Monthly Archives: August 2007

Virtual Confession Isn’t

Edward N. Peters, an authority on canon law, states unequivocally on his blog that On-line confessions are absolutely null and utterly void. Even if there's a real priest on the line, he writes, “the confessions themselves are of absolutely zero sacramental value.”

Not to mention that you don't know who's on the other end of the line — and if it's someone pretending to be a priest then this could be the best blackmail wheeze since the cleartext-only anonymous remailer that secretly kept logs.

Why are modem-mediated confessions worthless? Apparently a key reason is Canons 960 & 961, although how they prove it is … I confess … lost on me. (I would get it if the reason were Canon 964.)

Let me, by the way, say that to this non-Catholic, Edward N. Peters's blog In the Light of the Law: a canon lawyer's blog on current issues makes very interesting reading. Often I'm following right along, whether or not I agree with the assumptions — lots of legal analysis has similar properties — and then every so often there's stuff that shows such a very different mindset and instincts from mine at work…

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Posted in Internet | 3 Comments

Healthcare Politics in a Few Words

In We Are All Uninsured Now the Mahablog pithily describes the sorry state of current health care politics.

Posted in Politics: US | Comments Off on Healthcare Politics in a Few Words

Limits on Acting

Further to my musings on constitutional limits on “acting” officials, a self-professed “Very Unimportant Government Lawyer With Nothing Better To Do” draws my attention to 5 USC 3346, which imposes a statutory limit of 210 days or so in which an official can be “acting” in the absence of a nomination to a post.

The statute doesn't explain who takes over if the 210+ day period lapses — I presume it's the next in line for the job, (unless the President designates someone else).

(a) Except in the case of a vacancy caused by sickness, the person serving as an acting officer as described under section 3345 may serve in the office –

(1) for no longer than 210 days beginning on the date the vacancy occurs; or (2) subject to subsection (b), once a first or second nomination for the office is submitted to the Senate, from the date of such nomination for the period that the nomination is pending in the Senate.

(b)(1) If the first nomination for the office is rejected by the Senate, withdrawn, or returned to the President by the Senate, the person may continue to serve as the acting officer for no more than 210 days after the date of such rejection, withdrawal, or return.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), if a second nomination for the office is submitted to the Senate after the rejection, withdrawal, or return of the first nomination, the person serving as the acting officer may continue to serve –

(A) until the second nomination is confirmed; or (B) for no more than 210 days after the second nomination is rejected, withdrawn, or returned.

(c) If a vacancy occurs during an adjournment of the Congress sine die, the 210-day period under subsection (a) shall begin on the date that the Senate first reconvenes.

Hard-core separation of powers dorks will want to take a look at Doolin Security Savings Bank v. Office of Thrift Supervision 139 F.3d 203 & 156 F.3d 190, wherein among other fascinating things, a diverse panel of the DC Circuit agrees unanimously that the head of the Office of Thrift Supervision is an “Officer of the United States” and that the 210 day clock starts when an acting person starts in on his job and not when the vacancy occurs.

(Adlaw mavens may be startled at the discussion of harmless error in a separation of powers case. I was.)

Posted in Administrative Law, Law: Constitutional Law | Comments Off on Limits on Acting

Wesley Clark: Too Loyal To His Friends, Not Loyal Enough to the Nation?

boingboing reprints an allegation that Wesley Clark knew that the administration decided to attack Iraq (and several other countries) long, long before the actual invasion:

“About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, ‘Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re too busy.’ He said, ‘No, no.’ He says, ‘We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.’ This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, ‘We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘I guess they don’t know what else to do.’ So I said, ‘Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al Qaeda?’ He said, ‘No, no.’ He says, ‘There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.’ He said, ‘I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.’ And he said, ‘I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.’ So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, ‘Are we still going to war with Iraq?’ And he said, ‘Oh, it’s worse than that.’ He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, ‘I just got this from upstairs’—meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office—“today.” And he said, ‘This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.’ I said, ‘Is it classified?’ He said, ‘Yes, sir.’ I said, ‘Well, don’t show it to me.’ And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, ‘You remember that?’ He said, ‘Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!’”

Clark only told this story for the first time recently. If true, and if it wasn't just contingency planning but a real “go” order, didn't he have a duty to speak out much sooner?

Posted in Iraq | 1 Comment

Pretty Picture


Can't say I think it will happen, but it would be great if it did. (The other way round would be quite interesting too, although it's a little harder to see Edwards agreeing to it.)

Posted in Politics: US: 2008 Elections | 18 Comments

Spot What’s Missing

This info-graphic of Coffee Drinks Illustrated strikes me as sadly deficient. Have a look, see if you can figure it out what's missing, then click below for my attempt to fill the gaps.

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Posted in Miami, Shopping | 4 Comments