguided priests regularly fail in counseling the faithful. The cardinal rule for all priests certainly should be, everything else considered, do no harm as they minister to the laity.

And how best to assure that injustice and malevolence is replaced by compassion, kindness and goodness? One obvious answer is to take charge of the money. At present, each local church in its supposed wisdom collects and dispenses the funds donated by parishioners. Of course, with the money comes power, power exercised from the secure position of financial independence. It is possible and necessary to change this equation. The simple answer is to create parishioner funding corporations.

Under such an arrangement, parishioners can set up their own not-for-profit charitable organizations, elect directors and officers, secure the appropriate tax exempt status and collect funds from their fellow worshippers- funds formerly directed to the church. The new parishioner funding corporation can then dispense funds to pay church expenses and the staff, as its duly elected directors and officers deem necessary and appropriate.

Under the parishioner funding corporation system, the priests no longer will have the power of the purse. Rather, they will have to make application to the parishioner funding corporation for allocations from moneys collected from church members. This new reality can, in turn, be expected to shape the advice and counsel provided by the priests.

From time to time, all social organizations can and should confront the need for change. The Roman Catholic Church is no different. One need only consider the plummeting number of priests, brothers and nuns, the continuing closure of Catholic schools and other institutions, and the criminal actions of an albeit small number of priests, to conclude that time is long overdue for adopting corrective actions and policies. The creation of local parishioner funding corporations should be seen as one such constructive step.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Full Disclosure for Katie and the Congress

Under pressure from the Hill, the Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing the adoption of the so-called "Katie Couric" clause. The SEC wants publicly traded companies to give shareholders more information about multimillion-dollar salaries of their executives and employees. The name comes from the "Today Show” co-host, who is leaving NBC at the end of May to join CBS as anchor and managing editor of the to be retitled "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. " It’s been widely reported that Couric is to receive $15 million over five years.

The SEC proposal – primarily aimed at requiring the disclosure of more information on the pay of top corporate officers -- also would force companies to disclose salary figures for up to three workers whose compensation exceeds that of its top executives.

A number of the Fortune 100, including DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and News Corp., are protesting the SEC plan. They claim that the salary structure for millionaire talent is too complex and irrelevant to shareholders. Some fear that the new rule might scare away high-ticket individuals, who prefer to share their personal finances only with their accountants.

The SEC is working away hoping to unveil a final version of its overall executive compensation disclosure rules by early September. The regs would take effect in early 2007.

As the SEC moves forward with its plan to increase exposure of corporate financial information, it occurs to us that the time is clearly far overdue for the disclosure spot light to be pointed at the lords and rulers of Capitol Hill. If there is an investor-citizen right to know the finances of America’s corporate titans, why is there not a similar right for all voters to know the complete details of the finances of Members of Congress, as well for that matter those of would-be legislators running for office? The comprehensive reports should be filed quarterly, if not monthly. In this way, the voters can come to understand just how members of Congress – as many do - can come to Washington with little to speak of in terms of personal financial assets, and then leave the town as multimillionaires, not to mention a golden rretirement plan that guarantees them their salary for life. It's Golden Security not Social Security for our Congress persons.

After all, our elected representatives are the ones who have gerrymandered Congressional Districts to the point where the electorate largely is offered only a single choice --the mediocre incumbent.

And clearly, no congressperson is buried in paupers' field!

It’s time that voters know the full financial facts of the people they continue to elect to office!

Friday, May 12, 2006



The latest bogus debate between our Republican and Democratic leaders is over the supposed Freedom to Phone. This is not a phone debate, it’s a phony one. There is no phone privacy right written into our Constitution or any where else for that matter. And, more to the point, thanks to the wonders of electronics, it could never be.

Simply stated, the Founding Fathers lacked access to a cell, satellite or any other derivative of Mr. Bell’s miraculous invention. Hence, they had no reason to incorporate Freedom to Phone in the Bill of Rights, or any other of the country’s foundation documents. And, even if they had considered the issue, one can assume that the founders and protectors of our liberties, who dealt with practicalities and realities, would likely have seen the issue not as one of a personal right to make a private phone call, but rather one of full disclosure that there can be no such thing.

Yes, folks, when you pick up a phone – any phone- you’ve got to expect that someone – in fact possibly many someones- may be listening. This is the message your representatives in Congress should be telling you.

And the people listening could not only be one of a number of secret U.S. intelligence agencies, with the National Security Agency heading the list. The NSA was established via a super secret order by President Truman and, under a legal framework, can listen in on signals everywhere and anywhere.

But what all must understand, as communications signals travel through the air via satellites, microwaves, cellular nodes, WIFI, VOIP, and any number of other transmission paths that are regularly being developed, various governments other than the U.S. may be listening in. These, of course, include the Russians and Chinese, who operate two of the world’s largest listening posts that happen to be located in Cuba, plus the Brits, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders (in joint operations with the U.S., formerly called ECHELON), and could also involve the French, Germans, Israelis and Japanese, and others who have the satellite and related capabilities to operate extensive signit (that is, signal intelligence) covert facilities.

So, what does this mean? It’s quite simple. There can be no guarantee of privacy- none- when using a public telephone network. No one can know who may be listening in, whether in Fort Meade, Maryland (home to NSA), Moscow, Beijing, London or any other number of places.

And the same is true of the Internet. Bits and bytes of data also travel through the air and can be easily intercepted, recorded, catalogued, analyzed and reviewed.

If you want to use a phone or Internet to communicate some confidential information, you had better use some form of encryption - a personal code system- that only you and the other party can access. That’s life in the 21st Century.

And public opinion poll results released this week show that a majority of Americans have no problem with these new realities. Specifically, 66 percent of those interviewed said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made.


Here we go again!

Since its adoption over two centuries ago, the US Constitution has provided shade for the strict constructionists, the deconstructionists, the sacred document theorists, etc. ad nauseam. All knew what was in the Founders' minds. Here it is again. There is no privacy right because, a) it is not stated in the Constitution, and b) dealing a blow to the sainthood bestowed on those very human men, they didn't foresee the telephone!

SMITH is factually correct...of course these men did not see what and where Ben Franklin's kite would lead, and their experience would have probably led to agreeing with the NSA programs, including ECHELON, that once super-secret NSA venture, which corrupted international relations with allies and enemies alike.

Were we to be able to experience life in our country in the 18th century, we would have found spying more than a cottage industry. It was a requirement of the undeclared war being waged by the colonists, Tories aside. Later, as the move west gained momentum, we have the U.S. Cavalry Scouts reading the smoke signals of the beleaguered Indians. No court decision exists on the question (the Indians had no Standing), but the newspapers of the time do not allude to the practice, but just state that "111 Sioux wiped out at Mt. Wherever" and the ambush worked because the smoke signals had been tapped.

If the privacy issue is to be brought within the purview of the Constitution as written, it can only be by attributing intent to the Founders.

Aside from Franklin's brush with electricity and Jefferson's
abilities with many practical sciences such as architecture,
land management, animal husbandry , etc., the Founders
would today be called humanists, deeply steeped in the
literature of the day and the classics back to the Greek
scholars. They were students of the "human condition,"
the sodium/water mixture of animal/spirit. They were familiar
with the Archimedean Pendulum, and did not believe
regimes lasted forever, but were finite.

Their goal was to establish principles to protect man from
his predilections, which lead him to abuse and enslave
his fellow man.
Privacy and phone calls? One could probably make some cogent arguments on the "if they had known, they would have" ground, but mankind itself then speaks out. SMITH notes the percentage of Americans, who either do not care or willingly would give up phone privacy for ostensible security.

The real question is : what liberties are Americans prepared to die for?

With 6.5bn souls presently on our wee orb and we being 300M or say, 4+%, of the world humankind, I would not vote against the American people voting for giving up substantive rights.