Iowa Supremes Legalise Same Sex Civil Marriage: Right Decision, Wrong Reason?

Or at least that’s what University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos thinks:

Decisions such as the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent announcement that the state’s constitution requires the state to make same-sex monogamous marriage legal pose a practical dilemma for those of us who support gay marriage, but oppose the more egregious varieties of legal hocus-pocus.

And make no mistake—the court’s decision is a bunch of question-begging nonsense, poorly disguised by a smokescreen of law talk.

Stripped of its verbiage, the court’s opinion comes down to the following claims: First, it’s a bad thing for the state to treat people differently on the basis of sexual orientation, unless the state has a good enough reason. Second, the reasons the state gave for treating same sex-couples differently from opposite-sex couples in regard to marriage weren’t good enough.

That’s it. These conclusions might raise various questions in the mind of someone who hasn’t enjoyed the benefits of a legal education. Such as, what was the court’s basis for these claims? Is there anything specifically “legal” about these conclusions? And how did the judges figure this stuff out, especially given that it took more than a century before anyone noticed Iowa’s constitution contained this requirement?

Personally, I think a decision like this (and the whole fracas in California, and elsewhere) is one good argument for dumping civil marriage altogether.  And there are more.

He did make one statement that I found especially fascinating:

To dive into the law talk for a moment, the court said it was interpreting the equal-protection clause of the Iowa constitution, which, like the U.S. Constitution, guarantees the state’s citizens that they will be treated equally by the law.

Yet, just as in the case of the federal constitution, this phrase is, as a practical matter, meaningless. It’s meaningless because a legal directive telling the government to treat people equally in and of itself decides nothing. As my old criminal-law professor Peter Westen pointed out in a famous article 25 years ago, in terms of legal-decision-making, equality is an empty idea.

In an Elitist Snob society, equality is both an empty idea and a dead letter.  When you centralise power and the ability of people to obtain that power, you by necessity stratify society.  And that stratification eviscerates equality on a practical level, irrespective of whether you make it a mantra or not.

Lending to the Lord, and Getting Back

In preparation for his “Palm Sunday entry” into Jerusalem, Our Lord did the following:

“When they had almost reached Jerusalem, as far as Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent on two of his disciples. “Go to the village facing you,” he said; “and, as soon as you get there, you will find a foal tethered, which no one has ever ridden; untie it, and bring it. And, if any one says to you ‘Why are you doing that?’, say ‘The Master wants it, and will be sure to send it back here at once.’”” Mark 11:1-3, TCNT.

In addition to obtaining the foal, God promised to send it back.

God had already heard a demand for return:

“And when she (Hannah) had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.” 1 Samuel 1:24-28, KJV.

Hannah had promised that, should she bear a son, same son would be dedicated to God’s service.  She came through with her promise with one stipulation: that, once he had fulfilled God’s purpose, that she would get him back.  It didn’t matter that it would be in Sheol, she wanted him back.

It’s amusing in a way to think that God, who owns it all, would either make a promise to return something or someone or honour such a request.  But he does.

The Rule of Law, or, If You Don’t Believe in a Civilisation, It Won’t Last

Earlier I posted a quote from Charles Freeman on dollar hegemony.  The source behind that is here, but he also touched on another interesting subject that no one is talking about:

There’s another issue that no one’s paying any attention to, and that is the consequences of the erosion of the world order that we crafted after World War II and for the post-colonial era that followed. Both depended on what I would call Euro-American or Atlantic-community notions of the rule of law and the sanctity of international agreements and common notions of civil and human rights, including the idea that all states – even the United States – should be subject to the same rules.

Now we’re looking at a world in which the centre of gravity in many ways is moving to Asia – to countries like China and India – non-Western nations that were not participants in the crafting of this Atlantic consensus on the rule of law.

This raises a big question: if we and the Europeans don’t work together to sustain the heritage that we created, will it survive? Or will new rules and a new order be dictated by people whose values are not the same as ours? And what are the consequences for us of an order based on values that differ from our heritage?

Well, buddy boy, you’ve hit on yet another key issue.  The Asians are what they are, and if we hand the world off to them, we’ll play by their rules.  The question of “which Asians” is the key one, and that of course includes the Muslims.  (A lot of that is that the Asians look at things more relationally, and that has both a business and a missionary component.)

The more serious problem is a simple one: there are too many people in the “Euro-American” community who don’t believe in the values that got us where we are.  The “rule of law” is just one of those, but it’s an important one.  It has been eroded by a) the growing complexity and intrusiveness of our legal and regulatory system, which makes following such a rule next to impossible, and thus degrades it, and b) the growing realisation that power holders, government and otherwise, don’t need the rule of law.  The rest of us do.  And if the rule of law isn’t respected within a nation, it won’t be respected outside of it on an international basis.

That’s what’s so dangerous about Timothy Geithner and his yo-yo pronouncements on who gets paid what, whose bonuses earn them screaming protesters and death threats, who gets the boot and the like.  Capitalists who figure out that the government giveth one day and taketh away the next–literally in that time frame these days–won’t hang around, and without them economic growth won’t take place.

The rule of law is also a social justice issue.  Without it power holders can have their way and there is no recourse.  An excellent example of this took place back in the days of the kings of Israel:

“And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 1 Kings 21:1-7, KJV.

And of course, in the end, Naboth got the shaft.

Such a struggle–which was part and parcel of the whole drama of the kingdoms of both Israel and Judah–was certainly influential in our own heritage.

But now we have élites–led by, of course, the Elitist Snob–who are more focused on the growth of their own power rather than the perpetuation of the values of our civilisation.  We are thus lead by people who don’t believe in our civilisation, and under their direction same civilisation can’t last.

The End is in View for Dollar Hegemony

From Charles Freeman, via John Ross Crooks, currency trader:

“One [longer term strategic issue] is very apposite today, and that is the future of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency. At Bretton Woods, the dollar became the global reserve currency, backed by gold. A quarter century later, Nixon eliminated the gold backing for our currency.

Dollar hegemony has been central to our ability to basically go off the tracks fiscally and financially here. It has enabled us to avoid addressing all sorts of problems with which we’re now afflicted, and it has enabled us to avoid having financial discipline being imposed on us of the sort we have insisted be imposed on every other country under IMF (International Monetary Fund) guidelines.

The role of the dollar as a universal currency for reserve and trade settlement purposes is absolutely central to our international power and reach. Furthermore, we have used the fact that the dollar is an extension of our sovereignty to impose unilateral sanctions all over the place and to manipulate the global banking sector to enforce our policies, even when those policies — say, with respect to Iran — are not supported by others.

So we have a big stake in this, and when we get the dollar into trouble, as we have done, this is very, very fundamental. We now have China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Korea, at least, and very likely others, calling for the gradual elimination of the dollar as a reserve currency and its replacement by stages with something else — in the case of the Chinese proposal, with special drawing rights under the IMF.

I’ve seen this coming for well over a year, and have been talking about it. It’s now upon us, and it is not a problem you can send the fleet to solve. In the end, if you create a situation where people don’t want dollars, there’s nothing you can do about that. So I think this is a strategic issue.”

The end of dollar hegemony will make the debt we owe foreign governments, corporations and individuals real, which makes the payback real.  Give the level of debt we have, that is a gargantuan thought.  The end of dollar hegemony is the end of American hegemony, and that would impact a society which is as oblivious to real consequences for actions as we are.

Many Evangelicals are trumpeting that we are about to have a world currency to supplant the dollar, which is a necessary prerequisite to the end of history.  Any currency that aspires to become the world’s reserve currency must have proper management and strong backing.  At this juncture I don’t see that emerging.  It’s one thing for countries and individuals to trumpet a new currency, it’s quite another to get them to agree to it.  For nations to allow their own money to be supplanted, they would have to both have confidence in the new money and the belief that the new money would be better for them than the old.

Beyond that, proper management at the international “government” level is an oxymoron, and more people know that than will admit it.

If I were preaching, I’d focus my hearers on their heavenly country and its resources rather than watching the end times clock.  But I’m just a layman…

Imitation Europeans and Foreign Devils, and From Dreaming About his Father to Repeating his Mistakes

The Elitist Snob discovers that the Europeans aren’t on the same wavelength as he is:

While President Nicolas Sarkozy of France did not repeat an earlier threat to walk out of the conference – “I just got here,” he joked – he made it clear he would reject an agreement that puts off stringent new regulations on banks, tax havens, and hedge funds.

“The decisions need to be taken now, today and tomorrow,” he said. “This has nothing to do with ego. This has nothing to do with temper tantrums. When it comes to historic moments, you can’t circumvent them.”

Mr. Sarkozy added that tougher regulation – he has called for a “global regulator” that would be able to reach inside the borders of the United States and other large nations to deal with international financial firms – is “nonnegotiable.”

imitation-foreign-devilThe Chinese author Lu Xun’s greatest work was the short story The True Story of Ah Q (I also got to see the movie when in Hong Kong on my last trip to China.)  One of the more memorable characters was the Imitation Foreign Devil, shown at right affecting the Western top hat, coat and cane.  He was obviously not to be confused with the real article.

Obama is, along with many other elitist snobs in this society, an Imitation European.  He wants to impose a European socialist model on this country, and has the legislative initiatives to prove it.  He is prepared not to waste this crisis to make to make that a reality.

Well, the Real Europeans aren’t prepared to waste it either.  They want to further their own agenda, which includes a) striking a blow at the tax cheats which are part and parcel with European business and b) getting at the Americans who, in their opinion, have snookered them with what Alan Greenspan famously referred to as “irrational exuberance.”

Unfortunately their agenda is unacceptable to Obama for two reasons.  The first is that many of those irrationally exuberant were his major supporters and contributors.  They may be having second thoughts about their exuberance for him but he can’t afford to expose them to the tender mercies of the Europeans, just yet.  The second is that Americans–even such as Obama–only recognise one form of extraterritoriality: their own.  (That will make Obama’s response to Spain’s attempt to arrest Bush officials really interesting.)

Beyond that, Obama is in the process of repeating his father’s mistakes, or at least those of his father’s generation of African leaders.  Coming straight out of the chute of colonialism, these leaders (of which Robert Mugabe is the last of the breed) saw a European model of socialism and bureaucratism (I’m not sure that’s a word, but it’s the best I can do) as the model for Africa.  Needless to say, it degenerated rapidly, and Africa is only now coming out of that.  Barack Obama’s attempt to be an Imitation European will have similar consequences if he pursues it on these shores.