Monday, February 28, 2011

China and the Jasmine Revolution

We are watching today as the freedom fighters of Libya continue to push forward toward Tripoli and depose Qadhaffi and his family. The French government has sent two planeloads of medical and food supplies to Benghazi. I hope we see similar support coming soon from other countries.
In Libya, the beginnings of an interim spokesman or government (it may be too soon to say that an interim government is forming) are being presented to world television.
In Tunisia, the hang-over interim prime minister has been replaced by one who is more consistent with popular desires.
Egyptian groups are talking seriously about how to proceed with elections, either for a president alone with legislative elections to follow, or both at the same time.
Senator John McCain was in Cairo this weekend and said that efforts to put in place a democratic government are progressing.
But, Senator McCain said that he believes that we have not seen the end of regime change. He noted China in particular.
We saw last week how China reacted to a tweet sent from outside the country calling for a peaceful jasmine march. Heavy plainclothes police presence on the streets of most major Chinese cities prevented marchers from forming, and several arrests were made, principally of those known to be human rights activists. The Chinese authorities blocked some photos and words like “jasmine” or “today” on social websites.
Most of the Chinese who were shopping were more curious than they were ready to join a march.
The organizers of the “citizens stroll”, as the organizers are calling it, have called for similar events every Sunday afternoon.
Will the Chinese take to the streets? Nothing is less sure, for several reasons.
First, the Chinese standard of living has risen and continues to rise rapidly. Only the poor living in the country are being left behind and, while they have the most to gain from regime change, they would be the most difficult to organize for protests.
Second, the Chinese do not like disorder and their elders have passed on recollections of the chaos during the Second World War and the 1948 revolution. It would require severe social dislocation for them to take to the streets against the government.
In this regard, the Chinese are rather used to taking the long view of affairs. They see China as eternal and its rulers (or conquerors) as fleeting. One need only look at Chinese history to see that the Chinese have had the stamina to wait out every group that ever tried to destroy or change them.
So, a jasmine revolution in China is not likely.
But, change is inevitable and it will come faster than the Communist Party expects. The Party has unleashed market forces and individual independence to the degree that taking it back or holding it tightly in check will be extremely difficult. The younger generations now know that they have a legitimate place in the world and that their government will either help them to fulfill it or be swept aside as irrelevant.
Irrelevancy is not a word that I think the Chinese Communist Party would willingly accept.
That leaves change, and soon, before history overtakes the Chinese Communist rulers and they become what they would detest being called - irrelevant.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Turkey, Greece and the Libyan Evacuations

Reuters reported earlier today the details about how many foreign nationals have been evacuated from Libya by which countries.
The results are interesting because, putting aside the efforts of governments to get their own citizens out of harms way, the bulk of evacuations have been made by Greece and Turkey.
To refresh our memories, Turkey has repeatedly been rebuffed by the European Union when it has asked to become a member of the EU. Greece is the country that was excoriated by its own European Union for not meeting its financial obligations and was forced by the EU to undertake severe fiscal reform or risk loss of EU financial support. But, the Greek and Turkish fleets are large, wide-flung and obviously faster than other European ships.
To cite a few EU examples:
About 1,100 Italians have left Libya. Others were expected to be evacuated by Tuesday.
Britain has taken out about 150 oil workers in the south of Libya, but 500 British remain in the country awaiting rescue although the British government seems to be unsure about the actual number. Some were taken to Crete by Greek ships.
Turkey has reported that it has evacuated 14,776 people, including 579 foreigners.
Greek ships will, in total, rescue 15,000 of the 16,000 Chinese citizens in Libya. They will be taken from Greece to China by Chinese aircraft.
To date, the Greeks have evacuated some 7,500 people, mostly Chinese (see above) but also Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Italians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Thai, Brazilians and Dutch.
While the West was busy considering which words to use in the UN resolution that was passed Saturday night, it seems that Greece and Turkey were busy saving their citizens - without fanfare or nail-biting about the diplomatic consequences of their generous acts.
Thank you, Greece.
Thank you, Turkey.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Obama's Disastrous Lack of International Leadership

I think we’ve reached an historic turning point - even UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon is calling for action against Qadhaffi.
Is anyone in the real world listening?
Every country has its priorities. America wanted to get its nationals out before closing its Tripoli embassy and imposing sanctions on Libya’s leader and his cronies. Europe is worried about its petroleum supply, in particular Italy.
French President Sarkozy is planning a reshuffling of his government because his minister of foreign affairs had the bright idea to take a vacation in Tunisia when the riots were starting. She even called Ben Ali to say hello and took a ride on the private plane of one of his allies. But, even with this mess on his plate, Sarkozy has found time to call for Qadhaffi to resign - the first head of state to do so.
Pity America. Its president is still trying to figure who to send where for what talks - the subject for the talks is fuzzy at best.
Mr. Obama has failed every test put to him in the international arena, but the magnitude of his failure in Libya may be his tombstone. To summarize:

          1. he has equivocated constantly about whether he supports Israel,
          2. he has not summoned the nerve to confront Iran over its nuclear weapons program and now, over its warships safely in the Mediterranean,
          3. he has yet to decide if he wants to win the war or withdraw from Afghanistan, all the while costing the USA multi-billions of dollars and the precious lives of its soldiers,
          4. he has abandoned the North Korean nuclear problem without so much as an  excuse,
          5. he has allowed the bloody drug war in Mexico to spill over into Texas and the Southwest without the first word from him showing that he has noticed.

If, as may be possible with his army and air power, Qadhaffi regains control of Libya, we can all thank President Obama for Qadhaffi’s inevitable renewal of despotism and the destruction of every point of light that has recently, and with great personal danger, flickered in its people.
To be clear - I do not care what Barak Obama thinks. I care even less about his sloppy leftist social ideas. I wish him a long and happy retirement.
But, I do care about the image of America and its degradation at Obama’s hands. And I care enormously about the future of the world and its freedom from the terrorists who would destroy all that we have fought hard and long to gain for people everywhere.
Let’s vote Obama out of the White House while there is still something to salvage from his disastrous effort at being president.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Time for United Action against Qadhaffi Is Now

As the world watches Qadhaffi, a trapped dictator, struggle to save himself, his conniving family and his regime, it is important to remember that whatever the media may say, his behavior this time around is not new. He has always been a violent and unpredictable man with questionable mental stability.
It may be tempting for political leaders in Europe and America to pretend that Qadhaffi has not always been the evil creature we are now seeing fire on his own people. But, if we think about Lockerbie and a plane full of innocents blown up because he was angry at the USA, or his 7-years of torture and detainment of the Bulgarian nurses who were merely trying to help Libyans suffering from AIDS, we must conclude that he is a mentally ill person who is capable of almost anything.
I point this out because Qadhaffi is now being encircled and trapped in Tripoli, with the members of his armed forces who are still loyal engaged around the city to protect him. Trapped animals will do anything to free themselves.
His army is using the cover of night to makes their rounds in the streets and neighborhoods of Tripoli, firing indiscriminately on civilians and aiming sniper fire at peaceful demonstrators.
The people of Benghazi and other areas in the east of Libya are afraid that Qadhaffi may send military airplanes to bombard them in an effort to reclaim the region.  
Foreign governments are scrambling to get their nationals out of Libya before Qadhaffi decides to use them as hostages in his end-game.
It is for these reasons that the UN and NATO must act soon, before there is a tragedy of epic proportions. Genocide is not unthinkable.
It is not easy to invade a country, especially one that has slipped into chaos, but it is also not easy to sit by, talking and debating, while an entire people are being used as pawns by a maniac. President Reagan knew where Qadhaffi was and sent the air force in to hit him with precision. With today's military technology, it would be possible to destroy Qadhaffi without wide loss of life.
America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United Nations, NATO - WHERE ARE YOU? Tomorrow may be too late.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jefferson and the Libya Freedom Fighters

John Locke, the great 18th century philosopher who gave to the world the ideas that have made many people free and all others wish to be, was clear about government. He wrote that government derives its power from the consent of the governed and that no government that rules by coercion can be respected. He noted that men are by nature free and have the right to liberty, health and property.
People’s property, wrote Locke, should be the result of their work, that through work they are able to accumulate sufficient property to care for themselves and their family, and that government should be authorized by its citizens to take from them only what is needed to preserve their liberties and property.
Jefferson, Madison and all the American revolutionary leaders were students of Locke, as was the most part of Europe, which was in the 18th century struggling against despotic kings.
The American Declaration of Independence is full of Locke’s principles concerning liberty and freedom from tyranny. Its ringing call to liberty is almost a quote from Locke: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Jefferson wrote to Madison in 1787, while the new Constitution was being debated that, “The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
But, as all the patriots of the American Revolution had experienced, Jefferson was sensible to the principle that liberty is not easily either won or preserved. They had just come through a bitter and physically exhausting war against England, at that time the most powerful empire on earth.
Washington had seen his soldiers die for want of food, clothes and heat during the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Some of those men wanted to go home and forget the Revolution, but Washington’s great presence made them hold on. Help began to trickle in and by spring 1778, with the training given by a Prussian volunteer officer, Washington’s troops were ready to fight and win.
Later, Jefferson wrote : “The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches and we must be contented to secure what we can get, from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.”
Today, we are watching brave men and women fight for their freedom in Libya. Freedom is not for cowards. It is the victory over indifference and fear.
 But, as Thomas Jefferson said : “The god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
The people of Libya are marching today through the great divide from slavery to freedom. Let all of us pray for them and do what we can, little as it may be, to insure their success.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The United Nations Fails Yet Again

I find it incredible that the UN Security Council met yesterday on the subject of Libya and produced only the following remarkably inadeqaute conclusions.

1. The UN has formed a committee to report on the extent of violence inflicted by the Libyan government.

We do not need a report. Everyone in the world has seen the violence against Libyan marchers firsthand and wants it stopped.

2. The UN deplores the situation and demands that Kadhaffi stop.

We all know that he has not stopped in 42 years and will not stop now unless he is removed by force.

For once, United Nations, DO SOMETHING.

PART 6 - The Constitution of the Nation

Dear readers, Below is the second and last part of the executive branch for the constitution. Tomorrow, we will begin the judicial branch. Casey-pops

PART 6 - The Constitution of the Nation
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
Clause 1. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Nation, and of the Militia of the Districts when called into the actual service of the Nation; (s)he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each executive department, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the Nation.
Clause 2. The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present agree; and (s)he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the Nation, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Parliament may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
Clause 3. The President shall have Power to fill all vacancies that may happen during a recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of the Senate’s next session.
Section 3 - State of the Nation, Convening Parliament
Clause 1. The President shall from time to time give to the Parliament information of the state of the Nation, and recommend to their consideration such measures as (s)he shall judge necessary and expedient; (s)he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them; (s)he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; (s)he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall grant commissions all officers of the Nation.
Section 4 - Disqualification
Clause 1. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the Nation, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other crimes and felonies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Intervening in Other Country's Affairs and the Libya Example

It is an axiom of international order that countries do not meddle in the internal affairs of another country - even when the "meddling" would save lives or right grevious wrongs committed by rulers. We can find many examples of this axiom : the Soviet Union's gulags and prison camps, the Pinochet atrocities in Chile, the serious humanitarian offenses committed regularly by the Chinese regime.
But, when the basic norms of common humanity are so badly breached that nothing will be served by being passive in the face of them, intervention is permitted. It is required in the name of humanity. Examples include the Congo UN peacekeeping force, the Darfor genocide leading to UN intervention, the Cambodian trials of the Khmer Rouge who systematically tortured and killed millions of their own citizens.
Yesterday, the world saw the example of such wanton disregard by Qadhaffi for the lives of Libyan citizens that it is now time for intervention rather than words. Using military aircraft and artillery to try to disperse freedom fighters marching in the streets of Tripoli was the step too far by this ruthless and mentally unstable despot who has made life unbearable not only for his people but also for the world during the past 40 years - Lockerbie, the Berlin bombing, the menacing attacks on the world's press, the holding of Swiss hostages because of the criminal behavior of his son in Switzerland which the Swiss had the courage to denounce.  
When the United Nations Security Council meets later today, it must choose to intervene. The mechanism may be land troops or air attack, if it can be done without threatening civilian life, or peacekeepers, if Qadhaffi would agree to yield all power to them. But, the goal should be made clear. Either the Qadhaffi clan leaves Libya or they face a united international front that will include military intervention, if needed, to save the Libyan people.

PART 5 - The Constitution of the Nation

Dear readers, Below is the beginning of the executive part of a draft constitution. More will follow tomorrow. But, you will see that the legislative, already posted, is the longest part. The executive and judicial parts are much shorter. Casey-pops

PART 5 - The Constitution of the Nation

Article II - The Executive Branch

Section 1 - The President
Clause 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the Nation. He shall hold his office during the term of 4 years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same term, be elected by popular vote of all citizens eligible to vote in any District. The President and Vice President candidates must stand for election as a team but may be elected from different Districts, political parties or political groups.
Clause 2. The Parliament shall determine the date for votation for the office of President and Vice President, and the day shall be the same throughout the Nation.
Clause 3. No person except a natural born citizen, or citizen at the date of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible for the Office of President or Vice President; any person shall be eligible to stand for these offices who is at least 32 years of age and has been a resident of the Nation for at least 10 years when elected.
Clause 4. In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his/her death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Parliament may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, of the Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a new President and Vice President are elected.
Clause 5. The President shall receive for his/her services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which (s)he shall have been elected, and (s)he shall not receive within that period any other payment from the Nation or any District.
Clause 6. Before entering in office, the President and Vice President shall take the following oath or affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President (or Vice President) of the Nation, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Nation."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lincoln on Power and Character

Abraham Lincoln once remarked that :

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

What we are now witnessing in the Arab world is the playing out of this truism.
Men who take power from others, even when the others were themselves tyrants, often become like the men they eliminated. This is so true that we often forget about it.
It is expedient to govern by force. There is no need for debate, no requirement to explain one's acts, no counterbalance of free thought and speech to place the people's desires on an equal footing with those of the ruler. Whether the ruler is called a king or a president or an ayatollah or a prime minister is not important. They all have one characteristic - despotism - which violates the natural laws that govern all human beings. We want and need to be free to form our preferred forms of society and to be governed by officials who are accountable to us for their acts. 
In dictatorships one person or small group decides what is best for it and then forces all of the citizens in its control to obey. When they refuse, violence and coercion are used to implement the will of the rulers. Secret police and quasi-public militia force obedience. We see this today in the basij militia in Iran, the revolutionary committees in Libya and the now-ousted secret police in Egypt. The names differ but the goal is always the same - force conformity by terrorist tactics. When this fails to silence the citizenry, the rulers turn to prison and torture.
It is small wonder, then, that the Arab people in North Africa and the Middle East have exploded in rage at their condition of social and political slavery. Human beings can take only so much of dictatorship and terror before they choose to die rather than to continue in servitude. Patrick Henry, the American revolutionary hero, said it best : "Give me liberty or give me death." This, finally, is the only choice left to human beings too long suppressed. Righteous indignation is its name.
The pitiful attempts of the Arab world's rulers to come before their people with promises of reform and, in the case of Qadhaffi, threats of civil war and foreign plunder of their country if they oust him, are the last refuge of these wickedly inhuman tyrants. They deserve nothing so much as to be forever shut out of the common society of humankind. 

PART 4 - The Constitution of the Nation

Below is PART 4, the last section of the draft constitution covering the legislature. This is the largest part of the constitution because most regulation and explanation are required. Beginning tomorrow, PART 5 will begin coverage of the executive branch.

PART 4 - The Constitution of the Nation

Section 9 - Limits on Parliament
Clause 1. The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless required for the public safety in cases of rebellion or invasion.
Clause 2. No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Clause 3. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any District to another District.
Clause 4. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one District over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one District, be obliged to pay duties in another.
Clause 5. No money shall be drawn from the National Treasury, unless authorized by appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public money shall be published at least annually.
Section 10 - Powers prohibited of States
Clause 1. No District shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; coin money; issue bills of credit; or pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts.
Clause 2. No District shall, without the consent of the Parliament, lay any duties on imports or exports, except as may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws: and the net benefit of all duties, laid by any District on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the National Treasury; and all such laws shall be subject to revision and control by the Parliament.
Clause 3. No District shall, without the consent of Parliament, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another District, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.200211

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Massoud, Karzai and the War in Afghanistan

Last November I wrote a blog about Afghanistan. I said then that with the announcement that France and America will be pulling out their troops between now and 2014, the political powers in Afghanistan will need to rethink their positions. President Karzai is already in negotiations with the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Anyone in his position would be doing the same thing.
It also seems that Karzai, a member of the tribal group ethnically linked to Iran that makes up 40% of the Afghan population, has also begun to seek a rapprochement with Iran. We already know, because he has said so, that Karzai accepts financial support from Iran.
It seems more and more likely that the international force now engaged in the country will finally withdraw without having accomplished its mission, that of ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban and Al-Qaida, and leaving the country free of civil war.
Frankly, the West ought to be getting out of Afghanistan. The British used up a large part of the 19th century trying unsuccessfully to “pacify” them. The Soviet invasion and occupation in the 1980s failed spectacularly and probably was a cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The American-led UN force has not done much better since it began its effort in 2002.
The truth is that Afghanistan is an ancient country made up of several tribal components which have more or less always waged bloody wars against each other when they were not united to defeat invaders. The only real change any of the occupiers has made is to have installed Islam.
The Allies freed Afghanistan from the Taliban, but without Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan muhajhideen guerrilla leader credited by the Wall Street Journal with winning the Cold War by his rout of the Soviet Union, nothing would have been accomplished. He was a guerrilla warfare genius, and a sunni Muslim who rallied his countrymen with his winning military tactics and his less fanatic interpretation of Islam. He was killed on the 9th of September, 2001 and his death is marked by a national holiday every year on that date.
It was Massoud who tried to warn the West that an imminent attack on America was in the making. It came just two days after his assassination. Massoud is called the Lion of Panjshir by his people, who also use the name Amir Sahib-e Shahdi, Our Beloved Martyred Commander, to describe him.
I mention Massoud because he represents the type of leader who can win in Afghanistan. All the military technology and fire power in the world will not win if it is not used by a new Massoud who understands Afghanistan and its culture. The West would be better served by finding someone to replace Massoud and giving him the job of forging a modern country in Afghanistan. Karzai is not the person.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Boehner vs. Obama - the Smart Money Is on Boehner

The US House of Representatives has dealt the first blow in the Battle of the Budget 2011. Early this morning House Speaker John Boehner rallied his majority after an all-night debate and they voted, 235 of them, for a budget bill that cuts more than US$ 60 billion from the 2011 budget. No Democrat voted with the majority.
Mr. Boehner has stated repeatedly that the GOP majority voted into office last autumn will follow the wishes of its voters and seriously cut the US budget. Democrats, including the President, are calling the goal a “meat axe” approach and the Republican answer is that a meat axe is exactly what the United States budget needs before it is too late.
The GOP has also cut funding for Planned Parenthood and for launching Obamacare.
In another bill, the Republican majority cut deeply into the Obama czar approach of naming high-level people to big-budget jobs by bypassing the Senate confirmation process, which would reveal something about their philosophies and practical plans.
A handful of czars saw their budgets cut, but there are at least 36 czars and Mr. Boehner has vowed to revisit the question.
These actions will face tough going in the Democrat-controlled Senate where Harry Reid holds the majority in his hands. Interestingly, 13 Democrats voted with the GOP on the czar issue and they may be the first rush to safety of Democrats who have lost their credibility by cooperating in the Obama spending orgy. President Obama has stated that he will veto any budget that does not meet his criteria.  
Add to this the March 4 deadline for enacting a temporary funding resolution that would enable the federal government to continue to operate, and the looming national debt ceiling debate set for later this Spring, and you have the makings of a 1994-style Clinton-Gingrich showdown. John Boehner has emphasized that neither the resolution nor the debt ceiling increase will be passed without serious budget cuts being included.
One would think that Obama would be careful about what he says and does these days, when there is such unrest on Capitol Hill, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Monday he sent his White House political arm, Action for America, to Wisconsin to participate with the unionized state workers who are demonstrating against a budget proposal that includes their having to pay half their pension costs and 12% of their health care costs. While many Americans would be grateful for such benefits, these workers are now engaged in a sit-in at the state capitol building in Madison. Republican Governor Scott Walker has warned President Obama to stay out of Wisconsin politics, but Obama seems to want to show his support for one of the few voter groups that may still vote for him in 2012.
Perhaps Governor Walker ought to have said, “Mr. President, you have done more than enough damage. Stay out of politics altogether and let those who understand the problems solve them - before the country falls apart permanently.”

PART III - The Constitution of the Nation

PART 3 - The Constitution of the Nation

Section 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto
Clause 1. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or agree with amendments for these bills as on other bills.
Clause 2. Every bill which has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the Nation; If (s)he approves, (s)he shall sign it, but if not (s)he shall return it, with noted objections to the House in which it originated, who shall enter the objections on their Journal of Proceedings, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration, two-thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, which shall likewise reconsider it, and if approved by two-thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by voice vote by Yea or Nay, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the Journal of Proceedings of each House, respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten working days after it shall have been presented to him/her, the bill shall be a Law, as if (s)he had signed it, unless the Parliament by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a Law.
Clause 3. Every order, resolution, or vote, excluding bills, for which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the Nation; and before the same shall take effect, it shall be approved by him/her, or being disapproved by him/her, shall be re-passed by two- thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.
Section 8 - Powers of Parliament
Clause 1. The National Parliament shall have power to determine and collect taxes, duties, and excises, to pay the national debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the Nation; but all duties and Excises shall be uniform throughout the Nation;
To borrow money on the credit of the Nation;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among Districts;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the Nation;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current money of the Nation;
To establish Post Offices;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right under patent to their respective writings and discoveries;
To create tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the International Law of Nations;
To declare war, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than 2 years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth a militia to execute the national laws, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, a citizen militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Nation, reserving to the Districts respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Parliament; and,
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the Nation, or in any department or officer thereof.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Arab World Is Marching against Dictatorship

The authoritarian regimes of the Arab world are against a wall of protest calling for regime change. These protests are popular and represent most walks of life and religious beliefs. The freedom fighters of Tunisia and Egypt are their models and they are determined to bring down the repressive ruling kings or presidents and install a government which will represent the people.
More than 30 protesters are dead in this week’s clashes with authorities- 24 in Libya, 5 in Bahrain, 2 in Iran, 3 in Yemen.The Bahraini freedom fighters were at first calling only for a new prime minister and government, but after the ferocious attack by the Bahraini police on the peaceful protesters assembled in Pearl Square, they are now calling for the overthrow of the Al-Khalifa sunni ruling family. Their march planned for Saturday has been postponed until Tuesday because of the days of mourning for their shiite dead. More than 200 are estimated to have been injured by the police. Turkey has called for the Bahrain regime to respect the rights of their citizens.
In Libya, Colonel Khaddafi, a repressive and unpredictable ruler during the last 42 years, made a brief open-car tour of the capital late last night, and his “revolutionary committees” are warning the protesters to expect fierce responses if they continue. These committees, the feared permanent secret police of the Khaddafi regime, are present in every Libyan city. Human Rights Watch has condemned the brutality of Khaddafi’s response.
France announced today that it has suspended all “security materials” to Libya and Bahrain.
In Yemen, 27 have been injured, along with 7 dead, in grenade and firearm attacks by the government against protesters calling for the end of the 32-year rule of the president Saleh. Despite these attacks, the Yemeni freedom fighters are continuing their marches in support of higher wages and better social services in the poor country of 23 million people.
True to its twisted sense of justice, the Iranian leadership has called for the death by hanging of the two leaders of the opposition, Moussavi and Karoubi.
Jordan has seen the marches continue, but King Abdullah has already started to respond to their demands. Here, the attackers are mostly government supporters who try to stop the young marchers who are asking for political and social reform.
In northern Iraq, two young men were killed while marching to protest against the regional government. A parliamentary inquest has been demanded by the Kurds in the region.
Even Syria has been touched according to internet reports stating that more than 100 young protesters marched in Damascus against police brutality.
Meanwhile, Friday prayers in Tahrir Squarein Cairo were peaceful. Many thousands listened to the remarks of Sheikh Youssef Al-Qardauoi, a Muslim cleric respected all over the Arab world, as he called on Arab governments not to try to stop history, but to listen to their people. Tahrir Squarein Cairo were peaceful. Many thousands listened to the remarks of Sheikh Youssef Al-Qardauoi, a Muslim cleric respected all over the Arab world, as he called on Arab governments not to try to stop history, but to listen to their people.
Good advice. But, dictators are not often good listeners.
The freedom fight goes on. We have all the freedom fighters and martyrs in our thoughts and we support the god-given right of Arab and all people to choose their own governments.
I feel sure I speak for Americans, French and all decent people in sending a message of support. You are not alone.

PART II - The Constitution of the Nation

PART 2 - The Constitution of the Nation

Section 4 - Elections, Meetings
Clause 1. The place or places for holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be determined by each District Legislature; but the National Parliament will determine the time and rules for choosing Senators and Representatives.
Clause 2. The Parliament shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday of January, unless the National Parliament shall by Law appoint a different day.
Section 5 - Membership, Rules, Journals of Proceedings
Clause 1. Each House shall be the judge of the legality of elections and qualifications of its own members.
Clause 2. A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but if a quorum is lacking, then a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.
Clause 3. Each House will determine its Rules of Proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.
Clause 4. Each House shall keep a Journal of Proceedings and publish them quarterly, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy, but such decision shall require a majority vote of the members present; and the voice vote by Yea or Nay of the members of either House on any question shall, at the request of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the Journal.
Clause 5. Neither House, during a Session of Parliament, shall, without the consent of the other House, adjourn for more than 3 days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses are then sitting.
Section 6 - Compensation
Clause 1. Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by the National Parliament and paid out of the National Treasury.
Clause 2. Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at a Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned under the law.
Clause 3. No Senator or Representative shall, during his/her term of service in office, be appointed to any civil office under the executive authority of the Nation; and no person holding any office under the Nation, shall be a member of either House during his/her term of service in office.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Long Will Manama's Pearl Square Remain Empty

Manama’s Pearl Square was emptied by force last night. The Bahraini police came in more than 20 vehicles, wearing riot gear and firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.
The freedom fighters sensibly fled before the onslaught, but at least four people were killed and many more injured. The king had already apologized for marchers’ deaths before last night's encounter, but the prime minister is thus far silent.
Today the Square is empty and the marchers must be considering their next moves in their effort to eliminate the prime minister. No demand for the removal of the king has been raised.
Bahrain is very small country in the Gulf region. It has a large aluminium smelter complex and the small businesses that support it, but an estimated 35% of Bahrainis are unemployed.
The last time I visited Bahrain was more than 10 years ago but, even then, our cars were often searched with metal detectors as we entered our hotel compound. I’ve been in Dubai, Qatar and Abi Dhabi and never experienced, except in Bahrain, such controls or what was at that time called a fear of terrorists.  Perhaps in retrospect, we can conclude that the fear was more directed at its own citizens than at unknown terrorists.
In 2006, the Bahraini parliamentary elections mirrored the split in the country between shiites and sunnis. In the elections, the shiites, a majority in terms of population but treated as a minority by the ruling sunni regime, won at least 17 seats out of 40, but the sunnis were able to maintain their control.
Since then, the shiites have become more and more vocal about their treatment at the hands of the regime. Add to this the 35% unemployment rate and educated young men and women with nothing to do, and you have the stuff revolts are made of.
It is not clear today who is in charge of the marchers or what their goals are except to overthrow the prime minister. But, the deep division between shiites and sunnis is similar to that in Iraq. We know what a problem Iraq has had in building a nation out of these very different religious-political groups.
As their demands become clearer and if they have the courage to continue their freedom fight, we will surely find out what the Bahraini marchers want and how we can help them.

NOTE: Below is PART I of the model constitution. It covers the legislature. In the coming mornings, I will continue with the rest of the Parts until you have a complete model constitution that you can adapt to suit your own cultural and political needs.

PART 1 - The Constitution of the Nation

PART 1 - The Constitution of the Nation


We the People of (here, you will  use the name of your nation - from here on I will use the word Nation), in order to form a more perfect Nation, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Article I - The Legislative Branch

Section 1 - The Legislature
All legislative powers granted under this Constitution shall be vested in a National Parliament of the people. The Parliament shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
Section 2 - The House of Representatives
Clause 1. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every 2 years by the People of each District (here, you will use the largest division within your country, for example, state, county, district - from here on I will use the word District). The people authorized to vote shall have the following qualifications : be 18 years of age, be a resident of the District, and be registered in a votation eligibility registry of the District at least 3 weeks prior to the election.
Clause 2. No Person shall be elected as a Representative unless : (s)he is at least 21 years of age, has been a citizen of the Nation for the past 5 years, and is, when elected, a resident of the District in which (s)he is elected.
Clause 3. Each Representative shall have one vote.
Clause 4. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several Districts according to their respective populations, counting the whole number of persons in each District. But when the right to vote at any election is abridged or denied to any of the inhabitants of that District who meet the tests of 18 years of age and national citizenship, then the apportionment shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such citizens shall bear to the whole number of citizens 18 years of age or older in such District.
Clause 5. The census for each District shall be made within 2 years after the first meeting of the National Parliament, and once in every subsequent 10 year period thereafter, in such manner as the Parliament shall direct by law. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 50,000, but each District shall have at least one Representative. Until such census is made, each District shall be entitled to 2 Representatives chosen by vote of the eligible voters of the District.
Clause 6. When vacancies occur in the Representation from any District, the Executive Authority of the District shall make an appointment to fill such vacancies, naming a person to serve until the next regular election.
Clause 7. The House of Representatives shall choose its Speaker and other Officers.
Clause 8. The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of calling for an action of impeachment.
Section 3 - The Senate
Clause 1. The National Senate shall be composed of 2 Senators from each District, elected by the people thereof, for6 years. The eligible voters in each District voting for Senators shall have the same qualifications as those set forth in Section2, Clause 1.
Clause 2. Each Senator shall have one vote.
Clause 3. When vacancies occur in the representation of any District in the Senate, the executive authority of such District shall make an appointment to fill such vacancies, naming a person to serve until the next regular election. Alternatively, the legislature of any District may enact regulations to empower the Executive Authority to make temporary appointments until the people fill such vacancies by a special election of the voters of the District.
Clause 4. Immediately after they have assembled after the first election, the Senators shall be divided as equally as is possible into 3 Classes. The seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second Class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third Class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one-third of the Senate is elected every second year.
Clause 5. No person shall be a Senator unless (s)he is at least 25 years of age, has been a citizen of the Nation for at least 9 years, and who shall, when elected, be a resident of the District in which (s)he is elected.
Clause 6. The Vice President of the Nation shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless required to break a tie when the Senate is equally divided in a vote.
Clause 7. The Senate shall choose its other officers, and also a President pro tempore, to serve in the absence of the Vice President, or when the Vice President shall be required to exercise the Office of President of the Nation.
Clause 8. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments called for by the House of Representatives. When sitting for that purpose, they shall take a judicial oath or affirmation. When the President of the Nation is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: and no person shall be convicted without the agreement of two thirds of the Senators present.
Clause 9. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit of the Nation: but the person convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Constitution Is a Nation's Most Important Document

When a country or people bound together by common cultural and ethical ties wishes to form a government, it has to have principles and rules that make the government work for its people. This is for the simple reason that a government left to do as it pleases almost always gives itself too many powers, and the people are soon forgotten. Because government tends to be big and forceful, the people will suffer and not have enough power themselves to counteract the government.
We see this today in countries of the Middle East, where people have long been suppressed by faulty and repressive constitutions that give all power to the government and very little voice to the people.
It is for this very reason that constitutions are written. Constitutions are the written rules reflecting the will of a people to govern themselves in the manner they choose and to appoint officials to manage their national affairs by following these rules.
A constitution is the most important document a country possesses and it should be flexible enough to cover many unforeseen events while, at the same time, remaining firm in its commitment to follow several fundamental principles : personal liberties, right to assemble and demonstrate against the government, freedom of religion, and the all-important responsibility of its citizens to honor and protect the constitution that embodies their political will.
Today, the citizens of countries in the Middle East are feeling the first air of freedom, and with it, the great responsibility to draft a constitution that will ensure that their hard-won freedom will survive and prosper. Not an easy task by any means. And it is even more difficult when an older and less freedom-oriented constitution already exists.
The United States is a perfect example of this problem. Even before the defeat of the British in 1781, the American colonies had drafted what was called the Articles of Confederation. The document governed the new nation for a decade, but it didn’t work because it left too many important items vague and left too many powers in the hands of individual states which needed to be in the hands of a central (federal) government - such things as how to form and pay for an army, and how to tax citizens and for which purposes.
The constitutional convention was called in 1787 and in secret session, whose details were saved by James Madison in a daily diary, the current U.S. Constitution was drafted and approved by delegates from all the 13 states except Delaware, which chose not to participate. It then had to be adopted by the majority vote of the citizens (a smaller group then than today, composed mainly of property holders) of 9 0f the 13 states. Ratification came in 1788 and the real United States was born.
The U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in the world in continual use and it has served as the model for many nations wanting to create a democratic government.
Tomorrow, I will use the American Constitution as a model to provide the framework for a modern constitution, containing all the essential elements but eliminating those that are particular to the United States.
Perhaps this will help those who are now struggling with the great and honorable work of forming just and democratic nations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tehran Protesters Follow Their Egyptian Brothers

The Egyptian citizen force that overturned Hosni Mubarak’s regime is bearing fruit.
The streets of Tehran are full of protesters. These Iranian freedom fighters are truly risking their lives to try to bring down the regime of the Ayatollahs and their chosen political leader, President Ahmadjinabad. There are demonstrations in Yemen and Bahrain as well.
Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran was the site of what has been reported as a demonstration of more than 100,000 people Monday. They are led by the same Green Movement that tried in vain to overthrow Ahmadjinabad in 2009. There was bloodshed and many jailings then, and we have to expect that the same thing will happen again. But, perhaps this time the Iranian freedom fighters will be bolstered by the Egyptian success and stay on the streets long enough to win.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken positively about the Tehran marchers, saying that the White House “very clearly and directly supports the aspirations” of the marchers. She also said that Iran should open up and allow dissenting voices to be heard, noting that Iran should give its citizens the same rights that the Iranian government praised as a "new Islamic revolution" in Egypt.  A Green Movement protester said, "We are here for Iran,...What they did in Egypt, we have been trying since 2009. If the government supports them, why are we not allowed to protest on our streets?"
Mid Hossein Mousavi, the 2009 dissident candidate who stood against Ahmadjinabad, called for the protest to begin yesterday. He has now been placed under house arrest, along with Mehdi Karroubi, former Iranian parliament speaker who is also an opposition leader.
At least one person has been killed in Tehran, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. There have also been violent clashes in Iranian cities outside Tehran.
Last night, the pro-Ahmadjinabad Basij militia motorcycle brigades were out on Tehran streets, attacking protesters with their clubs, in a move reminiscent of the 2009 uprising.
Mr. Amhadjinabad may not realize it, but the "Islamic revolution" now in progress in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen is not moving toward more religious dictatorship but toward freedom for all people.
Keep these courageous people in your thought and prayers, and do whatever you can to help.