Archive | March, 2012

Demolishing Due Process

21 Mar

This is a recent post by Congressman and GOP nomination candidate Ron Paul regarding the Obama administration’s destruction of due process and Constitutional safe guards. The link is http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1955:demolishing-due-process&catid=62:texas-straight-talk&Itemid=69

It is ironic but perhaps sadly appropriate that Attorney General Eric Holder would choose a law school, Northwestern University, to deliver a speech earlier this month in which he demolished what was left of the rule of law in America.

In what history likely will record as a turning point, Attorney General Holder bluntly explained that this administration believes it has the authority to use lethal force against Americans if the President determines them to be a threat to the nation. He tells us that this is not a violation of the due process requirements of our Constitution because the President himself embodies “due process” as he unilaterally determines who is to be targeted. As Holder said, “a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process.'” That means that the administration believes it is the President himself who is to be the judge, jury, and executioner.

As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote of the Holder speech:

“All the Administration has said is that they closely and faithfully follow their own guidelines — even if their decisions are not subject to judicial review. The fact that they say those guidelines are based on notions of due process is meaningless. They are not a constitutional process of review.”

It is particularly bizarre to hear the logic of the administration claiming the right to target its citizens according to some secret selection process, when we justified our attacks against Iraq and Libya because their leaders supposedly were targeting their own citizens! We also now plan a covert war against Syria for the same reason.

I should make it perfectly clear that I believe any individual who is engaging in violence against this country or its citizens should be brought to justice. But as Attorney General Holder himself points out in the same speech, our civilian courts have a very good track record of trying and convicting individuals involved with terrorism against the United States. Our civilian court system, with the guarantee of real due process, judicial review, and a fair trial, is our strength, not a weakness. It is not an impediment to be sidestepped in the push for convictions or assassinations, but rather a process that guarantees that fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

I am encouraged, however that there appears to be the beginning of a backlash against the administration’s authoritarian claims. Just recently I did an interview with conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham who expressed grave concern over using these sorts of tactics against Americans using the supposed war on terror as justification. Sadly, many conservative leaders were silent when Republican President George W. Bush laid the groundwork for this administration’s lawlessness with the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without trial, and other violations. Similarly, as Professor Turley points out, “Democrats previously demanded the ‘torture memos’ of the Bush administration that revealed poor legal analysis by Judge Jay Bybee and Professor John Yoo to justify torture. Now, however, Democrats are largely silent in the face of a president claiming the right to unilaterally kill citizens.” The misuse of and disregard for our Constitution for partisan political gain is likely one reason the American public holds Congress in such low esteem. Now the stakes are much higher. Congress and the people should finally wake up!

To Hijacka tha Nation

16 Mar

When I hear him talk, muffled, and in the background, I can hear the steady stamp of hard black boots. Hundreds and thousands of staccato stomping soldiers of the ‘Christian’ Right, all in unison. The Super PAC and family ads help mask the sound of marching and yes, shouting, but they are still there. These are not your grand daddy’s Christians. They are children of a different god, and they are following their prophet, a modern day Fuhrer.

The latest stomp in Rick Santorum’s march is a declaration that Puerto Rico make English its principal language if it wants to gain admittance as a state in the United States.

No speaka tha English, no US statehood.

Puerto Rico has two official languages. Spanish and English. Santorum is not satisfied with that, however – English must be first.

Down the road, in Santorum’s America (which thank God does not exist yet, except in his own unsettled mind), do you have to speak English to be a US citizen?

Santorum has already said that the laws in America should coincide with the moral law of God. This statement must be interpreted in the light of his Catholicism. Not all of Christianity agrees with the Catholic requirements or Catholic moral ethics. I do not want an America where the President believes that the laws of the government should be reflective of the moral laws of God because I do not trust Santorum to interpret the moral laws of God. And neither should you.

Santorum belongs to an organization that believes that only Catholics will go to heaven. Does he also believe that Americans should all be Christians (his version of the religion) and speak English?

Maybe Santorum is just exploiting a concerning trend in Christianity, and maybe in America – we are less and less favourable to people who are different than we are, and immigrants, period.

Our forefathers were immigrants. Poles, Scots, Africans, Dutch, Welsh, Italians, Spanish, Jews, French, Russians. Many of them spoke broken English, and came from broken lands in search of hope and freedom.

But Christians, at least, have forgotten the broken English of their grandparents.

But we are not too old yet to remember Adolf Hilter, and how he dreamed of an Arian master race that spoke German to replace the people of the nations he subjugated in Europe. He wanted to destroy diversity.

Santorum is out to do the same thing, in a different way. He is doing it by pandering to an increasingly bigoted and intolerant Christianity that wants to force Americans to be like them.

Santorum is showing, as Hitler did in the thirties, that he has no respect for the rule of law or the Constitution. Just as he would give states the right to ban contraception, despite the clear ruling of the US Supreme Court in Griswold, he would rewrite the Constitution to require that a state have English as its principal language.

Neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights require English as the principal language of any state of the union. Diversity is one of the hallmarks of America. You can walk for blocks (or blogs depending on your accent) in most of the major cities and not hear a word of English. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s the sound of liberty.

Ask yourself truly – what makes an American? Is it the language they speak?

Do we not have plenty of English speakers who cannot think? Are the thoughts of a man’s heart (integrity, courage, liberty, loyalty) not more important than the fluency of his English?

English, like any language, can be learned, but freedom is the great teacher. It opens the hearts of the children of men. Let us not confuse which is most important, or which is the necessary precursor to advancement.

And finally, I wonder what happens in Rick Santorum’s America if one day there are more than 50% of people in California speaking Spanish. Does California lose its standing in the Union? Does it get bumped down to a protectorate?

Soil Prep and Christian Growth

7 Mar

I used to read this book when I was in college that I had found in a discard pile in a school library. It’s called “Fundamentals in Christian Education.” It had many thought provoking quotes, like the below ones. This may not be popular, but I believe it is the truth.

 

“All these things are lessons for us. Few now are really industrious and economical. Poverty and distress are on every hand. There are men who work hard, and obtain very little for their labor. There is need of much more extensive knowledge in regard to the preparation of the soil. There is not sufficient breadth of view as to what can be realized from the earth. A narrow and unvarying routine is followed with discouraging results. The land boom has cursed this country, extravagant prices have been paid for lands bought on credit; then the land must be cleared, and more money is hired; a house to be built calls for more money, and then interest with open mouth swallows up all the profits. Debts accumulate, and then come the closing and failure of banks, and then the foreclosure of mortgages. Thousands have been turned out of employment; families lose their little all, they borrow and borrow, and then have to give up their property and come out penniless. Much money and hard labor have been put into

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farms bought on credit, or inherited with an incumbrance. The occupants lived in hope of becoming real owners, and it might have been so, but for the failure of banks throughout the country.” {FE 317.2}

Now the case where a man owns his place clear is a happy exception to the rule. Merchants are failing, families are suffering for food and clothing. No work presents itself. But the holidays are just as numerous. Their amusements are entered into as eagerly. All who can do so will spend their hard-earned pence and shillings and pounds for a taste of pleasure, for strong drink, or some other indulgence. The papers that report the poverty of the people, have regular standing notices of the horse races, and of the prizes presented for different kinds of exciting sports. The shows, the theaters, and all such demoralizing amusements, are taking the money from the country, and poverty is continually increasing. Poor men will invest their last shilling in a lottery, hoping to secure a prize, and then they have to beg for food to sustain life, or go hungry. Many die of hunger, and many put an end to their existence. The end is not yet. Men take you to their orchards of oranges and lemons, and other fruits, and tell you that the produce does not pay for the work done in them. It is next to impossible to make ends meet, and parents decide that the children shall not be farmers; they have not the courage and hope to educate them to till the soil. {FE 318.1}

What is needed is schools to educate and train the youth so that they will know how to overcome this condition of things. There must be education in the sciences, and education in plans and methods of working the soil. There is hope in the soil, but brain and heart and strength must be brought into the work of tilling it. The money devoted to horse racing, theater going, gambling and lotteries; the money spent in the public houses for beer and strong drink,–let it be expended in making the land productive, and we shall see a different state of things.

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{FE 318.2}

This country needs educated farmers. The Lord gives the showers of rain and the blessed sunshine. He gives to men all their powers; let them devote heart and mind and strength to doing His will in obedience to His commandments. Let them cut off every pernicious habit, never expending a penny for beer or liquor of any kind, nor for tobacco, having nothing to do with horse racing or similar sports, and then commit themselves to God, working with their endowment of physical strength, and their labor will not be in vain. That God who has made the world for the benefit of man, will provide means from the earth to sustain the diligent worker. The seed placed in thoroughly prepared soil, will produce its harvest. God can spread a table for His people in the wilderness. {FE 319.1}

The various trades and occupations have to be learned, and they call into exercise a great variety of mental and physical capabilities; the occupations requiring sedentary habits are the most dangerous, for they take men away from the open air and sunshine, and train one set of faculties, while other organs are becoming weak from inaction. Men carry on their work, perfect their business, and soon lie down in the grave. Much more favorable is the condition of one whose occupation keeps him in the open air, exercising his muscles, while the brain is equally taxed, and all the organs have the privilege of doing their work. To those who can live outside of the cities, and labor in the open air, beholding the works of the great Master Artist, new scenes are continually unfolding. As they make the book of nature their study, a softening, subduing influence comes over them; for they realize that God’s care is over all, from the glorious sun in the heavens to the little brown sparrow or the tiniest insect that has life. The Majesty of heaven has pointed us to these things of God’s creation as an evidence of His love. He who fashioned the flowers has said: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like

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one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” The Lord is our teacher, and under His instruction we may learn the most precious lessons from nature. {FE 319.2}

Rush Limbaugh – One Big Fat Reason Not to Vote for Rick Santorum

6 Mar

It is Super Tuesday, and I know there are thousands of Republican Americans who are still trying to figure out how to vote in the GOP election. So forget delegates and polling numbers. Forget ad campaigns and Super PACS.

Let’s talk principles.

Let’s talk about how an average American knows who to vote for in the GOP nomination process today.

I’ll go a step further – let’s talk Christian principles. Let’s say you’re a Christian and you want to vote for someone who you think acts and talks like a Christian. I know that RIck Santorum keeps telling America that Christian principles involve three issues – abortion, contraception and gay marriage. Those are his ecumenical buzz words. But is that Christianity? Is that your Christianity? Are you a Christian if you don’t have an abortion, don’t wear a condom and aren’t gay?

Jesus, who let’s not forget, is the Founder of Christianity, said that the Pharisees neglected the weightier matters of the law, and included among the neglected items “judgment (or justice), mercy and faith” Matthew 23:23. Luke’s account in Luke 11 includes “the love of God.”

There are people who say they love God, and don’t. There are people who say they are Christians who aren’t. Those who don’t and aren’t often neglect the weightier matters of the law in favor of a form of godliness. They are pretenders.

What happens when we apply that to the GOP candidates and who we should vote for?

Well, we get clues, Republican America. Clues, at least, on who not to vote for.

For example, one of the candidates (RICK SANTORUM) last week was so desperate for votes he robo-called the Democrats in Michigan to help skew the Republican election results. Does that sound like “justice” to you?

Don’t you think that respect for the electoral process, democracy, the rights of the people… should be basic American stuff? Basic CHRISTIAN stuff NOT to cheat in your election?

Or is it OK to cheat as long as you don’t use condoms?

Let’s face it, America, if someone is willing to ask Democrats (who hate Santorum’s self-perceived moral superiority) to win a Republican nomination election, he is at least a weasel. That seems pretty obvious.

Can I get an ‘amen’?

Here’s another one: if you are actually a follower of Jesus Christ and you know Rush Limbaugh is voting for someone, you probably know he’s got the wrong candidate.

When Jesus met Mary Magdalene (see John chapter 8), He didn’t call her a slut, or a prostitute. And she actually was a prostitute. She had even been caught in the very act of adultery. That’s why the Pharisees brought her to Him.

Last week Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute”, and said that if her contraception is paid for by her medical provider that America should get to watch her have sex. And Sandra Fluke was just lobbying. She was ‘caught’ doing something perfectly legal and legitimate and constructive – engaging in debate in a nation which values freedom of thought and belief.

I’m not saying I agree with Sandra Fluke. Scratch that. I am saying I agree with her, when the contraception is for a prescribed medical ailment. I was unaware, probably just like all of you, that Fluke testified about a friend of hers who was unable to get ‘the pill’ because it was contraception, when her doctor had prescribed it to her to help control ovarian cysts.

This is a real ailment and a real prescribed treatment. And she couldn’t get it paid for by her medical insurance because it was also a contraceptive. Georgetown, is of course, a Catholic institution.

Fluke also testified that a fellow student “knew that birth control wasn’t covered and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual health care, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined for sexually transmitted infections, because she thought that insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that.”

Typical.

I am awfully concerned with the way Rick Santorum has handled Limbaugh’s comments. Rush Limbaugh is a huge Santorum supporter. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/26/limbaugh-front-and-center-in-pro-santorum-mailer/ He’s been rallying fellow ‘Christians’ for months now, urging them ever onward to the Barack Obama foe, and waving the latex-smeared banner of Rick Santorum all the way.

Lots of big name Conservatives strongly condemned what Limbaugh said. John McCain. John Boehner. David Frum.They used words like ‘obviously inappropriate’, ‘appalling’, ‘wrong’.

Santorum was not among them. He brushed Limbaugh’s comments aside by saying they were ‘absurd’ and that Limbaugh is just ‘an entertainer’.

Where is the mercy, justice, the love of a Christian in that? Limbaugh spoke on Santorum’s behalf when he went after Fluke. And Santorum did not really object to what he said. He did not condemn it. There was no mercy for Sandra Fluke.

There was no Christianity.