Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Judicial qualifications Irish style

Statement from Taoiseach Brian Cowen --

The Government decided today to nominate the following persons for appointment by the President as judges of the District Court:

Mr. Olann Kelleher, Solicitor

Biographical Details

Born 1953
Educated: University College Cork (BCL) 1974
Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors 1977
Member of the Munster rugby squad that beat the All Blacks 1978

In fairness, he's done other stuff too.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Benoît says

An excellent euphemism from Pope Benedict in his reference to the latest round of the decades-long Irish child sex abuse scandal --

canonically irregular situations

There's a lot embedded in that phrase.

And it came in one of the more troubling paragraphs of his letter to the Irish Church, one in which he repeated his long-standing argument that social liberalism and even Vatican II bear some of the blame for the scandal --

Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

The clock can't be turned back. If that's part of his diagnosis, he's on the road to social irrelevance.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who gets the bigger dressing room?

From the Where are they now? file --

Gulf News -- Dubai: He may be 42 and have enjoyed his biggest act more than 20 years ago but Vanilla Ice is still touring the world and now he's coming to Dubai.

Robert Van Winkle will play his debut gig in the UAE at Barasti on Wednesday, March 31, supported by another '90s disco favourite, SNAP ... He's also enjoying a new lease on fame, with British (sic) twins Jedward, of X Factor fame, releasing a reworking of Ice Ice Baby on February 15 which is riding high at number two in the UK charts.

Expect a 45-minute extravaganza of all his best hits, plus a performance from SNAP.

Entrance is free all night.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Seinfeld moment

What's the deal with the Dubai TGIF restaurant (Thank God It's Friday) being called TGIF? Given the Islamic weekend, shouldn't it be Thank God It's Thursday?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our possessions in North America

This is a point that shouldn't be difficult but it appears that it is. Andrew McCarthy in the Wall Street Journal essentially accusing lawyers who represent terrorism suspects of treason --

The nation is at war, and the detainees are unprivileged alien enemy combatants. By contrast, the United States was not at war with England at the time of the Boston Massacre, and the British soldiers were lawful police, not nonuniformed terrorists.

This refers to the opponents of the treason argument using the fact that John Adams represented British troops who had shot civilians in Boston, a deeply unpopular move at the time.

That time being 1770. And there's the problem. If your argument is that there's no precedent for American lawyers representing the other side at a time of war, then your refutation can't involve a scenario where the United States of America was not at war ... when there was no United States of America!

The Adams case was a British Crown prosecution through powers of the colony of Massachussetts, whose governor feared that he wouldn't be able to find any defence lawyer for the troops accused of murder since the local sentiment was inclined to see the troops as the enemy and their defenders as collaborators. Which is pretty much what the right is now trying to whip against GWOT defence lawyers.

That kid needs help

It's strange how strands of seemingly unrelated stories can connect with each other. First, from the ongoing Jihad Jane/Swedish cartoonist Irish connection case --

The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the case, reported on its Web site that Paulin-Ramirez was being held in the alleged plot.

Her stepfather, George Mott, said the FBI seized a desktop computer in late September but did not tell the family what they found.

The Motts said they're concerned for the welfare of their grandson, who has been placed in the custody of Ireland's foster care system.

And as for Ireland's foster care system, well it is currently under intense scrutiny since it's not clear who's actually looking out for the interests of the children in it.

Indeed, the arrangements by which the woman from Colorado, her 6 year old son, and an Algerian to which may or may not have been married could suddenly pop up living as a household in Waterford needs more explanation. It seems that Ireland's vaunted "light-touch regulation" which worked so well for the financial sector extends to family matters as well.

Friday, March 12, 2010


We all know that western script is read from left to right and vice versa for Arabic and Hebrew. Thus one goes backwards relative to the other. It seems clear enough. But now consider the ubiquitous bottom of the screen scrolling news on your favourite TV channel. It does not seem so intuitive that the western text should begin from the right and scroll left while the Arabic text comes in from the left. For the text that we think of as being read backwards moves forwards. And if the technique is that your eye picks a point on the TV screen and reads the passing words it is possible that it does not make much difference which way the words are going. With channels ever desperate to get distracted viewers to stick around for a few minutes maybe someone will try letting the text flow in the other direction. It will not be any less worthy an experiment than anything else in the news channel firmament.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A restive province

Part of the right-wing pushback against the criticism of the Cheney-Kristol attack on US Justice Dept lawyers who dared to represent terrorism suspects --

Cesar Conda at The Corner -- The John Adams analogy that Ken Starr and the other lawyers cite in their statement is ludicrous: At the time of the Boston Massacre we were not at war and the British soldiers he defended were in court facing a criminal charge of murder. Adams was not representing prisoners of war, enemies of the nation, trying to get them released in the middle of a war.

The Boston Massacre was in 1770. So there was no "we" -- there was no United States of America. But of course, war is coming, but Conda wants that war circumscribed by when it was declared and when it ended, not the open ended definition now in vogue. And most striking is the lack of historical self-awareness. In 1770, the "enemies of the nation" were the independence-minded colonists i.e. what we now call Americans.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The horse's mouth

Jonah Goldberg --

For starters I think he's [David Brooks] just wrong about Alinksy. The main reason Alinsky is hot right now with many conservatives is that, thanks to Beck and Horowitz, many are convinced that Obama is an Alinskyite and so many believe that you can't understand Obama without understanding Alinsky.

Conservative insurgent James O'Keefe in interview with UCLA magazine --

TBS: Can you speak a little about your use of Saul Alinsky?

O’Keefe: Alinsky is a genius and has been central to my videos. His tactics are ideologically neutral, and stand the test of time. They can ultimately be used for truth and righteousness not just for anarchy and disorder (as they may have been used in the past).

Friday, March 05, 2010

Name that country

... this cajoling of the electorate was carried to such lengths that, until the recent crisis brought them to their senses, the electors in many cases preferred to vote for a candidate who was known to possess an aptitude for promoting his own interests at the public expense rather than for a man who disdained to adopt such a course. They argued that, if a man had proved himself capable of using his political opportunities to his personal advantage, he would be the better equipped to promote the advantage of his constituents: an honest man would only preach to them ...

The country was thus exposed to the evils of paternalism in its most extreme form. The people, instead of being trained to independence and self-reliance, became increasingly dependent on those who were placed in authority; instead of being trained to think in terms of the national interest, they were encouraged to think only of the interests of their own district ...

With no training in citizenship, and unversed in the elementary canons of public finance, the people were unable to realise that excessive expenditure would inevitably recoil on their own heads; the Government evidently possessed or could raise the money and, if that was so, it was held to be their right to have the maximum share of it.

It's the 1933 Newfoundland Royal Commission (chapter 5), which came to the conclusion that huge debt and patronage politics put the Dominion (as it then was) beyond repair and that it should return to direct rule from London. This persisted until joining Canada in 1949.

Bertie Ahern had a special initiative that studied Ireland Newfoundland parallels. And although there were calls to abolish that initiative as a cost-saving measure, maybe its time has come.

Hat Tip: David Hale.

Tell it like it is

Ahmad Chalabi in the Wall Street Journal on his vision for Iraq --

We are proposing the creation of a regional alliance among Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran to bring together our geographic, economic, water and oil resources into a coherent framework.

Image: Wikipedia Commons