The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reversed course on a law to regulate safety systems to prevent swimmers, particularly children, from getting trapped in public swimming pool drains. Federal regulators will investigate single drain systems and require public pools to install suction shut off systems by May 2012, or they will be closed down. In a 3-2 vote, the CPSC approved the new pool-safety measure on Wednesday. Previous to the new requirement, municipal pool operators were exempted from requirements mandated by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007 if they installed special covers on their drains to prevent entrapments.

In response to incidences where children have drowned from getting trapped in pool drains — including the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker — the requirement would force public pools with a single main drain to install back-up systems that would be capable of automatically shutting down the suction of the drain.

Due to pool and spa drain entrapments, between 1999 and 2010 — an entire decade — there have been 80 injuries and 12 fatalities, according to government reports.

This is a speech delivered by the author at the Liberty Political Action Conferene in Reno, Nevada, on September 15, 2011:

Introduction
The phenomenon that has arrested our attention and that is the object of our concerns is something that we call “liberty.”  Indeed, if our political universe can be said to consist of ideas, then the idea of liberty is the center around which every other revolves.  Partisans of every conceivable variety, if they insist upon engaging in our political discourse, simply have no option but to become fluent in the language of liberty.  The idiom of liberty has prevailed over all others, not just within the contemporary Western world, but well beyond it.  In America, especially, one would no more think to deny the value of liberty than one would think to deny the values of compassion, justice, or any other virtue.

Still, just because the rhetoric of liberty springs effortlessly from our lips does not mean, necessarily, that we know that of which we speak.  It is true, no doubt, that, not unlike any number of other concepts with which we are acquainted, “liberty” is not something that is easy to define.  And, not unlike any other concept, the challenges of defining liberty, we are confident, do not preclude us from identifying it when we see it.  Whether this self-assurance is justified, however, is another question.

The National Review touts itself as a conservative publication. It consistently espouses what it considers right-of-center policy positions, as well as promoting the popularity of “conservative” candidates. There is little doubt that given the thickness of the fog of hubris that permeates every office of that periodical that it sincerely believes that its positions are consistent with the Constitution, as well. That is to say, were one to ask the journalists who write for the National Review if they were constitutionalists, they would likely respond, to a man, in the affirmative.
 
Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review. Ponnuru is an American of Indian descent, raised in the suburbs of Kansas City and educated at Princeton. He is a regular contributor to such national publications as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Time magazine.
 
In the September 19, 2011 issue of National Review, Ponnuru offers an article entitled “What Constitutionalism Means.” In this thoughtful piece, Ponnuru contrasts the “liberal” reaction to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s brand of constitutionalism with his own interpretation of the proper regard for the timeless principles that undergird our founding charter.
 

President Obama’s reelection campaign is struggling, as his once loyal fan base has begun to turn its back on him. It began when labor leaders criticized the White House for what they perceived to be a failure on the administration’s part to come to the defense of unions. Now, MTV — the network which last October hosted a youth town hall meeting called “A Conversation with President Obama” — has denied a request by Obama’s reelection campaign to help the President connect with American youth.

Though MTV claims it does not wish to be involved in political campaigns, it has long had a reputation for pushing a political agenda. “A Conversation with President Obama” is a prime indicator of just how political the station could be, and the “Rock the Vote” campaign was a long and popular one for the network.

Likewise, MTV’s website features a section entitled, “Think MTV,” where visitors can “get informed, get heard and take action on the issues that matter to you most.” Causes featured in this section include what MTV has dubbed “modern-day slavery,” which, according to the site, is as follows:

Liberal comedian Jon Stewart has been one of the most sympathetic television personalities to Ron Paul and his cause, and as a result, Stewart has come to Paul’s defense a number of times, even calling out the mainstream media for its failure to provide fair and accurate reporting of Paul’s campaign success. Likewise, Stewart has featured Paul on his Comedy Central television program, The Daily Show, on several occasions. In Paul’s most recent appearance, which aired on September 26, Paul was asked by Stewart why the media has chosen to ignore him. Paul answered: “I’m a threat to the Establishment.”

Stewart appeared genuinely confused as to why the mainstream media has wholly ignored Paul and treated him as an unviable candidate. He asked Paul:

Why do you think that is? You ran in 2008. You had a nice strong showing. You’ve improved upon that. You came in a very close second in the Ames Straw Poll. What is it about your candidacy that they so easily dismiss and are they right when they saw Ron Paul is not an electable figure?

Paul responded by indicating that he is obviously electable as he has been elected to 12 terms in the House of Representatives. As to why he believes the media has disregarded him as a legitimate contender, Paul answered, “I think some people don’t want to hear the message because it’s a threat to them and I’m a threat to the Establishment.

Although he currently receives only six percent of votes in those surveyed in the latest IBOPE/Zogby poll, Newt Gingrich is getting a lot of press over a recent endorsement. On Monday, the founder of Tea Party Nation, Judd Phillips, added his name and influence to the list of those backing the former Speaker of the House’s run for the Republican nomination for president.

Phillips explains his decision in a blog post published on the Tea Party Nation website. Said Phillips:

In choosing who is my candidate, there are some criteria I look at. First, the candidate must be electable. We can have the best candidate in the world but if they are unelectable, it does not matter. The candidate must be conservative... Finally, the candidate must have the vision to put forward plans to dismantle the massive government bureaucracy that we have seen grow under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
 
Phillips goes on to praise Gingrich’s performance during the several debates with the other GOP candidates for that party’s nomination.

Military commissions have always been controversial in U.S. history, and no more so than in the past 10 years. Military commissions have traditionally been defined as executive branch courts, created by necessity under a system where ordinary courts are not functioning, such as during a rebellion or military occupation of a foreign country. They are distinct from ordinary criminal trials and the regular military system of justice, the courts-martial, the latter being generally required to “apply the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Constitutional problems with the Bush (and now Obama) military commissions were accurately explained by Chad DeVeaux of Western State University Law School:

Such commissions, which may most accurately be categorized as “Article II courts,” deviate widely from civilian courts. Ordinarily inviolate procedural protections are disregarded. Juries are denied. The right of appellate review is circumscribed. The universal common-law prohibition against the admission of hearsay, even multiple hearsay, and un-sworn evidence is not honored. Most critically, the structural independence enjoyed by Article III courts and even state jurists is wholly absent. Military commissions are inquisitorial in nature. Military judges and even the commission members themselves fall within the direct chain of command of the President and his proxies and ultimately depend on favorable reviews from these superiors for promotion and career advancement.

Presidents Bush and Obama have created a vigorous public debate since the September 11 attacks over whether suspects in the “war on terror” are entitled to a regular criminal trial, court-martial (the regular military justice system), or a “military commission” trial, or whether they are entitled to a trial at all. A “military commission” is traditionally an executive branch (or Article II) court, created to try war criminals in a time and place where there are no criminal or ordinary military courts to try suspects. But Congress has explicitly authorized them twice since the September 11 attacks.

Bush’s and Obama’s actions since 2001 raise a number of fundamental constitutional questions: Can the President — as Bush tried to do — detain an American citizen indefinitely without trial? Can the President — as Obama claims — kill American citizens without trial? Are Bush’s and Obama’s efforts to detain foreigners indefinitely without trial constitutional? When, if ever, is a “military commission” constitutional? Can U.S. citizens be subject to a military commission? How about foreigners? Do the Bush/Obama military commissions follow the Constitution? And finally, putting aside constitutional principles, are military commissions more effective on a practical level in punishing suspected terrorists? The following are 11 constitutional principles about the trial rights of Americans and foreigners during the “war on terror.”

Nevada has long been known as the easiest place in America to get a divorce — and a quick marriage. After a couple has had a “quickie” marriage and the marriage license has been mailed to them, the union is still not technically valid until either a clergyman or a justice of the peace in the state has performed a marriage ceremony and the officiant and the couple have signed the marriage license and it has been mailed to the proper government agency for validation.

All that this law requires is that the clergyman performing the wedding provide proof that he is affiliated with a church or religious organization. The legal role allowed by Nevada law to a man of the cloth, however, is too much for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed suit in Clark County, contending that allowing priests, ministers, and rabbis to marry people in Nevada violates the so-called separation of church and state prohibitions in the Constitution.

Herman Cain’s unexpected victory in Saturday’s Florida Straw Poll has the media, especially the so-called “conservative” media, quite excited. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole each won this contest, and each eventually received their party’s presidential nomination. Thus, so goes the conventional reasoning, this poll is not without its share of significance as far as the end result of the GOP primaries is concerned.

As usual, in covering this story, the pundits and “journalists” reveal both their proclivity for sensationalizing events and their seemingly insuperable cognitive challenges.

That there is a coincidence between two events most certainly does not establish that there is a causal relation between them. In other words, that three Republican presidential aspirers won both the Florida Straw Poll and, subsequently, their party’s nomination does not mean that the one event caused or predicted the other. There is a complex of factors, and one factor in particular, that this argument from prediction omits: namely, the fact that Reagan, Bush I, and Dole were all competitive in their respective races at the time that they achieved victory in Florida. The painful truth of the matter is that, judging from his polling numbers thus far, Cain hasn’t been serious competition for anyone.

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