small d, Big J

What Steven desJardins is interested in.
Friday, May 30, 2003
U.S. Welcomes Fewer Refugees, according to the Washington Post. Last year the United States admitted 27,100 refugees, down from 68,400 the year before and a five-year average of around 76,000. Nearly 40,000 refugees have been approved to come to the U.S. (based on a well-found fear of persecution) but are stuck overseas waiting for background and security checks. I can understand why there's a slowdown since 9/11, but I hope everyone would agree that the bottleneck is a bad thing and hope that the government finds a way to correct it.

Via Body and Soul, this USA Today story about how we can't get other nations to help out with peacekeeping forces in Iraq. This is yet another reason why Bush's failure to get broad international support for an invasion was a bad idea.

And read this Washington Post article, Islamic Justice Taking Hold in Baghdad, if you really want to be depressed. Pretty much the worst-case scenario going into Iraq was that we'd end up with a radical theocratic government that hated the United States. We're not there yet, but if Bush doesn't get his head out of his ass and start coming up with some realistic plans for occupation, then we're at the mercy of events instead of in control of them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, in her excellent essay collection Making Book, introduced me to the concept of the infix, which I will now use for its particular rhetorical effect:


I refer to the last few paragraphs of this Washington Post article on Judge Pickering, who has been nominated for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Judiciary Committee has received letters from Mississippi lawyers endorsing Pickering that the judge has said he solicited directly, a practice that attracted criticism at his hearing. Pickering requested that the letters, including some from present or former litigants in his court, be faxed directly to his chambers.

Asked by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) whether his requests might have created "an appearance of coercion," Pickering said not everyone who wrote had appeared in his court.

"They know my reputation," he said.

Let me repeat this: Pickering asked people presently appearing before his court to write letters endorsing his nomination and to send them to him, so he could read and forward them. I don't have to be an expert on judicial ethics to figure out that this is the kind of unsubtle conflict of interest that should set alarm bells ringing loud enough to make judges on the other side of the building jump up and take notice. Also let me repeat the quote, "They know my reputation." This is not a defense. Protection rackets depend on the extortees knowing the extorter's reputation. I'm sure Pickering didn't say anything as direct as, "Nice lawsuit you've got. Be a shame if something...happened to it." I'm also sure he didn't have to.

A judge, as I understand it, is required to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Pickering has violated that standard spectacularly. It seems that every case presently before him has been tainted. This is, as I said, un-fucking-believable.

What is not quite unbelievable is that this information was buried in the last few paragraphs of the story, instead of being a headline on the front page. A liberal medium would make a scandal out of scandalous behavior. The Washington Post, like the rest of the prominent national media, is sadly not liberal. It conceals and minimizes the worst excesses of the barbarians in power. Fortunately blogs like mine, with readership in the tens, exist to counter this conspiracy of silence. If each of my readers passes this information on to just ten people, then there will be hundreds of people who share my outrage. Now that's power.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
The web really is pretty amazing. I got up from a nap at 9:07 tonight, and couldn't remember whether the pharmacy at the nearby CVS closed at 9:00 or 10:00. It took about thirty seconds of web surfing to go to, use their store finder feature, and find out that the pharmacy closed at 10:00 on weeknights. Before the web, I might have guessed wrong and either needlessly postponed picking up my prescription, or wasted a trip. Instead, thanks to modern technology and boneheaded companies that put incorrect information on their web sites, I was able to waste a trip through no fault of my own. Progress.

Monday, May 26, 2003
I was browsing some tax law blogs today, and I came across this comment from March from Decnavda's Dialectic:

In game theory, deterrence requires a link between actions and consequences. The Afghan war did that well. The lesson was, "If you attack the U.S., the U.S. will destroy your regime." Good lesson. Attacking Iraq with U.N. authorization would teach the following lesson: "Disobey international law, and the U.N. will destroy your regime." Good lesson. What is the lesson of this attack on Iraq? "If you kind of make the U.S. nervous, they may or may not destroy your regime in a decade or so at their whim." Bad lesson.

Well put.


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