Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Liberty From Religion

Three stories show us what "diversity" and "toleration" often mean to the religious Left, and to the bureaucratic powers that be:

In sunny California:

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm already have been fined $300 for holding Bible studies for their friends at their home, and they face the potential for additional fines of $500 for each study held, according to a legal team taking their case to court.

The newest conflict over Bible studies in homes in America arose in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., where city officials say city code section 9-3.301 prohibits religious organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit, a sometimes very expensive procedure.

Meanwhile at Vanderbilt University:

Vanderbilt University's Office of Religious Life quietly deferred its annual approval of several mostly conservative Christian organizations.

Groups affected included the Christian Legal Society, InterVarsity and the graduate chapter of Campus Crusade. These organizations face an uncertain future because of a new policy that prohibits religious organizations from requiring that their leaders share the same beliefs and goals of the organizations they seek to lead. The policy goes one step further by hamstringing Bible studies.

According to a letter from the acting director of the Office of Religious Life, Bible studies are suspect because they "would seem to indicate that officers are expected to hold certain beliefs.'' The letter goes on to explain: "Vanderbilt policies do not allow this expectation/qualification for officers.''

(Thanks to Phi-Beta-Cons )

Meanwhile, Drudge posted this story, about a boy who was suspended from school for saying that homosexuality is immoral.

Categories > Religion

Political Philosophy

Jaffa and the central idea

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Old Man is going to be 93 on October 7th and that a good way to celebrate his birthday would be to bring to our attention something interesting by him or about him.  So I note this Master's Thesis, Increased Devotion: Equality, the American Founding, and Abraham Lincoln, by Sara Whitis.  It is on how to understand equality, the thing that both defines us, and about which we have disagreed--arguably--from the beginning.  She asserts that no scholar of the 20th or 21st century "has more thoroughly and thoughtfully" explored the subject of equality and its implications for our political life than Jaffa.  She then explores his writings, emphasizing Crisis of the House Divided and A New Birth of Freedom, and says this: "These books themselves add to the legacy of Americans' disagreements over their central idea, because between Crisis and New Birth, a profound shift takes place in Jaffa's understanding of the meaning of equality in the Founding."  She explores the journey of his thinking and with graceful intellect interprets his work.  This may be the best thing ever written on the subject.  You should read it.


Get Rid of Holder

As Operation Fast and Furious continues to rise as the most serious of the many scandals now engulfing the Obama Administration, new evidence reveals even more damning evidence of Attorney General Eric Holder. Newly-released audio recordings of a conversation between an ATF Agent and the Arizona gun dealer who sold the weapons that killed Border Agent Brian Terry reveal several things. First, they were concerned early on about one of the main whistleblowers. Second, elements of the Department of Justice were actively working earlier this year to mislead Congress and shield the illegal gunrunning program from the inquires of several senators and Congressman Issa. Finally, they seem to imply that not only did Holder know of the program, but he was involved in trying to get Congress out of the way. It also implies that the FBI and others throughout the Department of Justice knew of the program's existence earlier than February, meaning much of the recent story by Justice officials has been wrong. It must be stressed that the tapes do not come out and explicitly state that Holder knew of the program, but they heavily, heavily imply that he did--or that he should have, at least--and thus may have lied to Congress when he informed them that he had only learned of the program sometime in May.

Eric Holder has proven himself to be either grossly incompetent or shamefully criminal. Either way, he must go. It is time that a special investigator be established to begin officially subpoenaing Department of Justice and White House officials to get to the bottom of this increasingly-tangled web of lies being spun by Holder and his staff. Bring the Department of Justice to justice.
Categories > Politics

Refine & Enlarge

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

The latest Letter from an Ohio Farmer considers--with the help of Madison and Lincoln--the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the rich legacy they bequeathed to us.
Categories > Refine & Enlarge

Foreign Affairs

Palestine, the UN, and Statehood

Diplomats are scrambling right now as the sometimes-leaders of Palestine seek official membership within the United Nations this week. The Palestinians are saying that they are doing this so that they can be an official state, and opponents, led by the United States and Israel, are saying that the United Nations should not give Palestine statehood until a peace deal is reached. Both the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel sides are being completely absurd, as the United Nations in absolutely no way wields any type of authority to determine what is a state and what is not. This unelected, international, and voluntary organization has no sovereignty nor right to bequeath sovereignty to others. This organization says that stateless Somalia is a state. This organization says that gangsters like Muammar Gaddafi, Than Shwe, Robert Mugabe, and Omar Al-Bashir are sovereign leaders of states on equal footing with others. This organization defines sovereignty purely as an independent government effectively exercising control over a defined territory. There is no mention of the interests or will of the people in these nations; no belief in the idea of sovereignty being inherently held by individuals and partially surrendered to the governments they form. So while the thugs may wield force and thus de facto sovereignty over the states of this world, their rule is neither legal nor legitimate. Recognition by the United Nations does not lend them legitimacy; it just recognizes the unfortunate reality that tyrants must be dealt with in the international sphere if we are to maintain any sort of international stability.

The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is a tough one, with two peoples claiming sovereignty over much of the same small stretch of land. It cannot be decided on until those two entities come to some sort of agreement. Whatever recognition that the United Nations gives to any side is inconsequential as far as legitimacy is concerned, and in this particular case as far as reality is concerned as well-- Palestine really exercises neither de facto nor de jure control of their territory; say what they will, Palestine is still relatively subject to Israel (which is part of the complaint). This Palestinian bid for UN Membership will certainly give the United States headaches and further complicate our relations with Arab states in the increasingly-chaotic Middle East, and this is very much part of Palestine's plan to ramp up pressure on us, but recognition by the United Nations does not automatically grant you statehood. It would do well if President Obama or Ambassador Rice reminded people of this all, but, given their inclinations, I doubt they will. I would also propose that any nation who votes against us in the General Assembly have the foreign aid they receive from us terminated immediately. But, again, I don't expect a presidency that is guided by "humanitarianism" (whatever that is) to actually use the tool of "aid" in a proper and pragmatic way-- that is, actually serving American interests. It would be a good start, though.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


A Cultural Watershed?

Ford's new commercial might represent a cultural milestone.

"Chris," the character in the commercial, does not want to buy a car from a company that the government has bailed out.  Moreover, Chris attacks the basic idea of the entitlement state when he says "that's what America's about."  We try our best. "When you fail, you've got to pick yourself up, and go back to work." 

Behind the veil of ignorance, an American wants the opportunity to succeed or fail on his own merits.  That implies that failure has real consequences.  Hence the strictures against bailouts.

Since the 1960s, when commercials touched political themes they have tended to reflect Lefty themes, since, as a rule, Progressivism has had chic cachet.  That has not always been the case, but it has been the general rule.  But this commercial goes after the bailout state.

Categories > Economy


Brian Kelley

Former CIA operative Brian Kelley passed away last night. He was a remarkable man. During my time as a fellow at the Institute of World Politics, I had the opportunity to interact with him several times and listen to him speak. He was one of the country's leading authorities on counterintelligence, and was very involved during his time in the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency with many of the biggest espionage cases in American history. Kelley and his family suffered greatly during the hunt for the most notorious Russian mole within the United States intelligence community-- traitor Robert Hanssen, whose capture was the subject of the motion picture Breach. Kelley had a similar profile to Hanssen, doing much of the same type of work and happening to live relatively close to where the real spy lived. It did not help that Hanssen was involved in hunting for the spy. Kelley ended up suffering interrogation, placed on administrative leave, was rejected by the American intelligence community, and had his privacy subject to wiretaps. Suffering this for nearly two years, he was vindicated at last when Hanssen was discovered to be the spy and arrested. Hanssen now sits in the Supermax prison on a life sentence without parole, spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, convicted of doing more damage to the American intelligence community than any other individual person in our history. Kelley was restored to his status, and spent much of his later life teaching counterintelligence studies at the Institute of World Politics. He was a patriot and a wise warrior, who served his country and his neighbors well. He will be missed.
Categories > History



Some fascinating things in the news about the stars above. Astronaut Ronald Garan, an American who lived up in the International Space Station, snapped this fantastic photograph of the Aurora Australis dancing around the Earth. Stunning. The northern lights are caused by electrically-charged particles colliding with atoms in our atmosphere, and these particles are usually created near our magnetic poles. Then there is this photo of Saturn's rings, completely unaltered, delivered to us by the spacecraft Cassini-Huygens orbiting the planet 800 million miles away from us. The ringed planet appears even more illusively beautiful. Finally, for fellow fans of George Lucas' Star Wars saga, NASA has discovered a planet with two suns-- just like the planet Tatooine in the films. Called Kepler-16, it is considered uninhabitable for life, but is a fascinating discovery nonetheless. Amazing things up there, and even more to be discovered!
Categories > Technology