damnum absque injuria

January 31, 2003

What if We’re Wrong About Iraq?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:07 am

In her latest piece, Ann Coulter puts the controversy over Iraq into perspective:

But why not hurry? Democrats claim they haven’t seen proof yet that Saddam is a direct threat to the United States. For laughs, let’s suppose they’re right. In the naysayers’ worst-case scenario, the United States would be acting precipitously to remove a ruthless dictator who tortures his own people. As Bush said, after detailing some of Saddam Hussein’s charming practices: “If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.” It’s not as if anyone is worried that we’re making a horrible miscalculation and could be removing the Iraqi Abraham Lincoln by mistake.

I can just envision the response: OK, so maybe he’s not Iraq’s answer to Abraham Lincoln. Still, he can’t be all that bad, or 100% of the Iraqi electorate wouldn’t have voted for him.

UPDATE: Anyone who still thinks we are wrong about Iraq should read this.

January 30, 2003

Brobeck – OMG

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:55 pm

Unbelievable. Only four years ago, as a third year law student at Boalt, I was green with envy toward those classmates who had better grades and somehow managed to land a job there. Now, that once-invinciable firm has declared bankruptcy. On the brighter side, though, my company is looking for a new lawyer. To any Brobeck victim who is looking for work and open to moving to Orange County, CA to do insurance law: please drop me a line.

UPDATE: Here is an interesting article about Brobeck’s rise and fall. Link via Instapundit.

This May be a First (Not a Frist), and Hopefully, a Last

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:24 pm

I can’t say I’ve ever fisked a store clerk before, but then again, there is a first time for everything. After reading this story, I can’t think of much else to do. I guess I’ve always known, at an intellectual level, that half the world’s population was stupider than average; it’s just that I never expected to see any one person (let’s call her “Ms. Einstein”) illustrate that principle so well.

According Fox News, a store clerk in Longview, Washington, who thus far has managed to remain every bit as anonymous as this moron in Tennessee has just gotten around to telling the police that she saw a pregnant woman last who claimed to have been kidnapped and may well be Laci Peterson. Oh, joy. At this point, I have no idea whether or not the woman she really saw was really Laci Peterson, but so what if she wasn’t? Laci may be the best known kidnapping victim (by now, Elizabeth Smart and countless others you’ve never heard of are chopped liver) but she’s not the only one. Whoever this woman is/was, she obviously (1) was in trouble then and (2) is now either nowhere near Longview, WA, dead, or both. Here are the lowlights of the story:

According to a report in The Daily News of Longview on Thursday, the clerk told police that a pregnant woman came into the Market Place and said: “This is serious. I was kidnapped. Call the authorities when I leave.”

Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say. Not a red flag at all, Ms. Einstein. At most, it might have been your cue to go public a month or two later.

The 45-year-old clerk said she intended to call police but became distracted and forgot, according to a police report.

But of course! She probably needed to, like, get her nails done, or what-ever. I mean, like, no one can remember everything, y’know.

Late last week, the clerk was watching TV and saw a story about Laci Peterson, 27, who vanished from Modesto, Calif., on Christmas Eve.

Totally understandable. Until around this time last week, I had never even heard of Laci Peterson, either. Had you?

After the man stepped out of line to get something he forgot, the clerk remarked to the woman that she should be wearing a coat on such a chilly day. The woman told the clerk she didn’t have time to take a coat because she was kidnapped. She also told the clerk that the man had a weapon.

Again, I find it totally understandable that the clerk did not think anything was awry. After all, this is Washington state, where almost anyone without a criminal record can get a permit to carry a weapon. So of course a comment like “Oh my God, he has a gun!” seemed no more remarkable to Ms. Einstein than, say, “Oh my God, he has a Lamborghini!” Less so, if anything, as Lamborghinis are much more expensive.

The clerk told police she wasn’t sure whether to take the woman seriously.

Of course not. Last time I heard the line “This is serious. I was kidnapped,” I knew immediately that it was a belated Halloween prank. Why should Ms. Einstein have thought anything different?

When the man returned, he asked what the two talked about while he was gone, the police report says. “She said you kidnapped her,” the clerk said.

Now there’s a heck of a way to get an innocent person killed: alert her captor to the fact that his cover has almost been blown. Are you listening, U.N.? Hurry up and hire this woman before someone else does! She’ll fit right in.

The clerk said the statement seemed to make the man angry…

Gee, I wonder why. If Mrs. Xrlq and I were on a trip somewhere, and I learned that she had just told some random store clerk that I had kidnapped her, I’d be worried about her sanity. I don’t think I would be angry, but then again, I can’t be 100% sure since for some strange reason, this has never happened to me!

… and she teasingly added that her husband always kidnapped her to take her to dinner.

Sarcasm aside, this is probably the only thing Ms. Einstein did right.

The man relaxed and laughed. “Yeah, I guess I kidnapped her,” she recalled him saying.

Nice save, Ms. Einstein. It looks like you just managed to un-pull that last boner and extend Laci’s life for at least an hour or so. Now, play it cool, wait until he leaves, and call the cops immediately afterward, K?

After they left, the clerk unsuccessfully tried to find a phone book to call police…

I haven’t been to that state in almost 20 years, but I have this strange inkling that I just might know the police department’s number by heart. Could it be … oh, I don’t know … 911?

…then became distracted and forgot about the incident.

Crap! That reminds me that I just forgot about that guy I saw mowinng down 35 people at the local mall a couple of years ago. Damn! I really meant to call the cops about it, but gee, I didn’t have a phone book handy, and a few minutes later, I had just, like, forgotten about it! I’ll be sure to call them now, though, I promise.

She told police she feels terrible about it now.

Well, that’s comforting. Here’s a message to Laci, or whoever else that kidnapping victim in Longview, WA may have been: I know you’re still in captivity, or worse, and I know Ms. Einstein might well have been able to prevent that, but at least you can sleep soundly by knowing she feels bad about it. That has to count for something, right?

UPDATE: To top it all off, CNN now reports that the whole story was a fake.

Bizarre Google Searches

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 4:51 pm

Here are a few interesting searches on Google and other search engines that have landed unsuspecting (and, I suspect, disappointed) visitors on my blog:

  • can a school committee deny me the right to kiss my boyfriend
  • turbo tax pirated
  • Michael Kinsley law degree
  • sexual encounter for the frist time

These ones may not have disappointed, but were interesting nonetheless:

  • bakke case pronounced back
  • ghoti shaw
  • nucular or nuclear

State of the (European) Union

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:21 pm

No one complained about French or German “unilateralism” over their opposition to a pending war in Iraq (well, Rumsfeld and this guy did, but no one in the EU seemed to mind). Yet, the ink was barely dry on this letter when the EU got its panties in a bunch over the audacity of Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain to stake out a joint position in support of the U.S. Oddly enough, none of these EU critics have argued that there was anything inherently wrong with these eight countries’ position on the merits; rather, the objection was ostensibly to the fact that they took a position at all, without first getting the rest of Europe on board. I guess this means that France is not the only European country that thinks it is more important to do things together than to do the right thing.

P.S. Yes, I realize that this “state of X” schtick is getting a bit tiresome. I promise to stop Real Soon Now (TM).

UPDATE: This story from the New York Times indicates that Slovakia is probably on board, too, bringing the total of real European allies to nine, and counting. No matter, we all know that “Europe” is really just a code name for France and Germany, right? Or maybe not.

January 29, 2003

State of the U.N.

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:42 am

Read my lips: “Iraq to chair U.N. disarmament conference.”

No, I didn’t make that up, nor did I pinch a headline from Scrappleface or The Onion. It’s the headline for this CNN story. And still, some continue to wonder how the U.S. could be so arrogant as to consider taking action against Iraq without the UN’s blessing.

Link via Reason.

State of the Union

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 4:13 am

By George, I think he’s got it! Not a bad speech, I must say. Not a great one, either, mind you, but not a bad one. Rather than bore you with a series of “me-toos” over the parts where I agreed with you, I’d like to focus instead on the ones where I didn’t. On the off chance that Dubya himself is reading this, I’ll address him in the second person. Everyone else, bear with me.

  • I don’t like partial-birth abortion any more than you do, but asking Congress to ban it for you begs the question of what part of the Constitution you think authorizes Congress to do this. Would that be the power to coin money? To create post roads? To issue copyrights and patents? To provide for the common defense? My version of the Constitution doesn’t say anything about abortion, so you’ll have to work with me. Or, if you meant to say that you were asking Congress to enact a constitutional amendment to grant itself the power to regulate abortion, that’s fine too. Next time, just come out and say that.
  • I’m not really clear on what is about cloning that most people find so objectionable, but I understand that if anyone tried it today they’d create all sorts of birth defects along the way. That alone is a good enough reason to ban it in my book, as long as the ban has a sunset clause that will force everyone to re-evaluate the issue a few years down the road. But just like abortion, I’m having trouble finding the part of the Constitution that authorizes Congress to get involved in this area at all. As Dr. Evil might say, throw me a frickin’ bone!
  • As long as we’re speaking English, Iraq and Iran’s names are pronounced “eye rack” (or, if you prefer, “a rock”) and “I ran,” not “eeeeee – rock” and “eeeee – rahn.” As one who speaks two foreign languages and used to be semi-proficient in a third, I’m well aware how tempting it can be to pronounce foreign names “correctly.” Believe me, it’s not worth it to try. Once you start down that path, there’s no stopping. Pretty soon my home town of Los Angeles will be called “loase AHN hay lace,” San Francisco will be called “sahn frahn SEESE ko,” and God only knows what we’ll call Louisville, Des Plaines or New Orleans. I know it can be tempting, but just say no.
  • Others have pointed this out already, but for crying out loud, it’s nuclear (NOO klee ur), not “nucular” (NOO cue lur) Uggh.
  • And what on God’s green earth is a “peninshula?” I gathered from your speech was that Korea has one.

Apart from these minor nits, however, it wasn’t a bad speech. And as your daddy used to say to his advisors, if I’m so damned smart, why aren’t I the President instead of you? [Article II, Section 1 is one reason, of course, but I’ll need to come up with some other excuse by 2005.] And my hat’s off to the Independent, which, unlike me, was able to peech before it was even made.

State of the Onion

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 4:13 am

My take on the State of The Onion, however, is a bit less sanguine. Between their whiny response to “Payback Tuesday,” (Onion article not available online), this, and now this, (I’ll give them a half a pass for this; one the one hand, it was a paid ad; on the other, no one forced them to run it) I’m starting to wonder if this paper has pulled a Carlin (i.e., evolved into an annoying, self-important, unfunny shadow of its former self).

Still, every once and again The Onion does come out with something good, like this, which is why I haven’t given hope on them completely. That is why I haven’t removed them from by blogroll, let alone removed everyone else from the blogroll whose own pages link to them.

January 28, 2003

Back to the Future?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 5:59 pm

President Bush hasn’t begun to deliver his speech yet, but the Daily Telegraph is already reporting the speech in the past tense. I’ve long heard that England was “eight hours ahead of us,” but I never knew that they meant this literally. I’m quitting my job and moving to England tomorrow, and making my living as a day trader on the NY Stock Exchange.

UPDATE: Apparently, this isn’t the first time a British paper has engaged in time travel.

Victimful Crimes

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:21 am

Debra Saunders has an interesting piece on the San Francisco Police Department’s recent efforts to crack down on “johns” who hire underaged prostitutes. Of course, in a state that outlaws prostitution for all ages, it’s a little difficult to say what an “underaged” prostitute is; strictly speaking, anyone under 200 years of age would qualify. Still, let’s assume that any prostitute who is too young to lawfully consent to non-remunerative sex – in California, that would be anyone under 18 – is an “underaged” prostitute, as well.

According to the article, S.F.P.D. Sgt. Inspector Lynne Atkinson teaches a class, which Saunders dubs “john school,” for first-time offenders. None of these johns seem to be particularly keen on sex with minors, but opinions are divided as to what should be done about it:

One man said he supports tougher penalties for men who have sex with child prostitutes, because, “There is such a thing as deterrence.” But a 26-year-old john says he doesn’t like the responsibility of knowing whether or not a woman is of legal age. “How do you honestly, honestly know?” he asks.

Notice the cute rhetorical trick: the john who supports tougher sentences is a “man,” while the man who opposes them is a “john.”

A man may not know by looking, but once a 13-year-old starts talking, he can tell she’s a kid, Atkinson says.

That’s neat, assuming that 13-year old girls are the only ones we care about keeping out of prostitution. Last time I checked, California’s age of consent was 18, not 14. Frankly, I’m not convinced that anyone foolish enough to solicit a prostitute in the first place is also sharp enough to distinguish an old-looking 17-year-old from a young-looking 18-year-old. If the objective of the new crackdown is simply to catch as many would-be johns as possible, then I have no doubt it will be a resounding success. But if the objective is to prevent 17-year-olds (and younger) from getting involved in prostitution in the first place, then I think we might want to adopt a strategy that doesn’t depend on the sound judgment of the johns who lack it. Here’s what I would do instead:

  1. Legalize prostitution between consenting adults. Require a license that isn’t too hard to get, but which does require the applicant to prove that she is 18, HIV-, etc. Tax it like any other business, with no special “sin taxes” that would only serve only to resurrect the black market that exists today.
  2. Once the legitimate market is established, impose draconian penalties on anyone who seeks out the residual black market. Prison time, not “john school,” for first-time offenders, and no “I thought she was 18” defense. That was the risk he took by choosing to engage an unlicensed prostitute.

Of course most conservatives (and many liberals, for that matter) may find my solution unpalatable, but that does not mean it isn’t the right thing to do. For better or for worse (I don’t really see anything “good” about prostitution, so maybe we should just stipulate that this is “for worse”), popular demand for the world’s oldest profession isn’t going away anytime soon. We can either protect our children from ending up there until they are old enough to make an adult decision, or we can try to baby our adult population and treat them as though they were children. Or we can continue down the current path, and keep trying to do both; we just can’t do both very well.


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