Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mao and man at Yale

Volokh links to a very well-written article in the Yale Daily News about a bizarre   frightening controversial lawsuit against John Yoo. This lawsuit was brought by a Yale lecturer on behalf of convicted terrorist Jose Padilla against Yoo, who is a Yale alumnus.

Now one way to tell good journalism from bad journalism is this: bad journalism leaves you with unanswered questions at the end of the piece, but good journalism gives you insights that you weren't expecting. With this in mind, consider the following creepy insightful quote in the YDN article from law school dean Harold Koh:

This is a place where a thousand flowers bloom
"Let a thousand flowers bloom" is of course an infamous quote from Mao Zsedong.

Now I'm sure that it wasn't Dean Koh's intention, when he set forth to justify the harassment of a Yale alumni on behalf of someone convicted of conspiring with mass murderers, to set himself on the side of one of history's worst mass murderers.

But the YDN reporter put him on the spot and he revealed more perhaps than he intended to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Has anyone seen a tooth?

That rascally varmint, the Tooth Fairy, staged a daring raid on my nephew Tom's mouth:

Gun control

I used to think that the appalling case of Tony Martin was the lowest that a democratic government could stoop to when it goes down the slippery slope of limiting an individual's right to defend himself. But, gosh, I was wrong:

Pantomime gun must be registered
A Cornish village drama group has had to register a toy gun with the police to comply with health and safety rules.

Carnon Downs drama group in Cornwall have also had to keep their plastic cutlasses and wooden swords locked up for the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe.

Producers of the show called the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules "farcical".

A spokesman for the HSE said the rules were designed to make risks "sensibly managed".

The climax of the show is a fight in which actors use replica 4ft long plastic cutlasses.

There is also a toy gun which produces a flag saying "Bang".


Neighbourhood beat officer Pc Nigel Hyde said: "We have been informed and made a note.

"It seems a bit unusual but other forms of replica weapons have been used to carry out crimes and the consequences have been serious."

A spokesman for the HSE said: "We do not want to stop people putting on pantos or having fun as long as the risks are sensibly managed."
I don't want to even think about how these risks might be insensibly managed. But here's what I do want to know: if some punks break into an Englishman's home and he defends himself with a toy gun that produces a "Bang" flag, what are the criminal penalties? Does the poor slob get locked up in a cardboard box labeled "Prison" in magic marker?

Friday, January 18, 2008

11 months, 5 days and a few hours till Christmas

The death of Bobby Fischer at the ironically young age of 64 really killed my post-Christmas high.

If it did yours too, I suggest getting a quick cheezy Christmas fix.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

European press looks at the Nevada elections

The European Jewish Press has a report that some Nevadans are angry that the Democratic Caucaus is being held on a Saturday:

Jewish groups and some Seventh-Day Adventists have both complained that followers will be frozen out of the Democratic and Republican caucuses because they take place on the Sabbath.

"To schedule these caucuses with no consideration whatsoever for the needs of Sabbath observers effectively disenfranchises a growing portion of the electorate," said American Jewish Committee counsel Jeffrey Sinensky.

Sinensky said in a statement that because there were no provision for submitting absentee ballots, anyone observing a Saturday Sabbath would not be able to take part in the caucuses.
The party big-shots seem less than interested in all of this whining:

"Scheduling the caucuses on Sabbath morning marginalizes both the Seventh Day Adventist Christian and Orthodox Jewish Communities," said James Standish, an associate director of the Adventist Church.

"In an election that is being decided on thin margins, selecting a time that excludes thousands of voters may even change the outcome," he added.

Nevada Democratic officials have disputed the lawsuit’s claims, pointing out that the voting process had been approved by the Democratic National Committee as long ago as May last year.
The obvious thing that 90% of the people reading the last paragraph will ask is: "Well, didn't the Lord command the Jews to keep the Sabbath even earlier than May last year?" Certainly this is what I thought. But I was being unfair: to many of the people who organize caucuses, I'm sure that last May seems unbelievably remote, and 3,000 years is just a meaningless stretch of time.

And let's face facts. Maybe anyone who would rather obey a direct command from the Almighty than a decision
approved by the Democratic National Committee doesn't belong in the Democratic party anyway.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quote of the day

On the day that the last of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States, many of the CIA’s officers weren’t at their desks, because they were putting together a quilt to celebrate “Diversity Awareness Day.”
- Mark Riebling, in a City Journal review of Tim Weiner’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008