Mutually Assured Regulatory Destruction

This story in The New York Times strikes me as involving a journalistic blind spot of a characteristically left-liberal sort. It’s presented as a landlord-tenant dispute with an immigration enforcement twist, but there’s more to it than that. The “more to it” is right there in the story, but treated as an afterthought, not quite a case of “burying the lede,” but definitely a failure to explain what happened. Continue reading

“Keep Your Mouth Shut, and Sit Down!”

I’m curious what readers think about this case. (It’s back in the news because the judge recently recused himself from the case.) It describes a judicial hearing in a New Jersey courtroom involving proceedings against an accused sex offender. Apparently, the alleged victim (a minor) and his mother traveled to New Jersey from out of state to attend the hearing, disrupting it out of frustration at the fact that the case wouldn’t be settled that day, as they’d expected. The delay arose because the defendant refused a plea deal and demanded a trial; the trial date was set months in the future, rendering the mother-and-son’s present trip pointless.

The mother explained, “We’ve been dealing with this for four and a half years, your honor. Four and a half years. And it’s been constant delays and pushbacks.”

There’s audio in the first link above. In it, the judge tells the mother, rather brusquely, to keep her mouth shut and sit down. He’s kind of an asshole about it, but I guess his point was that she was being one. This may be a regional thing. Continue reading

why think ‘must’ implies ‘ought’?

To say that I ought to take out the garbage and to say that I must take it out is to say two different things.  And, if I ought to take out the garbage, it does not follow that I must. But — apparently — if I must take out the garbage (if I am required to), then it follows that I ought.  The ‘must’ seems in some way stronger than the mere ‘ought’ (perhaps ‘must’ is simply ‘decisively ought’ — that is one theory).

Continue reading

Chicken Kiev: Misframing the Trump-Ukraine Controversy

It’s remarkable how the Trump-Ukraine story has reflexively been described as a case of Trump’s “courting Ukrainian interference in American politics” rather than as Trump’s interfering in Ukrainian politics, or even more precisely, as Trump’s abortive attempt to make an intervention into the Ukrainian criminal justice system. The latter strikes me as a more straightforward description of what actually happened.

DES MOINES — Allegations that President Trump courted foreign interference from Ukraine to hurt his leading Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., dominated presidential politics on Saturday, as Mr. Biden demanded a House investigation of Mr. Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader and as Mr. Trump lashed out, denying wrongdoing without releasing a transcript of the call.

I heard one pundit try to justify the “courting interference” description by claiming that in asking the Ukrainians to investigate Hunter Biden, Trump was legitimizing Ukraine’s sending covert operatives to the United States to circumvent the American criminal justice system–presumably to abduct Biden for trial (or worse) in the way that the Israeli Mossad abducted Adolph Eichmann in 1960. I guess that’s one interpretation–a highly speculative one that involves a gigantic leap beyond any evidence we have, but an interpretation nonetheless. Continue reading

A Moral Stop Sign for Andrew Pollack

There comes a point at which one has to draw a line, even with the victim of a tragic and heinous crime, and say (my words, not the judge’s):

Your daughter is dead. That’s horrible and unfair, but the time has come for you to stop trying to ruin other peoples’ lives over it. Leave them alone, and find a way to come to terms with your tragedy without harming innocent bystanders in the process. Tragedy and premature death didn’t begin with you, won’t end with you, and don’t justify your desire to wreak vengeance on people who don’t deserve it. At a certain point, even the most sympathetic victim starts to lose the world’s sympathy. You’re there.

Perhaps not a message calculated to win any popularity contests. But no less necessary for that.

Brown-Faced Man

As someone who unapologetically wears brownface every day, I find the hysterical front-page revelation of Justin Trudeau’s 2001 experiment with brownface pretty underwhelming. I also find the reaction to it on the part of various brown-faced Canadian politicians to be a transparent instance (so to speak) of grandstanding. If ever there was a case where policy ought to trump a supposed matter of character in politics, this is it–not so much because policy always trumps character in political matters, but because the supposed matter of character involved here is so morally inconsequential that just about anything trumps it. Continue reading

Silence of the Lambs

A statement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4166A/A.1801B) establishing September 11th Remembrance Day. The new law allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools across the state at the beginning of the school day every September 11th to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom, and to ensure future generations have an understanding of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and their place in history. The law is effective immediately.

Because nothing is more conducive to dialogue and education than silence enforced by legal decree.

Incidentally, though the Governor’s Office disingenuously claims that the law “allows for a brief moment of silence,” the law itself is a mandate, the moment of silence is its only enumerated provision, and Assembly Member Amato refers to it on the Governor’s own statement as a “mandate.” What the Governor means (but doesn’t say) is that the law provides for a mandated moment of silence. Here is the text.

“Twin Towers, Twin Memories”

For the last eighteen years, Chris Sciabarra has been writing up a kind of blog-based micro-history of 9/11 as seen from the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, where he lives. Here’s a link to the whole archive, from September 2001 to September 2019, which I highly recommend.

I happened to be at Casa Sciabarra as Chris was putting the final touches on the most recent installment in the series, “Zack Fletcher: Twin Towers, Twin Memories“– about fraternal twins, Zackary and Andre Fletcher, both members of the FDNY, the New York City Fire Department. Sadly, Andre perished on duty as a result of the attack. The post consists of an interview with Zack, reflecting on the meaning of the day and the loss of his brother. If you read one thing about 9/11 today, I’d suggest reading this.