Saturday, January 08, 2011

Nicolas Sarkozy says Christians in Middle East are victim of 'religious cleansing'

Christians in the Middle East are the victims of "religious cleansing", President Nicolas Sarkozy of France warned yesterday following a string of attacks on churches in the region.

Mr Sarkozy made the statement while giving his annual address to religious leaders as Coptic Christians were due to celebrate Christmas yesterday, according to the eastern Orthodox church calendar.

"We cannot accept and thereby facilitate what looks more and more like a particularly perverse programme of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing," said the French president.

An attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on January 1 killed 21 people. While no-one has claimed responsibility, it followed online threats against Copts from an al-Qaeda-linked group which had said it was behind an attack on a church in Baghdad in October. Some 68 people died in the attack on a Syriac Catholic church, one of a number of strikes against Christians in Iraq.

Those who died in Alexandria and Baghdad were "collectively our martyrs", said Mr Sarkozy. "They are the martyrs of the freedom of conscience." "The rights that are guaranteed in our country to all religions must be reciprocally guaranteed in other countries," he said.

Police in France and other European countries including Britain have bolstered security at Coptic churches in the run-up to Christmas. French security sources launched a terror investigation this week after a priest received online threats against his Coptic church in France.

"The threats that targeted the Coptic churches in France are unacceptable and I have asked the government to take them very seriously," Mr Sarkozy said. "The Muslim community in France is horrified by these crimes committed in the name of Islam," he said. "Fundamentalist terrorism also kills Muslims."

Mr Sarkozy also defended the concept of freedom of religion, a sensitive subject in staunchly secular France, which last year enacted a law banning wearing face-covering veils, including the full Islamic garment, in public. "A secular republic keeps constant dialogue with religions to be able to hear them and sometimes, why not, listen to them". But he added: "(France) will never let any religion impose its law".

The Conference of Faith Leaders in France, a multi-faith group, issued a statement yesterday saying: "This violence committed 'in the name of God' against other believers not only wounds a religion but all humanity."

Mr Sarkozy then apparently responded to recent controversial comments by Marine Le Pen of the far-Right National Front, who likened Muslims praying in French streets outside mosques to the Nazi occupation. "(France) cannot accept that religion takes over public space without authorisation," he said. "But that clearly implies that the republic also must keep its promise to allow everyone to have a decent place to pray."

An estimated 20,000 Coptic Christians live in Britain, compared to around 45,000 in France. The General Bishop for the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos, said the police were keeping a “very close eye on the situation” in the run-up to Christmas. The Coptic church is one of the oldest churches in the world – founded by St Mark the Apostle just decades after Jesus’ crucifixion.



Liberal distaste for the Constitution

The Constitution was read at the opening of the new session of the House of Representatives yesterday. What was most remarkable about this was the almost hysterical opposition from congressional Democrats and left-wing commentators. In what should have been a united celebration of the nation's foundation document in a period of partisan rancor, liberals instead reinforced the view that they are profoundly uncomfortable with the essential truths underlying American freedom.

Some leftists smugly observed that the literal reading of the document does not convey its full meaning, which has been defined, redefined and sometimes misdefined by successive generations of courts. This argument fit neatly into liberal talking points about the new congressional majority being composed of naive bumpkins who know little of the sophisticated workings of government. Yet Washington's corrupting climate is the very basis of the conservative critique.

The country has strayed far from the artful simplicity of our original founding document. Congress, the executive and the courts all assume powers they never were intended to have. The most recent Congress interpreted the Commerce Clause - which simply was supposed to prevent states from throwing up internal tariff barriers - to give government the right to compel Americans to spend private monies on health insurance. If this power stands, there truly are no limits to the power of the bureaucratic leviathan.

Liberals believe the Constitution is infinitely elastic, but it cannot be a blueprint for unlimited government. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Chief Justice John Marshall noted that the very purpose of a constitution is to limit power, not to grant unlimited license. "Between these alternatives there is no middle ground," he wrote. "The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it." If Congress may do as it pleases, "then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable."

Some left-wingers accused the Republican leadership of fetishism for having the Constitution read in Congress. Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York Democrat, called the "ritualistic reading" of the Constitution "propaganda" and lectured against reading the document like a "sacred text." His critique accurately expresses the crisis of legitimacy our government is facing.

Legislative and executive abuses of the past two years have generated a cynicism about government not seen since the days before the Civil War. In 1838, Abraham Lincoln observed, in words that could apply today, that, "if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence." The solution to these ills was "simple," Lincoln said. Let reverence for the laws "become the political religion of the nation" where all would "sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars."

Today, Lincoln's vision of reverence for the laws is needed more by the government than by the people. The point of reading the Constitution on the floor of Congress is to remind those who tread the marbled halls of power that they are not philosopher kings sent to Washington to give life to their every pet theory, every caprice, every whim. If the United States is to survive as a free nation, the government must return to first principles.




For decades, Democrats and Republicans fought over who owns the American flag. Now they're fighting over who owns the Constitution.

Americans are in the midst of a great national debate over the power, scope and reach of the government established by that document. The debate was sparked by the current administration's bold push for government expansion - a massive fiscal stimulus, Obamacare, financial regulation and various attempts at controlling the energy economy. This engendered a popular reaction, identified with the Tea Party but in reality far more widespread, calling for a more restrictive vision of government more consistent with the Founders' intent.

Call it constitutionalism. In essence, constitutionalism is the intellectual counterpart and spiritual progeny of the "originalism" movement in jurisprudence. Judicial "originalists" (led by Antonin Scalia and other notable conservative jurists) insist that legal interpretation be bound by the text of the Constitution as understood by those who wrote it and their contemporaries. Originalism has grown to become the major challenger to the liberal "living Constitution" school, under which high courts are channelers of the spirit of the age, free to create new constitutional principles accordingly.

What originalism is to jurisprudence, constitutionalism is to governance: a call for restraint rooted in constitutional text. Constitutionalism as a political philosophy represents a reformed, self-regulating conservatism that bases its call for minimalist government - for reining in the willfulness of presidents and legislatures - in the words and meaning of the Constitution.

Hence that highly symbolic moment on Thursday when the 112th House of Representatives opened with a reading of the Constitution. Remarkably, this had never been done before - perhaps because it had never been so needed. The reading reflected the feeling, expressed powerfully in the last election, that we had moved far, especially the past two years, from a government constitutionally limited by its enumerated powers to a government constrained only by its perception of social need.

The most galvanizing example of this expansive shift was, of course, the Democrats' health-care reform, which will revolutionize one-sixth of the economy and impose an individual mandate that levies a fine on anyone who does not enter into a private contract with a health insurance company. Whatever its merits as policy, there is no doubting its seriousness as constitutional precedent: If Congress can impose such a mandate, is there anything that Congress may not impose upon the individual?

The new Republican House will henceforth require, in writing, constitutional grounding for every bill submitted. A fine idea, although I suspect 90 percent of them will simply make a ritual appeal to the "general welfare" clause. Nonetheless, anything that reminds members of Congress that they are not untethered free agents is salutary.

But still mostly symbolic. The real test of the Republicans' newfound constitutionalism will come in legislating. Will they really cut government spending? Will they really roll back regulations? Earmarks are nothing. Do the Republicans have the courage to go after entitlements as well?

In the interim, the cynics had best tread carefully. Some liberals are already disdaining the new constitutionalism, denigrating the document's relevance and sneering at its public recitation. They sneer at their political peril. In choosing to focus on a majestic document that bears both study and recitation, the reformed conservatism of the Obama era has found itself not just a symbol but an anchor.

Constitutionalism as a guiding political tendency will require careful and thoughtful development, as did jurisprudential originalism. But its wide appeal and philosophical depth make it a promising first step to a conservative future.



Obamacare Ends Construction of Doctor-Owned Hospitals

Under the headline, "Construction Stops at Physician Hospitals," Politico reports today that "Physician Hospitals of America says that construction had to stop at 45 hospitals nationwide or they would not be able to bill Medicare for treatments." Stopping construction at doctor-owned hospitals might not seem like the best way to boost the economy or to promote greater access and choice in health care, but that exactly what Obamacare is doing.

Kenneth Artz of the Heartland Institute explains, "Section 6001 of the health care law effectively bans new physician-owned hospitals (POHs) from starting up, and it keeps existing ones from expanding." Politico adds, "Friday [New Year's Eve] marked the last day physician-owned hospitals could get Medicare certification covering their new or expanded hospitals, one of the latest provisions of the reform law to go into effect."

This little-noticed but particularly egregious aspect of Obamacare is, by all accounts, a concession to the powerful American Hospital Association (AHA), a supporter of Obamacare, which prefers to have its member hospitals operate without competition from hospitals owned by doctors. Dr. Michael Russell, president of Physician Hospitals of America, which has filed suit to try to stop this selective building-ban from going into effect, says, "There are so many regulations [in Obamacare] and they are so onerous and intrusive that we believe that the section [Section 6001] was deliberately designed so no physician owned hospital could successfully comply."

Artz writes, "According to Russell, the AHA, along with Sen. [Max] Baucus (D-MT) and Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA), are responsible for the language in Section 6001." But the responsibility for all aspects of the overhaul primarily lies with outgoing-House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and, particularly, Obamacare's principal champion, President Barack Obama.




New U.S. jobs data disappoint: "The US economy created fewer jobs than forecast last month, disappointing investors who in recent weeks have seen signs that the recovery is strengthening. Companies hired 103,000 people in December, the Labor Department said on Friday, compared with an expectation of about 150,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.4pc from 9.8pc in November, though some of that was down to a number of jobseekers giving up the hunt for work. The economy usually needs to create at least 125,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate from rising, but a faster pace might be needed now since so many discouraged workers are sitting on the sidelines. As job growth picks up, these workers could re-enter the labour force, keeping upward pressure on the jobless rate."

Federal Agency's Claims of Jobs Saved by Stimulus Were 'Unclear and Misleading,' Says Inspector General: "The Small Business Administration, which was given $730 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to increase the availability of credit to small businesses, is making claims about the number of jobs saved that are "unclear" and "misleading" and which cannot be verified, according to a report issued by the agency's inspector general. "The lack of a definition for ‘jobs retained' and the discrepancy in the forms used to collect job statistics from 7(a) borrowers and lenders has resulted in a performance metric with questionable clarity and transparency," the inspector general said..."

Obama's Leftist friends in Central America: "On October 21st, 2010, Nicaragua invaded and to date occupies Calero Island in the San Juan River belonging to U.S. ally, Costa Rica. The communist dictatorship absurdly claimed that Google Maps showed the territory belonged to them, and seized the island. In fact, according to the official maps of both countries, the land has always been Costa Rican. It is in fact an illegal invasion by Nicaragua of Costa Rica, an historically peaceful country which has no standing military. Unfortunately for the people of Nicaragua who yearn to be free from Marxist rule, [Obama appointee] Valenzuela does not appear to be equipped with either the capability or the will to do anything about it. Instead, within a week after the invasion began, Valenzuela went to Nicaragua to meet with Ortega to discuss “bilateral cooperation in democratic governance”"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: