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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

June 8, 2008

commission & communion

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:04 pm

There’s no obvious link (other than lexical proximity) between the two topics covered in this posting, and none was meant — the anti-phone-scam campaign of the Federal Trade Commission and Douglas Kmiec, the conservative lawyer denied communion at a Catholic mass because he had endorsed Barack Obama for President.

Of course, Prof. Yabut (our Inner Contrarian and Designated Devil’s Advocate) has suggested that the topic of religion-and-politics and the topic of fraud and scams might indeed be metaphysically connected. He also pointed out that I’m writing about my Former Faith and my Former Employer. Nonetheless, sitting in front of a fan, this steamy Sunday, Your Editor is merely pounding out a few pixels to keep himself from actually thinking hard about any thing. Please lower your expectations.

the street-corner preacher
points the way
with his Bible

……. by Michael Dylan Welch – Modern Haiku (Issue 38:3, Autumn 2007)

Scam Avoidance Tips from the FTC: If the hot weather has you staying indoors more, you’re more likely to be assaulted by telephone or online scammers. Or, the heat might have merely shortened your attention span and increased your procrastination reflex — setting you on the search for arguably educational video diversion. Either way, you’re in luck, because the Federal Trade Commission has been cranking out some nifty, little videos to help keep you safe from telemarketing scams.

Who’s Calling?” Go to the YouTube FTC Videos Page for the complete list of Commission videos, or head over to the FTC’s Telemarketing Fraud webpage for video and written advice. E.g., the FTC has two videos to help avoid Phone Scams:

FTC video on fraudulent telemarketing

FTC phone fraud video

You’ll also find informational clips on protecting personal information and avoiding identity theft online, at the office, and out at the mall.

summer day
a seat in the movies
away from others

……….. by John Stevenson – Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)

Those of us who like our information in print, can peruse the FTC alert on “How to Recognize Phone Fraud.” It reminds us: “Criminals use the phone to commit many different types of fraud, including sweepstakes and lottery frauds, loan fraud, buying club memberships, and credit card scams.” And,

“Telephone scammers are good at what they do. They say anything and target everyone to try to cheat people out of money. They may call you and imply that they work for a company you trust, or they may send direct mail or place ads to convince you to call them.”

The Commission also wants to hear from you, if you’ve been contacted or victimized by phone-scammers. You can use the FTC Internet Complaint Form. Or contact your State Attorney General.

Want more? Click this logo.

You’ll find information from, which “provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.”

Debt Settlement Scams Targeted, too: A recent press release also noted that the FTC is going to Host a Debt Settlement Workshop on September 25, 2008, in Washington, D.C., which will examine the industry trend toward For-Profit Consumer Debt Relief Services. I’m very happy to hear this, but wish it had happened years ago.

A decade ago, I tried to get the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to look into the debt-reduction tactics of New York lawyer Andrew Capoccia (at a time when neither the State AG nor Bar Counsel would act). The FTC staff took no action. If they had, “the Capoccia scandal” might have been nipped in the bud, instead of blossoming into a monstrous case of consumer fraud.

Intel Investigation: Speaking of the FTC and former employers, I got an email a couple days ago from my two-time FTC boss, Bert Foer and his American Antitrust Institute, saying “AAI Congratulates FTC on Opening of Intel Investigation” (American Antitrust Institute, June 6, 2008). As the New York Times reported on June 7th, “In Turnaround Anti-trust Unit Looks at Intel.” The Times explained (via Antitrust Review, “Kovacic reverses Majoras“): “The Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation of Intel, the world’s largest maker of computer microprocessors, for anticompetitive conduct.” The investigation will look into accusations — believed by antitrust authorities in several other countries — “that Intel’s pricing policies have been designed to maintain a near-monopoly on the microprocessor market.” AAI had been urging the Commission to act for several years. The FTC owes it to the American consumer to investigate whether Intel has been abusing its market position in order to unfairly eliminate competition from competitors (such as AMD), thereby reducing consumer options and denying them the benefits of robust marketplace rivalry.

fisherman’s icebox
the look on her face
when she opens the chip dip

. . . . . …………………………. by Ed Markowski Modern Haiku (Vol. 37.2, Autumn 2006)

Kmiec Denied Communion for backing Barack: The last time I wrote about Douglas Kmiec, I thought the high-profile conservative-Catholic lawyer and academic was guilty of glossing over the role of Catholic teachings in the decision-making of Supreme Court justices. See “what if Justice Roberts is a ‘serious Catholicl’?” (Aug. 1, 2005). I was quite surprised to learn a few days ago, therefore, that Kmiec had endorsed Barack Obama back on Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008. The endorsement apparently shook up “conservative” Catholics, because Kmiec has always been a stalwart member of the pro-life movement and Obama supports “a woman’s right to choose.”

Kmiec came roaring back into the news last week, when it was reported by E. J. Dionne in his column for the The Washington Post that a priest had refused to give Kmiec communion because of his public endorsement of Obama. And see, “Priest Snubs Lawyer over Obama Endorsement” (National Public Radio, by Nina Totenberg, June 2, 2008); “Conservative lawyer denied communion for supporting Obama” (LA Legal Pad, June 5, 2008); “Law Prof Denied Communion for Supporting Obama” (ABA Journal News, June 6, 2008); and (attacking Kmiec) “Not fooling anyone” (The Cranky Conservative, June 6, 2008)

As Kmiec explained (“Doug Kmiec on ‘The Politics of Apostasy’,” Catholic Online, May 15, 2008):

“Having been drawn to Senator Obama’s remarkable “love thy neighbor” style of campaigning, his express aim to transcend partisan divide, and specifically, his appreciation for faith (“secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square”), I did not expect to be clobbered by co-religionists.

“On the blogs, I have been declared “self-excommunicated,” and recently at a Mass before a dinner speech to Catholic business leaders, a very angry college chaplain excoriated my Obama-heresy from the pulpit at length and then denied my receipt of communion.”

Nina Totenberg’s 5-minute report on npr is worth a listen, if this issue interests you. I was pleased to hear that the un-named (at Kmiec’s request to spare him the backlash) priest’s archbishop immediately stated that the priest had no authority to deny communion in this instance. Kmiec’s piece has a good explanation of the Church’s position:

“The American bishops have put it this way: ‘A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion. . ., if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity’.”

“Are there ‘other important moral issues involving human life and dignity’? The list is long: the death and economic waste associated with an unjustified war in Iraq; failure to be good stewards of the environment; promoting a tax code that favors the wealthy and undermines a family wage; perpetuating an immigration system that divides families and overlooks the exploitation of labor and more.”

prayingHandsS Having written the post “Catholic conservatives ignore Benedict on political ‘caritas‘” (June 4, 2006), I’m glad to see a respected conservative Catholic layman arguing that single-issue voters are doing a disservice to their Church’s traditional teaching. Doug Kmiec told Totenberg that he endorsed Obama because “he’s representing our better selves.” As an acknowledged apostate, who nonetheless respects the Church’s broad tradition of “politcal caritas,” I applaud Kmiec’s warning against “the politics of apostasy”:

“Whether an Obama presidency would readily improve relations with the Muslim world or not, whether or not you think me less pro-life (which I’m not) by my endorsement, it is important to both reaffirm civility and the related principles of religious freedom that refute gleeful crusades, at home or abroad, to single out supposed apostasy where none exists.”

I better quit now, before I break my pledge not to think too hard on this sultry Sunday. As usual, we’ll leave you with a few haiku.



umbrella after the abortion
she weeds
the garden

……… by George Swede – collected at Terebess Asia Online

spring sun-
high in his arms
the newborn is shown

… by Tom Clausen, from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)

evening breezes
stir the cherry blossoms—
a newborn’s sweet breath

…… by DeVar Dahl

morning fog
a midwife wipes the eyes
of a newborn

….. by Andrew





  1. I am going to subscribe to your feed in a reader

    [Ed. Note: Thanks for adding our rss feed (if you actually did). However, I just looked at your “NetDebt” web site and have many questions about your services — especially the fees. Until I get a chance to review it more fully, I do not want a link from this weblog to yours, and have removed your URL.]

    Comment by Debt Blog — June 9, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  2. Excommunicated!


    Comment by Anne — June 9, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  3. Anne, I think you mean “self-excommunicated.”

    Comment by David Giacalone — June 9, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  4. (In my smug papal/Church Lady voice): Aren’t they all?

    Comment by Anne — June 9, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

  5. sonogram
    they begin to call it

    “position in favor of . . . abortion.” Has any candidate, past or present, ever said “I am in favor of abortion”?

    Comment by Bill Kenney — June 14, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  6. Hello, Bill. Thanks for leaving a poem.

    As for your question, I believe the phrase “in favor of abortion” is acceptable shorthand to use in an election or political context. Compare it to saying that someone who believed, as a libertarian, there should be no speed limits on the highways was “in favor of speeding” — even if he or she personally always drove at safe (and fuel-efficient) speeds and encouraged others to do so.

    Comment by David Giacalone — June 15, 2008 @ 6:41 am

  7. Hi David. My conclusion would be that both formulations are illegitimate. What I think is good public policy re: abortion is not the same as my opinion of abortion itself. And, although I favor reasonable speed limits, I’d never accuse your imaginary libertarian of being in favor of speeding, any more than I’d accuse someone who believes in habeas corpus of being in favor of terrorism. Stay well, my friend.

    Comment by Bill Kenney — June 16, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

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