Heritage Celebrates 226 Years of the Constitution

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On September 17, we celebrate the birth of one of our most important national documents: the Constitution of the United States.

At the core of this 226-year-old document are the first principles our Founding Fathers envisioned: free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. These are the same principles The Heritage Foundation promotes today.

Heritage will celebrate the Constitution’s anniversary with our sixth annual Preserve the Constitution Series, which kicks off on Tuesday, September 15. Presented by Heritage’s Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial studies, this is a seven-part lecture series that culminates in the annual Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture, featuring Judge Carlos Bea. The lineup also includes former solicitor general Paul Clement, who will preview the upcoming Supreme Court term; Chapman University’s John Eastman, who will debate birthright citizenship and the Constitution; and many more.

Get information on the full series and how to attend.

And don’t forget to check out Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution, which provides a clause-by-clause analysis of the entire Constitution from top legal minds.

How will you celebrate Constitution Day?

Seoul and Pyongyang Agree to Ceasefire. For Now.

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Tensions between North and South Korea eased earlier this week.  North Korea will apologize for the deaths of two South Korean citizens, and South Korea will stop broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda.

For the time being, the threat of a military clash on the peninsula has been avoided. “While the risk of an immediate inadvertent military clash has receded, the underlying causes remain in place and the tense status quo remains,” Heritage Foundation expert Bruce Klingner warns.

How did we get here? Klingner sums up the turmoil:

Seoul has reported that North Korea fired several artillery shells into South Korea triggering a South Korean military response by dozens of artillery rounds. The North Korean attack likely was directed at South Korean loudspeakers blaring anti-North Korean propaganda. Earlier this month, Pyongyang vowed “indiscriminate strikes” on South Korea unless Seoul halted the propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ.

North and South Korea have had rocky relations for the last fifty-plus years. This most recent cease-fire stopped a breakout of war, but there have been countless similar efforts over the decades that failed. The only way to maintain peace, Klingner reports, is “through the continued presence of strong and vigilant South Korean and U.S. military forces.”

Do you think the United States should retain a tough stance against North Korea?

Will Japan Lead the Next Industrial Revolution?

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Photo: Luke Macgregor/Reuters/Newscom

Japan wants to bring about a “New Industrial Revolution Driven by Robots,” and they country’s government is adopting policies to make that a reality.

Robots could conceivably automate almost everything from agricultural equipment to automobiles, disaster-relief services to pharmaceuticals industries. And for a country facing an aging and declining population, a robot revolution could be the answer to Japan’s demographic and labor challenges.

But how would this affect the world at large? Heritage Foundation expert Riley Walters explains in Japan Today:

Japanese robotics may succumb to the so-called Galapagos syndrome—the technological phenomenon in Japan whereby electronic devices for the domestic market thrive, while the foreign market is almost non-existent.

To avoid such an eventuality, the ministry is seeking adherence to international standards — such as those of the International Organization for Standards (ISO), an industry norms-setting body.

This ought to draw in high-end investment, allow international compliance, and expand Japanese robot exports to world markets that seemingly are becoming less reliant on them.

Aside from the potential future international agreements and entanglements, there are more immediate concerns for Japan. Robots won’t cure the demographic and labor problems Japan is facing now, Walters says, and there are other reforms that must take priority.

What do you think? Is Japan leading the way?

State Department Employees Now Need Official Clearance Before They Testify

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The State Department quietly issued a new policy that seems designed to keep its employees from freely speaking to Congress or the press — particularly about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email controversy.

Heritage’s Daily Signal reports:

The State Department issued 19 pages of revised rules about official clearance for speaking, writing and teaching on July 27.

The new rules, first reported by Diplopundit, a blog that unofficially watches State Department leadership and management issues, say in part: “Employee testimony, whether in an official capacity or in a personal capacity on a matter of Departmental concern may be subject to the review requirements of this subchapter.

Written into the revised State Department regulation is the threat that an employee or former employee speaking to Congress or the press outside the policy could be fired and criminally prosecuted. “Noncompliance may result in disciplinary action, criminal prosecution and/or civil liability,” reads one section.

Writing for The Daily Signal, Sheryl Attkisson reports that the failure to seek approval from the State Department before speaking to Congress or the press could result either in their termination or criminal prosecution: “Noncompliance may result in disciplinary action, criminal prosecution and/or civil liability.”

Do you think the State Department is grossly overreaching with this new policy?

 

4 Reasons Why the Iran Deal May Be the Worst Diplomatic Decision in History

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The deal the Obama administration reached with Iran is one of the worst in history, according to Heritage Foundation defense expert Jim Carafano:

Rarely has there been a deal like the one reached in Vienna . . . a deal in which all the nations most closely affected by it, including Iran, pretty much start out knowing it won’t end well.

Not only does the deal undermine nuclear proliferation by legitimizing Iran as a nuclear threshold state, it also undermines our allies.

Here are the four most dangerous problems with the deal:

  1. The whole neighborhood will race to go nuclear. This deal most likely will accelerate nuclear proliferation. Because if regional powers feel threatened by the possibility of Iran getting a weapon and the penalty for producing nuclear weapons decreases, then why wouldn’t they?
  2. Tehran gets to keep its vast nuclear infrastructure and its missile program.  And the promises from Iran only confirm the obvious: that the regime definitely has nuclear-weapons ambitions. After all, why have a massive ballistic-missile program and secret military nuclear facilities if the plan isn’t to build nuclear weapons?
  3. Sanctions relief will make the region far less safe. The sanctions relief and the renewed ability to sell more oil on the open market could wind up bringing $300-400 billion into the Iranian economy, bolstering the Iranian government. Essentially, this means the deal will pay for undermining U.S. policy and interests throughout the region.
  4. The deal is temporary, by design. Even the White House doesn’t claim it will permanently keep Iran from getting a bomb. So, what’s the point?

The deal enriches and emboldens Iran — an unstable and unprincipled nation. And it destabilizes the region even further and its puts its neighbors — our allies — at risk. It is a bad deal.  While the Obama administration insists that there were only two choices — the deal or war — the choices were neither that limited, nor that simple.  As Carafano concludes, “This deal is not the antidote to war. Rather, it makes increased conflict all the more likely.”

What do you think of the Iran deal?

‘The U.S. Has Failed at Negotiations 101′

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As the Iran nuclear negotiations drag on past their June 30 deadline, Iran has set new “red lines” that any deal must meet.

America’s negotiating requirements, however, are little more than “pink dotted lines” at this point, according to a panel of experts who presented yesterday at The Heritage Foundation.

The ultimate problem with this deal, Heritage’s Jim Phillips argued, is that the administration has an agreement in principle with a regime that has no principles except to maintain itself in power and export its revolution. By allowing Iran to continue its illicit uranium enrichment activities, we are legitimizing Iran as a nuclear power, he warned.

The Obama administration has failed at Negotiations 101, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph said. The administration is retreating from its red lines even as Iran is adding new red lines to their negotiating demands — including the lifting of the U.N. arms embargo and ballistic missile sanctions on Iran.

Despite President Obama’s repeated insistence, the U.S. will not walk away from a bad deal. This makes the U.S. look extremely weak. Yet the administration is still using the same talking points issued years ago about “walking away from a bad deal,” Joseph said. If you still believe these talking points, then “you must be living in bizarro world.”

America’s power is undermined by this deal, Doran warned. “We are in a Machiavellian no-man’s land. Machiavelli said you should be a loyal friend and a vicious enemy, the U.S. is neither.”

The deal will affect the U.S.’s relationship with our allies and also with our enemies, Doran said. Will our allies look at this deal as a capitulation because they see the U.S. giving in on our interests? And if we’re willing to give up on our own interests, why would we fight for theirs? The media’s images of Secretary of State John Kerry smiling and shaking hands with Iran’s leaders only serves to underscore the friction between our allies and us.

President Obama also assures us that the world will know if Iran cheats and starts making nuclear weapons. But “how long will it take for the world to realize?” Phillips asked. By the time the world is aware, Iran could have a stockpile.

Iran has dug in its heels on critical aspects of the proposed agreement, including inspection arrangements, the pace and scope of sanctions relief and accounting for past nuclear activities. And the U.S. has caved. If the U.S. has any desire to retain any influence in international affairs, it can not agree to a bad deal with Iran.

What do you think of the Iran nuclear negotiations?

Heritage Experts Tirelessly Make the Case for Internet Freedom

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The core infrastructure of the Internet has been managed for decades by ICANN, a nonprofit operating under contract with the Department of Commerce. ICANN’s oversight has allowed the Internet to remain open and free, and now the Obama administration wishes to privatize it.

The danger with this proposal is that a rushed transition could allow totalitarian regimes more control over ICANN, potentially undoing the freedom the Internet has allowed. For more than a year, Heritage experts have encouraged lawmakers to put checks and balances in place to protect these freedoms.

Heritage experts Brett Schaefer and Paul Rosenzweig have made major headway in the fight to maintain Internet freedom. Here’s a summary of their work:

  • They’ve testified before the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees;
  • Published six reports and more than 20 blogs and articles;
  • Made the case for freedom at international conferences in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Buenos Aires;
  • Attended closed meetings, participated in discussions, and helped mold policy positions; and
  • Educated individual House and Senate offices and legislative committees about conservative solutions.

Their persistent work has influenced the debate. Not only have they successfully pressed both ICANN and the administration to abandon the artificial timeline for the transition and agree that it’s more important to get the process correct than to get it done by a certain date, but Heritage’s principles are now driving the debate.

Do you think the government should protect Internet freedom?

This Is One of the Greatest Threats to Property Rights

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Every American knows that in a court of law they are innocent until proven guilty. But that isn’t the case for the accused’s property.

The procedure known as civil asset forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today. It means the government can seize someone’s property on suspicion of a crime — even if the accused is not yet proven guilty.

The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies just released a new informational booklet on civil asset forfeiture. Arresting Your Property: How Civil A$$ET Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers explains what the law is and also provides common-sense reforms to stop the abuse of this law enforcement tool. Here’s a brief description of the unfair law:

Meant to ensure that “crime does not pay,” civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize property they merely suspect was involved in criminal activity. In many states, law enforcement authorities can keep whatever they seize as profits—leading some agencies to treat civil forfeiture as a way to raise revenue, often at the expense of innocent property owners.

Arresting Your Property: How Civil A$$ET Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers takes a deep dive into how civil forfeiture is a law enforcement tool with a dark side where the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.

Be sure to click this link to learn more about the history of forfeiture, how hard it is fight a seizure, the perverse profit incentives for law enforcement, and shocking examples of cops seizing homes, money, and cars on dubious grounds.

Do you think civil asset forfeiture is justified? Or do you think it’s a threat to property rights?

 

 

Heritage Keeps the Pulse on Asian Strategy

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Asian leaders are worried about China’s rise, the spread of ISIS, and the lack of American leadership in the Pacific, Heritage expert Dean Cheng reports from a meeting of Asian defense ministers.

Here’s Cheng’s assessment:

The region is clearly very troubled by China’s activities in the South China Sea. They are primarily focusing on two responses. Politically, they would like to see the creation of a binding code of conduct (which has been in negotiations for many years, and shows no evidence of being concluded). Militarily, they would like to establish closer relations with the United States, but without jeopardizing their substantial economic relations with the PRC.

Several people, both during the sessions and in separate conversations, asked what the US would do if China does NOT cease its current island building. There is no obvious answer forthcoming from Washington.

Apart from China, the other major concern was the prospect for Islamic terrorism, especially if ISIS fighters return from Iraq/Syria. There were reports, while I was in Singapore, that there have been so many Malaysian/Indonesian recruits that ISIS has formed a separate brigade of such fighters (presumably easing language difficulties). A number of defense ministers and staffs emphasized that there is a need to address ISIS now, before those fighters return to wreak havoc in the region.

Finally, there was some discussion of refugee movements, based on the simultaneous crisis involving Rohingya peoples fleeing Burma and Bangladesh and Africans fleeing to Europe. The Southeast Asian states in particular noted the need to develop norms and standards for refugee assistance and repatriation.

Do you think China and ISIS threaten America’s interests?

How Much Could You Save If Congress Removes Obamacare Regulations?

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The Supreme Court could rule later this month that federal subsidies for health insurance purchased on state-run exchanges are unlawful. This could increase out-of-pocket costs for consumers in those states.

Here’s one solution to address the problem: If Congress eliminates three key Obamacare regulations in affected states, premiums could decrease dramatically. Heritage expert Nina Owcharenko lays out what this means:

For example, in Arizona, premiums could drop by as much as $1,044 for a 21-year-old and $402 for a 64-year-old. Similarly, in Iowa, premiums could decline by as much as $1,068 for a 21-year-old and $486 for a 64-year-old. In Ohio, premiums could be reduced by as much as $1,125 for a 21-year old and $633 for a 64-year old.

Use this interactive chart to see how removing these onerous regulations could benefit health insurance customers in your state:

Tell us in the comments: is this the right approach to Obamacare?

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