On Law, Policy, and (Not) Bombing Syria
Ian Hurd, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, writing at preeminent international law blog Opinio Juris:
It is well known that the [U.N.] Charter forbids the use of force except as self-defense or as sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Everything else amounts to aggression and is illegal.
The issue of whether and how the U.S. and/or the rest of the world should react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria is open to debate on ethical, moral, political, and practical levels.
But it is not open to any debate from an international law perspective: the U.S. proposal, whether approved and implemented by President Obama or the Congress to which he has deferred on the decision, is prohibited generally by international law and specifically by the United Nations charter.
Minnesota governor signs same-sex marriage bill into law
Number twelve and counting; this looks to be a big year for marriage equality in the United States.
Confessions of a Liberal Gun Owner
Novelist Justin Cronin presents a very well-written and reasonable take on why knee-jerk reactions on either side of the gun debate are misinformed and unrealistic:
[…] in the weeks since Newtown, I’ve watched my Facebook feed, which is dominated by my coastal friends, fill up with anti-gun dispatches that seemed divorced from reality. I agree it would be nice if the world had exactly zero guns in it. But I don’t see that happening, and calling gun owners “a bunch of inbred rednecks” doesn’t do much to advance rational discussion.
Conservatives lambast Romney, vow to take over Republican Party
The Hill’s Erik Wasson, quoting Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots:
She described Romney as a “weak, moderate candidate hand-picked by the country club elite Republican establishment […] They didn’t see a clear distinction so they went with what they know,” she said of voters.
“Conservatives” is not an accurate descriptor of Tea Party sympathizers. “Extremists” and “fundamentalists” are better descriptors.
Actually, I think Romney’s farthest-right positions are the very ones that lost him this election. I keep hearing and reading about a growing movement among moderate Republicans (the original and, many would argue, “real” Conservatives) to take back their party.
If that narrative is accurate, and if that movement succeeds, the Republican party has a chance to put someone in the Oval Office in 2016. Those who would prefer a president with an (R) next to their name would do well to show the extremists and fundamentalists in their ranks the door.
Marriage rights tide turns decisively against US bigots
I hope this is the beginning of an acceleration in the death of “traditional” marriage in the United States of America. Fear, ignorance, and religion are all equally insufficient and shameful excuses to deny universal marriage rights for one more moment.
A Map Of America’s 284 Drone Strikes Against Pakistan
Cliff Kuang of Co.Design:
Whatever your stance on drone killings, the fact remains that there’s been very little national dialogue on the topic. Indeed, some would say that’s a direct result of the main problem with the policy: Its complete lack of transparency.
Mr. Kuang points to the New York Times piece from this past June. It’s a good place to start, and taken along with this the infographic, starts to bring the severity of the issue into focus.
Perhaps reasonable people will come to different conclusions, but if you don’t at least have an opinion on this, get one.
I am Barack Obama, President of the United States — AMA
His most vulnerable answer (in my opinion) was with regard to a question about his most difficult decision so far as President:
The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban’s momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead – so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.
The session may have lasted only thirty minutes, and he may have only answered ten questions, but the President of the United States’ taking questions over Reddit will be seen by history as a bold and positive statement about the importance of the internet and its native communities.
Microsoft’s Election 2012 hub on Xbox Live heralds the interactive TV future
Samit Sarkar, reporting at The Verge:
The interactive element of the hub is a live polling system. It will gather impressions from Xbox Live users as they watch live broadcasts of the three scheduled presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
It’s not exactly the cross-examination inspired debate format pushed for by Will McAvoy in The Newsroom, but I think it’s a forward-thinking use of the platform.