Monday, July 24, 2006

Bloglines - Collective Punishment--Posner

Collective Punishment........conventional legal tool that is efficient in many of its applications....

The Becker-Posner Blog
A blog by Gary Becker and Richard Posner

Collective Punishment--Posner

By Richard Posner

Concern has been voiced in some quarters that Israel should not be punishing Lebanon for the acts of Hezbollah, because Lebanon's army has not attacked Israel and it is unclear whether Lebanon has the ability to disarm or otherwise restrain Hezbollah. (There is also, however, doubt whether Lebanon has the will to do so.) In other words, Israel's conduct is being criticized as an exercise of collective punishment (likewise its military measures in Gaza), which involves punishing a collective for the act of an individual member, even if some or all of the other members of the collective bear no responsibility for the act. Israel has responded that since Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese government, its acts are the Lebanese government's acts. That may be, but is to one side of the issue of the appropriateness of collective punishment. Israel has also defended its actions as targeted exclusively on Hezbollah, with any harms to Lebanese who are not part of Hezbollah's armed wing being inevitable accidents of war.

Without taking sides, but assuming for the sake of argument that Israel is engaged, in part anyway, in the deliberate infliction of collective punishment, I want to discuss the economics of collective punishment, which is a conventional legal tool that is efficient in many of its applications. An important modern example is the employer's liability for injuries resulting from acts by its employees within the scope of their duties. The employer may have exercised due care in the selection, training, assigning, monitoring, and disciplining of the employee who caused the accident, but if the employee was at fault and therefore is liable to the victim, the employer is also liable no matter how faultless its behavior. And usually it is the employer that ends up paying the entire judgment in the suit by the victim because the employee is more often that not judgment-proof. The law allows the employer to seek indemnity from the employee for any judgment the employer is required to pay the victim of the employee's tort, because the employee is the primary wrongdoer. But the judgment-proof problem renders the employer's right of indemnity of little or no value in most cases.

Another important example of collective punishment in law is the rule that all members of a conspiracy are criminally liable for the crimes committed by any member within the scope of the conspiracy, provided it was forseseeable. So if one member of a drug gang beats up a defaulting customer, the other members are apt to be guilty of assault and battery as well even though they had nothing to do with the beating. A related rule, the felony-murder rule, makes a criminal guilty of first-degree murder if a killing occurs in the course of his crime, even if the killing is by someone else and he did not authorize or even expect it--as in the case where a policeman in the course of trying to thwart the crime accidentally kills a bystander.

The theory behind these rules--the theory behind collective punishment in general--is that someone other than the actual perpetrator of a wrongful act may have more information that he could, if motivated, use to prevent the act than the government has. The employer may have been faultless in the particular case, but knowing that it is liable anyway will give it a strong incentive to exert control over its employees to prevent accidents--even by such indirect measures as reducing its work force by substituting robots or other mechanical devices for fallible human workers. Similarly, conspirators have an incentive to police their members to avoid getting themselves into unnecessary trouble; and the perpetrators of a bank robbery, for example, have an incentive to avoid being armed or provoking bank guards or police.

Collective punishment can properly be criticized when the cost of punishment to the innocent members of the collective is disproportionate to the benefits. This would be true if the government executed the family members of murderers. Such a measure would create powerful incentives for family members to monitor each other's behavior, and the murder rate would drop. Or would it? The law would deter the formation of families; and it might even induce families to murder members whom they thought likely to commit murders, since the family might be better able to conceal a murder within the family than the family member who was murdered would have been able to conceal his own murders. In addition, even if the family-responsibility law was effective in reducing the murder rate, the rate of killing might rise; for suppose there were 10 percent fewer murders but for every murder that did occur an average of two family members would be executed.

The example, while extreme, illustrates the essential point about collective punishment: that it is an extremely costly method of punishment, because several or many people are punished for the wrongful act of one. For example, if the cost of punishment to a person punished is X, then if he is a member of a group of ten, all of whom are punished collectively for his act, the punishment cost is 10X rather than X. So collective punishment is properly regarded as highly exceptional. It is most likely to be optimal if either the collective punishment is very mild or the cost to the punisher of failing to prevent the wrongful act is very great, and in either case if in addition the alternative of individual punishment is inadequate. The first case is illustrated by mild collective punishment of children. It includes things like a parent's punishing both his squabbling children because he cannot figure out which one was at fault, or a teacher's keeping the entire class after school because he cannot determine which child threw a spitball at him. These are easy cases because the innocent member or members of the collectively punished group have the necessary information, and ability to act effectively on it, for preventing the misbehavior; they can do so at much lower cost than the punisher because the punisher cannot readily obtain the information necessary to identify the actual wrongdoer; yet the costs to the group of the punishment are slight.

The second case--optimal collective punishment when the cost of failing to prevent the wrongful is great--may be illustrated by Israel's policy of demolishing the houses of the families of suicide bombers. The suicide bomber himself is not deterrable, the harm he does is great, and the punishment method, while severe, is mild relative to the harm that a successful suicide bomber can inflict.

Because warfare is inherently indiscriminate, innocent persons whose only connection to the fighting is that they live in the combat zone are unavoidably "punished," but this is not collective punishment as a deliberate policy. For one thing, those persons will usually have no ability to restrain the combatants on their side. As for the conflict in Lebanon, however, a nation is undoubtedly responsible for predatory acts committed against another nation by groups operating openly on the nation's territory. That responsibility is an example of the kind of collective responsibility that warrants collective punishment for its breach, as in the somewhat parallel case of the employer's liability for the torts of its employees when they are committed within the scope of employment. But how do you "punish" a nation? The nation is the collective of its citizens. Punishing the nation means punishing its citizens even if there is nothing they can do or could ever have done to to prevent the actions for which they are being held responsible. Assessment of the reasonableness of the punisher’s course of action would then depend on such factors as the alternatives open to the punisher, the amount of damage inflicted by the group that the collectively punished population failed to prevent, the amount of damage that collective punishment inflicts on that population, and the likelihood that the punishment will succeed in getting the punished nation to take effective steps to prevent similar attacks by the rogue group in the future. The last point is vital because it is extremely difficult for one nation to prevent an attack mounted by a terrorist group from the territory of a nation that has acted as the group's willing or unwilling host. That is why that nation is responsible for restraining the group and why, therefore, it may be a proper candidate for collective punishment.

A final point. I said earlier that a law imposing capital punishment on family members who failed to prevent one of their members from committing a murder would discourage family formation. In other words, collective punishment tends to cause defection from the group. This may be in the punisher's interest: if Lebanese flee southern Lebanon so as not to be "collectively punished" for the acts of Hezbollah, Israel will have a freer hand in dealing with Hezbollah there.

Bloglines - : Wrongly Accused By the Americans? 'You're Out of Luck'

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Bloglines - Feldman and Dershowitz: Mass Murder Apologists

Another Day in the Empire

Feldman and Dershowitz: Mass Murder Apologists

By Administrator on Uncategorized

As a “liberal,” even “treasonous” newspaper, the New York Times has the curious ability to suck up to the racist sociopaths in Israel and here in America and make profuse if not nauseating excuses for mass murder.

Consider Noah Feldman, not only a law professor at New York University but a “senior fellow” at the Council on Foreign Relations, who writes for the “newspaper of record,” or maybe it should be characterized as the newspaper of pro-Israel propaganda and scandalous apologia for crimes against humanity:

For its part, Israel is gambling that the right strategy is to make the people who elected Hamas and a government that includes Hezbollah reckon the costs of their representatives’ recklessness. That is why Israel has targeted not only Hezbollah leaders and strongholds but has also bombed infrastructure that sustains daily life for everybody in Lebanon. From Israel’s standpoint, this is no longer a fight with nonstate terrorists who are holding their fellow citizens hostage to their tactics. It is, rather, war between Israel and countries that are pursuing (or tolerating) violent policies endorsed (or at least accepted) by their electorates.

How utterly and criminally disgusting.

If we are to use Feldman’s reasoning, Israel deserves the fate decreed by its most fanatical and racist enemies—all the Jews should be pushed into the sea. Israelis have voted for the most vile criminals and sociopaths over the years, from David Ben-Gurion all the way to Ehud Olmert.

Ben-Gurion thought the Zionists could bribe the Palestinians into selling their land and rights, although he eventually came around to the thinking of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who advocated using violence against the Palestinians.

Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, a political movement that would eventually morph into Likud, had not only an affinity for fascism and Mussolini, but irredentism, that is to say stealing land from surrounding states.

As the Israeli people have elected several Likudites over the years—Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon—and they have consistently and enthusiastically pursued violent policies, and indeed ethnic cleansing, against the Palestinians, if we follow Feldman’s theory the Israeli people deserve likewise treatment, including the indiscriminate shooting their grade schoolers, blowing up and bulldozing their homes, throwing thousands of them into prison to be abused and tortured, destroying their agriculture, humiliating them daily at checkpoints, walling them into ghettos, denying them employment, medical assistance, clean water, food, etc.

If we are to buy into Feldman’s criminal idea, this sort of monstrous behavior should be perpetuated against the Israeli people for the next sixty years because they made the mistake of voting for war criminals, in particular the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, responsible for the wholesale slaughter of more than 3,500 defenseless Palestinians.

As well, if we are to use Feldman’s theory, the American people are responsible for similar crimes, as they sheepishly allow the government to not only arm and encourage Israel’s criminal behavior, but also sign a blank check allowing the government to slaughter Iraqis, currently surpassing the 200,000 mark.

In addition, the American people, by allowing the neocons to steal two elections, and not bothering to march en masse on the capitol and demand these obviously rigged elections be reversed (in this regard, it would seem the average Mexican has more cojones), have allowed the United States military, apparently run by psychopaths, to poison the planet with depleted uranium.

Obviously, Noah Feldman is an immoral Zionist apologist, devising excuses to permit the slaughter of Muslims and Arabs, who are considered untermenschen by the Zionists and their neocon collaborators.

In this regard, he is no different than the moral sack of donkey manure Alan Dershowitz, who proposes, in an article published in the “liberal” Los Angeles Times, that we devise a “new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare,” a lexicon dismissive of innocent civilians, in fact justifying their murder.

For Dersh, a Jewish grade schooler killed by a Katyusha is more important and worthy of compassion than his or her counterpart in a Lebanese village where Hezbollah may operate. “Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter…. These differences and others are conflated within the increasingly meaningless word ‘civilian’—a word that carried great significance when uniformed armies fought other uniformed armies on battlefields far from civilian population centers. Today this same word equates the truly innocent with guilty accessories to terrorism.”

Indeed, if we accept Dersh’s moral vapidity, the Lebanese children killed in Israel’s latest blitzkrieg—kids comprise fully one third of all victims—deserve to be killed, because of the probability their parents are “terrorists,” that is to say they resisted Israel’s illegal invasions of their country and its continued border provocations and habitual kidnapping of Lebanese (and thousands of Palestinians) to be held in squalid Israeli prisons and later used as “bargaining chips.”

As the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, told the reactionary loudmouth Bill O’Reilly, the Zionists consider all Muslims to be terrorists (see this video), thus, multiplied with the above, the conclusion should be fairly obvious—Feldman, Dershowitz, Gillerman, and likely thousands of other Zionists (and their American supporters, including millions of pretrib Christians) are no different than Nazis, who used national-ethnic identity markers to determine who lived and who suffered and died under, for instance, Fall Weiß, the blitzkrieg of Poland, eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union.

In a prefect world, or one far less compromised, the Zionist Nazis, embarking on their version of Lebensraum, a reformulation (with religious overtones) of Karl Haushofer’s racist theories, would be facing a reconvened Nuremberg tribunal.

Instead, “liberal” newspapers, and the fascist television network Fox and its emulators, allow them to spew their hatred and demented theories about Jewish civilians who deserve compassion while Muslims and Arabs deserve evisceration and mass graves.


Bloglines - Spencer Ackerman on...

Talking Points Memo
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

Spencer Ackerman on...

Spencer Ackerman on how Chairman Roberts is going to sit on 'phase II' of the Iraq intel inquiry forever.

David Cracknell and Hala Jaber in Beirut

Standing Down as the Iraqis Stand Up?

Newsmax has the straight dope?

FBI Agent Barry Smith distributed the proposal at a private meeting....

Protests in Europe / Israel: a video from Gotuit!

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Gotuit > News > Europe: Protests

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Lebanon: Incursion: video from Gotuit!

"Irael / Lebanon"

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Also, a Recent Book: America against the World

All Things Considered, June 23, 2005 · Michele Norris talks with Andrew Kohut, Director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, about global opinion about the United States, which he says has been negative since the war in Iraq started.

NPR : World Takes Dim View of the United States

Blogged with Flock

Bush's Hands are Full Already?

July 22, 2006Harpers: Negroponte blocking new CIA NIE on Iraq. "'What do you call the situation in Iraq right now?' asked one person familiar with the situation. 'The analysts know that it's a civil war, but there's a feeling at the top that [using that term] will complicate matters.' Negroponte, said another source regarding the potential impact of a pessimistic assessment, 'doesn't want the president to have to deal with that.'” No NIE on Iraq since 2004.

War and Piece:

Blogged with Flock


OpinionJournal - On the Editorial Page - July 22, 2006


On the Editorial Page BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Milton and Rose Friedman: Dinner with Keyes? Yes. War with Iraq? They disagree.
12:01 a.m. EDT

Hot Topic
Believe it or not, a constructive Senate debate on stem cells.
12:01 a.m. EDT

Israel hasn't been so united since 1967.
12:01 a.m. EDT

My favorite novels about cheating lovers.
12:00 a.m. EDT


Review & Outlook

Splitting Stem Cells
Believe it or not, a constructive Senate debate.
Jul 22 2006

No Ceasefire in the War on Terror
Hezbollah must be disarmed.
Jul 22 2006
The Weekend Interview

The Romance of Economics
Milton Friedman is everyone's idea of an American oracle, an American sage.
Jul 22 2006
Editorial Board

Grapes of Wrath
Israel is prepared to fight, whatever the cost.
Jul 22 2006

Rule of Law

Worried About Identity Theft?
Congress is about to make things worse.
Jul 22 2006

Michael Sweeney

Fw: [bloggerbrigade] Politics 911-

Subject: [bloggerbrigade] Politics 911-
Hey friends, check this out- want to know your candidate's position on
the official 9/11 story and a new investigation?
9/11 Truth Advocates Launch Nationwide Congressional Candidate Poll-
"Politics 911" Seeks Candidates Responsive to 70+ Million Voters
Demanding New 9/11 Investigation
"Kansas City, MO (PRWEB) July 22, 2006 -- In recognition of the second
anniversary and widening distrust of the 9/11 Commission Report, announces the launch of "Politics 911," a national
campaign to determine support for a new and truly independent 9/11
investigation among all 2006 candidates for the US House and Senate.
The three-month effort aims to poll all congressional hopefuls
regarding their awareness of current evidence for US government
involvement in 9/11 and the high levels of public support for a full
reinvestigation, as well as their personal willingness to back such an
inquiry if they are elected in the fall. Zogby polls in August, 2004
and May, 2006 showed that 66% of New York City residents and 45% of
Americans overall now desire a new and broader investigation that
explores all the evidence for government complicity. In 2004 four
presidential candidates-- Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), David Cobb
(Green), John Joseph Kennedy (Democratic write-in) and Ralph Nader
(Independent)--all backed this demand, but no one has ever polled
congressional candidates on this issue before. Survey results will be
posted at sponsor websites as they come in starting in early August."
INTRODUCING "POLITICS 911" (Still under construction - check back July
25th) - A National Grassroots Campaign to Illuminate the 2006
Electoral Stage with 9/11 Truth.
Zogby Poll Finds Over 70 Million Voting Age Americans Support New 9/11
Investigation (Less than half trust the "Official Story")

The Shalom Center wants an immediate cease-fire and a strong peacekeeping force to be placed on the border.

Warning: Gruesome

Bloglines - Controversial Instructor Speaks About His 9/11 Views, UW Course

9/11 Blogger - Blogging 9/11 Related Alternative News
All comments are welcome! but please avoid hate speech and profanity, and use references when possible.

Controversial Instructor Speaks About His 9/11 Views, UW Course

By somebigguy

Lots of good quotes from Kevin here, check out the whole article by following the link, a video is also available. Finally, don't forget to have your say in the Talkback section for this article.
Controversial University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett appeared on WISC-TV's "For The Record," discussing his views on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Islamic studies and the class he is teaching this fall at UW-Madison.

VIDEO: Watch The Show

Update, this video in MP4 and WMV format now available here:

Recently, 61 state legislators signed a resolution calling for UW-Madison to fire Barrett over his outspoken views that the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell reviewed Barrett's record and decided he was qualified to teach an introductory course on Islam as scheduled in the fall. Farrell said that the university doesn't endorse Barrett's theories, but he said that his review found Barrett has a record of quality teaching.

On "For The Record," Barrett said his views are always evolving but explained how his current thoughts on 9/11 developed.

He said that immediately after the attacks, he was in a state of shock and wasn't sure who was behind the attacks.
"I think a lot sooner than most people realize, 9/11 is going blow wide open," he said. "The official report doesn't stand up to scrutiny -- it's very simple."

Barrett said he is optimistic that 9/11 will ultimately be a catalyst for Americans to take back the Constitution.

Thanks to Shoestring and DBLS for bringing this to our attention.

Bloglines - Josh Bolten squirms during Stem Cell questions

Crooks and Liars
John Amato's Virtual Online Magazine

Josh Bolten squirms during Stem Cell questions

By John Amato on Stem Cells

nbc_mtp_bolton_stem_cell_060723c.jpg I doubt Josh Bolten will be back on MTP anytime soon. I’ll post more of his appearance, but Timmeh made Bush’s stem cell veto laughable and indefensible,

Video-WMP Video-QT (9 min)

Once Tony Snow called it murder-it was downhill from there as it should be.

Russert asked Bolten if Bush thinks it’s murder then why doesn’t he outlaw it altogether. When he was asked about Karl Rove’s take on stem cell research that could not be backed up by scientists-Bolten said he wasn’t a scientist.

Bolten also said there are wide differences of opinion on Stem Cell research. There are only two. People who think the research will save and help the quality of life and the James Dobson version. As has been noted, only 128 snowflake babies have been adopted out of 400,000. Meanwhile, our government:

Nightlight, which has received more than $800,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote embryo adoptions, is one of only a few agencies that treat embryos exactly like infants.