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The Tenure Paradox - Robot pimp

Slap on the Wrist for "Non-Consensual Sex" - Lampshade, Esq.

Intelligence: The Gathering - Graphic and Gratuitous

Grads are the New Illegals - Robot Pimp

Meet Entitlement Eric - Robot Pimp

Wherein I Solve World Peace - Lampshade, Esq.

A Necessary Delusion - Shadow Hand

Do you even need to shave overhead? - Lawyerlite

LSAT Jenga - Publius Picasso

http://www.constitutionaldaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1573:legal-reasoning-redux-5&catid=38:there-and-never-back-again&Itemid=65

Time, Place, and Manner

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About that thing going on in Syria

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Here's what we know is going on in Syria: There's a rebellion that's been going on for about two and a half years. A ton of people have died, including a lot of civilians known to have been killed by the Assad regime. We also know that someone has used chemical weapons, it was probably Assad, but may have been the rebels, there may be some false flagging going on, and it may be the case that both sides have used chemical weapons.

Anyone who heard Obama's "red line" comments a while back would know that Syria using chemical weapons would be apparent regime suicide. Assad can possibly win a protracted civil war, but if the United States gets involved it's going to be game over for him, and chemical weapons have such a huge stigma that he should expect to gain many other opponents and lose any allies who are on the fence.

Of course, he probably has used chemical weapons, and ended up calling Obama's bluff. That's going to be deeply embarrassing for the President. Even if Congress does vote to strike, asking for permission to back up a threat makes him appear weak, so even the best case scenario for Obama is still pretty bad. There's a problem with this plot though -- it doesn't explain why Assad would use chemical weapons. What does he gain from embarrassing Obama, or even for making the US look like it won't back up its threats? It might embolden his supporters some, but that's a huge risk to take for what may be minimal gains.

There is the possibility that Assad is either stupid or desperate or desperately stupid, but at the international level you have to suspect that there's a larger strategy at work. Our Mentat is suffering from a dental emergency at the moment though, so we're going to have to turn to another angle of the Syria crisis, the legal angle.

 

Under international law, there are only two grounds for an attack against a foreign nation: Self Defense, and a United Nations Security Council resolution. With China and Russia holding veto power, such a resolution against Syria will never come, and a civil war in Syria poses no imminent threat to the United States. ...Political gymnastics aside, of course. Could a civil war result in chemical weapons slipping out of the country and into the hands of terrorists? Yes. Is destabilization in the Middle East something the United States should be worried about? Yes. But if that counts as a threat so imminent that an attack can be classified as self defense, then so could a preemptive strike against any leader who we thought might have sympathies with our opponents, along with a whole host of other very weak reasons, and self defense would become an utterly meaningless concept.

Doug Bandow, writing for the Cato Institute, pointed out another interesting legal angle to the Syrian conflict. As we all know, chemical weapons are banned under international treaties. What you might not know is that five nations have not signed on to that treaty: North Korea, South Sudan, Egypt, Angola, and yeup, Syria. (In South Sudan's defense, they're a new nation and maybe haven't gotten around to it yet.) In addition, Myanmar and Israel have signed it, but the treaty was not ratified by their national legislatures.

Since Syria hasn't signed on, that makes it very hard to argue that the United States should intervene solely because of the use of chemical weapons. Plenty of dictatorial regimes have killed their own civilians, and with a wide variety of weapons. Chemical weapons aren't even particularly deadly compared to other modern weapons. The high end estimate is about 1400 people killed with sarin in Syria. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it killed about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers without the use of chemical weapons. Since the invasion, over 20,000 coalition and Iraqi security forces have been killed -- without the use of chemical weapons.

And one last point... DMDNB, 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane, the explosive in C4 and other plastic explosives, is a chemical, so the distinction really is a pretty silly one.

This is why we can't have nice things kept away from not nice things

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In New York City, real estate developers often cut deals with the local government in order to get zoning variances and tax breaks, and often what they have to give up is a slice of their profitability by providing a certain number of affordable apartments. A new development on the side of the Hudson River on the Upper West Side has just such an arrangement; developer Extell is making 55 out of the 219 units in its luxury condo building affordable. Condo owners have to shell out a minimum of a million dollars to live their, but the affordable units will go for as little as $845 a month.

So of course, Linda Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan in the State Assembly, wants to shut the project down. Why? Because the condo would have a separate entrance and elevator for the affordable units. Oh the humanity!

Speaking to the local Fox affiliate, Rosenthal said:

My question is, why do the affordable units have to be segregated apart from the condos that the wealthy can afford to buy?

Developers up and down the west side and across the city manage to inter-mingle the affordable units with the non-affordable units – it’s done everywhere. There’s no reason that there needs to be segregation.

Rosenthal's objection underscores the basic problem with government in the Big Apple. "What do they have to be segregated," "There's no reason that there needs to be segregation."

They don't have to do it, they choose to do it, and private citizens shouldn't have to justify their choices to a government niceness council. The government can rightly put certain stipulations on the zoning and tax perks, things like the units need to have windows, and a minimum size, and maybe some paint on the walls. But Rosenthal wants to go beyond that and use the building process as a way to ensure that poorer residents of New York City don't have to suffer the indignity of using a separate entrance from the rich folks.

Well here's a news flash Ms. Rosenthal: There already is a separate entrance. It's called the Triborough Bridge.

Stop and Frisk: Racist and Sexist Policy is Racist

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A New York Judge has finally slapped down the state's controversial Stop and Frisk policy on grounds that it violated the 4th and 14th Amendments was doubleplus ungood. ABA Journal coverage of the decision points out that racist underovertones to the policy:

In 52 percent of those 4.4 million stops, the person stopped was black, in 31 percent the person was Hispanic, and in 10 percent the person was white. Weapons were seized in 1 percent of the stops of blacks, 1.1 percent of the stops of Hispanics, and 1.4 percent of the stops of whites. Contraband other than weapons was seized in 1.8 percent of the stops of blacks, 1.7 percent of the stops of Hispanics, and 2.3 percent of the stops of whites.

Left out of the ABA Journal's coverage is that 92.8% of people stopped were male. Noticing this oversight, we poked around a few other law blogs to see what was going on in their coverage. Specifically we wanted to see what the coverage was like in feminist spaces since all the rage in feminism these days is about how The PatriarchyTM is also bad for men and feminism helps everyone, so come on, put on your This Is What A Feminist Looks Like t-shirt and become an ally! Nevermind that the label "allies" is necessarily describing someone in terms of otherness.

Predictably, Feminist Legal Theory, a blog run by some professors at UC Davis fails to have a single post discussing stop and frisk, though it has plenty of posts on race issues, BLTGI issues, and a couple on animal abuse. Feminist Law Prawfs, a site which counts virtually every Law and Gender/Women/Feminism professor among its contributors, likewise has no stop and frisk post. It does however have posts on racial discrimination, BLTGI issues, and yes, animal abuse. And that's in spite of its slogan, "Nearly all of us root for fairness, not for our own sex."

Of course some people will argue that it's okay to profile men because men are actually more prone towards violent crime -- doing the same for racial minorities is bad though, because the races are equal. (Nevermind that there's a link between poverty and violent crime and between race and poverty.) Stop and frisk is still getting it wrong. Women are stopped only 7% of the time, but are 20% of violent offenders. [BJS, Table 38]

And yet, we've heard no complaints about women being woefully underrepresented in stop and frisk incidents.

Let The Tax Debate Be Held In Secret

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As you may have heard from one of the not-quite-a-handful of media outlets that decided to cover the story, members of Congress working to reform the tax code have decided to conduct their negotiations in secret. [Click here for Daily Show coverage. We removed the video due to autoplay problems.]

Conducting major policy debates in secret strikes many people the wrong way, and rightfully so. Keeping the legislative process in the dark tends to fly in the face of the basic principles of democracy. And yet, we're going applaud our leaders in Washington for perhaps finally making a right call. Not that they'll come up with sensible tax reform, but conducting the process in secret is definitely the right way to do it.

The tax code is full of special interests and any attempt to debate it in public is going to be met with too much resistance, even from people who would gladly accept system-wide reform. If each provision is put up for debate on its own, its supporters will fight for it tooth and nail, and the process quickly becomes gridlocked with no representative daring to offer up his constituents' interests in exchange for someone else's.

The idea that policy debates which involve a multitude of issues none of which seem touchable should be conducted in private is hardly new. It's the same procedure that was used to craft a little piece of law you may know as THE CONSTITUTION. Whole lot of third rail issues there, the big states vs. little states, taxes, individual rights, the national debt, slavery. Members of the Constitutional Convention knew that they couldn't go on record as supporting any small bit of a compromise, but also that the nation would accept the entire package. So, James Madison took notes, and they were kept sealed for 50 years.

Democracy does require transparency, but that is satisfied by the entirety of the law being presented for open debate. All the provisions and compromises are included within the four corners of the bill, and the vote will be televised on the CSPANs. All that's left out is the ability to yell at your congressman for any one particular item.

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