Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brief Update

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can go die in a fire.

That is all.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How Mumbai Indicts Iraq (Again)

Obviously, the horrifying attacks in Mumbai, India, continue to be in everyone's thoughts. It seems like the violence is winding down, but the repercussions are likely just beginning. India has faced terrorist violence before. But for some reason, this feels different. It was more organized, more coordinated, and (by the use of gunmen rather than bombs) more visceral than ever before.

Reading USA Today this morning, though, I was struck by how this attack really undermines a central component of how we've been prosecuting our war on terror.
Though it was unclear exactly who orchestrated the attacks, they appear to provide further evidence that the main battleground for Islamist extremists is shifting from Iraq, where violence has fallen dramatically this year, to the democracies of South Asia. Militants are inflicting heavy casualties on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, seizing control of territory from a fragile government in Pakistan and proving they can strike just about anywhere in India.

Some would look at this and say, "victory in Iraq"! And perhaps it is indicative of the fruits of American blood and iron in that country. But if so, so what? If the tangible impact of the Iraq war is simply to have terrorists shift terrain from Iraq to India, we've spent the last five years going in neutral.

The problem is one I brought forward in the very early days of this blog: the overemphasis on sovereign states as the arena for combating terrorists. This, I held, was misplaced, since the very nature of terrorist groups makes them transnational and relatively untied to traditional geographic borders. If we view al-Qaeda as seeking to disrupt the hegemonic power of the Western world (ideally to bring up a new Islamic counterweight), it can accomplish that through operations nearly anywhere in the world. Al-Qaeda could flee the field entirely in Iraq tomorrow, and it wouldn't accomplish anything if they merely reconstituted themselves in South Asia.

The signal of the Mumbai attacks is that we've been looking at the problem all wrong. Cowboy rhetoric of "force being the only language evildoers understand" notwithstanding, it is becoming more apparent that while force is necessary to react to terrorist violence, it is a relatively ineffective weapon for creating an offensive posture. We need to start looking into alternative strategies for stopping terrorist activity before it starts. That's an intelligence issue, in part, but (as much as conservatives hate to admit it) it also is a question of greater engagement with countries and peoples worldwide, and (perhaps more importantly) a greater commitment to inclusion in the world's bounty.

Iraq was the last gasp of the belief that American muscle, alone, could solve any problem. We went into Iraq with the deliberate view that we didn't have to account for any other place or any other people. This was where the terrorists were, we go in, we take 'em out, mission accomplished, let's go home. That has proven to be a fatal error in judgment. And the longer way take to learn from it, the more Mumbai's the democratic world will have to suffer.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Only the Real Thing

Eamonn McDonagh of the Z-word points out the importance of Palestinians receiving a "real state". By real, he means one with an independent and fully functioning military -- not the demilitarized option occasionally floated mostly by pro-Israel partisans:
[O]ne of the few things worse than the Palestinians not getting a state of their own soon would be them getting some kind of emaciated ghost of a state instead, an autonomous polity with a flag and an anthem but shorn of many of the basic rights and prerogatives of states.

The motive for restricting the powers of the new state would be to address the - entirely understandable - fears of Israelis that the new state would only serve as a stepping stone on the road to their destruction. That risk exist certainly exists, but the prevailing situation isn't exactly free of risks. I think that attempts to hobble the new state from the moment of its birth would do nothing to reduce the long term risks to Israel while serving as a perfect excuse for radical Palestinian groups to continue the struggle to destroy Israel.

I agree. McDonagh says (and I also agree) that a few very limited concessions may be reasonable (such as agreeing to an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley -- a key early warning region for attacks coming from Iran), but by and large restricting Palestinian sovereignty would be disastrous. An independent, functioning military is a source of pride to every nation -- Palestine won't be any different. And if Palestine is to live independently and peacefully with Israel, it will need a strong internal security force capable of fighting radical elements, Islamic and otherwise (several Palestinian terrorist groups are not Islamist at all, like the PFLP). Is it true that a Palestinian army could turn on Israel, or at least shelter rather than suppress its radicals? Yes, of course. But that's no different than the status quo, where the radicals are in essence the army, and there is no chance of checking them at all save by constant Israeli military intervention.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Printer Trouble

You think of all places, the University of Chicago could have seen this coming in advance:
Dear House System residents,

I write to update you about a decision that has been reached regarding printing in the residence halls. As you know, at the beginning of this quarter we launched a system that enabled all residents to print for no charge to the printers in the residence halls. We did this because of the failure of our own internal pay-for-printing system and our decision to participate in a unified printing system that is scheduled to be in place this year. Unified printing, a system whereby students could print at the libraries, at the NSIT clusters, and the residence halls from the same printing account, is something our students have been requesting for the past 3 years.

Within the first three weeks of this quarter we saw unprecedented usage of the residence hall printing system. 232,000 pages were printed in three weeks compared to 625,000 pages for the entirety of last year. In mid-October we sent you a message to enlist your help in encouraging students to limit the amount of pages being printed. Unfortunately, despite those efforts, printing continued a high rate and we decided to limit printing to half of the computers in each of the residence hall computer labs.

However, this measure has not resulted in the hoped for reduction of printing. Printing has continued a rate of 60,000 pages per week, and from the beginning of the year through yesterday there had been a total of 635,000 pages printed. We project that the quarterly printing total will exceed 800,000 pages. This amount of printing far exceeds what we had projected and therefore we will need to discontinue printing in the residence halls, at the end of Fall Quarter, until we have implemented the new unified pay-for-printing system. We expect the new system to be up and running by the beginning of Spring Quarter.


Director of Operations & Communications
Housing & Dining Services

Libertarian economic theory, for the win!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Roundup

I'm traveling tomorrow, and also kicking off the first tri-annual "study-for-law-school-finals-suicide-a-thon"! What fun! And what better way to start the festivities than a roundup?

Glenn Beck hates America.

CNN forced to rehire 110 workers fired for belonging to a union.

Yet another example of the Bush administration selling our wounded veterans short.

Ta-Nehisi: Saying someone is a "great Black woman" doesn't erase all the rest of their identity (American, intellectual, whatever).

Another Florida state judge has struck down that state's ban on gay adoption.

John Brennan has withdrawn his name from consideration to lead the CIA. Some have questioned whether Brennan was sufficiently opposed to torture and extraordinary rendition during his tenure with the agency.

Matt criticizes the appropriation of Jewish anti-Zionist voices by the gentile community.

The NYT deals with domestic violence in military families. Loved ones who return from war with PTSD, and aren't getting the counseling they need ... that's a problem we can do something about.

Continuing on the theme of calling a man's wife his "girlfriend" or "partner" ("I don't believe in marriage"), we also explore not letting adopted children use the term "mommy" or "daddy". What, do you want devalue natural reproduction and God's Will? (Courtesy of the same source as the last time).

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy your dead animal (as my lovely Jill would say)!

Monday, November 24, 2008

And How Are Your Sinful Cavortings?

A Marriage Manifesto ... Of Sorts:
I no longer recognize marriage. It's a new thing I'm trying.

Turns out it's fun.

Yesterday I called a woman's spouse her boyfriend.

She says, correcting me, "He's my husband,"
"Oh," I say, "I no longer recognize marriage."

The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,

"How's your longtime companion, Jill?"
"She's my wife!"
"Yeah, well, my beliefs don't recognize marriage."

Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it's like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another's beliefs.

Via kath.A.rine. Unfortunately, I don't think I know any straight couples who oppose gay marriage. But as guerrilla warfare, it kind of rocks.

The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Spongy...Bruised

Minister who encouraged parishioners to have sex for seven straight days went only six for seven, claiming that one day he was too tired.

As to the "challenge" itself, I'm conflicted. The pastor is obviously approaching the topic of sex from an orientation that has some significant retrograde elements -- they're not front and center, but you can always taste them in the background. That being said, it does seem like his heart is in the right place: recognizing that sexual expression is an important part of human relationships, and trying to strip away some of the taboo and stigma that couples (particularly, I imagine, religious couples) feel about sexuality and potential sexual problems in their marriage.

Playing the Odds

CNSNews is reporting that Catholic lawmakers who vote for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) could face "automatic excommunication", if it is determined that such a vote constituted "formal cooperation" with the "evil" of abortion. This is a question of canonical law that I have no knowledge of, so I won't go into whether a FOCA vote actually warrants automatic excommunication.

What I am interested in is how much of a backlash the Catholic Church will suffer if it excommunicates a large number of high profile members. Obviously, this would be a very high profile act, sure to get lots of media attention. With more than half of all American Catholics holding the belief that abortion should generally be legal, it will be interesting to say how the American Catholic population writ large reacts to what amount to a huge escalation in the internal stand-off between pro-life and pro-choice members of faith.

It wouldn't surprise me to see many members simply leave the church as a result. That may not be a bad thing -- I know many more traditional Catholics would happily trade size for purity in practice. But it would definitely be interesting if an automatic excommunication triggered a significant chunk of the Catholic laity to leave their faith behind.

H/T: Southern Appeal

Essentially Married

French Court: Virginity not an "essential quality" for a bridge. Good to know.

UPDATE: Bride! BRIDE! God I'm an idiot. And here I am, trying to parse the double entendre behind PG's comment, when the real solution is (as usual) "David's a moron".

Goode to Seek a Recount

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), down 745 votes in his race against Tom Perriello, is asking for a recount. Perriello's victory was one of the bigger upsets of the 2008 cycle, a fact made all the sweeter due to the nature of his opponent.

Yet, watch me be principled. Goode has every right to ask for this recount. If he requests it, it should be granted. Democracy means knowing who actually won contested elections. If it turns out Goode won, he should be re-elected. It's that simple.

Thai Win

Work those thighs, general:
A MAVERICK Thai general who has threatened to bomb anti-government protesters and drop snakes on them from helicopters has been reassigned as an aerobics teacher, the Bangkok Post said on Friday.

Major-general Khattiya Sawasdipol, a Rambo-esque anti-communist fighter more commonly known as Seh Daeng, reacted with disappointment to his new role as a military instructor promoting public fitness at marketplaces.

'It is ridiculous to send me, a warrior, to dance at markets,' he said, before launching an attack on his boss, army chief Anupong Paochinda.

'The army chief wants me to be a presenter leading aerobics dancers. I have prepared one dance. It's called the 'throwing-a-hand-grenade' dance', he said.

Via Hilzoy, who sees inspiration in how to treat unqualified Bush apparatchiks buried in the Justice Department.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Take a Pill

I wanted to post something substantive about this post, but never got around to it. Suffice to say, conservative contempt for "emotion" and "feelings" and all that jazz lasts right up to the point where they want to cry victim. It'd be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic.

"Leave the land so we won't rape you"

An Egyptian blogger points to comments by a female Egyptian lawyer (who apparently heads up a "human rights NGO") urging that Arab men "sexual harass", and possibly rape, Israeli women, as a form of "resistance" to Zionism. Excerpts from the interview:
Interviewer: Egyptian lawyer Nagla Al-Imam has proposed that young Arab men should sexually harass Israeli girls wherever they may be and using any possible method, as a new means in the resistance against Israel.


Interviewer: We have with us the lawyer Nagla Al-Imam from Cairo. Welcome. What is the purpose of this proposal of yours?

Nagla Al-Imam: This is a form of resistance. In my opinion, they are fair game for all Arabs, and there is nothing wrong with...

Interviewer: On what grounds?

Nagla Al-Imam: First of all, they violate our rights, and they "rape" the land. Few things are as grave as the rape of land. In my view, this is a new form of resistance.

Interviewer: As a lawyer, don't you think this might expose Arab youth to punishment for violating laws against sexual harassment?

Nagla Al-Imam: Most Arab countries... With the exception of three or four Arab countries, which I don’t think allow Israeli women to enter anyway, most Arab countries do not have sexual harassment laws. Therefore, if [Arab women] are fair game for Arab men, there is nothing wrong with Israeli women being fair game as well.

Interviewer: Does this also include rape?

Nagla Al-Imam: No. Sexual harassment... In my view, the [Israeli women] do not have any right to respond. The resistance fighters would not initiate such a thing, because their moral values are much loftier than that. However if such a thing did happen to them, the [Israeli women] have no right to make any demands, because this would put us on equal terms – leave the land so we won't rape you. These two things are equal.


I don't want young Arab men to be interrogated. I want these Zionist girls with Israeli citizenship to be expelled from our Arab countries. This is a form of resistance, and a way of rejecting their presence.

Yikes. Even if this was "limited" to sexual harassment, it'd be repulsive, and despite a mild backtrack by Ms. Al-Imam, it is clear that she thinks rape of Israeli women should be tolerated as legitimate "resistance".

I've been trying to figure out who Ms. Al-Imam is. Obviously, most of the google hits are in reference to this story. However, I did come across this story in which Ms. Al-Imam appears, in reference to Egypt's first successful prosecution for sexual assault. Ms. Al-Imam is cited as an attorney who initially supported the victim, but later turned on her:
Nagla Al Imam, a lawyer who initially voiced support for Rushdi, has also taken to the airwaves, claiming the young woman lied about her charges and argued that she is an Israeli and should be deported for "unsettling Egyptian sentiments".

Women's groups in Egypt have been scrambling in response to this "allegation", affirming that the victim is not Israeli while still stating that "Even if she were an Israeli tourist it wouldn't matter. She still got assaulted."

In any event, it's pretty clear that Ms. Al-Imam is a rather repellent individual, who is perfectly willing to let rampant anti-Semitism manifest itself in the form of violent misogyny. The fact that she styles herself a human rights activist makes matters only worse.


Boxing Blogging: 11/23/08

HBO put on a very nice card last night, featuring rising star James Kirkland, and a genuine #1 versus #2 battle in the junior welterweight division between Ricky Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi. Both were united by one quality: arguably controversial stoppages.

Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) TKO11 Paulie Malignaggi (25-2, 5 KOs)

Round one was close. Rounds two through eleven were not. After rocking Paulie in round two, Hatton took over, repeatedly stunning Malignaggi and preventing him from ever establishing a rhythm. Malignaggi looked awful in this fight. He was clinching a lot, which is not his game, his movement wasn't there, he was leaning in, his jab was mediocre. Malignaggi has been showing problems against pressure fighters -- unsurprising, since he has absolutely no pop whatsoever. He struggled in fights against Herman Ngoudjo and his rematch against Lovemore N'dou, both of whom got inside and mauled him. When fighters don't have to fear your power, what's to stop them from walking through you and bullying their way inside? Of course, Malignaggi didn't help by deciding to grab on the inside instead of slipping away.

But let's not take away from Hatton here. This was the best he's looked in a long time. Screw Mayweather and Lazcano -- this was a better performance than he put out against Collazo, Urango, and Castillo (the last merely because Castillo was clearly a shot fighter). After a lackluster performance against "the Hispanic causing panic" Lazcano (what a great nickname), folks wondered if Hatton's age and terrible training habits had finally caught up with him. It appears not. A fight with P4P #1 Manny Pacquiao may be on the horizon.

Oh, and the stoppage! Malignaggi's trainer Buddy McGirt warned him that he'd end the fight if Malignaggi didn't show him more. Malignaggi did not oblige, McGirt threw in the towel, and Malignaggi was furious, shoving McGirt away when the latter attempted to embrace him. You can see it both ways: Malignaggi, who takes huge pride in his toughness, was upset that he has a stoppage loss on his record when he wasn't really hurt. But he wasn't showing anything, he was getting beaten up all night, and, as Tim Starks put it, "fight for real or don't fight at all."

James Kirkland (24-0, 21 KOs) TKO8 Brian Vera (16-2, 10 KOs)

The "mandingo warrior" (how's that for a nickname?) tore through the tough and game Vera, who spent most of the fight smiling through tremendous punishment until referee John Kerry (not really, but the resemblance was uncanny) stepped in to stop it in the 8th. Vera was protesting he wasn't hurt, but this stoppage I think was clearly the right call: he had accumulated a lot of punishment and was not the type to show it willingly. Vera hadn't won a single round and had gone down three times. His heart had been proven -- no need for him to absorb any more shots.

I think the commentators were a bit rough on Kirkland: there's only so much you can do to knock a fighter out when they have the will of a Brian Vera, and Kirkland did what he had to -- apply pressure and pressure and pressure until finally something broke. Kirkland appeared to take his feet off the gas in the middle of the fight, leading some to question his conditioning. Given the savage training methods employed by Ann Wolfe, I'm guessing that wasn't the problem. Rather, I suspect he watched tapes of Vera's upset win over Andy Lee and decided it would not be wise to punch himself out against the incredible damage absorbing sponge that is Vera, giving the latter fighter a chance to catch Kirkland with something big. I think folks are reaching: Kirkland was firmly in control, showed great instincts, landed an insane percentage of his punches, and eventually scored the knockout. Plus, his last knockdown was a nice little Roy Jones throwback. He's an incredibly bright prospect.

I had a minor debate with some other boxing scribes prior to the fight, as to whether it's proper to characterize Vera as having a great chin. Certainly, nobody can question his heart. But what do you call someone who, as the commentators put it, "only" had gone down twice (this was in the middle of the fight) despite taking flush shot after flush shot from Kirkland? It seems a bit weird to extol the chin of a guy who got knocked down three times in route to a TKO loss. But there's something to be said for the amount of punishment it took to get him to that point. Certainly, it reinforces just the type of monster puncher Jaidon Codrington was, who put Vera away in two rounds and didn't leave any question about it (though to be fair, Codrington is two weight classes heavier than Kirkland, who was easily the smaller man in this fight).