Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

What in the world is going on in Turkey?

June 24, 2013

Turkey demosFour weeks ago a small group of environmentally-minded Turks staged a demonstration, or an occupation, of tiny Gezi park in Istanbul, where the government had stated its intent to build a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks to house a shopping mall.

The government responded by attacking the protesters violently with water cannon and tear gas. The disproportionate attack on the peaceful protesters crystallized widespread hostility to the government of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ER-duh-wan). The protests grew and spread all over Turkey, and everywhere the protesters were met by violent police action. So far five have died, and the protests have died down.

Erdoğan blames the trouble on outsiders, including CNN and the “interest lobby,” and has called out his supporters into massive counter demonstrations.

Erdoğan was first elected to head the government in 2002, with 34% of the vote. He was reelected in 2007 with 46%, and again in 2011 with just under 50% of the votes cast. He is a practicing Muslim—rare for a Turkish leader—and has steadily moved to make Turkish society more congenial to pious Muslims. He wants to amend the Constitution to allow women to wear headscarves in public buildings (now forbidden), and has had laws passed that allow early religious instruction in elementary school, limit the sale of alcohol, and has proposed bans on abortion and even on kissing in public.

Some fear Erdoğan’s goal is to introduce Sharia law, a la Iran or Saudi Arabia, while others (including The Economist) call him a “moderate Islamist” and believe his intent is simply to (more…)

Blame the Bill of Rights, not the Roberts Court, for allowing corporations undue influence on elections

January 5, 2012

 

Millions of Americans, especially on the Left, are scornful of the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2010 regarding Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that ruling the Court overturned the provision of McCain-Feingold barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.

The ruling opened the door to unlimited expenditures by corporations and unions on behalf of candidates for office. It’s opened the floodgates to anonymous negative ads, and the Left is in high dudgeon.They have mischaracterized the Court’s ruling as “corporations are people and have the rights of people.” This piece of fiction has been enshrined in the dogma of the Left by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Rachel Maddow.

What nonsense!


As much as one may hate the result of the Court’s ruling, one can’t get beyond the Court’s reasoning: The First Amendment to the Constitution is pretty straightforward:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (more…)

Shocking and inspiring: the story of the Little Rock Nine and the integration of Central High School

December 11, 2011

 

The story of fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford and eight other African-American teenagers still takes my breath away, even though I lived through it on live television. I relearned the story last week on a visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School, the site in 1957 of ugly, beautiful and inspiring events that changed America.

Returning to Los Angeles I discovered that my friends of baby boomer and subsequent generations knew nothing about what happened outside Central High School on September 4, 1957. Like the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt and the story of the first Thanksgiving, the Central High School story merits retelling every year.

After the US Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools violated the Constitution, the Little Rock School Board developed a plan to gradually integrate city schools, starting by admitting nine African-American students to prestigious—and white only—Central High School. On the eve of the first day of school, September 3, 1957, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus ordered troops of the Arkansas National Guard to Little Rock to prevent the nine children from entering the school.

Elizabeth Eckford was one of the nine. She took a bus that dropped her a block from the school, and from there walked with unimaginable grace and courage (Will Counts’s photo above) through a mob of screaming, spitting adults. She tried to enter the campus (more…)

Let Romney lose because his opponent is better, not because of ugly religious bigotry

October 25, 2011

Reasons to vote against Mitt Romney: He’s a liberal trying to look like a conservative. He has no convictions other than a determination to appear what’s necessary to get elected. He’s willing to employ illegal immigrants as long as no one knows about it. He put his pet dog in a cage on the roof of his car and drove 500 miles.

But some people have another reason: He’s a Mormon! And Mormons aren’t Christians. Not really. Mormonism is a cult!

So said Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, explaining why Christians should prefer his candidate, Rick Perry, who he introduced at the Values Voter Summit two weeks ago in Washington.

Jeffress and the people who agree with him are repudiating the Constitution of the United States, which says in Article VI, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Pretty strong statement, using ‘no,’ ‘ever,’ and ‘any’ in one clause. But Jeffress believes that Christians must prefer a Christian to Romney. That’s a religious test. It’s wrong when practiced by Evangelicals opposing Romney for the Republican nomination, and it’ll be just as wrong when liberals use it if and when Romney gets the nomination.

The theological argument over Mormonism as Christianity (more…)

Republicans defy ethics, duty, and the Constitution as they bargain over raising the debt ceiling

July 4, 2011

Republican opposition to raising the national debt ceiling calls for a stronger word than just ‘unethical.’ Irresponsible? Ugly? Dishonest? Maybe even unconstitutional, since the Fourteenth Amendment states, in Section 4,

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

The Republicans are trying to frame the argument as one of big government vs small government. But that’s false. The question is, does the government meet its obligations, all of which were authorized by law, that is, by Congress, in accordance with the Constitution. Every dollar of obligation was accrued in accordance with Congress’s direction; every government bond, every social security payment, every soldier’s pay, every bullet purchased…you get the idea.

House Speaker John Boehner has said that of course the debt ceiling would be raised, but now seems to be going back on that position to accommodate some in his caucus who have no sense off duty, no responsibility to govern.

If the Republicans continue questioning the public debt they’re inviting, in the words of The Economist, “ incalculable consequences for the world economy as well as America’s…That strikes some Americans as nothing less than blackmail.”

If the President continues to play their game he’ll be giving in to their blackmail and will have abandoned his responsibility to govern.

Hooray for Romney and Paul for eschewing the politics of discrimination and hatred against Muslims and gays at the GOP debate

June 15, 2011

It feels awkward to praise in an ethics column somebody for showing simple decency, but considering today’s Republican candidates, simple decency is nothing to sneeze at.

So hooray for Mitt Romney for standing up for the rights of American Muslims. Romney dismissed the idea that Sharia law could ever be applied in American courts (“We have a Constitution”), and rejected Herman Cain’s position that Muslims should be singled out and treated differently (“We treat people with respect regardless of their religious persuasion.”)

By contrast, Cain and Newt Gingrich made it clear that they would be very reluctant to have any Muslims serve under them. The other participants, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul didn’t comment in the debate.

Bachmann has in the past shown suspicion toward American Muslims, while Santorum has stated that he considers Muslims to be as good American citizens as anybody. Paul has been downright heroic on this issue, blasting those in the conservative movement who use “hatred against Muslims to rally support.”

On another subject Paul earned praise from Ethics Alarms for his ethical and libertarian position on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He was the only candidate to reject the policy.

Republicans and Democrats to sit together? What a concept!

January 15, 2011

 

The Constitution, Article II, Section 3, requires that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…”

By tradition the “Information” is in the form of a speech, and “from time to time” has become once a year, during the last week of January. This years SOTU, as it’s called in the White House, will be on Tuesday, January 25.

One of the majestic icons of America is the picture of the House chamber packed with every member of both houses of Congress, together with the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all the President’s Cabinet—all but one member who is kept out to be assume the Presidency in case some unspeakable catastrophe strikes the capitol during the SOTU.

This picture of the grandeur of our Republic stirs our blood and our hopes, from the cheers and protocol of the President’s arrival to the first applause line in his speech. Then any idea of comity is shattered, as every Democrat in the hall leaps to his or her feet and cheers and applauds wildly, while every Republican sits stony-faced. (more…)

Christine O’Donnell’s breathtaking ignorance about the First Amendment’s separation of church and state

October 19, 2010

 

Christine O’Donnell is the Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware. When asked why she thought she was qualified to be a Senator she gave this as her chief qualification:

“I have a graduate fellowship from the Claremont Institute in Constitutional Government, and it is that deep analysis of the Constitution that has helped me to analyze and have an opinion on what’s going on today.”

At today’s candidate forum in Wilmington O’Donnell challenged her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons about where in the Constitution did it say anything about separation of church and state. When the audience gasped and laughed she grinned, thinking she had him there. She went on to demonstrate shock and surprise when Coons told her about the First Amendment. It was news to her.

O’Donnell will likely lose on November 2: not so sure to lose is Sharon Angle, Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, who believes that Sharia law reigns today in Dearborn, Michigan.

What does this say about the Republican voters who voted for such people?

 

Newt Gingrich maligns American Muslims, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and the mosque “at” Ground Zero

July 29, 2010

I got my weekly email yesterday from Newt Gingrich headed “No Mosque at Ground Zero.” It was quite scary—a 1500-word letter exposing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as “an apologist for Sharia supremacy” who “actually compared Sharia law with the Declaration of Independence, and who is spreading “moral confusion about the nature of radical Islamism.”

Newt leads up to this indictment of Rauf by warning us that “radical Islamists” are trying to impose Sharia law in parts of America, “no matter how deeply [it conflicts with] the democratic values undergirding our constitutional system.”

He then leads us through horrors like honor killings of family members, spousal torture and rape, and even threats against a disabled student with a [unclean] guide dog—all permitted by Newt’s version of Sharia.

Then Newt reveals the true intentions of Imam Rauf: to disarm America in the fight against “radical Islamism.”

Except it’s all a lie. Here’s what Rauf wrote recently on the subject of Sharia. It’s not about beheadings and amputations as a form of justice, or about women being stoned or forced into hiding behind burkas. Those things are not Shariah, but rather part of the penal codes in countries that deny fairness and justice, according to Rauf.

The mosque issue isn’t about defending American values against “radical Islamism,” like Newt says. It’s about defending American values against blind prejudice, like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence say.

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Nigger, faggot, baby killer, Republican?

March 22, 2010

“Nigger!” shouted by a demonstrator at Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) as he was leaving the Capitol Saturday. “Faggot!” at Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Words not enough, a demonstrator spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.).

To their credit, some on the right objected. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), called the actions by some protesters “reprehensible.” Amy Kremer, coordinator of the Tea Party Express, told Fox News, “I absolutely think it’s isolated. It’s disgraceful and the people in this movement won’t tolerate it because that’s not what we’re about.”

While nigger and faggot cross the line for Tea Partiers, they may be the logical next step after socialist, communist, and Nazi. If you agree with the so-far-unnamed Republican congressman who shouted “baby killer” from the House floor (more…)


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