Author Archive

May 13, 2011

“HE WHO WALKS BEHIND THE LINKS”: That will be Glenn’s new name.  It’s Aztec!  I’m officially handing the Insta car keys back, you will be relieved to know.  Hope I didn’t bang the vehicle up too much.  Thanks for having me, and I’m headed back to the Volokh Conspiracy and Opinio Juris.

May 13, 2011

“THE UNBEARABLE HEAVINESS OF GOVERNING”:  Hoover Institution scholar Morton Keller delivers a progress report on the Obama administration in Defining Ideas.  “It’s safe to say that Obama’s is the most Congress-centric administration in modern history.”

May 13, 2011

PROFESSOR FRANK PARTNOY ON THE GALLEON VERDICT. In the Financial Times.

May 13, 2011

THE DEFINITIVE GUANTANAMO DETENTION LITIGATION DATABASE: Brookings Institution releases a new report that tracks Guantanamo litigation, which will be updated on the web into the future. As you might guess, keeping track of all the lower court cases, appeals, dispositions, etc., is a major undertaking, and this is the place to go for any kind of serious research in this area. The Emerging Law of Detention 2.0: The Guantánamo Habeas Cases as Lawmaking.

May 13, 2011

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER ON WHY what the international community did with Libya can’t be done with Syria: Video interview with Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Hmm … is entirely “ad hoc” the term I’m looking for here?

May 13, 2011

DAVID HUME’S 300th BIRTHDAY. (We are a couple of days late here at Insta, it was May 7.)

May 13, 2011

WOULD YOU REALLY HAVE WANTED OBL ON TRIAL?: Mark Osiel, University of Iowa international law professor, sends an email running through just a few of the many issues that an actual trial of OBL would have had to address, off the top of his head.  It’s a long list and just a start. If you think there was no problem, as a matter of law or morality, in attacking with lethal force, then it is pretty hard to see how the benefits of a trial outweigh the costs. At least if you are a government with ‘skin in the game’ and have to worry, for example, about waves of hostage-taking around the world, in the run up to a trial or imprisonment or execution.  Life is much easier if you are an NGO and can focus solely on the presumed benefits of your policies rather than the costs which, in any case, the NGO doesn’t bear.  The rest of us don’t have that luxury.  Professor Osiel:

We should think practically for a second what the legal problems would have been in trying to prosecute Osama Bin Laden, rather than kill him. Anyone in international criminal law could immediately reel off at least half a dozen such major obstacles. The educated American (and world) public should be aware of these. They begin with the abduction of OBL from Pakistani territory, raising jurisdictional issues confronted in Alvarez-Machain, where the Supreme Court’s decision to allow U.S. prosecution (despite capture without consent of Mexican authorities) was uniformly rejected by the rest of the world. There would also be the considerable evidentiary difficulties, given the high burden of proof, of linking bin Laden to the 9/11 conspirators, i.e., without disclosing confidential intelligence sources and methods. And then there would be all the uncertainties within the law of crimes against humanity, such as whether those attacks could be considered “widespread” or “systematic,” especially if viewed in isolation from Al Qaeda’s earlier, more limited attacks.  In any event, there’s no U.S. statute on crimes against. humanity, hence requiring recourse to ordinary federal criminal law, an approach too ‘parochial’ to convince non-U.S. publics of its legitimacy; direct recourse to customary international law on crimes against humanity would be highly vulnerable to a due process challenge.  And so forth.  All that said, the bigger obstacle is clearly prudential, not legal: risk of U.S. and Western hostages taken by jihadists demanding the defendant’s release.  Potential hostages have human rights too.

May 13, 2011

DEFINING ‘SYSTEMICALLY IMPORTANT’ FINANCIAL FIRMS: For purposes of the Dodd-Frank bill.

May 13, 2011

EATING THE NEXT GENERATION’S SEED CORN, DEPT. OF: Stanford University Professor John Cogan’s WSJ piece on redistribution from young to old, summarized by Veronique de Rugy.

May 13, 2011

PARTY ASYMMETRY IN NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY, a one graf public choice analysis:  “In a dangerous world, there is a clear set of policies that is required to protect the country, but only one party is honest about it.” Jim Geraghty says this by way of saying that Ross Douthat and Jonah Goldberg are too charitable toward the Democrats’ national security policy.  He’s right – but also way too charitable himself.  Why?

Assume that Democrats know that Republicans will generally support them when Democrats are in the White House and taking tough national security positions.  But the Democrats also send unmistakeable signals to the electorate that, if they are pushed out of power, they will undermine a Republican administration trying to do exactly the same, and taking exactly the same actions.  Their support is not reciprocal even when the action is the same.  Message to voters:

“Paradoxically, the more you value national security, the more you actually need to vote for Democrats, because we’re the ones who matter on the margin, not the Republicans.  We have the hold-up, not the Republicans.  The Republicans in principle might be tougher than us – but unless we are in office, we will hold up all or most or much of it, so their extra toughness doesn’t matter, because it will be less than ours. The Republicans would be tougher than us – but we’re actually the best you’re going to do, because if the Republicans take office, we’ll make sure they do less.  So thanks for your national-security vote – TeamObama, investing today in tomorrow’s Nash Equilibrium.”

May 13, 2011

EU TO REIMPOSE INTERNAL BORDER PASSPORT CONTROLS:  Wow. This is big. “European nations moved to reverse decades of unfettered travel across the continent when a majority of EU governments agreed the need to reinstate national passport controls amid fears of a flood of immigrants fleeing the upheaval in north Africa.” I suppose that it could face push-back in the European parliament. However, the Guardian notes that “15 of the 22 EU states which had signed up to Schengen supported the move, with only four resisting, according to officials and diplomats present.”  The rest of the Guardian article frames this as in keeping with the rise of wicked xenophobic right-wing parties in Europe.  But the simpler explanation might be that much of this is not from far right xenophobes, but from perfectly normal centrist European voters who inchoately understand (and Guardian writers are not wont to do), as Friedman said, you can have open borders or you can have a welfare state, but you can’t have both.

May 12, 2011

FUTURE CHALLENGES IN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LAW: Essays from members of the Hoover Institution Task Force, edited and introduced by Peter Berkowitz.  Includes short policy essays on a wide array of national security topics from Ben Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, Jessica Stern, Philip Bobbitt, Tod Lindberg, Matthew Waxman, and Kenneth Anderson.

May 12, 2011

MARY McCONNELL ON DEATH TO HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH CLASS:  My earlier post on this generated quite a lot of email – more than anything I’ve posted this week, in fact – and so I asked one high school teacher who herself blogs on high school writing issues to give me a short statement, which I’ve put up below the fold at the original post.  (I met Mary McConnell seated between her and her husband at a Stanford Law School dinner, and I rather rudely paid Professor McConnell no attention at all, riveted as I was by what his wife was telling me about teaching composition and rhetoric, because it was so much my experience as a parent of a high-schooler.)

May 12, 2011

THE GREAT BOOKS ACCORDING TO ME:  Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tirania, by Jean-Marie Simon.  My Beloved Wife, as it happens, who spent nearly ten years as a war photographer and journalist in the 1980s Guatemalan civil war.  WW Norton brought out her photo book on the war in Guatemala in 1988, and this is the first version in Spanish, published last year in Guatemala, with new printings of the photos and a newly revised text.  You don’t need to read Spanish to get the photos; they document a brutal civil war, both in the urban areas and out in the countryside, with the army and with the guerrillas.  But strikingly, with the passage of time, these photos have also become a rare collection of photographs of ordinary life in Guatemala during the 1980s, quite apart from the war; urban and rural settings that no longer exist or have been greatly altered.

May 12, 2011

MOST POLITICALLY INCORRECT NOVEL?: I don’t think I’ll put this under “Great Books According to Me,” although I do think it is pretty great.  Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard, by Timothy Mo. This follows on my post on AA Gill and Mark Steyn which, I see, got a citation on Steyn’s website as “reader of the day.”  I should think so.

As for Timothy Mo … It’s not that the novel opens with a scene of coprophilia that makes it politically incorrect (any “transgressive” artist, or South Park, can do that).  Nor even that the coprophilia involves a professor from Germany (though apparently Mo’s refusal to alter that opening lost him his publisher, hence his self-publication under “Paddleless Press”).

‘Politically incorrect’ is more than just saying things to one’s followers that others find offensive, and it is more than simply offending people.  It is a knowing assertion that is calculated to find its target; it is just an updated form of epate-ing la bourgeoisie in a society in which the bourgeoisie that matters happens to be of a vaguely leftish, progressivist variety. In that regard, Mo’s book is numero uno.  I paraphrase from memory the (London) Spectator’s quite astute review when it came out:  ‘A novel that appears to have been written expressly to annoy John Pilger … an example in that very rare genre, the work of genuinely successful reactionary art.’ So.  You had me at “expressly to annoy John Pilger.”

May 12, 2011

THIS IS LIKE – LIKE – LIKE THE HAIKU OF ANGST.  And despair.  3eanuts. (h/t the corner.)

May 12, 2011

REGULAR READERS WILL NOT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN I HAVE A VIEW:  Is it okay to use a blog to

  • [relentlessly flog]
  • [gently make readers aware of]

one’s own scholarship, which

  • [will explain everything in greater depth]
  • [entice reputational rents from readers via SSRN downloads under misleading descriptions]
  • [commodify and cheapen one’s scholarly output, rather than turning it into Veblenesque prestige goods]?

You decide!  Well, you could if we allowed comments which, for the record, I’m very glad Glenn doesn’t. (And do check out the link to see the cute little graphic that I decided not to include here.)

May 12, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO MIME TROUPE: Does not do pantomime, as it website notes in graf one.  It recently made a splash when Republicans singled its NEA grant out as something that could be cut from the Federal budget, along with an accordion festival; the head of the NEA gallantly defended it. I couldn’t tell whether, for strategic reasons or simply lack of knowledge, either the Congressional Republicans or the head of the NEA were aware that the SFMT is, and always has been, a proudly left-wing, radical agit-prop company – not for nothing the red star in its logo.

I don’t know whether it is still the hard-left, Leninist troupe I remember from the early 1970s, or whether it has morphed into public-teat-sucking-multiculturalist-diversity-twaddle-grant-getting-purveyor of left-wing political kitsch, but it wasn’t clear that anyone at the hearing knew, either.  I do recall seeing, as a high schooler in the 1970s, a quite outstanding, really excellent, production of Brecht’s Mother Courage by the SFMT – and a rousing audience-participation rendition of the Internationale in the intermission.

In which I enthusiastically joined, being a sixteen year old leftist in those days. When I moved right, it was not because I knew, or know, very much about conservative thought (I’ve never read Russell Kirk, or many other of the classic American conservatives, for example, and I am indifferent to Ayn Rand, seeing her less as a libertarian than a Romantic). It’s because one day I woke up and asked the truly vital question of political identity … “What Would Gramsci Do?”

May 12, 2011

THE ONE HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLAR NOTE: From John Taylor’s blog, Economics One. (Link fixed.)

May 12, 2011

BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday tapped Sendhil Mullainathan, a leading behavioral economist, to help aid its work in crafting consumer-protection rules.”

May 12, 2011

DEATH TO HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH CLASS: I broadly agree with the article, but have a very specific concern, as a parent with a child going through the exit from high school.  My perception is that our finest high school English programs are still essentially about literature.  Which is okay, so long as it’s not too wacky.  But what students need, so far as I can tell, is not training in either the reading of literature for substance (most of it fiction and poetry, not non-fiction of the kind that most of the rest of life consists of). Or training in the tropes of literary analysis (metaphors, similes, the logic of analogies, which, I grant, is important; innovation in anything is often metaphor, the metaphorical leap later shown to be true of the world).

What most students – oh, let’s not cavil, my kid and her friends – need is training in logic.  Not necessarily symbolic logic, though that’s good, but informal logic in written language.  The problem with even very well taught English classes is that they teach as though there were nothing but Aristotle’s Poetics … and no Logic.  (One very useful, and spreading textbook, is Everything’s an Argument.) Put another way, the author of the Salon article acknowledges that she will not possess the technical skills of science, math, or engineering. (Although we trust that she will make the effort to understand the output of these fields sufficiently to connect them to society and the world, even without possessing them as technical skill sets.  We trust also that she will take at least a class in basic calculus and basic statistics and basic accounting, sufficient to make it through a not-so-great MBA program, and that she will make an effort to keep those basic skills alive through numeracy in everyday life.)

Past those things, however, pretty much the only skill that’s left is the ability to engage in clear and persuasive logical reasoning, including the sometimes inelegant and even brutal, but essential, apparatus of logic, deductive and inductive, in written communication.  It is not so great if you don’t possess that one, either.

Update: I have received quite a lot of interesting emails about this, both endorsements and some pushback.  I’ve asked one high school teacher I personally know, Mary McConnell (bio below), to expand her views into a short post that I’ve put below the fold.  This is an important debate for parents, students, and teachers, and my thanks to her for letting me post this:

Continue reading ‘DEATH TO HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH CLASS: I broadly agree with the article, but have a very specific conce…’ »

May 12, 2011

CURTIS BRADLEY EXPLAINS case in which the Supreme Court agrees to decide whether the Executive has the Constitutional power to decide what goes on a child’s US passport under place of birth: Jerusalem or Israel.  As with many Constitutional cases, the legal issue is not the political argument on the surface – in this case over Israel and Jerusalem – but the separation of powers question, here pertaining to the recognition of foreign governments.

May 12, 2011

DERIVATIVES MARKETS’ PAYMENT PRIORITIES IN BANKRUPTCY: Harvard Law School’s Mark Roe summarizes his new article in this blog post.  “Stanford Law Review recently published my article, The Derivatives Market’s Payment Priorities as Financial Crisis Accelerator, in which I analyze the Bankruptcy Code’s role in undermining the stability of systemically-vital financial institutions.” The key observation, I think, having finished the article last night, is the role provisions of the bankruptcy code play in making certain derivatives accelerants in spreading systemic risk, by promoting the derivatives-holders to the front of the pack in bankruptcy.  The Dodd-Franck bill is, well, a work in progress; Michael Lewis’s The Big Short is a pretty good place to begin on derivatives and the financial crisis.

May 12, 2011

IS COLLEGE A ROTTEN INVESTMENT?: Some pushback on the college-is-not-worth-it meme from Annie Lowrey at Slate.

May 12, 2011

RANDY BARNETT ON THE MANDATE HEARING YESTERDAY: Volokh also has more back and forth with Orin Kerr, Jonathan Adler, and others; Barnett was at the Fourth Circuit hearing and comments on the oral argument.

May 12, 2011

HOOVER INSTITUTION’S KORI SCHAKE: “What our country’s nineteenth century experience teaches us about China today.”

May 12, 2011

DEMOGRAPHY AND ECONOMIC GROWTH: Tyler Cowen links to this study on shifting demographics of a society in relation to financial market returns, and cautiously suggests there might be something to it.  I agree perhaps there is.  But strikingly, it is precisely what I’ve been turning over in my mind since reading Tyler Cowen’s fine, short essay, The Great Stagnation: How We Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit.  I think, actually, it should have been subtitled, How We Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit and After That All the Next Generation’s Seed Corn.

The essay suggests that we’ve already absorbed the easy gains that more or less follow on the genuinely history changing Industrial Revolution, and that incremental gains are much tougher to come by, unless we are fortunate enough to find some new scientific or technological breakthrough of a kind that is difficult to predict, let alone will into being. (I’m simplifying and perhaps editorializing.) Even as I read it, however, my reaction was that it did not take into account – in multiple directions – the effect of an aging population.  Which is what the cited paper attempts to do.  Aging populations take less risk, innovate less, make fewer breakthroughs in new technology, consume more but not necessarily in ways that produce increases to the general standard of living.  And when the aging generation has political power from numbers, they tend to think in terms of themselves – and call it social justice.  Insofar as they have not produced lots of new children, they are less invested in the future after themselves, and are perfectly willing to eat the next generation’s seed corn.

I think all those effects have a huge impact on Cowen’s “low-hanging” thesis, which seems – perhaps I am mistaken – to oddly operate from a demographically static model.  Yet thinking there is something right about this thesis is not the same as saying that investors can easily benefit from it, precisely because it is a generalized effect across markets, asset classes, investment opportunities.  The growth rate in innovation slows – in part for the reasons that Cowen’s essay identifies, and in part for reasons that older populations simply innovate less. The general mean in innovation shifts, perhaps only slightly, but with impacts on the future.  How do you short that?  Go long on populations with lots of young people?  That assumes that they have not just youth and energy, but also education, societies that provide the coherence necessary for innovative ideas to pay off, and lots of other things … that almost none of them has.  The places that have lots of youth are not the places that have the other elements necessary for innovation to take hold and become sources of increase in the standard of living.

(Also, if this sounds like I think my Baby Boomer Generation is morally the most preening and objectively The Worst … yeah.)  [And this post should have been titled: Man-Corn, after that greatest of all coffee-table photo books.  ed.]

May 12, 2011

DOG BITES MAN, DEPT. OF: Greeks strike over austerity plan. Violently. Nationwide action brings most public services to a halt.

May 12, 2011

TODD ZYWICKI: Deutsche Bank v. DOJ over housing loans.

May 12, 2011

PRAY FOR HUCKABEE?: “PrayForHuckabee.com — a new website that Huckabee promoted on Wednesday through his official Facebook page — features a personal message from the 2008 Iowa caucuses winner as he mulls another White House bid.” Let’s just say I have some doubts that God appreciates being co-opted into anyone’s Presidential bid. And if He wants my advice, He will smite Huckabee’s presumption … by causing that the FEC shall inquire as to the monetized value of Divine intervention as a campaign contribution, even if in the form of an aw-shucks plea for Divine “guidance.” Unless, of course, Huckabee can produce a notarized affidavit that God has not coordinated with Huckabee’s campaign.

Update: I offer a biting (i.e., generated considerable hate mail) consideration of Huckabee and Romney on religion in the public square, but also what I think is an important argument over what should be in, and what should be out, concerning the religious views of candidates for public office.  From the Weekly Standard from the 2008 primaries, Mormons, Muslims, and Multiculturalism.

May 12, 2011

WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN, DEPT. OF: And comes down fast.  From Strategypage (H/T Rand Simberg), on the problem of Libyan rebels firing scarce rounds into the air.  “All those bullets eventually return to earth, and people do get hurt.”

May 12, 2011

TWITTER TROUBLE.

May 11, 2011

THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE INFORMATION THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS:  This is my draft, unpublished take on the business-cultural model of the New York Times, from a couple of years ago.  It starts by announcing that Beloved Wife and I finally gave up the home delivered subscription in DC. This did not turn out to be true, married as I am to a True New Yorker.  This, even though it runs something like $800 a year for home delivery, and despite the fact that the editor of the Times’ digital edition, who is an old family friend from our days in New York, expressed disbelief that anyone would pay those rates for out of town home delivery.

May 11, 2011

THOMAS NACHBAR: Justice, violence, and the OBL killing.  I find nearly all of this article utterly compelling – and important parts of it not focused on by other commenters; particularly what is said about the different institutional roles of different actors, such as the CIA:

What SEALs and the other members of our nation’s armed forces do is different from what law enforcement officers do, although both occasionally involve violence. (As a society, we tend to accentuate the role that violence plays in both professions—police are, after all, “peace officers,” and today’s wars are being fought through building as much as they are by targeting insurgents and terrorists.) Both members of the armed forces and law enforcement officers operate according to well-defined principles, but they are not identical principles, and those differences need to be preserved in both rhetoric and practice. The principles under which CIA operatives operate, given their status as neither members of the armed forces nor law enforcement officers, are considerably murkier. Lumping what all three groups do together under the rubric of “justice” might be rhetorically appealing, but it invites the same kind of mistakes that were made in places like Abu Ghraib, where the blurring of such lines helped erode adherence to our principles, with catastrophic results.

The argument is also an exercise in practical ethics of a practical kind.  Its payoff, after all, is this – and it says something I’ve been trying to say, but better:

Already, lawyers (among them Geoffrey Robertson, Julian Assange’s defense attorney) are opining that, in order for the killing of Bin Laden to have been legal, the SEALs on the raid must have acted in self-defense and that the Navy should accordingly conduct an investigation into whether his killing was justified. But that is treating SEALs on a combat mission as though they were law enforcement officers conducting an arrest. By virtually any account of the law of war, Osama Bin Laden was a valid military target, and as far as we can tell from the news accounts, this was a military mission undertaken by a military unit. To require that military units can use lethal force only in self-defense is not only a complete misunderstanding of the law of war (under whose auspices the SEALs were operating); it would subject our servicemembers to intolerable risk and cripple our nation’s ability to defend itself. Understanding the distinction between security and justice is not just a limit to protect against overreaching by security agencies; it’s also a protection for our armed forces as they carry out their lawful mission to defend our national security.

That two way relationship between security and justice is very astute, and not one that I had focused on. Yet there is a part in the opening of the article with which I don’t fully agree, though it is easily the most persuasive of the critiques of “justice” in the killing of OBL – and I’ve spent a lot of time reading unpersuasive ones in the last week.  It is the version of the argument that requires real analytic engagement, the one that I believe sets the terms of debate. The deep philosophical and moral question here, one that goes to the heart of “sides” in war; the bonds of affection and the fiduciary use of violence that is for the protection of a political community – what Tom calls the question of security – and yet is also a question of justice; and how one reconciles justice and partiality.

Tom is both a friend and someone whose intellect I’ve come to appreciate visiting at UVA this term. I look forward to taking up those questions with him – and I’ll report back, over at Volokh.

May 11, 2011

MICKEY KAUS ON OBAMA’S BORDER SPEECH: ‘“The fence is now basically complete.” Huh? Or was there an implicit “as far as I’m concerned” tacked onto the end of this sentence?’

May 11, 2011

FORTUNE REPORTS RETURN OF MBA JOB MARKET: Turnaround in job market for newly minted MBAs. “Moreover, the improved numbers represent B-schools and corporate recruiters across the board, not merely the top 25 or 50 schools, which tend to outperform the industry or the large-scale MBA recruiters that essentially make the market.” I wonder to what extent this could be said of law jobs – not, of course, that one could tell by asking the schools themselves. My impression, admittedly much influenced by Larry Ribstein, is that consolidation of the private law firm market is going to put pressure on law schools outside the very top tier for some time to come.

May 11, 2011

THE ECONOMICS OF GROUPON: From our own Megan McArdle, at the Atlantic. “The LASIK is almost certainly a “raise prices and discount” situation–you have no idea what their normal price is.  Even so, who wants discount eye surgery?  (Eleven people, apparently.  Good luck with that.)” (Fixed link.)

May 11, 2011

I, FOR ONE, WELCOME OUR NEW ROBOTIC OVERLORDS’ MESSAGING: And it turns out the message is … GRITS (Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems).  “A masters student at Georgia Tech University has created a system that allows a group of robots to move into formations without communicating with the other robots it is forming shapes with. The robots have no predefined memory or prior knowledge of their location.” (The video at the link is quick fun.) (Before I get deluged with emails, read the story to see that it does require inputs from an overhead camera that might be thought of as the equivalent of GPS. This is not as radical as the quoted sentence suggests.)

May 11, 2011

LIFEGUARDING IN ORANGE COUNTY IS TOTALLY LUCRATIVE: “High pay and benefits for lifeguards in Newport Beach is the latest example of frustrating levels of compensation for public employees. More than half the city’s full-time lifeguards are paid a salary of over $100,000 and all but one of them collect more than $100,000 in total compensation including benefits.” Full-time lifeguards are organized as part of the Fire Department’s union. PS:  I should add that my objection is not to the fact that making sure you have a competent lifeguarding staff on the beaches – 200 or so tower lifeguards, according to the article – and keeping all that organized and operational requires year-round, full-time, supervisory staff who of course must be better paid than some summer-job hourly rate.  It’s the rate assumed is required to get competent supervisory staff, how many, and with what benefits that’s the problem here.

May 11, 2011

HOOVER INSTITUTION’S BILL WHALEN: California’s coming train wreck over high speed rail.

May 11, 2011

SYRIA SHAMED OUT OF RUNNING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SEAT: “A coalition of 25 human rights groups headed by the Geneva-based UN Watch cheered today’s withdrawal by Syria of its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.” This is good news. The problem is that it takes vast amounts of political capital to achieve something that, on any ordinary moral calculus, should not even be up for discussion.  Yet, the UN being the UN, it is.  The Human Rights Council is itself the shame, and the US does neither itself nor the cause of human rights any good by being on it.

May 11, 2011

USHA RODRIGUES ON THE PRIVATE TRADING MARKET: “When does a company get too big to stay private?” She discusses the “shadow” market that has sprung up for companies like Facebook, which have not yet gone public, but in which every legal tool of interpretation is being brought to bear by people looking to get in.  I recently heard Professor Rodrigues give a riveting talk at UVA law school on related topics.  The Conglomerate, where she and others post on business law issues, tracks these questions very well.  Things like the Skype acquisition, Facebook, and more.

May 11, 2011

SANDEEP GOPALAN in the international edition of the WSJ: Why it matters whether Washington puts out a firm and clear view of how it sees the legality of the OBL killing.  I’m not the only one harping on this topic; Gopalan puts the case better than I’ve managed to do. ”

But first, the popular question: Who cares?

Osama bin Laden was responsible for the most heinous act of terror in modern history. Only lawyers and their sophistry could defend human-rights protections for someone who displayed so little humanity. Right?

These arguments may seem obvious to most, but disquiet in legal circles has been growing after the initial euphoria following bin Laden’s death. It is quickly becoming apparent that the “who cares” retort will not wash, that Washington must establish a proper legal basis for having killed bin Laden. By doing so the U.S. could not only deconstruct the myth that an unarmed bin Laden was an innocent who was killed unjustifiably; it could also negate the jihadi narrative about Western hypocrisy: that we are no different from the terrorists. In what could be bin Laden’s last hurrah, Washington has yet to make its case, and the Obama administration is rapidly losing the narrative.

May 11, 2011

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION on the undergraduate admissions process: What the admissions deans say about this year, as things wind down, students make their final decisions, wait lists are wound up.  Someone mentioned that professors don’t really take an interest in the business model of the higher education business until they have a college-applying kid.  That’s exactly right in my case; I’m paying attention now.  The CHE does a good job of covering the business model, remarkably neutrally given that it is an industry newspaper.  But far and away the most useful book for parents in the throes is Andrew Ferguson’s Crazy U.  As he says, there is nothing in the life of a teenager that the college admissions process does not corrupt.

May 11, 2011

BRITAIN’S ANDREW ROBERTS on the sneers, jeers, and contempt in his country at the United States for taking down OBL: I am frequently asked these days by academics and policy professionals on why I keep harping on the need for the Obama administration to forthrightly defend the legal-policy legitimacy of its OBL killing.  They tell me I’m getting all worked up over something that is merely surface froth among chattering class types, around for one news cycle and gone.  I think they’re wrong; it matters because legitimacy matters, and legitimacy is partly a matter of being willing to set the public baseline for debate, rather than letting others set it for you.  I know this because I’ve run NGO campaigns before; others, like former State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger, know this because they’ve been on the receiving end.  Secretary Clinton, call your lawyer.

May 11, 2011

IN PRAISE OF STRAWMEN: At the Duck of Minerva, an observation that strawmen arguments have legitimate uses.  After all, what can get dismissed as a strawman argument might well be an idealized or abstracted form of a whole series of particular arguments with a common structure.  Or we might use an abstracted form of the argument to sharpen the debate, even though it leaves out many subtle qualifiers in a first approach to the argument.  I rather agree.

Update: Some further qualifications from Stacy McCain, with which I also agree.  There is a question of good rhetorical judgment here.  There are strawman arguments that are just that.  I just mean to say, let’s not burn the [?] along with the Wickerman … I’m not sure what exactly to stick in the brackets, but you get the idea.

May 11, 2011

MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING:  This is the AP wire story.  I don’t have much understanding of levees, rivers rising and cresting; I grew up in an arid region of California and have never lived near the great interior rivers, the Mississippi, the Missouri, or the Ohio River valley.  But our thoughts are with those in the downstream path.  Update: Given how little I know that geography, I am taking the liberty of posting a long email from someone who is actually there, and thanks for sending.  Posted below the fold.

Continue reading ‘MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING:  This is the AP wire story.  I don’t have much understanding of levees…’ »

May 11, 2011

MORE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:  I agree entirely with Michael that Amnesty is becoming downright creepy.  But I’d add that it faithfully reflects its membership base.  I talk about the moment in which Amnesty decided to affirmatively switch gears from human rights to, well, All Things Globally Progressive and Then Some in this short academic book review.

More generally, the main human rights organizations face an unsustainable dilemma  [corrected, per guest ed. Michelle Dulak Thomson]. On the one hand, merely converting all supposedly “progressive” values into claims of human rights, which means economic, social, and cultural claims that make “human rights” a mile wide and a nan0-inch thick. And, on the other hand, the gradual capture of the language and international machinery of human rights by Islamic states and their agendas, in which human rights is gradually converted into a language for suppressing criticism of Islam.

The effect of the former is, ironically, not to make more progressive agenda items more enforced as actual rights, but instead merely to show that anything can be framed as a right – and so to hand it over as a rhetorical language to the illiberalism of the Muslim world and its most influential states.  The dominant human rights monitors, meanwhile, gradually turn into being elite global managers of a human rights agenda amounting to the endorsement of “global religious communalism,” the first tenet of which is the denial of free speech.   (I myself recommend the Human Rights Foundation, which is currently holding the Oslo Freedom Forum.)

May 11, 2011

ORIN KERR ANALYZES health care mandate appellate argument:  Judges seemingly unpersuaded by activity/inactivity distinction, he says, discussing yesterday’s oral argument. More discussion at Volokh.

May 11, 2011

CITY JOURNAL’S CALIFORNIA EDITION: Someone might already have mentioned this, but it is the go-to place for analysis of the California political economy.  Scary stuff.

May 11, 2011

EXECUPUNDIT’S POLITICALLY INCORRECT AUTHOR LIST: Following up on my Great Books post featuring the very politically incorrect A.A. Gill.  Why don’t you go to Execupundit and add your own names to the list?

May 11, 2011

STEWART BAKER SAYS THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SOLVED THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION PROBLEM: But doesn’t realize it.

May 11, 2011

THE GREAT BOOKS ACCORDING TO ME: Starcrossed, by AA Gill.  I do understand that it won that year’s Bad Sex Writing Award, and no doubt deserved.  Imagine the movie Notting Hill – made a good deal more gritty, nasty, cruel, really dirty, and lots, lots funnier, while still preserving Antigone and a weird bittersweet, genuine romance, at the center.  For anyone who has actually read the novel, I know that you’re cringing.  Great book?  Well. A senior editor of the Times Literary Supplement, also a dear friend,  once told me: “Ken, you have such almost exquisite taste.”  “Oh?” I inquired, all coyness and demurity.  “Yes,” he said, “marred only by your fondness for AA Gill.”  And a barely perceptible pause.  “And Mark Steyn.  But you knew that.”

May 11, 2011

TICK-TOCK, TICK-TOCK: Lawfare’s Robert Chesney points out that the clock is rapidly running on the intersection — collision? — of the War Powers Resolution and the Libyan whatever-it-is.  Update, also from Bobby Chesney: What did Senator Kerry mean, “deferring to NATO”?  I was pretty sure, for nearly all intents and purposes, we are NATO, or at least, there is no NATO there if the US is not there.  And, if your “presence” is a drone, is that enough to trigger the WPR?

May 10, 2011

RUSSELL BERMAN ON LEARNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES.

May 10, 2011

EXEUNT AFGHANISTAN?: Wall Street Journal reports military drawing up possible exit plans.

May 10, 2011

CULLY STIMSON ON THE LEGALITY OF THE OBL RAID: At NRO. And First Thing’s David Mills on Europe’s “concerned, worried, and doubting” reaction.

May 10, 2011

THE CAMPUS-CARRY MOVEMENT: Alex Hannaford’s Atlantic article is written much-too-much for the magazine’s bobo audience (i.e. people like me); I’m not wild about it.  It’s transparently condescending, for example, to express grave wonderment that anyone could think that Barack Obama is on the side of gun-controllers – look at all the gun-rights laws he’s passed!! – rather than looking at what he tells those to whom he unburdens his soul about bitter clingers, etc.  It strikes me as at least possible that Jerry Brown has actually changed his minds about guns, at least when it comes to him owning them; Barack Obama, naw.

As to campus-carry, however, I myself am torn.  Beloved Daughter is about to go off to college in Texas, as I mentioned, and she is interested in firearms training.  I am a strong supporter of gun rights – and also think that urban kids like my daughter, who has shot a gun once in her life at age 12 in God’s Own Country (that’s the Owens Valley to the rest of you) and does not come from gun culture, needs a lot of real, honest to goodness training in safety and shooting and how one behaves in situations of self-defence with guns.  That’s a lot more than some on-line gun course, and here’s your license.  I want her to be able to carry – but I want her knowledge and training to be real.

And that’s true for the rest of the campus community.  I understand fully the way in which permits and training requirements are manipulated to be a backdoor route to gun control; I also wouldn’t want my kid carrying a gun unless she had a whole lot of it, and updated on a regular basis.  I want her to come back from school not just owning a handgun as a toy, but competent to use it. (Thanks to reader DM for the recommendation on a training course in our area.)

May 10, 2011

BUDGET TRAVEL TOOLS for students going abroad for summer school: Budgeting is hard for students anyway, and more so when out of familiar currencies, prices, patterns of spending, and limits on how much money you have.  (Do you think of your kid as Mlle. Moral Hazard or Mr. Too-Beloved-To-Fail?)

May 10, 2011

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION kicks off in Shanghai, and New Scientist is on the case with previews. “While the hot topic at ICRA will be the critical role that robots are currently playing the other side of the East China Sea – exploring and clearing the wrecked reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan – the convention will see details on a fascinating crop of robots revealed, from levitating medical camera bots to droids that can burrow underground on Mars.”

May 10, 2011

DO COMMON ANTI-ANXIETY DRUGS REDUCE REACTIONS TO UNFAIRNESS?: “In the present study, the subjects were either given the anti-anxiety tranquilliser Oxazepam or a sugar pill (placebo) while playing the Ultimate Game. The researchers found that those who had received the drug showed lower amygdala activity and a stronger tendency to accept an unfair distribution of the money – this despite the fact that when asked, they still considered the suggestion unfair.”

May 10, 2011

UK ADVOCACY GROUP PROPOSES TO SUE PREDATOR DRONE OPERATORS: Robert Chesney at Lawfare describes the UK group Reprieve’s plans to sue drone operators in a campaign of public advocacy.  As with most of these advocacy campaigns, the point is not to win cases, but to create a public narrative that says the practice is unsavory and illegitimate, and leverage that into personal legal uncertainty for officials, whether in office or once they leave government.  I sound like a broken record on this, but the US government has a remarkable record of allowing others to set the narratives and then discovering that even the US government can get trapped by them.  Drone strikes are the thin tactical tip of certain forms of conflict, particularly in intelligence-driven uses of force, and they will be President Obama’s signature contribution to the art of war.  They are vastly more discriminating than other technologies and sparing of civilians, and it would be a terrible thing if they were derailed because the CIA, DOD, DOS, and the rest of the US government failed to develop its own public narrative.

May 10, 2011

OSLO FREEDOM FORUM is being livestreamed:  This is what the human rights movement should look like, but doesn’t and never will.  Says the Economist: “A spectacular human-rights festival … on its way to becoming a human rights equivalent of the Davos Economic Forum.”  This whole venture is the brain child of Thor Halvorssen, the remarkable young man who, while still an undergraduate, brought us the most important new civil liberties organization in America in decades, FIRE.  Check out the Human Rights Foundation and consider contributing; it does more good on fewer resources than any organization I can think of.

May 10, 2011

THE GREAT BOOKS ACCORDING TO ME: The Autumn of the Patriarch, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This novel in the form of a prose-poem is to my mind the greatest of Garcia’s novels, surpassing even One Hundred Years of Solitude.  The Spanish is magnificent, but as Garcia Marquez has said, so is Gregory Rabassa’s translation.

May 10, 2011

COASE BARGAINING OVER THE DEBT CEILING AND THE DEFICIT?:  According to Grover Norquist, the Republicans in Congress plan to bargain with the President on a sliding scale.  Writes Norquist at the Corner:  “Second, and this is sheer genius, Boehner has put a sliding-scale price on debt-ceiling increases. Hey, Obama, you want to buy a debt ceiling increase of, say, $2 trillion that would take you past the next election? Fine, the going price is two trillion dollars in real spending cuts. Cannot afford that and hold your spending coaliton in place? Fine, you can buy a month of debt-ceiling relief, worth about $125 billion, for the reduced price of $125 billion in spending cuts. The price of the debt-ceiling hike is the the same amount — or more — of real spending cuts.”

I haven’t quite decided whether this is clever or too-clever by half.  And I’m not quite sure if this bargaining is truly “Coase” bargaining in the fashion of the law and economics final exam my class took yesterday morning; in what sense is one side “paying” the other?  (Over at Volokh, I solicit comments on this last question; general view is that it is not because neither side is bribing the other.  I also ask what you would change in the story in order to turn it into a Coase situation.)

May 9, 2011

LONG WAR JOURNAL: Keeping track of US air strikes in Pakistan. There are limits on the robustness of the data, as LWJ explains at the site, since much of it can’t be corroborated by independent journalists, but Bill Roggio is a crucial source of information. (Actually, I haven’t put that strongly enough.  In this area, for those of us without inside government information, Bill Roggio is an indispensable source of information.)

May 9, 2011

WHY RICHARD GOLDSTONE?

May 9, 2011

TODD ZYWICKI:  “As an unaccountable bureaucracy with a single head, the [Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection] will be susceptible to bureaucracy’s worst pathologies: a tunnel-vision focus on the agency’s regulatory mission, undue risk aversion and agency overreach. While a more coherent consumer-protection regime is needed, consumer-protection goals often can conflict with other goals, such as promoting competition, lower prices and expanded choice for consumers; and ensuring safety and soundness.” Read the whole thing at the Washington Times.

May 9, 2011

SEALS IN THE STYLE SECTION: “For readers, Navy SEALs are superheroes without the spandex,” said Pamela White, a journalist and romance novelist whose pen name is Pamela Clare.”

May 9, 2011

THIS IS FOR ABBY LINDBERG:  Who plans to study engineering and build our new robotic overlords.

May 9, 2011

JONATHAN SWIFT’S ADVICE ON WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE OLD: By way of Execupundit.  This is very good advice, I think – I mean, not that I’m there or anything, and certainly I’m never peevish, suspicious, or morose.  I’ll check into this again in several decades and see what I think.

May 9, 2011

WHY PEOPLE DON’T LOVE THE OFFICIALLY MOST LIVABLE CITIES: Financial Times blogs on the curious phenomenon that those on the lists of “most livable towns and cities” are not necessarily beloved.  (H/T Tyler Cowen)

May 9, 2011

RAFFI KHATCHADOURIAN: The rules of engagement in the attack on Bin Laden.  Quite good short piece on the legal issues in the New Yorker blog.  I discuss it a bit here at Opinio Juris, where you can also comment.

May 9, 2011

PETRAEUS TO THE CIA: Why?  Jamie McIntyre explains it at the Daily Beast.

May 9, 2011

LEGAL THEORY LEXICON: What is legitimacy? (Link corrected now.)

May 9, 2011

The Great Books According to Me: The Loser, by George Konrad. The history of the 20th century, Nazis, Soviets, everything, through the eyes of a Hungarian Jew. The exhaustion of a Communist regime by the 1970s: the policeman says wearily, “Don’t be for us.  Don’t be against us.  Just be quiet.”

May 9, 2011

LAWRENCE WRIGHT ON PAKISTAN’S DOUBLE GAME: “The American romance with Pakistan was over, but the marriage was just about to begin.”

May 8, 2011

DEVELOPMENT BEFORE SECURITY?: Aidwatch on what happens when you decide to build a long highway as a development project in Afghanistan, before the area is secured.

May 8, 2011

DANGER ROOM: At the end of this week, I’m with Spencer Ackerman on this.

And while I’m at it, I’m sorry I didn’t go celebrate in front of the White House last Sunday night.  I have zero patience for the “every man’s deathe diminishes me” meme, au courant in some (and some surprising) quarters; it is untrue and a disservice to the concept of justice.  Unjust aggression, unjust war is a form of tyranny, as Michael Walzer wrote in Just and Unjust Wars.

The tyrant does not have to be sitting atop of one as the dictator in power; today the tyrant can be a terrorist who leverages a small bit of actual violence into a massively tyrannical effect, even from a far distance.  And when the tyrant is overthrown, even one at a far distance and in a far country (where he is sheltered and given safe haven by those who are also enemies of ours), we the people rejoice and celebrate in the streets and shout for joy at his downfall and, yes, his death.  Why should we not?

May 8, 2011

FAILED ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: Professor Jacobson says, be careful before you go full eliminationist.

May 8, 2011

LIKE MANY IPHONE APPS, this one lets you cut down on pedestrians. I tend to think the biggest driving problem these days is the driver not actually looking in the direction the car is moving. Also, not to stand in the way of progress and all but … was it worth the $20 million San Francisco spent on it?

May 8, 2011

EASTERN SIERRA SUMMER SEASON about to get underway.  The town of Bishop, in the Owens Valley, and the surrounding mountains, both the Eastern Sierra on one side and the White-Inyo Mountains on the other side, are God’s own country; other places, not so much. This year, we will manage to get there for a family vacation before Beloved Daughter leaves for freshman year at Rice University.

May 8, 2011

IRWIN STELZER predicts a coming Euro-zone crackup: it’s a fine, short, and brisk analysis of the political economy of the EU.  The cold facts, says Stelzer, are these:

  • Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are now frozen out of credit markets. The yield on Greek two-year bonds is 24 percent and on both Irish and Portuguese bonds of similar maturity around 12 percent. No country can afford to borrow at those rates. Of interest to the White House and Congress might be the speed with which the markets move: Interest rates charged on Greek debt increased by 10 percentage points in the past month.
  • The debt burden on these countries is in excess of the 90 percent of GDP that scholars now agree stifles growth. Portugal’s debt is at 90 percent of its GDP and rising, Greece’s is approaching 150 percent, and “Ireland’s debt now appears to be bigger, in relation to its economy, than the reparations imposed on Germany after the First World War,” according to economist Anatole Kaletsky.
  • These economies cannot grow their way out of the problem. The Greek economy shrank at an annual rate of 4.5 percent last year and is forecast to decline this year at 3.2 percent. Portugal’s will shrink at an annual rate of 1.5 percent, guesses the International Monetary Fund. And Ireland, despite a robust export industry and a corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent that, at half the EU average, remains attractive to foreign investment, might eke out growth of 1 percent. No way these growth rates produce enough tax revenues to meet debt obligations.

One of the many problems of the risk models used in the run-up to the debt crisis was the assumption of smooth, continuous rises and falls in the price of debt.  But institutions, whether firms or sovereigns, tend to grow incrementally, financial instrument by financial instrument – and crash by institution.

May 8, 2011

JANE EYRE: So, okay, shoot me, I wasn’t looking forward to two hours of Jane Eyre in the movie theater on Mother’s Day, not even with Beloved Wife and Daughter.  Increasing skepticism as the theater filled with nearly all mothers and daughters.  But it was terrific.  I really enjoyed it.

(Even with pretty much the only other guy in the theater seated two seats away – this enormous guy came into the theatre with a cooler, and midway through the movie proceeded to pull out a family size bag of doritos and consume the entire crunchy, crunchy, far more crunchy than popcorn, bag while slurping from a big bucket sized thermos, followed by some kind of cookies. I was distracted from the Divine Waifiness of Mia Wasikowska on-screen because a part of my brain could not help but calculate the calorie intake of the human cookie monster next to me. There is a reason I hardly set foot inside a movie theater.)

May 8, 2011

RAND SIMBERG tells me not to be sad.

May 8, 2011

DALE CARPENTER: Is there a rising tide of GOP opposition to a Minnesota state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage?  Republicans won last fall “on promises to balance the budget, limit taxes and spending, and make the state more business-friendly. Social issues were almost totally absent from the campaign. Nevertheless, a constitutional amendment excluding gay couples and their families from marriage has been making its way quickly through the Minnesota legislature. If approved, it would go on the ballot in November 2012 in a popular referendum, where it would have to get a majority of all votes cast in a high turnout year. It had seemed the amendment would sail through the state legislature. But now it faces rising Republican opposition.”

May 8, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON, CALL YOUR LAWYER: Positions the US government needs to defend in its legal defense of the OBL targeted kill. The questions that AG Holder needed to address, but didn’t, and that State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner thought should be discussed … somewhere other than the Department of State.

May 8, 2011

Assessing the regulation of systemic risk in the financial system: Duke University’s Steven L. Schwarcz (with whom I’m co-authoring a book on financial regulation reform) gives a clear, short statement of where we are today.  It is an address, rather than an article, not too long … and it makes sobering reading.

May 8, 2011

As Greg Mankiw calls it, the inanity of rent control in San Francisco: Bay Area Citizen on increasing rental vacancies as small landlords give up on taking on tenants at below market rents in perpetuity.

May 8, 2011

DAVID ZARING:  How’s the Implementation of Dodd-Frank Coming Along?  Not well, apparently.

May 8, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON, CALL YOUR LAWYER:  John Bellinger, who was Harold Koh’s predecessor as Legal Adviser to the State Department, asks why the administration has not more clearly laid out its legal rationale for the OBL raid.  “Perhaps assuming that everyone will applaud the killing of Bin Laden, Administration officials have confined themselves to stating that the killing was justified in self-defense and to providing facts to support their argument (with which I agree fully) that Bin Laden posed a threat. But these general statements are not the same as detailed explanations as to why the Bin Laden killing was lawful under both domestic and international law.”

May 8, 2011

GAY PATRIOT: On covering gays in the conservative movement.

May 8, 2011

The Great Books According to Me: Arthur Rex, by Thomas Berger.  This witty and profound reflection on the virtues needs to reissued, including on Kindle.

May 8, 2011

LINDA CHAVEZ: Reward, Don’t Punish CIA Interrogators. So the administration takes a victory lap thanks to the CIA – while not ending the investigations?

May 8, 2011

Twitter and the Law Prof.

May 8, 2011

THE CRUELTY OF HALF-MEASURES: The Chicago Tribune on the no-exit strategy in Libya.  The “war has settled into an inconclusive slog that could go on a long time.” That’s for sure.  The morally pure Europeans won’t admit to aiming at Gaddafi, but instead indulge the mendacious fiction that they merely targeted “things” in the mansion and not a person.  When they attack the “things,” they go for half-measures, miss the dictator and kill the kids instead. Gaddafi responds by shelling Misrata, creating pretty much exactly the slaughter of civilians that the intervention was supposed to prevent.

May 8, 2011

The Great Books According to Me:  The Red and the Black, by Stendhal. This is the only novel that really matters in all the history of the world, and I confess I have been in love with Mathilde de la Mole since I was fourteen; luckily I married her.  Happy Mother’s Day, Jean-Marie, and all other mothers.

May 8, 2011

Inevitability of Greek Default on Sovereign Debt: “The trading patterns of Greek bonds indicate that traders expect a restructuring, and they think it will be messy.” And note to International Business Transactions law students – choice of law and forum clauses matter.  “Greece’s negotiating position is improved by the fact that about 90 percent of its outstanding bonds specify that Greek law will determine any disputes — and of course Greece can change its laws if needed.”

May 8, 2011

China’s Neorealist Regret at OBL’s Demise: “When Washington shifted its focus toward terrorism and the Middle East after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Beijing experienced genuine relief. As China’s leaders and strategists came to believe, an America distracted by two wars and a weak economy presented a priceless window of opportunity for China to extend its influence in Asia and beyond. But Beijing realizes that Washington’s strategic attention will eventually turn eastwards, and the death of bin Laden is one small but significant step in hastening the arrival of that day.”

May 8, 2011

What Is the US Government’s Legal View of the Armed Conflict Against Terror Groups?: At Opinio Juris, a discussion trying to fairly describe the US government’s position.  From a legal standpoint, what are the extension, duration, and adversaries in the conflict with Al Qaeda and parties under the AUMF? The comments are illuminating, too.