Friday, August 31, 2007

"Excess of Testicular Fortitude"

PG protests my affirmation of the argument that--given the prevalence of street harassment against women--heterosexual guys who are publicly propositioned for sex by gay men need to "grow a pair". She says that since most men who are propositioned in the Craig-way (foot tapping in the stall) aren't running to the cops, I'm being unnecessarily insulting. In comments, I respond that:
I think the reason guys aren't leaving the stalls and calling the cops isn't because they have an excess of testicular fortitude--it's because they didn't recognize the signal in the first place.

I'm content to let the debate play out in the comments. But a quick google search reveals no hits for "excess of testicular fortitude", so I'm using this post to stake a claim to it myself.

Because really. That's an evocative turn of phrase, you have to admit.

Clowns 1, Klan 0

This is awesome (via AAB)

Whereto for the Conservative Jew

I wish I could write more on this, but the thought spigot is blocked up. So I'll just point out this excellent mini-symposium on the future of the Conservative Jewish movement. Oddly enough, my favorite piece is the first one, by Rabbi David Wolpe:
Covenantal Judaism. That is our philosophy and should be our name. Renaming heralds our rejuvenation. We believe in an ongoing dialogue with God. Not everything significant has already been said, nor is the modern world uniquely wise. Our task goes beyond mere clarification of the old or reflexive reverence for the new. As with a friendship, we cherish the past but are not limited to its formulations or assumptions. Venerating the teachings of Maimonides does not negate that tomorrow, with the tools of modern study, a new Rambam may arise. The Judaism of relationship. Covenantal Judaism. Such is our creed, our dogma, our gift.

Covenantal Judaism holds aloft the ideal of dialogue with God, with other Jews of all movements, and with the non-Jewish world. In holding each of these as sacred we stand in a unique position in Jewish life. Ritual is language, part of the way we speak to other Jews and to God. Learning, ancient and modern, is essential to sustain the eternal dialogue. “I have been given the power,” said the Kotzker Rebbe, “to resurrect the dead. But I choose a harder task — to resurrect the living!” Resurrection of passion, of faith, of community requires not the touch of the Divine, but the touch of another human being.

Together we stand at the mountain and receive the Torah. We dare not permit it to turn into a fossilized faith or a sacrifice to the seductions of modernity. The Zohar teaches that we are children from the chamber of yearnings. All of Judaism is part of our conversation. Brit, covenant, holds together our history and our destiny.

The language is far too flowery for my taste, but the ideas are good. "Covenantal Judaism", in addition to redressing the annoying ambiguity wherein I have to explain that, no, I'm politically liberal, "Conservative" is just a denominational reference, seems to cohere rather well to what I imagine Conservative Judaism to mean. I'm not Orthodox because, as Wolpe says, I feel that it has "fossilized faith", but I'm not Reform because I feel many Reform Jews don't see the religion as having anything guidance over how they conduct their affairs or their overall moral perspective. The voice of the tradition does matter to me, although it is not overriding, and the idea of me being in dialogue with the divine, the Jewish community, and the world appeals to me and seems to account for my desire to stay immersed in Judaism even as I continually refine and redefine it.

Plan B

A good question by Ezra Klein:
What would happen if Larry Craig came out as a gay [or bisexual -- DS] man, apologized for his tortured life in the closet and the unseemly things his personal conflicts made him do, and then said that, nevertheless, he'd always been a good and dedicated senator to the people of Idaho, and he meant to retain his seat and keep fighting for the upward redistribution and failed wars (or whatever) that first turned him onto public service?

It's not a sure-fire strategy--in fact, I suspect he'd lose a primary challenge. But it'd be an interesting race. And the media coverage would immediately shift from blood-hounding to sympathy.

I think Craig is still too caught up in personal denial to do it. But if he can come to terms with his orientation, it might be worth a shot.

Elder Statesman

It's official. If July 2004 is the cut-off point, then I am one of the wise old men of the blogosphere.

It feels good to be old.

Safety and Symbolism

I liked this NYT editorial (H/T) on the former principal, Debbie Almontaser, of a proposed Arabic immersion school in New York City, who was hounded out of her job by right-wing extremists lobbing disingenuous attacks. Though there were a lot of scurrilous charges hurled about ("She goes by Debbie, but her given name is Dhabah! It's a terrorist alias!"), the one that eventually did her in was a seemingly insufficient condemnation of a t-shirt saying "intifada NYC." Almontaser committed the apparently fatal mistake of trying to explain the literal meaning of the word "intifada", and how it's entirely possible that--being worn by an Arab-American woman, it might have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (indeed, apparently, "intifada" is more often a reference to an uprising by the Arab underclass against other Arabs who are oppressing them). She later clarified that she was in no way countenancing Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, but too late--the sharks smelled blood.

Unsurprisingly, it's PG who has the best response to the controversy, drawing an analogy to a Hindu wedding invitation that has a swastika on it:
At least according to Wikipedia, "intifada" seems to be the word Arabs use to describe rebellion, and commonly it's a rebellion against fellow Muslims, as in Bahrain, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Lebanon and Morocco. That these rebellions are less well known to Elder than Palestinians' strikes against Israelis does not mean that "intifada" means the same thing to ethnically Arab-American girls -- the population to which the T-shirt was targeted -- that it does to Elder or the majority of non-Arab Americans.

Whether it is wise to wear a shirt that communicates something wildly different and potentially offensive to the viewer than to the wearer is another question. I probably wouldn't wear a Tshirt with the Hindu swastika on it in my hometown, because the vast majority of people there would misinterpret as a Nazi symbol. However, most Hindu wedding invitations do bear the symbol, and one assumes that anyone close enough to get an invite, who doesn't already know this much about Hinduism, will nonetheless assume a lack of knowledge on her own part rather than Nazi tendencies on the couple's.

Certainly if someone tried to say that my defense of the symbol made me "a poor choice as a role model for Hindu Americans," I would dispute that claim. And if it were made a ground to oust me from an educational position, I'd get really pissed. I have a responsibility to explain my culture to others when it could be misunderstood, but they also have a responsibility not to be rush-to-judgement jerks.

I probably would be a bit startled if I received a wedding invitation with a swastika on it, but I hope I'd keep my wits about me enough to remember that the meaning I associate with the swastika is not the situation it's being used in. This sort of cultural agility is crucial if we're to live in a pluralistic, diverse world where not everything means the same thing in every context.

Speaking more broadly, I support the creation of such a school, for the simple reason that America needs more people who are deeply familiar with Arab culture and language. It's a diplomatic necessity, and it's national security necessity. I wish this was a moot point, but the attack on Almontaser was merely the front-line of a more concerted effort to get the school shut down entirely. Unsurprisingly, it's much the same people who are willing to discharge military translators crucial to our national interest because they're homophobic that are trying to sabotage the creation of this school because their xenophobic. In either case, their prejudices are making America less safe, and I'm really tired of having to deal with it (and apoplectic that I then have to listen to babbling about they're the ones who are taking American security seriously).

Iowa Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

You can get the story here, and the district court opinion (which I haven't read) here. News via Dale Carpenter, who reports that the plaintiffs won on the "gay marriage = sex discrimination" argument, which up till now has had little success.

Obviously, on a purely personal level, I support this decision. I've long since passed the point where I believe that discriminatory treatment of gay and lesbian citizens is in any way justifiable or defensible under the constitution, and the more states fall in line with that consensus, the better. Politically, things are a little more interesting, but I'm still optimistic. Gay marriage was a big loser for Democrats in 2004. But the tide slowed in 2006, and Kos thinks that it will be a non-issue in 2008. Even if I'm still not convinced supporting gay marriage will be a net gain this coming cycle, I do know that it is a huge winner with younger voters, and one of the reasons they are flocking to the Democratic Party in droves. Even if they can squeeze a few more votes out of being the party of gay-bashing this coming year, every time the GOP dips into this well they dig themselves a deeper hole for the future.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Laying Siege to the Ivory Tower

Timothy Burke has a fascinating post up detailing the various reasons (structural and personal) people might express hostility to professors and other academical professionals. It's long (and coming from me, that's saying something), but it's really well worth reading. Though Burke correctly identifies the strong anti-intellectual strike inherent throughout American history as a significant contributing factor, he also is correct in noting that this is hardly the only motivator, and that it is often used as a shield to protect against legitimate criticism.

Again, it's a huge post, but very enlightening.

Boxing Blogging: 8/30/07

Tonight on Versus was a two fight card, featuring prospect Victor Ortiz against veteran Emmanuel Clottey (brother of welterweight contender Joshua Clottey), and Miguel Huerta headlining against former USBA lightweight champion Efren Hinojosa for the NABF lightweight crown.

Victor Ortiz (19-1-1, 14 KOs) TKO10 Emmanuel Clottey (24-8, 14 KOs)

Yawn. This was supposed to the biggest test of Ortiz's young career. And it could have been, had Clottey shown any interest in fighting. But he barely threw a punch the whole way through, content to slip and weave and move around and generally make a boring night for everyone. Worse yet, at the end of every round Clottey flexed like he was doing something impressive. The referee didn't help by docking Clottey for two BS infractions, making the bout even more of a joke than it was already. With about 30 seconds left in the final round, Ortiz finally cracked Clottey and sent him to the canvass. Clottey made it up and didn't look too hurt, but Ortiz kept the pressure and knocked Clottey down again with just a few seconds to go (I actually thought he cuffed him, but whatever). The referee then waved off the fight at 2:59 of round ten. Meh. Had it gone to the scorecards, it would have been three judges putting it 100-86, so it hardly mattered.

Clottey's handlers have to take a close look at him and see if he wants to keep fighting, because he definitely did not look like he wanted to be in the ring tonight. As for Ortiz, he did what he had to do, but tonight was not the sort of evening where he could either display his assets or show his mettle. He needs to take another fight that would fill the role that Clottey should have.

Miguel Huerta (24-8-1, 17 KOs) UD12 Efren Hinojosa (29-4-1, 17 KOs)

Why is it that every time I see Lawrence Cole referee, or hear about him, it's always because he's doing something incompetent? It is unbelievable that this man is ever let near a major fight--except that his daddy is a bigwig in the Texas boxing establishment. It's all the worse that he was in this fight, particularly, as Miguel Huerta was on the wrong end of probably the worst decision in 2007 with a bogus split decision loss to Kid Diamond back in June. That was a fight every observer had Huerta ahead handily before he knocked down Diamond in the 11th. This fight was for redemption, and I would have thought that everybody would do their best to make sure that nothing would go wrong.

Alas, tonight was a typical performance for Cole. In the second round, Huerta stunned and then knocked down Hinojosa with crunching left hooks. Hinojosa was clearly hurt and Huerta pursued, knocking his opponent down again. As soon as Hinojosa went down for the second time, Cole waved his arms, and everybody, from Huerta (who started celebrating) to the announcers assumed the fight was over. In fact, I think even Hinojosa thought so, because he looked very confused when Cole signaled for him to get up. Whoops! Turns out, Cole was ruling knockdown number two a slip! So the fight continued, and at the end of round two, Hinojosa (who managed to get his legs under him) cracks Huerta with a big right hand--a full second after the bell rang. Did Cole do anything about it? Nope. Did Cole see it? Who knows? Did Cole see it when Hinojosa did it again after round three? Apparently not--no warning, no nothing.

So the fight continues, and Huerta opens up a nasty cut over Hinojosa's eye. So between rounds Hinojosa's corner takes a look at it, and tries to stem the bleeding. And the doctor takes a look at it, to make sure he's okay to fight. Now my understanding is that between rounds, a fighter doesn't get extra time while the doctor looks at it (if that happens, it usually is a timeout right at the start of the next round). But even if they do, the doctor was not examining Hinojosa for a minute and three seconds. But apparently the time keeper thought he was, because the announcers established that the break between rounds lasted a full two minutes, three seconds. Cole, for his part, kept stopping the fight with about 15 seconds to go in a round to have the doctor check the cut again--even though nothing had really changed--apparently just so nobody could enjoy the action too much.

Amazingly, despite all of this, the fight actually was rather entertaining. Hinojosa found his legs and, while he was outclassed by Huerta all night, had his moments and fought with grit and determination. The scores were pretty wide (I believe all of them had Huerta winning at least ten of the twelve rounds), and I think that's right, but it's also deceptive for the performance Hinojosa put on. Unlike Clottey, he is not done and can continue his campaign with pride.

Huerta, by contrast, is really starting to blossom. Everyone knows he beat Kid Diamond, a bona fide top ten guy, and he looked quite solid tonight as well. In a way, he reminds me of Carlos Baldomir--another fighter with a bunch of losses on his record who really bloomed late in his career. Huerta looked very sharp, has considerable power in both hands (and can fight both orthodox and southpaw), and is definitely starting to find his rhythm (I would say late in his career, but he's only 29). With five knockout losses his chin is a lot more questionable than the granite Baldomir, but he deserves to be looked at seriously within the lightweight picture. Indeed, the only person present who should be barred from participating in any future boxing matches is Lawrence Cole. But we knew that already.

Beware the Thin-Headed Man

The doyen of the Virginia political establishment, Senator John Warner (R-VA) is set to announce his re-election plans on Friday.

The picture along with the article makes him look like the thinnest-headed man I've ever seen. In fact, I thought it might be distorted--but I assumed I was just being paranoid. But if you actually look at the original picture...I was right! It was cropped to make him look ridiculous! The liberal media strikes again, making Republicans look ugly and alien! Somebody, quick, write 22,000 words on it! That'll show CNN what's what!

What's Better Than Barack Obama?

I <3 Female Orgasm, that's what!

I <3 Female Orgasm did a presentation at Carleton last year, to a packed house in our Great Hall. Great Hall is right underneath our dorm, but, oblivious that I am, I didn't know the program was happening until I wandered downstairs to go to the library as it ended. All I heard was the story about Mattel's "Harry Potter Quidditch Broom" toy, with the real vibrating action, and how parents were surprised but delighted at how popular it was with their adolescent daughters. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Anyway, all my friends (male and female) who did attend said that it really was a first-rate presentation. And they're doing great work--for women, and for men. Nobody benefits by the massive amount of stigma that surrounds female sexual pleasure. I (completely and unabashedly seriously) endorse their efforts whole-heartedly.

It's a Guy Thing

I think in the wake of the supposedly "lewd conduct" Senator Larry Craig committed, this is a response we'd all to well to keep in mind:
What I find more astonishing is the definition of "disorderly conduct." By this reckoning, ten years and thirty pounds ago, I had disorderly conduct foisted upon me approximately...let's see...15,923 times.

Per week.
Give or take.

But, even if they're unwanted advances, that's the natural order of things, right? Whereas men have to be protected from the unwanted advances of men at all costs (why? because they're worried they just might succumb to a particularly persuasive piece of foot telegraphy?).

Given the constant, daily harassment women endure (come on now, don't tune out; stay with me, here) -- harassment that makes us compress our daily activities into daylight hours, that circumscribes where we go, who we go with, and even what we wear; intrusive harassment, ruin-your-day, make-you-feel-powerless/angry/depressed harassment -- the overzealous prosecution of the toe-tapper really pisses me off. It's like those sophomore discussions one has of human trafficking, in which someone invariably says "but what about the men?", and then the rest of the discussion, in some form or another, is overwhelmingly preoccupied with those minority cases. Heaven forfend we don't keep men front and center, even if it makes lousy Bayesians of us all.

Look: if there'd been groping, a physical risk, or even just a persistent advance in the face of a single "no" (which doesn't seem to have ever been uttered), I'd be supportive regardless of the gender base-rates involved. But "he tapped his foot and looked at me funny"? Please! Men! Grow a pair!

Via Prettier than Napoleon

One of the things I've noticed about dominant social views on sexuality is that men really believe that a zone of sexual inviolability surrounds them and get really angry when it's penetrated. They want, at all times, to be in complete control of any sexual event or happenstance that involves them--but they don't seem to believe that women deserve the same courtesy. So when there is even the slightest risk of breaching a man's sexual perimeters (e.g., a gay man coming on to you in the bathroom), we erect all sorts of social and legal barriers to block it. Some jurisdictions seem to allow or at least condone violent assaults by heterosexual men being hit on by a gay man at a bar. And as Senator Craig's case shows, even something as tenuous as possibly signaling a sexual proposition of another man in a public place can get you arrested. Stacking that sort of treatment up against the yawning silence we give to the massive amount of street harassment women (especially urban women) face is mind-blowing.

One Shot Is Not Enough

Early this afternoon, I read this story in the Washington Post about how the GAO's assessment of how well Iraq is meeting the benchmarks we set for it differs significantly from the White House's evaluation. I also read that the reason the GAO leaked the report was because they were afraid the White House would tamper with it (of course, that's just paranoia). After finishing the piece, I thought to myself, Hmm....I wonder how the Bush administration will spin this so that it doesn't matter?

But as Matt Yglesias points out, that's really not the relevant consideration. It's great that the WaPo decided to report this. But it's utterly meaningless unless they continue to incorporate it in their future Iraq coverage. When President Bush says something like "We're making great strides on all the Iraq benchmarks," the test is whether or not the Post's coverage immediately follows up with "this claim, however, is at odds with the independent General Accounting Office's assessment, which has Iraq only meeting three of the eighteen standards set by Congress."

The Turkish "Supreme Court"

Nate Oman makes an interesting analogy between the Turkish military (which sees itself as the guardian of Turkey's secular establishment and thus periodically overthrows democratically elected government seen as mixing Mosque and State too closely) and the US Supreme Court, which also adapts a countermajoritarian position towards democratic efforts to infuse religion into the political establishment. Though obviously there are important differences, both are non-elected institutions using their power to thwart the will of a democratically elected body.

Oman even argues that, if we look at it carefully, there are some advantages to the military taking on this role. While the legal training of a judge may make them better-suited to making fundamentally normative decisions about when to intervene against democratic decisions, Oman points out that judges are often rather impotent and cannot enforce their mandates. The Cherokee Indians of the 18th century, for example, would undoubtedly have preferred the US Army on their side rather than the US Supreme Court. If the Egyptian Supreme Court told President Mubarak that he didn't win his last "election," do we really think he would have stepped down?

Nonetheless, Oman concludes that "that the expectation of military coups breeds bad political habits, whatever its constitutional virtues might be." I'd add that when these sorts of decisions are made by courts, and the people accept them (as they didn't in the Cherokee cases, but as they have more recently in, say, the Warren era civil rights cases), it sends an important message about the political evolution of the state and the propensity of the people towards accepting rule of law. Because courts have no enforcement power other than their moral suasion, the very fact that they are obeyed is proof in of itself of a thick, robust commitment of the people towards living under our constitutional covenant. As a result, even though in both instances the democratic will is thwarted, only in the military example is the intervention truly coercive.

Castro for Clinton/Obama?

Jim Lindgren says he "endorsed" them. But a closer look at the linked article seems to indicate that Castro was only making a political prediction as to the likelihood and electability of such a ticket. Specifically, Castro says it would be "unbeatable"--though where Castro gets the expertise to know how one wins a contested democratic election remains a mystery (certainly, it's not through personal experience!).

The mistake looks to be an honest one, and as Professor Lindgren says, even if Castro was offering his "endorsement", it wouldn't say anything about either Clinton or Obama, neither of whom sought it. But still, even in this very minor form I don't think the story should be overblown.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My How The Proud Have Fallen

Obsidian Wings' Publius comments on the differing motivations causing both Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and John McCain (R-AZ) to call for Senator Larry Craig's (R-ID) resignation. Coleman, facing a tough re-election fight in a lean-blue state, wants to distance himself from the Republican Party as much as possible.
McCain, by contrast, needs to score points with social conservatives who disapprove of homosexuality. He certainly isn't trying to distance himself from the party. In fact, it's just inconceivable to me that McCain really deep in his heart wants Craig to resign.

It's amazing to me how often this sort of phrase has started popping up with regards to McCain--how he's saying or doing something he doesn't really believe or want to do. For the guy who built his career on being a "straight talker," it really is incredible that nobody--left, right, or center--seems to believe that McCain ever speaks from the heart anymore.

It's a sad fall, but I have to say, he brought it on himself.

The Id, The Ego, and The Symposium

The Connecticut Law Review is going to host a symposium on the 20th anniversary of Charles Lawrence III's influential article, The Id, The Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism, published in 1987 by the Stanford Law Review. It's a great article, and the cast of the symposium looks pretty high caliber as well.

November 2nd, 2007--maybe I'll try and go. Who knows?

Introduction to Destruction

Dale Carpenter's piece on gay Republicans who are effectively forced to stay in the closet is one of the most powerful posts I've read in a long, long time. Carpenter argues (and there is a reasonable amount of evidence to back him up) that a great many GOP insiders are privately accepting of homosexuality. They have, and they know they have, gay staffers, gay friends, in some cases gay children. But in order to appease the Christian right, they have to engage in the ideological schizophrenia of private acceptance and public rejection. This is what leads to the periodic "moral convulsions" such as what we're seeing with Senator Craig. And the saddest thing is that this dynamic forces many gay Republicans into behavior mimicking the worst stereotypes of Christian fundamentalists, "a life of desperation and fear and loneliness, of expressing one's true feelings only in the anonymity of the Internet, of furtive bathroom encounters, of late nights darting in and out of dark bars, hoping not to be seen. It means life without a long-term partner, without real love."

With the Idaho Values Alliance (a powerful Christian grass-roots organization in the state) calling for Craig's resignation, it is worth noting just how fratricidal this dynamic borders on becoming. For the IVA is urging that the purge go beyond Craig, and that Republicans should generally "regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP." The party cannot claim "authority and clarity to the moral issues that confront our society and at the same time send ambivalent messages about sexual behavior." As David Kurtz notes, objectively speaking, such a standard would have to extend beyond just homosexuals and out to adulterers, divorcees, abortion recipients, etc., and then you have a party that can fit inside of a phone booth.

This is the destructiveness that prejudice leads to. It destroys the lives of those who--for personal or professional reasons--have to stay in the closet, and thus are inherently blocked from fully achieving their human flourishing (assuming they can dodge the crushing self-loathing so many are condemned to); it destroys the party which cannot indefinitely maintain the rupture between its personal acceptance and public condemnation of homosexuality; and it destroys the haters, whose own humanity and personhood is swallowed up in an ugly display of reflexive rhetorical violence against their fellows.

From a political perspective, it only helps Democrats, but even still, I'd really rather not see it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Top Ten

TPM's got his 10 best moments. They're wonderful, if you're the type of twisted person who enjoys kicking a man while he's down. Which I'm not. Usually. But when it's Alberto Gonzalez, I say, get the popcorn!

Via Orin Kerr

The (Im)perfect Crime

I'm irrationally excited that someone actually tried the "perfect crime" argument after committing a felony in the Montana portion of Yellowstone National Park (via Is That Legal).

The Perfect Crime is an article by Brian Kalt published in the Georgetown Law Journal two years ago, that I actually read when it came out. Basically it notes a loophole in jurisdictional law relating to Yellowstone National Park, which is primarily in Wyoming, but has small portions in Montana and Idaho. Federal law places the entire park under the jurisdiction of the district of Wyoming. But the Sixth Amendment of the constitution requires that juries in criminal cases be made up of citizens from the "state and district" where the crime was committed. In other words, if you commit a crime in the Montana portion of Yellowstone, your jurors theoretically must be drawn from people who live in both the state (Montana) and district (District of Wyoming) of the alleged act. In the case of Montana, that's 40 residents. If you hop on over to Idaho, you're in even more luck--the overlapping population there is zero.

Anyway, someone actually committed a crime in the Montana portion of Yellowstone, and seriously made the "perfect crime" argument to try and get his case dismissed--citing to Kalt's article. (Un)fortunately, the judge rejected the claim, calling the article "esoteric" and saying that applying its reasoning would create legal "no-man's land" in the relevant areas (which was the point of the piece--Kalt advocated closing the loophole). The plea agreement meant the argument can't be appealed, but Kalt says that the question is still open and eventually the 10th Circuit will have to answer it.

So, who's up for a killing spree in Idaho to do some constitutional beta-testing?

Vehicular Misogyny

...I love Garance Franke-Ruta.
[T]he gas pedal appears to be positioned for a male foot or else a giantess. Another 500 miles on, I finally solved the problem. It’s very simple, really. The Mustang is designed to be driven by women in heels. That’s the only way to properly maintain a high speed while avoiding foot cramps.

Truly, the perfect American car.

It is rather difficult to think of something more red-blooded American than a red Mustang, driven fast, in high heels.

Gonzo News

Okay, now that I've finished celebrating (for now, anyway) the departure of el terrible himself from the Attorney General's office, the next question to consider is: Why? Or rather, why now? Nobody can seem to figure it out. Dan Markel and the folks at Slate take stabs at it (with varying degrees of seriousness), but as the Washington Post's analysis noted, the facial appearance is that this is the absolute worst time Gonzalez could have left. He'd seemed to have extracted the maximum possible damage from the administration, and leaving now just insures that his sins remain in the public eye even longer. Unless it was that Gonzalez finally remembered he had a duty to the country to leave before he did anymore to destroy the DoJ's integrity (snicker), it's really rather inexplicable.

Unless....Both Henry Farrell and Kevin Drum (well, his wife) noticed something odd about Gonzalez's departure. Specifically, that it came during a vacation break for The Daily Show.

Could it really be....nah.

Update: I should add that by calling Gonzalez "el terrible", I mean absolutely no disrespect to Erik Morales, a fine man whose own recent retirement should be celebrated because of his great performances across his boxing career (Gonzalez could be rather pugilistic himself at times--but his "great performances" were rather few and usually unintentional).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Blog Birthday!

It's Rachel's Tavern's blog birthday! Two years (she's a youngin') of excellent work on race and culture from a sociological perspective. So head on over and check her out--she's worth the time.


In the midst of a great overall post, Lisa (guest-blogging at Feministe) scores with this great one-liner:

I'll be postfeminist in the postpatriarchy.

Amen to that.

Israel for the Petitioners

Folks have started filing amicus briefs for the upcoming Guantanamo Bay habeas cases (Boumediene and Al Odah). Perhaps the most interesting one is this brief by several Israeli military experts, analogizing their own situation to the one faced by the United States. The summary of the argument is essentially: "We face a far more severe and serious terrorist threat than the US does, and yet we've never felt it necessary to eliminate due process or access to judicial review. What's your excuse?"

Via Balkinization.

Sunshine on my Window

Is it just me, or is today a particularly shining, sunny day? Bright blue skies, fluffy clouds, the birds are chirping. Somehow, life just seems more beautiful today.

Hmmm. It's probably just me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Indirect Diplomacy

Turkey to Israel: Get US Jews to back down on the Armenian genocide issues.

Speaking as an American Jew, I'd like to forward my own message to Turkey (which Israel is welcome to pass along, if it so desires): screw you.

And grow up. It does a lot more damage to your national pride to deny the genocide your nation committed than it would be to own up to it and begin the difficult, but necessary, process of reconciliation and renewal.


This is the boxing record of Teron Glasgow. A lightweight, Glasgow fought four fights in his career, all in the New York/Connecticut area, finishing with a record of 1-3. The combined record of his opponents, when he fought them, was 2-0-1, and all three of his losses were by first round knockout. Overall, quite pedestrian.

But who were those fighters? The first, the one he beat, was Daniel Jimenez, who went on to win the NABO Super Featherweight title before losing it last night to Roman Martinez in a 12th round knockout. His record currently stands at 17-2-1, with 10 KOs.

The second man Glasgow faced was Darling Jimenez. Jimenez hasn't won any titles yet, but he's racked up an impressive 23-2-2 record, with 14 KOs, and is coming off the biggest win of his career--an impressive third round knockout of former titlist "Mighty" Mike Anchondo.

The third fighter was Angel Luis Torres. Again, no titles, but he retired in 2003 with a very respectable 14-2, 5 KO record.

And finally, number four on the list was Guadalupe Rosales. Rosales is still fighting and has won some minor titles, and currently sits with a 25-1, 15 KO record as of last night.

So, fighting four fighters, none of whom had more than one win on their resume when they faced them, the current combined record of the boxers Glasgow faced is now a whopping 79-7-3, with 44 KOs.

Talk about bad luck match-making!

Guest List

Am I the only one who finds it strange that Hilzoy and Jamie Kirchick are guest-blogging at Andrew Sullivan's place at the same time?

For those of you who don't know, Hilzoy--a professor of philosophy and bioethics at Johns Hopkins University who normally makes her home as the lead poster at Obsidian Wings, is a pretty well-established progressive blogger--one of the best out there, in my (and Marty Lederman's) humble opinion. As for Jamie Kirchick, his day job is officially to be Marty Peretz's assistant, and unofficially, to prevent The New Republic from re-establishing any of the progressive credibility it used to enjoy by being obnoxiously and pugnaciously neo-conservative at The Plank.

One of my friends asked me if it was going to be like arena combat between the two. I said that, if it does turn into a war, it will resemble an arena only in the sense of the lion versus the Christian. By way of example, see here, where Kirchick tries to say that there is an "Obama doctrine" of non-intervention in cases of genocide, compared to here, where Hilzoy essentially rips it apart.

Flying First Class on Southwest

This was a great anecdote from a book I recently picked up, Sheryll Cashin's The Failures of Integration:
I have my own informal means of observing the consistent discomfort with African Americans on the part of nonblacks. It is a phenomenon that, ironically, I greatly benefit from. I call it "Southwest Airlines First Class." My husband and I enjoy this inside joke when flying Southwest, a dependable, cheap airline that allows passengers to seat themselves on a first come, first serve basis. We always hope that there will be a black person far ahead of us at the front of the line; a dark-skinned young black male is best. At least four out of five times, we can depend on the seats next to that black person being empty, even if his row is far up front, begging for the taking. I am always happy to take this convenient seat, feeling grateful for the discomfort of others and marveling at the advantage they are willing to pass up due to their own social limitations. I smile warmly at my black brother as I plop down next to him.

Sheryll Cashin, The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream, (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 12-13.

I wouldn't say I've consciously noticed this phenomenon, but having mentioned it, it does strike me as familiar on my own frequent flying trips. Earlier, Cashin cites a study showing that White people are willing to pay up to a 13% premium to live in all White neighborhoods. The racial discomfort we feel causes us to pass up on opportunities we might otherwise enjoy--from a better seat on an airline to a cheaper house in a good neighborhood. The problem, as Cashin and others have noted, is that "green follows White," so if White people cluster away from their Black peers, then social resources too will follow Whites away from Blacks. This serves to blunt the costs Whites should have to face due to their discomfort towards people of color, but it often has devastating effects on the minority community.

So while the micro-benefit Cashin enjoys as a Black women due to White discomfort does tickle me a little bit, it is symbolic of a larger issue that is very serious and largely detrimental to a large slice of the American populace.

Savvy Politicians

The Washington Post reported on efforts by some Virginia politicians to appeal to the votes of Muslim-Americans. I think some of them may need to work on their pitch. Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R), for example, took this route:
"I stand with you," he shouted. But he drew scattered boos when he demanded to know whether those in the crowd "come in peace" and whether they pledge allegiance to the United States.

Are you serious? Put aside whether the question is appropriate (it isn't), he's doing that at a rally designed to appeal to Muslim voters? That's like giving a speech at a GLAAD event and demanding to know how many audience members have molested children.

The irony is that, as is elucidated in the comments here, Muslims are in a very real sense a natural GOP constituency. They're rather socially conservative with a distaste for the welfare state. But the actions of the national party over the past few years has driven them en masse into the Democratic camp. Interestingly, this has given the opportunity for some genuinely progressive Muslim voices, like Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) to gain more exposure, which could help solidify the Democrat's hold over the demographic.

The article claims that Maryland State Delegate Saqib Ali (D-Montgomery) delivered a stinging rebuke to Mr. Delgaudio. Ali is the first Muslim elected to state or district-wide office in the D.C. area, and is in fact one of the only Muslims elected to political office in the country. Ali doesn't represent my district, but he is from my county, and everything I've read about him is very positive. A disciple of 8th District Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ali is a strong progressive and an outspoken advocate for interfaith tolerance and dialogue between Muslims and Jews. As so often is the case, the Democratic "bench" in Maryland is unbelievably deep. But there should be some movement soon--Van Hollen definitely has his eye on advancing (probably to Barbara Mikulski's senate seat when she retires), leaving his House seat open (but County Supervisor Ike Leggett may desire that for himself). In any event, it's early in his career, but Ali strikes me as someone with potential to move up the party ranks. And I wish him all the luck in the world.