What a surprise: an Alan Dershowitz column containing a little bit of clever, a small helping of the true, and a few quick and morally shoddy conclusions.
The main focus is on the true, if obvious, claim that "civilian" in its morally and politically important sense is vague. That sounds plausible.
But the recognition that "civilianality" is often a matter of degree, rather than a bright line, should still inform the assessment of casualty figures in wars involving terrorists, paramilitary groups and others who fight without uniforms — or help those who fight without uniforms....
Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those "civilians" who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.
So far this is more or less right, in the way that the ticking-time-bomb scenarios are, but once again the trick is moving from the simple cases to some interesting actual-world conclusion. And--you guessed it-- this is exactly where Dershowitz goes horribly wrong.
The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.
If the media were to adopt this "continuum," it would be informative to learn how many of the "civilian casualties" fall closer to the line of complicity and how many fall closer to the line of innocence.
Ah, so on the not-so-innocent list we have planners, fundraisers, women who carry out attacks...and people who didn't leave when the Israelis told them to. If only I'd gone to Harvard Law, I'd be able to suss out the subtle error in this reasoning. (It might be worth mentioning that the suggestion in the last quoted paragraph is completely useless, since we could never know these things, or could know them only if some totally bogus understanding of "complicity" were in play.)
I can imagine Dershowitz getting to these awful results out of a kind of argumentative frustration: restrictions on killing innocent civilians seem right, but that makes fighting Hezbollah so hard, and clearly there has to be a clever way out of this mess, so...aha! I'll cast the net of complicity as wide as possible. Problem solved.
More on Dershowitz at CT.
*Alternate title: Fuck you, clown.
So, the intrepid Team NewYorkistan suffered a slight breakdown 20 minutes after crossing the starting line of the Mongol Rally. Are there any London area readers who might have mechanic recommendations (the NewYorkistan-mobile is a Lada, of all things), or be willing to offer other assistance to a couple of stranded New Yorkers who I'm not sure have a place to stay tonight (I don't know that they need a place to crash, but they might.) They're charming and fun, and generally self-reliant.
Anyone willing to proffer assistance, of any limited sort at all, email me at LizardBreath a/t Unfogged, and I'll send you Audrey's cell number.
Update: They appear to be sorted for now -- the car is at a garage, and the team is in a motel. But they won't get going until Tuesday, probably.
New York City
Friday, August 4
With special out-of-town guest Teofilo
Time/Location To Be Determined
(suggestions welcome in comments)
Here's an activity custom made for this community. In the comments to the sheet music thread below, Magic Matt writes:
Check out the end of the third poem here. It's like reading a poem that builds to "Fuck you, clown!"
And that is true. So it occurred to me that in a more perfect world, many, if not most, poems would end with "Fuck you, clown." For example...
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Fuck you, clown!
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Fuck you, clown!
"Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Fuck you, clown."
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Oh so many possibilities. Let's get to work on this, shall we?
The Kant fixation gets worse.
The first thing to notice is that the "a posteriori" joke is embarassingly lame even apart from its "teehee, gay people are funny!" overtones, which make it loathsome.* The second thing is that our male character hasn't moved in three days. Finally, can anyone make sense of the middle panel? Is the "it's" referring to the categorical imperative or to gay marriage? What's supposed to be a posteriori? I'm so confused, but I suspect I'm not the only one.
*On fifth reading, I'm not entirely sure this is intended as a joke. This whole thing is making my head spin.
Thanks to our many-named commenter for sending this to me.
Yet I insist on more niche blogging. Check out this passage from the first movement of the Koussevitzky concerto:
The alleged-to-be-funny part is that the last two notes are the same. I have no idea why the editor jumps to tenor clef. Even stranger, this is the end of a long phrase which is followed by a few measures of rest, so there's no reason at all to do this.
...check out what I found in the back of my desk. Far, far worse than math camp, I'm afraid.
Oh, memories! Slate has a multi-part series up about summer camp. As soon as I saw The Parent Trap as a little girl, I knew that I had to go to summer camp and I knew that it would be awesome.
My parents sent me to day camp to keep me busy while they were at work but it just wasn't the same. It wasn't camp. It was glorified babysitting. I knew that even at 9 years old.
I finally got a chance to go to sleepaway camp when I was in sixth grade and it was everything I had hoped. Campfires! Cheesy skits! Sneaking out at night! (And then, at that age, not knowing what to do once we snuck out!) I loooved it. I went back in seventh and eighth grade and then worked as a camp counselor during the summers and on the weekends all through high school. Slate gets it exactly right: camp is for the counselors, not the campers. The kids worshipped you and it was just one summer-long party.
One of my biggest regrets for my little brothers is that they never went to camp. Well, strike that -- they've never had the camp experience. The 17 year-old went to camp in sixth grade (like me), but he broke his leg the first day there and got sent home and that soured him on the whole camp thing. Camp meant so much to me growing up that I can't imagine not having that experience. I hope my kids have better luck.
ELLISON: You the man!
THOMAS ELLERS: No, you the man!
WILSON: The two of you are both the man!
RYAN: Allow me to interject that the three of you, taken together, are, in fact, da man!
GLENN GREENWALD: May I suggest -- that all of us, all living here together like the Beatles in Help!, are, collectively, the man?
...but this is pretty weird.
So my questions, Mr. Greenwald, are as follows:
Will you allow your boyfriend, the culprit you insinuate is behind these messages defending you, to answer questions on the telephone so that I can determine his precise level of fluency in English?
Oh, he speaks English, I know. And rather well -- for a non-native speaker. But I think we both know he cannot pass for a native speaker, don't we?
It's fun to read this out loud in a variety of silly voices. Seriously, can you imagine that telephone conversation? Or the conversation before that conversation, chez Greenwald?
Impressive: she's weirder than I thought. Strong Island in the geopolitical house, beeaatches!
I think Apostropher made me watch this.
The New York Times, as LizardBreath would tell you if she weren't writing a brief, has taken to publishing backgrounders for porn movies. This week, it ponders just what it is that makes a contractor sexy to frustrated Upper East Siders and lascivious Hamptonites. Several sources of contractors' sex appeal are pondered, including their hairdresserly attention to their customers, their patience with female hysteria, and their ability to care for the homestead that the effete spreadsheet jockey men of the house can't match:
Mr. Guido, too, has noticed how attractive the ability to do household repairs and construction is to women. “They say, ‘That door was sticking 10 years. Why couldn’t my husband do that?’ ”
But my very favorite part of the article is this:
Certainly, he added, the issue [that caused Mr. Mager's girlfriend to leave him for the contractor] was not physical prowess. “I’m 6-foot-4 and I actually am very, very strong,” Mr. Mager said. “He’s a very small guy. At parties, when we were friends, I would pick him up and spin him around.”
Uh, Mr. Mager? If I were a guy and I were trying to motivate someone to sleep with my girlfriend, that's probably what I'd do.
Patterico, Ace (scroll; it's weird), and Goldstein are enthused about the discovery that comments from Glenn Greenwald's IP address are posted under various names. Greenwald has a response full of interesting details (gay!).
A little unseemly to get so excited about it, I think, but our friends on the right seem to have developed an Ahab-rivalling obsession with Greenwald.
You might be wondering: what's America's craziest law professor up to now? Or you might be wondering: who's ridiculing him? Probably not, but if you are I've assembled today's roundup.
Hewitt asks why people like Andrew Sullivan, Greg Djerejian, and Jon Chait have turned against the Administration's well-conceived, well-executed operations against terror. The answer may surprise you:
No, it has to do with who Bush is and who his former-supporters-turned-critics are. (In Sullivan's case, the single issue that has transformed him is all too obvious.)
I'm not sure, but I think Hewitt might be alluding to the fact that Sullivan is a giant homo.
But what's the straight answer?
In attempting to tell us what drives Bush, Chait is in fact revealing what it is that drives the former supporters of the war turned defeatists and the increasingly frenzied denouncers from respectable perches like the big papers, the Council, and the weeklies: They feel disdained.
Djerejian, Sullivan, and Chait represent three of the four classes of the non-crazed lefty critics of Bush's conduct of the war: the talented and serious, the talented and unserious, and the not-talented and unserious. (There are scores and scores of the not-talented and serious. We do not hear from them.) Each wears their exclusion on their sleeve, and their bitterness is bubbling up with every column or post...
Part of the Bush hatred is simply resentment at the exclusion from the councils of war. It is doubtful if anyone charged with running the war even reads these or most of the other critics. Anyone who has had a glimpse of the world inside the White House or the Pentagon knows the pace. There just isn't time for hand holding.
It is summer. Set the interns to finding the 180s, and have them over to the Indian Treaty Room. Hear them out. Have the president drop by for a face-to-face. With less than 30 months to go in the Adminstration, it is time to start thinking about delivering the next president a country with a renewed commitment to the long war. The smart ones among the 180s can be brought back around to the reality of the problem if given enough facts and a little face time.
Future investigation will reveal that Hewitt is actually a precocious but incredibly uptight 17-year-old. It amazes me that people take this seriously; I can't quite bring myself to believe that Hugh himself does. A mostly grown-up response from Sullivan; an interesting post from Djerejian (be sure to read to the end for a funny email to Krauthammer), and, unsurprisingly, some funny comments from Roy:
Billy Kristol is going "Vrrrrow, Vrrrrow, rat-tat-tat-tat" and dive-bombing his shampoo and conditioner bottles in the tub; Roger L. Simon is telling the terrified Lebanese citizens to take their bombing like men -- "Starbucks can come later, if you really think you need it" (?!? -- RE); and this guy cheerfully compares the new Mideast war to a plucky little sailor (Israel) beating the shit out a Marine (Hezbollah) -- with (one must assume) Beirut's civilians in the role of unfortunate bystanders to the brawl who are struck by the Marine's flying teeth, which for some reason are filled with high explosives. It's getting so George Fucking Will sounds almost sane.
Ladies and gentlemen, your political discourse!
UPDATE: I meant to include Sadly, No! in the linkfest but I let it slip; thanks to th'Apostropher for bringing it up in comments.
Huh. Buck just called -- apparently an old (pre-law school) employer of mine just wrote to notify me that I'd never cashed a check they sent to an old address of mine five years ago or so, related to a settlement they entered into with the Department of Labor for screwing me and my ilk (long-term temps) out of our rightful benefits. If I write in, they'll reissue it.
Not so bad.
Jim Henley has a good post on a Town Hall article by Mary Katherine Ham which argues that Republicans are more open and friendly to Libertarians than Democrats are -- that even though, say, Glenn Reynolds is politically unreliable from a Republican point of view, that she's willing to regard him as on her team. On the other hand, liberal and Democratic blogs are nasty and cruel to Libertarians. Henley (owner of the best-looking dog in the blogosphere until I post pictures of DogBreath) makes the very clear (and from this side of the aisle, obvious) point that Glenn Reynolds is on the Republican team, at least these days, and that's why Republicans are nice to him and Democrats aren't. Someone like Henley, a libertarian not on the Republican team, gets plenty of love from the left.
Myself, I call myself a liberal; I'd also call myself a social democrat. This means that I can get along great with libertarians on most things I'd think of as civil liberties issues -- end the drug war? Yay! Aggressively protect citizens from governmental snooping and lawless policing? Yay! On the economic stuff, I'm further away from them, but Republicans strike me as just about as far away -- I want a regulatory state that protects individuals from corporate malfeasance, and a solid social welfare system, but in that context I'm all for markets where they work well; Republicans want a regulatory state that encourages and protects the business community. Neither of the parties is advocating economic laissez faire. And I honestly am not clear on what reasonable libertarians want outside of the civil liberties realm -- I assume that the Onion's Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department isn't realistic, but I'm not sure what sort of policies they do advocate concretely. I end up assuming I'm going to agree with libertarians on a wide range of issues, and on the rest having no idea where they're going to come down until I find out specifically.
Well, he's fighting crime on the streets of Newark. That's what I like to see in a mayor.
But Kotsko has a fascinating post On Shabbiness over at The Weblog. Go read it if you haven't already.
Well, probably me too. But I saw this comment from Silvana to a post at Apostropher's:
Dude, I didn't see that comment (at Unfogged that you linked to before), and just wanted to note that your "I wouldn't live my life any differently if I knew one way or the other" is the exact same thing I tell people who ask me about my religious beliefs.
I have to say this threw me a bit. I'm some flavor of non-believer -- I see no credible evidence for the existence of a god, people I've talked to have had different opinions about whether that makes me an atheist or an agnostic. But I have to say that if I knew of the existence of a god, and that such a god had strong opinions about my behavior which it was willing to back up with eternity spent in lakes of molten sulfur, I'd get pretty darn cooperative pretty fast. Hell, a merely human guy with a knife could probably get me to hand over my wallet without much difficulty; an omnipotent mugger would have me tithing ASAP. And that's even leaving to one side the assumption that such a god would be good, and that doing what it wanted would be ascertainably the Right Thing To Do, which I sort of try to do anyway in my infidel kind of way.
I've heard people say things like this before, that while they don't believe in god, they wouldn't change their behavior if they did, and it just seems lacking in a sense of self-preservation. Are you guys just braver than I am, or is there some principle at stake that I'm missing?
This entry exists only because I recalled that in days gone by ogged (PBUH) used to like to blather on in his adorable way about Kierkegaard, who edited a book whose author wrote the following: "Even in seeing oneself in a mirror it is neessary to recognize oneself, for if one does not, one does not see oneself but only a human being"—if only he had followed through some of the implications of that statement, we might have had a philosophical world with more interesting inhabitants than the shabby pedagogues and forgetful purchasers of milk we currently see wandering about.
I also note that the last time I read (part of) this book, next to a passage about a person whose "relation to the self is like the relation a person may have to his place of residence … which becomes an abomination because of smoke fumes or something else", and who therefore departs, but "continues to regard the old [residence] as his address", with the result that "so long as [this state of affairs] lasts, he visits himself, so to speak, only occasionally, to see whether the change has commenced", I have written in the margin "I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in". Truly an enlightening comment, one that really helps us understand the text, no?
President Bush puts the time-honored, skeezy massage move on Angela Merkel. All class.
The Mongol Rally starts on Saturday -- listen to the intrepid Audrey and her loyal sidekick Paul being interviewed on NPR.
(Once the race starts, I'll be posting her text-messaged progress updates to Mongolian Take-Out Service.)
Ogged seems to be doing a little better (sitting! hooray!) and even has pictures of his incision up on his site. Daaaamn. I had no idea it was going to be THAT big! That's going to leave a pretty impressive scar. Sure, "I had cancer" is a decent story for when people at the pool ask how he got it but I'm sure we can come up with better ones. I'd want to go with "fucked the shit out of bears" myself.
Lindsay asks her hivemind how often people cry.
I probably cry more than once a week. I cried tonight, and I cried last night. I cry frequently because of missing Graham, or because I am lonely or frustrated. I cry at music. Listening to "A Little Fall of Rain" can make me cry. I cry at movies. Loudly. With not inconsiderable amounts of snot. Sometimes I cry at movies I don't even like. I cried at the end of Armageddon. I'm really, really a sucker for collapsed-time montages, and all those shots of him remembering Liv Tyler in a golden mist got to me, okay? At the series finale of Six Feet Under, the collapsed-time montage to end all collapsed-time montages, I probably cried steadily for about an hour (I started before the montage). On finishing A Prayer for Owen Meany I staggered into my dorm bathroom and leaned over the toilet and cried. At the end of Possession I cried because I was so happy about what a beautiful book it had been.
So, how often do you cry?
It's been linked all over the place, but if you haven't read it yet, Kevin Baker's Stabbed In The Back!", from the June Harpers, is worth reading. It's a review of the history of the rhetorical trope that a given military defeat is the result of treacherous domestic enemies, rather than of the military nature of the situation. He focuses largely on Vietnam, on the idea that the anti-war movement was responsible for the poor outcome of the war in Vietnam, and predicts that the same claims will be made about Iraq.
Perhaps I'm being naive here (I often am) but how could anyone possibly blame the unfortunate results of our attack on Iraq on the anti-war movement? I can see claiming that criticisms of the Iraq war by its opponents are overblown (I'd generally disagree with a claim like that, but I can follow it) but I can't see how anyone could possibly draw a causal line from 'Opponent of the Iraq War did or said X' to 'The Iraq War turned out less well than it might have otherwise.' Has anyone seen a claim like this that wasn't blitheringly insane?
Update: Strasmangelo Jones, in comments, points out that this is closely connected to Yglesias's recent post on the Green Lantern theory of geopolitics.
Stay Free! takes a bewildered look at the phenomenon of women in their early twenties seeking fertility treatment. The punchline is this:
The many internet forums about infertility are a treasure trove of jaw-droppers: "I'm 19 yrs old and my husband and I have just started trying to conceive... how long should we wait before seeing a doctor?"
I mean, c'mon, you're 19! Just keep fucking until you are bored with each other, and then have the baby to save the relationship.
And it's a pretty good one, but the attached WSJ article on it really is a bit staggering, starting with the 22-year-old who was on Clomid after just four months of trying to conceive. Twenty-two! Four months!
From 1995 to 2002 -- the most recent year for which statistics are available -- the percentage of female college graduates 22 to 29 years of age who had received fertility treatments at some point in their lives doubled, to 23%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Survey of Family Growth. At Conceive magazine, a two-year-old publication aimed at women trying to get pregnant, 46% of readers are younger than 30 years of age (73% of the readers are younger than 35) and 86% have college degrees or higher.
The caveats: I'm not a woman and my experience with pregnancy hasn't been that it was difficult to achieve, but rather, uhhh, easier than I preferred, let's just say. So, am I just tone deaf on the subject, or does this strike anybody else as WTFable?
Gary links to a Washington Post profile of Mike Weinstein, the Air Force Academy graduate and ex-Reagan Administration lawyerwho is suing the Air Force, seeking an injuction against religious favoritism for evangelical Christians and against proselytizing in the service. Opposing him are organizations such as the
"Officers' Christian Fellowship, a private organization with 14,000 active-duty members on more than 200 U.S. military bases around the world. In its mission statement, the OCF says its goal is "a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."
As a result of pressure from evangelical groups, the Air Force has recently changed its guidelines "to explicitly allow commanders to share their faith with subordinates." This is exactly the kind of problem that the separation of church and state is intended to address -- evangelical Christians can proselytize all they want on their own time. When they co-opt the power of the state to leverage their message through abusing superior positions like so:
It found, for example, that Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, the commandant of cadets, taught the entire incoming class a "J for Jesus" hand signal; that football coach Fisher DeBerry hung a "Team Jesus" banner in the locker room; and that more than 250 faculty members and senior officers signed a campus newspaper advertisement saying: "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world."
that's wrong and oppressive to anyone of a religion who's not the dominant one around. I don't understand why the Air Force is catering to this nonsense. Go read the article, and read what Gary has to say about it.
My mother and me, planning our trip to Australia:
Mom: I want to go to Tasmania!
Me: Why Tasmania?
Mom: So I can say I've been to Tasmania! It sounds so exotic.
Me: What's there to do in Tasmania?
Mom: I don't know.
Me: We're not going to Tasmania just so you can say that you've been. It's not a good use of our time. If there's something fun to do there, we'll consider it. Go do some research on the Internet and get back to me. Otherwise, we should go somewhere like Sydney or Cairnes.
Mom: (pouting) Okay.
(Please consider this a bleg, too. If anyone has advice on Australia [or freakin' Tasmania], I'd love to hear it.)
I've been annoyed by how prevelant using "bitch" as an insult has become, so I've proposed a couple of alternatives in this audio piece. Features a verse from my rapping debut, Spamma Please.
Sorry to all my dandy pals, but you fancified fuckers had it coming.
"Told the cop he was a goddamn spamma" cracks me up over and over again.
The Unfoggedatariat has been invited to a blogosphere gathering on Wednesday the 19th at 6. Anyone in the New York area who's interested, and whose name I would recognize, should email me for details. (I'd put the details up, but it's not my party, and so I feel a certain amount of responsibility not to enable people I've never heard of to show up.)
Conversation this morning between me and my roommate, as I was coming in after running errands. File under pwned:
Roomie: You're up? I figured you would still be in bed. I heard you come in really late last night.
Me: Yeah, I had some things I needed to do since this is my last weekend before I go back to New York.
Roomie: Did you drink last night?
Me: Yeah, I had a few.
Roomie: How ya feeling?
Me: I'm feeling really great. Wide awake, which is impressive considering I only got a few hours of sleep.
Roomie: No headache?
Me: No headache.
Roomie: No hangover?
Me: No hangover.
Roomie: And you know your shirt's on inside out?
Should you find yourself with some bluefish filets, mixing up a couple of tablespoonfuls of mayo, some lemon juice, and some soy sauce, brushing it over the filets, and broiling them for five minutes, maybe a little more? Very nice. Sweet and rich and tasty.
I'm sure there are other fun things to do with bluefish, but you're a sicko for thinking of them.
Update: And I now have a lattice-topped cherry pie cooling on the windowsill. I'm so domestic I embarrass myself.
I'd like everybody to nominate their three favorite unfogged comments threads of all time, for mysterious reasons you'll find out about later. And also just so we can remember the good times. Baked goods for some, miniature American fruit baskets for others!
The opera is expensive! I and a friend attempted to see the Komische Oper's production of Don Giovanni last night (apparently set in an airport) but the only tickets available an hour before doors opened were 37 euros (with student discount), which is maybe really not so bad, after all, but since we had previously uttered aloud our shared belief that we'd like to keep the cost below 24 euros a ticket, and since we are good Vellemanians, we had to forego the experience in favor of appel strudel across the street and a viewing of Easy Rider across town. Easy Rider notes: somehow I had become convinced that Harry Nilsson's cover of "Everybody's Talkin'" was in the soundtrack to this movie, but now I see that in fact it's from Midnight Cowboy.
However, I would like to note for the record that my jeans and t-shirt–clad self would, had we in fact gone in to the opera, have been in no way underdressed.
It's 6:00 in the morning, I just got home, and I'm very drunk. So, read the following with that in mind.
I had a great time last night and came home in a wonderful mood. The first thing I did when I got home was checked my email and then check Unfogged. That's what I always do. And I'm very disappointed with what happened lsat nighton this site. I know some of you make fun of me for the fact I don't like conflict and am always trying to promote comity between the commenters but I think things got pretty fucking out of control and I'm not happy about it. I expect a basic level of civility towards everyone, whether regular or n00b, and there seemed to be a major breakdown in that area.
I feel Unfogged should be a safe space where anyone who genuinely wants and tries to participate, no matter what their beliefs, should be welcome and I don't appreciate commenters beign rude and attacking each other, especially when it creates an environment so hostile that other commenters get frustrated and upset. And especially when those attacks seem personal and not about an issue being debated.
So, please, don't feed the trolls and be excellent to each other. If you're going to lash out at somebody, please think before you do it and step away from your keyboard for a minute. I like good, spirited debates but these personal attacks are too much.
I know Standpipe doesn't like people saying it but I'm going to anyway -- I think Unfogged is special. We're one of the few sites where the commenters genuinely care about each other and can have friendly, civilized debate. And I don't appreciate anyone trying to ruin that. I love you all but I'm a littel sad and disappointed right now.
I consider this post to be nothing more than a disapproving glance that a family member would give another across the dinner table and hope nothing more needs to be said. So I'd also appreciate it if someone would write another post to push this further down the page because I don't think we need to dwell on it. And if the other bloggers think I'm out of line, I'm sorry.
I'm going to go sleep for about 12 hours.