Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"The mandate of heaven"

Ajami got it, It shall be seen whether the man swept into office in the moment of national panic will adjust to the nation’s recovery of its self-confidence.

The plan for BHO and Rahm Emmanuel is to keep manufacturing crises. It doesn't matter to them what the crises is because the response has nothing much to do with the precipitating event. Remember Emmanuel's "Never let a good crisis go to waste?" The Democrats began this pattern before the election by cracking the economy and ramming through the TARP in a panic. Bush was simply overwhelmed by the orchestrated attacks and failed to rally the country.

Is there any reason to be pressing on Health Care while the economy is still under pressure? None at all, except that the atmosphere of panic produced by an unrelated subject can be used to stampede legislation through Congress. The problem for BHO is that after the seizure of GM and Chrysler to reward the UAW the magnitude of the bait and switch corruption became to obvious to hide. You can con a sucker once, or even twice but you can't con him and then con his friends and then come back a third time. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain had the con men know that they had to sneak out of town with the money before the third performance of the fake play. Is BHO the Dauphin or the Duke of Bilgewater?

What Holder is doing is criminalizing the process of giving advice contrary to the desires of the Left. My argument that follows is somewhat tortured. It relies on a distinction between what could be defended as possible in theory, prosecuting an interrogator, and what would be extremely unwise in practice, prosecuting a lawyer for advising someone to order the interrogation.

It is not the act of waterboarding itself that important here. It is possible for reasonable people to disagree about that. If they had chosen to prosecute an interrogator for being personally responsible for causing suffering then a jury could hear the arguments. The interrogator could not win by pleading that they were "just following orders." The Nuremberg precedent precludes that. It would be unwise to do so because if it was deemed illegal to perform an act it does not mean that it would wise to make it be illegal to issue an order for someone else to do the act.

The Left are assuming that the public will accept that it was criminal for the lawyers who advised Bush and Cheney to advise a course of action and that it was illegal for them to act on that advice. What should protect the operator from being charged for acting in accordance with instructions is that doing so would be against the interests of those who give advice contrary to that which the operator acted on. Could they prosecute the chain of command all the way up to George Bush without indicting the lawyers and neocon publicists that justified the former administration's policy? It may have been possible to do so but Holder already began by threatening people like Douglas Feith.

Given that the Democratic Party is far more dependent on the legal community then the Republicans are it surprises me that there hasn't been a louder call from the ranks for them to pull back from this course of action. Once the giving of advice is criminalized then the entire apparatus that the Left has built up over the last seventy years is open to deconstruction. The entire network of lobbyists and law firms, of foundations and NGOs and research institutes that have become a permanent government in exile when they are out of office and an unaccountable sources of policy and personnel when they are in power will be open to attack. The Right by comparison has a shallow bench with only a handful of similar institutions.

If the Left begins to lose elections then the entire structure with tens of thousands of people in it will face investigation and possible retribution. The hard core pushing for radical change may desire this because it binds the troops closer to the radical agenda. If failure means exposure and poverty or prison then the nomenklatura will become as bound to the radical project as the purple shirts of the SEIU and Acorn.

no mo uro,
(who said that winning ideas are not enough)
Well said. The triumph of the messenger over the message goes back to the Kennedy-Nixon TV debate.

There are four different states in which groups of people can interact. These are legal constructs, like marriage, divorce or commercial-client relations are for individuals. People, even criminals, are assumed to be members of social and political communities unless they are certified not to be. People who are not members of any recognized community who then commit acts of violence are Pirates.

1) Comity, that is the state of trust and equality shared by citizens who are mutually pledged to support a common sovereign authority that they empower. Disputes and criminal damages are handled by the legal system.

2) Peace, that is the state of defined legal relations that foster peaceful trade and travel between citizens of different sovereignties. A state regulates its citizenry and takes responsibility for their conduct. Disputes or criminal acts done by persons when in a foreign jurisdiction are resolved by procedures agreed to between the respective states. If a citizen of one state causes injury to a citizen of another then the claim is made between the two governments. While this may be modified for convenience in practice the fact remains that if you as an American are owed something in France and the US government negotiates an agreement that settles all claims between the governments you may or may not get anything yourself. France will no longer owe you and any claim you have on the US government would be a separate matter.

4) War, this is a state in which most legal contracts are abrogated and violence by agents of the state may be used under defined conditions. A state regulates its armed forces and takes responsibility for their conduct.

5) Piracy, this is a state in which there are no legal boundaries binding the parties, making it in effect a "State of Nature."

Khalid Sheik Muhhamed is a pirate. The only constraints on how he is to be dealt with should related to determining his status to begin with. Once it is verified that he is not a criminal, subject to the laws and authority of a nation that takes responsibility for him, and that he is not a soldier protected by treaties and laws governing the treatment of prisoners of war, then the only protections he has are those administrative policies against random brutality. He is effectively not a human being but a dangerous beast.

Non-state actors, like al-Qaeda, cannot be allowed to claim the benefits for their members that are granted to state actors, even hostile ones, that take some responsibility for the people under their jurisdiction.

Aug 25, 2009 - 9:41 am

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