Monday, 02 July 2007

Perjury, Circa 1999, Apropos of Nothing; or, New Democratic Talking Points (Greetings readers from ... everywhere. I'm upset, you're upset, but there are ways to cheer yourself up.) "Shame at the White House," New York Times (12 September 1998): The essence of Mr. Starr's case is that lying under oath is an impeachable offense even if the false testimony begins in a civil suit that was later dismissed or took place in a grand jury as an attempt to hide an embarrassing indiscretion. Mr. Starr's view holds that in a society founded on the rule of law, false swearing or witness tampering, abuse of office or obstruction of justice by the person vested with the highest legal powers is impermissible no matter how petty the subject. Robert Bork & James Rosen, "The Clinton Meltdown," National Review (12 October 1998): In that contention he has considerable support, not only from the aforementioned Miss Dowd but from many others, including, surprisingly, William Safire, who says, "If forthrightly confessed, perjury about workplace dalliance should not be enough to force out a President." In the light of the Starr Report's footnotes, calling what took place in the Oval Office "dalliance" falls just short of calling World War II a "dustup." The idea seems to be that perjury about sex is not as serious as perjury about other matters. That won't wash. Lying under oath strikes at the heart of our system of justice and the rule of law. It does not matter in the least what the perjury is about. The proceedings of a court or a grand jury take place because we have enacted laws that we want to see enforced, and we want them enforced on the basis of truth, not fiction. We do not say that we care about truth when the subject is murder or drug pushing but care very little when the subject is the sexual harassment of a subordinate or tampering with witnesses to hide adultery. That the amount of lying at trials is reaching epidemic proportions is a matter not for acceptance but for condemnation. Cal Thomas, "Burton Soars Over Clinton in Integrity," Los Angeles Times, (9 September 1998): Had Bill Clinton "merely" had a sexual encounter with Monica Lewinsky in the White House, it would still have been outrageous. He still would have hurt his family. The office of the presidency would still have been sullied. But he would not have committed a potentially impeachable offense. His fate would have been left to the opinion polls and historians. But he lied about his affair under oath. And the forthcoming report by the Office of the Independent Counsel is likely to present evidence that he caused others to lie and tried to keep authorities from learning the truth. Robert Blecker, "How Does Congress Define 'Perjury'?" Wall Street Journal (9 December 1998): "Because we believe that the crime of perjury depends not only upon the clarity of the questioning itself, but also upon the knowledge and reasonable understanding of the testifier as to what is meant by the questioning,"...
American Literature and Evolutionary Theory II: Portrayal and Constestation Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, the details of my upcoming panel were sent to me this afternoon. It's part of the American Literature Association Symposium on Naturalism, October 5-6, 2007, at the Hyatt Newport Beach Hotel.* There'll be two panels on evolutionary theory and American literature: American Literature and Evolutionary Theory I: Exploration and (Inter)play Chair: Jeff P. Turpin, University of Texas-San Antonio 1. “Re-imagining “The Terrible Embrace”: Cooperation and Community in McTeague and The House of Mirth,” Aimee Woznick, University of California Santa Barbara 2. “The Flipside of Evolution: Frank Norris’s Vandover and the Brute and Ernst Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law,” Vincent Fitzgerald, Notre Dame de Namur University 3. “The Epigenetics of Literary Darwinism,” Ian F. Roberts, Missouri Western State University American Literature and Evolutionary Theory II: Portrayal and Contestation Chair: Jeff P. Turpin, University of Texas-San Antonio 1. “Accelerating Evolution: Social Reform and the Baldwin Effect in Jack London’s The Iron Heel and Before Adam,” Scott Eric Kaufman, University of California, Irvine 2. “The Demise of the Fittest: Martin Eden as Spencerian Antihero,” Stephen Armstrong, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY 3. “The Politics of Evolutionary Naturalism,” Paul J. Ohler, Kwantlen College Attendance is mandatory. I need to build on the "Kaufman panels are extremely well-attended" impression created at the MLA. So come or stop reading. Or continue to read with the knowledge that you've angered me or made me cry, depending on whether you find fear or guilt the better motivator. Seriously though, all the papers look interesting, Armstrong's especially so, if only because he followed through on an argument I abandoned in frustration. (I'd been unable to coordinate London's shifting beliefs into something resembling a coherent philosophy. I'm eager to see how Armstrong hashes it.) * For those unfamiliar with the area, this means my first ever non-blogging conference presentation will be held within walking distance of the very apartment in which I blog.

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