Immigration, Executive Orders, and the Christian Message: Another One Matt Walsh Gets Wrong


IMG_0547At this point I feel like I could make a living off writing against Matt Walsh. I’ve yet to come across anything he’s written where I can sit there and go, “This post was substantial, informative, and something I can mostly agree with.” Instead, reading a Matt Walsh post is a lot like trying to chug cheap whiskey; it’s a bad idea and you’re going to regret it. Walsh is the Kardashians of the conservative movement. No one really knows how someone who has done literally nothing became so popular and annoying, there’s just no explanation for either the Kardashians or Walsh. And yet, he persists. His latest ramblings on immigration reform attack President Obama’s executive order as well as the idea of immigration reform, all the while Walsh is proving that he’s not really pro-family, unless your family happens to be American.

First and foremost, someone should alert Walsh to the fact that if you’re going to refer to someone using the poetic apostrophe “O” that it’s spelled “O,” not “oh.” “Oh” is an emotive interjection, such as, “Oh, I was just thinking…” If I want to address someone, I’d say, “O Holiness.” A minor note, but one worth noting. I know of the above because I used to make the same mistake. Thankfully, my English teacher in the tenth grade corrected me.

The biggest complaint that Walsh has with Obama is the use of an executive order. Cutting through all the wording, Walsh’s argument boils down to this: “Obama bypassed Congress and in so doing created the law by fiat, which makes him a tyrant.” I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not too keen on executive orders. There’s a reason that up until the late 19th century, they were used quite sparingly. Regardless, the last president to have less than 100 executive orders within his term(s) was Chester Arthur (who?), back in 1885. In other words, for 129 years every president has issued at least 100 executive orders. In that timespan, there have only been four presidents who issued less executive orders than Obama (who, to be fair, is halfway into his second term, so that number could go up). Regardless, as far as precedence goes, Obama is pretty low on executive orders. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all sat above 300 executive orders.

Again, while I’m not a fan of executive orders, they’ve been common place for 129 years, they do allow clarification on the role of the executive office in executing a law. Since George Washington – who issued eight executive orders – they’ve been used to explain the internal functions of how any given law ought to be enforced. They give the parameters and to what extent the law will be executed. The very first executive order was issued by Washington declaring that all US citizens had to stay out of the conflict involving England and France; what makes it more amazing is that Washington did this without interpreting any present laws, but rather created the decree because Congress was out of session. In other words, our very first President essentially created a law by fiat and hardly anyone batted an eye at the time. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus without Congress in session in 1861 and Congress didn’t back him until 1863. And let’s not forget possibly the most famous executive order ever issued, the Emancipation Proclamation.

There are multiple examples of presidents, many of whom are considered great presidents, using their executive power to decree laws without Congress in session. In fact, the last few presidents have all issued executive orders dealing with immigration reform. Thus, Obama doing the same – while not necessarily a good thing – isn’t out of line or odd. If it were then Republicans could easily defund the executive order to challenge it in court (as all executive orders can be subjected to judicial review). Republicans already did this with the famous “birth control” executive order. They could attempt it with the order on illegal immigration, but there’s not a lot in the Constitution to show how the executive order is wrong. Thus, contra Walsh, Obama didn’t do anything tyrannical, nor did he break the law, nor did he really do anything wrong from a legal standpointContinue reading

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The Ever-Present Tyranny or, Why Liberty is so Hard to Obtain


IMG_1006A few months ago, President Obama said the following:

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works; they’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

The President simply touched on a sentiment that has always existed in the United States, primarily that, “Oh, that could never happen here.” We see tyranny in far off lands, we see the dictators oppressing the people, the stormtroopers busting down their doors, the people assaulted by the police for protesting the unjust actions of a government, and we gasp and say, “Thank God we live in America, that could never happen here.”

These same voices, however, seemingly ignore that America has in one way or another been tyrannical since its founding. While it has experimented with liberty and attempted to extend that liberty to all, once cannot ignore the tyranny of slavery, of genocide against the Native Americans, of segregation, and so on. Americans turned (and continue to turn) their heads to the police brutality against our minority brothers and sisters. Tyranny is a cancer, a disease that simply spreads across a populace, something that if left uncured and unchecked in one segment of a population will eventually spread to the country entire.

The idea of tyranny spreading from one segment of the population to the other segments is seen best in Martin Niemöller’s famous poem “First they came…” As many already know, he states that “they” came for the Communists and he said nothing, then the socialists and still he said nothing, and so on. Eventually when they came for him, there was no one left. That is because tyranny has voracious appetite, it must always feed off people. It has an unquenchable thirst for oppression. That is because tyranny is sin on a mass scale.

We live in a fallen world, one where we humans have rebelled against God. In rebelling against God we have forgone liberty – true liberty is when one is allowed to pursue one’s nature – and made ourselves slaves to sin. It is not a coincidence or a play on words that in John 8:34 Jesus states that sin is a tyranny, but the Son has come to set us free. The results of sin is always slavery. Thus, in a fallen world tyranny is our natural desire.

Tyranny exists for two reasons: First, the narcissism of those in power cares nothing for the masses (and only feigns concern; they entrench themselves and justify their tyranny by saying the masses need it). Secondly, the narcissism of the masses cares more about personal peace and affluence than anything else. That is, the tyrants throw the bread in order to stay in power and the masses accept the bread so they don’t have to make it themselves; all the while liberty is taken away, which eventually destabilizes a society. Every tyranny that has existed has collapsed in a violent fashion, not to mention the lives taken during its tenure. Yet, the masses allow it for their own selfish reasons and the rulers cause it for their own selfish reasons.

If tyranny is the natural state of humanity in a fallen world, then the contrary is that liberty is something that requires work. Contrary to what the President said, tyranny is always lurking around the corner. It comes ever closer whenever a society becomes more immoral, more lazy, more unloving. It knocks at the door when we not only have no problem with oppressing those who disagree with us, but find a sort of joy in it. Tyranny is always present and if we stop for one second in our pursuit of liberty, we only allow tyranny to catch up.

In a fallen world, history has shown us that the natural tendency of humanity is to allow themselves to be ruled by a tyrant. Only a strong and moral people have ever fought to find liberty. In other words, liberty is not the natural state of man in this unnatural world, rather tyranny is. We must always work for liberty, for tyranny is found in rest.

Should a President Violate the Constitution?


Yesterday President Obama hit the hornets’ nest as far as illegal immigration is concerned. He announced that for illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who entered our nation before they were 16 years old (generally by a parent or adult) would not be threatened with deportation. How can the President single-handedly pass laws and forgo the legislative branch? Well, he can’t, but being the executive branch he can choose not to act on certain laws. Thus, the law hasn’t changed, but the enforcement of the law has changed. While people want to act as though Mr. Obama is ruining our Constitution by doing this, the reality is this has happened quite a few times in our nation’s history (it happens most-often when a president involves us in a police action without consulting Congressional support for a declaration of war). Regardless, the frequency of when it happens or even if this is the first time in United States history that a president has so boldly forgone another branch of government (those of Cherokee ancestry are currently thinking of another time when this happened) is quite irrelevant; what matters is if Mr. Obama is right or wrong in his action.

I must state emphatically that the Constitution divided the branches of government for a reason, thus it is best to follow those branches in almost every situation. The aforementioned link to Andrew Jackson and his usurping of the Supreme Court is a perfect example of why the branches ought to respect each other’s authority. But what about when the branches are wrong? What about when both Congress and the Supreme Court rule that slavery or segregation are ruled as okay within the parameters of the law? Wouldn’t we argue that the Executive branch has a moral obligation to the citizens of the nation to find some way to usurp the two other branches? I would argue that when neither branch will support what is naturally right, the third branch always has the obligation to do all it can to usurp the other two branches so that what is naturally right is recognized.

Now again, I haven’t made a case for what Mr. Obama did (yet), so before jumping ahead to leave a comment it’s best to keep reading – this post is more about Natural Law vs. the Constitution than it is about what the President said (although what he said provides a great backdrop).

Some might argue that if we hold Natural Law above the Constitution then the point of a Constitution is nullified. If any judge, president, or congressional body deems a law wrong and can simply act against it, then why divide the powers? The reason, however, is that the Constitution is itself already an outpouring of Natural Law, so when the application of the Constitution comes into conflict with Natural Law, one is not acting against the Constitution per se. The Constitution is constructed in a way that most applications of the document are consistent with the document. However, when the intent of the Constitution is violated then those sworn to protect the integrity of the Constitution have the duty to uphold it, even if that means they are unfaithful in other aspects (i.e. if two branches decide to outlaw Islam, then the other branch has the obligation to usurp the other two branches; to be faithful to the intent of the Constitution, which is to prevent tyranny, the Constitution must be breached).

In other matters we have no problem with people acting against the Constitution. For instance, what if tomorrow Congress decided to detain anyone who looked like an Arab in the name of national security? What if after many challenges the Supreme Court ruled that this law was fitting with the Constitution because it’s “reasonable” considering the security threat? Would the power of the Constitution – a document made by man – trump the moral law of God? All except legal positivists and the strictest of deontologists would argue that the Executive branch (the President) would have the moral obligation to not enforce the law.

Thus, there are cases where the President is not only justified in violating the Constitution and the separation of powers, but is under a moral obligation to do so. The question presented to us now is whether or not Mr. Obama found himself in that situation when he made his declaration.

Make no mistake, I absolutely support President’s goal. For all his failures – enough to prevent me from voting for him (and no, I’m not voting for Romney either) – I really do support many of his attempts at immigration reform, though I find them incomplete. I think this latest attempt ultimately has good goals. The fact is that those brought into this nation when they’re not of a legal age of consent, are raised as Americans, contribute to our society, and consider this place their home have no reason to be deported. Though they lack a piece of paper saying they’re citizens they’re citizens in the realist sense of the word. That they were brought here against their will shouldn’t relegate them to moving to what is, for all intents and purposes, a foreign land.

Wherever one stands on the immigration debate, one must admit that moral culpability plays a major part in whether or not one is punished for a crime. If a five-year-old is forced to steal from a vendor because an adult tricked him into it, then five-year-old isn’t held accountable. While there are typically some punishments when one unwittingly commits a crime, or is forced into a situation where a crime is committed, the full force of the law is typically withheld. In the case of someone brought into this country at a young age (below 16) who are subsequently raised in our communities, our schools, learn our language, and essentially become American, how is it that we’re to punish them for a crime they aren’t morally accountable for? In other words, the current law on the books is wrong and needs to be changed because it’s depriving people who are practically citizens from their rights; a better law would be that at the age of 18 they’re granted a permanent visa and can apply for citizenship.

The problem with the above is that our Legislative branch never got the chance to take this issue up. Now, most certainly it would have died in the Republican-controlled House, especially during an election year when the base has to be pandered to. Likewise, there’s not much the Supreme Court could do to fix the situation. Thus, it would be up to Mr. Obama to fix this situation (as this is a human-rights violation and not something petty). Some might point out that the DREAM Act was killed in Congress, but this was an entire act that had some problems with it; a standalone aspect of the bill could have been reintroduced to Congress.

The second problem with what Mr. Obama has done is with the timing of this act. Even if the DREAM Act shows that Congress wouldn’t work to fix a law that is seriously flawed, Mr. Obama only chose to implement this policy when it came to light that this election would be tight and that the Hispanic vote would play a vital role. In other words, he didn’t do this because he has a deep-seated belief that these young immigrants have a natural right to stay in a nation they have made their own, nor did he do this because he believes that God calls us to be kind to our neighbors; rather he did this because he really wants to win the election and Hispanics are the current pawns he needs in order to win.

If one is to violate the Constitution, then one must do so from deeply held moral beliefs; a president, judge, or congressperson who violate the Constitution must be willing to lose their job or go to jail for their belief. The conviction in what is good and right must be that strong; it can’t be done simply to win a political game.  If it’s just for a game and not real moral reasons then what promise do Hispanics hold for after the election when they’re no longer needed? If one’s moral ambition cannot extend beyond one’s political ambition, then one is stuck following the Constitution. The reality is, Mr. Obama should have done this long ago knowing full-well that he could be impeached for such actions. Yet, he should have looked at the consequences and simply not cared, believing that what is right is far more important than any political office; but that’s just not what happened.

Thus, Mr. Obama could have been justified in what he did, but he’s not. The ends are justifiable because they seek to correct a major flaw in our immigration law. The means, however, are horrid and negate the ends. He should have sought Congressional approval first (even though it would have been an exercise in futility, at least he would be giving them a chance). Likewise, he should have done this last year or the year before, not now that it’s become apparent he desperately needs the Hispanic vote in order to win. That is what it means to be a principled president. While we need presidents who are practical, we need those who are practical with their principles and have a budging point, a point where they’re willing to be forced out of office rather than violate what is right.

Conservative Liberation Theology


Glenn Beck has hounded President Obama for attending a church that takes to heart the principles of Black Liberation Theology. In fact, Beck has taken it further warning his audience to be weary of any preacher who calls for social justice, because they might buy into some type of liberation theology.

Concerning the perils of liberation theology, Beck does have a point; all types attempt to supplant the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with one of the auxiliary issues of the Gospel, generally justice for the oppressed or justice for the poor. While these are areas impacted by the Gospel, liberation theologians tend to place these issues at the center of the Gospel. Thus, Christ died to bring economic parity, or Christ died to end a patriarchal system that oppresses women, or Christ died to free the oppressed. All of these systems then seek to bring about this new type of salvation through revolution or through the government. For the already oppressed in a corrupt nation, they use revolution to bring about the fall of the current government and to uplift a new government that falls in line with this new Gospel. For those in truly democratic nations, they tend to vote for the party that begets the most social change and actively support those parties.

Of course, under liberation theology, there is hardly equality among the ‘sinners.’ In black liberation theology, white people are at a disadvantage when it comes to salvation. In typical liberal theology, the rich are at a disadvantage when it comes to salvation. In all liberation theology, the typical structure is that one group of people is kept down by another group of people, and Jesus came to save the oppressed group of people and to overthrow the oppressors. Such movements are typically liberal.

But since the mid-80’s, conservative Christians have unwittingly bought into a type of liberation theology without realizing it. The Religious Right adopted the Republican Party and began to preach what I would call Conservative Liberation Theology (CLT). Glenn Beck, in all his lambasting against liberation theology, is simply the newest proponent of CLT. The conservative view tends to be less nuanced and holds to more traditional theology than the liberal view, but it is liberation theology nonetheless. Continue reading

The priorities and consequences of an empty culture


As I write this, major newspapers are accepting the idea that we are heading into a great economic depression. Though we don’t know how bad the depression will be, the fact we are heading into one becomes more and more apparent each day. Likewise, we currently have an administration that simply is not adequately tasked to handle a depression. Though we must continually pray for President Obama and show respect towards the office of the presidency, we must admit that Mr. Obama has shown himself inadequate to deal with crises, whether they be domestic or foreign.

In light of the economic collapse, we have all but lost the Gulf Coast to oil. Fishermen cannot fish, tourist attractions are shut down, and the economy is being hit even harder in our Southern states. We are now sitting almost four month out after the oil spill and the well has yet to be capped, which prevents clean up. Where is the Federal Government to help protect our shorelines, to help protect our borders? Where is the public out cry that the Federal Government has failed to secure our borders once again, which is their Constitutional imperative.

We are shutting down parts of Arizona because our government has failed to prevent drug traffickers and human traffickers from coming across our border. By being inactive we have become complicit with the action that enslaves thousands of humans every year. Believe what you will about illegal immigration – for those that follow this site they understand that I am in high support of immigration – it is the duty of the government to protect the borders and they have failed in that duty (and this is not just Mr. Obama’s fault, this spans back through multiple administrations).

We are facing a justice department that is out of control, threatening to violate the Constitutional right to be protected from double jeopardy just so the administration can pander to a voting base. This same justice department is suing Arizona for the belief that Arizona is overstepping its Constitutional bounds (which I do believe Arizona is doing that), but then doing nothing to fulfill their own duty to protect the borders.

We have multiple states on the verge of bankruptcy and in fact our own nation is on the verge of bankruptcy. We have citizens who’s entire lifestyle is based upon what has been loaned to them. They do not truly own most of their toys and were the economic rug pulled out from under them, they would have nothing to fall upon.

We are engaged in two wars with the potential for two other major conflicts to open up (Iran and Korea). Our diplomatic currency is so low that we are struggling to negotiate peaceful terms with either nation. Were war to break out, we would not be in a position to aid our allies or prevent a greater evil. Continue reading

A Christian Response to the Healthcare Bill


In looking at the healthcare bill that was recently passed, I am left with one overriding conclusion; the Church in America has completely and utterly failed to do her job. This statement, however, is quite open-ended. So let me elaborate with a follow-up:

Though I hate what the current administration is doing, we must realize that their advancements are only occurring because the Church has failed America; rather than living as the Church and taking care of the needy, we instead chose to retreat into our million-dollar sanctuaries. If a needy world can’t turn to the followers of the one true God, what choice are they left with other than to turn to the government?

Though I am very much against nationalized healthcare, especially when taxpayer money will most likely be used for abortions, I don’t want to take the time writing against it. What’s done is done, every argument that could be made against nationalized healthcare has been made. The courts will see to the legality of this bill and, in my opinion, the people will speak out against the bill in the form of elections this coming November. But what if, when elected, the Republicans rescind the bill? Or, what if tomorrow Obama and half of the Democratic Party woke up and thought, “No, wait, this is wrong”? Those who will be covered by this healthcare bill would then be left without the chance to get proper healthcare.

From a purely human perspective, I would argue that I have no obligation to help get better healthcare for a stranger. I have no obligation to see to a stranger’s needs; while I can do it, it’s not necessarily immoral for me to see to the needs of my own family and then my own immediate community, but then stop there. Thus, the healthcare bill is wrong because it takes a non-obligation and attempts to make it an obligation.

The problem, however, is that as a Christian I am held to a higher moral code. What would generally be supererogatory actions become obligations for Christians. The Christian obligation to his fellow human is more than “do not kill,” but instead as Christians we are to look after the needs of others. However, as a whole the Christian Church has not been doing this in America; so what are the poor, the disadvantaged, and the crippled supposed to do?

Continue reading

Tom Coburn on the health care bill


Here’s a statement from Tom Coburn on the passage of the health care bill. Thought I’d post it here because I happen to agree with it:

This vote is indeed historic. This Congress will be remembered for its arrogance, corruption and stupidity. In the year of 2009, a Congress ignored the coming economic storm and impending bankruptcy of our entitlement programs and embarked on an ideological crusade to bring our nation as close to single-payer, government-run health care as possible. If this bill becomes law, future generations will rue this day and I will do everything in my power to work toward its repeal. This bill will ration care, cut Medicare, increase premiums, fund abortion and bury our children in debt.

“This process was not compromise. This process was corruption. This bill passed because votes were bought and sold using the issue of abortion as a bargaining chip. The abortion provision alone makes this bill the most arrogant piece of legislation I have seen in Congress. Only the most condescending politician can believe it is appropriate to force Americans to pay for other people’s abortions and to coerce medical professional to take the lives of unborn children.

“The president and his allies genuinely believe that expanding government’s control over health care is the way to control health care costs, improve lives and extend life spans. I don’t question their motives, but I do question their judgment. History has already judged this argument and put it in its ash heap. The experience of government-run health care in the United States and around the world shows that access to a government program is not access to health care. Forty percent of doctors restrict access to Medicaid patients. Medicare already rations care and denies medical claims at twice the rate of private insurers. Nations like the United Kingdom with government run health care routinely ration care based on cost, and Canadians flock to the United States to escape waiting lines. Neither nation, incidentally, has managed to control costs as promised.

“Our health care system needs to be reformed not because government’s role has been too small but because it has been too big. Since the 1940’s, government’s role in health care has been expanded to the point that it controls 60 percent of our health care economy, according the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. If more government were the answer, health care would have been reformed long ago.