Friday, December 16, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 48


As the late cartoonist Charles Shultz (usually) had his character Schroeder say every December 16, “Happy Beethoven’s Birthday!”  One year he forgot, and Lucy reminded him, giving the poor guy a double whammy.  Fortunately, the Just Third Way is for every day in the year, so we don’t have to worry about missing a specific anniversary . . . although we would welcome the opportunity to become so used to Capital Homesteading as a way of life that we are tempted to take it for granted.  We won’t, of course, but we would certainly like the opportunity to be tempted. . . .
To bring about that temptation, then, here’s what we’ve been doing this week, despite the usual end-of-year slowdown:
Mocking him would be seppuku (harakiri), not a hate crime.
• Thursday’s conviction of Dylann Roof who murdered nine people in a shooting rampage in South Carolina last year raises some interesting — and worrisome — legal questions.  Instead of being charged with (among other things) nine counts of first degree murder under state law, he was charged with thirty-three counts of hate crime resulting in death under federal law.  At first glance most people would be tempted to say, “So what?”  After all, either set of charges could result in the death penalty, and the man is outstandingly and unquestionably guilty.  The problem is that “murder” is an objective fact, while “hate crime” is a matter of subjective opinion, and “resulting in death” is a bit vague.  For example, some people consider ridiculing others for obesity a hate crime.  Thus — going strictly by the precedent that could be set in the Roof case — pointing your finger at an overweight person and screaming “OBESE!!” resulting in your victim having a heart attack and dying could be classed as a federal “hate crime resulting in death” that carries the death penalty.  Ludicrous, you say?  Certainly . . . until you recall that the law in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy was made purposely vague in just such a fashion to allow the courts to rid society of undesirable individuals and groups.  It couldn’t lead to that here?  Don’t be too sure.  At the end of the film Judgment at Nuremberg, the convicted German judge Ernst Janning (played by Burt Lancaster) says to the American judge who convicted him, Dan Heywood (played by Spencer Tracy), “We didn’t know it would come to that!”  If it can happen in Germany, one of the most civilized nations on earth, it can happen anywhere.
"Que? Pienso que CESJ fue Jesuit! Llame Norm Kurland ahora!"
• There is an interesting piece on Pope Francis and his 80th birthday tomorrow in today’s Wall Street Journal.  While CESJ is not a religious organization, we do keep tabs on world leaders . . . especially world leaders who might be open to the Just Third Way.  On reading the piece, it seems obvious (at least based on the writer’s opinion) that Pope Francis is one world leader who might be open to learning about the potential of the Just Third Way to solve a lot of the problems with which he is faced.  Now, if we could just get to him . . . he isn’t returning our phone calls . . . he probably thinks it's a Jesuit plot or something (actually, years ago we did have someone in England claim we are a Jesuit group and therefore Up To No Good, probably because they thought the "SJ" in "CESJ" stands for "Society of Jesus" instead of "Social Justice").
• In a somewhat unusual turn of events, all the face-to-face meetings we had scheduled this past week either got cancelled or postponed.  Some of this may have been due to people inadvertently “overbooking” their time during the holiday season.  One, unfortunately, was due to serious illness.
"Jes' tied yer kangaroo down, Sport, now where's the cockatoo?"
• If the face-to-face meetings were something of a washout (although, as they were lunch meetings, it meant more for the people at the office. . . .), the telephone conferences were very successful, and not just in comparison.  There were a number with Mr. Tomasz Pompowski in Western Australia, who is using his extensive international contacts (in his case, including contacts in the U.S., which counts as “international” from the down under point of view) to set up meetings with prime movers and potential door-openers.  Interestingly, Tom’s contacts and outreach in Northern Virginia are better than those of CESJ, even though CESJ HQ is located in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from Washington, DC.  The CESJ core group had a very good telephone conference with Father Edward Krause, C.S.C., Ph.D., a CESJ Counselor currently in residence at the University of Notre Dame.  Father Krause, a professor emeritus of social ethics at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, will be making phone calls on CESJ’s behalf to set up meetings with key academics at Catholic institutions of higher learning in Northern Virginia.  There were also telephone meetings with academics in Argentina and Israel interested in advancing the Just Third Way, as well with a political figure who is working to open doors to members of the U.S. Senate.

• The Perth Herald-Tribune has published another Just Third Way article: "Higher Wages versus Higher Income."
• CESJ’s latest book, Easter Witness: From Broken Dream to a New Vision for Ireland, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as by special order from many “regular” bookstores.  The book can also be ordered in bulk, which we define as ten copies or more of the same title, at a 20% discount.  A full case is twenty-six copies, and non-institutional/non-vendor purchasers get a 20% discount off the $20 cover price on wholesale lots ($416/case).  Shipping is extra.  Send enquiries to publications@cesj.org.  An additional discount may be available for institutions such as schools, clubs, and other organizations as well as retailers.
Throw doubloons our way and see us smile like Jolly Roger!
• Here’s the usual announcement about the Amazon Smile program, albeit moved to the bottom of the page so you don’t get tired of seeing it.  To participate in the Amazon Smile program for CESJ, go to https://smile.amazon.com/.  Next, sign in to your account.  (If you don’t have an account with Amazon, you can create one by clicking on the tiny little link below the “Sign in using our secure server” button.)  Once you have signed into your account, you need to select CESJ as your charity — and you have to be careful to do it exactly this way: in the space provided for “Or select your own charitable organization” type “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington.”  If you type anything else, you will either get no results or more than you want to sift through.  Once you’ve typed (or copied and pasted) “Center for Economic and Social Justice Arlington” into the space provided, hit “Select” — and you will be taken to the Amazon shopping site, all ready to go.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 58 different countries and 53 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Russia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The most popular postings this past week in descending order were “Thomas Hobbes on Private Property,”  “Book Review: Field Guide for Heroes,” How to Make America Great Again,” “A Dishonest Way to Argue, I: Apples and Oranges,” and “Minimum Wage Follies.”
Those are the happenings for this week, at least those that we know about.  If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we’ll see that it gets into the next “issue.”  If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you.  All comments are moderated, so we’ll see it before it goes up.
#30#

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