Rule of law

Dec 152010

I saw there were 1200 comments for the WSJ article titled, “Court Strikes at Health Law,”  which is the most I’ve ever seen.  I tried to post the 1201th with the following:

The headline is stupid, dangerous, and Murdochish. The judges make rulings. They don’t “strike at” things. If they do, the reporters should present their evidence and impeachment hearings should begin.

Jun 152010

WSJ headline: “U.S. to Demand BP Fund

That is an inaccurate headline, of course. It’s the Obama administration that’s asking for it, not the U.S. The U.S. has laws against extortion. A better headline is a small blurb on the same page on which the misleading one appeared: “The White House plans to ask BP for a damage fund.”

If there is such an escrow account, though, who would keep the money for safekeeping and administer it? The Obama administration is not eligible, because its policy of nationalizing any industry within reach creates a conflict of interest.

The British government also has a conflict of interest.

The United Nations? The money would be gone in a day if deposited there.

Here are my three nominees:

  • The government of Ireland. The Irish have no great love for the Brits or for America, but get along reasonably well with both.
  • The government of the Czech Republic. Václav Klaus can be trusted not to be easily intimidated.
  • The government of Georgia. This would help focus more attention on a country that needs it. And Georgia would have great motivation not to mess up.
Oct 072009

Before we allow the Obama administration’s FTC to follow in Vladimir Putin’s footsteps by regulating blogs, this needs to get fixed.

From the Washington Times, in an article titled, “Criminalizing everyone:”

By March 2004, federal prosecutors were well on their way to turning 66-year-old retiree George Norris into an inmate in a federal penitentiary – based on his home-based business of cultivating, importing and selling orchids.

Mrs. Norris testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime this summer. The hearing’s topic: the rapid and dangerous expansion of federal criminal law, an expansion that is often unprincipled and highly partisan.

Chairman Robert C. Scott, Virginia Democrat, and ranking member Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, conducted a truly bipartisan hearing (a D.C. rarity this year).

These two leaders have begun giving voice to the increasing number of experts who worry about “overcriminalization.” Astronomical numbers of federal criminal laws lack specifics, can apply to almost anyone and fail to protect innocents by requiring substantial proof that an accused person acted with actual criminal intent.


May 282009

Fox news headline: “Sotomayor’s Gun Control Positions Could Prompt Conservative Backlash.”

Backlash? Backlash?? I think the word the writer is groping for is “opposition.”

In the same article:

Such a line of attack could prove more effective than efforts to define Sotomayor as pro-abortion, efforts that essentially grasp at straws. Sotomayor’s record on that hot-button issue reveals instances in which she has ruled against an abortion rights group and in favor of anti-abortion protesters, making her hard to pigeonhole.

Grasp at straws?

Fox seems to have hired an idiom-challenged reporter to write these things.

But that last sentence is a fascinating one. It suggests that perhaps Soutomayor wasn’t basing her ruling on the identify of the group before her, but was basing it on the law, let the chips fall where they will.

Will the Obama administration be willing to overlook an indiscretion like that?

May 072009

So Great Britain is now banning some people from entering the country on the grounds that they foster extremism or hatred. By that criterion, it could ban any and all members of our Democrat Party from entering their country — even our president.

It’s interesting that this came up after an exchange I had in a now-stale thread at The American Scene, where a commenter wrote:

Hayek’s thesis is that incremental increases in the power and breadth of the state lead to authoritarianism. We have 50 years’ worth of big-government Western democracies to examine, not one has tended to authoritarianism.

My response:

They haven’t? What, exactly, is your definition of authoritarianism?


It excludes western-style democracies, at a minimum.


I think I understand. Western-style democracies have not tended towards authoritarianism, because authoritarianism excludes western-style democracies, no matter how authoritarian they have become.

And then Jacqui Smith does me the favor of providing an example. I didn’t even need to go to the trouble of bringing up that country’s anti-social behaviour orders, by which it has trashed a thousand years of progress in rule-of-law.

Mar 212009

It has been a while since the last Leviathan Ankle-Biter award. But here are some exceptionally deserving recipients — a bunch of British combat veterans of World War II. (“We’ll Fight Brown on the Beaches : D-Day veterans angry at ‘politicisation’ of anniversary“, in The Independent.)

They raised money so those who are fit for the trip could go to the Normandy beaches for the 65th anniversary. There are about 500 who can go. It will be the last opportunity for a lot of them. It was with some difficulty that they raised the money, but they got it — through private contributions.

Then the politicians wanted to horn in on the event. But the veterans are telling them to buzz off:

But Peter Hodge, secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), said: “Ministers on the beaches is not really what we wanted or needed. We never complained about the Government not giving us money. We wanted this to be between the veterans and the British people. The public response to our appeal, first publicised in The Independent, has already been fantastic.”

“We also wanted this to be mostly about the veterans themselves. If ministers go along, the extra security tends to mean that veterans are pushed into the background.”

It’s good to hear that something like this can still happen in a country that has been busy trashing its heritage (e.g. throwing out the rule of law in favor of anti-social-behaviour ordinances). Even though these guys are old, they’re going out by setting an example that the rest of the country would do well to learn from, as would those in our own country.