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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: October 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

A New Beginning for Iraq

This week’s host of Carnival of Liberty XVII, Eric Cowperthwaite, opened his carnival with a few words about the historical significance of this week in history; the First Continental Congress was adjourning at the end of this week in 1774. In the next two congresses that followed, it became abundantly clear to many of the representatives from each of the colonies that the time had come to sever ties with Great Britain. Two years later, the colonies took action and did just that by ratifying The Declaration of Independence. As they say, the rest is history.

Ironically, in that same week 231 years later, the Iraqis ratified their constitution with an incredible 78.59% of the vote. This news got very little attention in the MSM as the MSM was more concerned with the American soldier death toll nearing 2,000. What little I have heard in the news about the Iraq Constitution was mostly negative.

I took some time and read much of the over 10,000 words of text of the Iraqi Constitution (the U.S. Constitution is just over 4,600 words without the amendments). Though it is far from perfect, this document recognizes the fundamental rights of Life, Liberty, and Property of all Iraq’s citizens (at least to some degree). Though the Iraq Constitution is not a secular document as the U.S. Constitution is, it at least recognizes the right of citizens to practice their religion (or practice no religion at all) without fear of punishment by the government.

Here are a couple of highlights I would like to share:

From Chapter 1 Article 7
The state will be committing to fighting terrorism in all its forms and will work to prevent its territory from being a base or corridor or an arena for its (terrorism's) activities.

We’ll take any help we can get fighting terrorism won’t we?

From Chapter 2 Article 15

Every individual has the right to life and security and freedom and cannot be deprived of these rights or have them restricted except in accordance to the law and based on a ruling by the appropriate judicial body.
This is certainly a step forward. In Saddam’s Baathist Regime his henchmen could deprive citizens of these rights at their discretion; there was no law that the regime had to abide by.

From Chapter 2 Article 19

“Punishment is for individuals.”

What a novel idea! This may seem like a no-brainer to us but in the Middle East, punishing entire families for the crimes of one individual family member is all too common.

From Chapter 2 Article 20

Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates.

This was a welcome surprise. Everything I heard prior to reading the Iraqi Constitution suggested that women would have fewer rights than they did during Saddam’s Regime. Maybe this complaint is based on the fact that Islamic law is part of the new constitution. I’m not certain how Islam and individual liberty are compatible but there are many other provisions in the document that spells out the rights of individuals in general and women in particular.

From Chapter 2 Article 23

1st - Private property is protected and the owner has the right to use it, exploit it and benefit from it within the boundaries of the law.

2nd - Property may not be taken away except for the public interest in exchange for fair compensation. This shall be regulated by law.

Don’t let the U.S. Supreme Court get a hold of that one. Too bad the drafters of this constitution did not learn the lessons from Kelo vs. New London. The language should be a little more specific. I would suggest taking a look at Stephen Maklin’s Open Source Amendment Petition for a better example of protecting property rights for citizens. It is at least a good starting place.

And finally

From Chapter 2 Article 41

“Every individual has freedom of thought and conscience.”

This theme is repeated throughout the document. This is great news for those who prefer to think for themselves.

Certainly, President Bush made some mistakes in making his case for war with Iraq and has made a number of strategic errors conducting this war. If the president should be blamed for the deaths of over 2,000 soldiers and injuring many more, he also deserves credit for giving Iraq a chance to write a constitution by her people. Make no mistake about it, if not for George W. Bush there would be no Iraqi Constitution and Saddam Hussein would still be a threat in the region and indeed the world. This is not even arguable.

An Opposing View:

I found this article by Onkar Ghate titled "Proposed Iraqi Constitution Will Not Bring Freedom to Iraq or Security to America" on the Captialism Magizine website. Ghate reaches the opposite conclusion than I did in my post but his reasoning is solid. Ghate makes some valid points in his article; many of the concerns he has about Iraq's constitution I share. As I said, the Iraq Constitution is far from perfect. At the end of the day, however, the Iraq Constitution does subscribe to 'the rule of law' rather than the 'rule of men' and will probably give Iraq's citizens the closest thing to a free country than they have ever had. I am also optimistic that the Iraq Constitution will bring a measure of freedom to Iraq and security to America. Who is right? Only time will tell.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Carnival Time Again!

The Carnival of Liberty is returning once again here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds. This is my second time hosting the carnival; I enjoyed it so much that I put myself on the schedule again for Carnival of Liberty XVIII.

The carnivals have recently received the attention of high profile bloggers such as Instapundit and Michelle Malkin and is also featured on TTLB’s UberCarnival Page. The Carnival of Liberty is a great way to showcase your blog.

If you would like to include your post in this week’s carnival about the rights of life, liberty, or property (or all three), follow these simple instructions:

  • Submit your post to, or by use the Conservative Cat Carnival Page.
  • The deadline is 12:00 PM PST, this Sunday, October 30. If I receive posts after the deadline, I will forward them to the next carnival host. I will link the posts in the order I receive them so keep that in mind.
  • Make sure your post has something to do with Life, Liberty, and/or Property (which is a very broad range of topics).
  • The Carnival will be posted on Tuesday once I have it ready to go. Each contributor should link to the Carnival and/or trackback.
In the mean time, check out Carnival of Liberty XVII hosted by Eric Cowperthwaite at Eric’s Grumbles Before the Grave and I’ll see you all next week!
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Monday, October 24, 2005

So She is the President’s Friend

Upon the announcement of the president’s selection of Harriet Miers, like many people, I was very surprised. I was expecting that he would choose someone with volumes of rulings and scholarly writings about his or her judicial philosophy. Certainly, John Roberts did not have the experience of many prospective justices available but he did at least argue cases before the United States Supreme Court and seems to have a profound understanding of the law. The same cannot be said of Ms. Miers.

Why does the president tell us the senate should confirm Harriet Miers? She’s a woman, she was the first lawyer in Texas to run a major law firm, she ran the Texas Lottery Commission, she’s an Evangelical Christian, and President Bush has known her a long time. Someone tell me how any of these things qualify her?

She’s a woman? So is Janice Rodgers Brown.

She ran a major Texas law firm? Ok, that’s nice but…so what?

She ran the Texas Lottery Commission? Ok, so maybe she can run a state agency, where does she stand on constitutional principles and the role of the court?

She’s an Evangelical Christian? If it was inappropriate for the senate to question the credentials of John Roberts based on his faith (and it was inappropriate), then it is also inappropriate to sell Harriet Miers on her “evangelical” credentials.

President Bush has known her a long time? Indeed he does. The Bush/Miers relationship goes back to the days when Dubya was the Governor of Texas. At first glance, this does not seem to be a big deal. So he wants to put one of his friends on the highest court in the land, what’s the problem?

The Smoking gun has posted some of the correspondence between then Governor Bush and Harriet Miers. These records were released by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Here are a few examples of the type of relationship Bush and Miers had:

Dear GWB,
You are the best governor ever - - deserving of great respect! Thank you for listening and for your time this week.

(s) H.
Written on a cutesy Hallmark card that said: “I’m Sorry I missed your birthday”

Here’s one from Governor Bush to Ms. Miers:

Dear Harriet:
Happy birthday to a fine Texan and a great friend!

Laura and I extend our very best wishes for your happiness and good health. Have a great life!

Best regards,

(s) George W. Bush
An excerpt from another personal card to Governor Bush from Harriet Miers:

Dear Governor Bush,

Hopefully Jenna and Barbra recognize that their parents are “cool” as do the rest of us…The dinner here was great - - especially the speech! Keep up all of the great work. Texas is blessed!

(s) Harriet

This is a window into the type of friendship Bush and Miers has. I am sure she is a kind person who would want to do the right thing on the Supreme Court. The problem is she is too close to the president. Appointing friends as members of the cabinet is one thing (provided that they are qualified), appointing close friends to the Supreme Court (or any high court) is another.

Can we expect that Harriet Miers would rule fairly on cases which involve the executive branch? Could she rule against “the best governor ever who is a blessing and deserving of great respect”? There is no way to know for sure. The problem is there will be the appearance of a conflict of interest. We cannot expect Ms. Miers to recuse herself from every case where the Bush administration is one of the parties involved. Whatever her qualifications, even if Harriet Miers was the best legal mind of our time (I don’t know of anyone who is saying that) this conflict of interest is reason enough for the senate to reject her nomination. The people need confidence that the referee (judge) is impartial basing the calls on the rules of the game (the law). How much confidence would we have in a game called by an official who once worked for one of the competing teams?
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Friday, October 21, 2005

Joan Rivers: 'Don't you dare call me a racist'

I’ve never thought too much about Joan Rivers as an entertainer. I find her commentary about celebs as they walk down the red carpet both catty and annoying; this is not so much a personal attack, I’m just not a big fan of the celebrity worship culture in America to begin with. Joan Rivers did something, however, that really made me proud: someone dealt her the race card and she threw it back in his face.

Joan Rivers, Jackie Collins, Andrea Jones and Darcus Howe were all guests of a BBC Radio show hosted by Libby Purves. At some point in the show, the topic turned to race when Collins discussed a character in her book who was mixed race (black mom, white dad). Darcus Howe made a documentary about his strained relationship with his son trying to determine whether racism was to blame or his own shortcomings as a father. I would be inclined to believe the latter.

At this point, Rivers said:

I'm so, so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything. Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward.
Howe was offended by Rivers’ comment and said “Since black offends Joan…”

Rather than let the comment go, Rivers shot back with both barrels:

Wait! Just stop right now. Black does not offend me. How dare you? How dare you say that? 'Black offends me!' You know nothing about me. How dare you... Now please continue, but don't you dare call me that. Son of a bitch.

As Purves tried to regain control of the show, Rivers came back with one more jab directed at Howe: "Now please continue about your stupid film."

I think Joan Rivers represents a lot of the frustration many of us feel when the race card is dealt on an almost daily basis. Somebody had to say it; enough’s enough. Individ has an excellent post about Farrakhan’s so-called “Millions More March” and how its message is harmful to race relations. Individ writes:

I was listening to some of the speeches that were given at the Million More March activities starting earlier in the week. I was horrified. I was also personally insulted. White people were consistently painted with a broad and negative brush. As someone who has fought tirelessly against racism my whole life, I did not like being called a racist. How does it help the cause to alienate white folk who have been fighting on their side for lifetime??

I realize that race is still a problem in America but it is a two-way street. Racism is racism regardless of the race (or political party) of the person making the racist statement. That’s right; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Luis Farrakhan, Howard Dean, Robert Byrd are all racists. We should follow Joan Rivers’ example (boy, I never thought I would say that) when someone unjustly deals the race card when it is obvious that racism is not intended and say: How dare you!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Town Hall Meeting with Senator John McCain

Last Thursday, I received an email from a group that bills themselves “Friends of John McCain” announcing that Senator McCain had a town hall meeting scheduled at the Performing Arts Center at Sandra Day O’Connor High School that evening. I took a look at the address and realized that the town hall meeting was taking place only 4 miles to the North of my home. After thinking it over for a couple of minutes, I decided I would go. I did not support John McCain in the last election but he is one of my senators so I felt like I should go to listen and hopefully question him on the issues I care about.

Armed with a notebook, a pencil, and a tape recorder, I arrived a little over an hour early. Surprisingly there were not many people in the auditorium by that time. This gave me a chance to sit pretty much wherever I wanted. I chose a seat in the fourth row, stage right. I figured this position would give me the best shot at being called on for a comment. With roughly an hour remaining until the scheduled start of the meeting, I took my notebook and pencil and dutifully scrawled out four questions. My questions concerned government size & waste, the Kelo ruling, McCain’s apparent opposition to the Fair Tax, and the impact on bloggers from the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.

In the course of the two-hour town hall meeting two of the four questions were asked and answered. Unfortunately, although several people around me made comments, I was not called on. Though I was a little disappointed about that, there were a lot of great questions from the crowd. Unlike many of these types of events, this event was not scripted and completely unfiltered. Senator McCain had no knowledge of exactly what questions he would be asked. I have to give him his props for that; could you imagine Hillary Clinton (or President Bush for that matter) taking unprepared questions from the unwashed masses? I can’t!

Government Spending & Growth
Perhaps the greatest concern for many of us, particularly those of us in the Life, Liberty, and Property community is the out-of-control government spending (waste) and government growth that has occurred under a Republican administration with a Republican-controlled congress. Senator McCain addressed this issue right out of the box in his opening monologue:

In the last five years there’s been a larger expansion of government and a larger increase in spending than in any time since the Great Societies. That is not something that I am proud of. I am embarrassed that we are laying debt of trillions and trillions on future generations of Americans. We have got to get spending under control and we have to make some tough decisions in order to do so. Let me just give you a few suggestions and I’ll move on.

One, take the $24 billion that was in pork in the highway bill and send it to Hurricane Katrina...

Second thing, why don’t we take the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill which was, which was supposed to be when we it $400 billion over ten years and its now gone up to over $800 billion over the next ten years and $2 trillion over the final ten, ten years and no senior that I know understands it. Why don’t we delay the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill for a couple of years; that will save another $60 billion.

The third thing I would do is I would take 5% across the board cut from the non-defense, non-Homeland Security spending and cut 5% and take 1% and give it to the president as a contingency fund... A 4% which would be [inaudible] across the board cut would be another $80 billion.

So my friends, we can if we want to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending and get this under control. Now, everybody says ‘what about taxes?’ How can we go to the American people with clean hands and say ‘we’re going to increase your taxes’ when we haven’t taken every step possible to reduce wasteful spending? That’s a cop out! It’s a cop out. So we need to uh, I believe come to make some tough decisions and I hope the President of the United States will take some of these big appropriations bills that are laden with pork and veto.
McCain made some additional comments in response to a question about pork-barrel spending:

I’ve never gotten a pork barrel project for my State of Arizona. I’ve never requested for it, I’ve never requested earmarks nor have I ever gotten one. And I guarantee if I ever do request one, it would be one of the most famous earmarks in history.

But what I have done, I’ve run out and have said when I brought out the director of NASA to U of A and ASU and I said: ‘Look at what these people have; look what the U of A has. They lead the country in astronomy and lenses and all of this, uh, telescopes…I would like you to have a look.’ He came, he looked at it. Guess what? U of A got the biggest grant ever given to a university in history and they competed for it. They didn’t earmark it. They didn’t say ‘we’re going to give’ I think it was $350 million to U of A. They didn’t say ‘I’m going to give it because McCain wrote it into a piece of legislation.’ They did it because they looked at every possible university…in the country and they picked U of A. The same thing happened at ASU with NASA…We compete and we succeed.

I wanted to be sure Senator McCain’s votes in the Senate matched with his commentary so I went to the Citizens Against Government Waste website to see his report card. CAGW gives McCain a rating of 88% making him a ‘taxpayer hero’ voting against the Highway Bill and in favor of the Highway Bill Cut (among other wasteful bills). As far as government spending is concerned, Senator John McCain is one of the good guys.

Kelo (Eminent Domain)

Before attending this town hall meeting, I had no idea where Senator McCain stood on the Kelo ruling. A concerned citizen asked the senator if he or any others in congress were doing anything to undo the damage of Kelo.


[T]he United States Supreme Court made the incredible decision that basically allows local governments to take property for purposes of development. I was astonished. I treat the United States Supreme Court with great reverence and respect but on this one, I don’t get it. And I and some others are talking now about some kind of legislation that we can enact to cure this.

Now there’s such a thing as…a local government to be able to take over some property for a public purpose of some compelling reason that you can argue that it’s for the good for the safety and security of the entire community. How you can justify taking over a piece of property for development of a hotel or resort just because its gonna bring in greater tax revenue is something I don’t get…

I happen to think its [Kelo] is one of the worst decisions that I have ever seen in the United States Supreme Court.
Score 2 points for Senator McCain. On the remaining two questions I had prepared, the Fair Tax and the effects of McCain/Feingold on free speech, no one asked but I’m not confident that he would do anything to effect change on either of these issues. Someone did bring up the issue of the federal tax code; McCain agreed it is too confusing and needed some kind of reform. McCain did not mention the Fair Tax at all but was critical of the Value Added Tax and the Flat Tax. I was a little puzzled why he did not mention the Fair Tax because the Fair Tax better addresses the weaknesses he mentioned of the other two competing plans.

Whether or not John McCain supports the Fair Tax is not my biggest bone of contention with him, however. My biggest problem with Senator McCain is his campaign finance bill which effectively censors political speech at election time. I wrote a post on what this means for bloggers way back in March of this year and I am still very concerned about this blatant violation of the First Amendment. Because I did not have the opportunity to confront him on this issue, I will be sending him a letter. Once I have my letter completed, I will post it here. If he responds, I will also post his response.

Overall, the town hall meeting was a very positive experience. I would encourage everyone to go to an event like this if you ever have a chance – whether you support the person or not. One thing became very clear to me; at least one senator is aware of our disgust with the current direction of the party in power.

There were many other issues discussed, if anyone wants to ask me any questions about other issues, go ahead and ask and I'll try to answer.
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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Moore Theocracy in Alabama?

Judge Roy Moore announced last weekend his intention to run in the Alabama governor’s race in the Republican primary. Moore was the judge who refused to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Courthouse in defiance of a federal court order. Moore’s refusal to obey the law ultimately cost him his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Astonishingly, the fact that Moore has been removed from a position which required him to respect the rule of law apparently does not disqualify him from running for elective office in Alabama.

As dangerous as Moore was as a judge, his campaign is an all-out assault against the establishment clause (separation of church and state) of the First Amendment and against personal liberty. On his website, Moore outlines the five planks of his campaign tiled: Return Alabama To The People. The first four planks of his platform are what most Conservatives and Libertarians would want; the last plank however, is a complete deal breaker: “Preserve our moral heritage.” Whose ‘moral heritage’ is he referring to?

Here is plank five in all its ugliness:

Morality - Preserve our moral heritage.

  • Defend the right of every person to include teachers, judges, and state, county and municipal offices to publicly acknowledge God as the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government.
  • Oppose gambling, pornography, and same-sex marriage.
  • Secure God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.
On the first bullet point, what does Judge Moore mean by “defending the right…to publicly acknowledge God as the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government”? What if government officials choose not to make such an ‘acknowledgement,’ or decide they would prefer to keep their government statements neutral to religion and/or God? What if teachers want to teach students that the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government is based on the philosophy of John Locke, Thomas Paine (Deist who first named our country “The United States of America”), Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and countless others who understood the tyrannical dangers of combining the state with the church? European Monarchies were based on the belief that Kings and Queens were given ‘divine right’ by God to rule over the masses. The founders believed that the people should rule – not some God appointed figure head. The Constitution of the United States is a secular document by design. There was a time when religion determined the moral foundation of law, liberty, and government; a period of time we now refer to as ‘the Dark Ages.’

As important as the debate is regarding the ‘moral foundation of law’ is, rather than reargue my position on the importance of church/state separation or whether or not the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values, the remaining two bullet points of Moore’s fifth plank are of profound importance. If Moore is opposed to gambling, pornography, and same-sex marriage how can he possibly say that he is in favor of securing the rights of Liberty, and Property (at least ‘Life’ would likely be safe under a Moore administration)? Let’s look at each of these individually.

If Moore is opposed to gambling, then he does not believe in the right of the individual to do what he or she pleases with his or her own property (money is property). The only legitimate opposition he could have would be against a state lottery. Otherwise, if adults choose to gamble their own money, then the government has no say (by the same token, if an individual gambles his or her money and loses, the government should not bail this person out).

Moore cannot be serious about securing the individual’s right to Liberty if he chooses to ban pornography (provided all parties involved with the pornography are consenting adults). Regardless of what he wants to do in Alabama, with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, pornography is a form of speech and therefore is constitutionally protected. Pornography may be offensive to most Alabamians, but freedom of speech can never be voted away regardless of how a majority of people feel about it. This is why the First Amendment was written to begin with; to protect unpopular speech and to protect those who speak out against the government. If there is no market for pornography in Alabama (or anywhere else), then no pornography will be bought or sold in Alabama.

Gay Marriage
Gay marriage falls under Liberty. Personally, I believe the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Be that as it may, married couples have certain benefits unmarried couples do not (wrongly). Going back to the Fourteenth Amendment, all laws are supposed to be applied equally (equal protection). The Fourteenth Amendment, being part of the U.S. Constitution, trumps anything any state wants to do restricting personal liberty. If a hetero sexual couple can legally be married, so can a gay couple - complete with all the legal benefits of marriage.

Perhaps another benefit Moore and his supporters overlook when it comes to church/state separation is that the state cannot force a church to marry anyone. Alabama is heavily populated with Christian conservatives; gay couples would likely have a difficult time finding a church to marry them regardless of the legalities involved. But if a gay couple does find a church that would marry them who is the government to tell them no? The bottom line is marriage is nobody’s business other than the individuals involved.

Return Alabama Back to the People?
Like so many Americans, Judge Moore is under the false impression that the United States is a democracy rather than a representative constitutional republic. What’s the difference? The difference is that individuals have the rights of Life, Liberty, and Property (and all rights which fall under these rights) regardless of the majority’s wishes in a representative republic. In a democracy, there are no such assurances. In a free society, there will always be certain individuals, views, and behavior that is unpopular; we all must recognize this. My opposition to Roy Moore is not because he is an evangelical Christian, I am opposed to Moore because he wants to make his personal beliefs law while he ignores laws he does not agree with. Moore only wants to return Alabama to certain people of his faith. Bans on such things as gambling, pornography (any literature which the theocrats find objectionable), and gay marriage does not sound like the sort of laws which are characteristic of a free country. Our American heritage is one of personal liberty, not one reminiscent of a theocracy. Hopefully Alabama voters will recognize this.

Related Links:
Stop Roy Moore (New blog permanently linked under "Resouces")
More to come...
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