Tuesday, April 04, 2006

With a Whimper, Not a Bang: The Silent, Deadly Threat to British Democracy

A barely-discussed legislative reform law is working its way through the British Parliament, and its provisions threaten the fundamental nature of British democracy. It sends an ominous warning to anyone, anywhere, who values liberty.

The law is question, innocently titled the “Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill,” would alter the very nature of lawmaking in Britain. This bill, supposedly designed to mitigate the onerous regulatory state in Britain, would allow any royal minister in government to make “provision[s] amending, repealing or replacing any legislation.” Disturbingly, its provisions empower ministers to delegate or transfer legislative powers to any other U.K. official, whether high or petty. Furthermore, this law would be self-applicable, meaning that a future minister could opportunistically decide to remove any or all of the few restrictive provisions, with only cursory oversight by Parliament. The only powers this Bill does not grant these ministers are the rights to enact or modify taxation, criminal offenses with punishments greater than 2 years, and forcible search and seizure or self-incrimination.

Indeed, given the unwritten and ultimately nonbinding status of the British constitutional regime, Parliament itself could be abolished quite easily, with the right combination of pro-ministerial power Members of Parliament in office. The unwritten British Constitution, in contrast to the written American Constitution, is composed of a host of traditions, parliamentary acts, legal precedents, and other changeable components. All of the principles of a free society, and particularly those principles of limited government, could be thrown out for the “reform”, “efficiency”, and “modernisation” bandwagon. After all, democratic regimes are not known for efficient or streamlined lawmaking. But are the fruits of “efficiency” worth sacrificing power to independent, executive royal ministers with independent agendas?
Major members of the ideologically diverse British media have united in opposition to this radical legislation. Newspapers as varied as the Daily Telegraph, The Times of London, the Financial Times, and the Guardian have all resoundingly condemned this legislation. While there has been limited Parliamentary opposition to this bill, the New Labour Government has so far successfully pushed a fundamentally unamended bill through the necessary committees and hearings. It is now at the critical phase: one scheduled hour of Parliamentary debate, before MPs go to vote on this issue.

The New Labour Party Government, furthermore, has also pushed through sweeping anti-terrorism legislation after the 7/7 terrorist bombings of London’s subway system. Highly Orwellian national ID card legislation would require fingerprint, photo, and retinal identification marks, in addition to the bearer’s address, religion, and 47 other personal traits. In order to get a passport, to use any government agency or services, or to do business with any government-licensed business, one would need one of these cards.

Additionally, other signs of a nanny state include a bill creating “children’s centres” for those under 5, and a recently enacted uniform public smoking ban. The real problem with all of this legislation and the regulatory reform act is that the reform act’s provisions could, for instance, be used to make the “children’s centres” mandatory state youth camps for all children under the age of 5, or it could make not having the government ID a crime punishable for 2 years. Additionally, given the delegation powers, a local prosecutor could, potentially, rewrite a criminal law in order to “fix loopholes” for the sole purpose of effecting retribution on some political rival.

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, this bill contains powers and provisions eerily similar to the Enabling Act of 1933, which, like this bill, granted executive branch officials with essentially full legislative powers over even the Constitutional framework of the nation. Although it's unlikely that the framers of the bill have mal-intent in mind, passing this bill would be the first step down a dangerous path.

So what is a concerned individual of any nationality to do? A citizen should consider writing letters of concern to Congressmen, Senators, and the Bush Administration insisting that they exert political pressure on the Blair Government to stop this dangerous legislation from being passed by Parliament. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party opposition, and Sir Menzies Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party are also major political leaders of importance in this controversy. U.K. citizens should contact their home MPs and party leaders in order to stop this legislation.

This obstacle is not insurmountable for those of any political stripes who value liberty. Britain, the nation whose principles form the foundation of our own government, is our closest friend, and we should not let this friend be destroyed by power-hungry ministers seeking to replace democratic government with an efficient yet potentially dictatorial ministerial state. Out of love for our fellow free nation, I urge everyone reading this article to work to help remove the seeds of totalitarianism from a wayward government, before they take root.

A list of major articles and legal information about this dangerous proposed law can be found at Save Parliament!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sudan's not all bad, is it now?

This is why I love updated ancient traditions, when found in crazy-nutcase countries. What can I say, but "That's Sudan for you".

Thursday, February 23, 2006

2008 Political Fortunes

Here are the big issues that look to be looming in 2008 for the presidential campaigns.

1. How did the 2006 elections fare? Did the Republicans gain or lose seats or stay about even? What surprises were there, and what were the major issues going into the election?

2. The Middle East. How has the political situation evolved in Iraq (and presumably Iran)? Is the US in Vietnam II or is the political situation mostly stabilized, with troop deployments being lowered significantly.

3. The Bush Administration. Was Jack Abramoff this Administration's Iran-Contra, or is there something worse of which we aren't aware? This is one reason I'd suspect Al Gonzales has about as much chance at being placed on the Supreme Court now as it would be for the Republican Party to nominate Hillary Clinton as their Presidential nominee. Will ties to the Bush Administration be political poison for any Republican?

4. Super-size government. Will the president's big-government conservatism be rejected wholeheartedly by his party? Or will the Democrats actually co-opt the issue of fiscal responsibility from the Republicans?

5. Judicial nominations. W already has selected 2 distinctively conservative judicial nominees to replace conservatives. A great deal of Republican direction depends on how many other appointments he makes, and how conservative they are perceived to be.

Some commentary follows.

John McCain's political fortunes are inversely tied to the Republican performance in the 2006 Congressional elections. If the GOP gains seats, then he is almost assuredlly not going to win the nomination without moving way to the right. On the other hand, if the Republicans do poorly, then his political stock could not be higher for him. For the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is a non-starter UNLESS she utterly sweeps upstate New York, with a high turnout, in her '06 reelection bid. She will always be perceived as a liberal, no matter how moderate she becomes. John McCain would soak up huge amounts of moderate and even liberal Democratic votes, but Hillary Clinton would possibly lose some of her own party's votes and would gain none of the Republican/conservative independent votes.

Strong Tickets with lots of potential:

Republicans: Gains in 2006 - George Allen/Tim Pawlenty - popular Southern governor/Senator and a noted and well-like Minnesota governor makes for a great duo.

Losses in 2006 - McCain/Brownback or McCain/Romney (if he chooses a governor) - Maverick McCain with a strongly conservative running mate (either middle America or Northeast)

Dark Horse Candidates: Ken Blackwell (likely Governor of Ohio), Tim Pawlenty, Michael Steele (presuming he wins the Senate seat in Maryland), Haley Barbour (Gov. of Mississippi)

Democrats: Gains in 2006 (heavy losses for Republicans) - Mark Warner of Virginia/Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Al Gore/Barack Obama of Illinois

Losses in 2006: Mark Warner/Gov. Janet Napolitiano or Sen. Evan Bayh/Conservative Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska - the latter would only happen if the Republicans ended up with, say 60 seats in the Senate (i.e. utter disaster in 2006)

Dark Horse Candidates: Barack Obama, Janet Napolitiano, John Edwards, Al Gore

More will come on the other issues when I feel like writing more.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Alito and Other Things

I've read almost all of the commentary at ConfirmThem and RealClearPolitics on this nominee, engaged in a series of dialogues with my friends, and I've come to a few conclusions.

First: We in the Conservative movement were right to take Miers down for minimal qualifications and cronyism concerns. A good dialogue within the party, even despite the sometimes acrid tendencies I saw at the very end of the Miers nomination, has allowed the Conservative movement to coalesce and truly show this administration our power.

Second: Many of us conservatives (I know, because I fall into this category occasionally) have let the failures that have been O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter make us so paranoid that unless a nominee SCREAMS to Pat Leahy and Arlen Specter that he or she will personally overturn (and has wanted to do so since birth) Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, then our first reaction to a nominee is panic.

Third: Why on earth would Bush put up a nominee at this stage who he knows will strike down PBA or parental notification and uphhold Roe/Casey? Andy Card's power play in the Miers debacle brought out a groundswell of conservative activism that showed this movement's true power. Besides, I think it'd be fair to say that we saw the entire liberal base come out in force in the 2004 elections, and we beat them. Poll-wise, self-described conservatives significantly outnumber self-described liberals, and the abortion issue is more than 50/50 on our side now. A good national education campaign about what Roe really is, and on what doctrine it has been established would be most welcome.

Fourth: Ultimately, if we really want to get rid of abortion in this country, then reversing Roe only returns the issue to the states, and that is where we need to go after our fellow Americans' hearts and minds. Additionally, we Christians need to emphasize to our fellow churchgoers that this is not a morally neutral issue. Non-participation in government is ok, but personal belief that abortion is a good thing that can/should be used for pretty much anything other than saving the life of the mother is abhorrent. Many used to perform lobotomies on unintelligent or emotionally problematic children, but we now see this as a moral atrocity. I hope and pray abortion may someday be regarded as the travesty it is

Sunday, October 30, 2005

First post

This is my first post. I will add more at a later point in time.