joegratz.net

March 31, 2003

Machiavelli

Sy Hersh reveals the rift between the Pentagon and the Secretary of Defense over the war in Iraq. The article refers to claims that Rumsfeld chose to believe reports of Iraqi exiles over intelligence gathered on the ground. This brings to mind a quote from Machiavelli I had a vague memory of, refreshed by a quick Google:

We see, then, how vain the faith and promises of men who are exiles from their own country. As to their faith, we have to bear in mind that, whenever they can return to their own country by other means than your assistance, they will abandon you and look to the other means, regardless of their promises to you. And as to their vain hopes and promises, such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe, they will fill you with hopes to that degree that if you attempt to act upon them you will incur a fruitless expense, or engage in an undertaking that will involve you in ruin….A prince therefore should be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury.

Machiavelli, The Discourses (1531), chapter 32

March 30, 2003

John Doe Wants Snoop Dogg to Pay Tha Cost

An anonymous Comptonian is suing Snoop Dogg after an answering machine message this “John Doe” left for Snoop ended up on the rapper’s latest record. This turns out to be bad news for Mr. Doe, since the message is, shall we say, a denunciation of Suge Knight, and upsetting Mr. Knight while living on the Bloods’ turf can be hazardous to one’s health.

Doe seeks damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. To recover, plaintiff must show that defendant’s conduct was, among other things “extreme, outrageous, and outside the bounds of conduct tolerable in a civilized society.” I think we’re missing this element here; from the facts alleged, Snoop et al. acted negligently, maybe even with reckless disregard for the safety of Doe, but not in an extreme and outrageous way.

Doe also makes stuff up, alleging “Common Law Appropriation of Voice.” This sounds more like the title of a doctoral dissertation by a postcolonialist literary theorist than a cause of action. Arthur Golden may be liable, but Snoop isn’t. The phrase “appropriation of voice” appears in no decisions indexed on Westlaw; the judge would have to create a new cause of action here, and judges don’t like to do that.

Sorry, Mr. Doe.

(Incidentally, I really wish Doe’s attorneys had petitioned the court for a temporary restraining order in this case, for no other reason than that this blog entry could then be titled “O.G. seeks T.R.O.”)

March 29, 2003

War Bits

For the record, my opinion on the legality, morality, and wisdom of Gulf War II changes by the hour. Unquestionably, a true international coalition with U.N. support would have been preferable. Also unquestionably, Saddam Hussein is awful. My guidance today comes from John Quincy Adams, who said of the United States, “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

A snarky bit making the email rounds (coming to me from interesting-people):

Vietnam II Preflight Check

  1. Cabal of oldsters who won’t listen to outside advice? Check.
  2. No understanding of ethnicities of the many locals? Check.
  3. National boundaries drawn in Europe, not by the locals? Check.
  4. Unshakable faith in our superior technology? Check.
  5. France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
  6. Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
  7. China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
  8. SecDef pushing a conflict the JCS never wanted? Check.
  9. Fear we’ll look bad if we back down now? Check.
  10. Corrupt Texan in the WH? Check.
  11. Land war in Asia? Check.
  12. Rightists unhappy with outcome of previous war? Check.
  13. Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? Check.
  14. Soldiers about to be dosed with our own chemicals? Check.
  15. Friendly fire problem ignored instead of solved? Check.
  16. Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? Check.
  17. B-52 bombers? Check.
  18. Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? Check.
  19. Infighting among the branches of the military? Check.
  20. Locals that cheer us by day, hate us by night? Check.
  21. Local experts ignored? Check.
  22. Local politicians ignored? Check.
  23. Local conflicts since before the USA has been a country? Check.
  24. Against advice, Prez won’t raise taxes to pay for war? Check.
  25. Blue water navy ships operating in brown water? Check.
  26. Use of nukes hinted at if things don’t go our way? Check.
  27. Unpopular war? Check.

Vietnam II, you are cleared to taxi.

March 28, 2003

Government Graphic Design

Two examples:

The Onion At War

The first Gulf War II issue of The Onion is out. Bravo. Nothing in it is at the level of the best Onion article ever, in the September 11th issue, but it’s a very good issue nonetheless. My favorites:

March 27, 2003

Hands

On the one hand, John S. Hall, one of my musical idols, is now an entertainment law attorney while continuing his career as lead singer of King Missile III. Going to law school needs not sap all of one’s creative energies. There is hope.

On the other hand, this post in my friend Chris Blanchard’s blog got me thinking (and googling). While I’m buried under a pile of Westlaw printouts, two friends from high school are doing much less desk-sitting: Chris Dallman is a singer-songwriter in New York, and Gareth Reynolds performs with The B Team, a sketch troupe in Hollywood.

I’m happy here, of course, having as good a time as one can as a 1L. I genuinely like law school, which I suppose I’m grateful for. But until I remember how much I disliked the theatrical world toward the end, I wonder whether I wouldn’t be even happier as a starving assistant sound designer somewhere off-off-off-off-Broadway.

Spite

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) plans to introduce legislation mandating CDMA over GSM as the cell-phone standard in postwar Iraq. Ridiculous. GSM is the obvious choice; it’s used by every other country in the region (and the world; there are no CDMA-only countries, though GSM coverage is reportedly spotty in Japan and much of Latin America).

This is a combination of the two pitfalls the United States government must avoid in the rebuilding of Iraq in order to help restore our international credibility. First, we must avoid the appearance that large contracts are going to American companies solely because they are American. Here, the choice of CDMA would be a windfall for Qualcomm, a California company; the choice of GSM would spread the profits over a large number of technology companies.

Second, we must avoid commercial spite against France and Germany. These are powerful economies, and their governemnts can and will help us with the reconstruction if we don’t hold a grudge about United Nations foot-dragging. Yes, GSM once stood for “Groupe Speciale Mobile” (it has since become “Global Standard for Mobile”), but the biggest GSM equipment makers aren’t French. They’re Finnish (Nokia), American (Motorola), and Swedish (Ericsson). No spite necessary.

March 26, 2003

Quirky

I’m excited. The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players are playing in Minneapolis next weekend.

The show that got me hooked on This American Life was a series of tapes found in attics, at yard sales, and in closets. The view they provided into American life at various points in time and space was fascinating. It was the same sort of thrill I got flipping through and reading old postcards in an antique store: an unexpected portal into another life, part sociological, part voyeuristic, part historical. The Trachtenburgs take this pastime one step further: they write songs to go along with found slides, mostly from mid-America at mid-century. They’re alternately funny, biting, and sweet. Check them out.

(Incidentally, their drummer is the Trachtenburgs’ adorable 9-year-old daughter. Definitely a bit of a gimmick… but she’s a very good drummer, so no harm done.)

Surprise, surprise . . .

A $500 million contract for the rebuilding of Iraqi oil fields was awarded yesterday to Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company. “This war is to liberate the people of Iraq! . . . (and to prop up the economy of Texas.)”

March 25, 2003

A Criminal Vignette

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

  • P, a Crim professor.
  • G, the guy who sits in front.

SETTING: Criminal Law, a week or two ago.

P: We don’t count drunkenness as an excuse for criminal behavior primarily because most intoxication is voluntary, and as a matter of social control, alcohol is a factor in the vast majority of violent crimes. Why do you suppose alcohol is involved in so many crimes?

G: Ah… Well you know, when you’re drunk, your judgment is sort of impaired … uh … things that wouldn’t normally seem like a good idea seem like a really great idea, for instance … uh … uhm …

P: That’s OK, we don’t need to know her name.

Finis.

Disclaimer Haiku:
West wind seems to say,
"This is not legal advice;
I'm not your lawyer."

(And if you're a client with whom I have a preexisting attorney-client relationship, this still isn't legal advice.)

In case you're wondering, this blog is also not intended as advertising, as a representation of anything but my personal opinion, or as an offer of representation.

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