Category Archives: Law

Letter re Enemy Combatants in Boston

Dear Editor:

In your editorial “Enemy Combatants in Boston,” Review and Outlook, April 22, 2013, you make many sound points regarding Miranda rights due perpetrators of attacks against the American sovereign and the larger role of due process with regard to enemy combatants. You were, however, mistaken about one detail: The Boston Marathon bombing was not the most successful terrorist attack since 9/11, as you claimed. What about the brutal Benghazi attacks on our embassy, every inch American soil in Libya, or the 13 American soldiers killed and 30 injured at Fort Hood in 2009, both attacks inflicted in the explicit name of Jihad?

We can discuss exactly what is the best way to protect American citizens’ civil liberties, or the role of due process in this murky twilight between war and peace. But make no mistake: The U.S. homeland is most certainly part of the terror battlefield. It is Ground Zero.


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Filed under Law, National Security

Letter to the Editor Regarding: “The GOP’s Epic Senate Fail”

Kimberly Strassel calls the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s staggering Senate loss candidates “professional malpractice” (“The GOP’s Epic Senate Fail,” Potomac Watch, Nov. 8). While Ms. Strassel is correct, she fails to explore the historical irony behind leaving Senate elections vulnerable to this particular brand of malpractice: The whole point of the American founders’ decision to divide the legislature in the first place was to protect states’ rights in one house, free from bungling attempts like the NRSC’s to direct the popular will and influence special interest groups.

Enacted in 1913, the 17th Amendment restructured the government so that there is no difference between how Senators and Representatives are elected. This is in stark contrast to how the American Constitution imagined the country would be run.

The Constitution outlined a legislative branch in which Americans didn’t actually directly elect senators, state legislators did. This reflected the fact that the House was intended to represent individuals’ rights, while the Senate stood for states’ rights. Individuals, the founders believed, would be better represented overall with two separate levels of accountability before submitting to the ultimate will of the federal government on high.

Federalism was an important principle for the American founders, and federalism holds states’ rights paramount. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has gone so far as to note that since the 17th Amendment was ratified, “you can trace the decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century.”

America was founded not as a democracy, but as a Constitutional Republic—a community of individuals and states responsible to constitutional procedures designed to promote divided government. The 17th Amendment changed the process to make the Senate democratically responsible to the people rather than, as in a republic, responsible to the states.

It is no wonder, then, that so many other American principles have also ceased to resemble the constitutional principles of 1776.

Kathryn Ciano
Arlington, VA

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Filed under Law, Letters

WSJ Letter of the Day: Citizens United

Public Finance Means Government Control

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman’s Jan. 17 letter protests Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and calls instead for “public financing for public elections.” This is a seductively worded call for the end of liberty and self-rule.

Do we want sitting federal government administrators to decide who may vie for elected office and what they can spend? I’ve seen this movie in Russia, China and Iran and throughout the most oppressive chapters of human history. No thanks.

David Paul Andrukonis

Arlington, Va.

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Filed under Law, Letters

Obama didn’t kill Osama.

“Obama didn’t kill Osama. A Navy SEAL did, who, less than a month ago, Obama was debating whether to pay at all.” – a Marine

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Filed under International, Law

Constitution in Brief

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Filed under Law, Unkategorized

Gulf Coast Shrimping Insurance

Re Q’s insurance situation for shrimp farmers in the Gulf: Is the shrimping livelihood insurable against foreseeable manmade disasters?

There’s a market for what’s called aquaculture insurance, and I’m sure there will be some significant claims on those policies (most of which are held through the Lloyds of London market.) It’s not quite as significant as the claims BP and other refiners will put in on their energy insurance policies (I’ve seen estimates of about $1.5 billion in energy insurance claims) but that’s largely because most shrimpers probably don’t have much in the way of insurance on their stocks of shrimp.

Instead, they’re more likely to take out general business interruption policies, which would pay off in the case of any prolonged cessation in income. So, yeah, the spill would be covered, but they’d have been thinking more of hurricanes and such when they took out their policies.

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Filed under Business, Economy, Law

Global Governance Requires Rule of Law, Even for Women

This week the United Nations approved the Islamic Republic of Iran’s bid to join its Commission on the Status of Women. To quote a particularly prescient observation: “When a country that stones women to death for adultery is chosen to serve in a leadership role on the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women, we know most of what we need to know about the U.N.”

Yes. That Iran. The very same Republic with a rich history of raping, stoning, and whipping women.

Reason magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh compiles media reactions. Says Cavanaugh:

I understand that all religions, in their all-too-slow surrender to enlightenment, have to deny, cover up, or otherwise disappear important sections of their retarded holy books. But Iran has forefronted its devotion to the literal foundations of its rapist religion. So it’s Iran, not the UN, that needs to recognize its choice. You can have liberal, rational modernity or you can try to bend the world government to your religious psychosis. But you can’t do both.

Iranian women themselves, too close to the storm to find humor in the UN’s ironic choice, protest this particularly egregious judgment error in global governance:

The letter refers to Iranian laws that gender-equality groups say discriminate against women. These include statutes relating to such matters as divorce, child custody, education, and the ability to choose a husband.
Women have been “arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws,” the letter says. “The Iranian government will certainly use [CSW membership] to curtail the progress and advancement of women.”
Radio Farda spoke to Shadi Sadr, a women’s rights activist and one of the letter’s signatories. Sadr explained that for years the UN has asked Iran to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran, however, has refused to do so.
“Under such conditions, Iran’s attempt to join such an institution [as the CSW] is doomed to fail,” Sadr said.

Was the UN aiming at irony? The relevant portion of its press release suggests that every portion of the world should enjoy representation in this esteemed Commission, evidently regardless of whether the government actually promotes or even protects women:

Next, the Council elected 11 new members to fill an equal number of vacancies on the Commission on the Status of Women for four-year terms beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2011 and expiring at the close of its fifty-ninth session in 2015. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe were elected from the Group of African States; Iran and Thailand were elected from the Group of Asian States; Estonia and Georgia were elected from the Group of Eastern European States; Jamaica was elected from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Belgium, Netherlands and Spain were elected from the Group of Western European and Other States.

Finally, Cavanaugh points out that many Western feminist groups have declined to make the case for Iranian women’s liberation. Perhaps these groups are afraid to step on the toes of cultures whose mores simply do not conform to our own, or perhaps women’s groups are simply afraid of incurring the same terrorist threats that South Park encountered with its controversial 200th episode.

Rather than attempt to persuade American feminists into making a Western case for protecting women from tyrannical governments, Cavanaugh reliles on the Quran to make the case for him:

While western feminists are declining to make the feminist case against Iran’s participation in the commission, I’d like to raise a Quranic objection. The commission’s website says it is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.” That position is in direct violation of the Holy Quran, which was handed down by Charles Nelson Reilly Himself to the Prophet Muhummunah (PBUH). The holy book makes clear that one woman is equal to half a man in inheritance, in legal testimony, in financial matters, and even in capital murder cases. How can a self-declared Islamic Republic support an equality that goes against a holy book filled with commandments like this:

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.

Indeed. There are many good sovereignty-based arguments for countries who wish to work out governmental problems amongst themselves. But for world government to condone and in fact to promote such egregious treatment carries a powerful statement.

The United Nations has long been a flaccid protector of human rights. This move to endorse Iran’s horrific treatment of women further compromises the UN’s legitimacy, and speaks to the need for a principled, private revolution in favor of real human rights and, indeed, for women to protect the rights of women everywhere.

Cross-Posted at The New Agenda.

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Filed under International, Law, Liberty, Unkategorized, Women