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Catfish and Cod
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Fun with the United States Code: I.
(Link path: FindLaw)

IANAL. That phrase is usually used on-line with a negative connotation: don`t trust what I`m about to tell you. But for testing an average intelligent citizen`s understanding of the laws of the United States, it`s perfect. Especially since all Western law since the Twelve Tables of Rome has been, ideally, understandable by all citizens to which it applies.

The U.S. Code is a massive tome; it`s only printed for lawyer`s offices. With the advent of Internet search engines, it`s possible for anyone to find anything in the Code, quickly and efficiently. Since it is a citizen`s duty to catch the government wasting money or enacting foolish laws, it`s a good idea for people to be hunting through the Code and finding out what probably should be repealed.... but hasn`t been. (Law is forever until repealed or sunseted, so there`s lots of useless laws still lying around.)

Today`s installment: Title 15, Chapter 9, the National Weather Service authorization laws.

Section 318. US mail cars and conveyences are supposed to have weather reports on them: the Dept. of Commerce...
"may arrange a plan by which there shall be
displayed on all cars and other conveyances used for transporting
United States mail suitable flags or other signals to indicate
weather forecasts, cold-wave warnings, frost warnings, and so
forth, to be furnished by the Secretary."

Hmph. It might be nifty if electronic billboards with today`s forecast were on every US mail truck, but somehow I don`t think that`s a good use of public monies. This section undoubtedly existed in railroad days to notify small towns with no telegraph or telephone lines of sensitive weather alerts. Is this still used anywhere? If not, it probably should be repealed.

Section 325.
"Appropriations now or hereafter provided for the National Weather
Service shall be available for....(e) purchasing tabulating cards and continuous form
tabulating paper."

If anyone at the NWS is still using Hollerith punch cards, they should be fired. Continuous form tabulating paper... sure, but doesn't that fall under office supplies? I'm pretty sure the NWS (and the rest of the Government) can go out and buy office supplies without explicit Congressional approval.

Section 330d. Attempting to modify the weather without notifying the Secretary of Commerce is a federal crime, with a $10,000 fine. Should I tell the butterfly outside my window? Naaaaahh... no money has gone to paying attention since 1988.

Put your marching boots where your mouth is.
(Link path: CNN; United Nations News Center)

Kofi Annan says that the UN won`t back down, and is more determined than ever to help the people of Iraq. Good! They need all the help they can get.

The Security Council says the same. That`s nice. But will they actually put troops on the ground to defend the UN mission? Or will they hand that job over to an already-strained US occupation force, saying ``You started this, it`s your problem?``

We`ll see. Personally, I think if the UN wants to help at all, it should either commit fully to Iraqi reconstruction or admit its hypocrisy.
A quick aside on the latest Palestinian suicide bombing.
(Link path: Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. New York: Modern Library, 2003. p. 47-49.)

In 1099, Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders. The stated reason for the war was to secure the right of pilgrimage for Christians to sites in the Holy Land. (Other reasons, such as plunder, occurred to the leaders and soldiers en route.)

In 1187, Jerusalem was reconquered for the ummah of Islam by the Kurdish hero and master general Saladin, who was feared and respected by Christian and Muslim alike. His war on the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which had stood in relative peace alongside the Islamic caliphates for close to a century, was directly prompted by attacks by a piratical duke, Reynald of Chatillon, who used his base at Kerak, Jordan, to attack commerce and caravans -- civilian targets. The worst attack, which was used by Saladin as the key propaganda element in his call for jihad, was an attack on a caravan traveling on hajj -- pilgrimage -- to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

In 1999, the Al-Aqsa intifada was begun (at the instigation of the government of Yasser Arafat) with a rumor that Israel was planning to deny Muslims the right to pray or make pilgrimage to the Haram al-Sharif (aka Temple Mount, aka Mount Moriah) and the al-Aqsa mosque.

In 2003, Palestinians blew up a bus convoy of ultra-Orthodox Jews returning to a West Bank settlement. The Jews were returning from a prayer expedition to the Western, or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In a very real sense, they were returning from pilgrimage.

The reason Jerusalem (and, in a lesser way, Mecca and Medina) is a neverending spark-plug for conflict is that threats are continually made, or perceived, to the right of worshippers to make pilgrimage to the various holy sites.

We were speaking of moral equivalence.... ?
Earning his name: Little Green Footballs versus the Volokh Conspiracy.
(Link path: The Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism, The Volokh Conspiracy, The Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism, Yahoo/AP)

David Bernstein, in a great display of blogger symbiosis, used postings and comments from the Footballs to articulate a tough but fair approach to the impending collapse of the Road Map. Both Charles Johnson and David Bernstein understand the root of the matter: Hamas and Jihad have spit in Israel`s face by claiming this attack. However, they have also spat in Abbas` face as well. Abbas can`t let this slide; if he does, he exposes himself as helpless and powerless in the face of the extremists. His entire position is built on the premise that he, and he alone, represents the Palestinian people to the outside world. He must enforce that position or fall. Sadly, that means intra-Palestinian political conflict; it may well mean Palestinian civil war. So be it: Hamas and Jihad must not exist in their current form if anyone is ever to have peace and prosperity, including the Palestinians. Hamaso delenda est!

Unfortunately, Johnson is one of those people who can neither defend nor parry, but only attack. So when he read Bernstein`s satiric post on insane hate-speech legislation in New South Wales, he immediately went on the offensive, dismissing Bernstein as a appeaser of Palestinians and a advocate of ``moral equivalence``. Johnson obviously failed to continue reading Bernstein`s posts, which evicerated Australian law as a potential tool for anti-Semites. He also, notably, skimmed over Bernstein`s statement that ``his girlfriend was just yards away``(emphasis mine), which is why he understood Johnson`s ``emoting``. Johnson leaped to conclusions and let his anger flow through him because he attacks anyone who doesn`t share his prejudicial belief that all the Jews are always right, all the Palestinians are always wrong, that absolutely no quarter should be given, and no thoughts to the contrary should be tolerated. And thus does he attack those who would be his allies.

We do not give nicknames at Catfish & Cod lightly. We did not name Johnson ``The Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism`` for nothing.

Johnson should apologize immediately and publicly, both in private e-mail to Bernstein and publicly on his blog. Anything less would be rude and prejudicial. Johnson can`t claim ignorance; he posted quite low in the comments section of his own post, well below comments pointing out his error. Can he admit he was wrong? Watch and find out.
Obviously, posting will be infrequent.
(Catch of the day)

Real Life is intervening... and seriously disrupting us at C&C. This makes a nice way to spend time -- but it doesn`t bring in the dough.

Posts will come as I can dish `em.