In his recent article “Against the Law Reviews”:, Judge Richard Posner repeats a number of long-standing criticisms directed against student-edited law journals. There isn’t really anything in his article that he hasn’t said before in other places.[1] Posner thinks students choose the wrong pieces, do a bad job of editing them, and generally diminish the quality of legal scholarship. He thinks the system of legal publishing should be reformed by placing law journals under the control of faculty. Although Posner is certainly right to question the lack of peer review in legal academia, he (1) puts the blame for the current system in the wrong place, (2) underestimates the ability of students to do quality work, (3) ignores the opportunity costs to law students of working on journals, and (4) proposes only meager reform.

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Post 9/11, pre 3/03 world

by Ted on October 25, 2004

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a bloodthirsty terrorist. He was well-known before the war in Iraq. In fact, we knew that he had a base in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, where we operated freely. Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN leaned heavily on Zarqawi to make the case for war. But it begged the question: why didn’t we take out Zarqawi’s base before the war?

The Pentagon drew up detailed plans in June 2002, giving the administration a series of options for a military strike on the camp Mr. Zarqawi was running then in remote northeastern Iraq, according to generals who were involved directly in planning the attack and several former White House staffers. They said the camp, near the town of Khurmal, was known to contain Mr. Zarqawi and his supporters as well as al Qaeda fighters, all of whom had fled from Afghanistan. Intelligence indicated the camp was training recruits and making poisons for attacks against the West…

But the raid on Mr. Zarqawi didn’t take place. Months passed with no approval of the plan from the White House, until word came down just weeks before the March 19, 2003, start of the Iraq war that Mr. Bush had rejected any strike on the camp until after an official outbreak of hostilities with Iraq. Ultimately, the camp was hit just after the invasion of Iraq began.

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Over at our other blog, my gnawed lambchop sale has been a considerable success. Cavilling critics may object that I have made almost no money, true, but it has been voyeuristically fascinating to stare in the shopping carts. After a while, all the commercial uncovering starts to make me feel as though I am privy not just to buffies but the Buffy of buffies, as Heidegger might have said. Let us try to make it funnier.

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Edward Said remembered

by Chris Bertram on October 25, 2004

In the Guardian, Daniel Barenboim “remembers Edward Said”:,11710,1335260,00.html .

British and French Enlightenments

by Chris Bertram on October 25, 2004

Reading “Scott McLemee’s review”: of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s “The Roads to Modernity”: (as “discussed by Henry”: yesterday), I’m struck by the inadequacy of her contrast between the “French” and the “British”. Take two of the alleged dimensions of difference:

bq. She finds in some English and Scottish thinkers of the 18th century (Adam Smith, the Earl of Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson, for example) something like the first effort to create a sociology of virtue. The French savants exalted a bloodless notion of Reason to bloody effect. The British philosophers emphasized the moral sentiments, the spontaneous capacity to recognize another person’s suffering and to feel it as one’s own.


bq. Nor was this Enlightenment necessarily at war with religion, as such. Himmelfarb quotes the jibes of Edward Gibbon (no orthodox religious believer by any stretch) against those French thinkers who ”preached the tenets of atheism with the bigotry of dogmatists.”

Anyone who knows anything about the “French” enlightenment knows that at least that one of its non-French participants, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, differed from the likes of Voltaire on points such as these. Somehow, I doubt that this Jean-Jacques’ virtues on these points (if virtues they are) get highlighted by Himmelfarb since doing so would muck-up her division of the world into sheep and goats.

Mobilizing the Base

by Kieran Healy on October 25, 2004

A guy went by me the other day wearing a T-Shirt that read, “I bet you’ll vote _this_ time, Hippy.”

An afterthought on Bush vs Gore

by John Q on October 25, 2004

I was thinking about the prospects for the US election and also about the probability of casting a decisive vote and it struck me that a situation like that of Florida in 2000 would have had a quite different outcome in Australia. In a situation where there were enough disputed votes to shift the outcome (and no satisfactory way of determining the status of those votes), the Court of Disputed Returns would probably order a fresh election. It seems to me that this is a better way of resolving problematic elections than attempts to determine a winner through court proceedings[1], though I’d be interested in arguments against this view.

In view of the long delay between election and inauguration, this solution would seem to be particularly appealing for the US. However, it seems clear from this page that the American constitutional tradition does not allow for such a possibility, preferring such devices as drawing the winner from a hat, if nothing better can be found. I wonder if there is a reason for this, or if it is just one of those things that doesn’t come up often enough for people to think about fixing it?

fn1. Obviously, once the situation arises, one side or the other will see an advantage in going through the courts, or allowing state officials to decide,and will oppose a fresh election. But ex ante, it seems as if agreeing to a fresh election in such cases would benefit both sides.