Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Calling All Fashionistas

We're waiting to know what to think: Where the current and former presidents dressed appropriately for being indoors while attending a solemn occasion such as viewing the corpse of a pope?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
You Might Be a Felon If....

(Inspired by this book and with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy....)

  • If you have ever poured a cleaning agent or solvent down your drain without first consulting the Material Safety Data Sheet and EPA might be a felon.

  • If you have ever told a law enforcement official that you have committed a crime, even if you were joking or being a smart might be a felon.

  • If you have ever put a sack of potting soil in a flowerbed before checking with the Army Corps of Engineers to find out if you're on an officially-designated might be a felon.

  • If you have ever had trouble with a Federal form so you call their helpline and they tell you which box to check and you turn it in, but the helpline people were might be a felon.

  • If you are a doctor and your receptionist's 1s look too much like 7s to a Medicare data entry might be a felon.

  • If you have ever displayed a pellet or BB gun in such a fashion that someone can see might be a felon.
If only it were a comedy routine and not the law of the land.

Heather's Wish List

Heather has a birthday coming up this summer. Want to know what not to get her?

Approximately 730 bales of styrofoam.

Don't say I didn't warn you if she unwraps that gift with your name on it.

Carter Not Going to Pope's Funeral

So Jimmy Carter isn't going to the Pope's funeral. Doesn't surprise me, actually, considering this story:

Secret Papal Election Set for April 18.

A secret election + Jimmy Carter in the area? Perhaps the Vatican fears Carter calling the election invalid and demanding international monitors and a straightforward crooked election of a tyrant.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The Bray Dissent

Missouri State Senator Joan Bray (D-University City) also dissents from Go Directly to Jail by wanting to make a felony crime in the state of Missouri to not disclose a criminal record when getting a mail order bride:
    Missouri men seeking a "mail-order bride" from a foreign country might soon have to disclose their criminal records and previous marriages to the prospective fiancee.

    A bill before the Legislature would require the full and accurate disclosure of such information. The measure would apply equally to a woman who sought a husband from another country. A violation would be a felony.

    The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, is an attempt to stop the abuse of foreign women who suddenly find themselves in a strange country married to violent men.
A ham-fisted attempt which probably wouldn't protect that many foreign women in a strange country married to violent men. But hey, felonies don't cost anything to legislate!

The Sensenbrenner Dissent

Apparently, congressman F'n Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) dissents with the themes in Go Directly to Jail as he wants to pass a law that mandates show a boob on television, go to Federal prison:
    Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner III, R-Wis., told cable industry executives attending the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. conference here on Monday that criminal prosecution would be a more efficient way to enforce the indecency regulations.

    "I'd prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process," Sensenbrenner told the executives.
You know, perhaps I could support the concept if we extended the definition of boob to publicity hound, power-mad elected official.

Also, perhaps this explains Sensenbrenner's strong anti-immigration stance. He wants to save them from indecency on American television.

Book Report: Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything edited by Gene Healy (2004)

As some of you know, I recently bought this book on Amazon for like full price because its description indicated the book echoed themes I've raised before on this blog. And so it does.

Some people get a chill from horror novels. I'm working on Stephen King's It, and a killer clown in the sewers bothers me less than The Three Billy Goats Gruff did back in the day. When I want to self-impose fear, I pick up a book like this.

The book runs 150 pages, which includes extensive end notes. It comprises an introduction and six essays. The essays do tend to focus on crimes that companies or more powerful people could commit--environmental crimes, medical crimes, violations of business laws. Of course, these sorts of crimes would certainly interest the contributors to the CATO Institute, who put this book together. Although I'm not planning to do any industrial dumping, the implications of these new classes of crimes frightened me enough when I realized that charges for these crimes can apply to the individual as well as the corporation if a prosecutor or law enforcement official wants them to do so. Black magick.

Two other essays in the book deal with:
  • Project Exile, which allowed for federal enforcement of gun law violations; although I started the essay disagreeing with the premise that Project Exile was bad (hey, how could it be bad to keep guns from felons?), the essay convinced me. The government's goal is worthy, but its tactics are frightening. Spending federal money to hire federal prosecutors to prosecute essentially local crimes and do nothing else leads to creative, aggressive pursuit of the goal. High conviction rates don't necessarily mean success; they could mean creative application of the process and law in pursuit of the goal.

  • Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Byzantine set of documentation that dictates how federal judges must impose sentences based on complex computations established by an unelected commission. The essay explains how this came about and its effects, including creative fact-bargaining and prosecutors holding back evidence from the trial to present during sentencing to increase the perpetrator's time.
The book didn't touch too much on layering--the prosecution of the same crime at many levels of government--although it did mention it. Also, it didn't touch on nonsense measures that outlaw things that offend vocal minorities, hate crimes, or the criminalization of non-criminal acts that criminals sometimes perform as precursor or part of another crime. Perhaps it's just as well this book didn't take on those topics; I'm having enough trouble sleeping as it is.

Tone of the book is reasoned essay, unlike stream-of-consciousness screeds you get out of popular broadcast journalists who write political books. These essays build cases and take their time to get to the conclusion. Many of them are actually condensed from longer pieces. So it's not a quick read, but it's a thoughtful book, and since it's only 150 pages, it's a good week of reading.

Now I've read the book, I just need to be an influential about the ideas presented.

Monday, April 04, 2005
Cross Checking the Cross Section

Support grows for beefing up U.S. forces: Some see situations where volunteers may not be enough

The lead:
    The war-strained all-volunteer U.S. military has a growing manpower problem and a cross-section of Washington policymakers has proposed a solution -- increase the size of the regular military by 30,000, 40,000 or even 100, 000 or more.

    While just about all the proponents maintain they want to achieve the increase by offering recruits bigger financial incentives or through appeals to patriotism, lurking in the background is a possibility that for now remains anathema to all but a few. The military draft, which coughed up its last conscript in 1973, could make a comeback if recruiting doesn't pick up and if America's commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan turn into long-term occupations or if the Bush administration's tough-minded foreign policy means military action in places like Iran or North Korea.
Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau, writer of this piece begins blurring the line early; the first paragraph is about increasing the size of the army, and the second draws its circle, shakes its depacapitated chicken, and reanimates THE DRAFT!!!

So while Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau, tries to confuse his readers by lumping those who want a bigger military in with those who want a draft, let me help by breaking them out:

Wants a Draft/Thinks Draft Might Be Necessary:
  • Rep Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont -- both military veterans -- want all 19-year-olds to do a year or two of national service.

  • "The argument for a draft is political hot air,'' said Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank that supports a smaller role for the federal government.

    But he warned that if the Iraq occupation drags on, other foreign military operations are launched and a half-million more soldiers are needed, "I don't think we can get there without a draft."

  • But Phillip Carter, a retired Army captain who is now a lawyer, writer and commentator on military affairs, said there may be little choice but to reinstate conscription. "The all-volunteer model can't produce the numbers that might be needed,'' he said.

    He favors the national service idea, and says that in his vision those who opt for military service would only serve as military police, truck drivers or in homeland security posts.
Those Who Want Bigger Military:

  • Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. and Jack Reed, D-R.I., have proposed adding 30,000 soldiers to the Army.

  • Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has proposed a 30,000-person increase in the Army and 10, 000 to the Marines....

  • ...and Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, wants to add some 20,000 to the Army, 12,000 to the Marine Corps and 29,000 to the Air Force.

  • A bipartisan group put together by the Project for the New American Century, a group that reflects the thinking of the neoconservatives who have been so influential in determining President Bush's military and foreign policies, sent a letter to congressional leaders in late January. In it, the signatories wrote, "it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years."
So although many people have called for more military personnel, a far smaller number of people have called for a draft. Several quotable notables in the article say it will be tough to maintain or to elevate force levels. However, only one person in the article seems adamant that the draft is a real danger.

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau.

Who's Counting?

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of my third year with this blog.

Here's the first post as proof.

Two years of thoughtful commentary, witty insight, and modesty, and still the same eight readers.

Thanks, guys.

Lead Recall Effort for Alderman, Get Sued

A controversial St. Louis Alderman, facing a recall, sues the leaders of the recall effort for defamation:
    A petition to remove Bauer from office is gaining momentum, even as Bauer levels a $2 million suit against the organizers. Records show that Bauer himself has profited from development in the ward. While the deal appears not to have violated any rules, some of Bauer's colleagues frown on investing in their own ward because of the potential for conflict.
The alderman defends himself:
    For his part, Bauer says he is the target of a "civil conspiracy" spreading lies to besmirch his name.

    "There are some people who have a personal agenda - they want to prevent good things from happening in Dogtown," Bauer said.
A civil conspiracy? Is that the new euphemism for accountability to voters and elections in the parlance of the Elect(ed), who feel they should be above reproach?

I fully expect this lawsuit to be dismissed (SLAPPed down, as it were), but I imagine its headlines will have a chilling effect on some opposition as the lawsuit gets big fonts but the dismissal does not.

Sunday, April 03, 2005
Steyn: On Hewitt's Side!

As if there were any doubt, Mark Steyn is firmly on Hugh Hewitt's side and doesn't recognize the danger in which the Republican party finds itself:
    The notion, for example, that poor Terri Schiavo will cost Republicans votes in a year and a half's time is ludicrous.
It's not the principled stand on life that will cost the Republicans; it's the intrusion of the Federal government into a private matter, with eleventh hour legislation to move a single case to Federal court because the party in power in the Federal legislature did not like the outcome of the state courts.

No, I would have preferred to see Schiavo's husband turn her care over to her parents (hey, and I wouldn't have even condemned him for taking a million bucks for it). I'd rather Terry Schiavo continue her hopeless existence unheralded in a Florida hospice into perpetuity, in the obscurity in which most people with functioning brains toil. But if her guardian felt she would not have wanted to wither and die over the course of decades she would never know passed, then so be it; he could end the extraordinary measures continuing her life (a feeding tube is an extraordinary measure; if you doubt it, count the number you see on an ordinary day). But you know what? I and many like me recognized it's not our business. It's not clearly, obviously murder nor is it "forced starvation" it's not forced feeding.

But the party for whom I vote most of the time on a Federal level has determined that Terri Schiavo's life and death are its business. Therein lies the disparity, the cleft which shall yield a schism in the bloc that re-elected George W. Bush and has continued to send a Republican majority to Congress. It's not a culture of life versus a culture of choice, it's the culture of my business versuse the culture of "Hey, we're in power now, so maybe it is the Federal government's business since the Federal government is ours."

Call them the pro-Federal-Business wing of the Republican party. I won't call them theocrats because that's not the issue; from whatever source they derive their beliefs, I care not. I do care that they're using the mechanisms of federal government to impose them on everyone.

Supporters of the Republican Federal Steamroller (RFS, blogosphere, if you want a nifty abbreviation) chortle and ask me if I'm going to vote for John Kerry or Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. No, I won't.

I will vote for the stronger foreign policy candidate for president in 2008. That's the proper role of the president; to handle foreign policy.

The real danger to your Republican hegemony comes in 2006 and 2008 for the legislative branch of government. Because quite frankly, I am so disappointed with what the Republicans are doing in Congress that I will probably vote for the Libertarian candidate, however nutso and unqualified. And if the loss of my vote leads to a Democratic Congress, perhaps the Republicans can relearn their lesson and return to small government, Contract With Americaesque stylings. At least a Republican president won't give the Democrat congress everything their socialist heart desires, so we won't be much worse off than we are now.

If the worst case scenario occurs, and I help elect a Democrat congress and the Republicans cheese off voters who don't recognize the proper role of the president to elect Clinton II (The Restoration), undoubtedly Hewitt, Steyn, et al., will blame me and my None-Of-My-Business-and-Especially-None-of-the-Federal-Government's-Business brethen for the potential disasters ahead--National Health Care, National This, National That, International Law, Loss of Sovereignity, and so forth--without recognizing the role they played as cheerleaders to the Absolutely-Corrupted-By-Absolute-Power bunch we sent to Washington in 2004.

No, all damnation will be reserved for the libertarian conservatives who just wanted the Federal government to handle national things. That the Federal government wanted to dictate what a single individual would eat--PVS or not--won't cross the minds of the small-government-conservatives-until-in-power legislators and their cheerleaders.

So be it. I cannot wait until 2006 so I can cast my vote.

Unspoken Footnote

Here's a piece of on-product advertising from Frito-Lay:

Lay's Stax Promo

The text:
    America prefers the taste of Lay's Stax® Original Potato Crisps Over Pringles® Original Potato Crisps**

    Taste for Yourself!

    ** Among those with a preference
Among those with a preference? You mean amongst the thirty people outside of Lay's who have heard of the canned Lay's? Wow, that's some bandwagon there.

In a related note, America prefers Musings from Brian J. Noggle to Pop-Up Mocker**

** Among those with a preference and who know what a "blog" is and who have heard of either of the aforementioned bottom-feeding blogs.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."