Morning Report–Weekend Edition

Morning Report–Weekend Edition July 11, 2009

I won’t write the Morning Reports on Sunday, to honor the Sabbath, but I will on Saturdays when possible:

These are not the kind of family values we expect from those who talk about family values.  All you need to read is the first sentence: “Sen. John Ensign’s parents shelled out big bucks to pay off their son’s mistress…”

Evidence item #2 for the doctine of the Fall: In a related piece, Derrick Jackson writes about the collateral damage of these affairs; for all the prurient public interest in them, real lives, the lives of children, are utterly shattered by their dads’ dalliances.  As Jackson writes, “it never ceases to boggle the mind how men, particularly those who stake out high moral ground in politics or build a pristine image in the community as athletes, lay waste to it all in an act of passion.  Here we are, a human race that can peer billions of light years into space, communicate in a click with someone 12,000 miles away, and cure all kinds of diseases, yet cannot find the carnal off-switch.”

An interesting reflection on the removal of Zelaya in Honduras and the question of its Constitutionality–but ultimately an unconvincing one. The Honduran Constitution is clear that no President can serve more than one term, and any President (not the specificity here) who seeks to amend the term limits should be removed from office immediately.  The intent is clearly to avoid dictators like Castro or Chavez, who establish themselves as rulers in perpetuity; even if the ruler seeks to amend the Constitution through an ostensibly democratic means, he can start throwing money at the electorate (as Chavez did) in order to get a majority vote–or simply rig the election, as Chavez may also have done.  Michelle Cottle argues, in effect, that if the Honduran Constitution were the American Constitution, which permits amendments of nearly everything, then what Zelaya had sought to do was legal.  This is like one team scoring a touchdown, and the other team saying, “Well, if this were soccer, that would only count for one point.”  Zelaya was accountable to his own Constitution; when he did what was clearly against his own Constitution, the Supreme Court removed him from office, at the request of the Attorney General.  Immediately after he was removed, the Congress convened (a Congress led by his own Liberal party) and voted overwhelmingly in favor of his removal, and instated Micheletti, who was formerly Zelaya’s Vice President.

If the Hondurans wanted to change the Constitution, they could have done so through their Congress; the Constitution called for the removal of any President who sought to end term limits, not any legislator.   Zelaya was bringing in ballots printed by his friend Chavez in Venezuela, and even led a violent mob down to a military base to get the ballots that were being stored there.  Miguel Estrada (yes, that Miguel Estrada) tells the story, and the list of Zelaya’s illegalities is a long one.   The Honduran Constitution, as well as its Attorney General and Congress, operated precisely as they were supposed to.  It was likely illegal to ship Zelaya out to Costa Rica, but it was most certainly legal to remove him from office; this was no “military coup.”  He should be returned to Honduras and put on trial for treason, which is how the Constitution defines his activities.

Unfortunately it looks as though the Obama administration lurched instinctively to the side of Zelaya, and now its apologists are bending themselves in pretzels to justify it.  And you can be sure that the Obama administration does not favor Zelaya for any abstract reason of Constitutional law; it’s a calculation of power and stability, and the U.S. is being swayed by the U.N., which in turn is being swayed by the Latin American dictators, also known as the Castro-Chavez Jessica Alba Fan Club.

James Schlesinger, who served in the cabinets of Democratic and Republican Presidents, and who stands as the “Yoda” of nuclear issues in the United States, explains why we’d better hope that the American nuclear arsenal is never destroyed in some sort of nuclear arms treaty.  When one thinks about it, it is remarkable how much nuclear weapons–and especially the American “nuclear umbrella” over its allies–have served in the past six decades to deter military conflicts between major powers.  In the meantime, Iran may have the capacity to develop its first nuclear bomb within a year, and we (due to budget cuts and Obama’s deal with Russia) are cutting back on our ability to defend against a nuclear missile.

Eleanor Clift calls Obama’s avoidance of confrontation “Zen-like.”  So what would we call his predilection (if it is such; the video is inconclusive) for looking at the derrieres of beautiful sixteen-year-olds?  “Reassuringly manly”?  I’m trying to be fair here, but sometimes it seems as though liberal commentators want to see Obama as a perfect person in an imperfect world, so that even his failings (from Clift’s standpoint, his reticence so far to use his personal capital to push through health-care and environment legislation) are due to his wonderful qualities.  It’s not that he’s imperfect; it’s that his virtues are not always ideally suited for Washington.

Finally, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend advances the improbable argument that Obama is a better representative for American Catholics than the Pope is.  Apparently the Pope presented Obama with a written explanation of why the RCC opposes abortion and testing on embryos.  Obama assured the Pope that he would do everything he could to reduce the number of abortions (althuogh the official policy is not to reduce the “number” but to reduce the “need” for abortions).  Does that mean that Obama will take a strong stand against all the cultural factors propelling young people toward sexual promiscuity?  Does it mean he will start (in addition to safe sex training) a powerful public push for abstinence until marriage?  Does it mean that he will support Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which help pregnant women in crisis find alternatives to abortion, such as adoption?  Or does it mean that he will try to convince women of what he purports is his personal belief, that abortion is wrong?  No.  It means that he will support the same kind of social service initiatives he would have supported anyway, on the theory that most women have abortions because of poverty.

The Hope Pope
The Hope Pope

Yet the Pope’s recent encyclical on global issues of economic and environmental justice is a remarkable document.  Those of us who were familiar with Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope are aware, because of his theological writings, that he’s a truly world-class intellect, with an expansive mind and a sharp pen.  Even liberal Catholics generally regarded him rather like Justice Scalia–even if you disagree with him, you have to respect the strength of his arguments.  Though I don’t agree with him in every respect, Pope Benedict XVI has some excellent insights; find a primer here.

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