Archive for April, 2006

Jihad in Small Town America

Somebody I can’t recall at the Life, Liberty, Property community deserves credit for leading me to this.

This article describing an Atlanta-area Islamic Center is nothing like the Vacation Bible School I help out with. Excerpts can’t do it justice, but:

(The Imam) ranted for around 10 minutes about the “kafirs” and how the ambition of these unbelievers used the name of Christ to work with the Zionists to kill all of the Muslims in the world.

Allah in fact hated them so much that at one point he turned all the Jews into pigs and monkeys.

He reminded the children that the goal of every Christian and Jew was to kill every single Muslim, even the tiny babies.

In the Kindergarten and First Grade class:

She told the kids how to determine when it was appropriate to shout “Allah Akbar”: intimes of great joy, when someone is martyred, or when the Zionists or Kafirs are attacked. She introduced a video, in Arabic, showing scenes from the West Bank, and told the kids to shout “Allah Akbar” when they thought they should.

The kids quickly got the message that when something blew up, or an Israeli soldier was shot that they should shout Allah Akbar. I expressed my concern to Tiffani about children so young being exposed to such violent scenes. Tiffani/Amina assured me that the kids had been watching similar videos since they were two years old, and that they weren’t disturbed in the slightest by them.

On the playground:

the boys were playing jihad. … The loser had to pretend he was an American airplane flying around, and then the other boys pretended to attack it by throwing Nerf balls. The “airplane” fell to the ground, and the other boys pounced on it. The “airplane” turned into a pilot and the boys “captured” him. They stood him against a wall, and formed a pretend firing squad. Instead of toy guns, the boys used their multifunctional Nerf balls to execute their prisoner, all the while yelling “Allah Akbar”.

I noticed one boy standing … watching the other boys intently. I asked him, in English, what he was doing.

His answer? “I’m the camera man. I’m taping them.”

The religion of peace.

Update: It was just pointed out that this is both timeless and applicable.

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It doesn’t hurt enough yet, do it again

Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill
via CNET News.com

Expanding and extending the DMCA, since everyone in America is buying pirated CDs and DVDs instead of legit copies.

We really need:

  • expanded restrictions on software

    that’ll stimulate new businesses

  • federal police with more wiretapping and enforcement powers

    just look at how responsible they are with the powers they have today

  • a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement punished by 10 years in prison (even if the copy attempt fails)

    DRM software that dials 911 when you use it on a protected disk?

  • restrictions saying nobody may “make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess” software or hardware that can be used to bypass copy-protection devices

    Give up your VCR, and what about Windows? Can’t use a computer to make a copy without the OS

  • legal protection for computer hacking like Sony’s rootkit.

    because hacking a few million computers is OK if you’re an RIAA member

  • 20 years in prison for excerpting too much of a news article on your web site

    keeping the punishment at an appropriate level for the crime

  • civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy following the rules established by federal drug laws

    lose your computer even if you’re innocent. But that’s OK, these laws have never been abused, right?

I enjoyed the bit about “large-scale criminal enterprises involved in intellectual-property theft”. Yeah, those CD copying and importing gangs have been all over the news.

Fair use goes out the window, copyrights are perpetual, and they even invoked fighting terrorism. It MUST be a good idea.

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The 9th Circuit Blows It

via The Volokh Conspiracy

While claiming to reaffirm “the importance of preserving student speech about controversial issues generally”, a 2-1 decision has asserted that some opinions are more equal than others.

These two, Thomas and Reinhardt, have asserted that on controversial topics touching on “minority status such as race, religion, and sexual orientation”, which essentially means only certain races, religions, and sexual orientations, the non-minority viewpoint has no first amendment protection.

The decision

The disent

The conclusion to draw here is that a disruptive event in a school, even one with a history of disruption, is permissible if it supports a minority, and that any and all contradictory speech may be foreclosed because it might cause a disruption.

It violates the right to not be offended, that attaches only to approved ‘minorities’.

Update: This analysis of another 9th decision that fits the pattern.

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Hamas Defends Israeli Attacks on Palestine

h/t Power Line

Moussa abu Marzouk, a Hamas leader abroad, told Al-Jazeera television that “the Israeli side must feel what the Palestinian feels, and the Palestinian defends himself as much as he can.”

Logically extended, he justifies the Israeli “defending himself as much as he can” by this quote as well. Article here.

Israel is being remarkably patient, but these developments show an end to the patience. If the Jihadists continue to sow death, that is all they and their supporters will reap.

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A Theoretical Case Against Judicial Review

Via ProfessorBainbridge, Jeremy Waldron of Yale presents a Case Against Judicial Review which even the author describes as “independent of both (judicial review’s) historical manifestations and questions about its particular effects” and “standing apart from arguments about the way judges exercise their power”. Fair enough, but very wrong in typical ivory tower fashion. From the summary:

This Essay states the general case against judicial review of legislation clearly and in a way that is uncluttered by discussions of particular decisions or the history of its emergence in particular systems of constitutional law. The Essay criticizes judicial review on two main grounds. First, it argues that there is no reason to suppose that rights are better protected by this practice than they would be by democratic legislatures. Second, it argues that, quite apart from the outcomes it generates, judicial review is democratically illegitimate. The second argument is familiar; the first argument less so.

Based on these quotes, I argue that the professor is engaging in purely theoretical arguments regarding some, perhaps utopian, ‘democracy’. His conclusions have no bearing at all on American law.

The author proceeds to make familiar arguments supporting legislative primacy. Even in his definition of judicial review, he is quick to state that judicial review of executive action and administrative decisionmaking is acceptable. The elected executive is to be subject to the rule of law, although the elected legislature is to be exempted. He never makes a case for this disparate handling.

He gives an example of US federalism decisions, concluding “it is settled by voting among justices, … and whichever side has the most votes on the Court prevails. It is not clear that this is an appropriate basis for the settlement of structural terms of association among a free and democratic people.”

Here, I agree. The appropriate method is to change the Constitution if you want to change the structure. But most people who want to achieve a structural change are unwilling to subject their concept to the kind of debate that it takes to achieve that. So they endorse the ‘living constitution’ theories and make the changes through the courts. The problem isn’t that judges can overrule the legislature, the problem is that some judges think they should overrule the Constitution.

I think that Waldron consistently and deliberately miscasts his argument. Two examples:

First, “Should judges have the authority to strike down legislation when they are convinced that it violates individual rights?” is not a question that should occur to an American judge. The question is properly framed “Should judges have the authority to strike down legislation when they are convinced that it exceeds the authority granted Congress by the Constitution?” I would answer, “Yes”.

Second, “judicial review of legislation is inappropriate as a mode of final decisionmaking in a free and democratic society.” is purely inapplicable to the US. The decision of the Supreme Court may be overriden by two other groups. The penultimate decision is made by Constitutional amendment. The final decision is handed down by “twelve good men and true” who refuse to enforce a law they disagree with. His argument is also inapplicable because he seems to confuse a Constitutional Republic with a Democracy.

Even as an exercise in theoretical law (perhaps Philosophy would be a better name), this essay is wrongheaded in its simplistic reliance on ‘democracy’ as an unconditional good while ignoring that fact that a political system and its citizens are always going to be ordinary, corruptible human beings. The very same stumbling block that trips up the socialists.

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The Carnival of Liberty XLI

is up, hosted this week by Left Brain Female . . . in a Right Brain World. Lots of variety and fun.

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Preemptive Use of Force

I caught Professor Bainbridge’s post on International Law and the Preemptive Use of Force, and it really struck a nerve. His excerpt of the article by Tony Arend (warning: subscription required) suggested:

First, […] preemptive force in self-defense should only be undertaken unilaterally if the Caroline criterion of imminence was met. […] Second, […] the use of preemptive force should be undertaken in the absence of imminence only with the approval of the Security Council. […] Third, the United States should acknowledge that existing international law relating to the use of force is highly problematic and seek, through the Security Council, to move toward the development of a legal regime that would be truly authoritative and controlling of state behavior.

First, the Caroline criteria are generally stated as “necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” (found here, along with some good discussion by the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.)
This formula seems to be poorly regarded by international lawyers, except when used as an after-the-fact justification. But accepting these criteria in the case of terrorism based on WMD can actually make unilateral action MORE likely.

Second, a Council on Foreign Relations report has this:

There emerged a strong consensus that the global war on terrorism poses a special case. Because terrorists pose an ever-present threat of striking innocents, they perpetually satisfy the criteria of imminence. Moreover, as non-state actors, they divorce themselves from the obligations of international law, and in the process forfeit any concomitant protections.

So terrorists with WMD are a perpetually imminent threat, satisfying forever the Caroline criteria, and at the same time these terrorists are a violation of international law and are thus removed from the law’s protection. This is also consistent with holding that states that harbor terrorists are engaged in a proxy war against the targets of terrorism.
The Carnegie Council and other seem content to rely on the UN. I would submit that the UN has proven over the last 25 or more years to be useless in international affairs. While the UN and it’s supporters credit it with keeping the peace since 1945, I think that detente, MAD and the carefully maintained balance between the USA and the USSR had a lot more to do with what peace there was than this old dictator’s club. It would be foolish and irresponsible to allow the UN Security Council to have a veto over the defense of the US. Russia, France and China do not have our best interests at heart.

Third, international law regarding use of force is not particularly problematic. The Caroline criteria were widely used prior to 1945. The UN charter provides additional definition. What is problematic is the status of terrorists. As I addressed in a post on national sovereignity, nations have a responsibility to control the threats emerging from their borders. Failure to control the threat gives the victim the right to control it themselves. Backing terrorists today is no different from hiring privateers or issuing Letters of Marque in the past, and should be considered an act of aggression against anyone harmed by these terrorist groups.
The ‘problematic’ thing is the way the UN and others stand in the way and defend the sponsors of these aggressive acts from the natural consequences. A ‘legal regime truly authoritative and controlling of state behavior’ in this situation is one that acknowledges the right of the victim of state sponsored terrorism to defensively attack the sponsoring state.

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Intolerant Racist Thugs

Doing their best to suppress any idea they don’t like.

Just like Phelps, but much better organized.

No, I have to take that back. Phelps doesn’t try to shut anyone up.

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The 10 Most Harmful Government Programs

Human Events Online has their list of The 10 Most Harmful Government Programs with a bit of history and explanation. I think their list is a bit off, so here’s mine.

#1 The War on Drugs
This one didn’t make their list for some reason. More than any other single concept, the War on Drugs makes it harder to retain civil rights, to open foreign markets, to deal with inner city issues, to deal with AIDS, to improve third world living conditions, to maintain effective policing, to deal with immigration problems, and to combat corruption at home and abroad.

#2 DHS & The War on Terror
This one didn’t make their list either. The DHS is a bad idea which has been somewhat mitigated by the incompetence it shows. The so-called War on Terror has simply been another attempt to exchange freedom for security, with the usual result of retaining neither. The only real successes in the WoT have come from private citizens acting on their own (Flight 93 & the shoe bomber). The most effective way to fight terror is to arm the populace.

#3 Campaign Finance Reform
Agreement. Also known as the Incumbent Protection Act, McCain-Feingold carves out a huge ‘political exception’ to the First Amendment, in effect declaring that the American people should shut up and listen to their betters when it comes time to vote.

#4 Social Security / Medicare
I could lump this one and the next two under the heading of ‘Income Redistribution’, since they all consist of taking money from one group and funneling it to another group. These two have no excuse, since the recipients had several decades to put money aside or otherwise arrange for retirement. Instead, we just take the money from their kids that they should have saved.

#5 Corporate Welfare / Farm Subsidies
It’s always so satisfying seeing one program paying the farmers to grow X to keep prices low, and another pay the farmers to not grow X to keep the prices high. On the same commodity. Add that our subsidies and tariffs make it impossible for third world countries to export the one thing they can do competitively (agricultural products), and we get a three-time-loser of a program.

#6 Welfare / AFDC
Another good idea that had terrible unintended consequences. Much better when it was handled voluntarily than by the state.

#7 The FDA
The poster child for mission creep.
To ensure drugs are Safe.
To ensure drugs are Safe and Effective.
To ensure drugs are Safe, Effective and More Effective than Already Available Drugs.
To ensure drugs are Safe, Effective, More Effective than Already Available Drugs and Morally Appropriate.
To ensure drugs are Safe, Effective, More Effective than Already Available Drugs, Morally Appropriate and Not Fun.
This agency is out of control and deserves to be shut down.

#8 Affirmative Action
Institutionalized racism and sexism in the cause of ending racism and sexism. A truly Orwellian exercise in doublespeak.

#9 Immigration
We’ve tried amnesty at least three times, always with the promise of ‘enforcement later’ that never happened. We still have the same problems, or more, after 30 years. This time, let’s do enforcement first and amnesty ’sometime later’. Let’s at least make new mistakes, instead of the same one over, and over, and over, and …

#10 Foreign Aid to Totalitarian Regimes
We talk about Liberty, Freedom and Democracy then put $100’s of millions into propping up dictators and socialist regimes that would fall if we cut the support. No wonder nobody takes us seriously.

Since I should stop at 10, I can’t mention militarization of local police, the destructive effects of property taxation, payroll tax withholding, the department of education, the fact that every one of dozens of federal agencies has it’s very own armed police force, or others. They’re worth mentioning, but I think the first 10 are the biggies.

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Government = Wife Beating

Gene Callahan takes a calm, considered and entirely un-inflammatory look at the difference between Anarchists and minimalist libertarians in The Most Crucial Gap in Politics by Gene Callahan

Who besides me is entertained at the spectacle of a ‘the-state-has-no-right-to-exist’ anarchist getting involved in a political party that (theoreticly at least) wants to run the state? The irony is delicious.

I do have to salute a rational anarchist, though. The philosophy is soundly based, well thought out, and utterly utopian and unworkable.

(The term “utopia” is combined from 2 Greek words - “no” (ou) and “place / land” (topos), thus meaning “nowhere” or more literally, “no-place / no-land”.)

And although I think our current bloated system is by definition abusive, it is this kind of anarchist rhetoric that makes it impossible for the Libertarian party to be taken seriously.

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Case should be about facts. Imagine that.

At least one journalist gets it. Tom Lyons, commenting in the Herald Tribune, notes that “questions for a judge or jury in a libel case, I’d think, would be about what damaging information Patten provided, if any, and whether it was false.”

Unlike news reporter Paul Quinlan’s article in the same, where Quinlan wrote “The case is one of many that is raising questions about the extent to which journalists’ protections and rights should carry over to the blogosphere, where anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and an opinion can hope to find an audience,” a fatuous and elitist concept.

Lyons’ money quote: “everyone has the same guaranteed right to freedom of the press whether they write professionally or not”


via Reason Express

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