Is This What The Voters Wanted?

Yesterday The Daily Wire reported a statement from New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James. The statement is troubling on many levels.

The article reports:

New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James is buttressing President Trump’s claims that there is a “witch hunt” pursuing him; she told NBC News that she intends to investigate not only the president, but also his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law.

James blustered, “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” adding, “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law.”

The article also notes:

When she campaigned for attorney general, James stated that she supported legislation allowing prosecutors to charge individuals who received a presidential pardon. Because of the double jeopardy clause, if an individual receives pardons for crimes at the federal level, they cannot be tried at the state level. James stated:

After careful deliberation, I am urging the state legislature to swiftly pass legislation which safeguards against President Trump’s attacks on the rule of law in our country. The pending legislation closes a loophole in our state law that effectively allows the president to pardon individuals for crimes committed in New York State. Given President Trump’s recent use of the presidential pardon in a case adjudicated in New York State and his claim that he can pardon himself as he pleases, it’s clear that we must act now. We can protect New Yorkers from double jeopardy prosecutions without giving away our state’s ability to deliver justice for all.

I wonder if this lady has actually read her job description.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General:

As the chief legal officer of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, the attorneys general serve as counselors to their legislatures and state agencies and also as the “People’s Lawyer” for all citizens. Originating in the mid-13th century in the office of England’s “King’s Attorney,” the office had become, by the American Revolution, one of advisor to the Crown and to government agencies.

While varying from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates, typical powers of the attorneys general include the authority to issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocates in areas such as child support enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental laws; represent the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the state; represent the public’s interests in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs.

What New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James plans to do is highly unethical. Using one’s public office to personally go after a person or family you disagree with or don’t like is a blatant abuse of power.  She deserves to be immediately censured for her statements if not impeached.

South Africa Moves Toward Taking Land Without Compensation

On Tuesday U.S. News posted an article about the move to take land from South Africans without paying them any compensation. The parliament recently approved a report endorsing a constitutional amendment that would allow expropriations without compensation.

The article reports:

Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

A parliamentary team last month recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest.

The article continues:

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma in February, has prioritized land redistribution as he seeks to unite the fractured ruling African National Congress (ANC) and win public support ahead of an election next year.

But the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and some rights groups are critical of the government’s plans, saying it will jeopardize property rights and scare off investors.

“We support expropriation of land without compensation or zero Rand compensation in the public interest,” the ANC’s Vincent Smith said during the parliamentary debate.

Ahead of Tuesday’s debate, John Steenhuisen, the main opposition’s chief whip, said “the DA will not hesitate to approach the courts” should the report backing the expropriation of land be adopted.

Following Tuesday’s vote, a new bill proposing the change to Section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation would need to be drafted.

It would also require the public’s contribution before a debate and vote in the assembly. To become law, it would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa. It is unclear how long this process would take.

Last week the High Court rejected a legal challenge brought by AfriForum, a group representing mainly white Afrikaners who wanted to overturn a parliamentary committee report supporting changes to the constitution.

There are some things the South African government might want to consider if they decide to move forward with the idea of seizing land without compensation. Although that might seem like a solution to the misdeeds of the past, it is simply a misdeed in the present. Taking anything from someone without compensation is not a path toward harmony. Because the land distribution seems to be so uneven, wouldn’t it be better to require people who hold large portions of land to sell portions of it under government supervision at a reasonable price. Otherwise, you are infringing on private property rights. In December 2010, I posted an article about the relationship between private property rights, the rule of law, and prosperity. You cannot have prosperity without private property rights or without the rule of law. To seize property without compensation violates this principle. It is the way to poverty for South Africa.

 

From A White House Fact Sheet Released On Thursday

The information below is from a fact sheet released from the White House on Thursday.  Follow the link above to read the entire fact sheet.

FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Strengthening Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to ensure good governance, rule of law, and respect for human rights.  We commend the progress they have made to broaden political participation and improve governance, and will remain a steady partner as they continue to work to strengthen electoral processes, ensure transparency and accountability in government, and provide security while respecting and protecting universal rights and fundamental freedoms.

In addition to our ongoing diplomacy and our efforts in multilateral institutions, in 2012 the United States – through the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – provided more than $292 million in support for these efforts, including in the following priority areas:

Supporting Civil Society and Independent Media

Civil society and independent media play a critical role in any vibrant democracy.  Across sub-Saharan Africa, the United States supports efforts to ensure civil society organizations and independent media can organize, advocate, and raise awareness with governments and the private sector to improve political processes, transparency, and government performance.  Examples include:

  • In Kenya, the $53 million Yes Youth Can program empowers nearly one million Kenyan youth to use their voices for advocacy in national and local policy-making, while also creating economic opportunities.  In advance of Kenya’s March 2013 general elections, Yes Youth Can’s “My ID My Life” campaign helped 500,000 youth obtain National identification cards, a prerequisite to voter registration, and carried out a successful nationwide campaign with Kenyan civic organizations to elicit peace pledges from all presidential aspirants.
  • In Tanzania, the United States has dedicated $14 million to strengthening government accountability institutions and linking them with Tanzanian civil society watchdog groups and civic activists in a constructive partnership to further government transparency.  The program focuses on improving access to information for Tanzanian citizens in four key development sectors:  health, education, natural resource management, and food security.
  • The United States will soon launch a program in West Africa to build the capacity of civil society organizations to responsibly advocate on land tenure issues, including land rights, working closely with governments and the private sector to improve responsible natural resource utilization and the protection and advancement of human rights and economic development.

In plain English, this means that the United States is giving Kenya $53 million to set up national identity cards to be used for voter identification in elections. The purpose of this program is to ensure an honest election and promote peace.

If voter id cards ensure an honest election in Kenya, why aren’t they necessary in America? I particularly like the part about civil society and an independent media playing a vital role in a vibrant democracy. I wonder if the White House reads its own press releases.

 

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Look! A Shiny Object!

I was listening to the news this morning and heard the criticism of Governor Romney’s speech in Israel. I wondered what he had said that had caused the problem. The press reported that the Palestinians were upset because the Governor commented that the culture of Israel provides a fertile ground for economic prosperity. That statement really doesn’t seem all that offensive. I knew that the Governor had stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and wondered if that were the real source of the problem. Anyway, I went to Governor Romney’s campaign website to read the speech. The attacks on the speech are another example of the mainstream press’s “Look–a shiny object over here! Don’t look there!” campaign for President Obama.

Governor Romney’s speech outlined some of the political and cultural ideas that have allowed both America and Israel to prosper. Those ideas included democracy, the rule of law, God-given rights, and free enterprise. I can understand how the Palestinians would be upset at these concepts–generally speaking, these are foreign ideas to all of the Arab countries in the region.

One of the things that under-girds national prosperity is the rule of law as it applies to property rights. A man is less likely to improve his property if he does not own it. Also, property rights give the average citizen a means to acquire an asset that will increase in value (generally real estate increases in value) and gain some measure of wealth that he can pass on to his family.

Another thing not mentioned in the Governor’s speech that plays a very important role in a nation’s prosperity is the use of all human resources. When a country excludes women from participating in the work force and excludes the voices of women from government, it decreases by half the flow of ideas and innovation into the economy and into the government. I am not saying that every woman should work or be involved in government, but I am saying that every woman who has something to contribute should be allowed to contribute it.

The corrupt governments of the nations that surround Israel do not encourage prosperity for the average man. The well-connected steal the wealth of the country and the average citizen lives in poverty. The culture of respecting your fellow man and helping him become prosperous is not part of that society. That may be the biggest reason that the culture of Israel creates prosperity and the culture of the Arab nations surrounding Israel does not.

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