Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't like torture? Blame Carter.

David Rivkin and Lee Casey have a piece in today's Wall Street Journal discussing the ongoing controversy over US interrogation techniques (among other things) and the more recent push to try the Bush administration's legal counsel for "war crimes."

Of particular interest, I thought:

In truth, the critics' fundamental complaint is that the Bush administration's lawyers measured international law against the U.S. Constitution and domestic statutes. They interpreted the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention forbidding torture, and customary international law, in ways that were often at odds with the prevailing view of international law professors and various activist groups. In doing so, however, they did no more than assert the right of this nation – as is the right of any sovereign nation – to interpret its own international obligations.

But that right is exactly what is denied by many international lawyers inside and outside the academy.

To the extent that international law can be made, it is made through actual state practice – whether in the form of custom, or in the manner states implement treaty obligations. In the areas relevant to the war on terror, there is precious little state practice against the U.S. position, but a very great deal of academic orthodoxy.

For more than 40 years, as part of the post World War II decolonization process, a legal orthodoxy has arisen that supports limiting the ability of nations to use robust armed force against irregular or guerilla fighters. It has also attempted to privilege such guerillas with the rights traditionally reserved to sovereign states. The U.S. has always been skeptical of these notions, and at critical points has flatly refused to be bound by these new rules. Most especially, it refused to join the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, involving the treatment of guerillas, from which many of the "norms" the U.S. has supposedly violated, are drawn.

Well, of course it is the Evil Republicans (TM) who are to blame for this as well, right? Certainly, no self-respecting (Secularly) Holy Democrat (TM) could have committed a Crime Against Humanity (TM) like this.

Now, which Evil Republican (TM) was president in 1977? Let's see here...


...wait, it'll come to me...


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here's an economic incentive for you.

Just ran across this, and thought it was interesting, in light of the article that ran in the Journal Sentinel a couple of weeks ago questioning the economic value of Miller Park.

The Sacramento Bee recently pointed out an economic benefit from professional franchises that you don't see much press about--players on VISITING teams have to pay local and state income taxes.

The Bee article explains:

Professional athletes are required to pay income taxes in every state and city that levies them where they earned a salary during away games. That means Kings and River Cats players must file tax returns in dozens of states and several cities. In some jurisdictions, that includes practices, as well.

Each state determines taxable service performed, also known a "duty day." The nonresident income tax, which is dubbed the "jock tax," surfaced in the 1990s as a way for states to tap into the soaring paychecks of visiting professional athletes, said Ryan Losi, the executive vice president of Piascik & Associates, an accounting and financial services firm in Virginia that works with professional athletes.

Losi said many believe "jock tax" enforcement began when California taxed Michael Jordan when the Chicago Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Today, taxes generated in California from visiting athletes bring in an estimated $100 million each year, according to the state tax board.

In other words--by having NBA, MLB and NFL franchises, the state of Wisconsin can collect taxes from a significant number of NBA, NFL and MLB players (particularly in the case of the NBA, where every team has at least a home-and-home series with every other team--the state can thus collect taxes from every virtually player in the league).

The taxes collected are probably not anything close to what California (with its multiple baseball, basketball, and hockey teams) generates, but given that we're still arguing over whether Miller Park was worth it--and are almost certainly going to go through the same debate in the near future about renovating/replacing the Bradley Center, lest we lose the Bucks--this is something to keep in mind.


Bush the fiscal hawk?!

Interesting little bit buried at the end of this Weekly Standard piece by Fred Barnes, which argues that President Bush is far from a lame duck:

At one time or another, every president figures out that executive orders are underrated as a tool of White House power. Certainly Bush has. (The media have yet to realize this.) Of course it's true that presidential orders can be revoked by subsequent presidents. But they usually aren't.

Earlier this year, Bush's budget office sent a letter to every federal department barring them from implementing any congressional earmarks not authorized in specific statutory language. These must get explicit White House approval.

The order covered the majority of the thousands of pork-barrel earmarks passed by Congress. Its aim is to stall the implementation of many earmarks, perhaps forever, and to kill many others. Will the next president lift this order, thus prompting more earmarks? Not likely.

Given that fiscal restraint is going to be a major part, if not the core, of John McCain's pitch on the economy this fall--and that McCain himself has long been conspicuously hostile to earmarks--it'll be interesting to see how much attention this gets...and from whom.

Any progress that President Bush makes on this front now is progress that a President McCain wouldn't be able to make in 2009--and hence, one less reason to vote for the GOP nominee. This has the potential to cut McCain off at the knees.


Friday, April 04, 2008


The subject line of this post is an emoticon.

Using any emoticons--let alone Eastern style emoticons--is not my normal practice on this blog, for reasons that should need no elaboration; still, I think in this column from the Boston Herald's Michael Graham, I have reason to make an exception.

Oh, to be a campus activist now that spring is here.

“Campus activist” is what the Boston Globe-Democrat calls the students pushing for coed dorm rooms at colleges across the country. Not just coed dorms, floors or even suites. One room, two beds, a boy and a girl.

As Dr. Frankenstein said just before he threw the switch, “What could possibly go wrong?”

More than 30 colleges and universities, including Dartmouth, Clark, Brown, and Brandeis have coed dorm room policies.


This movement is led by the National Student Genderblind Campaign, which insists that colleges without gender-neutral housing are “heterosexist, oppressive, and anti-affirmative.”