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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Falluja 

I haven't blogged on this because it's everywhere and I just assume everyone is up to speed. Furthermore, I have nothing to add to the analysis, until now.

Check this out, from an article by Hannah Allam from Knight Ridder:
Once admired as comrades in an anti-American struggle, foreign fighters have become reviled as the reason U.S. missiles are flattening homes and turning Iraq's City of Mosques into a killing field. Their promises of protection were unfulfilled, angry residents said, with immigrant rebels moving on to other outposts and leaving besieged locals to face a superpower alone.

The fact that Iraqis are turning away from foreign terrorists, however, doesn't necessarily mean that they're turning toward the United States and Iraq's U.S.-backed interim government.

"We didn't want the occupation and we didn't want the terrorists, and now we have both," said a Fallujah construction worker who gave his name as only Abu Ehab, 30. "I didn't think the Arabs would be so vicious, and I never thought the Americans would be so unmerciful."
I'm sure some on the left will seize on the fact that the interviewed Iraqi was pissed with the U.S. as well as being pissed with the foreign fighters. That's too bad, because this is good news. There are two (probably more, but for the sake of simplicity, lets stick with these two) distinct groups fighting the U.S. in Iraq: islamic extremist fighters and Iraqi insurgents.

Islamic extremist fighters refers to both the "foreign militants" referred to so often in the media and, I assume, some local Iraqi wackos as well. These people are fighting for Islamo-facism and I concede that they are our enemy and the enemy of any liberal democratic society.

Iraqi insurgents, on the other hand, I do not perceive as our enemy except in the narrow sense that when they shoot at us, we have to shoot back. On a metalevel, these people are the new Iraq, fighting for self-rule -- it just happens to be that right now they perceive the U.S. as the biggest threat to self-rule. I use the term insurgent differently from the media, applying it to Iraqis who are fighting the occupation forces not on behalf of some Islamo-facist ideal, but are more in line with the good ol' fashion "get out of my backyard, asshole" rationale.

This article suggests that the second group is getting fed up with the first. That's a good sign, and this is good news. I'm just happy to hear some.

Of course, this is only good news if we assume the U.S. military is smart enough to make a clear distinction between these two groups, which I fear they do not, but hope they do.

Cheney in Hospital 

Anyone who knows me well knows I don't care much for Dick Cheney, and even less for his wife.

But today he's in the hospital, and everyone should take some time out to send some good vibes his way and to his family as well.

I don't agree with much of anything the man does. I truly think he's a nefarious influence on our body politic. Yet he has the benefit of being a realist and a secularist (albeit a greedy, manipulative one) in an apparently increasingly dogmatic and religious culture. That, at least, allows me to understand fully what it is with which I am disagreeing, a pleasure denied me by the Dobsonites and some others on the Right.

In any event, here's to better health.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Hey...Say You're Sorry 

This is priceless.

There is some evidence to suggest that doctors who commit malpractice might avoid suit simply by telling the whole story and apologizing for any mistakes made.

Well...whodathunkit.
The hospitals in the University of Michigan Health System have been encouraging doctors since 2002 to apologize for mistakes. The system's annual attorney fees have since dropped from $3 million to $1 million, and malpractice lawsuits and notices of intent to sue have fallen from 262 filed in 2001 to about 130 per year, said Rick Boothman, a former trial attorney who launched the practice there.
Now that's what I call tort reform!

One doctor's experience sheds some light on the problem:
Woods said he wanted to apologize, but legal advisers recommended breaking off contact with the patient when she threatened to sue.
The adversarial system should be adversarial in the courtroom, but shouldn't extend beyond the litigation itself. I can only assume that an apology would only issue if the doctor actually felt at fault. With this premise in place, the fact that lawyers would tell doctors to withhold apology is a little disturbing. I understand the reason for the tactic, but I don't think it's right (morally, not legally).

My point is made better by the apology-encouraging lawyer mentioned in the quotation above:
"Not only was it the right thing to do, but over the long haul, we were saving money by doing things this way," he said.
My point is that it is the right thing to do, but if the right thing is also the financially prudent thing, then perhaps it should be done.

I think if we can limit how adversarial our system is, and save the head-butting for litigation, perhaps arbitrarily capping awards can be avoided. It's a partial fix to the problem of a costly tort system that has the added benefit of being the morally right thing to do. Everybody wins.

Ashcroft Comic 

Just to keep up this rapid-fire short posting during classes today (or, if you are a professor of mine, not during class), here's some more funny shit:

Via Elizabeth R.:

Ashcroft resignation cartoon!




Here's a Good One 

Man Allegedly Tries to Swap Pot for Tires!

I think an energy-based economy would be more effective than a pot-based economy. Sure, an energy-based economy might be difficult to implement ("I'll trade you 2 Joules for a Twinkie"), but at least you couldn't just go out and grow more currency.

Just think. A truly pot-based economy would just take us back to a time of landowner rule, like feudalism with the munchies.

Arafat Dead 

Abbas takes over.

I hope this means peace is a possibility. I hope this means the Bush administration will get back into the business of trying to broker that peace. And I hope that peace is one that sits well enough which a sufficient portion of the populations on both sides that said peace can last beyond the signing of papers.

This is the chance of a lifetime. If Bush can work with Abbas (and he's said in the past he would) to help bring peace to Israel/Palestine, he could still manage to pull off a positive legacy, and one that I would actually welcome.

Craig's List Political Gladiators 

This is fucking hilarious.

I certainly don't think this is how we should work things out amongst ourselves. But for pure, superficial comedic value, this is funny as a motherfucker.

Somebody needs some New Age anger management classes. Someone teach this guy to program crystals to ooze peace while he sleeps or some other mumbo-jumbo bullshit.

UPDATE: Here's what you'll see if you click through (because this is too funny for the lazy people to miss):
Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m

Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004


I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.
Damn...that's so wrong it's right (or left, or whatever).

Leprechaun Relativity 

Via Kevin Drum:

Fafblog debunks the theory of relativity.

And remember, it's only a theory!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gonzales as AG 

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

He's not a fundamentalist, which makes me feel a little better about the choice.

On the other hand:
Gonzales concluded in stark terms: "In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
That, I think, is a problem.

I felt confident in decrying the choice of Ashcroft immediately. I did so confidently, however, because it came on the heels of a disputed election, and I expected Bush to be more conciliatory to civil libertarians by appointing a moderate to that post. Nobody I know would describe Ashcroft as a moderate.

I am going to give Gonzales the benefit of the doubt and judge the man on his record. I suppose I would do this for everyone (including Ashcroft) if I was a nice person...but I'm not.

I'm going to be nice here, however, and let Al prove to me that he's a good man for the post.

It should be noted that this probably takes him out of the running for the first vacant spot on the SCotUS bench, which he was expected to be given by people in some circles (including the people at the table with me right now).

UPDATE: I forgot to mention Gonzales was general counsel for Enron. Not that such a thing is bad in and of itself...I have lots of friends that used to work for Enron.

Here Comes the Judge! 

Via an interesting conversation in the law review office:

Here Comes the Judge!
While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist.
Now that's pretty bad...but
The AG's petition quotes Thompson (pictured above) as admitting that the pump was "under the bench" during the murder case (and at other times), but he denied using the item, which was supposedly a "gag gift from a friend."
The petition is posted at The Smoking Gun and if you click the link above you can read it. It gets way worse, but I won't trouble you with the details.

There's a whole lot of comedic material that could come out of judges through their untoward activities (get it?). But we should make clear that some of these activities affect their ability to judge and some don't. I think shaving your goodies and using a penis pump while actually on the bench probably falls in the former category.

Judges smoking pot in their off time, however, ought to fall in the latter (along with judges having a few drinks in their off time).

Betcha didn't expect me to turn this into a semi-serious post with a real point, did you?

Secretary of State 

Ledeen has a great idea for a new Secretary of State:
State : I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Europe, and was very surprised to hear diplomats complaining bitterly that they felt abandoned by Powell. "Where is he?" they lamented, "we supported him and he left us to fend entirely for ourselves."

The proper care of allies is right up near the top of a secretary of State's mission, and the allies don't give Colin Powell a passing grade. For that alone, he needs to go. There are other reasons, too, above all his weasely performance on Iran (every strong presidential statement was instantly followed by leaks from State undercutting the president's words; the secretary's deputy — and best friend — Richard Armitage called Iran "a democracy," which may be the great mal mot of this administration).

Finally, there's Powell supine acceptance of Foggy Bottom's conventional wisdom on every subject, forgetting that the foreign service isn't supposed to make our foreign policy; it's supposed to carry out the president's policies.

Who should replace him? Zell Miller .
This person seriously thinks that Zell Miller would make a good Sec. of State. This is the same Zell Miller that challenged Chris Matthews to a duel when he got upset during an interview. I don't think that's the kind of diplomacy we need right now...

UPDATE: Link added...and Ledeen is with the National Review, for those who don't know.

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