Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pastoral Perfidy

In a recent 2-year study by George Barna, it was found that while nearly 90% of all American pastors believe that the Bible provides specific answers to the myriad issues challenging us today, only 10% say they will address those issues from the pulpit.

According to the study, the reason so many refuse to openly address these issues from the pulpit is to avoid "controversy", thus ensuring a "successful church".

Wow!

In the study, the vast majority of pastors said they determined "success" in five ways: attendance; donations; number of programs; number of staff; and, yes, square footage!

Inspiring and reassuring, huh?

My recent experience with my own Catholic parish in Rochester, NY seems to validate Barna's findings. Last week, I formally requested that the parish promote a strictly non-partisan "Voter Registration Sunday" in September. While exiting services, a manned table in the vestibule would be set up to assist interested parishioners to register to vote. Only a brief announcement from the pulpit and a small bulletin insert would inform parishioners of this service. However, in a follow-up meeting with the pastor the initiative was categorically rejected. Why? Such an event on parish grounds would be in violation of diocesan policy!  So much for civic responsibility, principle, courage of one's religious convictions and fearless adherence to Christian values and Biblical teachings. So much too for patriotism.

Shortly before this, I approached a very large Baptist church in the same area with the same request and the pastor immediately agreed.

Thus, while there are exceptions to the rule, there clearly appear to be more "CEO-type pastors" out there than committed God-fearing religious ones. Judging from the study's conclusions and my own experience, far too many church leaders seem to value their lofty position in the community, their creature comforts and "square footage" more than their religious calling to shepherd their flocks. Obviously, elitism comes in many forms, or so it appears.

Is it any wonder it's been such a tortuously uphill fight for patriots and Christians to restore constitutional order and those bedrock traditional American values that once made America so exceptional? If, for whatever reason, our churches betray their calling and, in turn, their flocks, on whom CAN we count? Note: our Founders warned that if we lose our Christian moorings and our traditional values, if we forsake our civic responsibilities, we will irretrievably lose our Republic.

Finally, in response to this study, a Reverend Chuck Baldwin is quoted as saying that "it is time for Christians to acknowledge that these ministers are not pastors: they are CEOs. They are not Bible teachers: they are performers. They are not shepherds: they are hirelings. It is also time for Christians to be  honest with themselves: do they want a pastor who desires to be faithful to the Scriptures, or do they want a pastor who is simply trying to be "successful".

Yet again, the cause for the corruption of our leaders, both pastoral and secular alike, is staring boldly back at us from the mirror before us. By our silence and compliance, we alone are the reason for our country's disintegration.

"...activities intended to encourage people to participate in the election process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a nonpartisan manner." Internal Revenue Service

"God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God...God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics." Charles Finney, "Lectures on Revival of Religion" (1835)

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guns vs Gun Control & Murders

A pithy stat I stumbled upon this morning:

The United States is 3rd in murders throughout the world. But if you take out Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, the United States is 4th from the bottom for murders. These 4 cities also have the toughest gun control laws in the United States. All 4 are controlled by Democrats.  

It would be absurd to draw any conclusions from this data – right?

(Source: Give Us Liberty)

To the staunch gun control, anti-2nd Amendment types out there, it's your assignment to objectively disprove this statistical assertion.

"To put it bluntly, self-defense is the first law of nature; when good people have the freedom to carry concealed firearms, society gets safer." Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

"American liberty depends upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box." Frederick Douglas, "The Life & Times of Frederick Douglas" (1881)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Take on Obama's Address Tonight

Just finished watching Obama's televised address regarding America's response to developments in Iraq.

In all honesty, and for the first time in my memory, Obama actually sounded like a confident, committed leader, a genuine commander-in-chief who, by all appearances, sincerely believed what he was saying.

But, despite the intense, polished, in-charge demeanor, it was hard to shake that nagging awareness that Obama remains Obama, all the good, the bad and the ugly, and that he remains totally ideological and politically motivated in all that he says and does.

That said, his decision to conduct humanitarian airdrops to relieve the besieged and starving Iraqi minorities atop a mountain in northern Iraq, this to prevent "genocide" at the hands of ISIS, was refreshing. Though pleasantly surprising and completely out of character, it was nonetheless very good to hear.

And though undefined, his decision to permit "targeted air strikes" in order to "defend American personnel",  and to provide "assistance" to both Baghdad forces and the Kurds, his decision was, indeed, encouraging. Again, not having better defined the nature and breadth of those "targeted air strikes" and the "assistance" to be provided to friendly forces in Iraq left me hanging and uncertain.

Throughout his speech he repeated "targeted air strikes" three times and assured Americans that he understood their reluctance to "get dragged into [another] war in Iraq". Certainly, there was no indication that this intervention would be anything but very, very limited.

I couldn't help but recall Clinton's very effective air strikes on Serbian forces in the 90's. It made all the difference in the world--and without boots on the ground. With that successful operation in mind, my hope, of course, is that these "targeted air strikes" will eventually encompass on-going and crippling strikes on all ISIS forces everywhere.

I appreciated his intention to "support moderate forces [in Iraq] to create stability" and to form a new, more inclusive Iraqi government. Obviously, PM Maliki, a divisive and debilitating political force in Iraq, has to go if the Iraqis can ever hope to restore political order, national unity and a more effective Iraqi fighting force capable of fending off or even defeating ISIS .

Ever the globalist, he underscored the need to "consult with the UN and other countries", though what he was expecting of such consultations remained unclear. Troops, arms, air bases?

His one comment which piqued my incredulity was his statement that it was always America's core interest to "support our allies and to lead coalitions", clearly an interest to which, in my humble opinion, he has paid lip service during his stint as Commander-in-Chief.

Another statement which caused me to shake my head in exasperation was  that "the world looks to us to lead and that's why we do". Hmmm. I guess I missed all that "leading" over the last six years.

Anyway, I am heartened that this humanitarian effort has been undertaken, but I am also certain--as I am sure he is--that he will now get a bump in the polls for this action.

Finally, because I firmly believe he is, first and foremost, a cold, calculating me-first ideologue, I still don't trust him to do the right thing for the right reasons. Thus, I don't trust that this ill-defined and apparently very limited operation will, in the longer term, satisfactorily serve the interests of Iraq, the Kurds or the United States. Nor do I believe it will appropriately cripple ISIS. On this, I sincerely hope he proves me dead wrong.

Illegal Entry is a Misdemeanor AND Illegal Re-Entry IS a Felony

During an interview with Bill O'Reilly on August 6th regarding the off-duty border patrol agent who was murdered by two illegal aliens, and much to O'Reilly's astonishment, Lou Dobbs reported that an illegal RE-entry by an illegal alien is a criminal offense. Mr. Dobbs actually cited Section 1325 of the US immigration law to support his claim

It's always a source of elation for me when the heavily opinionated chatter on the various "news" channels is sometimes interrupted  by actual facts and a little education. And for that, I am especially grateful to Mr. Dobbs.

Being an 'ole immigration worker in my pre-retirement  life, I knew Mr. Dobbs was correct, but, for my own benefit and knowing how immigration law is nearly always in flux, I decided to double-check the accuracy of his report. So, in a nutshell, and for those of you who care, these cites:

--Under INA Sec 212(a)(9)(C), a person who was removed from the US and then tries to enter without going through the required admission procedures will be permanently barred from any future entry into the US.

--Title 8 Section 1325 of the US Code renders illegal entry a misdemeanor carrying with it imprisonment for 6 months for the first offense, and a felony and 2 years in prison for the second offense. In short, any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officials, OR (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, OR (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact shall, for the first offense, be fined ($50-$250) or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense (illegal re-rentry), be fined or imprisoned for not more than 2 years.

I'll bet dollars to donuts this law is very rarely enforced and, for the most part, utterly ignored by the Adminstration and their open-borders lackeys and supporters.

Just so there's no wiggle room on how one might interpret the meaning of this section of the law, illegal re-entry means one of the following has occurred: alien was (1) denied admission to the US, (2) excluded from the US, (3) deported from the US, (4) removed from the US, or (5) departed the US while an order of exclusion, deportation or removal was outstanding.

With particular respect to the two illegals who murdered the off-duty border patrol agent earlier this week, aliens re-entering or found in the US without government approval, after a criminal conviction for an aggravated felony--which will surely apply in this case--the maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years and a permanent bar from any future entry into the US.

(Note: if an alien illegally re-enters, after a criminal felony conviction for a non-aggravated felony, or after 3 or more misdemeanor convictions for drug-related crimes or crimes against persons, he or she is subject to a fine or imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both.)

Again, thank you, Mr. Dobbs. The education, a rare treat offered up by "news" shows these days, was sincerely appreciated.





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If Not Impeachment, What?

With some exceptions, pundits and politicians alike are, for the most part, stifling meaningful discussions about impeachment, choosing instead to dwell on the electoral ramifications of impeachment rather than upon the dangerous impact of a lawless Chief Executive on the Rule of Law.

In  a nutshell, this is the awful truth today: at last count, Obama has committed over 52 manifestly impeachable offenses. (See my previous posts dtd  8/1/11 and 1/9/13 for an explanation of what our Founders defined as an impeachable offense.) However, without a knowledgeable, fully engaged and appropriately incensed electorate which insists upon the Rule of Law, there is insufficient support for impeachment. It's that terribly simple. Knowing this and for purely political reasons, the Democrats are now cynically attempting to rouse their electoral and donor base by warning them about "bogus", "contrived", "grand-standing", "groundless" impeachment efforts emanating from the bogeymen on the right. And without adequate public support for impeachment, Republicans in  the House are now compelled to embark on a less confrontational, less politically suicidal--albeit untried--course of action, that being to sue Obama in a court of law.

Talk about a ruinous equation: an ignorant and apathetic electorate + a lawless Chief Executive + a politically weakened/undermined Congress = Tyranny.

Though impeachment is THE constitutional remedy to Executive overreach, in the absence of public support for such a remedy, and with their future Senatorial political fortunes at stake, Republicans simply have no reasonable recourse but to sue. And, quite naturally, the Democrats are demeaning that remedial effort as well. 

To my knowledge, Congress's suing a Chief Executive on the grounds that he has violated the Constitution and the separation of powers doctrine clearly breaks new constitutional ground. And who really knows how it will all play out.

Let's say the court accepts the case and rules in favor of Congress. A long shot, but a possibility. Then what? Since the court has no executive authority, it's ruling would be just that--a ruling without teeth, but, presumably, with some measure of moral authority. Given that scenario, it can only be hoped that Obama would relent. But, if he doesn't back off, then what? In that case, my guess is that public support for impeachment might well appreciably increase, thus, perhaps, persuading Obama to back off. But, what if Obama still doesn't back off even then? 

The political gamemanship and wonky calculations aside, when the Chief Executive overreaches his Art II constitutional authority--something Obama clearly has done--thus violating his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, our Founders would have quickly and unreservedly counseled impeachment by the House and removal by the Senate. In the absence of impeachment, the Founders, to a man, would have encouraged the States and We the People to take all appropriate remedial actions to stop Executive overreach in order to defend our Liberty and our Republic.

As originally designed, we must always bear in mind that determining what is and what is not constitutional rests ultimately with the People through their respective States, the creators of this federal government. Thus, the burning question becomes this: what will the People and the States, their immediate fiduciary agents, do to restore constitutional order if Obama--or any lawless Chief Executive in the future--cannot be effectively checkmated and stopped by impeachment and removal? The constitutional options are crystal clear: Civil Disobedience, Nullification, Secession, Rebellion. Of course, the People are certainly within their power to simply yield to the lawlessness, a predilection, I'm afraid, which, among too many Americans today, is becoming more and more apparent.

We have over two more years ahead of us to somehow contend with this runaway, transformational Chief Executive. Will he be effectively reigned in before being permitted to plunge the country into chaos, dictatorship or disunion? As God is my judge, I simply do not know how to answer that troubling question. But, disturbingly, the vision of a compliant, shackled American population continues to assail my thoughts.

Personally, whatever remedial actions espoused by our Founders which will restore constitutional order and the Rule of Law is fine by me and should be single-mindedly pursued by us all. But, why do I again feel like a majority of one.











Friday, July 25, 2014

Refugees, Politics & Lawlessness

Is Obama preparing to yet again play to his far left globalist base of radical Mexican-American open-border nationalists (La Raza quickly comes to mind) by circumventing US immigration law and, of course, Congress? Is there anything this guy won't do to satiate his verminous allies on the Left? That's rhetorical, of course.

Reportedly, Obama is planning to grant refugee status--on a "pilot project" basis, of course--to persons still residing in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, this to eliminate the threats posed to them should they opt to tackle that long, arduous and dangerous journey through the Mexican heartland in order to illegally breach our southwestern border. How very compassionate. But, isn't that just another way of aiding and abetting gate-crashers? But, no matter. After all, we're talking about poor, innocent suffering children mired in poverty. Right? Surely, we should protect these "refugees" from themselves. No?

Just so we're clear as to what the legal definition of refugee really is, this: Sec 101(a)(42) of the Immigration & Nationality Act defines a refugee as a person who has fled his/her country of origin owing to a well-founded fear (clear/reasonable  probability) of persecution (threat to life or freedom) on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of origin and to avail himself or herself of its protection. (Carefully note: if a person still within his/her country of origin, refugee status may be granted on a case-by-case basis by the President, but only AFTER consultation with Congress AND only if that person meets the definition of a refugee.)

As can be seen, there is nothing in this definition which suggests that sub-standard housing, poor diet, poverty, gang wars, or drug cartel shoot-outs are bases for a well-founded fear of persecution. If that were the case, many folks in Detroit, Chicago and other inner city areas of the US would meet that definition--to say nothing of the nearly billion other people around the world--who would then be within their rights to seek refugee status in Canada!

Excepted from consideration are those who have participated in the persecution of others, who have been convicted of a serious nonpolitical crime or are considered security threats (terrorist activities/ties) to the US.

Normally, a person who has fled his country of origin must first be interviewed by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine if, in fact, he/she meets the internationally-accepted definition of a refugee, which is essentially that definition already adopted by the US. He/She then falls under the temporary protection of the UN (refugee camp) until such time that a third country agrees to resettle him/her as a refugee or until such time that he/she may be safely repatriated to his/her country of origin, whichever comes first. Resettlement by a third country is conditioned on that third country's having also interviewed him/her to determine if, in fact, s/he does meet the definition of refugee.

As for a person already in the US, per 208(a)(b)(1), asylee status may be granted within one year after his/her entry if he/she can demonstrate that, in effect, he/she meets the definition of a refugee. Thus, the only difference between an asylee and a refugee is that the former is already in the US.

Then, of course, per 212(d)(5), a person, of "significant public interest",  may also be paroled into the US owing to "urgent humanitarian" or "emergency reasons", e.g. Indochinese during the aftermath of the Vietnam war and Cuban-Haitians.

Let's hope Obama and his political advisors carefully focus on these definitions and requirements before unilaterally committing their political fortunes and our dangerously dwindling wealth to yet another questionable or unlawful way for Central Americans to enter the US.

Finally, like their Liberal acolytes, this Administration continues to muddy the waters with political correctness and agenda-driven word-smithing. They deliberately muddle immigration terminology to legitimize the illegitimate. To wit, the term "illegal immigrant" is an oxymoron. By definition, an immigrant is a legal entrant--not illegal. An entrant is either an illegal alien/undocumented alien (entered without inspection and US approval) or an immigrant/refugee/asylee/parolee/non-immigrant visa holder. Thus, any person entering our country without inspection/approval enters illegally. By LAW, therefore, that person is an illegal entrant/illegal alien/undocumented alien--NOT an "illegal immigrant"! Within the annals of immigration law there is no such thing as an "illegal immigrant". That term of art is a Liberal contrivance to confound and obfuscate.

Please keep all this in mind when listening to the politically-driven or wholly uneducated cacaphony of chatter in the media. Some is deliberately disinformational. Some is just plain dumb.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Palin's Call for Impeachment: What is Possible?

Gov. Palin's recent call for Obama's impeachment has finally crystallized the gravity of our Republic's sorry condition.

In the face of so many scandals and cover-ups, impeachment is no longer unthinkable or politically incorrect. Clearly, the pattern of lawlessness and obstructionism exhibited by this Administration has reached a crescendo of seriousness not seen since Watergate, and sooner rather than later the tide toward impeachment may well be unstoppable.

As President Ford iterated, and as clearly explained by our Founders, an impeachable offense is whatever Congress says it is; thus, the bar for impeachment is as low or as high as we, through our representatives in the House, say it is.

Bearing in mind that impeachment is a political--not a legal--process, given the growing groundswell of acute opposition to the Obama Regime's arrogance and overreach, we may well be reaching that point at which the House will be compelled to invoke articles of impeachment against a chief executive who continues to ruthlessly flout the Rule of Law, circumvent Congress, and violate Art II of the Constitution.

As a purely practical political matter, however, without a 2/3 majority in the Senate to convict and remove, successfully impeaching Obama or any of his henchmen, either of which requires only a majority in the House, would be little more than symbolic and would do nothing to effectively arrest the heavy-handed inclinations of the White House and its equally imperialistic bureaucratic realm.

Bearing in mind that in the alternate universe called government political equations almost invariably trump principle, my guess is that this is why Speaker Boehner is reluctant to proceed with impeachment. He's calculating that the negative political fallout stemming from a dead-end impeachment-conviction process would very likely adversely affect GOP political fortunes going forward. And this is something he wants to avoid at nearly any cost. He knows that the highly effective Liberal sound bite machine would quickly characterize the impeachment action as little more than needlessly disruptive GOP "grand-standing" and "obstructionism". Thus, for better or for worse, in the bizarro world called government where realities are dictated by whether or not one is able to retain one's political power, until the GOP captures a safe 2/3 majority in the Senate impeachment is a non-starter.

That said, the fact that there is such a widespread and growing push for impeachment indicates a republic in disarray and crisis. Unquestionably, our Republic is in greater danger from iniquitous forces from within than we've ever known in our history. How successfully we handle this unprecedented crisis and the threats which face us remains to be seen.

For the moment, the GOP is relying on the courts, often themselves at odds with the Constitution, to checkmate a runaway Executive Branch. At the grassroots level, the People are exercising their right to resist by peacefully blocking buses and standing up to BLM. But, if all those efforts fail to restore the Rule of Law and constitutional order, wise political leaders must be aware that those millions of People who value their Liberty and their Republic will be pushed only so far, beyond which all manner of God-given and Founder-sanctioned rights to resist remain constitutional options.

(See OPINERLOG blog post "Obama: Is Impeachment a Viable Option, dtd 8/1/11)

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience." John Locke (1690)