Friday, June 07, 2002

This town's only big enough for one of us. The Poppa Ooo Mow Mow of the bloggesters today writes that King County Superior Court Judge James A. Doerty "appears to be a blithering idiot." I beg your pardon, Professor.

We look nothing alike. Here's his picture [scroll down], and mine, well I can't get mine up right now [no jokes], but I look something like this guy, or this guy.

Moreover, I think blithering idiots all over the globe will rise up in umbridge or outrage or some other complicated word, if you persist thusly.

It is clear that Judge Doerty has just "stopped watching wrestling because it's too complicated" so he needs some other amusement.

I think you owe all the blithering idiots an apology.
Gear. I thought I'd let you know that I, too, have a cafe press store. Although I didn't set it up to do any "Blithering Idiot" merchandise. We set this up to put together stuff for a family reunion for my father-in-law that we're doing this summer. What makes it kind of fun is that I was able to adapt two watercolors painted by the daughter of a civil war veteran who lived into the 1970's and was the matriarch of the family.
LPs. Speaking of old records, now that I have a CD burner, I hooked up my turntable and receiver to my computer and have slowly been putting my old LPs and 45s onto CD. Last night my oldest daughter came asking about this ancient technology. At first much of what she was asking was just in jest, but she actually was pretty interested in how it all worked. She was thrilled to actually be able to see and manipulate the disc. It is a lot different from a CD/DVD/VHS/CD-ROM/Floppy, -- even cassette etc. where you put the thing inside some sort of box and let it work.

It was fun for me to see her experience this old technology and thereby experience it again.
MARS NEEDS WOMEN The note and link from the professor reminds me of this old song by Tonio K:

well we argue all day
then we argue all night
we stand up sit down fight fight fight
i don't know about you
I'm just talkin' for me
but i don't see no future in this thing

i hear mars needs women
maybe you should apply
don't worry 'bout me baby
have a good time
i hear mars needs women
i don't know if it's true
but that's all right for you

you don't care about true
you don't care about false
you just want everyone to agree with you that's all
you can't live in the city
you can't live on the farm
you can't live nowhere on this planet with that kind of charm

I hear mars needs women...

yeah we argue all day
then we argue all night
we stand up sit down fight fight fight
so I'll take the attic
or the wilderness
you take the next flight out
they're waiting for you up there

I hear mars needs women...

(outro ramblings)
take your cool clothes....
Be sure to drop me a line from the Van Allen belt...
Is that intergalactic enough? Van Allen belt... hahahaha

© 1981 Worthless Music (ASCAP)
The Spong is Dead, Long Live the Spong. The Episcopal Church in the US, of which I am a member, has always had it's flaky bishops and clerics. Recently, we had a bishop by the name of John Shelby Spong who denied the divinity of Jesus, not to mention the resurrection. Such claims go beyond mere flakieness and cross over into heresey.

Thankfully, Mr. Spong has retired from his position and has gone off on his mission to create a new religion.

Regrettably, however, it appears that a newly ordained Bishop has picked up where Spong left off. John Bryson Chane (why do the heretics get such preppy names?), in his Easter sermon states:
, the Easter story…the event of the resurrection, which defines the core of our Christian theology, is, at best, conjectural, based upon what we are able to read from the Gospel accounts and the Book of Acts. Paul, the patron saint of this cathedral, wrote I Corinthians almost thirty years after the event of the resurrection. In fact, the concept of Jesus' physical, bodily resurrection, was not even part of the early Christian experience for the first forty years of the Jewish/Christian Community's life! It was not until the Gospel of Matthew, written in 85 of the Common Era, that an account of the bodily resurrection of Jesus was even mentioned!
Balderdash! As Paul himself writes: "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." I Cor. 15:14.

In fact, what Paul writes in this 15th chapter indicates that this testimony what he initially received:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. [1 Cor. 15: 3-8, NKJV (my emphasis)]
Moreover, there is a considerable body of scholarship that believes the initial statement made by Paul ("that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures") was a primal creedal statement that circulated among the believers prior to, or contemporaneous with, Paul's conversion.

Even if you assume that this statement originated about 52 AD/CE, it still puts it in the lifetime of those witnesses who could contradict the story. And this isn't a matter of what someone wore on their first date, as Chane, started off his Easter sermon. This is a matter of life and death. When I saw my grandmother at the funeral home, I knew she was dead. If she came and talked to me the next week, several days after we had entombed her, I would know it. It's not a matter of getting details wrong or embellishing a story.

But maybe Chane is right. Maybe Paul and the other contemporary witnesses were wrong and just needed to step back nearly 2,000 years and look at if from the perspective of the new bishop of Washington, DC. Yeah, then we'd know that Jesus is dead and the preaching of a bishop who believes these things is, as Paul wrote, "useless."

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Not Just Women. Both Peggy Noonan and Anita Hill have written recently about women in the headlines exposing problems within their agencies. Prof. Hill, in today's NY Times, writes:
The magnitude of Ms. Rowley's role in exposing the mishandling of vital intelligence has no direct parallel. However, it can be likened in the private sector to the central role that Sherron Watkins played in exposing the extent of corporate culpability in the Enron scandal.
Last week Peggy Noonan wrote:
Colleen Rowley . . . has joined the ranks of those women--these days, as others have noted, they are always women--who blow the whistle on sick and shameful actions within powerful organizations.
It should be noted, first, that it's not just women who are bringing these things out. Recall, for example, at the end of the Clinton years, Notra Trulock coming forward. [Actually, one of the scandals of the Clinton administration was the way it treated women as window dressing or cover to protect the President from his corruption and wrong-doing. Think back, for example, how he sent Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala out to the end of his driveway to confront reporters back on January 23, 1998; one of just two cabinet meetings he held that year. When Clinton wasn't using women as a shield, he was forcing them to their knees or attacking them for speaking the truth, as he did with Jean Lewis.] Two persons do not a trend make. What does make a trend is what the press chooses to report and why.

A place where I work(ed) [I want to leave it very ambiguous] had some Republicans in charge during the Reagan presidency who did some naughty things which resulted in headlines and Congressional hearings. The Clinton people came in and did the exact same things -- were slammed by the Inspector General for it -- but there were no hearings and no headlines. For me, it seemed like the reason behind this was purely a matter of politics -- the press covering up for its friends. [In fact, to a certain extent, it was worse than that. What the Democrats did was more like televangelist Jimmy Swaggert who did something he campaigned against. With the Republicans, at least it was what the Democrats warned against. In my desire to be ambigous, I'm afraid I'm being confusing -- sorry for that.]

When I read the Rowley memo, I felt shivers and my hair stood on end. I just kept thinking, I could've written this:
To get to the point, I have deep concerns that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of facts by you and others at the highest levels of . . . management has occurred and is occurring. The term "cover up" would be too strong a characterization which is why I am attempting to carefully (and perhaps over laboriously) choose my words here.
That is exactly what I could write -- except no one dies when we make mistakes.

Where I work is a similar story. It's an insignificant government agency -- so insignificant we are still being run by the Clinton people and there is no sign of a replacement. Just last week they fired three pretty low-level employees, for no apparent reason. One was a lady who had worked here for 12 years -- another had been here about 8 years. The speculation is that the firings were done because the political appointees want to free up some funds to make more grants to their friends. Is it true? Who knows, and even if so, no law has been violated. Each of these employees was considered to be 'at-will' so there does not need to be cause for firing. None was given. And the appointees clearly have the authority to take the policy actions they are taking. We have been instructed to ignore something Congress has directed -- in this case it's a sin of omission, not commission. By ignoring it, we're not violating any law -- it's more a case of leaving an arrow in the quiver -- or actually leaving it locked in a safe.

Yeah, I know, I'm rambling now -- I admit that I'm frustrated. Anyway, lunch is over, and I'm dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" so I'd better get back to work.

I admire whistle-blowers -- it is a very difficult thing to do.

More. Orrin Judd has some thoughts about whistleblowers in his review of Serpico.
School Choice. Eugene Volokh very graciously gives his prediction in the Zelman case. I do hope he's right on the prevailing party.

We disagree, slightly, on the ordering of the Justices. I see his point regarding Ginsburg and confess that my prediction is based more on an unfounded hope. He looks at her dissent in Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette. This was the case where Ohio law had set aside the Capitol Square as a public forum, the KKK filed an application to place an unattended cross in the Square during the Christmas season. In this case, the Court (Scalia writing the main opinion) Souter and O'Connor concurred, Stevens and Ginsburg dissented.

My hope is that Ginsburg will not see this primarily an Establishment Clause case, but rather one of choice in using public (or government) benefits. This was why I mentioned the Witters case awhile back. In that one, Mr. Witters, a blind man, wanted to use state funds awarded to the blind to pursue education to go to seminary. There, the state of Washington rejected his request saying this was too close to crossing the line of establishment of religion. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected this concern, with Justice Marshall writing for the Court. I confess that my hope on Zelman is that it will follow the Witters precedent and find that this is not a grant of government funds or benefits to religion, but a grant to parents, who may choose it for religious or non-religious schools.

A week or two ago, when I started harping on this, I quoted Eugene's law review article: “government doesn’t necessarily endorse private choices that people make with government funds, any more than it endorses cabbage by letting people use food stamps to buy the food of their choice, which may include cabbage.” [Equal Treatment Is Not Establishment in 13 Notre Dame J. L. Ethics & Pub. Policy 341, 357-358 (1999).] To extend his analogy slightly, it doesn't necessarily endorse Judiasm if the person uses food stamps to buy kosher products.

Now, having just written that last line, I don't want to seem like I'm trivializing Judaism and reducing it to Hebrew National Wieners. That is not my intent.
Outrageous. So this is the latest atrocity in the Middle East? A messed-up bed? Check out Arafat's look of outrage.
Which Church? Terry Mattingly raises a good number of questions about the recent seige at the Church of the Nativity, that, although, unanswered, actually give more clarity to what happened than does most of the news reports about the seige.
Design Debate. Rich Hailey has an excellent response to Ian Murray's TAP essay on intelligent design. Must Reading -- actually, both are.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

No one ever expects.... From where I'm sitting in the bleachers, this column looks like a sweet hanging baseball being served up to the Barry Bonds of the Blogosphere. Take it away Sir James Lileks. (It opens, seriously: "Someone must tell President George W. Bush that there are reasons why the Founding Fathers separated church and state and that one of them was that they wanted to avoid the faith-based bickering that drenched Europe in blood after 1517 and eventually led to a conflict known as the Thirty Years' War." It closes with the Spanish Inquisition.)

Zelman. Nat Hentoff thinks the Cleveland school voucher case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, will be closer than I do. He says it will be a 5-4 decision with the outcome in Sandra Day O'Connor's hands. As you may recall, I predicted a unanimous victory for the Cleveland plan, then backed off and said it would be upheld 7-2. I agree with Hentoff that O'Connor is the decisive judge, which is why I think Rehnquist would've assigned the case to her for the opinion and I think her opinion will be narrow enough to bring over Breyer and Ginsburg to her side, leaving Souter and Stevens in dissent.

But who knows? If I could predict the future, I'd buy lottery tickets and go work for legal aid. Maybe we can persuade former O'Connor clerk Eugene Volokh to share his thoughts with us. [I see his brother Sasha has commented succinctly: "The short-run goal -- win."

Zelman Oral Arguments
Court Stuff. No decisions or orders from the Justices today. Here is a summary of the remaining cases from Monday's USA Today. If you really have a hankering to read from a justice, Antonin Scalia has an essay on-line in First Things.

Or, if you're interested in a real-world case, look at Fritz's Sneaking Suspicions page.
Battling Civilians. Orrin Judd has an excellent essay and review of Caleb Carr's The Lessons of Terror : A History of Warfare Against Civilians. Brother Judd's thoughts on war and "non-combatants" are, as always, insightful.

[spelling error corrected -- sigh -- did I really write that?]
US Wins Opener. Upsetting Portugal.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

On Combatants and other Civilians. Both John Betts and Chris Burgwald read my remarks below as an attack on Chris for attacking veterans. If it were just one, I'd write it off as a misreading of my remarks. Since it's both, it's clear that I am the one failing to communicate.

So let me try again. I submit that the civilians of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were more morally culpable for the crimes of their nation than those who fought back against the Japanese. In fact, but for the beligerant, reprehensible actions of the Japanese in WWII, there would have been no Marines and sailors giving their lives in the Pacific campaign. I want to know where civilians from a peaceful nation under attack who go to the defense of their nation are considered to be more expendable than the citizens of the war machine that go on the attack.

Mind you, I do not back off one bit on my prior remarks. I get really ticked off when people just assume facts into or out of existence with a wave of the hand (everyone knows there was no military value for attacking either city -- everyone knows the aliens who crash landed at Roswell are kept at Area 51 -- etc.). If my response was scathing, I submit it was properly so -- the initial proposal was extremely offensive.

If you want to argue that a theoretical nuclear attack is not justified in a theoretical time of war, go ahead and do so. However, if you want to argue that the nuclear attack on the Japanese was or was not justified, you have to do so in context and not just assume facts away. You have a duty to examine the historical record first.

Dresden has been raised -- this is clearly a more troubling instance -- so why wasn't it chosen? Similarly the firebombing of Tokyo took more lives, why was it not chosen? [Although I maintain that the Japanese High Command which deliberately located military targets in civilian neighborhoods in contravention of the principles of war is more culpable than the Allies.]

Okay, my ranting is done for the day. For a more temperate personal reflection on Memorial Day, check Fritz.

Update: See John's comments on my response. Also, I should note that if we're going to be discussing just war -- it might be better off to start with more recent events, such as the US attack on Yugoslavia. At that time I wrote to my sister: "There are no U.S. interests at stake in this controversy. Moreover, our involvement violates St. Augustine's first precept in fighting a just war. That is a just war can only be a defensive war." March 26, 1999.
Third Branch There is an essay attacking the Rehnquist court as conservative-activist in the June Atlantic. I actually subscribe to this magazine and have been waiting for this article to go on line so I could respond to the essay, but I used up my lunch on the bomb, so read the article today and I'll have some thoughts later.
Mendacium. Apparent Palm Beach public school graduate Chris Burgwald in the mis-named blog Veritas opines that the decision to go nuclear in August 1945 was morally wrong. His basis for this assertion is that in so doing the United States killed "thousands" of civilians just to save the lives of a few million military combatants.

The guy shows himself to be a total idiot and, as the self-proclaimed blithering idiot of the blogosphere, I really resent this.

Seriously, it is obvious that Mr. Burgwald has absolutely no historical foundation for his assertions. For example, he dismisses historical fact with the careless flip of his hand ("as is well-known, neither city had any real military value"). In fact, Hiroshima was a military city and had been for decades. It was where the Second General Headquarters of the Imperial Army and the city served as a military base for both the Sino-Japanese and the Russian-Japanese Wars. What is well known, however, is that Nagasaki was not on the preliminary lists of targets (the primary target that day was Kokura Arsenal on Kyushu. That does not mean it was not, in fact, a military target. Like Hiroshima, it too, had "real military value" in that it had two arms factories, a steel works, and the Mitsubishi shipyards and torpedo factory. (Although Burgwald might be one of those conservatives that see all government as bad and all industry as good -- which might explain why these cogs in the war machine could be dismissed as non-government.)

Burgwald should take a trip to his local library and start educating himself. Start with Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking (focusing on not just the number of people killed, which was more than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, but looking at the brutality of the killing of a city that had surrendered). More on Nanking here. Proceed to Gavan Daws' Prisoners of the Japanese (1994) and Hampton Sides' Ghost Soldiers (about the order to kill all American POWs and their rescue by the Allies). Then learn about the Pacific campaign. Look at Col. Joseph Alexander's Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa (a confession: I used to mow Col. Alexander's lawn), Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb by George Feifer. You must know about the Pacific campaign to understand the decision to drop the bomb.

Our country was at war with an implacable foe who would stop at nothing -- in Tennozan the Marines tell of standing literally knee deep in blood. More people died conquering Okinowa than in the two atomic bomb drops -- and over half of these were Okinowan civilians sacrificed by the Japanese.

Finally, Burgwald issues a giant F*** you to the families of everyone who died in the war. In response that 1,000,000 or more U.S. citizens would have died had not the bombs been dropped he responds: "My response: so what?" or a clear F*** you.

It never occurs to Burgwald that ever single one of these 1,000,000 were civilians prior to December 7, 1941. I can tell you that my first name, William, is in tribute to my mother's brother, William, who was killed by the Nazis in Europe. Prior to the war he and his brother, Robert, were both fun loving civilians, not blood-thirsty combatants that Burgwald sees as being so expendable. Both died in the second world war. But for Burgwald this is a classic case of "so what." Hey, these guys were U.S. Army -- who gives a flying flip whether they live or die?

Geez, what a flipping idiot.

More. I got the link to Burgwald's comments from Mark Byron. After my initial reaction I went back and read some of the links that Byron included and came across this response from John Betts. He has a lot more information than I did. Moreover, reading Burgwald's continuing responses I can see that he's wedded to his view point and won't let the facts get in the way.
Nothing Yet. Nothing from the Supremes, yet, after my fearless prediction yesterday. Maybe I spooked them.
US wins World Cup. In today's WaPo (I wonder how many years before the Post finally changes its name?), Robert J. Samuelson notes that it won't be long before the rest of the world really hates US -- when we win the World Cup. I agree with him, it won't be long before that happens. I have two quibble with his piece, however.

First, a minor note. Samuelson fails to note that the lawyers are responsible in large part for the rise of soccer in the US. He notes soccer "is now the second most popular team sport among 6- to 17-year-olds." I submit that part of the reason is liability. It is getting harder to put together a pee-wee football league with the necessary equipment -- especially properly fitting helmets and get the requisite insurance necessary. Similarly, although on a lesser scale, you see the same problem with baseball. Now, I'm very familiar with soccer and know that it can be very violent and injuries happen. Nevertheless, it is inherently less risky than either football or baseball for the younger ages. The same is true for basketball, which Samuelson notes is the most popular team sport in the 6 to 17 range. On a related note, it should be noted that both basketball and soccer are sports open to both boys and girls, whereas football and baseball are for boys only (baseball, less so).

Second, my major issue: Samuelson writes: "In some ways, soccer's rise mirrors baseball's fall. Anyone who's watched a game of "kid pitch" among 8- or 9-year-olds knows why. It's boring." Speaking of baseball's twin sister, softball, I must strongly disagree. When it comes to a game of 8 & 9 year old soccer or softball, the later is much more exciting and interesting. At that age, soccer is just a muddle of kids moving up and down the field around the ball, whereas softball the players have to play their positions and the kids are actually pretty good pitchers (amazingly so, in some cases).

See also: Orrin Judd's note on why soccer is not conservative
Correction. Yesterday I said the Supremes were only issuing orders, no decisions. I was relying on the Court's website and the AP. It appears both were slow and I was hasty. There were in fact two decisions. One, a patent law/federal jurisdiction case (Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc.), the other an SEC case (SEC v. Zandford). If you're really interested in these cases, you can see Howard Bashman's blog; but look at his disclaimer: "ATTENTION NORMAL HUMANS: TODAY'S OPINIONS WERE IN REALLY BORING CASES."

Monday, June 03, 2002

Prediction. I'm still maintaining my prediction that the Supremes are going to uphold vouchers. I predicted it would be unanimous, but I actually think it will be 7-2 (I'm not really wavering), the majority opinion by O'Connor and Stevens writing the main dissent. Case will come out tomorrow.
Sad Day. That's the title of an e-mail I received from my sister in Colorado. One of her former students, Mariah, a ten-year old girl, was killed this weekend when she fell out of a truck being driven by her father and struck her head. My sister writes that she was "an incredible girl . . . I can't say enough about Mariah . . . I truly loved her." Please pray for the Nash family and their friends and those who will support them.
Supremes. It looks like its just orders today -- perhaps they'll release opinions tomorrow. In any event, they passed on the case in which the defense attorney slept through portions of a capital case and will consider a case by the Navajo nation against the Department of the Interior in conjunction with one already on the docket involving a neighboring Tribe, the White Mountain Apaches, who are suing the Feds for failing to deliver on promises of building maintenance at Ft. Apache.
Update. I'm getting a little tired of all the Sgt. Schultz jokes with respect to my inability to identify the woman detained for the office thefts last week. But maybe I deserve it.

On the other hand, I got a nice note from John Bell, "a lawyer and part-time farmer," addressing my question as to whether returning the money to a co-worker is an admission:
[Y]es returning the money is an admission, just not a very good one. "Your honor, my client is innocent. Sure she reimbursed these unfortunate people, but that was out of fear that the police would continue to hound her as a suspect even though no eye-witnesses identified her as the thief. Innocent parties settle cases all the time to avoid more trouble." Without a confession or a good eye witness, there is really no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the amount taken from any individual victim was under $200.00, all you have is a collection of difficult to prosecute misdemeanors in a system already creaking at the breaking point. I prosecute out at the other end of I66 in Front Royal and have the luxury of
at least looking at a case file before trial. Down in Fairfax and the surrounding counties, the prosecutors handling misdemeanors are given a docket sheet and a legal pad and told what courtroom to go to. Any problems with the case, forget it.
By the way, Mr. Bell publishes the fine "Notes from a Hillside Farm" with thoughts on Orthodoxy, farming, and, well, life in general. He calls attention to the birthday of one of the great writers and thinkers, Walker Percy, who would've been 86 last week. Rest in Peace, Mr. Percy, and thank you for not letting us live in peace.

"Why does man feel so sad in the twentieth century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age when, more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making the world over for his own use?" -- Walker Percy

"We love those who know the worst of us and don't turn their faces away." -- Walker Percy
Superchic[k]. Here's a new band that my daughter (age 13) and I (age 43) both like: Superchic[k]. Here's a story on the group.
Cover Watch. Time is anxious -- the editors should be -- Newsweek wins this week with its cover story on two terrorists the CIA should've caught.