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Archive for November, 2011

So Dutch scientists are doing work with the avian flu to make it more easily transmissible among mammals.  I’m sure that the Law of Unintended Consequences won’t somehow make this regrettable at all.

And virologist Lynn Enquist, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Virology, which published the St. Jude’s study, says that paper didn’t ring the types of alarm bells that would prompt a referral to the advisory board. It involved putting a key gene from the H5N1 virus into the H1N1 virus that caused the 2009 pandemic.

Having knowledge outstrip wisdom isn’t the recipe for the funniest end to civilization that I was looking for.  I would have much preferred to just dwell on the impending worldwide economic collapse.

So far, the response seems pretty milquetoast:

“If the goal of the experiment is to create a virus for which there currently is no vaccine or treatment, that if it escapes from the lab by accident could start a pandemic , if that literally is one of the outcomes of the experiment, I think the benefits of that would have to be extraordinary to justify that.”

Yeah, I’m sure that “extraordinary benefits” would make a lightning fast pandemic all ok.  How about “ARE YOU INSANE???? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?????”

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I know the incompetent currently putting his feet on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office likes to compare himself favorably to Lincoln, but he also is guilty of lamenting that the Constitution was a flawed document because it the “negative liberties” it contains. Said liberties are “negative” because they prevent government from doing certain things for [to] you, rather than empowering government, guided by people who know what is better for you than you yourself do…like Barack Hussein Obama, Eziekiel Emanuel, Steven Chu, John Holdren, etc….to make those decisions for you.

I recently was given a book called Little Masterpieces: Lincoln, which was published in 1907.  (Yes, I handle it carefully.)  It contains some of Lincoln’s speeches, some in their entirety, some excerpts, some of his correspondence, like the very moving letter to Mrs. Bixby, and a reconstruction of his so-called “lost speech”, given at the first Republican convention in spring of 1856.  It is a “reconstruction”, because the reporters sent to cover it were reportedly so mesmerized that they didn’t make their own notes of the speech, and one of his fellow Illinois bar members took notes of the speech, from which the account is written.

Lincoln was against the ruling handed down in the Dred Scot case, and spent considerable time speaking about how it was wrong.  One of the speeches included in this book is from a speech given at Springfield June 26, 1857 on the decision, describing how Chief Justice Taney’s ruling and justification based on the Declaration of Independence was wrong.  One of the parts that I been dwelling on is this:

I think that the authors of this notable instrument intended to include all men, but that they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects.  They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity.  They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all men equal with “certain inalienable rights, among which are life liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness.”  This they said and this they meant.  They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that were then enjoying that equality, nor yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them.  In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon.  They simply meant to declare the right, so that enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.

I’m not sure that Lincoln and Obama would be on the same page with regard to this analysis. 

I’m sure that Lincoln got it wrong.

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Justice Kagan MUST recuse herself.

This isn’t even a question.

As President Obama’s Solicitor General, Justice Kagan was an enthusiastic supporter of the health care take over, and appears to have been part of discussions among those in government planning how to respond to the inevitable challenges.

In emails received pursuant to FOIA requests, Kagan communicated with Lawrence Tribe, and could barely contain her excitement over the passage of the bill.

Kagan punctuated the first sentence of this email to Tribe with two exclamation marks: “I hear they have the votes, Larry!! Simply amazing.”

By itself, this might not be enough, but an email exchange between DOJ attorneys, including Kagan’s top deputy, who forwarded and included her in on the exchange on March 21, 2010, also detailed in the above-linked article makes this case closed.

By not recusing herself, Justice Kagan is violating both the law, and the Federal Judicial Code of Conduct, an act that calls her character and integrity into question.

28 USC 455 [Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge]  states:

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:
(3) Where he has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy; [Emph. Mine]

 While we do not know what was said in the phone call to the deputy, or after that point, the evidence before is enough to raise questions about the Justice’s impartiality in the eyes of a reasonable third party observer, which according to the standard set forth in subparagraph (a) would be enough, but there certainly is enough to suggest an opinion and advice on the subject material, making (b) an operative standard as well.

This is not just a legal standard, however.  Judges and Justices are also held to an ethical code of conduct.  Two canons set forth by this code are particularly relevant.

CANON 1: A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective.

CANON 3: A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE FAIRLY, IMPARTIALLY AND DILIGENTLY

The duties of judicial office take precedence over all other activities. In performing the duties prescribed by law, the judge should adhere to the following standards:
(C) Disqualification.

(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:

  • (e)the judge has served in governmental employment and in that capacity participated as a judge (in a previous judicial position), counsel, advisor, or material witness concerning the proceeding or has expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.

We cannot know for certain all that has transpired, and since a FOIA request had to be made to reveal what we do know, any further disclosure undertaken by the Justice and the other parties involved will be suspect.  The Justice’s role and impartiality with regard to this legislation and its defense is already in question.  This is why the recusal rules exist, both as a means of helping jurists from impugning their own character, and to preserve the integrity of the courts.  By proceeding, Justice Kagan does great violence to both.  She should have already recused herself from this matter.

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While the religious have people there to reinforce their values, atheists, humanists and others who follow similar world beliefs argue that they do not. Thus, they wish to gain official recognition so that they can respond to their fellow non-believing soldiers’ spiritual needs.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Seriously, how much of a “spiritual need” can someone who knocks God off his throne and sits in his place have?

Oh, and it isn’t about having someone around to “reinforce your values”.  It is about having the comfort of the connection between you and your Creator at times of moral peril.  Its kind of difficult to pray aloud when you have a sucking chest wound.  There is no equivalency for athiests and humanists. (Playing a recording of “My Way” isn’t the same thing.)

Some days the ignorance of history is only outweighed by the self-centeredness of trivial people.

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