When a political office is burglarized, you would expect it to involve something significant.
Watergate was not about tapes. That was merely the evidence that resolved who was telling the truth. In popular imagination, that part of the popular mind that remembers such things, it was about breaking and entering.
The Watergate Hotel was the home of some of the most elite of Washington's elite. It also was the extreme high end of office locations. And it was where the Democratic National Committee was housed.
The little group assigned the task of breaking in had some experience. They had broken into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. Ellsberg had taken a classified Pentagon report to the New York Times and other newspapers. It was was little more than an historical essay about the decision making that had gotten us into the Vietnam war. Classification has always erred way beyond the side of caution. Putting a social studies lesson into a top secret file was kind of silly.
The break in at the office of the psychiatrist was to find a record of Ellsberg's treatment. They broke in, but couldn't find the file. The President's guys were disappointed. Apparently, leaking the report would have been less - I dunno - damaging? Embarrassing? Less of something, I guess, if a counter documentation could be released showing Ellsberg was a little crazy. That part has always seemed a bit weird to me. My imagination tries to get wrapped around it:
Yeah the documentation that was leaked shows we should never have gotten into Vietnam. It was all a mistake. It is a tragedy. But guess what! We have stolen records to prove the guy who leaked the documents is a bit nuts.
The break in at the Watergate makes more sense. The goal was to wiretap phones and leave other listening devices. In flowerpots, perhaps.
Nobody knows why, but there are a lot of candidates for motive. It could be President Nixon or his campaign just wanted to know ahead of time what Democratic candidate George McGovern might be planning day by day during the long hot summer of 1972.
More likely, the Committee to Re-Elect the President, lovingly called CREEP, was concerned about some past criminality. Speculation often centers around gazillionaire recluse Howard Hughes. An unspecified bit of nefarious financial dealing is suspected.
It has since come out that President Nixon, before he became President, when he was still candidate Nixon in 1968, was afraid President Johnson might be able to get a peace treaty between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. If peace broke out, Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee that year, could win. So private citizen Nixon arranged for a secret message to South Vietnam. If they would turn down all peace efforts and keep the war going until after the election, Nixon would see to it they got a better deal.
The technical word for what Citizen Nixon was doing at the time is treason. So it could be that President Nixon wanted to know if Democrats had found out.
Or it could be some other secret.
When Ron Zeigler, President Nixon's Press Secretary called the Watergate break in a "third rate burglary" that was being blown all out of proportion by the lefty biased media, nobody was buying it.
Third Rate Burglary? Really?
So now, more than 40 years after Watergate, when desks in the Capitol Building, desks belonging to staff members of Congressional Representatives, were broken into. Folks suspected something was up.
Is it possible people are working in the U.S. Capitol who have a key to my office, who have no legal rights to be here in the United States? Well, that’s possible. That’s very unsettling.
Yeah, that's the ticket. It was some undocumented member of the janitorial staff. They really ought to use e-verify, you know.
Republican offices were hit. Important Republican offices. Three chairs of high level committees. Money was taken. It was less than $1000 in total. Important papers were in those desks, not taken, but the information was sensitive. The desks were hit in separate incidents over time.
Last week, Capitol police were able to narrow it down. They made an arrest.
It was the top legislative staffer on the committee of Michele Bachmann.
Turns out all three Republican chairmen have a history of rocky relationships with soon to be Ex-Representative Bachmann.
Nobody knows why this fellow spent his after hours time rifling through desks of sometime opponents. Not yet.
Could just be the money. Not much for a Legislative Aide, but it's possible. It really could have just been a routine burglary.
Lots of news going on right now: filibuster negotiations that may influence the future of lawmaking in the United States, abortion rights being curtailed by midnight legislative maneuvers, mortgage foreclosure safeguards overturned by stealth, voting rights obstacles thrown at the working poor, iffy dealings in Egypt, and a host of other vital developments.
But we keep rehashing the Trayvon Martin killing. And we should. The case invites attempts to divine some larger meaning. And humanity seeks meaning.
A man is adjudged to be innocent until declared guilty by a jury after a fair trial. That is the law. The law does not prevent me, or anyone, from having an opinion apart from the determination of a jury.
O. J. Simpson was guilty, most probably of unplanned murder as he was caught in the midst of some vandalism. That is my opinion.
Those who assaulted Reginald Denny were guilty, regardless of whether they were caught up in a mob mentality. That is my opinion.
John Warnock Hinckley was guilty of attempting to assassinate a President, regardless of the unwillingness of the jury to wade through the evidence to a conclusion about mental competence. That is my opinion.
Little Caylee Anthony was murdered by the mother to whom God and human society entrusted her well being. That is very much my opinion.
And an armed adult murdered a teenager in Sanford Florida in the belief that he was doing society a favor.
I find unconvincing each of the variations of the defense story. I do not find it plausible that a youngster with no history of violence circled around to ambush a larger man who gave the appearance of stalking him. Details detract from the already slim likelihood of the narrative. Trayvon launched his ambush without first setting aside his candy and soda? He attacked this stranger while shouting "You're going to die tonight"? Really?
I find impossible the notion that the teenager spotted a weapon that was still holstered behind the larger man.
I do not see any way that a man quite used to patrolling the alleys and hidden pathways of his little complex needed to step away from his vehicle to read one of only three street signs in the community, because he had become unfamiliar with the area he had patrolled at night for half a year.
What does strike me as likely is that an adult vigilante, angry with each passing day that young black intruders, "punks," seemed to "always get away," decided on independent action. Unlike the teenaged victim, the armed adult did have a history of violent behavior.
I find it more plausible that he drew his weapon as he approached and that he did so with deadly intent. This was one perpetrator who would not get away.
I find it quite believable that the man was surprised at the ferocity with which the kid fought for his life, fought in self-defense once he saw the gun.
The story as presented by the killer makes sense only in context of what he knew at the time and felt would be believable to the officers questioning him. The hooded figure he had targeted was a thug, a criminal, who could not have been there for any legitimate purpose, that the neighborhood intruder had gotten a form of street justice that an all too forgiving, politically correct, system of law was not prepared to render.
His story was consistent with that initial assumption. It did not fit at all the candy bearing young man the victim later turned out to have been.
I believe the verdict of the jury was partially correct on the facts. In my opinion, the man was not guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter. This was no spontaneous act. The neighborhood vigilante was motivated by a frustrated rage that had been building for a long time.
As I see it, this killing was premeditated, going beyond any charge that was contemplated.
Here is the point. I am glad that I live under a system in which the rule of law often prevails, a rule of law that prevents my belief from making it into the courtroom without evidence. In which the law holds that my opinion, in itself, is no evidence at all.
Had I been on the jury, I am sure, at least as sure as anyone who was not in the courtroom can be, that I would have voted against the second degree murder charge. I suspect I would have pressed for a manslaughter conviction. But I cannot be certain of that.
I am not happy with the injustice that is often intertwined with our system of justice. I find it hard to avoid anger at the losses of Nicole, Caylee, and now Trayvon: that they are without any voice, that there is no reckoning for their killings. In Florida, at least, the law needs to be tightened so as to prevent an affirmative defense with no burden at all on the defendant.
But I am even less happy at those who are just as obviously innocent and who are convicted. Ryan Ferguson, here in Missouri, comes to mind.
While I am sometimes angry at juries who let the guilty go free, I am stunned at those who favor continuing wrongful convictions, keeping the innocent in captivity. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster comes to mind.
It is a legal Sophie's Choice, this balance of red hot injustice. I would rather have a few more Nicole Simpsons, Caylee Anthonys, and Trayvon Martins go unavenged, their gloating murderers celebrating with their lawyers, if it would free one or two of those who are so clearly innocent.
When it comes to those who are obviously guilty, I very much want to live in a nation of laws.
I want those laws to keep my angry opinions, and those like mine, out of court and away from any jury.
The McCarthy era is important to me beyond what I read in history books or see in old videos. There were little known acts of courage. I think of a young Methodist minister speaking out from the pulpit in a very rural, very conservative parish. The resulting storm of protest against that preacher, my father, did not make much of an impression on me. I was too young at the time.
Edward R. Murrow acted out a more prominent act of courage when he spoke out against Joe McCarthy in March of 1954. McCarthy was given time to respond. He attempted, as I understand it, to enlist a substitute to rebut Murrow. A youthful William F. Buckley, Jr had demolished over-confident faculty members in debate at Yale after he authored a critical book about the University. CBS and Murrow would have none of it. They were less interested in the evils of the Communist state as represented by the USSR, which was beyond dispute, than in McCarthy's abuse of the struggle against it.
McCarthy accepted and began with an expansion of his vital, critical role in fighting the evil threat, and how he had endured vicious attacks for his noble work:
Now, ordinarily--ordinarily--I would not take time out from the important work at hand to answer Murrow. However, in this case, I feel justified in doing so because Murrow is a symbol,a leader and the cleverest of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose individual Communists and traitors.
- Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), April 6, 1954
Senator McCarthy went on to an attack of Murrow's background, including his sponsorship of international exchange student programs in the 1930s and his onetime membership in a labor union, the Wobblies, a popular nickname for the Industrial Workers of the World was called.
Every time I listen to that segment of the, I am struck by one segment early in Senator McCarthy's presentation.
Now, of course, neither Joe McCarthy nor Edward R. Murrow is of any great importance as individuals. We are only important in our relation to the great struggle to preserve our American liberties.
- Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI)
It seemed to me to be a defiant contradiction against a stereotype nurtured at the time by American media. America was supposed to be about the primacy of the individual. The Soviet state was supposed to be about the complete unimportance of the individual except as cog in state machinery.
American justice, as an ideal, should be about individuals. The guilt or innocence of an individual, how we judge an individual incident, should be about that individual and that case. Nothing else should matter.
Public issues should be about policy, and should be distinct from individual legal cases.
Of course, as a matter of practicality, there is an intersection between public interest and individual cases. This was common in Jim Crow days, as one murder case after another resulted in "not guilty" verdicts, in defiance of the facts of each case. The de facto public policy was made apparent. It was completely legal for white vigilantes to kill black people and those who might sympathize with black people.
Multiple instances of jury nullification in the old South made new Civil Rights laws a necessity.
In the Zimmerman acquittal, the injustice is easier to see than what went on in the minds of the jurors. Did they see something not apparent to most of us?
The great Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for Atlantic Monthly, believes the public policy implications come from the negligence of law enforcement authorities in the hours, days, and weeks following the killing of Trayvon Martin.
... it's worth remembering that what caused a national outcry was not the possibility of George Zimmerman being found innocent, but that there would be no trial at all. This case was really unique because of what happend with the Sanford police. If you doubt this, ask yourself if you know the name "Jordan Davis." Then ask yourself how many protests and national media reports you've seen about him.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic Monthly, July 14, 2013
Ta-Nehisi Coates believes the jury pretty much got it right. It's possible that the strange burden of proof in Florida makes that true.
Self defense in Florida law puts very little burden of plausibility on the defendant. It is an affirmative defense. In most states, that puts some burden on the defendant to show the defense has some plausibility. In Florida, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, not only the facts of the case and the applicability of law, but also what is virtually impossible to prove in even the most egregious cases.
This case seems egregious. To believe the defense narrative, one must believe that a man who armed himself with a loaded gun got out of his vehicle to read a street sign and was then ambushed by a teenager who neglected to leave his skittles and soft drink behind. "You're going to die tonight" from a kid with no history of violence and, moments later, "You got me" reduce still further the believability of that story.
In most jurisdictions, the defense would have had to show some degree of likelihood that such a narrative was true.
When an affirmative defense is presented, putting the burden exclusively on the prosecution leads to obvious injustice. In other times and places, it has been because of confused or willful juries. That is what happened after the almost murder of Reginald Denny in California and the almost assassination of President Reagan in Washington.
In Florida, a close reading of the jury instructions and a brief review of case law seem to show a different standard. It seems as if, in the absence of witnesses, a deadly aggressor in Florida will go free if he is the only survivor.
In the Middle Ages, a similar standard of winner-takes-law was employed. A fight to the death was more fair back then. Rules were enforced. Guns were not to be brought to a skittles fight. The question is whether we want to go back to those times.
Back then it was called Trial by Combat.
And there is our public policy issue.
Listen As You Go -
Radical New Farm Bill - Robin Hood Inside Out (4:03) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Republican Dilemma - What To Use Against Hillary (7:17) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Max's Dad is so-o-o-o tired of the Zimmerman trial in a state where it is legal for a guy with a gun to go after a kid armed with skittles as long as he later says he was losing the resulting fight when he shot and killed the kid.
A John Wilkes Booth sympathizer who really dislikes Abraham Lincoln and advocates for the angry and oppressed white people of America is on the payroll of Senator Rand Paul. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite seems unsympathetic as the Senator explains that the big tent of the GOP must include those in the camp of armed rebellion and assassination. The party of inclusion.
Last Of The Millenniums brings us the savage Senate debate on the filibuster, including personal attacks, as today's Mitch McConnell argues with McConnell of 2005. It's a bloody conflict.
- Our developing spiritual leader at Why do we have to do this, Sir? is inspired by class registration and a baptism to contemplate Jesus sending 70 followers to prepare towns and villages along his journey.
Every year the presidents of Sears Holdings’ (SHLD) many business units trudge across the company’s sprawling headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., to a conference room in Building B, where they ask Eddie Lampert for money. The leaders have made these solitary treks since 2008, when Lampert, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire, splintered the company into more than 30 units.
- More -
WASHINGTON — When Democratic Rep. Mark Takano got his hands on a draft letter to Speaker John Boehner from conservatives on immigration, he did what any pro-reform member of Congress who was a high school literature teacher for two decades would: took out his red pen and marked up the draft.
Unsurprisingly, he gave the Republican letter an “F.”
“If you don’t understand the bill come by my office and I’ll explain it,” he wrote at the bottom in his best teacherese.
The House of Representatives has passed what has already become the most famous agricultural legislation in the last half century.
The cutting off of food for those struggling to get out of poverty is the primary point of contention.
The cobbling together of such programs as price stabilization for farmers with breakfast for little kids and emergency nutritional provisions for families in need was a constructive joining of interests. Those in need represent a weak legislative constituency. They are without a voice in the offices of law makers. Joining them to agricultural interests gave them a natural ally.
The result is palpable. In my lifetime, death by starvation went from a measurable social problem to a point near vanishing.
Latent Republican hostility toward those surviving in poverty became manifest. Compassionate conservatism is a phrase not heard in a while. War on poverty became an overt war on the poor.
One Republican, during debate, referred to emergency food for families and breakfast programs for children as "some extraneous provisions" that ought to be segregated from consideration for agribusiness.
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CN) responded on behalf of food recipients. "These people are not extraneous."
Segregating programs to feed people was not the only accomplishment of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives.
Even after eliminating all food programs, the final House bill was actually larger than the farm bill passed by the Senate. House Republicans added additional provisions to push more money to huge agricultural businesses. The outlay was expanded to 195.6 billion dollars.
Farm Bills last for 5 years. They have to be renewed. The next renewal date was set for 2018. You know, five years from now?
Feeding of those in poverty was not the only part that was eliminated. The expiration date was also cut out of the bill. The Christmas tree for big business was made permanent, everlasting, eternal.
Only after passage was the public informed that all the additional pork was locked in. Forever. Sugar subsidies, the new "shallow loss" provision that guarantees agribusiness will never suffer substantial losses, and a host of other programs for agricultural industries are now to be made permanent.
One addition that was proposed was heartening. Members of Congress would be prohibited from personally benefiting from all the additions to the bill. None of those billions in additional payments would go directly to any member of Congress.
That amendment was voted down.
Opposition research reached a new low, I think, in 1988. That was the year of then Vice President Bush. That would be the Bush lots of folks think of as the good Bush, the mature Bush, the Bush who, when he got the top job, didn't take us into any quagmires.
Back then, the Vice President seemed like a lapdog. That was George Will's phrase.
The unpleasant sound Bush is emitting as he traipses from one conservative gathering to another is a thin, tinny "arf" - the sound of a lap dog.
His opponent, Michael Dukakis, seemed like a pretty solid guy. No Gary Hart type scandals. A pretty good record as Governor of Massachusetts.
So Republican oppo experts cobbled together a made-up controversy. Dukakis had attended the funeral of an uncle. A distant relative also attended the same funeral. The distant relative was a psychiatrist. So there you have it.
Now if your response is huh? that would make you a typical American. And it would also mean you don't know the creativity of Republican activists.
- Dukakis must have liked his uncle. Why else would he go to the funeral?
- And if he liked his beloved uncle, he must have been emotionally affected. It had to have been a difficult time.
- And he must have at least caught a glimpse of his distant relative while he was at the funeral service. That would be the relative who practiced psychiatry. He probably had caught multiple sightings.
Republicans nailed together a ramshackle narrative and released the result to the press. They told news outlets that they had documented proof:
During a time of emotional difficulty, Michael Dukakis had seen a psychiatrist - probably had seen him a number of times.
President Reagan joked about not wanting to pick on an invalid. Others spread the word about the crazy Democrat. Did you really want to vote for a candidate so emotionally unstable that he required psychiatric treatment?
The public has grown somewhat less naive about campaign tricks, although death-panel-type charges can still have an effect on the gullible. And there is less prejudice about mental health treatment, although the Kentucky re-election campaign of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell was putting together similar stories about about Ashley Judd when she was thinking about running against him.
More recently, technology has made opposition research more immediate and pervasive. Teenagers from opposing campaigns, armed with cameras, are a constant presence for statewide candidates.
Dishonesty with cameras is possible, of course. Just look at the late Andrew Breitbart and the slick camera editing that went into some of the offerings on his website. But Breitbart's minions and copycats usually go after ordinary folks - minor officials, college professors, social workers, teachers, and the like: people experienced in their own specialized worlds, but untutored in the savage universe of today's conservatism.
Statewide office seekers are more worldly, and staffs are well versed in how to handle slick dishonest video editing. So cameras in campaigns tend to produce embarrassing moments, but do it with honest representation.
Old style research, poring through yellowing records, looking at old films, listening to recordings, finding the public and not-so-public record is all still important.
Which is what makes the current low key Republican campaign against the anticipated candidacy of Hillary Clinton so surprising.
Hillary Clinton's successful management of the Department of State, her handling of devastating loss in Benghazi, her contribution to the planning of the bin Laden take down, and on and on, have made her an extraordinarily popular Presidential prospect.
So you would expect Republicans to use the full spectrum of available opposition research weaponry to take her down.
Ridicule is a potent possibility. Embarrassing moments are alive on video. She must have nightmares about one visit to an Alabama church on the 42nd anniversary of bloody Sunday.
The historical record can be mined for some scandal. Benghazi has already been tried. It looked somewhat promising at first, but Republican attempts to make her seem irresponsible and careless fell flat. It didn't ring true at the time. It was pathetic by the time Republicans lapsed into vague generalities.
A more honest conservative case can be made by characterizing her Democratic heritage as big and intrusive government in contrast with the libertarian side of Republicanism.
A reliable staple is to use her own easy recognition among Americans against her. By 2016, she will have been a television companion to most of us for a quarter century. Attacking the old guard for outdated values and connections, portraying a candidate as a captive to Washington, out-of-touch, often can have an effect.
But Republicans are, so far, having none of that.
Republicans are going after her for having a wrong birthday. The year, it seems, is too early.
Yeah. The main thrust of the current conservative objection to a President Hillary is that she is just too old.
I'm thinking about how well that worked for our side against Ronald Reagan through the 1980s. I remember thinking it was kind of dumb. President Reagan vindicated my opinion at the second debate in 1984. He glanced at Democratic nominee Walter Mondale and demolished the issue.
I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I will not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.
Everyone laughed, even Mondale.
And that was that.
Democrats tried to make Dwight Eisenhower's age an issue in 1956. He had just turned 66. Eisenhower overwhelmed Adlai Stevenson that year for the second time. Old soldiers never die. They just crush their opponents into dust.
In Massachusetts, opposing Senator Edward Kennedy's campaign for re-election in 1994, Mitt Romney briefly ran ads suggesting Kennedy was too old.
What is there about Massachusetts? Republicans recently accused Ed Markey, running for the Senate in Massachusetts, of being too old for the job. Neither Kennedy in 1994 nor Markey in 2013 even bothered to respond. No need. Both won by margins that numbed the minds of conservatives.
It's hard to believe the one huge weapon conservatives are able to unholster against Hillary Clinton so far is her age. Her age.
We have to think that isn't all there is. In fact that can't be all there is. They have to have something else they're planning to use, something that would fit the ideological tradition of contemporary Republicanism. Something they don't mind attacking.
Something Republicans have experience declaring war on.
Well - - - she is a woman.
In Response to John Myste's Catholic Core Argument on Obamacare Not Irrational
I merely object to the notion that A. The Catholic argument against this is completely irrational, as if it were pointless and merit-less, and B. the arguments in rebuttal to the Catholic argument should essential dismiss the catholic argument as irrational. I responded to this thread, but my response is not specific to it. It is more an overall reaction to arguments I see everywhere.
The idea of freedom of religion coexisting with secular law is in conflict. You cannot serve two masters.
The Catholic objection is not tantamount to denying a religion freedom to sacrifice your first born to Moloch.
- John Myste, July 8, 2013
The terms that I used were "inconsistent", "mystical", and "paranoid".
Here's just one inconsistent aspect in this case: allowing exceptions for Catholics on the matter of contraception and abortion because of their religious beliefs, but not allowing exceptions for various other groups who do not want to be forced to act against their beliefs. We do not need to use extreme examples like sacrifices to Moloch to make the case against T. Paine's position here. We can simply point out that we are all taxed and that most or all of us object to something that our government does with that money, either on religious or moral grounds. Secular law and freedom of religion as T. Paine understands it are incompatible, as you admit.
The mystical aspect in this case: T. Paine's claims that abortion is murder (and thus is wrong and should be illegal) according to God and natural law. He has failed to prove both
- that his god exists and has this position and
- that natural law is a legitimate concept and supports his position.
These are faith-based claims, even though T. Paine likes to say that science is on his side.
My claims are not faith-based, since I merely present my own concept of personhood and argue for its relevance, recognizing that not everyone values particular qualities of life precisely as I do. I do not assert that "personhood" is a purely factual concept pre-defined by God or natural law, such that we must all recognize the zygote as a person and defend it accordingly. Unlike T. Paine, I do not raise my beliefs on this matter up to the level of absolute, cosmic truth.
Were I a Catholic, and had I had this point brought up to me, I would consider it a troublesome issue, much akin to a dilemma faced by a soldier obeying orders in Nazi Germany.
I understand that, but it is not a problem that can be eliminated. There will always be someone who believes that the government is forcing him to do something immoral. Making an exception for someone simply because he fervently disagrees with the law is bad policy that flirts with anarchy. Claims need to be backed by convincing evidence.
One last point:
T. Paine and others like him would have us believe that they care far more about what God wants than what the public or the law wants. They will fight to the end to protect their beliefs and freedoms! Yet we can expect that very few of them will end up being fined or imprisoned for breaking secular law to serve God. It is very revealing that these people, who believe both that legalized abortion is legalized mass murder and that it is a significant transgression against God, tend to do nothing more than vote for and fund Republicans.
If they don't care as much about their beliefs or deity as they would have us believe, then I certainly can't take them seriously enough to consider making an exception for them.
In addition to his thoughtful contributions here, Ryan also writes for his own site, devoted to the logical examination of political, religious, and social arguments. Please visit Secular Ethics.
The one film that I have always regarded as the essential Gregory Peck is The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. It has always struck me as a movie about ethics as morality in action.
The central theme, for me, is encapsulated as a new employee, asked by the very important chief executive of a large organization for his opinion about a speech, authored by himself, that has been in the works for a while. The employee, Gregory Peck, explains why he doesn't like it:
"Because it's so obviously untrue." It is a bold bit of honesty.
The entire film is available on YouTube. I was watching it a couple of nights ago.
There is another part I especially like. Lee J. Cobb plays a country judge, slightly jaded, with a gentle and kind disposition. He is introduced as a wealthy old aunt dies and leaves a large house to the protagonist, Gregory Peck.
A caretaker of the old house, who also had cared for the aging old woman, insists the house now belongs to him. She promised it to him, she signed a letter to that effect, and now he wants what is due. The Peck character is attempting to defraud him.
A final confrontation takes place in the small office of the kindly judge. Under gentle prodding and a little research, the old man's story slowly falls apart. Statements by local tradespeople have been obtained showing the old man proposed they pad bills so he could get a kickback. The caretaker has a bank balance way out of proportion to his somewhat average salary. The old, nearsighted employer had signed whatever the dishonest caretaker put in front of her. A photostat of an unwitnessed contract between the caretaker and the old woman becomes more than suspect.
The prospect of criminality becomes more certain. "But," says the judge, "if you have a perfectly clear conscience about this matter, and are prepared to explain these circumstances satisfactorily..."
With fall of each point, the old man becomes more indignant. How did the judge get that information? He had no right! Besides, it's all false. He'll be back, just you wait.
Being the politically interested soul that I have become as my own age marches upward, I had to relate the fictional exchange to our familiar friend, Republican Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He has been leading the charge against the Obama White House, most recently concerning the IRS scandal. On orders from Washington, Representative Issa charges, the IRS office in Cincinnati specifically targeted conservative groups.
As Democrats on his committee finally suggested a complete record of secret testimony be released, not simply the bits and pieces quoted by the Chairman on news broadcasts, Issa seemed to go into a fit. Democrats had no right, no right at all, to interfere with his investigation by releasing information prematurely.
But, as that information, information known all along by Representative Issa, became public, the true dimensions of the real scandal became more obvious.
The IRS was guilty of profiling groups whose names contained such words and phrases as "Tea party", "Occupy", "Progressive", "Occupied Territories", "Patriots", "Health Care Legislation", "Social Change", and - of all things - "Open Source Software Developers". The list goes on and on.
It was profiling.
It was unfair.
The questions were intrusive.
And it apparently targeted any group of any ideology that the IRS suspected did not qualify for a tax exemption.
Conservative Groups were not singled out for unfair treatment.
Conservative groups seeking special tax exempt status were not subjected to delays that liberal groups did not experience.
Critics of President Obama were not targeted.
And the report of the Inspector General, the report that suggested otherwise, has now become the central focus of a new conflict. Why was it so wrong? The Inspector General says it was because Republicans, specifically Darrell Issa, ordered that the report be confined only to treatment of Tea Party groups. Republicans insist the Inspector General made that decision on his own.
What few now seem to question is that, while appearing before one camera after another to accuse the administration of wrongdoing, Darrell Issa had in his hand, not documents that would incriminate the Obama administration, but rather documents that would show there was no scandal.
Chairman Issa, even while making his accusations, possessed proof that those accusations were untrue.
It does remind me of that secondary plot line in one of my favorite Gregory Peck films. Lee J. Cobb, in the slow and friendly way he played the country judge, calmly regards the old caretaker, each of whose accusations have been disproven, then slowly speaks my next to favorite line in the movie.
"I regret to have to say this to you, Mr. Schultz. But you're a dishonest man."
The text you quoted concerned my overall experience with debating T. Paine, not with any specific argument that he was making at the time. However, the mystical claims do show up in most cases.
You can make counter arguments; explain why this is OK to you, and why it has precedent in our history. None of these points do anything to solve the problem presented: business owners believe they are being forced to finance murder.
And others resent being forced through taxes to finance a murderous military. We can't eliminate the resentment, but we can dismiss legal arguments on the basis of precedent, as you said. T. Paine never did explain how making exceptions for his religious beliefs is fine while making exceptions for others is not, so he failed to defend his side.
What do you want from us, exactly? Silence?
Ryan, July 4, 2013
I agree with you that the law should not be changed to accommodate Catholicism. I would not care for that. For me, God's law will always be trumped by secular law, and must be, until we agree on one and only one God.
I merely object to the notion that the A. The Catholic argument against this is completely irrational, as if it were pointless and merit-less, and B. the arguments in rebuttal to the Catholic argument should essential dismiss the catholic argument as irrational. I responded to this thread, but my response is not specific to it. It is more an overall reaction to arguments I see everywhere.
Were I a Catholic, and had I had this point brought up to me, I would consider it a troublesome issue, much akin to a dilemma faced by a soldier obeying orders in Nazi Germany.
The idea of freedom of religion coexisting with secular law is in conflict. You cannot serve two masters.
The Catholic objection is not tantamount to denying a religion freedom to sacrifice your first born to Moloch.
The question of what a human is and why that matters is a difficult one and different people have different answers, and I daresay, they are mostly faith-based, whether the “answer” is supplied by an atheist or a priest or a withered sage on his way to sainthood.
I believe the Catholic objection was politicized and is used primarily as an attempt to win the argument against Obama Care. I also believe it has merit and brings up a troublesome predicament for our democratic, religion-tolerant, political design. Again, if someone “knows” that abortion, at any stage, is murder, then I can see how they would object to supplying insurance to pay for it, or to supplying their employees with insurance to pay for murder. They could construe this as insuring that their employees have the ability to murder babies as needed.
Again, I don’t think the argument should change the law, and I am quite certain there are plenty of other precedents prior to the introduction of Obama Care in existence. Neither of these facts make the Catholic core argument irrational.
John Myste's contributions to debate at Fair And UNbalanced are limited by an intense schedule. We are grateful for his generosity.
Ryan is also a valued contributor. His thoughtful reactions are a concise reflection of his own site. Please visit Secular Ethics.
Listen As You Go -
Infidel 753 analyzes the coup in Egypt as part of a struggle between Islamists and secularists. There is a passing reference to pressing problems. Those pressing problems may actually have been more decisive than religious authoritarianism. At any rate, we can hope for eventual freedom and democracy. All things considered, a thoughtful analysis, especially considering the cloud of immediacy as events sort themselves out.
Sometimes the human experience goes to irony. News Corpse explain how uber hacker Rupert Murdoch was himself secretly recorded admitting to US legal violations and British perjury.
Conservative James Wigderson provides a lesson about how the nature of public specuation provides clues to reality. He takes us to a case study, contrasting the likely good fortunes of Wisconsin Governor with the dimming prospects of the Mayor of Waukesha.
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster celebrates Independence Day and a perfect record, so far, in getting enough names on petitions to put politically Independent candidates on the ballot.
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, brings forth summary and praise for freedom and founding principles. I am especially struck by one small part, his endorsement of immigration. "America though was different. To become an American one only needed to pledge allegiance to our free republic and the principles of liberty enshrined in its founding." Contrary as this thought is to contemporary conservative orthodoxy, it serves as a reminder that not all conservatives hold to identical ways.
Last week our friend T Paine lamented the tolerance of so many Catholics for gay relationships. This week Michael John Scott at Mad Mike's America begins his piece on about an anti-gay radio show rant with Oh those intolerant Catholics!. It's an entertaining piece, because it centers on gay food, but the first sentence struck me as funny.
Max's Dad seems amazed at the inability of Ohio's Governor John Kasich to see anything wrong with surrounding himself with a bunch of old male legislators at the signing of yet another law restricting the ability of women to make their own abortion choices.
Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot looks at this time 150 years ago, and concludes that financial end of the Confederacy happened in early July, and with it went the prospects of perpetual, formalized slavery.
...it just didn’t occur to white school administrators that treating black students “equally” by requiring them to swim every day for weeks in the winter in Chicago in P.E. class would present all kinds of hair and skin problems for the black students (my mother for example).
Much of the discussion focuses on whether the notion of White Privilege is offensive, or ought to be, to conservatives. The post attempts to separate malicious intent from systematic effect. An ostensible equal requirement may not always reflect equal treatment.
We can find dozens of examples in everyday life that have nothing to do with race. Occasionally, one generous member or another of my workplace will bring in donuts or brownies or cake. Everyone shares. Equal treatment, right?
Except some folks cannot participate. Diabetics and a few others are wise to enjoy the treats vicariously through others. It's a sacrifice, a nod toward health. A gift of milk and cookies will not be equal to those who are lactose intolerant.
Such inequities are received in good natured acknowledgement. They are part of adult life.
It gets a little more serious when job interviews are not offered to those whose names on resumes have "ethic" names, or when cabs do not stop, or streets are not quite as maintained.
When photo identification is demanded of voters, the lack of equality between those who routinely have such ID's in the form of drivers' licenses and those who ride buses to work may not be apparent to most citizens. After all, doesn't everyone have a license? It does occur to those politicians who benefit from keeping opposing voters away on election day. The laws have every appearance of neutrality but they make for an unequal society.
One argument against the term "marriage equality" or even marriage equality itself is that equality has already been applied. Any adult can get married. The restriction that it must be to someone of the opposite gender applies equally to all.
This does not not always seem intended as snide commentary. Some conservatives are convinced they are embracing true equality by applying the same restriction to all.
La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
- Anatole France, 1894
All things considered, I don't mind giving up donuts.
I would get a little irritated if some politician made it illegal for me to marry the one I love or made it harder for me to vote.
All to be equally applied, of course.