Random thoughts on recent events hereabouts (& elsewhere):
1. Sharia: I’m fine with courts enforcing Sharia-based arbitration agreements, or consulting the laws & courts of Muslim states under normal choice-of-law principles. Granting Muslims special exemptions from criminal laws on account of their religious beliefs does make me cranky; but I feel the same way about exemptions for Christians. I’m just glad that New Jersey court decision was amenable to reversal on appeal; unlike, say, United States v. Lynch, 952 F. Supp. 167 (D.S.D.N.Y. 1997), where a judge acquitted two devout Catholic abortion-clinic protesters on the basis of their religious beliefs, and the Second Circuit found its hands tied by that pesky Double-Jeopardy prohibition. That said, methinks occasional screwups along these lines are inevitable in a country such as ours, which has a long history of exempting people from generally-applicable laws on the basis of sincere religious convictions. Personally, I don’t think such exemptions are mandated by the Free-Exercise Clause; and weirdly enough, the Supreme Court seems to agree with me. But then, I’m not a constitutional lawyer, so it’s possible I’m totally off-base here.
2. Pearl Harbor: Historically, I’ve made a point of commemorating Dec. 7 in some way. This year, not so much – I blame sleep deprivation. FDR’s Dec. 8 war address is one of my all-time favorites (along with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural). I do sometimes wonder how the Pacific War might’ve turned out if Japan hadn’t doomed itself attacking Pearl Harbor. E.g., if they’d just ignored the Philippines, and gone for the rest of the Co-Prosperity Sphere, could FDR have talked the America-Firsters into defending Europe’s Asian colonies?
4. Rush Limbaugh: I was once an avid fan, in high school. Not so much nowadays. I occasionally wonder if I should tune in just to monitor what he’s feeding his audience. But I don’t think I have that much time to spare.
5. Wikileaks & Warfighting: In a country such as the United States, public support is a sine qua non for any successful war effort. The collapse of public support can make it much more difficult for the US to continue fighting, and may ultimately contribute to either an outright defeat, or the acceptance of otherwise-unacceptable terms of peace – in the same way as a long string of battlefield defeats might. (See, e.g., Vietnam) Insofar as disclosures like those made by Wikileaks erode public support for the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, they may thus be likened to war of a sort.
(Of course, if ending a given war is in our best interest, then actions which hasten the arrival of such a termination become far more praiseworthy, and far less lamentable, than might otherwise be the case.)
I do wonder why Wikileaks has provoked such an uproar this time around, given that their latest disclosure (of Foggy Bottom cables) seems to have been the most innocuous of their recent leaks.
6. I recently came across an intellectually-honest liquidationist, who frankly admitted that his preference for avoiding the Fed/Treasury/TARP bailouts of late ’08, and putting the various recipient institutions through bankruptcy (ala Lehman), would’ve led to a “depression”. (His term, not mine. Not sure how this would’ve compared to the original.) He didn’t seem to mind limited bailouts for investors in money-market funds, however – which struck me as interesting, given the role MMFs played in funding the institutions he wanted to put in bankruptcy. It’s not clear to me whether this strategy would’ve led to a better outcome than what actually happened.
7. I also recently came across this website, and found it quite entertaining. Though I’m not sure I know enough about either the law or comic books to truly appreciate it.