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.

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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 !!

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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/

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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)

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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).

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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.

 

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RESOLUTION TO CHALLENGE OBAMACARE AS VIOLATING THE 13th AMENDMENT

by Diane Rufino, Deputy Director of the NC Tenth Amendment Center and Resolutions Chair of the Pitt County GOP.  The following resolution will be presented at the 2014 Pitt County GOP Convention on March 8.

RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) AS VIOLATING THE THIRTEENTH (13th) AMENDMENT

Whereas, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified on December 6, 1865, reads:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Whereas, Sect. 17 of the North Carolina state constitution also reads: “Slavery and involuntary servitude.  Slavery is forever prohibited.  Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.”

Whereas, the term indentured servitude refers to a contractual relationship that exists whereby one person engages in labor for the benefit another, usually in return for exchange for clothing, food, shelter, or other essentials (instead of money); and

Whereas, since indentured servitude is forbidden in the United States by constitutional amendment, it is particularly audacious when the government itself, through policy and legislation, creates a condition in some individuals of servitude for others; and

Whereas, the Supreme Court, in the case Bailey v. Alabama (1911), defined “involuntary servitude” as: “that control by which the personal service of one man is disposed of or coerced for another’s benefit”  (219 U.S. 219, at pg. 241) and held that the right to personal liberty guaranteed by the Thirteenth Amendment is inalienable; and

Whereas, the Bailey decision announced a principle of broad application that says a contract for service is consistent with the Thirteenth Amendment ONLY IF the contractor “can elect at any time to break it, and no law or force compels performance or a continuance of the service.”

Whereas, the healthcare law may not necessarily be a contract (under the definition of Bailey), but the spirit of the decision would seem to suggest that a law forcing or compelling performance for the benefit of another is consistent with the Thirteenth Amendment ONLY IF the individual can elect at any time to break it (without punishment); and

Whereas, Obamacare, through its forced mandate and subsequent higher (significantly higher) insurance prices, is requiring those who can afford to purchase health insurance to also purchase it for others who cannot afford it; and

Whereas, the federal government, through the healthcare law, is directly forcing a class of citizens to work to serve the benefit of others; and

Whereas, an individual may opt not to purchase healthcare insurance under the government plan and pay the penalty instead (ie, the tax). That person would have no health insurance and nothing to show for that payment, but another person would get the benefit of that forced payment.

Whereas, although those who are forced to purchase (unsubsidized) government insurance plans do NOT receive any benefit from those they serve, the Pitt County GOP believes the servitude amounts to that of the type forbidden under the thirteenth amendment.

Thereforebe it RESOLVED that the Pitt County GOP opposes the Affordable Healthcare bill as unconstitutional, being violative, on its face, of the Thirteenth Amendment.

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