Thursday, July 23, 2009

God and Governing Conference in Print

The book based on the God and Governing Conference put on by Trinity Law School will be in bookstores in August. Orders can be placed now at:

The book includes chapters by some of the leading evangelical thinkers of our time (and one by myself) on the problem of why evangelicals have not been more successful in changing the political climate in the USA, and what we should do from here on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Landing

Today is the anniversary of the first landing on the moon by human beings. It was and remains a remarkable achievement.

Talk on Prop 8

While it is a little dated now, here is a talk I did eight months ago on Prop. 8 before the last California Supreme Court opinion. Happily,the opinion turned out better than I suspected. My thanks to Mike Stecker for posting it on the internet.

Prop 8 from a legal perspective from Mike Stecker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Asking the Real Questions of a Supreme Court Nominee

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been saying some of the right things in her hearings. Specifically: “judges must apply the law and not make the law.” So far, so good. But a further and more important questions need to be answered in detail: What is the law and how do you discover it? Can a Supreme Court precedent be wrong? How do you know when a Supreme Court precedent is wrong? How do you interpret what the Constitution means? When defining the words in the Constitution do you look to what the words mean in common usage today or at what they meant at the time the clause was written? Is there a higher law above the law that gives Constitutions and statutes their meaning? If there is not then where do the rules for interpreting Constitutions and statutes come from? Can you change those rules of interpretation? If so, when and how is it appropriate to change them? If they do not change, and are not a higher law, why are you so sure what they are? Why do judges interpret the law instead of making it? What happens if some judges on the Supreme Court in the past “made law” – what do we do about that now?
I could go on. The point is that judicial thinking is a lot more complicated than asking someone of they are an “activist judge” or not. I hope the committee is asking the right questions and that the press will actually cover the answers.

Unicorns and CIA Assassins

Many Americans think the agencies of their government are far more powerful and capable than they really are – especially in the areas of defense and intelligence. Unhappily this is often fantasy or wishful thinking. Stories like the one at the link give us a clue to the reality.
I remember back in the eighties, trying to explain to people that we needed strategic and tactical ballistic missile defense. What was odd was the number of people who insisted we already had it; who insisted America had more than enough anti ballistic missiles to stop any soviet attack already – but they were secret. I tried to explain in vain that you may be able to hide an experimental airplane or missile, or maybe a squadron of airplanes; but you cannot hide a massive continental system or an air force. The interceptors simply did not exist. At least now we have a handful of missiles in some places with some anti-ballistic missile capability – but we still would have no chance at all of blunting a Russian attack on the USA.
Assassins are a subject of similar faith on the part of most Americans. We have movies full of professional CIA and MI6 assassins. Thriller novels about CIA assassins are a major share of the book market. Famous conservative talk show hosts celebrate the “realism” of these books. This fiction just reflects reality right? So Americans are constantly killing people secretly all over the world, right? We have super secret hit teams chasing Osama Bin Laden, right? Wrong. It is the stuff of fantasy and wishful thinking. The CIA may help drop bombs on terrorists from drones and airplanes, but it appears they do not and have not been killing Al Qaeda operatives up close and personal.
Oh, they did think about it following 9/11, but they never did it.
So the Congress should be angry that the CIA is not out there killing the terrorists who are trying to kill us, right? No. Actually the Congress is angry the CIA did not tell them they were thinking about killing terrorists. Really. See the articles.
Original article:
Hat tip to Rantburg, who linked article:
To give them a break, you need a Presidential Order to assassinate people, and apparently the supposedly bloodthirsty President Bush did not issue one for up close and personal assassination of Al Qaeda people. Second, all the globalist international law lawyers will insist that such “extrajudicial” killings are illegal – so you could get in more trouble for doing it than you can for water boarding. After all, we live in a world that no longer feels confident to execute pirate caught in the act; why should we think they would let intelligence officers kill terrorist agents planning the murders of thousands?
The truth is the CIA has never been any good at killing people. They mostly try to collect intelligence and explain what they think it means. The CIA consists of much more college professor types than of James Bonds.
Why is this important? Because decisions and policies need to be made and voted on by people who are honest about reality. Neither the public nor the Congress seems to have a grasp on reality.