Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

15When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

16So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

17When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

18And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

- Luke 2: 1-20

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and give you a few little gifts. First are a couple of my favorite Christmas songs. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

This first one is called A' Soalin' by Peter, Paul and Mary. It's a two-fer since it also contains a verse from my favorite Christmas hymn, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

This second one is a newer favorite. It is The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne and performed by The Chieftains. I have included the lyrics below the video (it is actually just an image of the album cover while the song plays).

The streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants' windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for all God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

They call him by the "Prince of Peace"
And they call him by "The Saviour"
And they pray to him upon the sea
And in every bold endeavor
As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
And their faith in him increases
But they've turned the nature that I worshipped in
From a temple to a robber's den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

My other gift, I won't mention Ron Paul in this post. *grin* Well, except there. But that's it... for now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Objections Addressed, Part 1

In October (Wow! I haven’t been here in awhile, huh?), I included a short post entitled Who is Ron Paul? All that was included in the post was a YouTube video and a simple observation and question: “He had me at ‘Constitution’. What about you?” Well, never ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer.

I received a few comments and emails with some questions and (passionate) responses that I wanted to address specifically and in some detail, so I will be doing that in a short series of posts over the next couple of weeks. Again, please leave a comment or send an email to agree, disagree, or otherwise propel the discussion. All I ask is that you do so civilly.

The most passionate response I received was from one of my dearest friends who I’ve known since college. I am christening him “Bill” for the purposes of this discussion. He and his wife are like a brother and sister to Frodo and I. Bill and Frodo usually get into intense religious and political discussions whenever they talk, and I always found this a little amusing since they probably agree 90% of the time, but if you walked in in the middle of one of their conversations, you might not believe it. It is like a tennis match between two relatively equally matched players but one has a slightly better serve and the other has the mildly superior backhand… neither is so superior that they become discouraged but their complimentary strengths make them better players in the end. Anyway, all that to say, I love him… be nice (to both of us). *grin*

Bill gave me his permission to publish his email:

Ron Paul is an insult to all those serving abroad, and does not understand the Constitution, at all. If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!

This is a symptom that afflicts so many - the idea that the military can have, in effect, 535 Commanders-in-Chief.

Of all the Republican candidates (and I don't know who I support yet), he is most offensive to me. Thankfully, most of America thinks so too.

Iraq is not a mistaken policy - sure, mistakes have been made, as in any war. To pull out of Iraq is shortsighted, and any potential leader that thinks so should be avoided at all costs.

I’ll start at the beginning:

Ron Paul is an insult to all those serving abroad, and does not understand the Constitution, at all. If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!

This is a symptom that afflicts so many - the idea that the military can have, in effect, 535 Commanders-in-Chief.

Dr. Paul is in favor of pulling our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. He has a few reasons for this, but the primary one is that the war was undeclared and therefore unconstitutional. After 9/11, Dr. Paul (as a member of Congress) approved the funds for our military to go into Afghanistan to accomplish a specific mission. In his address to the nation at the beginning of operation Enduring Freedom on the afternoon of October 7, 2001, President Bush enumerated our military’s goals as follows:

On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.

As he concluded his address, President Bush stated:

To all the men and women in our military -- every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every coastguardsman, every Marine -- I say this: Your mission is defined; your objectives are clear; your goal is just.

The goal was clear, shut down the al Qaeda terrorist training camps, capture their leaders so they could be brought to justice, and maim the Taliban’s military capability. Our soldiers fought well, and on March 8, 2002 then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated:

We've now pretty much completed the phase of taking the Taliban out of Afghanistan's government and putting the al Qaeda on the run. They're no longer capable of using Afghanistan as a safe haven and that's terribly important…

…It is not possible for bin Laden to be using Afghanistan effectively as a haven for terrorism. He's not recruiting there. He's not training there. He's not raising money there. He's on the run.

Also, numerous sources (you can read some here, here, and here) believe that Osama bin Laden fled into Pakistan during the battle of Tora Bora in December of 2001.

My understanding of these events is as follows- We did not declare war when we went into Afghanistan because a terrorist group that was being actively supported by Afghanistan’s government attacked us on our own soil, therefore the government was complicit in the attack and in effect declared war on us. Therefore, we were retaliating to an active declaration of war by a foreign power. According to the War Powers Act of 1973, the Congress and President may use military force without an official declaration of war for 60 days. After the 60 days are over, Congress must either officially declare war or cease military actions. There are a few instances where this 60 days can be extended an additional 30, but after that, the Congress must declare war or forces must be brought home.

Within this 90 day time frame (assuming a 30 day extension), the majority of Taliban strongholds were toppled (the most notable being Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar) and all known organized factions of al-Qaeda were known or presumed to have fled to Pakistan. Hostilities should have ended or war should have been declared.

According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the power to declare war is given to the Congress:

The Congress shall have power…

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

So, according to the Constitution of the United States and the War Powers Act of 1973, the United States Congress should have either declared war or removed our troops from Afghanistan by January 7, 2002 (90 days after the start of operation Enduring Freedom). Had the Congress declared war, the President then would have continued in his role as Commander and Chief according to the powers given him in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States

No one, and definitely not me or Dr. Paul, is suggesting that there should be 535 Commanders in Chief. That would not only be ludicrous, but it would also be in violation of the Constitution. The founding fathers wisely separated the ability to declare and fund war from the ability to command the military. They wanted to provide an obstacle to the corrupting nature of power and try to prevent any one branch of the government (specifically the President given the tyrannical monarchy they had just successfully severed ties with) from having complete control of the military. It is rather difficult to use the military to establish a dictatorship if the purse has been welded shut.

Alexander Hamilton addressed this issue in Federalist Paper #24: The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered:

A stranger to our politics, who was to read our newspapers at the present juncture, without having previously inspected the plan reported by the convention, would be naturally led to one of two conclusions: either that it contained a positive injunction, that standing armies should be kept up in time of peace; or that it vested in the EXECUTIVE the whole power of levying troops, without subjecting his discretion, in any shape, to the control of the legislature.

If he came afterwards to peruse the plan itself, he would be surprised to discover, that neither the one nor the other was the case; that the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the LEGISLATURE, not in the EXECUTIVE; that this legislature was to be a popular body, consisting of the representatives of the people periodically elected; and that instead of the provision he had supposed in favor of standing armies, there was to be found, in respect to this object, an important qualification even of the legislative discretion, in that clause which forbids the appropriation of money for the support of an army for any longer period than two years a precaution which, upon a nearer view of it, will appear to be a great and real security against the keeping up of troops without evident necessity.

As to Bill’s frustration “ If he feels that only Congress should deploy troops, then STOP FUNDING THEIR MOVEMENT!”, I am a little confused as to why this statement is included here. Since the original deployment of troops in October of 2001, Dr. Paul has not voted to continue funding the troops in Afghanistan or Iraq. Dr. Paul didn’t even vote to send troops into Iraq. He has earned his nickname of “Dr. No” by consistently voting against any unconstitutional legislations, resolutions, etc. that are introduced in the House of Representatives. On October 8, 2002, Dr. Paul voted against House Joint Resolution 144 which gave the President unconstitutional powers over the US military. Basically, the resolution hands over constitutionally established congressional powers to deploy the military to the executive branch. This clearly breaches the system of checks and balances the Constitution was meant to establish. On that same day, Dr. Paul voted against the Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2003 (which included funding for undeclared wars) as presented in HR5010. (These votes took place in the 107th Congress.) He has continued to vote against such unconstitutional spending and troop deployments. (The Washington Post has a great site where they track the voting records of all members of Congress. It is a wonderful resource but can be a bit difficult to navigate. You’ll need patience to find older votes since they are listed chronologically with the most recent first. The New York Times also has summaries of voting records for all of the Presidential candidates for a variety of topics. You can see all of their voting records on the hostilities in Iraq here.)

Bill, in the case of finances as they pertain to current US military actions, I believe you are preaching to the choir. As far as your understanding of the constitutionally appointed roles of the Congress and the President where the military is concerned, I think you are severely in error.

I will address the remainder of Bill’s email in a separate post in a few days.

Also, I wanted to note again that these are my opinions and understandings of these issues. Although I believe that they align to those held by Dr. Paul and that I have faithfully represented his stances here, I encourage you to read his opinions for yourself. Check out his voting record at the sites I mention above or go to his campaign website or congressional website for more information.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Ron Paul Phenomenon on PBS Friday 12/14

FYI, there will be a story entitled "The Ron Paul Phenomenon" on the PBS series NOW this Friday, December 14th at 8:30pm (I assume this is EST). You can see a preview of the segment here. The story looks like it is going to be less about Dr. Paul and more about why his supporters are so entrepreneurial and passionate in their support of him. (thanks to Heather at Stepping Heavenward for the heads up)

Also, there is a great interview of Dr. Paul (aka Dr. No) by John Stossel on ABC's website. There is a text summary of the interview, Ron Paul Unplugged, and a series of video clips, Paul & Stossel: Two Libertarians Talk, Ron Paul on Freedom of Choice, Ron Paul: Is War Ever Justifiable? and Paul on Drugs, Prostitution and Gay Marriage.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm Rerun

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Rerun!
Take this quiz!

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