Obama’s Amnesty Plan Compared to the Emancipation Proclamation

AMNESTY    by Diane Rufino, November 22, 2014

According to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, President Obama’s plan to excuse the illegal action of millions of immigrants not unlike Abraham Lincoln’s effort to free slaves.  At first I thought it was a joke.  And then I remembered two things: Nancy Pelosi is an idiot and has no sense of humor.

In a press conference on November 20, Nancy Pelosi said: “Does the public know that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?  People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country.”   She continued: “Remember, President Lincoln said, ‘public sentiment is everything… I wish the Republicans would at least give the public a chance to listen to what the president is trying to do.”

Listening to the people is exactly what the President should do….   Maybe he already forgot, but the election this month can be seen as a complete rejection of his policies. Republicans just won complete control of both the House and Senate for the session that will begin in January.  Voters turned out to do what they see as an urgency…. to turn out government leaders who are willing to support the President in his agenda on immigration, healthcare, and more.  The urgency in this election was not to grant amnesty to “fix the immigration problem” but to PREVENT the President from doing so.

Perhaps Nancy Pelosi looked to President Lincoln for a new Democratic talking point because, after all, Lincoln was a tyrant and consolidated executive power to act extraordinarily in extraordinary circumstances. But I question whether our current broken immigration situation amounts to an “extraordinary circumstance.” The only reason we have this current immigration problem is because the government has refused to enforce immigration laws, an express enumerated power delegated to it.  The government can’t use a crisis of its own making as a reason to invoke unconstitutional powers.

Just because one president overstepped the law doesn’t mean another president should.  The people are entitled to a government that is restrained by its charter.  The American people are entitled to a government that operates within its boundaries so they can be comforted that government acts consistently, legally, and not in violation of their rights and interests.  Nancy Pelosi likes to think that Presidents can define issues as “crises” and thereby usurp power to address them. And then she believes that this type of conduct makes a President “great.”  That type of power grab made Adolph Hitler a monster.  That type of power grab made Abraham Lincoln a tyrant and gave rise to all-powerful government rather than a subordinate one. Luckily for the government, the party that wins a war has the luxury of writing the history books, providing the talking points, re-writing its reasons for the bloodshed, and demonizing the other side.  The admiration the country has for Abraham Lincoln has everything to do with the great debt the government owes to him and how his legacy has been defined.

So, what’s the real story behind the Executive Order?  Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. This date was chosen to coincide with the news of the battle at Antietam, near the village of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Antietam is infamously known as being the bloodiest single day of fighting in the Civil War. Although the battle is officially recognized as a stalemate, the North attempted to claim it as their victory. Hence, it would be a perfect time for Lincoln to tie a northern victory with the emancipation of slaves. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation stipulated that if the Southern states did not cease their rebellion by January 1st, 1863, then the Proclamation would go into effect. According to Lincoln, if the slaves were being forced to aid the Confederate war machine, by working in the fields and hauling armaments and building fortifications, he would act in his capacity as commander-in-chief to liberate that labor. When the Confederacy did not yield, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. U.S. Navy General Order No. 4, issued on January 1, 1863 declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”  It was issued as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war and as the North continued to watch its defeat at the hands of the South.  With the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, Lincoln decided to go one step further.  He would not only to free the slaves outside of Union-controlled areas but also to enlist any black man as a soldier in the Union army.  Thus black men could be part of the movement to liberate those in bondage.

The Emancipation Proclamation broadened the goals of the Civil War. While slavery had been a major issue that instigated tensions between the North and the South, Lincoln’s only mission at the start of the war was to keep the Union together. The Proclamation made freeing the slaves an explicit goal of the Union war effort, and was a step toward abolishing slavery and conferring full citizenship upon ex-slaves.  But make no mistake, the measure was not inspired by any affection for the slave or any stirring ambition to see them free in white-dominated society.  It was a cold calculated initiative to undermine the South.  Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of the slaves who were held as property in the South. It encouraged insurrection among the slaves against their white plantation owners (who, at the time, were mostly women and children). It eroded the loyalty and devotion of confederate soldiers because now their attention was torn between the war and between their families at home with this new threat from slaves who are encouraged to undermine the confederate war effort. Furthermore, the sooner the uprising could occur, and the greater the confederate effort could be undermined, the sooner the opportunity for local slaves to be liberated.  After January 1, 1863, every advance and victory of federal troops would bring freedom to the slaves in the South.    of undermining the confederate effort were almost  . After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. And again, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. [By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom].

The Emancipation Proclamation was solely designed to energize the war effort because the North was still losing at that point, and losing badly. Far greater numbers of Northern soldiers were being killed in the many battles than Confederate soldiers.  But the Proclamation lacked any force of law with respect to actual emancipation.  First, it purported to free slaves in territory that no longer was under the jurisdiction of the United States government. The southern states had seceded from the Union and immediately formed the Confederate States of America, a new and independent, sovereign nation.  The only way slaves could be emancipated was if the North won the war. Second, the Emancipation ignored legislation that Congress had passed and Constitutional provisions regarding slavery and slaves, including the controversial Fugitive Slave Laws.  True, Congress (lacking any members from Southern states) moved towards limiting slavery and freeing slaves, but it refused to do so in the states.  Their measures only applied to territories. As in the antebellum era, Congress adamantly refused to legislate regarding slavery in the states. The issue was deemed a state prerogative on which Congress had little or no constitutional authority.

The constitutional question is whether President Lincoln overstepped his authority in signing the Executive Order – U.S. Navy General Order No. 4.  As President and Chief Executive, the Proclamation was an assault on Congress as the law-making branch of government.  And he seems to have understood that.  He seems to have understood that the federal government’s power to end slavery in peacetime was limited by the Constitution, which before 1865, committed the issue to individual states (through the Article V amendment process). But with the Civil War going on, Lincoln issued the Proclamation under his authority as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, outlined in Article II, section 2 of the US Constitution.  As such, he claimed to have the martial power to free persons held as slaves in those states that were in rebellion “as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.”  In other words, his position was that Congress lacked power to free all slaves within the borders of rebel held states, but as Commander-in-Chief, he could do so if he deemed it a proper military measure.  He did not have this authority over the four slave-holding states that were not in rebellion.

The only way Lincoln could support this approach is if he completely ignored the articles of secession of the eleven southern states that decided, in special convention, to issue in order to legally separate themselves from the government of the United States – exactly as the 13 original states did with the Declaration of Independence to dissolve their bonds of allegiance with Great Britain.  In fact, the wording of several of the Ordinances of Secession are designed very much after the Declaration (just so that the Lincoln administration should have no doubt about their intentions).  Furthermore, to support his approach, Lincoln would have to completely ignore the status of the Confederate States of America as a new, independent, and sovereign country.  He would have to ignore their Constitution, which was based almost exclusively on the US Constitution, except for provisions regarding the power to enforce protective tariffs and slavery.

During the time of the Civil War, the US Congress took up the issue of slavery.  In January 1862, Thaddeus Stevens, one of the leaders of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party and the Republican leader in the House, called for total war against the South to include emancipation of slaves, arguing that emancipation, by forcing the loss of enslaved labor, would ruin the economy of the South.  On March 13, 1862, Congress approved a “Law Enacting an Additional Article of War”, which stated that from that point onward it was forbidden for Union Army officers to return fugitive slaves to their owners.  On April 10, 1862, Congress declared that the federal government would compensate slave owners who freed their slaves. Without the South in the Union and without any members of Congress from the South to represent its interests, there apparently was no need to respect the Fugitive Slave provision of the Constitution. (Slaves in the District of Columbia were freed on April 16, 1862, and their owners were compensated).  On June 19, 1862, Congress prohibited slavery in all current and future United States territories (though not in the states), and President Lincoln quickly signed the legislation. By this act, they repudiated – nullified – the 1857 decision by the US Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, which announced that Congress was powerless to regulate slavery in U.S. territories

So the question is whether the power President Lincoln assumed as Commander-in-Chief allowed him to act outside of the Constitution’s structure of separation of powers and checks and balances during the Civil War.  I would submit that he didn’t.  He merely wanted to extend to those collateral parties to the war – the slaves – a vested interest in fighting for the North and undermining the effort of the South.  It was sabotage by usurpation.

Is Nancy Pelosi starting this Democratic talking point for the same reason Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation?   Are they hoping that Ohama’s amnesty plan will energize those here illegally?  Are they hoping to sabotage our rule of law by claiming there is precedent for unconstitutional executive actions?

Well, perhaps in this regard, the President’s amnesty plan is designed to resemble the Emancipation Proclamation.

Let’s go back to President Obama’s plan for the amnesty of 5 million illegal immigrants. In light of the recent election and voter mandate (he got slaughtered in the election!)  and despite a recent Rasmussen poll which shows that 62% of Americans do NOT want the president to act on immigration reform without the approval of Congress,  the president signed two Executive Orders yesterday, November 21, onboard Air Force One (en route to Las Vegas).  The Executive Orders would delay deportation for millions of illegal immigrants. They will grant “deferred action” to two illegal immigrant groups – (1) parents of US citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for five years, and (2) young people who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010. During his televised 15-minute primetime speech Thursday evening from the East Room of the White House, Obama said his administration will start accepting applications from illegal immigrants who seek the deferred actions. Those who qualify will be granted protections for three years.

It’s no wonder that Obama has chosen to go to Las Vegas for his first stop in drumming up support for his plan.  Hispanics are a growing and powerful constituency in Nevada.

In general, the American people seem confused as to what an Executive Order is, what applicability is has, and how much authority the President has to issue them.  If you look at social media and blog responses, those who support Obama’s amnesty plan claim that Obama is only being criticized unfairly because he is black and as proof, they cite the fact that President Bush signed far more Executive Orders.  This is a typical liberal response, lacking in any fact or logic. Yes, President Bush signed a butt-load of Executive Orders (and we’re talking Kim Kardashian size butt loads). But each executive order is different. A president can issue an executive order to clarify his position, to further manage “executive” operations, give directions, give instructions, make declarations, make proclamations (like the one to establish the National Day of Prayer), give directives, etc. They are mainly for clarification and for instructions. They further explain something that Congress has passed. When Executive Orders are pursuant to valid Constitutional powers, they have the force of law. But Executive Orders are ALWAYS subject to the Separation of Powers doctrine. The President can NEVER assume powers not granted to him under Article II.

In 1950, North Korean troops invaded the Republic of Korea. Backed by a UN Resolution, President Truman sent U.S. troops to aid South Korea. He did not ask for a declaration of war from Congress. Because of the “war,” demand increased for steel and prices had risen.  As steel prices rose, the steel worker union, the United Steel Workers of America, threatened a strike unless they received a wage increase.  President Truman believed that it would be a disaster for the nation if steel production were stopped and he ordered his Secretary of Commerce to take control of and operate the steel mills.  Truman wanted to make sure that the military effort in Korea would not be disrupted.

The steel mill owners believed President Truman’s seizure was unconstitutional because it was not authorized by any law and they took it to the Supreme Court. Truman argued that his position as Commander-in-Chief gave him the necessary power to seize and operate the mills. (Sounds similar to what Lincoln did with the Emancipation Proclamation). In 1951, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the landmark case known as Youngstown Steel v. Sawyer.  This is an important case and one that is certainly studied in law school. The Court struck down President Truman’s Executive Order and through its decision (full of cajones), it helped to curb presidential power. Perhaps it was an attempt to push back against presidents (like FDR and Truman, thinking themselves untouchable because of their management of the war) who had greatly sought to enlarge the powers of the Executive. The Court disagreed with Truman and held that neither the Constitution nor any act of Congress allowed the President to take over the steel mills. “The President’s power, if any, to issue the order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.” There had been no act of Congress, so the Court turned to the Constitution. The Court ruled that the President’s role of Commander in Chief power did not authorize the action, and neither did the “several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the President. In the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.”  In other words, his power to see that the laws are faithfully executed should NOT be confused with the power to make law in the first place.

The ruling was based on the Constitution’s Separation of Powers doctrine. Legal scholars point out that the Court did not rule that any seizure would have been unconstitutional. Rather, Truman’s actions were unconstitutional because he did not have any legislative authority.

The case stands for the bright line rule that a President CANNOT act where Congress has decided NOT to act.

Another argument pushed by supporters of the president’s Executive Order, including Nancy Pelosi herself, is that Obama is not doing anything that Ronald Reagan didn’t do when he was president, in deferring the removal of certain immigrants.  I believe there is a clear difference though. Congress had passed sweeping immigration reform legislation in 1986, granting full-blown amnesty.  In Obama’s case, Congress hasn’t passed any immigration reform.  I would remind folks to visit the Youngstown Steel case.

In 1986, Congress passed a full-blown amnesty, the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, conferring residency rights on some 3 million people. Simpson-Mazzoli was sold as a “once and for all” solution to the illegal immigration problem but ended up being riddled with fraud. It was passed as immediate amnesty with strict enforcement measures to be put in place for the future. Unfortunately, the bill failed to anticipate the situation where certain members of a single family qualified for amnesty while others did not.  Nobody wanted to deport the still-illegal husband of a newly legalized wife. Reagan’s Executive Order attempted to address this situation and tidy up Congress’ immigration scheme.  The public didn’t view it to a unilateral initiative to reform immigration and it was not seen as controversial.

In other words, Ronald Reagan acted in conjunction with Congress and in furtherance of a congressional purpose.  Obama is intentionally ignoring Congressional purpose.

The executive action by President Obama, however, would follow not an act of Congress but a prior executive action of his own.  Remember when he suspended enforcement against the so-called “dreamers” by Executive Order in June 2012.  The 2012 Executive Order announced a change in immigration policy; the government would stop deportations and begin granting work permits for some Dream Act-eligible students.  The policy change applied (applies) to young undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children, following along the same lines as the Dream Act, a bill that passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate in 2010.  (Dream Act-eligible young people are referred to as “DREAMers”).

AMNESTY #2

No one from the left seems to care about what lies at the very core of the president’s actions.  Let’s be clear….  President Obama has NO authority to do what he wants to do – to grant legal rights to illegal immigrants.  But never-mind the substantive issue here, the President has NO right to sidestep Congress and to ignore the Constitution. He has no right to rule by fiat and he has no right to act like a King. No matter where a person stands on the issue of amnesty, it is the conduct by this president and the audacity with which he approaches the job that should make every American fuming mad.

The lies, the accusation, and the frivolous comparisons to Ronald Reagan are bad enough.  But when I hear folks out there comparing the Amnesty plan to the Emancipation Proclamation and illegal immigrants to slaves, I want to scream. I want to remind those on the left who the REAL slaves are, because they really don’t have a clue.  The real slaves are the tax-paying middle class who aren’t exempt from the federal income tax scam but aren’t rich enough to have any lobbying power or ability to bribe anyone for favors.  They are the workers…  the ones who get up each day, ride a bus, train, plane, etc to work so they can pay for a house, college, car, clothes, food, and to support the kids that they carefully planned to have. The slaves are the ones who pay taxes at the expense of those who don’t but have no say in how their money (their property) is used to increasingly allow those deadbeats to live more comfortably.  The slaves are the ones who are forced to pay for the healthcare plans of those who, in great part, don’t give a rat’s ass about their health or how to improve it.  The slaves are the ones whose kids who kids can’t get into top-notch schools based on their high grade point averages because they are not a minority.  The slaves are the ones who have to save all their receipts and fill out lots of paperwork each April, hoping that the government won’t send a letter accusing them of not paying enough, while welfare recipients can use their money (OUR money) to buy cigarettes, alcohol, and luxury items, and go to gambling casinos.  Slaves are the ones who take voting seriously and go to the ballot box well-informed of the issues and with skin in the game but immediately have their votes cancelled out by ones that are cast by low-information voters without skin in the game for the sole purpose of making sure they continue to get what the other voters can provide to them.  But most importantly, slaves are the ones who, because they pay taxes and have files with the IRS, are forced to censor themselves and refrain from protest for fear that the government will use their henchmen (the IRS) to audit and otherwise harass them.

The real slaves want the President to uphold the Constitution and stop trying to make a mockery of it.

As mentioned earlier, the Emancipation Proclamation carried no legal authority and freed no one, and so in this sense, I hope that Obama’s lawless behavior will be recognized similarly and have similar results.

Watch:
Nancy Pelosi Compares Obama’s Amnesty Bill to Emancipation Proclamation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNxglS1E3pc

Nancy Pelosi to GOP on Immigration Action: ‘Look to Ronald Reagan, Your Hero’  –   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYLrmnW3JHo  (“The President’s Actions are as good as it can be under the law…. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to have a bill….  “  Nancy Pelosi)

References:
Billy House, “Pelosi Compares Obama Immigration Order to Emancipation Proclamation,” National Journal, November 20, 2014. http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/pelosi-compares-obama-immigration-order-to-emancipation-proclamation-20141120.

Henry L. Chambers Jr., “Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Executive Power,” Maryland Law Review, Vol 73, Issue 1, Article 6 (2013. http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3599&context=mlr   or http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/mlr/vol73/iss1/6

The Emancipation Proclamation, the Navy Department Library.  http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq57-2.htm

Gabriel Malor, “No, Reagan Did Not Offer an Amnesty by Illegal Executive Action,” The Federalist, November 20, 2014.  http://thefederalist.com/2014/11/20/no-reagan-did-not-offer-an-amnesty-by-lawless-executive-order/

David Frum, “Reagan and Bush Offer No Precedent for Obama’s Amnesty Order,” The Atlantic, November 18, 2014.   http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/11/the-weak-argument-defending-executive-amnesty/382906/

Appendix:

THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  A PROCLAMATION.

WHEREAS, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a Proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free; and the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of any such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such States shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans,) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth,) and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this Proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgement of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Government That Wants to Control Us, Not Represent Us

TYRANNY  by Diane Rufino

George S. Liberty recently wrote a rant about government on his blogsite after he watched a news clip about Jonathan Gruber, the controversial architect of Obamacare.  His theme was how audacious and contemptible the government has become regarding the American people.  Clearly, the government has little respect for the people. It feigns loyalty to them only when it comes to election time or when it serves its purposes in enlarging the federal institution. As George wrote: “It’s clear that government feels it must oversee us rather than represent us. It knows best.”

The federal government is steadily becoming more antagonistic and repugnant to the People.  Its interests are not the interests of the American people. In fact, too many times, its interests are exactly opposed to their interests.  Look at the immigration issue, look at the erosion of race relations at the direct hands of the current administration, and look at the soft stance the current administration is taking with respect with the greatest evil the world has encountered since Nazi Germany and its designs for genocide of the Jews and world domination.  When has America ever stood by and watched its citizens being brutally beheaded?  The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, for example, which violates so many precious American liberties that this article dares not even go into them, was passed with a level of deception and duplicity that hasn’t been seen in this country since the days of the Civil War and Reconstruction. As if the backdoor deals, threats, and political promises make by the President weren’t enough, as if his promise to the American people, through an interview with George Stephanopolous, that the mandate was not a tax only to have the mandate officially classified as a tax (and supported and justified by the government’s taxing power) wasn’t enough, and as if the promises of lower healthcare costs (and retention of one’s doctor) only to see costs skyrocket, doctors lost, and businesses suffer wasn’t enough, we now learn that the architect of the healthcare bill “counted on the stupidity of the American people” in getting the bill passed in the court of public opinion.  He said that if more people knew what was written in the bill, it would have never passed. “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish we could have made it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

This government – OUR government – a government supposedly of the people, by the people and for the people –  purposely set out to deceive We the People.  Wow.  I mean, WOW!  Can you believe the audacity of our government?  King George III of England seemed audacious at one time.  He and the British Parliament took the liberty of taxing the American colonies to cover the costs incurred by the British in fighting the French in the French & Indian War (to clear claim to the New World territories) and the costs to protect them.  Yes, the tax was ultimately being used to serve and benefit the colonies, but it was the fact that the King didn’t first provide them with a seat in Parliament to give them representation with respect to legislation that affected them which set them off.  This failure of the King to safeguard their rights as Englishmen (as laid out in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, among other charters) is what gave birth to the Sons of Liberty, led to the Boston Tea Party, the shots at Concord & Lexington, the Declaration of Independence, and ultimately to our secession from Great Britain.  The lack of transparency, the duplicity, the contempt, etc…..  King Obama and his Congress of rats and weasels all of a sudden don’t seem much different from King George.

As I hear news story after news story showing just what a leviathan that our government has become – in both size and attitude –  I can’t help but reflect upon the genius of our Founding Fathers.  Thomas Jefferson repeatedly explained how government would work best. In 1816, he wrote to his friend Joseph Cabell: “”The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the function he is competent to.  Let the National Government be entrusted with the defense of the nation and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the

counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.  It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.”  The federal government was never intended to have such concentrated power and authority over the states and over the lives and property of the people. Whatever happened to these documents: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…..”     And “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The highly intuitive and intellectual geniuses that debated and drafted our Constitution knew very well what could happen if the populace became complacent and tacitly surrendered their freedom to the designs of government. Thomas Jefferson and others warned that government would tend to grow itself and put its own interests above those of the people.  The delegates to the Philadelphia Convention thought they addressed this problem by creating separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches and by building into government various levels of checks and balances.  Madison’s essays – Federalist No 47 and No. 51 – addressed these important design features.  Aside from the separation of powers and the systems of checks and balances, our Founders believed the two most powerful checks on government would be the States (federalism; Tenth Amendment) and the People themselves (ever vigilante of their liberties).

The question is this: Once government becomes self-serving rather than freedom-serving, are we stuck with it?  The answer is no.  Lucky for us, the sheer brilliance of our Founders can be seen in the plain words of our country’s charter of freedom – the Declaration of Independence:

“…….That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But the obvious follow-up question is this:  At what point do we “alter or abolish” our government?  Jefferson addresses that question in that second paragraph:

“…… Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.“

At this point, so many of our precious liberties – certainly our rights to property and now our rights to make basic choices regarding our lives, our associations, our conscience, and our health – are not secured by our government. In fact, government is assaulting and eroding them. Our right to bear arms, the one right that helps us secure all others, has become ever so tenuous.  Is now the time to “alter or abolish” our government?

Judging by the sheer volume of Americans that the government has managed to shackle to its existence and its programs, individual liberty may no longer be that “precious gem” (as James Madison once called it at the Virginia Ratifying Convention) that should be placed above all else. There was a time when it was.

And government knows this.  Perhaps that was the very intent of government when it set on its path to become the great leviathan that it currently is. Maybe it knew that the people had to be coerced into surrendering their liberties – by promising them stuff and taking care of them from cradle to grave and by convincing them that the promise of guaranteed freedom isn’t the same as a guaranteed paycheck or guaranteed housing or guaranteed healthcare.

Maybe those government officials who have sought over the years to use the full power of the government to divest it of its constitutional moorings studied Federalist No 51.  In that essay, James Madison wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

People can’t control government like they are supposed to if government controls them.  And make no mistake about it…. Government today DOES control the American people.

Combine the complacency that people have on account of the emphasis that the leviathan places on social and welfare programs with the “experience that hath been shown” of human nature to be “disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  This looks like a perfect recipe for government longevity and acceptance of tyranny.  And so, in one of his arguments, George S. Liberty writes: “The government will continue to take, and take, and take. And it will push, push, and push –  all in the design to sustain itself at the expense of the populacebecause it knows that people are more inclined to suffer the consequences than to right themselves. The government banks on the fact that we are timid.”

It cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals — that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government — that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.

In other words, in this country, it is freedom that is enlarged.….   NOT the government.  Freedom must endure at all costs; NOT government.  Government must not be perpetual, if it be at the expense of individual freedom.  But individual freedom MUST be perpetual, even and perhaps especially at the expense of government.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment.” (in a letter to M. van der Kemp, 1812)  Maybe our future generations of Americans are better served in our public schools by spending a month every year learning what our Founding Fathers had to say about civic duty instead of constantly re-learning about slavery and Jim Crow (the wounds that no one seems to want to let heal).

So, where are today’s Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Sam Adams, and George Washington?

If ever we needed these men – or their spirits – it is now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Voter is Terribly Disillusioned

Diane - I Voted         by Diane Rufino, November 7, 2014

On October 28, the final presidential debate of the 1980 election was held in Cleveland, Ohio. In his closing remarks, Ronald Reagan asked viewers: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions ‘yes’, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.”

How bad have things gotten in the world and in our lives that these weren’t even the questions we asked when we cast our votes this week? And how distracted must we be by the shenanigans and posturing of this inept current government that our corrupt, arbitrary and oppressive taxation system wasn’t even an issue for debate? As we squabble over “R” and “D” and how we can make everyone happy and comfortable – even those who don’t feel they need to obey laws or conform to norms of decency or even contribute to society – our country is slipping away from us. And the only thing we’ll end up giving our children and grandchildren is a government that makes it easier to be a despicable human being, to work harder for less, to be punished for investing in personal development and success, and to be stressed and frustrated for the length of their lives.

Wow, we must really love our children.

I saw the following election poster on facebook, obviously playing on Reagan’s famous remarks.  It was titled “humorous” but it really isn’t so funny, is it?  It’s truthful.  It’s accurate.  It’s the new reality.  A government tasked to keep its people safe and secure and to protect their liberties has become predatory and has put us at great risks on so many levels.  We really should be asking ourselves whether this is the kind of government we want.  And if that answer is “no,” then we need to figure out, as those brilliant men back in the the 1700’s did, what we need to do to design and implement a government suitable for a people historically destined to enjoy the greatest degree of freedom on the planet.

VOTING - funny (2014)

With all that in mind, I voted on November 4.  Of course, I voted.  I used my vote not only to help elect some of the servants I feel will represent us well and remain constrained by the written will of the people, but I also used my vote to exercise my precious first amendment right – the freedom of speech and expression. I hope my seemingly inconsequential vote will send a message. I’m disgusted with both political parties – Democrats and Republicans. One has huge balls and is audacious and the other has none and is spineless. I hope when North Carolina counts its votes, a message will have been sent. More importantly, I hope the message will be RECEIVED !!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Constitution of Government Once Changed from Freedom Can Never Be Restored……

Conservatism

By Diane Rufino, September 1, 2014

True Conservatives understand why our country is falling apart. It’s not that we lack the power and the ability to be the country we used to be; it’s that our citizenry has willfully and ignorantly abandoned a moral imperative to defend our American ideals by living those ideals. America is special because of the ideals that she was founded on and the ideals that most people around the world still thinks she stands for.  But what they don’t know is that those ideals have been turned on its head. The exercise of freedom that once defined her is now killing her.  How is this happening?  It’s because of the implied understanding that with great freedom comes great responsibility and the fact that too many people – including most of our citizens, most of our country’s social leaders, most of our elected representatives, and certainly most of our sitting judges – have shirked the responsibility they have. Conservatives – true conservatives – are trying to conserve those fundamental ideals. They thought it would be easy because after all, the nexus between our greatness and the bedrock principles defined in our Declaration and protected in our Constitution is uncontested.  Yet, sadly, we see that It has become popular to make fun of “conservatives,” and in some communities, the very word “conservative” is too offensive to even speak. This is our downfall.

The first definition in Webster’s Online Dictionary of “conservatism” defines it as “A political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes.” The second definition, by Webster, defines the term as “The disposition and tendency to preserve what is established; opposition to change;…”  So, if conservatism means the preservation of an “establishment,” what is that establishment?

The establishment that conservatives mean to preserve is that of our founding, including American first principles like contribution to society, constitutionally-limited government, state sovereignty, independence from unnecessary assistance or control, common-sense in financial matters, fiscal responsibility, honesty, free speech and religious practice, the pursuit of happiness, the protection of human life, personal responsibility, and respect for the Judeo-Christian foundation that was and is woven into our nation’s fabric.

Every problem we face today can be traced to a large, imposing government and to the fact that it has strayed away from one or more of the principles listed above. We can’t hope to survive and overcome our problems with such a powerful top-down, one-size-fits all centralized government.  This was not the government of our Founders or of the 13 original “countries” (as England publicly recognized in 1791) who voluntarily formed into the union that established our country.

The problem, in short, is that government has gotten out of hand.  Instead of protecting liberty, it is skillfully eroding it.  By claiming to offer greater freedom to those living in “poverty” by relieving them of their discomforts, it is denying fundamental freedoms to those who the government feels can “give up some of their comforts.”  “Comforts,” my friends, is another word for “pursuit of happiness.”  We all have the right to pursue it but we don’t have the right to demand it.  It’s a right and not an entitlement.  By denying fundamental liberty rights to America’s middle class and wealthier citizens, the government is actually eroding our traditional notions of freedom and doing irreparable harm to the fundamental rights of ALL citizens. As John Adams once wrote to his wife Abagail: “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

And Thomas Jefferson also gave us a few words of warning:  “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”  President Gerald Ford reminded a Joint Session of Congress of this warning in 1974 when he addressed both Houses.

Our downfall is the growing socialization of our country….  It is the growing (and perhaps political) incumbency to “take care” of people instead of protecting and enlarging their freedom to take care of themselves.  The downfall is our ever-increasing entitlement mentality and the growing financial obligations of a government that has adopted that mentality.  We can’t afford to support a political ideology that excuses so many people of taking responsibility for their lives and their conduct. We can’t raise all the children that people want. We can’t keep giving out checks (funneling money from hard-working, responsible families) to those who can’t assume responsibility for their sexuality and having children out of wedlock (or even worse, for the express purpose of getting that check).  We can’t afford to provide social services for every person who wants to come to this country. Our Constitution promises its citizens that there will be enforced immigration laws. It’s ridiculous that all of a sudden so many Americans just happen to be “disabled” and therefore relieved from working for a living.

Many years ago, religion and morality had its place in America’s government and in America’s citizenry. There were certain ground rules to government, because as our earlier generations understood, government was instituted (as the Declaration says) first and foremost to protect our INDIVIDUAL rights (not collective rights) of Life, Liberty, and property. “Pursuit of Happiness” was the term chosen by Jefferson to not only include property, but other rights, most notably the right to use one’s own intellectual property and ambition to acquire property and thus “happiness.” A moral people RESPECTED the rights of others. It’s guidelines included some of the basic tenets of the Ten Commandments, including the commandments not to covet and not to steal. There are too many people in this country who claim to be religious and claim that the Church dominates their lives and their conduct but have NO problem taking money from those who have the natural right to keep it. This is simply common sense. You work, you earn, you keep it (minus a tiny bit to support services that benefit YOU and the protection of YOUR rights). The old motto used to be “I must work to eat.” Now the motto is: “You work and I eat.” Government policies too often foster immoral conduct. And the growing immortality that has resulted is killing our culture of liberty. We need to BEWARE. And if liberty is to survive, I believe that groups of people will need to separate. Sad to have to think like this.

In the meantime, religion and morality MUST be qualities we demand in our elected officials, if we can even hope to restore this country to the City on the Hill that it was meant to be – where its people are of the content and character worthy of the grand principles it was founded on.  If our elected officials are to uphold the Constitution and defend – CONSERVE – our traditional and honorable institutions, they must do right as God gives them the ability to understand what is right.  And if we can do that, and if we have such men and women in office, then I believe they will do the very best for America.

 

Reference:
Shawn Paul, “What Does it Mean to Be a Conservative,” Western Journalism, November 24, 2012.  Referenced at:  http://www.westernjournalism.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-conservative/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Taliban Trade: The Trade of the Century

Taliban swap - Dos Equis guy     by Diane Rufino

“Obama admits that Taliban prisoner swap for Bergdahl could put Americans in danger.  He also acknowledged that the Taliban fighters could once again engage in efforts that are detrimental to U.S. security.”

The 21st century began with a massacre.  Almost thirteen years ago, terrorists based in Afghanistan plotted and planned the massive attack on the United States that would shatter our security and test the value of our freedom.  As a consequence of the events of 9/11, President George Bush vowed to hunt terrorists down. As he promised: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” Since terrorism claims no unique nationality, the United States would engage any county that sponsors terrorism or harbors its agents.  On September 14, 2001, the US Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which authorized the use of US armed forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups. The AUMF was signed by President Bush four days later. [Note: The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA, which authorizes $662 billion for national security programs (“for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad”), includes a section on counter-terrorism within the United States. Two of the most controversial provisions of the counter-terrorism section are contained in subsections 1021 and 1022. These sections permit the indefinite detention of American citizens who the executive department identifies as “belligerents” against the United States. Congress cited the AUMF for its authority to target American citizens, although it is almost impossible to understand how].

In any case, the events of 9/11 plunged the United States into an undefined “war” on terrorism.  Never before has the United States waged war against a tactic. American civil rights were burdened and unprecedented powers were transferred to the US executive.  For years legal scholars have been watching the dynamic and the unfolding of circumstances to evaluate the burden on civil rights in relation to the furtherance of homeland security. And civil rights groups and constitutionally-minded Americans have been critical of the Patriot Act, the NDAA, NSA spying, etc from the get-go. They understand that any surrender of liberty is likely to never be reclaimed.

On Saturday, May 31, President Barack Obama announced that he made an arrangement to free an American soldier that has been held for nearly half a decade in Afghanistan.  That “arrangement” was a swap for five “Guantanamo detainees.”  As usual, the White House was not completely honest about its actions.  The American “soldier,” Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was more of a “deserter” and Islamic supporter than he was an American soldier.  Testimony from some of his fellow platoon members claim that he walked off from his platoon voluntarily and reports have said that as many as six soldiers might have died while searching for him. And the “Guantanamo detainees” were, in fact, five top Taliban terrorists.  News reports claim that the freed terrorists are headed back to the battlefield – wherever that may be.

How has the United States honored those six Americans who were killed searching for Bergdahl when he “walked off”?   It rendered their sacrifice meaningless by releasing hardened terrorists to go back on the battlefield to kill more Americans.

Taliban Swap - 6 Americans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As justification of his decision, Obama alleged that “unique and exigent circumstances” presented the United States with an opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life and he had to move as quickly as possible.  Lingering questions remain, and with each day the debate intensifies in Washington and among Americans all over whether the U.S. should have negotiated with the Taliban over prisoners.

Obama’s swap of 5 key terrorists – “the Terrorist Dream Team” – for an American deserter has raised serious questions, including of our President’s fitness to be President and his ability to keep our nation safe. How many Americans may have lost their lives or were wounded or who were sacrificed in trying to secure these five individuals?  And how many Americans have lost their lives – brutally at that – at the hands of terrorists related or financed by the Afghan Taliban.  The terrorists so cavalierly released by Obama have ties to the al queda and to Osama bin Laden.

Here are my concerns, just to name:

(1)  Deserter Bergdahl is a supporter of the Taliban. He deserted to offer support for the terrorist organization, in some form. If anyone should have any questions about that, just reflect back on the conduct of his father at the news of his son’s freedom in exchange for the release of the 5 terrorists. It should be noted that his father, Robert Bergdahl, looks like a Taliban member.  At a podium from the White House Rose Garden, and in the President’s presence, he offered a Muslim prayer in honor of the President’s decision to swap notorious Islamic terrorists – enemies of the United States – for his son’s release.  He spoke the words: “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahm,” which means, “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”

Taliban leader Mullah Omar pointed to Bergdahl’s use of a Muslim prayer to characterize the actions of our government as a “clear victory” for their movement. He reported as much to the Pakistani news outlets.

To compound the insult, Robert Bergdahl sent a tweet (now removed, but clearly originating from his twitter account) that he would continue to work for the release of the rest of the Islamic prisoners at GITMO.

So here’s my concern.  Bergdahl’s conduct can arguably be characterized as traitorous – giving aid and support to an enemy of the United States. Because the US government doesn’t want to be limited to the constraints imposed by the US Constitution (Article III) when it comes to Americans who commit traitorous acts, it invented a new “creature” that would be beyond traditional law – the “enemy combatant.”  Originally used to refer to members of the armed forces of a country at which we are at war with, who, without wearing their uniform, wage war or aid/support their cause, the US Supreme Court has perverted that definition to apply it to Americans who “are in arms” against the US or give aid/support to the enemy.  Make no mistake, the “enemy combatant” is merely another term for the same individual – a traitor. But an “enemy combatant” has none of the civil rights protections afforded by Article III.  In fact, an “enemy combatant” has essentially no constitutional rights.  He is barely considered an American citizen. He has less rights than any one of the 9/11 hijackers, had any of them lived to see their day in court.

Obama’s swap then amounts to this:  He swapped someone barely recognized as an American for 5 key Taliban terrorists. Senator John McCain commented on the five detainees: “These are the hardest of the hard core.”  Two of the five detainees (terrorists) are linked to the massacre of thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan and one has been labeled by the US State Department as a “global terrorist.”  As mentioned above, freed Bowe Bergdahl has vowed to continue working to release the rest of such prisoners.  One can’t help but note how poorly our country fared in this exchange.  In fact, a TV poll today showed that 81% of Americans are concerned about the deal that President Obama struck.

(2)  We Americans lost many of our treasured civil liberties because of individuals like those detained as terrorists or likely terrorists in Guantanamo prison.  We have sacrificed these liberties in order that our government can identify, track, and prevent them from doing any further harm to us or to our nation’s security. We didn’t sacrifice these liberties in order that the government catch these individuals and then let them go.

(3)  The President broke the law by releasing the five GITMO terrorists. Is he not bound to follow the laws that he is tasked to enforce?  The President of the United States is required, BY LAW, to notify Congress at least 30 days in advance before transferring any prisoner out of GITMO.  He gave no such notification. He made a unilateral decision. There needs to be a full investigation and consequences – articles of impeachment, for starters.

(4)  The US has now made it clear that it has reversed its policy of not negotiating with terrorists. One of the greatest protections and assurances that US diplomats and soldiers abroad have is knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists. And now that has been compromised.  Senator Ted Cruz perhaps sums up this last concern most concisely in his exchange on June 1 with Ambassador Susan Rise (of Benghazi notoriety): “According to Ambassador Rice, U.S. policy has changed. Now we make deals with terrorists. And the question going forward is, have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers? What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists we’ve gone after. … And the idea that we’re now making trades, what does that do for every single soldier stationed abroad? It says the reason why the U.S. has had the policy for decades of not negotiating with terrorists is because once you start doing it, every other terrorist has an incentive to capture more soldiers.”

Additionally, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-CA) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (R-OK), wrote in a statement, “Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.”

Again, how has the President’s conduct made the United States safer?   In fact, he has made us far more vulnerable and without credibility in our so-called “War on Terror.”

Of course, there are more concerns that I, and others, have regarding the swap of Bergdahl for “the worst of the worst” terrorists, and especially as suspicions continue to grow as to who this deserter and likely Taliban sympathizer is.

In a recent interview, Colonel Allen West said: “Those of us in the know and in the inner circles have known since 2009-2010 that Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter. He’s not a prisoner of war and we know the circumstances; we knew there were nondisclosure agreements that members of his platoon were forced to sign and, as always, the truth is starting to come out now. This whole episode was not about a swap, it was about an out-and-out release of five senior members of the Taliban structure.”

Taliban swap - collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West outlined the need for a thorough Congressional investigation and reiterated that the House ought to draw up articles of impeachment against the president. “I think the articles of impeachment are there because the president broke the law. I don’t care about this Article II signing statement; you can’t just pick and choose and say what’s constitutional and what’s not constitutional.”

The Obama Administration has shrugged-off the release of the GITMO terrorists by claiming that U.S. forces could always recapture them, an option that of course, could come at the expense of more American lives.

Borrowing a term from law school, the decision to swap Bergdahl for five notorious terrorists doesn’t pass the “smell” test.  In other words, it stinks. The truth is that there isn’t hasn’t been much from this administration over these past several years that “smells” right.  America, Americans, and especially our men in uniform deserve better.  We’ve sacrificed far too much for shady deals like this one.

 

References:

Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely, “Sorting Murking Issues on the POW Swap,” FactCheck, June 6, 2014.   Referenced at:  http://www.factcheck.org/2014/06/sorting-murky-issues-on-the-pow-swap/

Joe Saunders, “POW’s Dad Praises Allah at Suspicious Rose Garden Press Conference with Obama,” Biz Pac Review, June 1, 2014.  Referenced at: http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/06/01/pows-dad-praises-allah-at-suspicious-rose-garden-press-conference-with-obama-122631

Dan Friedman, Edgar Sandoval, Stephen Rex Brown, and Larry McShane, “Obama Admits that Taliban Prisoner Swap for Bergdahl Could Put Americans in Danger, NY Daily News, June 4, 2014.  Referenced at:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-bergdahl-deal-circumstances-american-soldier-back-article-1.1814986#ixzz340WMGKZk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q_pmEbDbMM     (Video of Robert Bergdahl at the White House Rose Garden)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Easter Reflection

Jesus - bloody

by Diane Rufino

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very blessed Good Friday – Easter week-end.

Beginning yesterday, Holy Thursday, an innocent man was taken into custody to answer to trumped up charges and to be eventually be executed in order to spare the temple High Priests from being challenged in their power.  Yet in these sad, unfortunate chain of events, prophecy was fulfilled and we have the opportunity to establish a kingdom on Earth but even more, we can have eternal life with our Father in heaven.

We remind ourselves of the last moments of Jesus’ life and ministry:

Holy Thursday  —

Mid-day: Jesus’ disciples prepare the upper room for the Passover meal.

About 6 pm: Our Savior begins the Passover meal with his disciples.  After the institution of the Eucharist and the reception of communion by all twelve of the Apostles (and our Lord himself), Judas receives the dipped morsel (which was not the Eucharist, but simple bread) and departs.

About 8 pm: Jesus goes forth to the Garden of Gethsemane.

About 9 pm: Judas leads the soldiers to Jesus and the other apostles. Our Lord is arrested.  (the priests were afraid to arrest him during the Passover — because a public arrest could have triggered a riot from the crowds.

All flee, excepting Sts. Peter and John.

From 9 pm till midnight: Jesus is brought first to Annas and then to Caiaphas. These are the first two trials which our Lord undergoes. The trial before Caiaphas is often called the “Night Trial before the Sanhedrin”.

During the trial at the house of Annas, St. Peter denies Jesus the first time.

During the trial before Caiaphas, St. Peter denies the Lord twice more. The cock crows, and Peter flees weeping.

It is here that the Temple guards blindfold our Lord and strike him, asking him to prophecy for them.

Our Lord spends the evening in the dungeon of Caiaphas’ house.

Good Friday —

6 am: The Lord is brought to a brief trial before the Sanhedrin. They send him directly to Pilate.

Immediately after Jesus is sent forth from the Sanhedrin to Pilate, Judas returns to the chief priests, regretting his betrayal. Returning the money, Judas departs and hangs himself (probably before noon).

From 6 am to 9 am: The fourth trial now, which is before Pilate, is very brief. The Lord is sent to Herod (the fifth trial) and then back to Pilate. The second time before Pilate is the occasion of the more extensive questioning of Jesus by Pilate, including the infamous question: What is truth? (John 18:38)

The fifth trial (which is before Pilate) is when the Jews choose Barabbas over Jesus.

About 10 am: The crowds ask for Jesus to be crucified.  Jesus is scourged, crowned with thorns, cloaked in purple, and mocked.

Then, taking up the Cross, our Savior begins the journey to Golgotha.

A little before noon: Jesus reaches Golgotha, the “place of the skull.”

Then, he is stripped and nailed to the Cross.

From noon until 3 pm: Our Lord hangs, crucified upon the blessed Cross. Darkness covers the land.

3 pm: Jesus dies. The veil of the Temple is split in two. The earth shakes.

A little before 5 pm: St. Joseph of Arimathea courageously goes to Pilate and requests the body of Jesus. To prove that our Lord has expired, the centurian thrusts a lance through Christ’s side – blood and water pour forth.

Jesus’ body is prepared for burial by Nicodemus, the women, and his Mother.

Before 6 pm: Our Savior is laid in the tomb. A stone is sealed across the entrance.

Easter Sunday —

Just before 6 am: Without any seeing or knowing, our Lord rises from the dead.

6 am: The women come to the tomb and, seeing an angel roll back the stone, realize that our Lord had risen and come forth from the sealed tomb during that most blessed night.

Jesus - carrying cross

 

We recount the brutality and horror and indifference that surround Jesus’ passion and crucifixion and wonder why it had to happen.

Crucifixion was a widespread and exceedingly common form of execution that was used in ancient history by the Persians, Indians, Assyrians, Scythians, Greeks, and most famously by the Romans. Since Jerusalem was under Roman control at the time, crucifixion was the punishment of choice for capital crimes and for extreme political crimes such as treason, rebellion, and sedition.  [In 63 BC, Pompey Magnus, one-time friend and co-ruler with Julius Caesar, conquered Jerusalem, the seat of the Jewish faith, and incorporated Judea into the Roman Empire. The High Priest was allowed to remain in power and the temple to continue its function… as long as it played its role in paying tribute – and high taxes – to Rome].

A movement would then begin to encourage Jews to evict Rome from the Holy Land and restore independence to their land. This movement would cause Roman prefects to rule with a hard hand and to use fear and violence to deal with the Jews who incited rebellion against Roman rule. That’s why precepts such as Pontius Pilate presided as judges at trials for those who were accused as rebels, or charged with sedition (including blasphemy that led or would potentially lead to sedition – as in Jesus’ case).  And crucifixion would be the punishment.

It was Rome that conventionalized crucifixion as a form of state punishment, creating uniformity in the process.  So commonplace was crucifixion in the Roman Empire that Cicero (Roman senator) referred to it as “that plague.”  It would probably be incorrect to refer to crucifixion to be referred to as a “death penalty: because in most cases, the victim was first executed and then nailed to the cross.  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal as it was to serve as a deterrent to others who might defy the state. For that reason, crucifixions were always carried out in public – at crossroads, in arenas, on hills, or on high ground (like Golgotha)….  anywhere where the population had no choice but to bear witness to the gruesome scene. The criminal was always left hanging long after he died; the crucified were almost never buried. Because the entire point of crucifixion was to humiliate the victim and frighten (and warn) the witness, the corpse would be left where it hung to be eaten by dogs and picked clean by various birds of prey. The bones would then be thrown onto a heap of trash, which is actually how Golgotha (the site of Jesus’ crucifixion) earned its name: “the place of skulls.”  Simply put, crucifixion was more than a capital punishment for Rome; it was a public reminder of what happens when one challenges the empire. That is why it was reserved for the most extreme of political crimes (treason, rebellion, sedition, etc).  Scourging, a practice by the Romans, was a brutal form of torture that served not only to inflict intense pain but also to further humiliate the victim. Also, it will help attract the wild animals to the corpse.

Jesus - scourged

If one knew nothing else about Jesus of Nazareth, the fact that he was crucified by Rome would tell you why he was killed. His offense to the empire as evident by the plaque that was placed above his head for all to see: “King of the Jews.”  Jesus crime was daring to assume kingly ambitions and challenge Roman rule.

When we confess, as Paul taught us, that “Christ died for our sins,” what do we mean?  Do we mean that God required the vicious murder of his Son in order to forgive us?  Did God have some scale of torture that once met would “satisfy his wrath?”  When we ask if his death had to be by crucifixion and if torture had to be part of the equation, we can understand the answers by the customs of the time.

The crucifixion was a catastrophe. It was the unjust lynching of an innocent man. The Apostles said as much in Acts:  “This Jesus…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” –Acts 2:23

“The Bible is clear, God did not kill Jesus. Jesus was offered as a sacrifice in that the Father was willing to send his Son into our sinful system in order to expose it as utterly sinful and provide us with another way. The death of Jesus was a sacrifice in that sense. But it was not a sacrifice to appease a wrathful deity or to provide payment for a penultimate god subordinate to Justice.”

“We violently sinned our sins into Jesus, and Jesus revealed the heart of God by forgiving us. When Jesus prayed, ‘Father, forgive them,’ he was not asking God to act contrary to his nature. When Jesus prayed, ‘Father, forgive them,’ he was, as always, revealing the very heart of God!”

Jesus - on cross

Jesus’ agony and death on the cross is not about the appeasement of a monster god but of a generous offer to have an eternal relationship with a loving God.  At the cross we see where Adam and Eve’s original decision to turn from God, Cain’s capacity for killing his own brother, and the sin that has since plagued man has led us…   to the murder of Jesus.  But in that death is a covenant.

“The cross is about the revelation of a merciful God. At the cross we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. The cross is where God in Christ absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness. The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. Once we understand this, we know what we are seeing when we look at the cross: We are seeing the lengths to which a God of love will go in forgiving sin.”

As we celebrate the passion and crucifixion, and then the resurrection of Jesus, let us understand that we can now live in Peace.

Jesus - resurrection

 

 

 

 

References:
Brian Zahnd, “How Does ‘Dying for Our Sins’ Work?”, April 16, 2014.  Referenced at:  http://brianzahnd.com/2014/04/dying-sins-work/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+brianzahnd+%28BrianZahnd.com%29

Reza Aslan, ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus.  Random House (2013).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RESOLUTION FOR a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

by Diane Rufino  (written as a draft for Special Operations Speaks)

RESOLUTION FOR  A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Whereas, the American Founding Fathers and Framers of the US Constitution recognized that presidential abuse of power carried the greatest potential to derail and destroy the republic, and determined that the American presidency that there were creating should never become a monarchy, they armed the US Congress with two responsive weapons: the power of the purse and the power of impeachment; and

Whereas, we have seen in the years since 2008 that the power of the purse is not a practical check on President Barack Obama. While Democrats intentionally defy the Framers’ design, Republicans frustrate it by aggressive passivity;

Whereas, the Constitution divides and limits power according to individual branches of government and by subject matter (specific enumerated powers), and not by percentage of governmental control; and

Whereas, the numerous infractions of the Constitution and abuses of office committed by President Barack Obama have resulted in certain “Articles of Impeachment” to have been filed in the US House; and

Whereas, there is no likelihood that either Judiciary Committee consideration or full House action is likely to occur, if ever (although perhaps when and if the Republicans retain control of the House and take narrow control of the Senate at the end of the year); and

Whereas, in a highly-charged partisan political environment, there is no other avenue to put the brakes on a president who demonstrates repeated and egregious violations of the US Constitution; and

Whereas, in countries that operate with a parliamentary form of government (such as Great Britain and Spain), there is a procedure known as a “Motion of No Confidence” (alternatively “Vote of No Confidence”) which is a statement or vote which states that the person holding a superior position is no longer deemed fit to hold that position. This may be based on said person falling short in some respect, failing to carry out obligations, or making choices that other members feel are detrimental. As a parliamentary motion, it demonstrates to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in (one or more members of) the appointed government.

Whereas, there is no such instrument in our Constitution or in existing law that prevents the use of a “Vote of No Confidence” as a comprehensive de facto indictment and conviction for Contempt of Congress, violations of Oath of Office, and of the Constitution itself; and

Whereas, a list of some particular areas where President Obama has acted in a way so as to cause a “Loss of Confidence” –  a “Bill of Particulars” – would include the following:

1.  The failure to produce a Birth Certificate (that is not a forgery) to show that he is indeed meets the qualifications established in the US Constitution to hold the office of President;

2.   The repeated empty promises he has given for a transparent, accountable, non-partisan, post-racial, lobbyist-free and completely “fair and balanced” administration;

3.   The scandals that define his administration (including Fast & Furious, Benghazi, NSA domestic spying, and targeting of conservative groups by the IRS), thereby leading to the name for his presidency – “Scamalot”;

4.   His use of class, racial, and moral warfare to divide Americans, thereby creating social disharmony and erosion of traditional American values;

5.   His blind ambition to re-define social justice by pushing the Affordable Healthcare Act (federal, socialized healthcare) when he knew the majority of Americans were against such a federal program;

6.   His disregard for the strict constitutional limitations placed on government in the Bill of Rights by his expansion of Executive powers to target Americans under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), by his support of the UN Small Arms Treaty, his use of the NSA to spy on law-abiding American citizens, his use of the IRS to intimidate and silence groups that criticize his policies, his support and enlargement of the Drone surveillance program to improperly expand the powers of law enforcement, and his use of Drones to target Americans abroad.

7.   His unprecedented reliance on three dozen or more un-vetted and largely unaccountable regulatory “czars” and on scores of executive orders (over 20 on gun control alone), whose regulatory implications are virtually unknown — and not subject to congressional oversight;

8.   His crony-capitalist takeover and wasteful funding of most “green energy” initiatives — and simultaneous impediments to fossil energy production: coal, natural gas fracking, and “offshore” oil and gas on most federal lands — costing countless jobs, government revenues, balance of trade, and revenues to state and local governments;

9.   His explosive and “waste and fraud” expansion of the many welfare-state programs (food stamps, housing assistance, cell phones, disability status, workman’s comp, Obamacare, Medicaid, child care, school lunches, etc. ad infinitum — which has given rise to the term “Goverment Plantation;

10.   His use of Executive Privilege to frustrate the investigation of government scandals, his de-facto contempts of Congress, and his multiple violations of the Constitution’s mandates for both Separation of Powers and Equal Protection of the Laws;

11.   His constant manipulation of unemployment, economic growth, Obamacare, deficit spending, National Debt, and so-called climate change numbers — exemplified by his complete rejection of the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s bipartisan recommendations for solving the crisis that still threatens the stability of the American economy – as well as his rejection of Congressional Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Reports;

12.  His feverish efforts to remove God, Jesus, Christmas, the Nativity Scene, and major Judeo-Christian symbolism from federal government venues and usage, especially in the Armed Forces, and from the public square in general — while according Islam and sharia (Islamic law) more respect and deference than he does Christianity, Judaism, and the Bible.

13.   His feverish efforts to promote homosexuality and erode the institution of marriage.

Therefore Let it Be Resolved that the Pitt County GOP believes that the aforementioned list of deceits, misdeeds, mal-administrations, and violations of law are sufficient to justify an official expression of “No Confidence” by the US House of Representatives.

And Be it Further Resolved that the Pitt County GOP supports efforts to encourage a vote of “No Confidence” by members of the US House.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment