Here's a roundup on Senator Wellstone's death. I wasn't going to post on this at all out of respect for the dead, but after what's happened I consider it open season.
Howard Kurtz weighs in on the subject. The Brothers Judd take their full bore shots . Instantman comments here and here while Coldfury fires away. Bill Quick's take and a A stiff drink from the Vodka Pundit . Each of these has good cross links as well.
It's the end of the Democratic transformation into a banana-republic political gang. It's complete.
UPDATE: Some other good links.
And the also apropos Mark Steyn.
So others have noticed that Illinois governor Ryan's death penalty clemency hearings have not gone well for him. I think it's difficult for those not in Illinois to understand just how poorly Ryan was thought of before this little debacle. This is a governor who fled to Cuba to find a more hospitable environment when the going got tough. A governor who not only didn't run for re-election, but whose fellow party members ran against him in the primary. Like Clinton, Ryan was searching for a "legacy". He discovered that basic truth, that if you mouth liberal platitudes then the hard left will support you regardless of anything else. The death penalty was his ticket to approval. I think it says something that, as a Republican, he went with the hard left, rather than looking for redemption on the hard right.
In any event, the callous disregard for the actual crimes that were committed to get these people on death row is standard for the vocal death penalty opponents. It is the penalty itself that is wrong, and everything else is secondary. As many others have commented, the hard left lives these times in a cocoon of isolation from other views and so is incapable of understanding the views of the populace or even understanding that the views of the populace might be different. My favorite result of this was Ryan expressing surpise that, yes, some of the people on death row were actually guilty. Imagine that, the justice system did not result in 100% failure!
I personally am a proponent of the death penalty, but I believe that it is overused (particularly at the federal level) and the process is frequently flawed. It might be reasonable to have a higher level of proof beyond conviction to impose that penalty, and it should only be used in truly heinous crimes. Also, there's no good reason not to allow anyone accused of a capital crime access to DNA testing, as long as the results are always used (as it turns out, in the majority of cases where DNA testing is used after the trial, it confirms guilt, even though it was requested by the accused). But there are those so dangerous, so evil, that society must remove any possibility of them committing a crime ever again. The death penalty is a 100% deterrent for those who recieve it.
In an article we have an excellent example of how completely bogus arguments are being advanced as "international law". Here's the money quote from the article:
In recent years the rejection of multilateral agreements and the rule of international law by the U.S. has become routine. (This is systematically documented in Rule of Power or Rule of Law?, a recent report by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Lawyer's Committee on Nuclear Policy. It is available on the Internet at http://www.lcnp.org and also at http://www.ieer.org). Examples include the U.S.' refusal to sign the treaty banning anti-personnel mines, the refusal to be bound by the International Criminal Court, terminating the process established to create an international agreement to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and the dismissal of the binding obligations of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. This has outraged the traditional and most loyal of U.S. allies in western Europe.(Of course, the idea the the most loyal of US allies is in western Europe is laughable, but let's ignore that).
Now what, exactly, are the crimes of which the US is accused that violate international law? Basically not signing treaties. Did the US ratify any of these? That means a Presidential signature and approval by the Senate, at least time I checked the Constitution.
There is another canard in a later paragraph that I see repeated frequently.
The Bush Administration's 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is the most recent evidence of what may be the worst part of this growing U.S. challenge to international law and collective security. The high points have been the U.S. Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) - despite the pleas of the United Kingdom, France and Germany - and the U.S.' withdrawal from the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.(Note that the Bush Administration is blamed for a Senate rejection of a treaty! But let's ignore that).
Once again we have the US accused of "challenging" international law because it refused to sign a treaty (CTBT). Then we have the main canard, that the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty is contrary to international law. Is it not the case that this action was entirely permissible under the terms of the treaty? How can following the provisions of a treaty violate either the treaty or international law? This is a classic case of where international law claims are used as a thin veneer over transational progressivism . Again, if that's what international law is, then it's not really law. And who is it that allowed that law to be trampled and disgraced in this way? Hardly the US or the Bush administration.
Another NPR report, this time on the Illinois gubernatorial race. The Democratic candidate is disputing NRA criticism that he's anti-gun by saying that he supports gun rights. Speaking about hunters, he says "I believe in your way of life, I believe in the US Constitution, I believe in the Second Admendment". The NPR reporter claims that the candidate also supports the NRA line (although of course it's not phrased that way) that existing gun laws are sufficient and that as governor he will work on enforcing those laws instead of passing new ones. Didn't Democratic candidates used to respond to NRA criticism by claiming that the criticism was morally wrong, rather than factually wrong?
NPR has a story on right now about how students are making many fewer long distance phone calls on campus phone networks. This is primarily the rise of cell phones - most students have them and use them (instead of the campus phones) for long distance. The issue for the univerisities is that they can't tax calls that go over cell phones, which has a negative effect on the amount of money they can extract from the students. One campus "lost" $400,000 last year. One might also view this as students didn't have $400,000 extra tuition taken from them, but this is NPR.
Apparently, though, some campuses are considering the bizarre idea of getting out of the phone business. Imagine that - concentrating on education instead of money extraction!
NPR profiled one student who had a cell phone. The reported commented that the student was "oblivious to campus financial problems caused by her cell phone". Oh yes, who wouldn't think that the first thought for a student on campus should be the finanical health of the campus and how that relates to personal telecommunications use?
Instantman says that those who object to the Russian attack on the theater should say what else could have been done. I overall think that the action was the best that could done, but that the implementation was badly flawed, particulary (or mostly) for not preparing treatment for the hostages after the gas attack. That prompt, specific medical treatment would be needed for hundreds should not only have been forseen but blindingly obvious. I suspect that it was typical Russian government effeciency that is to blame, not any direct plot or indifference. I hope that any investigation focuses on this, rather than second guessing the actual attack.
Many EU members are having problems satisfying the terms of the "stability pact" that among other things limits the deficits that member governments can have. Portugal has plain broken the pact, and Germany is waivering. The EU warned France to tighten up, and France replied "no". So here we have the spectacle of the member states of the EU, which are the foremost promoters of "international law", when faced with adhering to their own treaty just say no. The likely solution is to just drop the requirement, since the parties to it have no intention of following it when it's contrary to their economic interest (which creates an interesting view on the likely adherence to the Kyoto Treaty by Europe). Perhaps my comments were not actually satire. As Dorothy Parker said, "I try to be cynical but it's hard to keep up".
Today's story is once again from that bastion of stupidity, the US State department. In this article at National Review Online we find out that the State Department issued visas illegally to some of the 9/11 terrorists and, apparently because that wasn't sufficiently anti-American, is now issuing bonuses to the employees responsible. Forget invading Iraq or even France - the State Department needs to be put under a pro-American regime.
The tip for this is from Little Green Footballs
A story from Instantman on how France is violating international law without any real complaint. This is slightly different than the original purpose. But it nicely illustrates what I consider the key defect of international law, that it only seems to apply to the USA.
Large Islamic groups in Indonesia are condemning the Bali massacre . They have also opposed shari'a being imposed in Indonesia. The leaders of these groups have also labeled the Calipharians as fringe elements in the religion. This is a key point, as there is no way to fully exclude the loonies from any large group (like a religion). The best that can be done is exactly this, to make clear that the loonies are loonies on the fringe.
It's important to report the hate of the Calipharians so we know what we're facing. It's just as important to report internal resistance to them as well. This report is exactly what I have said is needed to avoid a war between the West and Islam. This is good news.
Since no one actually reads this, everyone is unaware that I read Little Green Footballs quite a bit (judging by the number of links I have over to it).
Apparently MSNBC Weblog Central has smeared LGF. Having read this myself, I tend to agree although I think some of the defense of LGF is a bit overwrought. MSNBC claims that LGF supporters are splitting semantic hairs, but I think that there is a clear qualitative difference in the questions "Is LGF hateful?" and "Is LGF too hateful?". The latter carries the premise that LGF is hateful, which is hardly proven (and which I dispute).
Again, I find some of the commentators at LGF a bit much and possibly hateful, but that's very different from LGF itself. Moreover the over top people are generally called on it by other commentators. The overall community has a very high signal to noise ratio, one that is exceptionally high for the net in my opinion. That's why I read it. There's not that much cruft and almost always something that is informative or truly thought provoking.
So, Mr. Johnson, although you'll never see this keep on going. I've put my money where my keyboard is and donated to LGF.
A good intro to this can be find at Best of the Web
Christopher Hitchens delivers a well deserved "sayonara" to his former comrades on the Left.
Matt Welch has a post that is an addendum to a column of his about how if the US assumes responsiblity for keeping the world in order, other nations will never mature to the point where they can take care of themselves. I think that Mr. Welch is raising quite a serious issue here that bears some serious concern.
Beyond that, however, there is an interesting set of comments, with one person taking a very strident point of view against not only not being mature enough, but unlikely to be so in our lifetimes. Matt defends Europe in part by saying
I think it's more than incorrect to say they have "bungled democracy" -- what, exactly, do regular free elections, free press and market economics indicate, if not "democracy"?
The first details a "loyalty" clause in the proposed European Constitution. Pop over for the full quote, but the essense is contained in
[the member states] shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectivenessNo federalism there. In fact, that's more restrictive than the Union which forms the United States. It's also the standard sort of language totalitarians use.
The second discusses the "European Arrest Warrant" and how it removes habeus corpus from British law. Moreover, it comments that European Police are immune to prosecution based on their actions on behalf of the EU. In essence, if they abuse or torture prisoners, the victim has no recourse. It's difficult to think of a more defining characteristic of totalitarian states than making its enforcers immune to protest from the citizens.
That's really just the start - the post outlines other fun things like the looming ability of the EU (by member state majority vote) to institute the regulation of political parties in any member state. So much for democracy.
As for free markets, we can turn to yet another post from the same source discussing agricultural policy in the EU, or Steven Den Beste's gloating post on cellular phone technology (which is not an isolated circumstance, but emblematic of European "free markets"). Or talk to your associates over at Samizdata. So much for free markets.
So, Mr. Welch, read these posts and tell me that the EU is not literally, today, working directly towards a totalitarian state that will dispense with truly free markets, democracy and speech, whether the citizens like it or not (like the vote in Ireland)
I dropped my Sony Picturebook on the floor yesterday in the middle of a post and cracked the LCD. It will have to be replaced which means a couple weeks without and a very large repair bill (much larger and I probably would have just bought a new one). Unfortunately, I'm a very shallow person and am quite distraught over it. Posting may be a bit lighter and even less coherent than normal for a while.
When I look at the Bali massacre and the economic fallout of it (see here or here or here ), I think we have to consider the different aims and goals of the Calipharians vs. the Communists during the Cold War. In the latter the Communists were somewhat constrained because while they hated the ideals of the West, they liked the results. They wanted what we had. In fact their continued existence in power to some extent depended on the economic vitality of the West. This was a painful contradiction, as that same vitality undermined their rule, but the underlying point is that if the Communists could have just taken over our existing society, that would have been a great victory.
The Calipharians are different. They do not want our goods, our wealth. Such things undermine directly (and not by comparison) their claim to power. If the economic level of the entire planet reverted to the 10th or 11th century AD, I doubt the Calipharians would view that as a problem. They use modern technology but have no real love of it. Calipharians use cell phones they way they use freedom of speech - a handy tool, but to be disposed of once victory is achieved. This makes our present enemy far more sanguine about massive economic destruction than our adversaries of the Cold War. In fact, they may well view it as serving their purposes. We would do well to keep that in mind.
As the two readers of this blog may have noticed, I've been thinking a bit about international law and why I despise it. Internation law is not a fundamentally stupid idea (like socialism is), so that's not the reason. I think it's more that it's been hijacked by a bunch of self important morally oblivious morons who use IL as a purely rhetorical device to promote their own agenda. Yet we must apportion a good part of the blame to the other practioners who have allowed this minority to take over and become the public face of IL. Perhaps, like many groups have, this silent majority thought that any criticism would weaken rather than strengthen IL and its acceptance. That may be true in the short run but longer term people figure out what the real story is and react accordingly. Perhaps the tide is turning and IL will reclaim a place as something of worth instead of a cynical mug's game.
What I was struck by today are the parallels with the world Muslim community. I believe that the majority of Muslims are not the blood thirsty savages that constitute Islam's vocal clerics. Yet the community as a whole must take responsibility for allowing these vermin to be the public face and guiding lights of the Ummah. If there really is no decent core, then the end result really will be a clash of civilizations, which is hardly likely to lead to a Dar-al-Islam. One might say "well, Falwell raved on about Muhammed". That's true. And what happened afterwards? He was pilloried and forced to apologize. When that happens to fatwa issuing clerics, I'll have a better opinion of the Islamic community.
Update: see here.
An associate sent me a link to this story. The money quote is
CA AG silences critics
Shockingly, the California experts were silenced by California's pro-gun control Attorney General Bill Lockyer. One panel member said he was gagged by the AG's office, not only about the study, but about the entire topic.
The AG's office acknowledged in an interview it favored a ballistics fingerprinting system and denigrated its study as "preliminary" pending a review by a lone European expert. No explanation was offered for not having FBI, ATF or other U.S. ballistic experts review the report.
Is anyone who has been paying attention surprised? It's standard policy that when a crime involving guns gets wide play then laws are proposed that impact about everyone except for the actual criminals. As Instantman says, "it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you".
The next entry is from the California Federation of Teachers , putatively not a fringe nor uneducated group of people. The money quote is
overthrow the government of a sovereign nation, in violation of international law
In this view such overthrow is never legitimate. No comment is made on Iraq's own previous efforts to overthrow the governments of sovereign nations (Iran, Kuwait).
Original tip from Little Green Footballs.
Inspired by my comments to Haruspex I've decided to keep an eye out for "the US can't invade Iraq because it would be against international law" statements. Note that these comments are those that dispute Haruspex's view and claim that either
1) The US cannot invade Iraq without UN approval -or-
2) The US cannot invade Iraq unless Iraq directly and unequivocally attacks the US first.
As an aside, I've always found the second point a bit bizarre, because the very concept implies that Iraq can attack without violating international law but the US cannot. That epitomizes my objections to international law as it is currently practiced.
Our entry today is from France, via The Miami Herald. In this one, the government of France (presumably a group of people who can afford knowledgable international law experts) claims that any invasion of Iraq by the US requires UN Security Councile approval, that the current state of things does not suffice.
Orin Judd comments on Lebanon tapping a southern river for water. The Israelis are upset because this is in the same watershed that supplies much of Israel's water. I've seen predictions for over a decade that the next set of wars in the Middle East would be over water, not oil. Maybe that time is coming up. It's probably not a good sign for the Arab regimes that the Calipharians have started their jihad against the West just before then.
Article expressing amazement that there hasn't already been a war over water in the Middle East.
I've always thought that the time we are in now will be the most dangerous. Bush has the gun, locked and loaded, finger on the trigger and his target knows it. From Hussein's point of view, now is the time to go for broke because he's got nothing left to lose. There's a good chance that only actions that can't be tracked back to Iraq will occur, because Hussein's underlings understand that they are not doom yet.
This morning I heard that there has been another major bombing, this time in the Philipines. Multiple bombs, fatalities and many injuries. The only motive I can see is spite - this kind of attack is just going to convince everyone else that they are in fact at war and targets. But it wouldn't be the first time that that miscalculation has occurred.
The news is out - North Korea was working on nukes in secret the entire time that the Clinton administration telling us how they had put a stop to that by having Kim Jong Il sign a piece of paper. Yet somehow, that paper didn't work. Who would have expected that? Besides the Bush administration, I mean, which was excorciated for being suspicious.
This is a clip from Best of the Web for 16 Oct 2002. I can only ask, why do these journalists hate us?
Suckers for Saddam
Iraq is holding a sham election today, in which citizens "vote" on whether Saddam Hussein should serve another seven years as president. Under the watchful eye of Saddam's thugs, these "voters" must sign their names to the "ballots," and any who dare vote "no" can expect to be executed.
- "Iraq Says 'Yes' to Saddam; Voters Show Support as U.S. Threat Mounts"--headline, MSNBC.com, Oct. 15
- "Iraqis Urged to Back Hussein 100%"--headline, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 15
- "Saddam Aims for 100% Support"--headline, BBC, Oct. 15
- "Although President Saddam Hussein faces no challenger in Tuesday's presidential referendum, the government is pushing for the highest percentage of 'yes' votes to paint Saddam as a popular leader in a rebuke to the United States."--lead paragraph, Associated Press dispatch, Oct. 15
CNN and Reuters are still at it too. A CNN.com headline from yesterday declares: "Election All but Assured for Saddam." (Isn't that "all but" a lovely touch?) Today's follow-up: "Landslide Expected in Saddam Poll."
Reuters leads off its "report" with this ludicrous statement: "Defiant Iraqis lined up to show their support for Saddam Hussein Tuesday as Western powers were deadlocked over how to deal with the veteran leader they say threatens world security." A captive people does a dictator's bidding under threat of death--only in Reuterville could anyone call this "defiant."
Worst of all is the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Michael Slackman's article carries the headline "For Iraqis, Vote for Hussein Is an Exercise in Democracy." "Of course the outcome is preordained," Slackman acknowledges. "But then, so is Western reaction"--as if making a mockery of democracy were morally equivalent to recognizing that someone's made a mockery of democracy.
The New York Times and Washington Post deserve credit for playing the story at least somewhat straight, albeit with excessive understatement. The Times' headline reads "Iraqis Cheer for Their President, but Their Real Mood Is Hard to Read." The Post has a silly headline--"In Iraqi Ballot on Hussein, All Signs Pointing to Yes"--but at least the subheadline acknowledges it's an "orchestrated referendum."
Apparently our State Department is pressuring Israel to help fund Palestinian terror and the baby-wipe billionare's retirement fund by releasing Palestinian taxes collected by Israel. Not only will support terror but it will be cheating the Palestinians themselves. Only the terrorists will win from this. Just disgusting.
Tipped off by Little Green Footballs
There's an interesting article by Jonathan Chait, a prominent liberal journalist that relates to my post . Apparently there are others who are coming around to Haruspex's view on what international law is. I wonder if this is what they would have thought absent Bush's push for action.
NPR was on again this morning and I caught the tail end of a segment on racial bias in jury selection. Apparently there was a case where pre-emptory challenges were used to remove 10 of 11 black members of the jury. Of course there was an appeal on the basis of "yes, pre-emptory means for any or even no reason at all, but it's not ok if the challenge is racially motivated". I suppose I'm just an unreconstructed bigot but I find that argument ridiculous. Either it's for any reason or its not. If that's a problem, eliminate pre-emptory challenges. But this kind of second guessing, peering into the hidden mind of someone is not the rule of law.
So apparently the theory that the Mossad was behing the Bali attack is already in circulation (see Little Green Footballs).
This is obviously Onion material, but that doesn't plumb the full depths of the Idiotarian nature of the theory. If this had really been done by the Mossad to create strife between the West and Islam, why not just out fox those wily Israelis by condemning the attack? Why not have the leaders of the groups that the Mossad was trying to get in trouble loudly and public express their outrage at the people who committed this massacre? Strangely, this simple stratagem seems to have eluded the apologists for the Calipharians.
Tim Blair has a better set of posts on the massacre in Bali than I could possibly do that express what I feel about this event. I don't doubt that the Australians were targeted because of our loyal ally's support. I can't say that it has made me more committed to crushing these barbarians like the insects they are. The massacre in Bali will just be something we remember as we exterminate those responsible. The longer we agonize over doing what we have to do, the more massacres like Bali there will be.
Taking Iraq will not only destroy a major material and psychological support for the Calipharians, it will also be a clear message to them. "You can destroy night clubs, but we can erase entire nations. Tthere is no place on Earth where you are safe, no patron so powerful that we cannot brush him aside if we chose". And hopefully it will explain to other nations that funding and supporting those who massacre us is fun until we vaporize you with JDAMs.
Daniel Drezner reports that the EU has shafted Turkey once again. It's hardly unexpected but sad nonetheless. This time the EU didn't even provide a data for further discussions. I wouldn't hold out Turkey as a beacon of light in the world, but at least they're trying and not doing too badly. What Turkey needs is help and understanding, not kicks in the head from snooty EU-crats.
What the US should do is offer a bilateral trade package to Turkey, something on the order of NAFTA. That would help Turkey, help our Middle East efforts and in the long term help the US economy. Sometimes we need to use a big stick, as in Iraq, but other times the carrot is the better choice. This is such a situation.
Haruspex comments that he is not a "voice in the wilderness" in claiming that there is support in international law for forcing Iraq (by military means if required) to comply with its treaties and other interational obligations. I suppose this may be a matter of perspective, but certainly the talk I hear out most of our putative allies and the UN is that the US has no basis for acting in international law. In fact, as mentioned in the Instantman article I cited, the only mentions of international law I've seen are discussions of how it prevents the US from acting. Haruspex himself quotes the Bush administration, which is not known for its support and fealty to international law. This is the what I was talking about when I mentioned that international law seems to hold only the US to account (and not anything in Haruspex's posting). The actual arguments made by Haruspex seem reasonable, but the question is, why does only the US see it this way? What should the US government do if no foreign government agrees? What is the remedy under international law if other nations refuse to obey it? This, I think, is the key issue that vexes the blogosphere over interational law. It seems set up in such a way as to punish the law abiding and reward the law breaking. It is this way precisely because there is no external enforcement, standard or arbiter.
This leads to a comment on your followup post, which makes quite a good point (and one that I hadn't considered). The same issue arises there, where US actions are held back by a "diseased" organization. I suppose that the proper legal response would be to withdraw from the UN. That works for me.
I would argue that any such failure of enforcement does in fact undermine that law. It's a continuum, not a discrete effect. If that makes me unique. I accept that. In your example of drug laws, the only reason that such laws can be said to exist in certain inner cities is because there is still some possibility of enforcement. But to a large extent I think it's reasonable to say that the drug laws don't really exist there, in the sense the laws have very little effect on people's behaviour. So it isn't a law in the use of the term as a guide or control of people's behaviour, and what other purpose does law have?
On the supremacy of the US Constitution vs. international law or treaties, the issue comes up more with actions that are in the same sphere.What takes precedence there? Can the US government, via treaty, empower itself to perform actions that are forbidden by the US Constitution? You say
is entirely possible for an action to be both permissible under of these legal systems and to be impermissible under the other at the same time. The question of supremacy is a red herring.
If it were state law vs. federal law, then the question is of great importance to any one commiting the action (see the medical marijauna issue in California). I can only read this as saying "international law is completely irrelevant to actions in the real world". That seems such a strange thing for you to argue that I must have not understood your point. (Although it is consistent with viewing international law the same way inner city residents view drug laws)
As for the historical development of domestic law, I plead lack of familiarity with the terms. I would have considered all of "contract, tort/delict, property, inheritance, etc" to be domestic law, on the assumption that we were contrasting "domestic" with "international". I would agree with your statements about the provenance of current US constitutional law.
I want to thank you for reading my post and responding.
Haruspex responds. Here are his comments in full.
Dear Annoying Old Guy,
Thanks for taking the time to respond to some of the points I raised in my e-mail to Daily P. Let me try to reply to your main points. You begin by asking what position I agree or disagree with. That was provided in my original comment to Daily P's post on Richard Butler, which started this whole thing. In that comment (which is in Daily P's archives from late last week), I stated my position: that a strong case can be made under international law in support of the proposed hostilities against Iraq (which, btw, I support). There are two independent arguments. The first is based on Article 51 of the UN Charter, which permits self defense. This doctrine has been interpreted pretty elastically, and it is not all that much a stretch to view the preparation by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction as "armed attack" of the sort that Article 51 permits defending against. Contrary to your assertion, I am hardly a "voice in the wilderness" on this -- the same argument is made by the Administration in its recently released National Security Strategy. See Section V (page numbered 15, right-hand column, paras. 1, 2 and 4 of the pdf from the White House) of the NSS.
Second, there is an argument based on the "humanitarian intervention" exemption to the US Charter's prohibition on the use of force (which is in Article 2(4)). This was what was used to justify the removal of Idi Amin, Boukassa, Pol Pot and Noriega, as well as the interventions in Bosnia and Serbia. My not-so-rhetorical question to Daily Pundit was why can't the same theory be used to justify the removal of a dictator who has been proven to use WMDs on his own citizens, in additional to his other horrible crimes? I have not seen others making this argument, and it may therefore be a "voice in the wilderness". But no-one has yet been able to offer any reason why that exemption is not available. (Well, in fact, on one other blog thread where I raised this point someone maintained that that exemption wasn't available to America because "we're bad", but I trust you find that as preposterous a reason I did). You next address the weakness of international law as an institution if it is interpreted as a means of holding the US, and only the US, to account. I nowhere made the argument that international law should be so interpreted, and it is completely alien to everything I believe on the subject. No reasonable reader could have take that from my posting. To the extent you are responding to others' interpretation of international law (Mary Robinson being an excellent example), I agree with the points you make here.
I'm not sure I understand your argument about failures of enforcement actually undermining the status of a norm as law. If you are taking the position that *any* failure to enforce undermines a norm's status as law, then you are taking a genuinely unique position. Let me try, however, to address your objection with a more precise analogy -- the prohibition on the use of drugs under US law. Here, clearly, is a law that is breached regularly and that is held in disrepute by significant portions of the population. In some communities, there is relatively little in the way of enforcement activities against breach. Now, we may all agree that such norms bring the concept of law as such into disrepute, that they are counterproductive or that they are cruel. But in no way do those objections abrogate the force of law that the prohibition enjoys. It is still "law" in any meaningful sense of the term.
Next, you raise the question of what is "supreme" -- US constitutional law or international law. Many of your fellows in the blogosophere have fallen into the same trap. The answer to that question is that both are supreme, within their respective spheres. Consider another analogy: A in State X shoots and kills B standing across the border in State Y. Suppose (just for argument) that X has a law prohibiting murder but that Y does not. In such a case, A has not committed a crime under the law of X, but has committed a crime under the law of Y. Both conditions (crime and not crime) exist simultaneously, each in their respective spheres. (For those about to object that Y doesn't have jurisdiction because A wasn't within Y at the time, it is almost universal practice, including by the US, that a state may assert jurisdiction of criminal activity having an "effect" within the state, even if the conduct occurs in another state).
The same point applies to US constitutional law and international law. International law (at least as traditionally understood) governs the relationship between sovereign states. US constitutional law governs the powers of the different branches of US governement and their relationships to each other and, most importantly, to the people of the US. It is entirely possible for an action to be both permissible under of these legal systems and to be impermissible under the other at the same time. The question of supremacy is a red herring. Finally, your assertion that much of our domestic law goes back to Rome is pretty frail. Let me accept, for purposes of argument, the most supportable form of this assertion: that the US common law was adopted wholesale from English common law of the late 18th century, and that English common law of that time was in fact recognizably the same of the earliest English commentaries, that these commentaries essentially copied what was known of Roman law at the time, and that what was then known in any way comported with what Roman law was like as a historical matter. Even if one accepts all those propositions as true, the point can still not succeed, because those propositions relate only to the "private" law (contract, tort/delict, property, inheritance, etc). They have nothing whatsoever to do with the "public" law -- the law governing the relationship between the government and its citizens, known to Americans mainly as constitutional law. This is wholly a creature of the Enlightenment and owes vanishingly little, other than the name "Senate", to Roman legal thinking.
Sorry, I forgot one point.
In your post, you seek to assert the inapplicability of the UN Charter to the Iraq situation by a domestic law analogy: "in domestic law, if two parties have an agreement and one side violates it, that makes the agreement null and void." The problem is, that's not domestic law. Contract law contains an entire body of learning under the name of "remedies" which governs what steps a party may take in response to a counterparty breach. Remedies may include damages for breach, "specific performance" (which means that a court order the counterparty to perform), or other remedial action. But only in rare cases does it hold the contract "null and void".
This is especially the case for contracts that themselves specify what is to happen in the event of breach. Let's suppose you and I have a long-term supply agreement for me to supply long comments to your blog. Let's further suppose that you are required to pay me a fixed monthly amount for those comments and that the contract provides as a sole remedy that if I don't provide X comments per month, then I have to provide 2X comments for the next month. Now if I don't supply X comments this month, the contract does not become "null and void". You still owe me the monthly fee, but I have to provide 2X comments next month.
Now the UN Charter is analogous to this. It lays out what is supposed to happen in case a party such as Iraq breaches its obligations. Such breach does not mean that the UN Charter becomes null and void vis a vis Iraq. Instead, the Charter's provisions dealing with such situations come into play. Now, one may think these provisions are ill-advised, unworkable or just plain silly, but they are not "null and void" as you argue.
Orin Judd posts about a leaked proposal for a UN resolution and I can't resist the temptation to be snarky. The best part was
The inspectors can set up bases throughout the country. They will be accompanied at those bases by soldiers under the UN banner sufficient to protect them
How many UN troops would that be? Enough that while they're surrendering the inspectors can get away? Maybe the resolution should say "soldiers and ammunition".
I never thought that I'd agree with a statement uttered by Hillary Clinton, but this post at &c makes me side with HRC against &c. HRC may have in fact been being slick in the Clinton style, but her statement is still reasonable and something I agree with - a firm, unequivocal stand by the US for using military force if needed will reduce the chance of war in the short and long term. In case &c hasn't noticed, we are already at war with both the Calipharians and Iraq. Nothing the Senate can do will change the probability of events that have already occurred. The Senate could have voted to surrender, but I believe that that would make war more likely or (more accurately) more likely to last longer. Even The New Republic doesn't seem to understand the ancient dictum, "If you would have peace, prepare for war".
The New Republic blog &c has a post on one of the economists who just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, Vernon Smith. &c comments that they like Smith because he became less free-market oriented after running experiments that showed that a stock market could generate ineffecient (presumably non-optimal) results. I'm kind of concerned if an economists could actually be surprised by that enough to change his political opinions. The real question is not whether markets can generate ineffecient results, the question is whether any other mechanism (in the case of &c's view presumably regulators) could do better. I have yet to see any evidence of that in the real world.
A question that haunts me is why the Republicans so frequently deserve the sobriquet of "the Stupid Party". Orin Judd provides an example. I think that this is because most Republicans don't really believe in the principles of their own party. It's easier for Democrats, since the only real principle they have is "acquire power". I think that this is one thing (if not really the only thing) that distinguished Reagan. Bush 43 seems to have some beliefs as well. I was originally a doubter, but his performance over the last few months have given me hope that his term will be an overall positive one.
I believe the return of polygamy will be necessary in coming years,particularly in places like Israel, which otherwise face catastrophic population declines
I don't really see how polygamy helps the birthrate. Unless there is an increase in births / woman it doesn't matter how many husbands / wife. Given the smaller number of adults in a polygamous marriage per child such an arrangement would seem to decrease the number of births. Perhaps Mr. Judd is assuming that polygamy would allow career women to have a home-maker spouse? Structurally, I would think that a line marriage ala Heinlein would work better, although (IMHO) the psychological aspects make it untenable in real life.
Orin Judd quotes at length from Jonah Goldberg on "crunchy conservativism". I've followed the Corner and I thought that the original discussion of crunchy conservatives was good, with the main point being that just because someone has a "liberal" lifesyle (organic foods, Volvo, loose fitting casual clothes) doesn't mean that they are politically liberal. The last go around, though, I mostly skipped. I have to agree with Goldberg that investing "meaning" or "politics" into whether one likes to eat vegetables raw is definitely not conservative.
I'm not going to make any direct comments on Amiri Baraka, the putative poet who is the Poet Laureate of New Jersey. It's been well covered at NRO, Joanne Jacobs, Jane Galt and in the comments at Little Green Footballs
The comment I was originally going to make was about the silliness of a state even having a Poet Laureate, because why would you expect it to work out any better than this, some no-talent hack leveraging racism and putative dissent into a sinecure? But the larger thought hit me - why has academia degenerated so much that one would expect this? Perhaps I'm misled from living in a heartland state, but nobody cares because they view this kind of thing as standard fare. For those who complain about the decline of "popular intellectuals", they may want to look at the issues like Bakara that contribute to this attitude.
Ralph Peters writes an excellent editorial about the disgraceful behaviour of those who despise the military suddenly acquiring a deep concern about the welfare of its members when it suits their purposes. Peters himself is a veteran and a deep thinker on miliary matters.
I've written a long response but at the end, I confess that I don't understand the global point being made in the e-mail. It seems to be that "normative" law without enforcement is the same as enforced law and that DP and Steven Den Beste are making bad arguments and underminding their legitimate cause, that of calling Iraq to account for its willful violations of "international law". Yet this seems to be a voice in the wilderness, for everything else I saw that talks about "interational law" posits that the US has no right under such law to do this. Does the e-mail writer agree with this or disagree? I can't tell.
I think that if the current situation where only the US is held to account for "international law" violations is really what "international law" means, the result will not be the US behaving more in conformance but a complete discrediting of it among the US populace and leaders. (Instantman talks about this here). Doesn't this kind of problem, where this alledgedly "law" has evolved into a mechanism for protecting the guilty from the justice and hobbling the good, concern its promulgators at all? This is a classic hallmark of modern academic theory, which is where I believe that most "international law" lives. The author should perhaps reflect on his own statement
Some arguments are so bad that they in fact hurt the position they espouse, and yours are them.
I think that accurately describes the current arguments being made in favor of international law.
On a more detailed level, there is the argument
Your objection goes to the absence of an effective enforcement mechanism, but not to the normative nature of the legal rules themselves. Consider it this way -- just because hundreds of murders go unsolved and unpunished because police and prosecutors can't figure them out and get a conviction, do you think the prohibition against murder is any less the "law" for not being enforced? Of course not. That's because the normative value of the rule "thou shalt not kill" exists independently of its enforcement. International law presents the same problem, admittedly with even weaker enforcement mechanisms.
Yes, I think that the prohibition against murder is much less (if at all) "law" if it is not enforced. The analogy here is quite flawed - most murders are solved and even the ones that aren't, a serious effort is made to do so. This contrasts strongly with "international law" where frequently not even the pretense of enforcement is attempted and the alledged enforcers go on and on about how there wasn't really a "murder" or how we should wait and see if the perpetrator "murders" again. Then there are the continous trumped-up charges, particularly against Israel (Jenin massacre, anyone?) and to a lesser extent the US. If that's how murders were treated I would consider there to be no law against them and any enforcement to be a politcal, not legal, exercise.
This [lack of real enforcement of "international law" in Europe] fits with an attitude towards law in certain parts of Europe that sees declarative intent often of greater importance than actual implementation, and which Americans tend to see instead as undermining the very rule of law.
The translation is that Americans see laws that have only "normative value" as contrary to the rule of law, not supportive of it.
The next item up is
You are also neglecting the Constitution of the United States, which states clearly that international treaties (like the UN Charter) signed and ratified by the United States constitute the law of the land
That's certainly true, but it's also true that the US Constitution is supreme over any treaty. In addition, in domestic law, if two parties have an agreement and one side violates it, that makes the agreement null and void. In this case, Iraq has willfully violated the UN Charter repeatedly. As far as I am concerned, that makes any requirement on the US to follow the UN Charter with respect to Iraq null and void. It is exactly this that proponents of "international law" gloss over but is of critical importance to the US.
Now we can go on to
In fact, much of our domestic law is in fact based on analogies to international law.
I find this a bizarre statement, since most of our domestic law goes back to Rome and predates any form of international law. How can something be based on another thing that was developed later? Of course, the poster admits as much a few sentences later
the growth of international law out of domestic (pre-social contract) law in the early modern period
It may be that our Constitution is so based (or its theoretical framework) but that is really only a framework and says very little about the nuts and bolts of our domestic law. Moreover, it was a matter of analogy and undeveloped state. What passed for international law in those days was used as a source of insight and data, but that hardly means that there was a causal or developmental connection between the two. And even if this is true, so what? As best as I can tell, the argument is that since the theoretical foundation of the US Constitution is based on theories about international law, the latter takes precedence over the former. But one can just as well argue that the better, later development should take precedence. In the end, though, I don't see the relevance to the argument.
Overall, I was quite unimpressed with the e-mail. It didn't seem to make any coherent and, particularly with the normative law agrument, undermined its own case.
UPDATE: I found the Reynolds article and the link has been put in the post.
The next report on National Public Radio is that Jimmy Carter has won the Nobel Peace Prize. That's just perfect, and I am not being sarcastic. Now Carter can do what he does best, and hang with mass murders like Arafat as an equal. Of course, NPR is treating this as an actual news event, rather than just a confirmation of what we've known all along, that Carter and the Nobel Prize committee are charter members of the Idiotarian Party.
The resolution passes the House and Senate. Finally, our leaders declare that they are serious about fighting against those who wish to destroy us. There is no choice but to drain the swamps that feed the Calipharians and Iraq is one of the bigger swamp. Moreoever, draining that one may well help drain others (particularly Iran). We need to understand that this is just the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.
Wow, apparently even Hillary Clinton voted for it.
Under Iran's strict laws, implemented after the 1979 Islamic revolution, unrelated men and women are not allowed to dance together.
And how did this revolution win popular support, exactly?
Despite the strict rules, Western-style parties, held in private homes in wealthy Tehran neighborhoods, are a nightly occurrence and in recent years they have rarely been raided.
"So, Jahangir, are you coming to my party?"
"I don't think so, Naveed. My mother is 92 years old, and she cannot dance very well."
"Did I mention that it was a … Western-style party?"
"Well, why didn't you say so! I will not be missing this decadence! Naveed, you rule so hard!"
Yet another depressing story out of the State Department. A report on religious freedom criticizes Israel while complementing the Palestinian Authority. I can't tell if this is shameless pandering or soft bigotry (but knowing the State Department it's probably both). There are some good comments on this at Little Green Footballs and the WSJ Best of the Web.
This is an excellent discussion of what's wrong with the Left (and what has been wrong, as far as I can see, since the 1930's). I agree that there's a bit of unjustified ragging on the Right but that's minor.
There's a post over at Rantburg about "US intelligence experts believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be ousted by members of his inner circle before US forces launch a major ground attack". Rantburg is of the opinion that Hussein won't react much because if that were really true, we wouldn't be saying it. On the other hand, perhaps the plan is to convince Hussein to "having as many people around him shot as he can lay hands on" which would be an excellent thing to have happen right before an invasion. Further, once people start getting shot in job lots you'd expect either mass defections or spontaneous, desperate rebellion (one is far more likely to rebel if one is going to be shot regardless).
Andew Sullivan writes (no link - it's 2 up from here) on the economics of the Internet. I think his first mistake is to consider the Blogosphere and the Internet as identical. The blogosphere and online wordsmithing in general may be having a hard time with being profitable, but I'd say that Internet as a whole doesn't. Sullivan gets it right in the title but wrong in the piece itself.
On the other hand, people have been predicting for years (10 years at least) that the ultimate form for economic ventures in the realm of "news" will be payment for editorial features, e.g. blogs. The amount of information out there will grow without bound, but that's the problem - how does one filter the noise to extract the signal? That's what people will pay for and that's what the essential purpose of a blog is. Even the commentary serves to illuminate the extracted data and why it is important. People who are better at it will be able to charge for it, once the transactions costs become sufficiently low.
Instantman provides another excellent link. This article highlights one the reasons I've switched most of my news input to the blogosphere - the linkage to original sources. When someone like Instantman says the UN is engaging in child prostitution, he links to an article with that claim. The libertarians and conservatives who write blogs believe in what they say, so they have little concern about linking to sources or contradictory opinions. And once one becomes accustomed to source linkage, it is a body blow to credibility if there is no such linkage. But it is the socialists / leftists who dare not allow alternative voices to speak which puts them at a severe disadvantage on the web.
So The New Republic blog says that (1) Torricelli must have been promised that Lautenberg would not be his replacement to get Toricelli to withdraw from the Senate race, a promise that the Donk Powers-That-Be immediately broke and (2) the same people are now going to convince Torricelli to hand over his campaign cash. Perhaps Iím just missing something, but can even the Donks think they can sell someone out to his rival and then ask for all of his money too? Just what could they have on him that could make Torricelli do that? And how, knowing that about him, could they stand behind him so prominently until he dropped in the polls? The Donks are just absolutely beyond shame
Over at Transterrestrial Musings we have the quote
Israel is worthy of investment (as was South Africa at the time). Arabia is not. That's what must change.
Unfortunately, that's what the Arab nations are working on. If they get their way, Israel will be as worthy of investment as Arabia is currently.
Instantman provided a link to Daniel W. Drezner who was wondering why Facism is considered by intellectuals to be disrespectable (it's can't be evil because that's too simplistic) while Communism is respectable, despite Communism having killed more people and created more misery than Facism. I think that there are some interesting comments in this regard on his site, but what I find interesting is Drezner considers Facism to be "Far Right" when it is actually a leftist / socialist political movement. It is not random chace that "Nazi" is "National Socialism". The primary developers of Facism were Italian socialists (which is why the name harkens to the glory of Rome).
What we see here is the tendency of the left to use epithets rather than argument to promote their views. That which is disliked by the left is labeled "conservative" or "right-wing" without regard to its actual provenance. We can see that in the labeling of Facism as "right-wing". But it was also in view during the failed "coup" in Russia. The hard line communists who attempted to assert power were labeled "conservatives", which of course is bizarre given the antipathy between US conservatives and Communism and the fellow traveling of the progressive / left in the US. Perhaps in a few decades Communism will be re-labeled as a part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as Facism was. In this regard one should note the current fellow traveling of the Left and the Calipharians, the latter of whom have been viciously hostile to Communists (for instance, many Communists were butchered after the fall of the Shah and the rise of the mullahs in Iran). Some may say that this is silly, how can the left ally with people as repressive as the Calipharians? But could the Calipharians really do worse than the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? And certainly, like the Communists in the early days, there is plenty of evidence of repression for those who look yet this has no effect on the support available to the repressors from the left.
The wife had National Propaganda Radio on this morning and Michael Kinsley was on. I used to think of Kinsley as an intelligent opponent, but over the last few years he've drifted off into the either, apparently mentally unhinged by the advance of the Republicans and Bush 43 in particular. This morning he asks "does anyone feel safer because a misguided youth [Lindh] will be in jail for 20 years?". Actually, no - I'd feel safer if he had been shot for treason. That would tend to discourage others who are tempted to take up arms against their own country without renouncing their citizenship.
The Israelis withdrew from Arafat's Ramallah compound without getting the targets of the push. That's just sad. I think that that will turn out to be a huge mistake. If US pressure contributed to this decision, then I apologize to Israel for being part of that pressure.
I subscribe to the theory that rather than being a distraction from US/Iraq conflict, it was a positive contribution because those losers in the compound are likely to attempt future terrorism on behalf of Iraq to create a real distraction. There's also the psychological aspect, where Arafa and his minions assume that they can get away with anything by waiting it out and staring down Israel.
There's a question about Bush and how he manages to bush whack his opponents on a regular basis. By all reports he's been doing since he was govenor of Texas. So either (A) he's that good himself or (B) he can pick teams of people who can do that. It doesn't really matter which, but in all seriousness I hope it's (B) because that's the better talent to have.
My associate argues that the GOP should appeal the NJSC decision on the senate election to the US Supreme Court. His basis is that the NJSC clearly violates the rule of law and the US Constitution (which states that state legislatures, not state courts, decide on electoral matters) and that if the GOP is truly the party of the rule of law it is a positive obligation to attempt to enforce it. He argues that to not appeal would be to acquiese with this obvious lawlessness. I'm not sure I agree, but I think that it's a good point.
Heck, I'd be happy if the U.N. would just stop participating in the prostitution and enslavement of children
I have to weigh in on the NJ Supreme Court decision in the NJ senate race because everyone else is. It's a complete crock, of course, but at least the NJSC didn't try some tortured reading of the law but just flat out ignored it. At least they're clear about their view of the importance of the rule of law. Micky Kaus has the best tag line I"ve seen:
It's ironic that the court pays such attention to finding what it thinks is the most democratic way to pick a lawmaker, even as it brushes aside the actual work-product of those democratically-elected lawmakers, namely statutes.
My British source has a couple of posts about economic problems in Germany and how the Eurozone is preventing them from responding. What's interesting is that the earlier post lists a (quoted) set of options that Germany could follow, all of them involving monetary policy. None of them involve any internal, structural changes such as those mentioned in the later post. Can we really say that it's the Euro that is barrier to recovery? Clearly it doesn't help but I think that the most important and beneficial changes (internal structural reform) are in no way inhibited by the common currency.