Very nice blog, and I just added it to the roll. I really like what this lady has to say!
Yes, Mr. Cheney, Saddam was a terrible man. Why did you support his reign over Iraq for years before the Gulf War? Why did you help supply him with chemical weapons when you knew he was using them on his own people?
Why do you continue to overstate the evidence of Saddam's programs to acquire WMDs? You quote possibles and maybes, and then call them all "material breaches," when they are only "possible" material breaches. You whip a fine froth of indignent rhetoric, but it's clear that this Administration's problems of lying and aggressiveness stem from your office.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/11/2003 12:36:00 PM
Why the Federal Conspiracy and Fraud Statutes May Apply Here
This elegantly simple law has snared countless people working for, or with, the federal government. Suppose a conspiracy is in progress. Even those who come in later, and who share in the purpose of the conspiracy, can become responsible for all that has gone on before they joined. They need not realize they are breaking the law; they need only have joined the conspiracy.
Most likely, in this instance the conspiracy would be a conspiracy to defraud - for the broad federal fraud statute, too, may apply here. If two federal government employees agree to undertake actions that are not within the scope of their employment, they can be found guilty of defrauding the U.S. by depriving it of the "faithful and honest services of its employee." It is difficult to imagine that President Bush is going to say he hired anyone to call reporters to wreak more havoc on Valerie Plame. Thus, anyone who did so - or helped another to do so - was acting outside the scope of his or her employment, and may be open to a fraud prosecution.
What counts as "fraud" under the statute? Simply put, "any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing, or defeating the lawful function of any department of government." (Emphasis added.) If telephoning reporters to further destroy a CIA asset whose identity has been revealed, and whose safety is now in jeopardy, does not fit this description, I would be quite surprised.
If Newsweek is correct that Karl Rove declared Valerie Plame Wilson "fair game," then he should make sure he's got a good criminal lawyer, for he made need one. I've only suggested the most obvious criminal statute that might come into play for those who exploit the leak of a CIA asset's identity. There are others.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/09/2003 11:51:00 PM
I feel really good about the debate. I'm even happy with Lieberman right now. It's very clear that Woodruff wanted them to rag on each other, but by and large they resisted the urge. There were some knocks handed out, but candidates were always able to respond, and the voters will decide whether to trust the answers or not.
From simply reading the transcript (my limited basic cable doesn't include luxuries like CNN), I'd say the candidates who came off the strongest were Gephardt, Kerry, and Dean. Clark was mostly involved in defense issues, both personal and national. He held his ground, I feel, and look forward to the next debate.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/09/2003 11:47:00 PM
Clark, the newest presidential candidate, is calculating that it is too late to focus the bulk of his resources in Iowa and in New Hampshire, the two key early testing grounds where his rivals have been camped out for nearly a year, according to a top strategist. Historically, the Democratic nominee usually wins by chalking up a big victory or strong showings in one or both of those states, feeding off the momentum and rolling through the stack of primaries from there.I'm torn about this. On the one hand, Clark can expect some immediate backlash in Iowa and New Hampshire by salting the well this way. On the other hand, it just might work.
Instead, Clark has adopted a more national campaign for the nomination, focusing on other states, including Oklahoma and New Mexico, that will vote in February. Clark's advisers think it would be hard, if not impossible, to win in Iowa or New Hampshire, but they predict he will fare better in the South and other states, such as Florida, that remain wide open.
But on the subject of his recent paid speeches, Clark should give the money back. That's a no-brainer and an easy fix.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/09/2003 09:47:00 AM
Paging Thomas Wolfe...
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/09/2003 09:27:00 AM
I recall Mayor Street telling Bush that all of Philadelphia was a First Amendment zone, but I can't find a reference to it now. That wouldn't have anything to do with this, would it?
Also, Street is suspected of handing out no-bid contracts while a Democrat.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/09/2003 09:22:00 AM
Those who suppress the truth: I've come to two major disagreements I have with Paul in this passage. Neither of them blunt the thrust of Paul's message, which is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet still he makes a couple of mistakes, which as an agnostic, I'm willing to see as mistakes, made by someone bound to his culture.
The first is that God's eternal power and divine nature is understood through the things He has made. The scientific process has not ruled the first out completely, but the second is untenable. God's nature is a wildly confusing thing if we are to see it from the universe. The place of chance in the development of life, the varying social and sexual behaviors of animals, even the wars of the plants - all of these do not speak of the God Paul preaches. We are children of order and of disorder - both are necessary for the universe we see before our eyes. A powerful creator cannot be ruled out, but we dare not posit the nature of this creator or just what this creator might desire from looking at the panoply of the creation. Did He who made the Lamb make Thee?
However, let us grant Paul the premise of a powerful creator. The first thing Paul condemns, idolatry, stands as well condemned, then. Looking at the world and seeing the creator reflected fully in a created thing is a conclusion worth rejecting. Paul see this as the primal confusion - exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images of created things. The rise of false religions based on this hopelessly indefensible position remains the chief cause of strife and contention in the world today. Idolators remains today, and many idols exist which are not recognized as such by their worshippers. The veneration of an icon, the pilgrimage to a holy site, even the devotion to a particular dogma above all others, all are created things that attract the human mind. If a true religion exists, it would not squabble over a plot of land, a monument to his words, or a doctrine conceived and built by humans. God is not the property of anyone, and idolatry puts God within our grasp.
Thus offended, the creator draws back from humanity and allows them free reign with their confusion, giving them up in the lust of their hearts to impurity. Paul's first illustration of this impurity marks my second disagreement with him. This is a mere illustration of his point, though, and the general point remains, which Paul catalogs in 1:28-32.
There's been a lot of ink spilled on what 1:26-27 is referring to, but after thinking through many of the options (homosexuality in general, pederasty, sex contrary to your nature (whether gay or straight)), but his circumspect language can be understood in a simple way. Paul views women exchanging a natural act for an unnatural one, while men are exchanging natural intercourse with women for unnatural intercourse with each other. The women, then, are not lesbians, but are allowing men to have anal intercourse, offering them the forbidden fruit which turns them into homosexuals. The parallels between the story of humanity's fall in Eden and this passage are too close to be ignored - especially since we are dealing with the same subject matter, the introduction of sin into the world.
Yes, Paul clearly condemns a homosexual act (letting lesbians fully and completely off the hook in the Bible), but his condemnation is based in an ignorant belief informed by culture. It's so easy to see God's divine nature in creation when your culture is pointing out the way. I'll even admit that Paul's revulsion here may be fed by a latent or closeted homosexuality, complete with a misogynistic flair. But the same Paul that prudely rejects any sexual act also wrote neither male or female. And rejection of this single part of his catalog doesn't undermine the main point to which he's driving: the greatest condemnation is for those who judge others for what they themselves are doing.
Paul wisely swings his net to include any such busybody, but he quickly moves to focus on those who might have felt some smug satisfaction at being cultural members of a group that rejected idolatry. The fruits of the primal confusion bloom within all our lives. The giving of the law (rooted so deeply on a single all-powerful God) doesn't excuse anyone. Hearing cannot save, but the doing of the law is all. Paul works out an eschatology of judgment to humble anyone before the Creator God. He even shows a way that righteous Gentiles might stand before God justified in the place of Jews who were given the law and stand condemned by it. This is not the lawkeeping Gentiles who adhered to the Jewish community, though - these Gentiles do instinctively what the law requires.
Paul's referring to people whom the Catholic Church envisions in Limbo, people like Virgil and Socrates. Paul's own background introduced him to these thinkers simultaneously with Moses and Isaiah. This philosophers, doing what the Law requires instinctively, could be excused on this day of judgment. This comeuppance of the Jewish nation would certainly have played well with government officials who could remember expelling contentious Jews over the subject of Christ in the past few years. Paul's admission of the great thinkers of the Roman culture to heaven could only have helped his cause. He trips his Jewish detractors up so neatly that the observers naturally turn a friendlier eye on him. It seems rather unfair of Paul to play on the anti-Semitism of his possible captors, but there it is. And the rest of the letter establishes the primacy of the Jewish revelation - Paul's careful never to malign the source or character of that. But it's murky ground that Paul enters here.
None of which will destroy the basic argument Paul is making - it's his cultural assumptions and legal necessities which are misusing the argument so well. But a clear understanding of the argument, I believe, exposes the misuse of it. Paul's happy to be caught in his own net, because his vindication isn't based on his own power but the power of God. When the created worships the created, the creator will judge them, and no other should presume to speak for the creator while enjoying the fruit of conflicting thought. This sin is a meta-sin - it doesn't just worship a created object as God, it sets up the judge's own self as God. This suppression of truth is a magnitude greater than those the judge judges. What hope can any person have then?
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/08/2003 06:31:00 PM
I had best never hear a Republican speak about Bill Clinton's affairs again. The word "consentual" can be applied to every mistake Clinton made with other women, whereas Schwartzenegger's actions can only be regarded as assault. Who's going to be the next high-profile Republican candidate? R. Kelly?
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/07/2003 10:31:00 PM
One quick note: I've been hemming and hawing over this next Romans blog, so I'll finish it up and post it tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/07/2003 09:16:00 PM
From the start, there has been tension between the campaign's political professionals and the draft-Clark supporters, many of whom consider Fowler their ally.This is unsettling news. You have to dance with them what brung ya, General.
Fowler has complained that while the Internet-based draft-Clark supporters have been integrated into the campaign, their views are not taken seriously by senior advisers, many of them with deep Washington ties. He has warned Clark's team that the campaign is being driven from Washington, a charge leveled against Gore's campaign in 2000 even though it was headquartered in Tennessee.
The campaign is planning to open a Washington office to develop policy and oversee relations with Congress, a move that raised concerns among some draft-Clark backers who want the campaign based in Arkansas.
Fowler, involved in his fifth presidential campaign, is one of several veterans of the Clinton-Gore political campaigns involved in Clark's bid. They include communications adviser Mark Fabiani, policy adviser Ron Klain, campaign chairman Eli Segal and adviser Mickey Kantor.
PART TWO: Via Smirking Chimp, a Reuters article gives a bit more information. Apparently, Fowler was asked to assume a less responsible role, and he left. The clashes over Internet participation did happen, though, and if that's what led to Fowler's demotion, then the campaign should brace for another storm.
You wouldn't catch Dean's campaign doing this...
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/07/2003 09:15:00 PM
On July 25, 2000, George W. Bush sat in an upstairs room of the governor's mansion in Austin watching Dick Cheney navigate his first television interview as the Republican vice presidential nominee. "Just mark my words," an admiring Bush gushed to an aide. "There will be a crisis in my administration, and Dick Cheney is exactly the man you want at your side in a crisis."Loads more at the link.
...The problem, according to some Republican insiders, is that Cheney reinforces the president's conservative instincts, pulling him to the right at a time when voters seem more interested in a centrist approach. A senior adviser to a former Republican president adds: "Cheney is not always right, but he's always certain. He and his allies thought they were invincible, that this would be the American century, that we could reshape the world any way we wanted to. Welcome to the real world."
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who helped strengthen the modern vice presidency under Jimmy Carter, told U.S. News: "Cheney is very able, and he's spent a lot of years in government. . . . Bush has had none of that, and he doesn't seem to be energetically serious about mastering the central subjects. . . . If Bush is not filling those knowledge voids, somebody has to fill the vacuum"--and that appears to be Cheney.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/07/2003 09:46:00 AM
"He started off playing a chauffeur in 'Driving Miss Daisy,' and then they elevated him to head of the CIA, and then they elevated him to president and in his last role they made him God. I just wonder, isn't Rush Limbaugh right to question the fact, is he that good an actor or not?"File this under "Proof Above and Beyond the Call of Duty that Robertson's Asinine".
-- Pat Robertson on his "700 Club" television show, using the example of black actor Morgan Freeman to defend Limbaugh's jab at Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Morgan Freeman's IDMB Page, as if you needed it
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/06/2003 07:17:00 PM
The investigators want information about any contacts between administration officials and Novak, and also with two other reporters: Timothy M. Phelps and Knut Royce of Newsday. Hmm ... Neither has been named as someone who received the original leak about Plame. Instead, Phelps and Royce had simply called around after Novak exposed Plame on July 14. They learned that she was, in fact, working undercover. By probing for contacts with Phelps and Royce, the Justice Department wants to find out who in the CIA confirmed this inconvenient fact that is causing the White House so much trouble. The real bad guy - 'the one who blew Plame's cover' - is apparently of less interest. Otherwise, Justice wouldn't have waited months to investigate.These bums must go!
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/06/2003 12:59:00 AM
Chronicles of an Anti-Apathetic
So many scientific advances have been made in the face of previous scientific conclusions. Clark has that informed optimism that motivates these kinds of advances, and that's all his comment is meant to convey. Reaching for an unattainable goal has always put humanity a lot further down the road than it would have been.
I need to do a meme chart comparing the Gore attacks to the current ones circulating about Clark. It seems to me that if an attack resembles one of the successful lies about Gore, it gets some kind of play in the national media - and this "time travel" meme is travelling down the "invented the Internet" path.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/05/2003 09:40:00 AM
Busy Busy Busy > Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraqi War (PDP)
But you already knew that...
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/05/2003 09:23:00 AM
Fresh Air, Thursday, October 2
I just finished listening to Grover Norquist's recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air, conducted by Terry Gross.
Norquist's frequent MO is to take certain aspects of a situation and blow them out of proportion. This isn't an example of shoddy thinking, however. It's evidence for his genius at constructing memes. By accepting his definitions and dealing only with his brilliantly conceived takes on the subjects at hand, his opponents can soon find themselves overwhelmed.
The first battleground of the interview was over the definition of We. He will not allow anyone to identify the people of the United States with the government of the United States. For Norquist, anyone who says that cutting taxes costs "us" is standing in the shoes of the state, and not of the citizenry. Tax cuts will always benefit us the citizens, but it may result in the government having few resources. The government must always be They in Norquist's world.
But it is our government. The American government is our property. We the people ordained it and established it to bring us certain benefits. Cutting taxes strikes at the ability of government to provide those benefits. If we cut off too many resources to our government, we as a people endanger the derived benefits. So it can be reasonably said that cutting taxes costs us as a people.
But Mr. Norquist's antipathy to government is rooted in this proposition: many government services can and should be provided to the people by private organizations who competively bid for contracts. This would provide the same or better services at lower rates, which would enhance the quality of life for the people, reduce government spending and taxation, and invigorate the economy. Some governmental functions should be left to the government alone, like national defense, prosecution of criminals, some police powers like arresting, and a court system that protects property rights (if courts only protect property rights, only those with property will have rights). But everything else is up for grabs - the government monopolies, like all monopolies, do a poor job in providing services at a reasonable cost.
Public education money should flow with the child (vouchers) because on average, private education provides a better education for less money spent per child. Social Security and Medicare money should be fragmented into personal retirement and medical accounts that can be invested in a risk-manageable way. Prisons can be and are being run by competent private organizations. Roads projects shouldn't be bound by the "racist" Davis-Bacon act so as to open up bids to smaller companies.
This all sounds pretty good until you see the common thread in all these programs: a union pay scale. For Mr. Norquist and his followers, the adversaries are governmental unions that drive up the price of services. Vouchers attack the teacher's union and public school bureaucracy. Unionized workers staff the offices of Social Security and Medicare. The Davis-Bacon act mandates "prevailing wages" as a factor in bidding for road construction, protecting union wages and cutting any subcontractor that doesn't pay union scale from ability to bid, regardless of race.
Increase privatization and eliminate the ability of workers to unionize - this is the America Norquist is working to bring about. When Gross forced him to acknowledge that his tax cuts will necessitate lower wages, he tied this to longer work periods - you can make the same amount of money if you're willing to work longer for it. He painted a brief picture of wealthier and more successful non-union employees before moving on to education. He neglected to mention that the rise of unionized labor is what made working conditions for all workers improve in America. But then again, he would.
Gross and Norquist exchanged a few shots when Norquist called Social Security a Ponzi scheme - a "pay as you go" scheme with no saving for you. Gross rejected that, because in Ponzi schemes, the bottom tier never sees a return, which is not the case in Social Security. She then pointed out that the personal retirement accounts Norquist advocates holds much more potential for loss of investment than the system it would replace. Norquist would have none of it - risk can be managed in his plan, and Social Security takes from current investors and pays the former investors, and so is a Ponzi scheme.
By Norquist's strict logic, a bank teller who uses the cash I just deposited in my account to pay the person behind me in line a withdrawal from theirs is involving the bank in a Ponzi scheme. What investment in existence could
survivefulfill the request of its investors to withdraw their funds simultaneously? Is it all a Ponzi scheme? No.
The Social Security program, like any arrangement involving money, is in danger of Ponzification, but it can be managed effectively, and should continue to be. It was built on a principle: we the working Americans support our own. The solvency of Social Security is not based on the empty promises of a 'get rich quick' quack, it's based on the surer guarantees of the American worker's power to create wealth. It's meant to provide a basic level of protection against the chances of life, not a ticket to Easy Street. No one was ever intended to get wealthy from Social Security funds, and no one ever should. This especially applies to those investment firms looking for a little governmental cash cow.
The real highlight of the interview, however, was when Norquist's rhetoric portrayed those who would defend the estate tax as exercising the morality of the Holocaust.
Governments should treat all people fairly, said Norquist, and the estate tax singles out a small minority (those few citizens who amass enough wealth to qualify for it). If we justify the estate tax by saying, "Only a small percent of Americans are affected - it doesn't affect the majority of American citizens; it doesn't affect you," then Norquist informs us that we are using the morality of the Holocaust, of apartheid, and of East Germany's Soviet rule.
Dividing people so that you can mug them one at a time is a bad thing to do, whether you're doing it on racial grounds, religious grounds or 'whether you work on Saturdays or not' grounds, or economic grounds.There have been four US estate taxes and only this one has lasted so long. It was enacted in the thirties, when the gap between the wealthy and the poor had never been greater in this country. When this country entered WW2, the estate tax had helped to build and equip the military that eventually shut the Holocaust down. Now those who support the estate tax are supposed to be the moral equivalent of the people who perpetrated the Holocaust?
Charging the wealthy in a progressive tax system is simply not the moral equivalent of state-sponsored genocide. I can feel no great remorse in turning away from the awful plight of the wealthy here. The wealthy can pay someone to feel sorry for them, and Grover Norquist seems to be doing an admirable job, wouldn't you say?
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/05/2003 02:07:00 AM