The most dangerous “state” belief–I’m sure it is sincere

Convincing oneself that one is following a valid process, to do something one’s own lawyers believe to be legal, to achieve something  appropriate that others in the future will confirm by following this example must surely be one of the most common and self-deceptive journeys upon which the human mind can embark.

“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

via Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists – The Washington Post.


“We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran” Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly (update 3: “Why shouldn’t Iran get the bomb…?” 01/26/2012)

Most of what’s published on this blog is just my opinion, often based on little more than other blogs I read and the MSM.  And, although I uphold the idea of contrariness for its own sake, most of what’s here is not greatly beyond the mainstream.  Arguing for why Iran should get nuclear weapons and would get them inevitably was, in late January when I posted about it, contrary to all the received opinion I was seeing.  The article linked below is by someone with some genuine expertise in the Middle East.  It is nice to see that I am not the only person who thinks that, however undesirable it might be for Iran to have nuclear weapons, the sky will not fall.

We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran by Paul Pillar in The Washington Monthly

Remember what “the right to privacy” meant when it really meant something important?

Once upon a time this was the understanding of the “right to privacy” in the US.  We should be reminded of what we have acquiesced in giving up, not what we have decided to have taken from us:

Justice Brandeis famously said in Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1928), “The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone-the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect, that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the use, as evidence in a criminal proceeding, of facts ascertained by such intrusion must be deemed a violation of the Fifth.” Plainly put, at its heart a right to privacy is simply a right to be let alone.”

The entire Jonathan Turley blog guest post by Gene Howington is worth your attention.

Cynical as I am now about such issues, I think that enumerated or unenumerated, the contemporary executive branch will do as it pleases.

UPDATE 1- A Reversal–The “Komen Rule?” -Board Member quotation says it all, whichever side one is on…


But on Friday, Komen said that it will “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

From the Washington Post story this morning:

Komen board member John Raffaelli said the board voted unanimously in October to change its grant-making criteria, including adding a rule that bans grants to organizations under investigation”

It is no secret that in our governmental system police, a prosecutor, and/or agrand jury (under certain constraints of law) can investigate broadly.  Less understood is that Congress can investigate anything it chooses whenever it chooses for any reason it chooses.  Whichever party holds a majority in one of the houses of Congress can employ the “investigatory power” to public or partisan purposes as it wishes.

Given the sensitivities regarding Planned Parenthood in our current political environment, Komen’s adoption of the principle stated above was an action of high political character and its board knew that (as the full story sets out) when it acted.

What’s most troubling is that the principle held any appeal (and it holds appeal to other organizations to suspend or cease activity with the subject of investigations) when the very point of an investigation is to secure an accurate answer.

Suspension (not breaking, in my view) with people being investigated by police, prosecutors and grand juries for certain kinds of illegal or criminal activity is called for in many cases.  The same should not be the case when the investigation is by Congress.  The price of its broad span of investigatory power must be that there ought not be a penalty imposed prior to the published findings of the investigation.

Consumer Bureau Faces Critics Over Rules – (Raise your hand if you are surprised it’s Senator Richard Shelby [R., AL])

The senator, [Richard Shelby (R., AL)] speaking at a hearing where Mr. Cordray defended the new watchdog’s early actions, pointed to a recently completed rule that requires companies such as Western Union Co. and Moneygram International Inc. to disclose the exchange rate and fees associated with wire transfers. (My emphasis.)

While Democrats on the panel applauded the agency for finishing a rule designed to protect consumers, Mr. Shelby said it will increase compliance costs and could leave consumers facing higher prices when sending cash overseas. Other GOP lawmakers also voiced concern about the bureau’s impact on credit markets and small businesses.

“The bureau’s own analysis reveals that compliance with this rule will require more than 7.6 million hours,” Mr. Shelby said.”

There seems to me no more proudly condescending a senator than Shelby and that is a tough competition to win.  Here he puts forward the obvious, that doing more costs more without mentioning that he is suggesting the purchaser is better served by being ignorant of the price of what he or she is buying and what the shipping and handling charges are to be.

via Consumer Bureau Faces Critics Over Rules –

Michael Lind on Christopher Hitchens…

Michael Lind on Christopher Hitchens…

Michael Lind writes a fine post in Salon on Christopher Hitchens, the roles ascribed to him in the US and the UK, and draws out some fine distinctions between public intellectuals, the attributes of scholarship and what much of our journalism and much of the blogosphere have come to think they represent.

At this time in the world, serious scholarship meeting high standards in its research and the logic of its conclusions is vital.

We also face the task of getting that serious work into the hands of decision makers who are willing to be moved by it.  To some extent the blogosphere seems to have been more successful getting it its work into the hands of those who will listen and follow than in doing the preliminary work to ensure the quality of what it puts forth.