Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

06/07/2010 (8:47 am)

The World Economic Collapse, in 3 Minutes

Comedy, but also as clear a description of the fiscal crisis among the EU nations as you’ll hear anywhere. Sometimes economics is just common sense. Listen:

By the way, “they’re owned by China” is not very secure, either. China has been deliberately limiting their birth rate to 1 or less for several decades, so they’re sitting on a depopulation bomb that just hasn’t gone off yet, and that cannot be defused. When the next, smaller generation starts into its earning years, what they’re going to discover is that an industrial economy cannot survive a massive depopulation. Who will buy our trillions of dollars worth of debt then?

05/10/2010 (4:26 pm)

Why Greece Matters To You

Greece is broke. So is the United Kingdom, which will be hitting up the EU for loans next.

Greece is facing the same sort of problem we’re facing here in the US, but more advanced. The government is paying too much to too many people, promising easy and early retirements, hiring everybody in sight and paying above-market wages… and borrowing money to do it all.

Take a gander:

Vasia Veremi may be only 28, but as a hairdresser in Athens, she is keenly aware that, under a current law that treats her job as hazardous to her health, she has the right to retire with a full pension at age 50.

“I use a hundred different chemicals every day — dyes, ammonia, you name it,” she said. “You think there’s no risk in that?”

“People should be able to retire at a decent age,” Ms. Veremi added. “We are not made to live 150 years.”

Perhaps not, but it is still difficult to explain to outsiders why the Greek government has identified at least 580 job categories deemed to be hazardous enough to merit retiring early — at age 50 for women and 55 for men.

Greece’s patchwork system of early retirement has contributed to the out-of-control state spending that has led to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Its pension promises will grow sharply in coming years, and investors can see the country has not set aside enough to cover those costs, making it harder for Greece to borrow at a reasonable rate.

As a consequence of decades of bargains struck between strong unions and weak governments, Greece has promised early retirement to about 700,000 employees, or 14 percent of its work force, giving it an average retirement age of 61, one of the lowest in Europe.

The law includes dangerous jobs like coal mining and bomb disposal. But it also covers radio and television presenters, who are thought to be at risk from the bacteria on their microphones, and musicians playing wind instruments, who must contend with gastric reflux as they puff and blow.

At the linked article there’s an in-line graphic showing what percentage of each European Union country’s Gross Domestic Product is demanded by government pension promises. In Greece, that number is over 800%.

In the United States, it’s about 460%. That’s just as unsustainable, only it will take longer for the bankruptcy to occur.

Recall a couple of months ago when I posted a remarkable speech by New Jersey’s new governor, Chris Christie? It was remarkable in its candor; Christie outlined in clear terms what the state had to do in order to survive fiscally. Salary cuts down to market-standard wages. Restructuring of pension promises. Cuts in programs.

In short, Christie had to undo decades of Democratic party largess. It’s the same all over Europe: the left has been promising easy retirement, unlimited medical care, higher wages, all of it with absolutely zero understanding of where the money comes from. Leftists assume that the wealth of the nation is a fixed sum that springs up from the ground fully-formed, and need only be apportioned fairly. They buy votes by promising to use that wealth for the “poor,” like Robin Hood (“poor” meaning anybody not earning in the top 5% of incomes). The promises they make are empty, because nobody can afford them. Nobody can. All of Europe is broke. Here in America, every city, every state run by Democrats is likewise broke.

Socialism is bankrupt. Progressivism is too expensive for everybody, including God.

We saw it when the Democrats took office in 2009. Within a month, the annual deficit for the national government rose a trillion dollars. One trillion dollars. That’s per year, on into the future, no end in sight. That trillion dollars is almost entirely new spending on social programs that Democrats consider “human rights” — college scholarships, business bailouts, unemployment benefits, health care subsidies, targeted energy tax cuts, federal aid to local school districts, free Internet access, smart electrical grids, and on and on.

Democrats dream dreams of what they would do if they were God, and then they do it, because they actually believe they are God. And then, they wonder why the nation can’t sustain the spending. “Just raise taxes. That will cover it.” Sure thing. And they wonder why the economy goes sour. It must be because of criminal Republicans not doing their share, or robbing the public through profit motive. Punish them. Oh, gee, why is gross domestic product dropping? We meant so well, we’re doing so much…

AthensViolenceGreece has announced austerity programs as a condition of receiving loans from other EU nations. The public is rioting in response; the public employee unions are leading the demonstrations.

The violence in Greece is following a pattern that has begun here in the US. In Arizona, a violent demonstration broke out in opposition to the state enforcing federal immigration standards. In Berkeley, CA, this February, protests against tuition hikes and budget cuts erupted into violence.

These outbreaks of violence have a couple of things in common. They arise from complaints by people who expect something for nothing from the government, and they’re fomented by hard leftists, folks we used to call “communists.” Hard leftists use violence as a strategy, hoping to produce revolutionary overthrow of non-Marxist governments. In terms of actual violence, most of what we’re seeing this year comes from the left, and it’s coming on the heels of governments cutting back their giveaways.

News outlets responsive to the overtures of the Obama administration have been attempting to paint the Tea Party demonstrations, which have been proceeding peacefully for a full year, as a potential source of violence. This is bunk, and has little basis in fact. The major sources of domestic violence in the US over the past 40 years have been animal rights and environmental rights groups, hard-left anarchist groups, Puerto Rican separatists, and fringe religious-racial superiority groups, with the largest number of such incidents by far coming from the eco-terrorists. A recent study on domestic terrorism by the Council on Foreign Relations notes that virtually all the domestic terror attacks between 2002 – 2005 were carried out by environmental extremists; the claim in that report that right-wing terrorists are potentially more dangerous appears to be the opinion of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a organization of leftist ideologues that raises a great deal of money by perpetuating the myth of violent racial bigotry in the United States. Their bias against the right is suspect.

There may be some threat of violence if the leftist-controlled government of the United States under President Obama appears to threaten individual liberty in a way that political activism can no longer address; I certainly hope that citizens resist a leftist coup here, if one such occurs. A much more likely scenario for violence, though, appears to be that the political activism of conservatives succeeds in the next year or two, and Congress begins to roll back socialist policies from which large groups of citizens have benefited. I have little doubt that the rolling back of favorite New Deal programs by the right will be met by violence from the left, leftists carrying out the acts they have projected onto Tea Party protesters. The left in the US appears to be much more amenable to violent protest than does the right.

03/10/2010 (3:46 pm)

UN Takes Another Run At Scamming Climate Science

I didn’t even have to examine this one for 10 seconds. This is pure scam.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, alongside the now-completely-discredited chair of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, today announced the launch of an “independent” review of the IPCC’s processes and procedures at a press conference in New York. The review is to be conducted by representatives chosen by the InterAcademy Council, an international consortium representing the national academies of sciences from 15 separate nations. Here is their press release.

The announcement was carried by water-carriers from the Associated Press to the unthinking masses bearing this grotesquely misleading lede (with my emphasis added):

World’s top scientists to review climate panel

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – At a tumultuous time in U.N.-led climate negotiations, one of the world’s most credible scientific groups agreed Wednesday to plug the recent cracks in the authoritative reports of the United Nations’ Nobel Prize-winning global warming panel.

“We enter this process with no preconceived conclusions,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, a Dutch mathematical physicist who co-chairs the group, the InterAcademy Council of 15 nations’ national academies of science.

Just look at the puffery in that lede. It’s “one of the world’s most credible scientific groups.” They’re reviewing an “authoritative” report, from a “Nobel Prize-winning” panel. They claim they have “no preconceived conclusions.”

There is a well-known, well-established process for correcting errors in scientific research, and This. Is. Not. It. Peer review has served the scientific community for centuries, and will serve here if it is carried out using a fair process with appropriate transparency and without governmental interference.

The AP report is pure propaganda. The IAC is not one of the most credible organizations in the world; it is a politically-oriented entity devoted to international governance. The heads of 15 National Academies of Sciences are 15 political operatives representing 15 governmental liaison bodies. Yes, I imagine they’re all professional scientists of some sort; that does not make these organizations any less political. The men calling for this report are thoroughly discredited already. The United Nations is devoted to internationalization, as is its sister organization, the IAC. They have a dog in the hunt: they both gain immense power from a finding of significant anthropogenic global climate effect. They both should stand a billion miles from the credibility recovery process and let others do the work. We have no reason to expect anything but a sham review that will go through the requisite motions and summarily declare the IPCC report golden.

I am completely disgusted. These frakking criminals are still attempting to co-opt the entire world’s governments by manufacturing “science” in a dishonest manner. They should be in prison for life, and that’s the merciful take. Let’s hope the honest process of peer review continues unmolested, so we can get a clearer take on what effect human activity has on the climate. The UN is not going to provide that, not in a million years.

12/29/2009 (8:40 pm)

Interpol Gets Full Diplomatic Immunity. Beware.

BlackHoleTextBoxTonight’s story begins in 1983, with Ronald Reagan signing Executive Order 12425, making Interpol, the international cooperative between national police forces, a recognized international organization under the International Organization Immunities Act, with a couple of limitations: representatives of Interpol were to be treated as foreign diplomats, but were subject to taxes, import duties, and customs duties, and were refused diplomatic privacy — the files and papers of Interpol here in the US were subject to FBI inspection, inspection by other law enforcement agencies, and Freedom of Information requests.

Here is the original Executive Order, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1983:

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.

The limits were in Sections 2(c), 3, 4, and 5 of the International Organizations Immunties Act (IOIA). You can read the text of the act here.

On December 17, 2009, President Barack Obama modified Executive Order 12425 to remove those limits. Here is the new Executive Order:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words “except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act” and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.

I have been warning since the 90s, after watching President Clinton’s moves at Kyoto and his testing of the waters using NATO to interfere in Yugoslavia’s internal affairs, that the next Democrat to be elected President would cede US sovereignty on several fronts, including environmental oversight, elections, and world courts. We’ve already seen President Obama’s aims regarding internationalizing carbon taxes. Now we’re seeing a genuine incursion into US sovereignty regarding law enforcement and international law.

In a word, this action gives Interpol authority over the US Constitution. They are already free, via diplomatic status, to conduct investigations here in the US. Now their activities can be carried out behind an impenetrable veil of secrecy. Neither the courts, nor the FBI, nor the military, nor private citizens can force access to their work. Section 2(c) of the IOIA reads as follows:

Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.

This actually does more than give Inspector Clouseau the right to keep his papers secret while flatfooting around the United States. There is no uniformed police force called “Interpol.” It’s actually a cooperative venture of law enforcement officials of each of the signatory nations, of which we are one. The US connection to Interpol exists within the Justice Department. As of December 17, the President has created a Black Hole in the middle of the Justice Department. Any activity carried out under auspices of Interpol by Justice Department personnel can be hidden behind that same, impenetrable wall of secrecy. By calling any action of theirs “international,” they create a wall of secrecy that no citizen, no law enforcement agency, no court can penetrate.

InternationalTextBoxIf you think they won’t finagle things to make them “international,” just recall what’s been done to make any commerce “interstate,” so it can be regulated by the federal government under the auspices of the Commerce clause.

Diplomatic immunity makes sense for diplomats. If diplomats were subject to the laws of the nations to which they were sent, they would be at risk from any hostile government that wanted to pass a law targeting them. Diplomats are not in the countries where they’re stationed because they want to be citizens; they’re there representing their own nations. Therefore, nations have agreed to treat diplomatic missions as though they were the territory of the nation being represented, and granted the representatives immunity from their laws.

Interpol is a different story. It’s an investigative body, investigating international crimes. It needs cooperation from member nations, and it needs access, but it does not need immunity. Quite the contrary; it is the limits on police powers that protect US citizens from tyranny. Police within the US have unusual access, but are not immune from laws, and are properly subject to scrutiny. International investigators should be treated the same. With full diplomatic immunity, US investigators operating under the auspices of Interpol can do whatever they like, and nobody has any recourse.

I’ll state this as plainly as I can: what consent I have granted to the United States government to operate in my behalf, as a citizen of the United States, I remove in its entirety as soon as the United States government cedes sovereignty in any manner to any international organization, agency, board, or group. I am not a citizen of the world; I am a citizen of the United States. No international organization has any right to threaten my life, liberty, or property, and any actions I take against individuals representing international organizations are to be considered acts of self-defense, not lawless acts against a properly constituted government. I grant not the slightest authority to any international organization over my liberties.

Andy McCarthy, the former US Attorney who prosecuted the Blind Sheik, explains the act clearly on NRO, and asks the appropriate question: why does Interpol need immunity from American law? Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton examine the action very throughly at ThreatsWatch; read it all. Schippert also discusses the matter at some length on his radio program, which is available as streaming audio, in which attorney Melissa Clothier asks another question that badly needs an answer: What, exactly, did President Obama need that prompted this unacceptable action? Teresa Monroe-Hamilton adds some ugly facts about the history of Interpol at NoisyRoom.net.

Read all of it, then start the email circuit and get this out to your friends. This needs a very bright searchlight trained on it, and a very loud loudspeaker shouting the question “With what authority do you give away our sovereignty?” This is too far, and we must not permit it to stand.

Toldja. We are so screwed…

10/06/2009 (5:32 pm)

Socialism is Better — Because We Say So

It was about 10 months ago that I took on Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz over his common-for-the-left-but-intellectually-laughable notion that deregulation had led to the meltdown that occurred last fall. I can’t say whether time has proved I was correct or not, but a recent announcement in France has proved that Stiglitz is both socialist-friendly and, so far as intellectual probity goes, nuts. Well, not nuts, exactly. More like devious and dishonest.

France announced, based on work by Dr. Stiglitz, that they are going to count “well-being” in their measurements of Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) By well-being, they mean things that everybody recognizes as beneficial: you know, things like government-sponsored health care, a short work week, and an expensive welfare system. [/sarc] These count as economic “output,” according to Stiglitz and French President Sarkozy.

France’s president on Monday urged other countries to adopt proposed new measures of economic output unveiled by a panel of international economists led by Joseph Stiglitz, the US Nobel Prize winner.

Mr Sarkozy, who set up the Stiglitz-led commission last year, said the world had become trapped in a “cult of figures”.

Insee, the French statistics agency, would set about incorporating the new indicators in its accounting, Mr Sarkozy said.

One consequence of the commission’s proposed enhancements to gross domestic product data would be to improve instantly France’s economic performance by taking into account its high-quality health service, expensive welfare system and long holidays. At the same time, the commission’s changes would downgrade US economic output.

The first cut at restating French GDP managed to erase half the difference between French per capita output and US per capita output. I’m shocked. [/sarc²]

In case you’re not comfortable with macroeconomics, what’s happening here is that with the cooperation of an American academic leading a team of international economists, France has decided that a given unit of French output counts for more than the same unit of American output — because the French are “happier.” How do we know they are happier? Well, because the government does things liberals want it to do for people. That’s how we know.

So, socialist government policies boost a country’s output, not because it actually produces output, but because Joseph Stiglitz says socialist policies make them count more. Because it makes everybody happy, you see. That’s how economics works. This is science, don’t you know.

A friend sent me this via email as an example of things so stupid they’re funny. This is not funny to me, though; it’s chilling. Basically, what is happening is that an international team of economists has decided to market socialism using “science” as an advertising tool, by arbitrarily making socialist countries appear richer than they are. They do this by declaring the illusory well-being of people living under socialism as “production” — illusory because the only evidence of it is their enlightened leftist opinion that people are happier under socialism. France is going along with this, and urging other nations to do so as well.

Keep this in mind when leftists start touting the economic benefits of socialism, and insisting that this “happiness” is a human right. They’re lying, and they’re getting help in constructing their lies from Nobel-laureate economists.

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain…”
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 2, New American Standard Version

07/13/2009 (6:22 pm)

Angling For Global Governance

“We’re got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” Colorado Senator Tim Worth, 1990

It is increasingly clear that world leaders are using climate change and the world-wide economic crisis to move nations toward world governance. In his speech last week comparing the climate change battle to WWII, Gore noted that the awareness of human-caused climate change will help to bring about global governance. This mirrors a declaration made back in 2000 by France’s President at the time, Jacques Chirac, before the UN Convention on Climate Change at the Hague. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper echoed their sentiment at the G8 Summit last week, among a huge pile of socialist disinformation demanding ongoing government intervention. Listen:

Harper seems to favor an international financial regulatory system in which individual nations respond to an international review board, and he seems to expect that that review board will have, as one of its goals, the normalization of the world’s economic behavior. He claims, incredibly, “This will not interfere with national sovereignty,” but imagining international regulation that changes global economic balances without interfering with sovereignty is like imagining taking a shower without getting wet. It is also true that the claim that we need economic systems operating in a manner that is transparent, in the light of the Obama administration’s handling of the TARP funds, is nothing better than a very bad joke; but the real issue here is international redistribution of wealth and control of economic behavior.

The fact that power-hungry politicians at the G8 Summit and at UN meetings have used climate change as a wedge issue to increase their power does not necessarily mean that the scientists are wrong who claim that humans are warming the planet, but it does make it doubly important to examine their claims under a powerful microscope, and it makes it essential that we oppose the politicians with sound political moves, not just scientific discussion. It happens that I, along with a growing number of scientists, do see the evidence pointing less and less toward human-caused warming, and more and more toward natural variations in the earth’s climate. However, it also happens that the politicians driving this movement do not care a whit about facts, so long as they obtain the power. Opposing them on scientific grounds only helps insofar as the science helps oppose them on political grounds.

The common thread between Gore’s call for governance and Harper’s is anti-capitalism. It has been the case since global climate change became an issue in the early 1990s that the incipient tyrants of World Socialism have been using climate change as one of their favorite issues to produce global governance; the recent economic crisis immediately became further ammunition in the same quest. To Harper, as to Gore and Chirac, everything is about abolishing independent business behavior. If a problem occurs in the economy, capitalism is the culprit. If the globe warms up, capitalism is the culprit. If the globe cools down, capitalism is the culprit. If a tyrant oppresses his people in the middle east, capitalism is the culprit. If anybody dares to object to their agenda of global governance, capitalism is the culprit. The pattern is clear; whatever the malady, the cause is capitalism, and the cure is for the nations of the world to give more power to them.

Who are they? They are so-called “progressives.” The point of abolishing capitalism is to permit the unitary establishment of their new, global religion, of which they are the undisputed priests. They, and they alone, know what we, the unenlightened, must do to Save the Planet, Prevent Economic Chaos, and Bring World Peace.

They imagine that because their religious system does not contain any specific deity (other than themselves) that it is somehow exempt from the excesses we all have come to expect from the application of religion to political dominion. They are deluded; all the worst excesses will follow the institution of their system, which is as much a faith-based system as any that has ever been touted. CS Lewis famously observed, in his essay The Abolition of Man that no tyranny is so oppressive as that instituted for our own good. Tyranny instituted for the good of the tyrant will rest while the tyrant is satisfied; tyranny instituted to cure us of our “wrong” thinking takes no vacations. Liberty, being the soul’s right to breathe, is what produces hope for improvement; the first and greatest victim of the coming universal tyranny will be, ironically, hope.

Beyond the simple but crucial matter of tyranny, however, it is also the case that governance based on wrong ideas produces destructive results. Lyndon Johnson’s wrong-headed War on Poverty was not a disaster merely because it wasted some $6 trillion dollars (although that was a disaster) but because it enslaved millions, even entire generations of poor people, to the government dole. The sexual revolution was not just a disaster because it produced a lot of behavior some of us consider immoral but because millions of people are suffering venereal diseases, poverty, and/or relational mayhem as a consequence of that behavior. Rampant environmentalism already is causing starvation among the world’s poor as wrong-headed ethanol policies distort the world’s grain prices, and taxes on carbon designed to discourage the burning of fossil fuels will sink billions of people into grinding poverty around the world. The tyrants will not care, they’ll have their power, but the institution of global governance under “progressives” will produce immense suffering.

If governments instituted among men derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, I want to make it clear that no global government of any kind will ever hold just power over me; I do not consent, and I will not consent. And since an unjust law is no law at all, I declare now that no law arising from such a government has any authority over my behavior. Free men and women everywhere need to take a pledge of independence, and need actively to withhold their consent from such government. It will become necessary to form a free government that recognizes no international authority to manage its economy.

07/06/2009 (11:01 am)

Honduran Ouster of Zelaya Constitutionally Proper

hondurasdemonstrationThe Internet consensus in America seems to be that while Honduras had valid, legal grounds to remove President Manuel Zelaya, its military grab-and-deport maneuver was illegal and improper. The consensus appears to me to be incorrect. The President of Honduras was apparently removed by unanimous vote of the Congress, and arrested by order of the nation’s duly constituted courts.

Translations of Spanish-language news sources La Tribuna, Globovision.com Internacionales division, and La Prenza, all agree that the Congress of Honduras met on June 28 and removed President Zelaya by unanimous vote for his repeated failure to uphold the laws of Honduras.

Google translator provides this (unfortunately stilted) translation of the La Tribuna article:

Alfredo Saavedra, as secretary of Congress, presented to the full in the opinion that all violations were established which demonstrated “that the conduct of the President puts in danger the rule of law and governance.”

Therefore, in exercising its powers, full decreed reject the conduct of the President of the Republic, removed from office and appoint in place of Manuel Zelaya Rosales President of the National Congress (NC), Roberto Micheletti Bain.

Fausta’s blog, which has been a consistently reliable source of information about the Honduras situation, adds this transation of La Prenza’s announcement:

An official statement of the Supreme Court of Justice explained that the Armed Forces acted under lawful grounds when detaining the President of the Republic, and by decommissioning the materials to be used on the illegal poll which aimed to bring forth Executive Power against a judicial order.

Other sources verified that the president of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, will assume the presidency of the republic in a few hours.

Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was detained this morning by the military in compliance with an order of the courts of law.

Newly appointed President Micheletti announced that the anticipated national election will proceed as planned on November 29 of this year.

The only questionable point in the process came when the Congress heard a letter of resignation allegedly written by President Zelaya. One might guess, given Zelaya’s subsequent objections, that the letter had been written at gunpoint, or possibly was forged. Since the act of Congress was to accept the resignation, subsequent showing that the resignation was forced might require corrective action; on the other hand, since the Congress acted on the basis of a bill of particulars identifying multiple violations of the President’s oath of office, the removal might stand despite this irregularity. The point is that the Congress and the courts of Honduras apparently followed legal procedure when removing President Zelaya.

On the contrary, their precipitous action, rather than being a coup, could easily be considered due diligence to prevent a coup. Oliver North provides the best, brief summary of President Zelaya’s attempts to subvert the Honduran constitution and stage illegal elections in order to extend his term of office. Fausta provides additional detail explaining how Zelaya attempted to steamroll the Honduran constitution, and Jason Poblete, a Washington attorney with strong international experience, adds his view from the ground (Jason was my starting source for this piece.) We must regard the entire incident as an attempted coup by a neo-Marxist backed by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela; that is how the Honduran people apparently view it.

sickbobThe support of the Obama Administration for this apparent coup would be shameful and incompetent if it were unknowing; I find it a lot more plausible that President Obama actually understands what was attempted, and approves. Based on the unscrupulous nature of much of what progressives have done in recent years — the illegal voting maneuvers, the assaults on free speech, President Obama’s constitutionally improper nationalizing of industries, constitutional irregularities like this one perpetuating the motif of “we are in such a hurry that we don’t have time to follow the rules,” Obama’s hidden but real neo-Marxist background and his Alinskyite training and tactics, and the recurring suspicion that his demolition of American fiscal responsibility might be deliberate — it would not be inconsistent to expect an unconstitutional power grab at some point in the future. Call me paranoid, call me crazy, but I think people who hold responsibility should start talking now about how we should respond if something similar is attempted here in the US.

Legal Insurrection blogs Zelaya’s attempt to return to Honduras (here and here), which apparently resulted in the death of at least one protester. Zelaya was not permitted to land.

06/16/2009 (10:27 am)

Obama Cautious on Iran (Updated)

…and I agree with him, which is a first.

It took the Obama administration until Monday to make an official statement about the Iranian elections, the outcome of which still remain in doubt. President Obama said he was “deeply troubled” by the images he and the rest of America have seen from Iran, and he called on the leaders of Iran to respect the “universal values” of democracy.

Meanwhile, literally millions of Iranians have taken to the streets in an outpouring of protest that could conceivably produce a revolution. The Washington Times blog, relying on a translation from the Cyrus News Agency, reports that 16 leaders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the government’s elite forces, have been arrested for contacting members of the Army to discuss joining the people’s movement.

Eric Cantor, House Whip for the Republicans, is lambasting the White House over their silence, calling the suppression of the protests a “step backwards for home-grown democracy in the Middle East.”

Iran’s Council of Guardians, 12 clerics with clout, has announced its plan to perform a partial recount of the ballots, while opposition candidate Moussavi has rejected their suggestion and wants a rerun of the election.

Personally, I think the President is wise to keep the matter at an arm’s length. If the US has ever been successful at aiding revolutions in foreign nations, we in the public are not aware of it, so it seems unlikely that we’re going to have a positive impact on this one. We actually don’t know what happened in the election, and need more information before we can make an assessment. And, we’re going to have to live with whomever comes out on top. We should be joining with UN leaders to call for international investigations of the election process in Iran.

UPDATE, 5:50 PM Pacific Time: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posits Ronald Reagan’s response to the crackdown on Solidarity protesters by the Polish government. Reagan’s comment to the Pope, who was himself a Pole, was “We stand with the people, not with the government.” John McCain said something similar. I find their sentiments persuasive, and stand corrected.

06/15/2009 (8:52 am)

Iran: The Junta Emerges?

Two days into the protests over Iran’s elections, some analysts suggest that we’re seeing a transition from a theocracy to a secular police state in Iran.

According to Middle East news source Media Line, Reform candidate Moussavi, a former Prime Minister, claims he was contacted by Interior Ministry officials late Friday night telling him that he had won the election. The Interior Ministry officially announced the winner as Ahmadinejad on Saturday, by a margin of 63% to 34%. Many Moussavi supporters did not believe the the official count, apparently bolstered by independent reports filtering out of the Interior Ministry, and took to the streets in protest. The government cracked down, apparently aided by Arabic-speaking riot police (the official language of Iran is Farsi) because the Iranian police will not attack Iranian citizens.

Meanwhile, it appears as though the election result has been officially endorsed by exactly one of the Mullahs leading Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei. According to Kevin Sullivan of Real Clear World:

Iran hawks prefer to label the Iranian police state as simply “The Mullahs,” but the legitimate clerics in this dispute are the ones standing with Mir-Hossein Mousavi against ONE Mullah and his secular police apparatus. If the election has been rigged in such a fashion, then what you are in fact seeing is the dropping of religious pretense in the “Islamic” Republic of Iran. This is a secular police state in action.

Iranian-Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar provides this useful analysis of Khamenei’s attempts to shift the Iranian government from theocratic to secular footing, and Andrew Sullivan — yes, that Andrew Sullivan — adds this translation of a Farsi news report from one of his readers:

Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad’s presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.

News reports are scattered because the government of Iran has blocked as many outside communications as they can. Independent foreign correspondent Michael Totten has been live-blogging the scene in Tehran, and his reports are indispensable to understanding the unrest in that city.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has officially taken a “wait and see” attitude toward the Iranian election. Obama supporters in a few locations have taken the opportunity to air their fantasies about the Bush administration (see here and here), apparently unaware that President Bush won two elections legally and then stepped down peaceably without incident.

The Washington Post claims that its own public opinion polls in Iran match the results of the election, throwing those westerners claiming fraud into confusion.

06/08/2009 (7:01 am)

A Good Day for Lebanon

The March 14 Coalition, a party favored by the US, won a clear majority over Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon’s election this weekend. The election was expected to be a close one, as March 14, which had formed the previous Lebanese government in 2005, had won with the support of Hezbollah.

Lebanon is sometimes viewed as a proxy for political rivalries elsewhere in the Middle East, so some observers had billed the election as a contest between Tehran and Washington. The clear victory for the March 14 Coalition and the loss for Hezbollah are also, therefore, a win for the US and a loss for Iran and for anti-Israeli sentiment generally. In addition, in the wake of a Hezbollah victory the Lebanese government would have refused to cooperate with the international investigation into the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister who resisted Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

The March 18 Coalition is a largely Sunni Muslim party allied with smaller groups of Christians and Druze, whereas the losing party was a coalition of Shia Muslims (Hezbollah) and pro-Hebollah Christians. An attempt by retired General Michel Aoun to bring Christians into an alliance with Hezbollah clearly failed.

The winning party captured at least 67 out of 128 seats in Parliament, and possibly as many as 70, with 55% of eligible voters casting ballots, an impressive turnout. Very little violence was reported surrounding the elections.

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