Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Supremes - Guns & The War On Christianity

The Supreme Court released several important opinions yesterday - among them, McDonald v. City of Chicago, extending the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms to the states, and Hastings Christian Fellowship v. Martinez, continuing the left's war on Christianity.

In the prior landmark Second Amendment case, Heller, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Second Amendment provided an individual right to keep and bear arms, at least on land subject to direct federal control. Left unanswered was the question whether the Second Amendment also applied to the fifty states. That question was answered the other day in McDonald - yes.

The decision did not identify the precise contours of the Second Amendment right, such as, for example, whether concealed carry is part of the right, or to what extent the full faith and credit clause requires jurisdiction to honor gun permits issued in another state, etc. Nor did the decision adress directly to what degree the right can be regulated by government. For example, immediately after the McDonald decision was announced, Chicago's Mayor Daley announced his intention to place onerous restrictions on gun ownership within Chicago - a city where "homicide victims during the current year equaled the number of American soldiers killed during that same period in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The McDonald decision, authored by Justice Alito, was notable for several reasons beyond just the holding of the case. One, the decision was again 5 to 4, with Justice Stevens writing the dissent in which he argued for applying tests that would allow the activist wing to make of the Second Amendment a nullity. Justice Scalia responded to Justice Stevens in a separate concurrence. The arguments by Stevens and Scalia frame the battle ongoing between originalists and liberal activists. The McDonald decision was one largely based on the original intent of the drafters of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. The Stevens dissent proposes alternative theories to undermine the Second Amendment that, as Scalia points out, are wholly subjective and, in reality, are nothing more than legal cover for the personal opinions of the activist judges.

Two, the McDonald opinion was notable for the concurring opinion of Justice Thomas. He would find the Second Amendment applicable to the states on the basis of the 14th Amendment's "privileges and immunities" clause - something of great interest to academics and likely as boring as a rock to everyone else. Were the Court were to revive the "privileges and immunities" clause of the 14th Amendment, something rendered a nullity since shortly after the Civil War, it would open a potential Pandora's box of litigation as the Court struggled to outline the contours of the clause. All that said, from a layman's point of view, most interesting about Thomas's concurrence is his painstaking recounting of the origins of state and local firearms restrictions. The regulations arose largely out of an effort by Democrats to control blacks in the post civil war period. One need only to look to Chicago's Mayor Daley - or most other liberal state and local leaders - to see that, at least in terms of ultimate goals of controlling the unwashed masses, nothing has changed.

While the McDonald decision represents a good decision reached on the basis of judicial interpretation rather than activism, the polar opposite is presented in Hastings Christian Fellowship v. Martinez. In that case, the activist wing of the Court held that a college may refuse to certify a Christian student group that limited admission to individuals willing to certify both to their belief in God and to their adherence to a sexually moral life - i.e., sex only within the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman. As Justice Alito points out in his dissent, the activist wing began by twisting the facts of the case and ignoring the issues that relate to freedom of association and freedom of religion. Indeed, the facts of this case were truly appalling:

As Hastings stated in its answer, the Nondiscrimination Policy “permitted political, social, and cultural student organizations to select officers and members who are dedicated to a particular set of ideals or beliefs.” App. 93. But the policy singled out one category of expressive associations for disfavored treatment: groups formed to express a religious message. Only religious groups were required to admit students who did not share their views. An environmentalist group was not required to admit students who rejected global warming. An animal rights group was not obligated to accept students who supported the use of animals to test cosmetics. But CLS was required to admit avowed atheists. This was patent viewpoint discrimination. “By the very terms of the [Nondiscrimination Policy],the University . . . select[ed] for disfavored treatment those student [groups] with religious . . . viewpoints.”

And yet still, the liberal wing of the Court, through smoke, mirrors and very selective recitation of facts, was able to find this direct attack on Christianity to be constitutional. It is not a major decision, but just one more in a line of such decisions dating back to half a century ago when the activist Court began to strip religion from the public sector.

And on that note, let us hope and pray that none of the originalist members of the Court are forced from the bench between now and 2012. If so, we will soon become gunless as well as Godless.


Atheists Don't Got No Songs

A great song from Steve Martin:

From American Digest


Sorry For The Absence

I do apologize for my absence. I was hired to do some consulting work that was supposed to last a few days. It ended up keeping me out in the boonies for the better part of the last month. Normal blogging to resume now.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Turkey, Israel & Gaza, Take Two

Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post and Barry Rubin at PJM both address the attempt by a coterie of pro-Palestinian activists and Turkish radical Islamists to run Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, ostensibly to deliver aid. Krauthammer concentrates on Israel while Rubin looks at the incident from the standpoint of our NATO ally - and a one time ally of Israel - Turkey. Robert Pollock at the WSJ documents Turkey's descent into an radical Islam. This from Dr. Krauthammer:

The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.

But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets. . . .

Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense. . . .

. . . The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.

And looking at this issue from Turkey's perspective, this from Mr. Rubin:

Israel-Turkey relations have gone from alliance to the verge of war because the West pretended an Islamist government could be benign.

The foolish think the breakdown is due to the recent Gaza flotilla; the naïve, who pass for the sophisticated experts, attribute the collapse to the December 2008-January 2009 Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Such conclusions are totally misleading. The relationship breakdown was already clear — and in private every Israeli expert dealing seriously with Turkey said so — well over two years ago: the cause was the election in Turkey of an Islamist government. . . .

When the Turkish armed forces were an important part of the regime, they saw Israel as a good source for military equipment and an ally against Islamists and radical Arab regimes. But once the army was to be suppressed, its wishes were a matter of no concern. Depriving it of foreign allies was a goal of the AK Party government.

When Turkey thought it needed Israel as a way to maintain good relations with the United States, the alliance was valuable. But once it was clear that U.S. policy would accept the AK — and was none too fond of Israel — that reason for the alliance also dissolved. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced:

It’s Israel that is the principal threat to regional peace.

At first, this outcome was not so obvious. The AK Party won its first election by only a narrow margin. To keep the United States and EU happy, to keep the Turkish army happy, and to cover up its Islamist sympathies, the new regime was cautious over relations with Israel. Keeping them going served as “proof” of Turkey’s moderation.

Yet as the AK majorities in elections rose, the government became more confident. No longer did it stress that it was a center-right party with family values. The regime steadily weakened the army, using EU demands for civilian power. As it repressed opposition and arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy, the AK’s arrogance and its willingness to throw off its mask grew steadily.

And then, on top of that, the regime saw that the United States would not criticize it, not press it, not even notice what the Turkish government was doing. President Barack Obama came to Turkey and praised the regime as a model of moderate Muslim democracy. Former President Bill Clinton appeared in Istanbul, and in response to questions asked by an AK Party supporter, was manipulated into virtually endorsing the regime’s program without realizing it.

Earlier this year, the situation became even more absurd as Turkey moved ever closer to becoming the third state to join the Iran-Syria bloc. Syria’s state-controlled newspaper and Iranian President Ahmadinejad openly referred to Turkey’s membership in their alliance, and no one in Washington even noticed what was happening. Even when, in May, Turkish policy stabbed the United States in the back by helping Iran launch a sanctions-avoidance plan, the Obama administration barely stirred.

A few weeks ago, the Turkish prime minister said that Iran isn’t developing nuclear weapons, that he regards President Ahmadinejad as a friend, and that even if Iran were building nuclear bombs it has a right to do so. And still no one in Washington noticed. . . .

The current Turkish government hates Israel because it is an Islamist regime.

Note who its friends are: It cares nothing for the Lebanese people; it only backs Hezbollah. It never has a kind word for the Palestinian Authority or Fatah; the Turkish government’s friend is Hamas.

Lately for the first time, the AK government began to run into domestic problems. The poor status of the economy, the growing discontent of many Turks with creeping Islamism in the society, and the election — for the first time — of a popular leader for the opposition party began to give hope that next year’s elections might bring down the regime. Indeed, polls showed the AK sinking into or very close to second place. With the army neutered, elections are the only hope of getting Turkey off the road to Islamism. . . .

The question now becomes: how much can Turkey sabotage U.S. interests before U.S.-Turkish relations go the same way? The defection of Turkey to the other side would be the biggest strategic shift in the Middle East since the Iranian revolution three decades ago.

Pretending that this isn’t happening will not change it.

Robert Pollock, writing at the WSJ, documents the sharp move towards the Islamist camp that Turkey's PM Erodogan has led. This from Mr. Pollock:

. . . To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness. Imagine 80 million or so people sitting at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. They don't speak an Indo-European language and perhaps hundreds of thousands of them have meaningful access to any outside media. What information most of them get is filtered through a secular press that makes Italian communists look right wing by comparison and an increasing number of state (i.e., Islamist) influenced outfits. Topics A and B (or B and A, it doesn't really matter) have been the malign influence on the world of Israel and the United States.

For example, while there was much hand-wringing in our own media about "Who lost Turkey?" when U.S. forces were denied entry to Iraq from the north in 2003, no such introspection was evident in Ankara and Istanbul. Instead, Turks were fed a steady diet of imagined atrocities perpetrated by U.S. forces in Iraq, often with the implication that they were acting as muscle for the Jews. The newspaper Yeni Safak, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's daily read, claimed that Americans were tossing so many Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates that local mullahs had issued a fatwa ordering residents not to eat the fish. The same paper repeatedly claimed that the U.S. used chemical weapons in Fallujah. And it reported that Israeli soldiers had been deployed alongside U.S. forces in Iraq and that U.S. forces were harvesting the innards of dead Iraqis for sale on the U.S. "organ market."

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has distanced himself from allies such as the U.S. and curried favor with the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The secular Hurriyet newspaper, meanwhile, accused Israeli soldiers of assassinating Turkish security personnel in Mosul and said the U.S. was starting an occupation of (Muslim) Indonesia under the guise of humanitarian assistance. Then U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman actually felt the need to organize a conference call to explain to the Turkish media that secret U.S. nuclear testing did not cause the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. One of the craziest theories circulating in Ankara was that the U.S. was colonizing the Middle East because its scientists were aware of an impending asteroid strike on North America.

The Mosul and organ harvesting stories were soon brought together in a hit Turkish movie called "Valley of the Wolves," which I saw in 2006 at a mall in Ankara. My poor Turkish was little barrier to understanding. The body parts of dead Iraqis could be clearly seen being placed into crates marked New York and Tel Aviv. It is no exaggeration to say that such anti-Semitic fare had not been played to mass audiences in Europe since the Third Reich. . . .

[PM Erodogan] and his party have traded on America and Israel hatred ever since. There can be little doubt the Turkish flotilla that challenged the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza was organized with his approval, if not encouragement. Mr. Erodogan's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a proponent of a philosophy which calls on Turkey to loosen Western ties to the U.S., NATO and the European Union and seek its own sphere of influence to the east. Turkey's recent deal to help Iran enrich uranium should come as no surprise.

Sadly, Turkey has had no credible opposition since its corrupt secular parties lost to Mr. Erdogan in 2002. The Ataturk-inspired People's Republican Party has just thrown off one leader who was constantly railing about CIA plots for another who wants to expand state spending as government coffers collapse everywhere else in the word.

. . . Prime Minister Erdogan was one of the first world leaders to recognize the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza. And now he is upping the rhetoric after provoking Israel on Hamas's behalf. It is Israel, he says, that has shocked "the conscience of humanity." Foreign Minister Davutoglu is challenging the U.S: "We expect full solidarity with us. It should not seem like a choice between Turkey and Israel. It should be a choice between right and wrong."

Please. Good leaders work to defuse tensions in situations like this, not to escalate them. No American should be deceived as to the true motives of these men: They are demagogues appealing to the worst elements in their own country and the broader Middle East.

The obvious answer to the question of "Who lost Turkey?"—the Western-oriented Turkey, that is—is the Turks did. The outstanding question is how much damage they'll do to regional peace going forward.


The Most Effective Public Service Ad Ever . . . .

Compliments of Fortnight Lingere from Canada . . .

(H/T Instapundit)


Gov. Chris Christie On NJ's Teachers' Union

I've blogged extensively on the toxin that are public employee unions in general and teachers unions in particular. Here is NJ Gov. Chris Christie giving a short primer on the teachers union in his state:



Some fine satire on the recent flotilla heading towards Gaza.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Teaching The Wrong Lessons

How does the left insinuate its fantasy belief system into our children. It is exposure to a thousand little "lessons" like the following:

In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.

The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. . . .

Sportsmanship? Sportsmanship has everything to do with playing fairly and on a level playing field and absolutely nothing to do with "self esteem" issues. This new rule isin't remotely related to sportsmanship.

This is not teaching the kids the simple reality that if you want to win, you need to work at getting better individually and as a team. It is not teaching that hard work has positive ramifications and rewards - indeed, it seems that this rule is a peverse condemnation of that reality. Nor does the rule teach the reality that failure to improve oneself in a chosen field of endeavour comes with its own ramifications and penalties.

So what are the people who promulgated this rule actually aiming for if "sportsmanship" is a misdirection?

. . . Mr. Cale said the league’s 12-person board of directors . . . are simply trying to make [the game] fair.

And there you have it. The left wing nut jobs who came up with this new rule define "fair" as equality of outcome. And when equality of outcome becomes the predominant value, then all the life lessons that organized athletics and competition have traditionally taught fall by the wayside. What is left in its wake is a left wing fantasy that is the antithesis of the concept of western freedom, since the simple reality of soccer - and of life - is that equality of outcome can only occur when it is imposed by above. And that comes with many ramifications indeed.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Obama, Turkey and Israel

On Monday, nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed and others injured when Israeli soldiers took control of six boats forming a flotilla about 70 miles offshore in international waters. The flotilla was headed towards the Gaza strip for the ostensible purpose of delivering aid. The real purpose was to challenge Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza strip and, thereby, create an international incident. The "flagship" of the flotilla was dispatched by our NATO "ally," Turkey. Israel's blockade is meant to stop the well documented and deadly flow of military equipment and terrorists into Gaza from the sea.

With those basic facts in mind, here are a few thoughts.

- The Obama administration response to the above incident has been jaw dropping, with the worst being that Obama and Clinton have allowed a UN Security Council statement to go forward that all but condemns Israel and ignores the obvious - that responsibility for this incident lies directly on the shoulders of Turkey and their Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. There were numerous legitimate ways to deliver aid to the Palestinians. Instead of choosing any of them, Turkey chose to bless an attempt to bust through Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip. This was a blatant attempt to create precisely the type of incident that occurred. The fact is that Israel had every right to board those ships - and indeed, to sink them if they tried to run the blockade, which is no doubt why Israel chose to board the ships before they reached - and tried to run - the blockade.

- If Israel is guilty of anything, it is of not boarding the boats with sufficient overwhelming force / firepower such that there would be no question in the minds of the pro-Palestinian activists on the boats that any acts of aggression on their part would be suicidal. The Israelis went in with with no one pointing guns out of the helicopters to cover their descent and, equally as mystifying, armed with paintball guns and sidearms when they should have had Uzis, bayonets and stun grenades. The first rule of force is that any show of weakness invites a violent response - and a body count. The second rule is that overwhelming force and an obvious willingness to use it invites peaceful attention.

- At about the 1:20 mark in the video above, Clinton states that the Palestinians have a "legitimate need" to receive humanitarian assistance. No, they don't. The Palestinians have no right foreign aid of any sort. Indeed, if anyone was serious about peace in the Middle East, the first thing to do would be to cut off all aid to the Palestinians. All foreign aid does at this point is subsidize Hamas and the PLO, allowing them to pursue the destruction of Israel as opposed to creating a viable nation state.

- If anyone in the U.S. actually believes that Israel and Turkey are allies of equal importance, they are either ignorant or pro-Islamic ideologues. While Turkey was a secular nation for much of the past century, with the rise of Salafi Islam, Turkey itself has become infected. Let there be no doubt, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is moving the country into the Islamist camp "as fast as he can drag it" there. Turkey is at best a nominal ally of the U.S. at this point.

- According to the Washington Post:

The U.N. Security Council early Tuesday condemned "those acts which resulted in" the deaths of at least nine civilians aboard an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, and called for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent" investigation into why and how the Israeli military acted to stop the ships from reaching their destination.

Why did Obama agree to a UN Security Council statement that did not begin with an affirmation of Israel's right to blockade the Gaza strip, a condemnation of Turkey and those entities responsible for trying to break the blockade rather than to deliver aid through normal channels, and recognition that Israel acted with restraint in an attempt to defuse the situation without having to sink the ships? This is so overboard in its anti-Israeli bias that I cannot think of any similarly egregious act in America's history vis-a-vis Israel.

- If you want to know how peaceful the "aid" and the passengers were, you will not find it in the MSM or in the speeches of our politicians. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel's search of the ships and passengers found individuals with links to terrorists as well as military equipment. This from the Jerusalem Post:

Dozens of passengers who were aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship are suspected of having connections with global jihad-affiliated terrorist organizations, defense officials said on Tuesday, amid growing concerns that Turkish warships would accompany a future flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

According to the defense officials, the IDF has identified about 50 passengers on the ship who could have terrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups.

During its searches of the Mavi Marmara on Tuesday, the military also discovered a cache of bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, as well as gas masks. On Monday morning, at least nine foreign activists were killed during the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The group of over 50 passengers with possible terror connections have refused to identify themselves and were not carrying passports. Many of them were carrying envelopes packed with thousands of dollars in cash.

The military is working to identify the passengers and is looking into the possibility that some of them have been involved in terror attacks. Some of them are apparently known Islamic extremists. . . .

- Lastly, Clinton's call for a "two-state solution" at this point is simply ridiculous. It defies reality to believe that any such "solution" is possible so long as Islamists are determined to see the destruction of Israel. The current international tune is little more than an effort by Islamists to destroy Israel's legitimacy as a nation. And Obama is not merely playing right along, he is in large part directing the tune. I have wondered over the past year and a half whether the U.S. would survive Obama. Now I wonder if Israel will also.