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

Conservatism

by Diane Rufino, September 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Taliban Trade: The Trade of the Century

Taliban swap - Dos Equis guy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Diane Rufino

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

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

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

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

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

Taliban Swap - 6 Americans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Here are my concerns, just to name:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taliban swap - collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

References:

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

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

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

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

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

GREG BRANNON for US SENATE !!

Greg Brannon - 3

 

 

 

 

by Diane Rufino

 

As we all know, most of the problems that the country faces right now stem from the fact that the federal government has become a leviathan; that is, it has become too large, too domineering, and too intrusive.  Its many constricting tentacles extend into our lives, our livelihoods, our purses, our bank accounts, and our private and real property.  It has illegally usurped power from We the People and our rightful voices, the States.  Federalism is essentially an outdated and archaic concept that the government had to destroy in order to consolidate its power.  And now people must be so extensively regulated so the exercise of freedom is just like what Emperor Marcus Aurelius talked about in the movie Gladiator. Referring to the dream that was once Rome – its republic – he said that it has become so fragile that people can only whisper about what it used to be.  The exercise of freedom in the United States is barely more than hollow words.  On paper we have liberty; in the real world, taxes and regulations frustrate it at every turn.

The consumption and consolidation of power is what is responsible for almost all our nation’s problems. We know this because of the growing anarchy and the emergence of the Tea Party movement. Bad behavior is on the rise because government policy encourages it… maybe not outright, but in consequence.  Good behavior is on the decline because government punishes it.  At times it appears we are heading in the direction that the New Mexico Supreme Court explained in its Freedom of Speech and Religion case, Elaine Photography v. Willcock (2012):  We are free to pray to the God of our choice, but we must leave Him at the doors or our home or our church, for “there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life…. It is the price of citizenship.”   In other words, the government can compel us, by law, to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire our lives in order that the greater good is served.

Again, government has gotten too large and too domineering. It has exceeded constitutional bounds and it has exceeded moral bounds.  It has certainly obliterated the definition of government that defines the “united States of America” in our Mission Statement – the Declaration of Independence.  Government’s primary role is to SECURE the God-given, inalienable rights of the individual (the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) and to honor the powers delegated from the consent of the governed (which means that government is bound by the STRICT CONSTRUCTION of the Constitution because that was the most foundational consent given).  [Second paragraph].  Furthermore, the government MUST COMPORT with “the separate an equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them (the People).” [First paragraph].

A government that compels a person in his conduct or the use/plunder his property not to protect his individual rights but to serve others, to serve some “other purpose,” or to serve some “common good” is an unconstitutional and immoral government.

So, where am I, a concerned citizen and constitutional activist, heading with this article?

The answer to our nation’s problems is a reversal of the current government trend (and by “current,” I mean about 200 years’ worth of re-defining the government and re-classifying the Constitution) and a return to Constitutional governance.  We re-align the relationship of government with the individual, in accordance with our founding principles and we allow the power of the individual to reinvigorate the land.  But how can we accomplish this?  How can we hope to go against a leviathan?  In mythology, if you cut off one head, more grow in its place.

We accomplish this by a two-prong approach:  (1) Government must divest itself of power, which means the 3 branches of government must take their oath and allegiance seriously (to a limited government which ultimately, sides with the People).  Constitutionally-minded members of government can do this; and (2) Return power to the individual States, the only real depository of sovereign power that can return the government within the confines of Article I, II, and III.

We need to gain a consensus of like-minded constitutionally-minded servants in Congress.  We need to continue to build momentum.  We need representatives from North Carolina to add to that momentum…. to join the ranks of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Michele Bachmann, and others.  We need constitutional warriors and not just men or women who call themselves “conservative.”  Currently, it is said that 59% of Congress “supports” the agenda of the Tea Party. As expected, not a single Democratic Congressman or Senator sides with the Tea Party, but 18 out of 46 Republicans in the US Senate (39%) and 144 out of 232 Republicans in the US House (62%) support the Tea Party.

And in that regard, I would like to explain why my good friend Greg Brannon is the type of servant we need in Washington DC, particularly as a 6-year termed Senator, to help turn the tide of big government.

First, how could one man make a difference?  Well, it isn’t “one man” any more. We already have several strong constitutionalists in DC.  The more we send, the more the Constitution has its rightful place in the workings of government.  Besides, when the Sons of Liberty started out, it was only a handful of colonial patriots and look where their bold movement took us.

As a conservative, a strict constitutionalist, and a concerned citizen, I support Greg Brannon for the following reasons:

1.  I trust Greg Brannon.  He has taken the time to do his homework.  He has studied our history and has a firm understanding of the legal documents that define government and secure individual liberty.  He understands what is at stake, he understands history, he understands the role of government, he understands what the real depositories of sovereign power are, and he knows the respective boundaries.  Moreover, he is principled, unshakable, moral, ethical, and determined.  He represents my hope for a government that respects boundaries.  He embodies the work I do that keeps me away from my family.  He represents my values.  While those of us (including myself) who criticize government, politicians, and even the political parties themselves (both of them) but are unwilling to step forward, Greg Brannon has put his money where his mouth is.  Yes, he has criticized Mitt Romney for not representing the true conservative voice and not being principled enough to be the candidate for the Republican Party, but he has offered himself as the constitutional conservative candidate to represent the GOP.

2.  As a constitutionalist and one who follows what our legislators do in Washington DC (especially the Supreme Court), I know if Greg goes to DC, I can take him off my radar and not have to worry what he’ll do as a US Senator.  I know that he will never violate the Constitution, offend his conscience, or betray his principles. With 100 US Senators and 435 US House members, it can be overwhelming to watch what they all do.  Greg is a diamond in the rough; a gem.  A warrior.

3  Greg Brannon is a strong supporter of States’ Rights, the Tenth Amendment, and the work of the Tenth Amendment Center (of which I am a volunteer).  As a Senator, he will represent both the people of NC and the States’ sovereign interests as well.  Greg understands the implications of the 17th Amendment, an issue that is being hotly debated now and one that resonates with the Tenth Amendment Center and constitutional groups.  He understands how federalism is promoted when the States are represented directly in government.  He understands, as Jefferson and Madison explained, that government is meant to be closest to the people where it is most responsive to them and protects their rights and interests best.  That is the reason for a limited federal government and the Tenth Amendment.  He understands that federalism serves liberty interests most effectively by allowing the individual states to serve as the “laboratories of democracy” and “laboratories of innovation.”  Finally, Greg also knows that a representative that is allowed to serve 6 years (as opposed to the 2-year term of a Congressman) has little accountability to the people.  The 17th Amendment was a “progressive era” attempt to wrestle power away from the states and to promote “direct democracy.”  It, along with the Income Tax (16th Amendment) and the creation of the Federal Reserve should forever remind us of the malignancy that is the Progressive movement.  (1913 was indeed a bad year for America!) What the 17 Amendment did was deliver a critical blow to our federalist system, which was the design feature in our Constitution that provided the most critical check on the federal government’s power (and was unique feature to our American government system).  The US Senate was the body that was intended to preserve the precarious balance of power as defined (restated) by the Tenth Amendment.  It was to be an effective check on federal expansion. It was the states’ voice in government.  After all, it was the states which were the ones that “agreed’ through compact to delegate certain of their sovereign powers to a federal government; it was only right that they had some means to “protect” their investment/sacrifice.  It was also a means by which the states could influence congressional lawmaking, evaluate treaties, and assess justices for the Supreme Court.

4.  Finally, there are two things that aren’t talked enough about in the hallowed chambers of the US Congress. One is the US Constitution…  the very playbook that should be consulted whenever they act. When we send Greg Brannon to the Senate, we will send not only the man but the Constitution!!   North Carolina will be the state that takes the lead on what the government can and what it cannot do.  Greg’s fellow senators will all be getting a crash course on our founding documents and I can’t wait!   The second thing not talked about enough is God and where He fits into the legislative process.  Greg will be there to remind the body of the Judeo-Christian values that are woven into our American system.  Sure, atheists may cry “Separation of Church and State!” but it is the very right derived from “God’s Law and Natural Law” – the freedom of speech – that give atheists the right to speak their nonsense.

GREG BRANNON for US SENATE.   FOR NORTH CAROLINA.  FOR LIBERTY !

 

 

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

An Easter Reflection

Jesus - bloody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Diane Rufino

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

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

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

Holy Thursday  —

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

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

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

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

All flee, excepting Sts. Peter and John.

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

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

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

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

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

Good Friday —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, he is stripped and nailed to the Cross.

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Sunday —

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

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

Jesus - carrying cross

 

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

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

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

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

Jesus - scourged

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus - on cross

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

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

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

Jesus - resurrection

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

RESOLUTION FOR a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

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

RESOLUTION FOR a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

RESOLUTION DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WITH REGARDS TO THE DEATHS OF 4 AMERICANS in BENGHAZI

by Diane Rufino  (to be presented at the 2014 Pitt County GOP Convention on March 8)

RESOLUTION DEMANDING ANSWERS AND ACCOUNTABILITY BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REGARDING THE DEATHS OF 4 AMERICANS in BENGHAZI

Whereas, on September 11, 2012, four Americans – Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – were brutally murdered in a terrorist attack on the United States diplomatic facility and on American personnel in Benghazi, Libya; and

Whereas, over 15 months year later, the American people have still not received any information as to why military assistance was not rendered and why forces that were willing and ready to fly into Benghazi were told to stand down; and

Whereas, over 15 months later, there has still been no action of reprisal and no justice rendered upon the assailants, even though President Obama declared in his first address to the Nation after news of the attack was received: “Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people”; and

Whereas, since the very night of the attack, the White House has maneuvered to prevent the truth from emerging on the nature of the attack and why four Americans were left to be slaughtered; and

Whereas, whistleblowers, including former Deputy Chief of Mission to Libya Gregory Hicks, have reported unwarranted repercussions and fear of retaliation by the Obama administration; and

Whereas, the Department of State’s lack of adequate cooperation has prevented congressional committees from properly investigating and receiving direct testimony from the Benghazi survivors; and

Whereas, the People of the United States have a right to know what the President, the State Department, and the Department of Defense knew and when they knew it, why they intentionally declined to send aid to fellow Americans, and why they have intentionally sought to frustrate an investigation into the events of that fateful night.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Pitt County GOP takes the position that the intentional lack of cooperation, honesty, and good faith by the Obama administration with respect to the death of fellow Americans indicates the highest level of dishonesty on the part of the President. We have seen the same degree of dishonesty in two presidents before him – Richard Nixon (who resigned rather than face pending impeachment charges and likely removal from office) and Bill Clinton (who was impeached by the House for perjury and obstruction of justice). Impeachment is the proper action when the President of the United States conducts himself, in the performance of his duties, with such a level of dishonesty that it both disgraces the office, impugns the reputation of the United States, and damages the trust that the American People are entitled to have in their government.

Be it further Resolved that the government’s failure to hold accountable the perpetrators of the vicious terrorist attack of September 12, 2012 will leave terrorists around the world with the impression that they can kill Americans and escape the consequence.  It will thereby embolden terrorist organizations and increase the likelihood of future attacks against our country, against our military and other public servants, and against our citizens.

Be it further Resolved that the Pitt County GOP supports a resolution by the US House of Representatives to demand that the president answer where he was on the night of the attack, and what part he played in telling forces to stand down.  It would also call upon the government of the state of North Carolina to support said resolution.

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

RESOLUTION TO CHALLENGE OBAMACARE AS A VIOLATION OF 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.

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