I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gem from Huston

The last word is Psalm 8:5 is 'elohim.  This is mistranslated as "angels", yielding "Thou hast made [man] little lower than the angels."  The word 'elohim is actually gods, or--because the number is not specified this Hebrew word-God.  Hence, the verse should read, "Thou hast made him little lower than the gods [or God]."

I guess I see why the KJV translator wimped out.

Activist Court Unanimously Applies Plain Language of Federal Law

CNN did a good job of reporting the Supreme Court's recent immigration law decision. On the way home from work yesterday, I heard it was a unanimous court and that caught my attention, but as the story went on it seemed like a laughably clear statutory interpretation case. However, this morning I heard some LA Times reporter complaining that under the the Court's new rule a guy who picked his social security number out of the air would be able to skirt the law. Wrong. Under the federal law, picking a number out of the air is not aggravated identity theft.

This does not require legal training. Here is what 18 USCA 1028A(a)(1) requires for identity theft, "Whoever, during and in relation to any felony violation enumerated in subsection (c), knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such felony, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years." Link to statute. Is it enough to accidentally possess another's identity? Nope. How about negligently or recklessly? Nope. Knowingly, you have to knowingly possess the identity. Not only was the Court's opinion unanimous, which on a case consider something involving both prosecutions and immigration is remarkable, it was on 18 pages long even on the court (about 4500 words on the Court's formatting.)

This is an open and shut case. The Court applied the plain language of the statute. You have my permission to yell at anyone who says otherwise.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I heard a teaser on NPR this morning that there is new evidence from the questing of certain detainees that undermines the best justification for torture. (BTW, is there more than one justification for torture? Isn't the only justification that by torturing one person you get information that saves many?) I didn't hear the story but I'm sure it has something to do with the effectiveness of information gathered from people being tortured. My thoughts are torture, however, do not depend on its effectiveness. I really believe we should not torture because we should be a people who does not torture. The idea of someone poisoning a citizen of the United States by direction of our court system troubles me as well. But unlike capital punishment, we have decided not to torture and it bothers me to backslide.

I'm reminded of the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We asked to bow down to a golden idol they refused. Even when threatened with execution by being thrown into a furnace. However, when thrown into the fire Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not harmed. By refusing to give up what is essential to their character they survived.

Likewise, we continue to value human dignity and recognize limits on what we will do in the pursuit of our interests, even when it seems impossibly dangerous. Otherwise, we will lose who we are.

The full story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is in Daniel 3, and can be the source of much discussion.
The Beastie Boys rap which has less detail on the story is available here. Lyrics here, but why would you be satisfied to just read lyrics like, "I've got more stories than J.D. Sallinger."