Posted: December 21, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Ambush, Attorney general, Bedford–Stuyvesant, Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn, Eric Holder, Mayor of New York City, Metro station, Myrtle Avenue, New York, New York City, New York City Police Department, Police car, Police officer, Suicide methods
There have been at least three ambushes this year of law-enforcement officials that garnered national attention. In June Las Vegas police officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31 were ambushed as they sat in a restaurant. One of the suspects in that shooting died in a gunbattle with authorities, and his wife committed suicide.
The assassination of two New York City police officers this weekend has emboldened police and their supporters to lash out at weeks of nationwide protest and criticism that they say have left police more vulnerable.
“This senseless murder of two of New York’s finest further exemplifies the dangerous political climate in which all members of law enforcement, nationwide, now find themselves. Not since the political unrest of the 1960s have police officers been so targeted.”
– Baltimore police union President Gene Ryan, in a posting on the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police website
Police are investigating social-media posts by the apparent assailant in the point-blank fatal shootings Saturday of the two officers who were sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. In them, he allegedly talked about killing officers in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., this summer in confrontations with police.
Experts on law enforcement said the demonstrations that followed grand jury decisions not to charge the officers in those cases have strained police morale across the U.S. as officers have been forced to defend their tactics, then deploy in big numbers to demonstrations against those tactics.
“This senseless murder of two of New York’s finest further exemplifies the dangerous political climate in which all members of law enforcement, nationwide, now find themselves,” Baltimore police union President Gene Ryan said in a posting on the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police website. “Not since the political unrest of the 1960s have police officers been so targeted.”
“If you visited from Mars in the last few months, you would think police do no good in society at all”
– Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City
On Sunday, a somber-faced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio , who has come under withering criticism from the city’s police union after the killings, attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, flanked in a pew by his wife and Police Commissioner William Bratton . “We are in solidarity with you,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told the public officials. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 18, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, U.S. News, War Room | Tags: Arraignment, Associated Press, Boston, Boston Marathon, Capital punishment, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hearing (law), Jury selection, Lawyer, Right to a fair trial
Dzhokhar appeared in court under heavy security Thursday ahead of his trial next month for the bombing of the Boston Marathon, telling the judge he was satisfied with his lawyers.
Tsarnaev, wearing gray pants, a black sweater-vest and a tie, was led in handcuffs into a federal courthouse in Boston for a pretrial hearing. It was his first appearance since July 2013.
Asked by the judge whether he had been kept up to speed on the court proceedings, Tsarnaev answered: “Yes, Your Honor.” Asked whether his lawyers were representing him adequately, he said, “They are.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 16, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Andrew C. McCarthy, Arthur J. Schwab, Barack Obama, Enforcement discretion, Executive (government), Judicial opinion, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Substantive rights, United States district court, United States federal judge
Andrew C. McCarthy writes:
“I wonder how the Republican establishment will take this: A federal court has the gumption to declare the obvious — namely, that Obama’s immigration policy is unconstitutional, just as Republican candidates argued while seeking votes during the recent midterm election campaign — only three days after 20 Republican senators astonishingly joined with the Democrats to endorse Obama’s policy as constitutionally valid.”
[Also see – Chris Christie Prediction: ‘In 2017, there won’t be an Obamacare‘]
From Jon Adler‘s analysis on Judge Schwab’s opinion at the Volokh Conspiracy…
Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.
This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]
The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 11, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics, Think Tank, War Room, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Central Intelligence Agency, Democratic Party (United States), Dianne Feinstein, Espionage, John Kerry, John O. Brennan, Mark Udall, Presidency of George W. Bush, United States Senate, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Louis J. Freeh writes: Seventy-three years ago this week, on a peaceful, sunny morning in Hawaii, a Japanese armada carried out a spectacular attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403, wounding 1,178 and damaging or destroying at least 20 ships. Washington immediately declared war and mobilized a peaceful nation.
“The RDI program was not some rogue operation unilaterally launched by a Langley cabal—which is the impression that the Senate Intelligence Committee report tries to convey. Rather, the program was an initiative approved by the president, the national security adviser and the U.S. attorney general…”
In another unfortunate Washington tendency, the government launched an investigation about who to blame for letting the devastating surprise attack happen. A hastily convened political tribunal found two senior military officers guilty of dereliction of duty, publicly humiliating them, as some political leaders sought to hold anyone but themselves accountable for the catastrophe.
“The Senate committee’s new report does not present any evidence that would support the notion that the CIA program was carried out for years without the concurrence of the House or Senate intelligence committees, or that any of the members were shocked to learn of the program after the fact.”
With the Democratic members of the SenateIntelligence Committee this week releasing a report on their investigation holding the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency accountable for the alleged “torture” of suspected terrorists after 9/11, some lessons from the Pearl Harbor history should be kept in mind.
First, let’s remember the context of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when President George W. Bush and Congress put America on a war footing. While some critics in and out of government blamed the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to prevent the terrorist attack, the 9/11 Commission later concluded that part of the real reason the terrorists succeeded was Washington’s failure to put America on a war footing long before the attack. Sept. 11, 2001, was the final escalation of al Qaeda’s war-making after attacking the USS Cole in 2000 and U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
“CIA leaders and briefers who regularly updated this program to the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership took what investigators call ‘copious, contemporaneous notes.’ Without a doubt, the Senate Intelligence Committee and congressional staffers at these multiple briefings also took a lot of their own notes…”
The Intelligence Committee’s majority report fails to acknowledge the Pearl Harbor-esque state of emergency that followed the 9/11 attack. One week after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, President Bush signed into law a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
“…Will the committee now declassify and release all such notes so that Americans will know exactly what the senators were told and the practices they approved?”
This joint congressional resolution, which has never been amended, was not a broad declaration of a “war on terror,” but rather a specific, targeted authorization to use force against the 9/11 terrorists and to prevent their future attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 9, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice, U.S. News | Tags: Associated Press, Global Panic, Grand jury, Indictment, Jay Nixon, Missouri, National Guard of the United States, Police officer, Prosecutor, St. Louis County, United States Department of Justice
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal autopsy in the Ferguson police shooting reached similar conclusions to those performed by local officials and a private examiner hired by 18-year-old Michael Brown’s family, documents show.
The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s autopsy on Brown, conducted at the request of the Department of Justice, was among grand jury documents that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch released Monday with little explanation. Other documents include transcripts of eight federal interviews of possible witnesses to Brown’s shooting in early August; police radio traffic; and an alleged audio recording of the shots fired by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Many of the documents contained information that was similar or identical to the materials that McCulloch released on Nov. 24 after a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in Brown’s death. A transcript of testimony from an Air Force pathologist who performed the Justice Department autopsy was included in the November documents, but the autopsy report itself was not released until Monday.
The transcripts of the witness interviews that were released Monday were already included in previously released testimony heard by the grand jury.
The Justice Department autopsy found that Brown died from multiple gunshot wounds and had severe head and chest injuries, though it noted that the chest injury might have been an exit wound from a shot that entered Brown’s arm. The autopsy also found a minor gunshot wound to Brown’s right hand was evidence of close range discharge of a firearm. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 8, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice, White House | Tags: Cause of Action, Confidentiality, Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service, Jack Lew, The Daily Caller, The Washington Examiner, United States Department of the Treasury, United States Secretary of the Treasury, White House
John Hayward reports: Hey, remember how a watchdog group called Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to the investigation of taxpayer information handed over to the White House by the IRS, and the request went nowhere, so they sued, and a judge told the Treasury Department they had to cough up the documents, and then the Treasury Inspector General was all like, “Oh, wow, we’ve got 2,500 pages of documents on this deal, so we need a little more time to finish going through them before we hand them over?”
If it wasn’t so bad – if there wasn’t a ‘smidgen of corruption’ – why try so hard to keep these records silent?”
Never mind about seeing those documents, peons. The Administration has decided not to hand them over after all, citing a statute that basically says the privacy of the people whose privacy the White House violated would be violated by revealing details of the White House violation to the public. It all sounds pretty fishy to Cause of Action, as quoted in the Washington Examiner:
Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, said Treasury was using “sophisticated” lawyering to weasel out of providing the documents. And he noted that their letter said that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is now looking into “potential liability” that his tax aides broke laws in sharing taxpayer information with the White House. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 8, 2014 Filed under: Censorship, Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice, U.S. News | Tags: ATF gunwalking scandal, Barack Obama, Benghazi, Chicago machine (political machine), fraud, Freedom of Information Act (United States), Internal Revenue Service, Judicial Watch, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Under the Obama administration there are accusations of retaliation by inspectors general against whistleblowers who help to expose corruption and abuse.
The Obama’s administration’s 72 inspectors general, who are appointed to investigate wrongdoing in their respective departments such as the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Veteran’s Administration and other federal agencies, appear to require an inspector general to investigate them.
“Imagine police officers punishing or threatening their confidential informants, or snitches, when they bring them information and you can see how ludicrous it has become within the federal government…”
– Former police detective and corporate security director Michael Snopes
They allegedly do more ignoring or covering up misconduct, malfeasance and even out-and-out criminal activity, than they do weeding out corruption and crime, according to a report released on Friday by non-governmental, public-interest group that probes and exposes government and political corruption.
Courtesy of Police Times
Inspectors General Needed to Investigate Obama Administration’s Corrupt Inspectors General
“The [supposedly] ‘independent’ watchdogs that are supposed to root out waste, fraud and corruption inside U.S. government agencies often help cover it up,” noted officials from Judicial Watch. The group of investigators and attorneys — who use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the civil court system to probe and “prosecute” federal, state and local government agencies and individuals — points to a four-part newspaper exposé that accuses these high-paid inspectors general of sometimes becoming “the lapdogs of the agencies they’re charged with overseeing.”
Under the Obama administration there are accusations of retaliation by inspectors general against whistleblowers who help to expose corruption and abuse.
The newspaper’s investigative reporter, Mark Flatten, penetrated the veil of deceit — so common in President Barack Obama’s so-called transparent administration — to reveal the present reality of inspectors general tasked with keeping an eye on the government. The 72 inspectors general, with superiors appointed by the president, is a decades-old practice that became law with both Democrats and Republicans supporting the legislation in both houses of Congress.
Each government department is required to have an independent section that functions the way a police department’s internal affairs bureau functions: with total access to all information, documents and materials and a total absence of any conflict of interest or any apprehension of retaliation by superiors including the President of the United States. Any findings by an inspector general with the appropriate House of Representatives’ committee or Senate committee charged with oversight. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 7, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice | Tags: Apple Inc, Associated Press, California, Confidentiality, iPhone, Mail and wire fraud, Money laundering, Plea, Prison, San Jose, United States Attorney
A former Apple executive who sold some of the iPhone maker’s secrets to suppliers will serve a year in prison and repay $4.5 million for his crimes.
Paul S. Devine was sentenced in San Jose federal court earlier this week, more than three years after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Devine’s penalty Friday, but declined to explain the reason for the lengthy delay in his sentencing.
Devine faced up to 20 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 7, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: American Legislative Exchange Council, Article Five of the United States Constitution, Barack Obama, Federal government of the United States, Legislator, Mark Levin, Republican Party (United States), State legislature (United States), United States Constitution
Michael Patrick Leahy writes: Conservative talkradio host Mark Levin made news Thursday when he addressed the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “non-partisan membership association of state lawmakers,” and it wasn’t just because he reiterated his call for an Article V “Convention of the States” to propose new amendments to the Constitution.
Levin’s call for an Article V Convention of the States has been well known since the publication of his best-selling book, The Liberty Amendments, more than a year ago.
On Thursday, Levin framed the Article V Convention of the States as the beginning of the process in which state legislators can reassert their constitutional power and become, in effect, the kind of check on the out-of-control federal government the framers expected the three branches of federal government they created in the Constitution would be on each other.
[Order Mark Levin’s “The Liberty Amendments“ from Amazon]
“Take your power back,” Levin told the enthusiastic crowd of state legislators from around the country.
Watch Levin’s entire speech here:
Critics who claim an Article V Convention could become a “Runaway Constitutional Convention” miss the point entirely, Levin said. Critics think such a convention would have no impact, as the federal government is ignoring the Constitution already and would have little reason to observe any amendments, subsequently ratified by the states, that emerged from the Convention of the States.
“So if you ask me what makes you think the federal government will follow amendments to the Constitution if it won’t follow the Constitution today, then you don’t understand this process,” Levin told the audience.
“By giving the state legislatures the ultimate say on major federal laws, on major federal regulations, on major Supreme Court decisions, should 3/5 of state legislatures act to override them within a two year period,” Levin said, ” it doesn’t much matter what Washington does or doesn’t. It matters what you do.”
“The goal is to limit the entrenchment of Washington’s ruling class,” he stated. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Think Tank | Tags: Cigarette, CNN, Criminal justice, Grand jury, Kentucky, Law, MSNBC, New York, New York City, New York City Police Department, Police, Police officer, Politician, Rand Paul, Staten Island, War on Drugs
David Harsanyi writes: After news of the baffling decision by the New York grand jury not to indict a police officer in the killing of Eric Garner, I sent out a (slightly) hyperbolic tweet that wondered why Americans would want to entrust their free speech and health care to an institution that will kill you over failure to pay a cigarette tax.
Since then, I’ve seen numerous tweets discounting this argument as preposterous. It’s something akin to blaming jaywalking for the death of Michael Brown, we’re told. Rand Paul touched on the issue in an interview on msnbc yesterday and was, predictably, ridiculed for it by liberals – because mentioning the circumstances of a violent act is preposterous, apparently.
Though it certainly isn’t close to being the most important lesson of this inexplicable case, it’s not something that should be dismissed so flippantly.
Garner wasn’t targeted for death because he was avoiding taxes, but nonetheless, prohibitive cigarette taxes unnecessarily create situations that make events like this possible.
We frame violent acts and unintended consequences in this way all the time. When we discuss how illegal immigrant women can be the helpless victims of domestic violence, we also blame unreasonable laws for creating the situation. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Punishment, Law & Justice, Think Tank | Tags: Chokehold, Ferguson, Grand jury, Indictment, New York City, New York City Police Department, Police officer, Probable Cause, Staten Island
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Several news organizations have reported that a New York grand jury in Staten Island has voted against indicting Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City police officer, in the choking death of Eric Garner. The decision is to be announced officially on Thursday. Clearly, this No True Bill is more difficult to justify than the St. Louis grand jury’s vote against filing homicide charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Officer Pantaleo, who is white, is being investigated for killing Mr. Garner, a 43-year-old black man who was physically imposing but unarmed, and who was resisting arrest (for a nonviolent crime, the illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes) but not overtly threatening the safety of the police. As National Review Online reported on Wednesday, the confrontation between Garner and the police was captured on videotape.
[Order Andrew C. McCarthy’s book “Faithless Execution“ from Amazon.com]
NYPD guidelines ban a form of chokehold. Contrary to some reporting, however, even that technique is not illegal per se. In fact, it used to be part of police training before concerns about accidental death convinced the NYPD to prohibit its use. Much of the coverage I have heard assumes that the chokehold Pantaleo applied is one that the guidelines ban (and, so the narrative goes, is illegal). This is hotly disputed by some police advocates, who claim that what Pantaleo did was more in the nature of a headlock or a wrestler’s swift takedown. Obviously, we do not yet know what, if any, testimony the grand jury heard on this point.
In any event, others counter that Garner could be heard repeatedly telling the police he could not breathe. While this actually undercuts the claim that a banned chokehold was used (since, if it had been, Garner would have had great difficulty speaking so audibly), Garner’s pleas suggest that the police used excessive force — a problem that makes the chokehold debate nearly irrelevant. In the absence of any apparent threat to the police, critics forcefully ask, shouldn’t Pantaleo have stopped whatever hold was being applied?
There is no doubt that Pantaleo aggressively handled Garner around the neck and then pressed his head to the ground. Soon after, Garner died. On top of that, the state medical examiner (ME) concluded that a homicide occurred. Sounds cut and dried, especially given that grand juries need merely find probable cause in order to return an indictment. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Democrats, Executive order, GOP, Illegal Immigrants, Immigration, John Bohener, Nancy Pelosi
Originally posted on TIME:
Democrats may come to the rescue of House Speaker John Boehner in order to avert a government shutdown next week.
Conservatives are clamoring for the House Republican leadership to use the power of the purse to protest President Barack Obama’s executive order, which could delay deportations for up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally. Several prominent conservatives, including Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, have rebuked the House Republican leadership’s government funding proposal, but leadership believes enough Democrats will join to pass it, according to a congressional aide.
“I’m waiting to be convinced that it’s a bad idea because on the face of it I think it’s probably the best that we can do right now,” says Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois.
“I think everyone is reluctantly looking at this as probably the most practical solution,” concurs Democratic Rep. John Delaney…
View original 402 more words
Posted: December 3, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics, U.S. News, White House
Stephen Dinan reports: Seventeen states and governors sued the Homeland Security Department on Wednesday in a bid to halt President Obama’s new deportation amnesty, saying he violated the Constitution and broke federal laws by granting tentative legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
“This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”
the governors said in a 75-page complaint, filed in federal district court in Texas.
The governors said they have standing to sue because they and their state taxpayers will be left on the hook for expenses related to schooling, health care and police to handle the extra illegal immigrants who will now have federal permission to stay in the U.S., despite having no permanent lawful status.
“The lawsuit repeatedly uses Mr. Obama’s own words against him, pointing to the nearly two-dozen times he said he didn’t have the power to take the actions he took.”
And the plaintiffs carefully chose the court where they filed their challenge, selecting Brownsville, Texas, where a judge last year wrote a scathing rebuke of the Homeland Security Department for aiding human smugglers. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 28, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics, Think Tank, U.S. News | Tags: Brennan Center for Justice, Chairman, Election Day (United States), Photo identification, Texas, The New York Times, United States passport, Voter ID laws, Voter registration, Voter turnout
Study: Contrary to Activist Propaganda, Voter ID Laws Don’t Don’t Swing Elections, and Don’t Suppress Minority Votes
Nate Cohn writes:
…The study was of Texas, and it was conducted by Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard. It found that 608,470 registered voters lack any kind of state or federal ID after using robust matching criteria. That figure seems quite similar to other studies about voter ID, and therefore the Brennan Center contends it validates less robust studies with similar figures.
But the Texas study does not refute my article; it bolsters it. The study showed that just 4.5 percent of the state’s active registered voters lacked photo identification. That’s less than half of the 9.4 percent who lacked photo identification in that Pennsylvania study.
Part of the reason for the smaller number of voters without identification was that the study considered federal ID, not just state-issued ID. The study found that 32 percent of the registered voters without a state identification had a federal ID, like a passport. Even if this figure would be lower in states farther from the border, it strongly suggests that any analysis without consideration of federal ID will substantially overstate the number of voters without identification.
There is one place where the Brennan Center makes a fair point, though I think it depends on a miscommunication on my part that’s worth clearing up.
In my original article, I wrote a paragraph that read: “Take Texas, a state with a particularly onerous voter ID law. If I register to vote as ‘Nate’ but my ID says ‘Nathan,’ I might be counted among the hundreds of thousands of registered voters without a photo ID. But I’ll be fine at the polling station on Election Day with a name that’s ‘substantially similar’ to the one on file.” The Brennan Center interprets this paragraph to mean that I would not be counted in the Texas study as lacking ID.
This was unclear. My point in invoking Texas was not to discuss Mr. Ansolabehere’s matching procedures, but to note that even a state with a stringent ID law, like Texas, would accept a name that’s “substantially similar” to the one on file. I was not disputing that there are states using these matching procedures, just trying to show the potential complications involving people who could be counted as without photo identification but could nevertheless vote in a state with a particularly strong voter ID law.
This quibble aside, the Brennan article is consistent with my own about the small chances for swinging election outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 27, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Think Tank | Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Barack Obama, Benjamin Franklin, equality, Freedom of speech, Liberty, Rule of Law, Self Government, Slavery, Thomas Jefferson, United States, United States Declaration of Independence
David Boaz writes: Not long ago a journalist asked me what freedoms we take for granted in America. Now, I spend most of my time sounding the alarm about the freedoms we’re losing. But this was a good opportunity to step back and consider how America is different from much of world history — and why immigrants still flock here.
If we ask how life in the United States is different from life in most of the history of the world — and still different from much of the world — a few key elements come to mind.
[Check out David Boaz‘s book “The Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and Threats to Our Liberties” at Amazon]
Rule of law. Perhaps the greatest achievement in history is the subordination of power to law. That is, in modern America we have created structures that limit and control the arbitrary power of government. No longer can one man — a king, a priest, a communist party boss — take another person’s life or property at the ruler’s whim. Citizens can go about their business, generally confident that they won’t be dragged off the streets to disappear forever, and confident that their hard-earned property won’t be confiscated without warning. We may take the rule of law for granted, but immigrants from China, Haiti, Syria, and other parts of the world know how rare it is.
Equality. For most of history people were firmly assigned to a particular status — clergy, nobility, and peasants. Kings and lords and serfs. Brahmans, other castes, and untouchables in India. If your father was a noble or a peasant, so would you be. The American Revolution swept away such distinctions. In America all men were created equal. Thomas Jefferson declared “that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.” In America some people may be smarter, richer, stronger, or more beautiful than others, but “I’m as good as you” is our national creed. We are all citizens, equal before the law, free to rise as far as our talents will take us.
Equality for women. Throughout much of history women were the property of their fathers or their husbands. They were often barred from owning property, testifying in court, signing contracts, or participating in government. Equality for women took longer than equality for men, but today in America and other civilized parts of the world women have the same legal rights as men. Read the rest of this entry »