Monthly Archives: July 2005

Reading the Constitution

I read the Constitution recently. Before that, I read it when I was in high school , but I didn’t really think about it back then in light of the issues of the day. Now with all the talk about “judicial restraint” and the “living Constitution,” I think I can see what the Framers were trying to do.

Needless to say, I’m no Constitutional scholar so I’d appreciate any and all comments from anyone who reads this. Don’t bother with the comments link; I had to shut it down because I received a million advertisement emails, mostly from on-line poker sites. So email me at ejames@mc3.edu.

Anyway, it seems to me the Framers wanted the Supreme Court to decide whether or not laws passed by the legislatures are constitutional. Since they seemed to go out of their way to write a simple and elegant constitution, I think they wanted Supreme Court decisions to be understandable to ordinary people, to dumb guys like me. (Compare the U.S. Constitution to the monstrosity devised by the European Union, a document so convoluted that even the French were confused.) Thus the Framers wanted the Court to intervene only when a law or policy clearly contradicted the plain meaning of the Constitution. In all other cases, the Framers wanted the people to decide through their elected representatives.

On abortion, it’s hard not to conclude that the Court made it up in Roe vs. Wade. In the earlier Griswold case, it found a “right to privacy” in the “penumbra and zones” of the Bill of Rights while admitting that the Constitution did not explicitly name such a right. Then when Roe vs. Wade came along, the Court applied that made-up right to privacy to support a right to abortion.

The Constitution does not mention reproduction or sex. So it’s logical to conclude that the regulation of such activity was to be left to the people. But it’s illogical to believe that the Framers wanted such “private” activity to go completely unregulated by the government. Surely, they knew the government would regulate sexual activity that was harmful to minors or threatened public health. So what does a constitutional right to privacy mean? The right to incest or sex with children? Perhaps women should have an absolute “right to choose,” but I don’t think the Constitution mandates one.

The Court also made it up when they struck down laws against sodomy. Now, such laws may be unfair and outdated, but that doesn’t make them unconstitutional. Views concerning sexual behavior change with the times, which is why the regulation of such behavior should be left to elected representatives who can be voted out of office. The Court’s decision flowed from the Griswold decision establishing a right to privacy which will be the basis of a “right” to same sex marriage.

Are racial preferences, aka affirmative action, constitutional? The 14th amendment mandates equal protection under the law. Racial preferences discriminate against whites and Asians. This is as clear as can be, so in order to find such programs constitutional, the Court has had to engage in reasoning only a deconstructionist could appreciate.

The Framers wanted to encourage an understanding and respect for the law. Elected legislatures and executives are meant to change with the times, but the Constitution (except through the arduous amendment process requiring a clear consensus of opinion) is not. The Consitution is our only defense against passing fads and enthusiasms; it’s an anchor. Let the legislatures pass laws that, if they don’t work out, can be repealed with relative ease. The Constitution is meant to save us from ourselves. It did not mean for the Supreme Court to be another legislative branch with unelected lawmakers.

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Letter From Londonistan

The wages of “multiculturalism.”

An excerpt from an article by Irwin Stelzer in the Weekly Standard:

Britain, with the wreckage of 7/7 only recently cleared, even now is willing to allow Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim cleric who defends suicide bombings, to enter the country to attend an August 7 conference. This cleric has justified the killing of Israeli women because they are “militarized. . . . I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an indication of the justice of Allah Almighty.” He has backed the execution of homosexuals “to maintain the purity of Islamic society,” called for the killing of Jews when “the Hour of Judgment” arrives, and says that wife-beating is acceptable with “the hand, but not with the stick.” He is barred from entering the United States because of terrorist connections. Absent a change of position by the Blair government, Sheikh al-Qaradawi will soon share a Manchester platform with speakers who claim that the Bush administration assisted the 9/11 terrorists, and that Israeli security had advance knowledge of the 7/7 attack but refused to tip off the British authorities.

Al-Qaradawi’s reception on his last visit tells us a great deal about the differences between Britain and the United States. London mayor Ken Livingstone, a hard-left politician who blames the 7/7 bombings on U.S.-U.K. foreign policy, embraced al-Qaradawi, told him that he is “truly, truly welcome,” hailed him as a “leading progressive Muslim,” and denounced al-Qaradawi’s critics for fanning the flames of “Islamophobia.” Contrast that with New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s decision to have Yasser Arafat removed from a 1995 concert at the Lincoln Center when the Palestinian terrorist ignored a list, sent to the U.N. by the city’s host committee, of countries not to be invited.

None of this is to argue that the policymaking elite is completely unrepresentative of the broader British electorate. Most Brits do understand that not all of their country’s some two million Muslims (about 3 percent of the population) are terrorists, and very few have attempted to retaliate against mosques and Muslims since July 7. Like the elite, a majority now believes that Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq alongside America incited the terrorists to strike, no matter how many times Blair reminds them that several terror attacks, including the one on the World Trade Center, preceded the entry of coalition forces into Iraq.

So the prime minister is in a tough spot. Unlike Bush after 9/11, Blair after 7/7 could not count on broad support for a crackdown. He is meeting resistance to any plans to tighten the antiterrorist laws not only from the usual suspects on the left of his party, but from the Tories. He is inheriting the whirlwind of his refusal or inability to constrain illegal immigration, or close Britain’s gates to newcomers from lands in which terror is preached. He has tied his hands by signing on to Europe’s Human Rights Act, giving British judges a weapon with which to prevent detention and deportation. And he has contributed to the creation of a sense that multiculturalism is an unalloyed virtue.

No one surpasses my admiration for Tony Blair’s principled stand on Iraq, a stand for which he has paid a high political price. Blair likes to say that his party is best when it is bold. So is he–and when he has an unconflicted view of the right and wrong of an issue. That was true when it came to Iraq: He saw what he thought was right, and he did it. But when it comes to issues such as immigration, extradition, and the application of the power of the state at home, he is torn between humanitarian and civil rights principles, and the need to wage war against Britain’s domestic enemies. So although he was “totally opposed” to allowing al-Qaradawi to use Britain as a platform for his views, the prime minister felt bound by legal processes not to use the powers he has to exclude the cleric. That is just one example of the extent to which he is the prisoner of a dominant political class that is preventing Britain from responding to the threat the nation faces–and that threatens the durability of the Anglo-American alliance.

Blair is not at his best when his vision of what is right is blurred. Perhaps a summer’s reflection will provide him with a clearer view of what he must do to win the battle on his home front.

More multiculturalism.

It's the Police, Stupid!

Amazingly, the story in London has changed overnight from fear of Muslims bombers to fear of the police trying to catch Muslim bombers.

Of course it’s terrible that the police apparently killed an innocent man, but I for one would like to know, if true, why an innocent man would be wearing a winter coat in 80 degree weather, would fail to respond to police commands, and finally would jump over a subway turnstile. Perhaps there are logical explanations for such behavior, and I hope the press will be as aggressive in searching for such explanations as they are in promoting the idea that we have more to fear from police than we do from Muslim suicide bombers.

I usually don’t like to make predictions, but let me make one here. Just as the media has tried to make the story Abu Ghriab and Guantanamo rather than beheaders and bombers in Iraq, the media will turn the London bombings into those old favorites: racial profiling, police brutality, and of course those evil guns. I expect a slew of stories on how Muslims are being targeted by the “racist” police and skinhead types, much like the media wrongly predicted a wave of violence against American Muslims after 9/11.

The “mainstream media,” is nothing if not predictable: they warn of non-existent threats while minimizing real ones.

Why We Need to "Israelize"

Why we need terrorism laws for the 21st Century.

A Friend From Down Under

John Howard: a man in full.

An excerpt from a speech Howard delivered last week in Washington:

The bonds of friendship between Australia and the United States are very deep. They are treasured bonds because they are based on a common view of the way in which we should live our lives, a belief that the worth of somebody is based upon the contribution that he or she makes and the character of the person and not according to where they were born or what the colour of their skin is or what their religion is but simply on their intrinsic worth as an individual. Values that tell us that strong, united, properly functioning families represent the greatest social welfare system that mankind has ever devised. And a belief, a very strong belief, that the bases of national wealth is individual effort and individual capacity. That competitive capitalism has still been and will always be the most effective engine for maintaining economic growth and economic strength.

Now with some variations of the margins, according to your political tastes, and those things do represent many of the common values that bind our two countries together. Rupert Murdoch, in his introduction referred to the fact that I was in this city on the 11th September. You’ll remember that he and I had a meal the night before on the 10th September. Having been here I was deeply touched by the impact of that event on the people of the United States and I’ve told my fellow Australians time and time again that if you want to understand the American view on terrorism, if you want to understand the way in which it transformed attitudes in this country, you have to have really been there. And I was struck and touched by a sense of outrage and understandable horror with which those events were received in this country. I think the war against terror will go on for a long time and there will be many people along the way who will tell us that there is some clever way of solving it, that somehow or other you say you’re sorry for who you are; that you imagine that by curling yourself up into a little ball and going away into a corner nobody will notice you. I think many experts in this area will tell you that there’s one thing that a terrorist despises and will punish even more severely than they might punish other behaviour and that is weakness. And those who imagine that you can bargain and covenant with terrorists and buy yourself immunity from future attack misunderstand the nature of the perverted minds with which we’re dealing.

Our two nations have been through many things together, we owe a lot to each other. We’re more than good friends, we have a deep and abiding alliance but most importantly we share a common view of the kind of society we want. We want a society built on a pursuit of individual liberty and capacity. We want a society where the most important social institution is the family and we want a society where in a sense there’s nothing better than to start your life with nothing, to work hard to get a proper reward for your effort and to give your children a better start in life than you had. That’s always been very much part of the ethos of the United States and it’s been very much a part of the ethos of the Australian people.

How Could It Happen Here?

Excellent article by Frida Ghitis on the Western liberalism’s hypocrisy towards terrorism:

The secret we have all heard with our own ears is that until now, terrorism, in its most frequent guise – against Israelis and Iraqis – is analyzed, explained, and all but forgiven by Europe’s mainstream and more than a few people in the United States.

Terrorists are absolved as long as they are seen as weak or desperate, and their enemy is viewed as a cruel Goliath.

How could a young British Muslim growing up in Leeds, England, come to believe that a suicide bombing is an appropriate way to express a grievance? Very simple. He would watch the news. He would listen to the way British thinkers respond to bombings of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, and to how terrorist attacks in Iraq are described.

In much of Europe, suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians do not receive anything remotely resembling the blanket condemnation demanded of Muslims after July 7.

…If the British want to tell the world – especially people living within their borders – that terrorism is wrong, they have to declare without nuance and equivocation that attacks designed and executed for the deliberate purpose of murdering civilians for political goals are morally wrong and completely unacceptable – always – no matter who the victims, the perpetrators or the political views of either side.

That is plainly not what has happened until now.

When a wave of suicide bombings slaughtering Israelis reached its most gruesome depths in 2002, with almost weekly bombings shattering lives and leaving human body parts strewn in cafes, buses and restaurants throughout Israel, numbers of British took to the streets – to condemn Israel and express their sympathy for Palestinians. The terrorist bombings, by all appearances, were a huge success.

After the London bombings, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke told an emergency meeting of European ministers that the right not to be bombed to bits outweighs any other civil liberty. That’s now. But in April 2002, when Israelis were going out of their minds with grief and fear, the European public reacted with massive street demonstrations condemning Israel’s admittedly draconian efforts to stop the bloodshed, and demanding that Israelis give in to Palestinian demands. Condemnation of anti-Israel terrorism was not high on the agenda.

What message would a young impressionable Muslim glean from such an event? If you feel strongly about a cause, blow yourself up. People will pay attention. They will agree with you, and your cause will benefit.

The writer Paul Berman has a theory about demonization of Israel in the face of terrorist slaughter. For those who believe a rational logic governs the world, he argues, the only way to make sense of such acts is to portray Israel as deserving the punishment. And so, terrorism is explained and forgiven.

The British, and much of Europe, have grown so tolerant of terrorism that they refuse to call it by its real name. The policy of the BBC and the London-based news agency Reuters is not to use the word “terrorist,” unless quoting someone else’s words.

Even if you don’t label it, bombing a train full of commuters is terrorism. And if you want to tell the world terrorism is wrong, you have to say exactly that, without nuance, without excuse. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wondering, how could it happen here?

More on the British Death Wish (and ours) from Mr. Steyn:

It was the Prime Minister’s wife, you’ll recall, who last year won a famous court victory for Shabina Begum, as a result of which schools across the land must now permit students to wear the full “jilbab” – ie, Muslim garb that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands. Ms Booth hailed this as “a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry”. It seems almost too banal to observe that such an extreme preservation of Miss Begum’s Muslim identity must perforce be at the expense of any British identity. Nor, incidentally, is Miss Begum “preserving” any identity: she’s of Bangladeshi origin, and her adolescent adoption of the jilbab is a symbol of the Arabisation of South Asian (and African and European) Islam that’s at the root of so many problems. It’s no more part of her inherited identity than my five-year- old dressing up in his head-to-toe Darth Vader costume, to which at a casual glance it’s not dissimilar.

Is it “bigoted” to argue that the jilbab is a barrier to acquiring the common culture necessary to any functioning society? Is it “prejudiced” to suggest that in Britain a Muslim woman ought to reach the same sartorial compromise as, say, a female doctor in Bahrain? Apparently so, according to Cherie Booth.

One of the striking features of the post-9/11 world is the minimal degree of separation between the so-called “extremists” and the establishment: Princess Haifa, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, gives $130,000 to accomplices of the 9/11 terrorists; the head of the group that certifies Muslim chaplains for the US military turns out to be a bagman for terrorists; one of the London bombers gets given a tour of the House of Commons by a Labour MP. The Guardian hires as a “trainee journalist” a member of Hizb ut Tahir, “Britain’s most radical Islamic group” (as his own newspaper described them) and in his first column post-7/7 he mocks the idea that anyone could be “shocked” at a group of Yorkshiremen blowing up London: “Second- and third-generation Muslims are without the don’t-rock-the-boat attitude that restricted our forefathers. We’re much sassier with our opinions, not caring if the boat rocks” – or the bus blows, or the Tube vaporises. Fellow Guardian employee David Foulkes, who was killed in the Edgware Road blast, would no doubt be heartened to know he’d died for the cause of Muslim “sassiness”.

Having Your Yellowcake and Eating It Too

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” These are the famous “16 words” Bush uttered in his 2003 State of the Union address that Joe Wilson and the other partisan Democrats have called a lie.

But as Factcheck.org noted, Bush had reason to say what he did:

-A British intelligence review called Bush’s 16 words “well founded.”
-A separate report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee said that the US also had similar information from “a number of intelligence reports,” a fact that was classified at the time Bush spoke.
-Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger .
-Both the US and British investigations make clear that some forged Italian documents, exposed as fakes soon after Bush spoke, were not the basis for the British intelligence Bush cited, or the CIA’s conclusion that Iraq was trying to get uranium.

Still the New York Times apparently won’t give up as seen by the following sentence from one of today’s editorials:
“[Wilson] said he had found no evidence to support the claim of a uranium purchase, or even a serious [my emphasis] attempt to negotiate one, and that he had reported this to Washington.”

Funny, but I don’t remember the Times admitting before today that Saddam had “sought” (in Bush’s words) uranium from Africa, regardless of whether or not the effort was “serious” (in the Times’ biased opinion). No one ever said that the deal went through, only that Saddam sought uranium.

Only possible conclusion: Bush told the truth. Joe Wilson lied.

Decadence Defined

Charles Krauthammer on Britain’s “known Islamist cells.”

Early news reports of the London bombings mentioned that police found no suspects among known Islamist cells in Britain. Come again? Why in God’s name is a country letting known Islamist cells thrive, instead of just rolling them up?

British Islamists had spoken of a “covenant of security” under which Britain would be spared Islamic terrorism so long as it allowed radical clerics free rein. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, for example, a Syrian-born, exiled Saudi cleric granted asylum 19 years ago, openly preaches jihad against Britain. He is sought by the press for comment all the time. And, a lovely touch, he actually lives on the British dole — even though he rejects the idea of British citizenship, saying, “I don’t want to become a citizen of Hell.”

…Decadence is defined not by a civilization’s art or music but ultimately by its willingness to simply defend itself.

Thresholds

Last week he went on an on about how Joe Wilson was right about Bush making up stories about Saddam trying to buy uranium in Africa, but this week Frank Rich tells us to “put aside Mr. Wilson’s February 2002 trip to Africa” and instead concentrate on “the plot that matters,” the one hatched by Dr. Evil, aka, Dick Cheney.

This sounds like a tactical retreat where Rich, in addition to allowing that Karl Rove “may not have violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, with its high threshold of criminality for outing a covert agent,” admits that Joe Wilson may in fact be the one who made up stories that don’t meet the minimum threshold of truth.

Stay tuned for next week’s maneuver.

More on Joltin’ Joe.

Pragmatists and Growers

Today’s New York Times editorial advocates that Bush appoint a conservative who will “grow” on the bench:

…they live in fear of a nominee who shows any capacity to grow on the bench – a quality any judge or justice should have.

When liberals express the hope that an individual will “grow,” they always mean that he or she will become more liberal, thus the current sanctification of Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor. They never talk about how Kennedy appointee Byron White “grew” when he moved to the right during his years on the Court.

The Times also uses the word “pragmatist” to describe their ideal kind of judge. Pragmatists in leftist parlance are judges who are willing to ignore the Constitution in favor of applying their own opinions (if they are liberal) to issues before them.

The Times accuses the “far right” of, among other putative atrocities, wanting “to obliterate the constitutional right to privacy, which is the basis not only for the right to abortion, but also for such elemental protections as the right to buy contraception.” However, there is no “constitutional right to privacy”; there is only the Griswold versus Connecticut decision which, while the Court concluded that the Constitution did not explicitly indicate a right to privacy, nevertheless did contain such a “right” in the “penumbra and zones” of the Bill of Rights.

Like other leftish institutions, the Times wants the court to win battles for them that they know they cannot win in the legislatures.