Improbable Scenarios

Matt Yglesias wants to amend the Constitution. Why? Well

[W]e really ought to amend the constitution to provide a mechanism for repopulating the House of Representatives in the event of a mass-casualty terrorist attack. As things stand, the country would be governed by a “rump” House composed of a possibly tiny number of surviving members until special elections were held. This rump House would likely be wildly unrepresentative of the country and might seriously lack legitimacy. Worse, an attack that incapacitated without killing a large enough number of members would render it impossible to assemble a quorum, in which case it would be legally impossible to appropriate funds or authorize a response to the attacks, which would lead, presumably, to some kind of suspension of constitutional government.

I think we should amend the constitution to make sure that, if a potion emerges that turns the incumbent president into a poodle, the vice president takes office. Seriously, Matt’s a smart guy, but neither of these things is going to happen, ever. Destroying a substantial amount of Congress requires bombing and/or crashing into the Capitol building when Congress is in session. Judging as a Cessna in D.C. made officials consider shooting it down, I don’t think a plane attack is possible, and considering the amount of security at the Capitol building, a bombing is even less plausible. This strikes me as a doomsday scenario that doesn’t warrant any action, let alone a constitutional amendment.

More Bernstein Idiocy

He proves himself wrong on the Israel checkpoint issue:

Next time you hear someone criticizing Israel’s “checkpoints” for Palestinians, think about this: a surprise checkpoint set up Thursday prevented an Islamic Jihad terrorist from blowing up a children’s Hanukkah party in Tel Aviv. The checkpoints have many harsh consequences on innocent Palestinians, but the blame for these hardships lies with the terrorists who try to infiltrate Israel to murder innocents. And it shouldn’t need pointing out, but it unfortunately does, that before Palestinian terrorists starting using suicide bombings in response to the Oslo peace agreement West Bank and Gaza Palestinians could come and go from Israel and within the territories rather freely, with over 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel proper (for much better wages than they could receive at home) daily.

Yes – and because they no longer get those great wages, they have to rely on welfare. And because the Palestinian Authority is too corrupt to dispense welfare, Hamas does. And thus, suicide terrorism increases. So, checkpoints increase both Palestinian poverty, and suicide terrorism. Good policy, that.

Ha ha! Sexual Harassment!

David Bernstein, wingnut that he is, calls this the “most ridiculous case of the year”. What case is it? Well…

Two secretaries will share a settlement of around $450,000 from the Atlantic City, N.J. school district and its insurer after filing sexual-harassment charges. Carol Lee and Jennifer Torres sued following a comment Assistant Superintendent Thomas J. Kirschling made to them and two others in July 2002. At some point mid-month, Kirschling said “I ride them hard and put them away wet.” The two secretaries sent him a memo saying they were outraged. He later explained and apologized, according to a subsequent memo. Kirschling was apparently using a rural idiom that means someone is tired or worked hard. The phrase is taken from the need to cool down a horse after strenuous exercise. Only a mistreated horse is stabled while it is still sweating. After the women complained, the district assigned an outside attorney to investigate, but that probe inadvertently lapsed…

Regardless of whether or not he meant it to be sexual, telling women that he “ride[s] them hard and put[s] them away wet” is sexual harassment. Hard as it may be for Bernstein to understand, but to the women, the connotations were obviously sexual, and very offensive. But Bernstein, of course, finds no problem with sexual harassment in this instance. And also, as he later willingly allows, with calling black women “coonass[es]. Wonderful fellow, he.

Bad News About Sudan

Isn’t it all, nowadays? Here’s one piece:

According to the Associated Press, Egyptian authorities broke up a Sudanese refugees’ protest in a Cairo park Friday, killing ten. I presume this is the encampment outside the Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen against the UNHCR’s management of the refugee crisis. The refugees wanted resettlement in the West rather than to return to Sudan, where if they’re like the Sudanese I met in Cairo they fear the peace deal will be fleeting. True to the form they established during the elections, the government claims the Sudanese instigated the violence.

The last time something like this happened in the U.S. (Kent State), there was widespread outrage for weeks. But I suppose this doesn’t count to the American public, because Sudanese people aren’t American. Gah. Anyway, the refugee problem is certain to worsen now that Sudan’s officially at war with Chad:

Chad says it is in “a state of war” with neighbour Sudan over the security crisis in the east of the country.
It accuses Sudan of being the “common enemy of the nation” after a Chadian rebel attack on a town last week.
In a statement, the government calls on Chadians to mobilise themselves against Sudanese aggression.

Hopefully, the Chadian forces will at least partially stop the Janjaweed from continuing its genocide. I doubt it, however. Which is why a multinational force, either through the U.N. (as in Korea) or NATO (as in Kosovo), is the only way to stop the genocide. For the force to have any force, however, it’ll need a large contribution from the United States, which would require a partial pullout from Iraq. Not a bad idea to begin with, but this simply necessitates it.

World Peace Is Here

This is why I find our national political obsession with al-Qaeda so annoying:

[A]fter five decades of inexorable increase [italics Chatterbox’s], the number of armed conflicts started to fall worldwide in the early 1990s. The decline has continued.
By 2003, there were 40 percent fewer conflicts than in 1992. The deadliest conflicts — those with 1,000 or more battle-deaths — fell by some 80 percent. The number of genocides and other mass slaughters of civilians also dropped by 80 percent [between 1988 and 2001], while core human rights abuses have declined in five out of six regions of the developing world since the mid-1990s.
International terrorism is the only type of political violence that has increased. Although the death toll has jumped sharply over the past three years, terrorists kill only a fraction of the number who die in wars.

Here, we have a perfect opportunity for a foreign policy based not on threat reduction but on humanitarian objectives. Instead of worrying about conflict prevention, we could focus our energies on curbing AIDS, or genocide intervention. But no. We are too focused on finding an enemy, any enemy, and demolishing it. And that enemy turned out to be al-Qaeda. For a while during the Clinton administration, a humanitarian future seemed possible. With the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo and his AIDS initiatives, Clinton set a good precedent. But it seems that we’ve lost that since 2001. Like so many things, in fact.