Tuesday, January 19, 2016

VALID REACTION TO CHARLIE HEBDO VULGARITY SHOULD NOT LEAD US TO IGNORE SERIOUS ISSUES


The first point I want to make is that the CBC (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/charlie-hebdo-alan-kurdi-cartoon-1.3403085 )reaction and the reaction of others to this cartoon is exactly the right one. Disgust and denunciation. We need to rely on people’s sense of decency to react properly to this type of screed. I oppose censorship, and blowing up the publisher because freedom of expression is a fundamental value, but freedom to express does not include the obligation to listen. Turn off or don’t purchase is a valid manifestation of OUR free expression.

That said, the comment that only 18 arrests took place in Cologne requires some examination and honest assessment. First I disagree with the expression “only” 18…that is a lot. I remember that Ontario Hydro boor outside a Toronto Soccer game last year being vilified. He was just one guy, but he was rightly excoriated as was the entire vulgar subculture he represented.

But the real problem is that it wasn’t “only 18”, or even “only 21” (the new number). The actual statistics in Cologne are astonishing. The latest number of complaints in that city is 809, of which 521 are sexual assaults including at least 3 rapes.

On that one night.

In that one city.

But Cologne was not the only city where this happened. In Germany, it happened as well in Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Frankfurt. It happened in Helsinki, Finland. It happened in Salzburg, France. It happened in Vienna, Austria and in multiple places in Sweden (more comment on Sweden below).

The technique used was the same in all these places. Large groups of Middle Eastern men (Germany has now admitted that the vast majority of these were refugee claimants, so far as they can tell) would break off into groups and surround the women. They formed a ring around the women and the men on the inside would molest, grope and otherwise assault the women, while the men on the outside of the ring prevented anyone from coming to the aid of the women, including police. The number of attacks overwhelmed the Cologne police such that they could not address the attacks and protect the public. Because the women were so terrified and the other witnesses were the participants, there are virtually no witnesses who can come forward and identify the individual attackers.

This is why there have been so few arrests in the face of this mob of sexual assaults.

You might recall this same technique was suffered by CBS news reported Lara Logan, who was raped in Cairo when covering the Arab Spring. Her account of what happened to her mirrors what the women of Europe suffered on New Year’s Eve.

Another casualty of this horrific even is the truth. Originally Cologne’s police were ordered to cover this up and avoid mention of refugee participation in this (this order ended up costing Cologne’s police chief his job). Interestingly, in Sweden last summer something similar happened. A swarm of sexual assaults by Middle Eastern men occurred during a five-day music festival in Stockholm. Again the police covered up the attacks and who did it.

I recall many years ago some would say that women, if they didn’t want to be harassed (or worse) by men, they should wear less revealing clothes. Feminists screamed that this was blaming the victim. (to be clear, I support the mini). Yet, today we hear that the Mayor of Cologne is now telling women to travel in groups and not alone, and to be careful where they go and who they find themselves close to. The Viennese police chief has said something similar and been attacked.

So, in order to be politically correct, we are supposed to immediately abandon our values? I have always hated political correctness (which is, to me, a soft way of saying fascism). I think it can kill us in the end.

One German politician has stated that the New Year ’s Eve attacks must have been coordinated. Maybe. It might be easier to believe this than to think that it is ingrained in Middle Eastern culture (though I keep thinking of what happened to Lara Logan, and the general treatment of women all around the middle east).

But let me worry about something. If there IS a cultural component, and since we know that over 70% of the refugees are able bodied young men, is it realistic to assume that this cultural component will disappear the minute they cross some border?

I don’t know.


I do know that I hate the kind of vulgarity represented in the Charlie Hebdo cartoon reproduced. But that does not mean that we must be completely politically correct and ignore real questions that can arise out of a clash of cultures. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CRIMSON TIDE

Pride. Go Justin!!

PRIDE, in big red letters, I think, is the emotion I am feeling as I read this headline, and contemplate our new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. How better to manifest what it is to be Canadian than, as his first act in international affairs, to tell the Yazhidi, Kurdish, Arab, Christian, Shi’ite men, women and children facing ISIS that, so far as Canada is concerned, “You’re on your own”?

 Bravo!! Go Justin!!

This is exactly what we needed as Canadians, a true way to leave our strong Canadian footprint (albeit facing backwards) on the international stage. Here we will show our strength of character. No more will we be bullied by bullies committing crimes against humanity. "Leave them to it" is what Justin says, and how can any true Canadian disagree? Let’s get on with legalizing marijuana…that is a priority which will define us as true Canadians.

I cannot imagine a move that will more forcefully assert Canadian honour and independence than this courageous move to cut loose these targets of ISIS. Why should we lose our heads over these people…ha ha.

Really, what IS a Yazhidi anyway?

And Christians? Not OUR problem, eh? Anyway they have been there for 2000 years…they are soooo last millennium. The sixth century is where it’s at, don’t you know. Today is "Back to the Future" day, right? So, let’s recognize that it’s time for a new “Back To The Future” and that ISIS’ sixth century values are the wave of the future.

And imagine when Justin Trudeau finally meets Vladimir Putin and “tells him to his face” that…well, whatever it was he was going to tell him to his face…how impressed and nervous the Russian dictator will be. I bet Justin will be so firm he might even stomp his foot FIRMLY in his firm firmness.

I just bet that he will emphasize how firm he is with Putin that to show his disagreement with Russia occupying Syria, Iraq, Eastern Ukraine, Crimea, North-Eastern Georgia he will lift sanctions. FIRMLY! That will show Putin who is boss!

I bet when Putin, as he shakes in his jackboots, asks just how far Justin is prepared to go in withdrawing from defending the weak and raising sanctions, Justin, like his late father did as he stood up to FLQ terrorists, will reply “Just watch me!.” I get shivers of anticipation just thinking about it.

And I can’t wait to see him defend our Arctic…this is going to be great! No need to ask for international support or backing for our international law position, of course. After all the Trudeau Doctrine is now set in granite…Canada doesn’t help defend the weak, so expects no help in return. I’m excited…aren’t you?

Really, he’s a hero. How can we not trust his judgment? I mean…DAMN! He’s good looking! Look at that smile. Those eyes.  The jaunty curl to his perfectly coiffed hair. How can someone who looks like this…DAMN, he’s handsome!...not know how to deal with that runt Putin?

Then, bring on the Chinese…it’ll be a cake-walk with this hero at the helm! Okay, okay...I know Harper told the Chinese to their faces to stop violating human rights, and that was roundly criticized by the Canadian media and political class. With no domestic support he had to back down. But that was Harper. His hair is awful and he wears utility vests. Justin is THE MAN! They will listen to Justin…who couldn’t….when he tells them “Go ahead! Seize the South and East China Seas!! Take that President Xi!!”

So, the pride…red lettered pride… I felt as I watched the “Crimson Tide” roll across the Maritimes, through central and western Canada was a thrill. I am sure pretty soon we will see Justin’s Crimson Tide extend through Iraq and Syria as we withdraw our forces. Of course that red will be from blood spurting from the necks of the decapitated heads of Yazhidi, Kurdish, Shi’ite and Christian men women and children, but no biggie.

Let’s all just get high…pass the Doritos.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34589250

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CANADIAN POLITICIANS BETRAY DEMOCRACY

A fair number of people have been posting on Facebook about the anti-democratic nature of Prime Minister Harper. While it is difficult to disagree with them, they have made me think about the real lack of historical context that the media provides to not only new Canadians, but new voters. As I will explain, I feel a bit betrayed by Harper, though I never supported his party, but his betrayal arises from a more generalized rot of our representative democracy among all our parties.

My perspective is from the viewpoint of a Liberal, the party I have always supported. When I first became involved, the structure of the party was based on the constituency. Each constituency, or riding, association would nominate a candidate. The candidate was nominated by association members; whichever candidate was elected represented the riding in Parliament (or in the provincial legislature, as the case may be). These MP’s had real independence in parliament and power. Their opinions were relevant and people who aspired to a political career could imagine an active role in public affairs. This local democracy was, I believed, an excellent system.

In the 1980’s we began to see a shift away from local democracy to a centralized party structure within the Liberal Party. I have always believed the root of the problem was campaign finance limits…since local candidates were limited in the amount they could spend locally, the bulk of costs were borne by the main party. Thus, the main party needed money. To get the money, they began to require that membership cards be bought. This generated revenue. In order to force purchase of cards, only card holders could vote for candidates at local nomination meetings. This led to contested nomination meetings in which local aspirants to the nomination could be displaced by preferred candidates from the central party, while the mass sale of membership cards raised lots of cash.

There was local resistance to this but, during the Chretien government, the central party exerted greater and greater control over local riding activities. One problem with this was that the central party operatives had no local knowledge but pushed the local people around.

At the same time, the Parliamentary role of MP’s was vastly diminished. Chretien enjoyed a long period of majority government (due to fragmentation in the main opposition party plus the arrival of separatist MP’s who further split the vote which allowed more Liberals to win seats) and during that period he concentrated parliamentary power in the Prime Minister’s Office. Private members bills went nowhere, free votes were unheard of and any hope of advancing a political career within the Liberal party required slavish adherence to the PMO’s rules.

One of the most embarrassing, and eye-opening, reports I ever read was an OECD report during the 1990’s that called Canada the least democratic country in the OECD.

With the virtually unrestrained power of the Chretien government came a smug arrogance. It was not just the suppression of dissent within the parliamentary caucus, and even its discouragement in the party at large, there was something that I thought was much uglier…the attitude of Liberals towards western Canadians. I used to hate the way Toronto suits used to call Albertans a bunch of red-necks. (personally, I have always considered “red-neck” a compliment. Red-neck refers to the sun-burned necks experienced by those people, such as cowboys, farmers and oil rig workers, who work long hot days outside in the summer sun. My dad was a red-neck and many years, I am proud to say, so was I.) The smug Bay Street (Toronto), or Hollis Street (Halifax) Liberal operatives used the term as a diminutive comment…red-neck meant backward, simple and uneducated…basically everyone in Alberta and most of Saskatchewan. So here we were, the party that was supposed to be the party of Canadian unity, disparaging our fellow Canadians as idiots. Is it any wonder we could never win a seat west of Manitoba?

Into this appeared Stephen Harper. My first recollection of him is as an economist and spokes-robot for the National Citizen’s Coalition. He was involved in the Reform Party and Alliance “rump” that emerged after the Progressive Conservatives disintegrated. Even then he rarely smiled in public. He was as aggressive against the Liberals as the Liberals were against him and, from that time forward, he has been vilified by the Liberals and their media supporters, such as the CBC and Toronto Star. Of course, a lot of the criticism was richly deserved, but it always seemed to me that the attacks were much more personal than on policy.

However, as he campaigned for leadership of the re-formed Conservative Party, Harper advanced two main ideas that I strongly agreed with him on.

The first was Senate reform, specifically the election of the Senate. I agree strongly with reforming the Senate, and keeping it. I strongly believe that its role as a protector of provincial interests at the centre of the federal government is important and fundamental to the federal structure of our country. The mutation into a sinecure for Federal appointees is a form of rot of the system, but this can be fixed…not by elimination (which would effectively turn the smaller provinces into colonies of the more populous ones) but by making it either more democratic (elected) or perhaps more representative of the region they are to represent (for example by appointment of Senators by the provincial legislatures). Harper backed an elected Senate (even appointing an elected Senator from Alberta) but ultimately bailed out on Senate reform after a few years in office.

The second big idea which I supported (actually, I was enthusiastic about this) was making the Parliament more MP “friendly”. There would be more free votes, less party discipline and private members bills would have a chance to be voted on. (The MP Gordon Wong has done a lot of work on these things). On all this Mr. Harper has completely backtracked and betrayed everyone who hoped for a more democratic, more representative, Parliament in Ottawa. Instead, Mr. Harper has become an authoritarian figure who keeps his MPs in line through rigid rules.

So where does this leave us? Those who argue that Harper is anti-democratic have, in my view, a very good point. But this does not end the story. The Liberals are also an authoritarian party, going back to Chretien, who have abandoned their local roots and given control over to central party “apparatchiks”. Put another way; do not delude yourself that an authoritarian Harper will be displaced by a democratic Trudeau. Meanwhile, the NDP is anti-democratic: it is the plaything of unions and special interests and, truthfully, as socialists, their whole concept is against the individual in favour of the group, or collective.

Obviously, I do not feel “betrayed” by the NDP as I have never had any hope, or use, for them. Harper’s “bait and switch” is a betrayal of those who saw his election as signifying greater democracy and better representative government for those of us living in our constituencies.

Perhaps the greatest betrayal is that of Justin Trudeau who has shamelessly and callously turned over the party to his Ontario handlers and created two classes of Liberals. Under his version, even his own father might not have been able to be a candidate.  The careless way in which he discards the strongly held beliefs of longtime members, and forces those who wish to run as Liberals is a disgrace. Those Liberals who “sign the pledge”, or who support the party despite their consciences, must be ashamed when they see those Middle East Christians choosing beheading by ISIS rather than the renunciation of their faith. That Justin Trudeau’s policies have led to this anti-democratic choice within the Liberal Party is the greatest betrayal of all. (See my article below for an explanation of that).


So, again I ask, where does this leave us? Screwed, blued and tattooed.

http://www.capebretonpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/2014-05-23/article-3736014/Justin-Trudeau-doesnt-get-this-Cape-Bretoners-soul/1


Friday, October 02, 2015

Let’s Go Blue Jays!!

For the first time since 1993 the Blue Jays have qualified for the MLB playoffs, and they start their divisional series next Thursday.  What a team! What a line-up!

Behold:

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista (RF), Russell Martin (C), Kevin “Spider Man” Pillar (CF), Josh “Bringer of Rain” Donaldson (3B and likely MVP), Ryan “Go Go” Goins (2B), Troy “Tulo” Tulowitski (SS), Ben Revere (LF), Edwin “EE” Encarnacion (DH/1B/Walker of Parrots), Chris Colabello (1B/DH), Justin “Smokie” Smoak (1B),Dioner Navarro (C),Cliff Pennington (2B/SS), Ezekiel  “Zeke” Carrera (LF/RF/CF), and a pitching staff including starters David Price (Cy Young candidate), Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buerhle, Marco Estrada, Drew Hutchison, and relief corps including Brett Cecil, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, Liam Hendricks, Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, Russ Francis. And they are managed by John Gibbons, with help from Bench Coach DeMarlo Hale, Pitching Coach Pete Walker, Hitting Coach Brook Jacoby, 1B and infield coach Tim Lieper, 3B coach Luis Rivera.

On paper a wonderful team, but the game must be won on the field. Still, as General Manager Alex Anthopolous said on Wednesday night “This is the team you want to go to war with.”

So, the quest for the 2015 World Series begins Thursday, 8 October 2015.

Let’s Go Blue Jays!!

The video below is a great video of the Blue Jays players in action. Enjoy it!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

OBAMA'S MUNICH MOMENT

OBAMA'S MUNICH MOMENT

Yesterday when the news of the Iran nuclear deal was announced, I announced that I was now officially scared to death.

Why? Because I keep up on current events.

But having now read the parts of the agreement in the public arena I want to specify the reasons why I am afraid and why everyone should be afraid. There is no space to give all the reasons, but I will give some high points, in ascending order of terror inspiring. And, to help you assess how the media is covering up these issues to protect the Obama administration, I will provide a question that the media should, but won’t ask.

1.  1.     The agreement has not been made with the Supreme Leader of Iran. Iran is an Islamic State, and the civil state apparatus is under the thumb of the Supreme Leader, currently Sheikh Sayyed Ali Khamenei. He is called Supreme Leader because he is Supreme. We in the West are accustomed to dealing with a Post- Westphalian concept of the state and like to think of the separation of church and state. But Iran is a theocracy. Ali Khamenei speaks for God/Allah. So, unless we can find a way to make a binding treaty with God/Allah (and we know from Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness how God frowns on those trying to make deals with Him) this “deal is not binding on the other side.

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: Has Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei indicated he will be bound by this agreement? If not, how do you plan to ensure that it is enforceable?

2.       Future behaviour is best predicted from past behaviour. Iran is presently a party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and has violated its provisions repeatedly and comprehensively. This is the reason Iran has been subject to sanctions by the UN. Also, Iran is bound by UN sanctions which it has violated repeatedly and comprehensively. There is zero reason to hope they will now comply with this new agreement.

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: Why are the sanctions being lifted prior to verifying the state of prior Iranian violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty?”

3.  2.     We have been told that there will be “immediate anywhere anytime” verification, but that is effectively a falsehood. Here is the verification mechanism:
·         A Joint Commission (JC) to adjudicate disputes will be formed.
·         The JC will consist of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, Germany, the European Union AND IRAN!!!!!
·         Requests for access to specific Iranian nuclear sites will not come from a party to the agreement. Rather, they must make a request to the IAEA and the IAEA may (not “shall”) request.
·         If the IAEA determines that Iran denies a request, a clock begins to run which gives the two sides (Iran and IAEA) 14 days to negotiate a resolution.
·         If a resolution cannot be reached, the JC will have 7 days to advise the IAEA how to proceed (Iran being a member of the JC do not forget).
·         Iran will have 3 days to comply with the JC advice. Thus, 14+7+3=24 days after an Iranian non-compliance is the time frame Iran has to clean up any suspicious site.
·         If Iran fails to comply with the JC’s advice via the IAEA then the Security Council gets the referral.
·         Apart from the fact that the times allow delay, the process is corrupted because the violator will have a vote in the JC as will its allies in Russia and China.

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: If the Joint Commission has to provide advice to the IAEA in the event of an Iranian violation, how is the vote taken…by consensus, by majority, by supermajority or will the Big Five each have a veto?”

4.   3.     Once the agreement is passed by the parties, the UN sanctions will be lifted and approximately $145-150 billion dollars of embargoed funds will be transferred to Iran. Now, in addressing the issue as to whether sanctions will be re-imposed in the event of Iranian violation, the voters will include Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the European Union. Obviously Iran will vote against, but look at the others. China needs Iran’s oil. Russia, suffering economic contraction due to sanctions, needs money. Russia has lots of weapon and nuclear technology to sell. Iran will have a pot of gold worth $140-150 billion and they want weapons and nuclear technology. German companies have already been caught selling nuclear technology to Iran in violation of the existing sanctions and France generally sells to whoever can buy. And, of course, Germany and France are the top players in the EU. Is there any chance that ANY of these countries will jeopardize their access to these funds by voting to reinstate sanctions?

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: If countries with a financial stake in the elimination of sanctions have a vote on whether they are re-imposed, why doesn’t a country such as Israel, whose survival is at stake, also have a vote?”

5.     4.   As part of their training in negotiation and negotiating skills, our Model United Nations team learns about “red-lines”. These are “no-go” areas beyond which no concessions can be made. Agreements must be made within the “red-lines”. Even our Model UN group is more skilled in negotiation than the US team given that they abandoned every position they said they had to the point that there were, in fact, no red-lines. Examples:
·         Stated Red Line: The stated reason for the negotiations was to ensure that Iran would never attain nuclear weapons. Result: The agreement itself concedes they can have them within 10 years…if Iran actually complies with the agreement…legitimately.
·         Stated Red Line: Any agreement would include no notice, any place anytime, 24/7 inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities. Result:  See Item 3 above
·         Stated Red Line: There would be no lifting of the existing arms embargo against Iran. Result: Lifted
·         Stated Red Line: There would be no lifting of the embargo on Iran acquiring ballistic missiles. Result: Lifted

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: Given that under the existing sanctions Iran was unable to produce a nuclear weapon why have you conceded them that PLUS the ability to acquire ballistic weapons?”

6.       As further evidence that the US was desperate to get a deal, apart from all the concessions they made there is one that is the equivalent of Iran saying “You want a deal, US? Bend over.” The US is obligated to provide technical assistance to Iran in the development of its domestic nuclear programme and to provide assistance to them in defending against internet attacks. Thus the US (and anyone else) will not be able to use programmes such as Stuxnet to defend against the Iranian nuclear programme.

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: Was it as good for you as it was for them?”

7.   5.     Forget the world of spin. The countries of the region know the truth and they are petrified at the fact that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon has been legitimated. The US president and his compliant media can spin this all they want, and repeat that this will prevent Iran getting a weapon now. Forget Israel, who will be the first target of the Iranian nuke. Think about Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is also in the Iranian cross-hairs (they are already fighting in Yemen, in case you haven’t noticed). Saudi Arabia put the world on notice in April of this year that if a deal such as this one came into being, they would be embarking on their own nuclear weapons programme. Saudi has money and, again, Russia, China, Germany, France, North Korea, Pakistan and God knows who else have the technology to sell.

Interestingly, Egypt is now rumoured to be investigating the possibility of a nuclear programme, possibly funded by their Saudi allies. Meanwhile, Syria will be looking for help from their Iranian patrons.

Accordingly, rather than making the world safer, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have ignited a nuclear arms race in the most volatile area of the world.

Proposed Question You Will Never Hear: “Mr. Kerry/Obama: Will the US also be assisting all sides in their development of nuclear weapons or only Iran?”

All the media covering this agreement simply repeat the Administration talking points which state bald conclusions that this will bring stability…”peace in our time” if you will. On the radio this morning, on my way to work, I heard Vicki Davila (La FM radio) discussing how important it was, in so unstable a part of the world, to get the cooperation of all the countries there, meaning, I guess, Iran. But this is the fantasy world that so many in the media and their audience, are living. These countries, and their leaders, are not interested in cooperation…they are interested in conquest and, often, conversion. We cannot be dealing with them on the same level we deal with western countries because they do not think the same way. Iran’s leadership are a hardline Shiite Islamic clergy.

This agreement has given the matches to the pyromaniacs and I am scared to death especially for the world that awaits my daughter.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Disturbance In The Force

In the immortal words of Obi Wan Kenobi “I sense a great disturbance in The Force…I feel something terrible is happening…”

So far as I know, no planet has been destroyed (though perhaps ISIS has committed another massacre). But a constitutional structure is in the process of being destroyed and with it the Rule of Law. Regardless of what you think of how countries ought to treat those illegally within their borders, the upcoming decision by US President Obama regarding illegal immigrants there should worry anyone who believes in the Rule of Law and constitutionally limited government. This is because President Obama’s actions will threaten the constitutional stability of a country built on the rule of law.

For many years, I considered the American political system, through its structure, to be inherently more democratic than the Canadian. This was because the Canadian mutation of “party discipline” (far removed from the British practice) meant that a Canadian Prime Minister with a majority government would have virtually untrammeled power.

The US system, on the other hand, is based upon a dispersal of powers through the combination of separation of powers, federalism and a Bill of Rights whose origin was not conceived to be from other men. At the federal level, the finely disbursed powers among the Executive and legislative branches was designed to prevent any one branch from accumulating too much power. Thus, unlike in Canada, the President’s authority could be controlled and limited by the other branches. But I have changed my mind because what I see now in the US is a form of elected authoritarian because the Executive recognizes no limits and the other branches cannot, or will not, stop him.

The functioning of the US constitutional structure is as dependent upon a basic moral obligation to uphold the system as upon the actual words of the constitution. Those of us growing up during the Cold War marveled at the freedoms granted people under the Soviet constitution. But so what? The application did not reflect the words and, despite the wonderful words of their constitution, Soviet citizens suffered under a grinding, absolute, brutal dictatorship.

Unless the leaders of a constitutionally governed state by instinct comply with their constitutional obligations, then, regardless of the words, the constitution and the rule of law will be in trouble. The leaders must have “virtue”. If the Executive hold the constitution and its structures in complete contempt, then the system of rule of law built upon that structure is in serious trouble.

That is the problem that is being faced by the United States. There is a President who seems to deem irrelevant the restrictions placed on his power by the constitution. Previous actions of President Obama, and his Administration, have flown in the face of constitutional law and democratic practice. 

Some examples are:
  •  Through his Attorney General he has wiretapped journalists.
  •  Through the IRS he has used the Internal Revenue Service to attack and persecute political opponents and prevented them from opposing him in electoral campaigns.
  •  Through various law enforcement agencies he has ordered that numerous laws legally passed and on the books, not be enforced. (DOMA, multiple immigration and drug laws).
  • Even though Congress has, under the constitution, has oversight responsibilities over the Executive branch (the republican equivalent of what Canadians call “responsible government”), Obama and his cabinet have defied Congressional subpoenas. When ordered by courts to comply, they have made spurious “Executive privilege” claims. For example, Attorney General Holder claimed Executive Privilege over emails between his wife and a third party.
  •  Holder has been held in contempt of Congress and still is non-compliant. He doesn’t care.
  •  Waged war in Libya without Congressional authorization (note that in Canada and the UK the government got Parliamentary approval).
  •  Is waging war in Iraq and Syria without Congressional authorization (note that in Canada and the UK the government got Parliamentary approval).
  •  Seeks to enter treaties without Senate consent in violation of the constitution.
  •  Delayed implementation of Health care provisions in violation of clear statutory language  (in fact, I cannot even imagine a legal theory that allowed him to do this, but he has done it multiple times).
  • He has been found by the US Supreme Court to have been acting unconstitutionally multiple times, including the violation of First amendment religious protections (Hobby Lobby), First Amendment Association protections (Harris v. Quinn) and First Amendment speech protections (McCullen et. al  v. Coakley et. Al.).
  • The Supreme Court unanimously found that Obama had acted unconstitutionally when he made recess appointments to the National Labour Relations Board when the Congress was not in recess. Obama tried to simply declare that they were in recess and then make the appointments, but the Supreme Court held he could not do that. (NLRB v. Canning et. al.)

These examples, and others, demonstrate the complete contempt that President Obama has for the Congress, his political opposition and the constitution. There are no moral or ethical governors on his behaviour. What he wants to do, he does. This is aside from the merits of the actual policies he has followed. For example, I agree with trying to blow ISIS back to the Dark Ages, but I do not agree with his process. He ought to follow the constitutional rules.

It is intellectually dishonest if those who defend these actions do so simply because they agree with the policy. The policy is not the issue; this is about the Rule of Law.

Tonight the President will announce that he will order immigration laws not be enforced against many millions of people inside the US illegally. This is despite the fact that there are laws on the books regarding this, and despite the fact that last year when one state tried to enforce immigration rules within the state, the Obama administration opposed this on the grounds that this infringed on federal jurisdiction. Last year they asserted their exclusive right to enforce; tonight he announces his refusal to enforce that exact, binding, law.

The Congress has the constitutional jurisdiction to originate legislation, while the Executive has the obligation to enforce the law. The Legislature has done so. The President has said that the Congress will not act, but that is Congress’ right. They are elected…indeed, much more recently (two weeks ago) than the President. Declining to act as the president demands is, in reality, acting. 

But, no matter. Tonight the Executive will announce its intention to ignore its constitutional obligation to enforce the law.

When the US Constitution was devised, the founders developed a finely tuned balance of powers between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. Each was to have its own powers and role and each was to be balanced off against the powers in the other branches.

The first derogation from this came in 1803 when the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison took upon itself the power to declare unconstitutional, laws passed by the other two branches. In this sense it gave itself a level of superiority over the other two branches that did not exist inside the constitution, but there was some logic to it (there needed to be a referee) and the US has worked through that.

But tonight, the Executive will announce that it has usurped the powers of the Legislative branch. The elected representatives of the people (House of Representatives) and of the States (the Senate) will be relegated to third place. At best.

It is unquestionably unconstitutional. But the media will not question it because they agree with Obama, and the Republicans will do nothing because most are bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce (who want low-paid workers) and they all fear the media. They are abdicating their constitutional duty to defend the constitution.

So, tonight the constitution of the United States will effectively be torn up. The President will indicate that he recognizes no effective, external, constitutional or political constraints on his behaviour. He, and by this precedent, future Presidents will be limited only by such restrictions as they, in their personal discretion, choose to apply.


I sense a great disturbance in The Force…I feel something terrible is happening…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

EGYPTIAN NEWS COVERAGE

Incidentally, the Renaissance Man has been following the Egyptian situation on Al Jazeera's English language service. They have been playing it straight, it seems. The coverage has been excellent.

EGYPTIAN UPRISING

The Renaissance Man has mixed feelings about the Egyptian Uprisings.
On the one hand it is a great joy to see a people rise up against a dictatorship. It has been wonderful to see, in my lifetime, Filipinos, Czechs, East Germans, South Koreans and others rise up against those who tyrannized them and claimed their countries for themselves. The state belongs to the people and governments ought only to govern with the consent of those people.
On the other hand, such uprisings often do not result in democracy. Those Russians, for example, who climbed on army tanks to defend Boris Yeltsin must be very disappointed in the resurgence of Russian dictatorship.
Furthermore, in the Middle East, mobs and demonstrations usually seem to be manipulated by religious leaders (or at least by leaders invoking religious reasons) who have no interest in democracy or the rule of law. Such leaders, by merely invoking the Koran, seem capable of manipulating such mobs to do whatever they want.
The most powerful Islamist movement in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Renaissance Man is apprehensive that this organization may, at some strategic point, step in to assert its power and even control. It is virtually a "state within a state" inside Egypt and is well prepared to take over if it thinks its moment has come.
Should the Muslim Brotherhood step in and take over, the joy of the uprising that we see would be transformed into something far different. Potential victims of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover include Egypt's Coptic Christan population. The Copts have been the frequent victims of Islamist inspired (and organized) mass murder including this past Christmas when Al Quaeda bombed a Coptic Church killing dozens. Imagine their fate if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power.
Another great concern involves Israel. Israel has just seen an Islamist terrorist group, Hezbollah, take power on its northern border, in Lebanon. If they then have to confront, on their southern border, an Islamist government in Egypt, their security situation would become very complicated. Add this to the fact that the United States President Barack Obama is not generally seen as supportive of Israel and Israel would seem to be facing a threat of even greater international isolation.
The Renaissance Man is on tenterhooks.