Monthly Archives: June 2006

Hamdan Analysis

They do it, so I don’t have to (besides, they do it better):


Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | 2 Comments

Hamdan Highlights

In the extended I post the syllabus (summary) of the case, pending publication of the full text somewhere.

Three key points (I think) on a quick reading:

  • 5-3 for most of it, with Kennedy writing separately from the majority, avoiding decision on some of the finer points of what the Geneva Convention requires
  • Five votes for the proposition — rejected by a majority in the DC Circuit, with prescient concurrence on this point by Judge Williams — that common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the people held in Guantanamo Bay, whatever label the administration tries to stick on them (e.g. “enemy combatant”)

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Posted in Guantanamo | 11 Comments

Hamdan Reversed!

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo Tribunals

Justices rule the Bush administration overstepped its authority in creating military war crimes trials for detainees as part of its anti-terror policies.
–Associated Press 10:09 a.m. ET

I have a lot of meetings today, so it may be a while before I can write about the decision. This is good – it remains to be seen how good….

Posted in Civil Liberties | 1 Comment

A Sign of the Times

Want to know why political journalism is such a mess? A piece of it is that they don't do their homework. (Another piece is that they used to be the intellectuals of the working class; now they are professionals who went to college with the people they cover.) It's gotten to the point that it's news when a political reporter actually reads to the end of reports, as can be seen in this profile of (obsessively) hard-working NYT reporter Sewell Chan:

NYO – Off the Record: “The story I like to tell about Sewell is you hand him the M.T.A. budget, and two days later he’s digging through it and he’s finding B1 story leads on page 250,” Mr. Jamieson said. “I think he’s home in bed reading it. He flips through it and finds things like they’re going to take conductors off train lines this year. It’s just classic good reporting.”

This is unusual? Ouch. No wonder Murray Waas is such a standout.

I think the problem is particularly acute among reporters who cover “politics” which they see as somehow divorced from underlying realities of governing. The reporters with more specialized beats are sometime impressively well informed. Certainly quite a few of the Washington Post and NYT tech journalists I've spoken to had done real homework, as had the main AP guys. But, in my admittedly limited experience, pound for pound the real standouts in terms of preparation are the Wall Street Journal reporters. Either they routinely read in depth or I'm just the last guy they call when no one else is around.

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment

Decoding the Media

Brad DeLong explains how to maximize your chances of getting accurate information if you are among what Jay Rosen calls The People Formerly Known as the Audience and are restricted to the traditional media. Brad’s focus is on economic reporting where the problem is especially large, but I think it’s more widespread than just economics:

If you want to understand Washington DC, the American government, and American economic policy, then: trust the news pages of the Wall Street Journal, trust the Financial Times, trust the political and lobbying coverage of the National Journal. Trust Bloomberg and Knight-Ridder to try as best they can to get the story straight under immense time pressure. Trust nothing else until it is verified. Use yesterday’s *Post* for fishwrap. Use today’s *Post* to line the kitchen floor while you continue to housetrain the new puppy.

Why is the Washington Post so bad? Because too many of the big hitters at the Post (on the National desk as opposed to, say, Metro) are not actually particularly interested in policy reality but rather are focused on its first derivative, which is politics, and its second derivative, which is inside-the-Beltway chatter about the future of politics,

The problem is not that the Washington Post hires people who are unintelligent or lazy while the Wall Street Journal hires whip-smart workaholics. The problem is that conveying accurate information about the economy is high up on almost all the *Journal’s* news reporters’ and way down on almost all the Post reporters’ list of priorities.

Making a splash–yes. … Saying who is one-up politically inside-the-beltway today–yes. Pleasing your editors so they’ll give your stories better placement–yes. Pleasing your sources–like Denny Hastert–so they’ll keep talking to you first–yes. Informing the public about the functioning of the economy and about the dilemmas of economic policy–what’s that?All of this seems very sad and largely true, although there still are some terrific reporters on the print Post who are still doing great traditional reporting (e.g. Pincus), not to mention several folks at the online But it’s striking how often the Post’s editors bury some of their work deep inside the A section…

Reading Brad’s media guide, though, I was struck by how it felt like half of a Europe joke.

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Posted in The Media | 3 Comments

Banned from IRC Chat!

It takes you back to the old days.

Only I never did IRC (Internet Relay Chat) in the old days. (And don't IM or text today — signs of fogeydom I suppose.)

But Tuesday, for the first time in my life, I seem to have be banned from an IRC channel.

About three times a year I go onto slashnet, to the #slash channel to get some help/support with occasional problems I have with a slashcode-based web site I more or less run called ICANNWatch. Sunday was one of those rare occasions.

I posted a three line query. Didn't get an answer. There was basically no traffic at all — looks like people had better things to do on a Sunday. Late that day my research assistant solved the problem. I logged off.

Today I logged on thinking to ask how I might enhance ICANNWatch's RSS feed so it carries full text instead of just headlines. But lo and behold:

[INFO] Network view for “slashnet” opened.
[INFO] Attempting to connect to “slashnet”. Use /cancel to abort.
[INFO] Connecting to irc://slashnet/ (irc://, attempt 1, next attempt in 15 seconds…
= *** Looking up your hostname…
= *** Checking ident…
= *** Found your hostname
= *** No ident response; username prefixed with ~
=== *** Your GECOS (real name) is not allowed on this server (Invalid real name) Please change it and reconnect
[ERROR] Closing Link: icw[] (Your GECOS (real name) is banned from this server)
[ERROR] Connection to irc://slashnet/ (irc:// closed.

I duly attempted to follow the FAQ on how to get reinstated, but to no current avail. I don't even know if this is because the previous user of my DSL link “ did something naughty, or they think I did, or some other cause entirely….

Update: well, banned in the sense that if you don't change the default user name in the Chatzilla plugin it gets banned…

Posted in Internet | 3 Comments