Egypt’s Leader Pinpoints a Real Enemy of Peace
by JBS President John F. McManus
In July 2013, Egypt’s military chieftain, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed leader who had recently been elected President of the country. Egypt has experienced an escalating rocky period ever since that change in the country’s leadership.
Late in January, President Sisi blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for bombings in northern Egypt that killed as many as 30 people. A Muslim himself, Sisi described the Muslim Brotherhood as “the strongest secret organization of the last two centuries.” Some analysts of Muslim-dominated countries claim that the various militant Islamic factions – al Qaeda, ISIS, and others – are ultimately in league with the Brotherhood.
As the dawn of the new year of 2015 arrived, President Sisi courageously appeared at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University where he told a gathering of Islamic clerics of a need for a “revolution” within Islam. He called on them to assist in altering the world’s reputation of Islam as the cause of worldwide violence. The clerics listened but issued no comment.
Sisi then went to St. Mark’s Cathedral where he told the Coptic Christian congregation that “Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia, and we are here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again.” The Coptic minority received that message with jubilation because it has experienced numerous attacks over recent years from militant Islamists.
Writing at World Net Daily, Middle Eastern reporter F. Michael Maloof claimed that Sisi’s condemnation of the Muslim Brotherhood has received the backing of Saudi Arabia but a rebuff from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader has offered leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas “safe haven” in Turkey’s capital city and even shown support for ISIS.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi deserves admiration for attempting to reverse the gathering storm presented by militant Islamists. His call for moderation extends beyond his own nation. But the cool reception he received from Muslim leaders within Egypt does not indicate success. And it may indicate the possibility of trouble ahead, even personal retaliation aimed at the man himself. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood is working to repair its image while planning new steps to restore its power.
Jerusalem Post contributor Dr. Martin Sherman noted that Sisi’s speech at Al-Azhar University was delivered at the very location where, in 2009, President Obama delivered a speech to the clerics. Unlike the current Egyptian president who chided Islamic extremism, the U.S. President, in effect, boosted the Muslim Brotherhood and its ambitions. Dr. Sherman feels that Obama’s message in 2009 even “insisted on places of honor within the government for senior Brother representatives.”
The so-called “Arab Spring” that has brought misery to Libya, Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere has, in fact, spurred the rise of Islamic extremism. President Sisi hopes to reverse this trend and people of goodwill worldwide wish him well.
Senator Coburn’s Call for a Constitutional Convention Invites Dangerous Consequences
by JBS President John F. McManus
Medical doctor Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has always crusaded against federal spending and the inevitable deficits that follow. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, he kept his pledge to serve no more than three terms and went back to doctoring in 2001. But in 2004, he won a Senate seat and pledged to serve no more than two six-year terms. Reelected in 2010, he recently decided he’d had enough and announced his resignation effective at the end of 2014, two years before his second Senate term would have ended.
Still crusading about Washington’s big spending and deficit building, Coburn has now announced that he wants the states to hold a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He would also like to have the Con-Con add an amendment mandating term limits for members of Congress.
As much as Dr. Coburn’s numerous efforts to cut spending and deal with the national debt deserve accolades, he seems to have not considered that his new proposals are fraught with dangers. He should consider that term limits for the office of President have been in place since 1951. As a result Bill Clinton served only eight years. He was followed by George W. Bush whose eight years were followed by Barack Obama. There are some Americans who applaud the Clinton to Bush to Obama parade because it brought change. But it surely didn’t lead to less spending and an end to deficits.
The main change when term limits force one President to exit and a new one to enter is the name of the occupant of the White House. Real change would occur if the voting public were better informed and not captive of the phony claim that top Democrats are different from top Republicans. If real change is sought, there’s no alternative to an informed electorate.
Dr. Coburn doesn’t seem to realize that a Con-Con could cancel the entire Constitution, as happened in 1787 when the only Con-Con in our nation’s history exceeded its mandate to revise the Articles of Confederation, scrapped them, and produced the U.S. Constitution. A Con-Con can’t be limited. It could abolish the Bill of Rights, cancel term limits on the presidential office, destroy numerous limitations of federal power, etc.
But the other Coburn proposal for a balanced budget amendment (BBA) invites the question: Why should anyone expect current leaders to obey an amendment when they already cavalierly disobey or ignore many of the provisions already present in the existing Constitution? Even beyond that never-answered question, there are several proposed BBAs that are full of loopholes.
Some BBA proposals would allow a 60 percent vote in Congress to override budget restrictions. Other partisans for a BBA say that the way to balance the budget is to increase taxes. There are some who claim that the budget need not be balanced if there’s a war or a national security threat proclaimed by the President. More state that balancing the budget would not have to be accomplished for five years, meaning more deficits. And the most slippery of all these proposals is the one that would allow some federal expenditures to be declared “off budget.”
Beyond the loopholes in a BBA, creating a Con-Con for any reason should be blocked. One year after he participated in the Con-Con that abolished the Articles of Confederation, James Madison stated his opinion in 1788 that consideration of another would cause him to “tremble.” Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger pointed to the unlimited power of a Con-Con and advised against one. The late Justice Robert Bork insisted that “a federal constitutional convention could not be limited to a single issue.” These voices from the past and the present warn against convening a Con-Con.
So while we applaud Dr. Coburn for his praiseworthy years of service in Congress, we have to disagree with his call for a Con-Con. Term limits don’t bring about real change. A balanced budget amendment would be so full of loopholes that it would be worthless. And a Con-Con would be enormously dangerous.
The path for real change wanted by many Americans begins with an educated electorate. There is no other way. And the only organization doing this since 1958 is The John Birch Society. Join today!
Learn more about a Con-Con at our “Choose Freedom — Stop a Constitutional Convention” action page.
Jimmy Carter Shills for a Questionable Islamic Society
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held a national convention over the Labor Day weekend at Detroit’s Cobi Center. Formed in 1982, ISNA functions as an umbrella organization for several other Muslim groups, and is the largest Islamist organization in the United States with a sizable multi-million dollar headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana, an Indianapolis suburb.
ISNA has been the subject of several U.S. government investigations. In 2009, Federal District Judge Jorge Solis stated that, in a trial of various Muslim entities, the U.S. government had “produced ample evidence to establish ties between ISNA and other Muslim organizations with the terror group Hamas.
Even though the largest concentration of Muslims in America resides in the Detroit area, ISNA’s annual convention met this year for the first time ever in Michigan. As its custom calls for, the group’s officials invited the governor of the host state to address the gathering. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, accepted the invite and did appear. Even though he heaped praise on the group and on Muslims generally, he managed to cause a furor by simply affirming Israel’s right to exist. ISNA leaders immediately requested its members to send messages of protest to Governor Snyder. Their insistence that theirs is a mainstream association worthy of respect becomes a bit ludicrous once its reaction to a single sentence in the governor’s speech is noted.
The convention’s keynote speaker this year was former President Jimmy Carter. He began the first of his two presentations by urging all to “give generously to ISNA.” Stating that he was “proud to be with you,” Carter spoke mostly of the work of his own Georgia-based Carter Center but closed with praise for the “this great organization” and added that “the principles of Allah will benefit the whole world.” Over 800 convention attendees warmly applauded our nation’s 39th President who seems to have not yet heard of the escalating and very bloody Muslim-led terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, India and elsewhere.
Critics of ISNA claim that the organization is allied to Egypt’s radical Muslim Brotherhood and also to the equally radical Wahhabi strain of Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia. Investigative journalist and Islam watcher Steven Emerson has accused ISNA of links to terrorism. In 2013, Canadian authorities took action against the group known as ISNA-Canada after uncovering evidence of its links to terrorism.
Credible reports note that radical Muslims from the West (from England, France, elsewhere, and even some from the United States) have sped to Iraq and Syria to join the forces of ISIS. Shouldn’t heaping praise and supplying dignity to a Muslim organization whose claims to be peace loving lose credibility when one factors in its history and its severe reaction to Governor Snyder’s single remark about Israel?
Jimmy Carter should know better than to try to seem important by consorting with ISNA. So should Governor Rick Snyder.