Huckabee: Kick out the U.N.

The former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate makes the case, as reported by the Washington Independent's David Weigel:

“It’s time to get a jackhammer and to simply chip off that part of New York City,” said Huckabee, “and let it float into the East River, never to be seen again!” That remark got him a standing ovation, and Huckabee went on to suggest de-funding the U.N. entirely.

“It’s time to say enough of the American taxpayer’s dollar being spent on something that may have been a noble idea, but has become a disgrace!” said Huckabee. “It has become the international equivalent of ACORN and it’s time to say enough!”

Huckabee continued, suggesting that the U.N. be handed over to one of the nations that attacked America. “Let’s end the diplomatic excesses that these people enjoy,” he said. “Let any country that is willing to spend the money that the United States is hosting–let them have it. Give it to the Saudis and let these diplomats suck the sand out of the Saudi desert for a few summers and see if that’s where they’d like to go, and make their ridiculous speeches.”

I actually think it wouldn't be the worst idea for the U.N. to find a new home. The security requirements for that many heads of state are pretty taxing on post-9/11 New York City, and it couldn't hurt to have the organization based in a country that doesn't arouse such strong feelings in the vast majority of the world's population. 

That said, I don't quite get what point we'd be proving by sticking the Saudis with the event  and the ACORN comparison doesn't make too much sense beyond that fact that they're both "institutions that Mike Huckabee doesn't like."

Update: U.N. Dispatch's Matthew Cordell says the security issue is bogus:

First off, the stringent security requirements and the accompanying costs are only a burden on the city one week a year.  At most other times the security perimeter of the UN rarely extends beyond its grounds.  The economic benefits, on the other hand, stream in every day, as the UN draws in droves of diplomats, press, NGO types, and business leaders to spend money in NY hotels, restaurants, cabs, shops, and on and on.  Mayor Bloomberg's office has said that the United Nations adds $2.2 billion a year to the economy of New York City and creates 18,000 jobs. On top of that, the current renovation of the UN headquarters is expected to bring in over a $1 billion to U.S. businesses.  If I were a New Yorker, I'd be up in arms about a suggestion that would lead to more money being drained from the city.

Fair enough. For the record, I don't think the United States should "kick out" the U.N. or withdraw from it or any of what Huckabee was suggesting. I do think that it couldn't hurt for at least the General Assembly to be held in a somewhat more neutral site, but I'm sorry this was seen as a "silly side-swipe" at the United Nations. 


Poland tries to pass harsh sex crime laws, decries Polanski arrest

Yesterday, award-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich for a long-outstanding U.S. warrant. In 1977, Polanski was arrested for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty, and fled the county in 1978 to avoid going to jail. He eventually became a dual citizen of France (which does not extradite) and Poland.

Today, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stop the extradition. Kouchner called the arrest "a bit sinister." In these countries, Polanski is widely regarded as an exceptional filmmaker and a victim of the overzealous American justice system. (HBO made a documentary about this dichotomy, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.)

But Sikorski's defense of Polanski comes at an awkward time: Poland is in the process of implementing much-harsher punishments for people who commit sex crimes. Last week, all but three of the 460 members of Poland's lower chamber of parliament voted to punish certain sex offenders with chemical castration. People convicted of raping a person under 15 (the crime Polanski pled guilty to) or a close relative would be given drugs to diminish their libido, under the new law. On top of chemical castration, there are increased penalties for incest and pedophilia. Trying to justify pedophilia would also be criminalized. 

Regardless, it seems Polanski might end up serving his time in the United States, ending his 31 years on the lam. While abroad, Polanski has made a number of films -- including Tess, which was dedicated to his wife Sharon Tate (who was murdered by the Manson Family) and the Oscar-winning The Pianist, set during the Holocaust. After being forced into the Kraków Ghetto during World War II, Polanski escaped the concentration camps; his mother did not and was killed in Auschwitz. He also made arguably the creepiest movie of all time, The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp as a used book salesman who tries to track down the devil.