Injustice—Thoughts On The Eve Of The Fourth Of July



I originally wrote this post in 2012, but not much has changed, so I’ve made some revisions and am re-posting. After all, the main point that becomes clear at the end of the article, is timeless.

– – – – –

Injustice? We’re all against it, aren’t we? No one is willing to stand up and say, I think we should band together in support of injustice. That’s not going to happen.

And yet injustice keeps climbing to the top. It’s Hitler or Uganda’s General Idi Amin, Chairman Mao, the Roman emperors, the corrupt Church of the Middle Ages, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Or the American government today.

OK, I know that’s not a popular thing to say, especially as the US is about to celebrate the Fourth of July—our Independence Day—but why should Americans think we’re immune to injustice in government?

I know a lot of Christians think the US is blessed because our government is founded on the bedrock of Christian principles, but that’s only true to an extent. As our detractors are quick to point out, “all men are created equal” referred, at the time it was written, only to men and only to white men. That’s a fact.

I’m not of the school that thinks we ought to start handing out reparations to African-Americans or giving land back to Native Americans or to Mexico. Neither am I of the school that believes the evils of slavery or the land-grabs of the 19th century (1) didn’t happen; or (2) were good.

All that to say, from our early history America hasn’t been a paradigm of the just nation. But I’m concerned for today, understanding that what’s gone before has had its effect on where we are now.

Six years ago the news here in the Los Angeles Basin included a segment about some tax called the gross tax (isn’t all tax gross 😆 ) that the City is lifting on car dealerships. The point is to create a climate that is friendly to Ford, Nissan, GM, et al. so that they’ll bring their business back to LA.

But what about other businesses, the astute reporter asked. Why only car dealerships? Oh, the Mayor answered, car dealerships will bring in a substantial amount of revenue through sales tax, so that’s why we’re favoring them.

OK, I added the “favoring” part, but that’s what it is, isn’t it? Other businesses who don’t have the lobbying power or the promise of greasing the City’s coffers significantly will just have to grin and pay the gross tax. Is that just?

Or what about what’s going on in Washington, D. C.? The notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in a rebroadcast of “The lobbyist’s playbook,” a 60 Minutes segment that first aired in November, 2011, did a tell-all that exposed the illegal practices rampant in our Congress, all connected with bribery, some legal and some illegal. Yes, you read that correctly, some legal bribery.

And we wonder why so little meaningful business gets done in our Federal government. We moan and wring our hands about problems that Congress pretty much ignores because no one is sliding money over or under the table to get the necessary legislation started.

Here’s part of Abramoff’s exchange with Lesley Stahl:

Abramoff: At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.

Stahl: You’re telling me this, the genius of figuring out you could own the office by offering a job to the chief of staff, say. I’m having two reactions. One is brilliant. And the other is I’m sick to my stomach.

Abramoff: Right. Evil. Yeah. Terrible.

Stahl: ‘Cause it’s hurting our country.

Abramoff: Shameful. Absolutely. It’s the worst thing that could happen. All parts of the system. (60 Minutes transcript or video)

I could go on—why, for example, do oil companies get government subsides? What are we doing to stop the banks from gamboling with our money? What became of the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal uncovered just prior to the FBI scandal?

Why do I bring all this up? Because if American Christians don’t see the truth about our nation—we’re just like everyone else—we aren’t going to pray for fundamental change: the revolution that needs to happen in the hearts of people.

It’s great that we have concern for those without Christ living in far away places, but it’s past time we show concern for the lost right here in our backyard. We are a nation in which, apparently, 90% of the people believe in heaven, but only 8% believe the Bible to be true and Jesus to be who He said He was.

And we wonder about injustice in America.

Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amos 2:6)

Advertisements
Published in: on July 3, 2018 at 5:27 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Immigration Reform And President Obama


President_Obama2I’ve long been an advocate of immigration reform in the US. The situation we’re in is unconscionable. Reportedly 11.7 million illegal immigrants reside within our borders. I don’t know another nation that has had such a situation with which to deal.

President Reagan’s unfortunate approach to the problem back in the 1980s was to proclaim amnesty and start fresh. Except that policy only gave those wishing to bypass the legal routes to immigration a higher incentive to carry out their plans.

Here’s what we need to fix:

    * A porous border
    * A ponderous law that makes people applying for legal immigration wait, sometimes for decades
    * The means by which criminals in our country illegally can be cull from our population
    * The means by which those who entered our country illegally and who are productive members of society may earn legal status

Apparently the Republican controlled House of Representatives has taken a “piecemeal” approach to these issues rather than aiming at a comprehensive approach. I see some wisdom in that. There ought to be solutions for some of the problems on this list with which we can all agree.

Nevertheless, the Senate hammered out a bipartisan comprehensive bill that offers viable solutions. The House of Representatives would be wise to bring the bill up for debate and offer whatever amendments they deem necessary.

The fact is, immigration reform ought not wait! Will it take another influx of unaccompanied minors for us to realize that what we’re doing now simply does not work?

But here’s the problem. President Obama has poisoned the water by acting unilaterally, and in my view, illegally. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so:

President Obama ’s decision to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants by his own decree is a sorry day for America’s republic. We say that even though we agree with the cause of immigration reform. But process matters to self-government—sometimes it is the only barrier to tyranny—and Mr. Obama’s policy by executive order is tearing at the fabric of national consent. (Wall Street Journal | Editors | I, Barack as quoted in “Obama’s unilateral action on immigration“)

As I see it, Congress is unlikely to roll over and let the President act like a dictator. But what will be the issue the two sides will fight over? Some media people, despite the assurances of GOP leaders that this is not so, say the House will once again shut down the government when the vote to fund government operations and agencies comes up. I have to think past experience will show Congress this is not what the American people want.

But all indicators seem to point to the American people wanting sensible, humane immigration reform, too. I’m afraid that will be the policy about which Congress decides to fight. I don’t see this being a better choice than shutting down the government!

What I’d like to see the GOP controlled Congress do instead is to craft some strong language repudiating this broadening of “executive order” that circumnavigates the Constitution which gave Congress the responsibility to make law. Not the President. Congress!

I’d like to see a Constitutional Amendment to this effect, though we ought not need a law that says the President must obey the law. But apparently we do. Past Presidents have used this “out” to get things Congress wouldn’t vote for, but this method of ruling turned a dangerous corner this week. It’s use is on the increase, and this latest order clearly circumvented the Constitutional process.

In many respects, I see President Obama’s speech which pointed the finger at “Congress,” rather than at the House of Representatives, as a first salvo at the new Congress coming into office in 2015 with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. If the President can turn the tide now so that the American people will blame Congress for perceived “wrong directions” instead of him, then the Democrats will have a leg up in the next election.

In other words, this President seems to be playing politics even as he is undermining our system of government.

I don’t think the immigration issue should suffer, and with it all the people who will be affected by inactivity regarding the vital issues connected with immigration policy. I also don’t think revenge is the right approach because these representatives need to be thinking about the people, not their own bruised egos.

The President was wrong to take matters into his own hands. The House leadership asked him not to do so. I understand that they would rightly be upset that he ignored them. But they’re not alone.

That’s been a problem of this presidency—Mr. Obama has not listened or led. He bullied “Health Care” (really, Mandatory Health Insurance) into existence, he ignored the advice of the military people who said we shouldn’t set dates for withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan, he didn’t formulate a policy on Syria for over a year, he’s had six years to work with Congress to pass immigration reform, and more.

Nevertheless, the Republican-led Congress must not lower themselves to school-yard brawl status. They need to act like statesmen. They need to pick their battles with the President carefully—something that the Newt Gingrich-led Congress failed to do with President Clinton several decades ago.

In short, the American people should not have to suffer while the executive and legislative branches play tug-of-war for power. We have three branches of government for a reason, and it’s time to get the judicial branch into this mess. Unless, of course, we like the idea of a dictatorship.

Published in: on November 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Immigration Reform


MigrantImmigration reform is a hotbed issue in the political arena, and it received renewed attention when the Virginia congressman Eric Cantor lost his primary election.

The first reports concerning this “shocking defeat” concluded that Mr. Cantor’s position on immigration reform was the issue that brought him down. Pundits rushed to add that this result spelled doom for any hope for a change in our immigration law in the near future.

“Immigration reform is almost certainly dead on Capitol Hill this year,” according to Politico. And Fox News agreed: “Cantor’s loss could send immigration talks into a deep freeze.” Candidates, the thinking goes, would be too afraid of their constituents’ response if they back any meaningful overhaul of our current failed policies.

A few voices of reason have restored some order to this discussion. This election involved one state, one primary, with low voter turn out. It does not necessarily reflect a national trend! Sadly, however, I think the events surrounding the Virginia primary are a microcosm of what’s wrong with politics in America.

First, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, which recently commemorated those who died to defend our country and what we stand for, only a minority actually exercise their right to vote. The majority might grumble and complain, but they remain on the sidelines.

Second, the media drives the discussion. Once we believed in journalistic integrity in this country, which meant that nothing was reported as fact unless it was verified by at least two sources. So where is the data that proves as fact that voters turned away from Cantor because of his stance on immigration?

Third, once the media has delivered their “findings,” their reports drive the discussion and color the convictions of many.

Fourth, politicians care more about keeping their job than about serving their country. We no longer have a majority of leaders willing to do what’s right at the expense of their job or the loss of their precious legacy.

Gerald_Ford_(portrait)The truth is, those who work unselfishly for the good of others often have the legacy the power-hungry covet. I think, for example, of President Gerald Ford, the only US President never to be elected as either President or Vice President. He came to power because Congress chose him to fill the Vice Presidency to replace Spiro Agnew, leaving him in line for the Presidency when Richard Nixon resigned. His controversial move one month into his tenure was to pardon Nixon of his crimes committed as President because he believed this to be the quickest way to put the Watergate scandal behind the country and promote healing.

Many grant in hindsight that [Ford] had respectably discharged with considerable dignity a great responsibility that he had not sought. His subsequent loss to Carter in 1976 has come to be seen as an honorable sacrifice he made for the nation. (“Gerald Ford”)

Who in government is making honorable sacrifices today?

On the contrary, we have reports of “leaders” distancing themselves from one of the issues that desperately needs to be addressed—the question of our immigration plan.

As it is, our borders remain porous—allowing drug smuggling as well as human trafficking to take place. For months, perhaps years, places along our borders have endured gang wars as various drug cartels battle for control of the drug pipelines to our cities.

At the same time, poor, downtrodden immigrants from Central America and Mexico search for ways to escape the danger, poverty, and brutality of the countries they are fleeing. Sometimes they end up as virtual slaves here in America because they turned to an unscrupulous coyote to provide them with passage into the US. Some die. Others reach their destination penniless because they spent all they had on their flight.

In short, illegal immigration continues to take place. We have not adequately addressed how to protect our borders from the criminal activity that takes place or how to identify people in genuine need of asylum in America.

Making matters worse, we also have second generation illegals who came to the US as children or whose parents came illegally before they were born. Some face the possibility of deportation to a country they have never known, others the prospect of separation from their parents.

That’s the price of illegal activity, some will say. However, that kind of hard line is not a position we take with any other comparable criminal behavior. For example, if someone smuggles a costly souvenir from their vacation into the US because they don’t want to pay the duty, are they deported? Is their property taken from them without a chance to redeem it?

In addition, in what other circumstances are children punished because of the decision of their parents, the way immigrant children face deportation because their parents brought them to the US when they were infants or toddlers?

Clearly changes need to take place in the area of immigration. Some, shamefully using a kind of “us four and no more” mentality, want to see the US close to new immigrants altogether. Others advocate for the kind of amnesty that turns resident illegal immigrants into citizens which the country tried in the 1980s.

Neither extreme is a workable solution, but continuing the status quo isn’t workable either. That leaves immigration reform as the only answer.

Unfortunately, this complex problem with many facets requires real leadership to find a way out of the morass, and apparently right now our federal government is in short supply of that quality.

My hope is that Christians can lead the way. Rather than threatening to withhold support from a candidate who wishes to address this issue, we should be on the front lines encouraging them to do so.

We need sensible, just, compassionate change in our immigration policy which requires honest, fair men and women to find the best solutions. Yes, I wish those in leadership were true servants, willing to put the good of the nation ahead of their own political future, but in lieu of the ideal, we should look to the next best thing—citizens rallying behind candidates who are willing to study the issue and search for an answer.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

I’ll be honest. I believe we’re responsible before God for what we do about unwanted children, elderly widows who can’t support themselves, and aliens and strangers looking for hope and help.

The latter is our mission field, come to us instead of us going to them. The least we can do is to advocate for a fair policy that can offer them hope and help rather than a closed door.

Congress Is Broken


National-Debt-GillrayI don’t know many registered US voters who would disagree that Congress is broken. Our legislative branch has had ten months to deal with our “debt ceiling.” This is apparently our pretend limit on the amount of debt the Treasury can issue. I say “pretend” because it seems no measures are being taken to actually insure that we stay under this limit. And everyone gets quite angry at the idea that Congress isn’t moving that limit higher yet again.

So why do we have it? Apparently the existence of a debt limit is something that Congress passed years and years ago, though they fight over it more and more frequently.

And now there’s the suggestion that President Obama extend the debt ceiling by executive order–another indication of how broken Congress is. Apparently, our legislature has given away some of the responsibilities the Constitution reserved for them, or has turned a blind eye to the encroachment of the Executive Branch into the arena of making law.

But that’s not so surprising since the congressmen don’t seem to take voting very seriously. Another news story broke recently showing representatives voting by proxy. Many of them aren’t present at the reading of bills, and from what we discovered with the recent health care insurance law, they don’t read the bills on their own.

In fact, it’s apparently more important to find out what the particular party position on a bill is than how it will actually impact constituents. Next in line after party leadership are lobbyists who have a great deal of input on the passage of bills. Lobby influence, as far as I see it, is little more than legalized bribery.

But Congress argues about things like cutting education funding and Social Security and the like. They never seem to argue about starting from the top and cutting their own salaries.

Oh, peanuts, some say, as they did to John McCain when he declared during his run for office that he would go after pork belly spending to bring down expenditures. Once, people prized a penny or peanuts. But apparently we’ve gotten too rich to be penny wise any more. Now we are happily pound foolish.

And foolish is a pretty good way of describing the way our government looks.

It’s forcing poor people to buy insurance to cover the costs wealthy corporations aren’t willing to spend in order to provide people with “existing conditions” the insurance they need. Has anyone suggested putting a “profit ceiling” on companies that provide vital services to the public–you know, like hospitals and insurance companies and utilities and oil companies.

I’m not sure why we act so outraged that “free enterprise” would be harmed by “government interference.” Do we think the government forcing people to buy insurance isn’t interference? Do we think welfare or FEMA or education funding isn’t government interference? Do we think the “stimulus packages” that supposedly have been digging us out of the Great Recession weren’t government interference?

If the government is going to get in people’s business, then why not do it in a meaningful way? For example, those bank bailouts back in 2008–why didn’t the government simply give every registered voter a million dollars? Now that could have gotten us out of the recession pretty fast, I’d say.

But I’m off topic. The point is, government, and Congress in particular, doesn’t work the way it was supposed to work. I can’t imagine that it will be long before people will cry for an end to all this nonsense and demand a just and reasonable ruler take over the reins of the whole thing. Already I read today on Facebook a call for revolution. Not violent. But an overhaul of government.

One step closer toward the conditions ripe for a dictator who would rule in the way, say the Bible prophecies the Anti-Christ will rule.

Injustice


We’re all against it, aren’t we? Who’s willing to stand up and say, I think we should band together in support of injustice? That’s not going to happen, and yet injustice keeps climbing to the top. It’s Hitler or Uganda’s General Idi Amin, Chairman Mao, the Roman emperors, the corrupt Church of the Middle Ages. And the American government today.

OK, I know that’s not a popular thing to say, especially after the US just celebrated the Fourth of July–our Independence Day–but why should Americans think we’re immune?

I know a lot of Christians think the US is blessed because our government is founded on the bedrock of Christian principles, but that’s only true to an extent. As our detractors are quick to point out, “all men are created equal” referred only to Men and only to White Men. That’s a fact

I’m not of the school that thinks we ought to start handing out reparations to African-Americans or giving land back to Native American Indians or to Mexico, for that matter. Neither am I of the school that believes either those things (1) didn’t happen or (2) were good.

All that to say, from our early history America hasn’t been a paradigm of the just nation. But I’m concerned for today, understanding that what’s gone before has had its effect on where we are now.

Last night’s news here in the Los Angeles Basin included a segment about some tax called the gross tax (isn’t all tax gross 😆 ) that the City is lifting on car dealerships. The point is to create a climate that is friendly to Ford, Nissan, GM, et al. so that they’ll bring their business back to LA.

But what about other businesses, the astute reporter asked. Why only car dealerships? Oh, the Mayor answered, car dealerships will bring in a substantial amount of revenue through sales tax, so that’s why we’re favoring them. OK, I added the “favoring” part, but that’s what it is, isn’t it? Other businesses who don’t have the lobbying power or the promise of greasing the City’s coffers significantly will just have to grin and pay. Is that just?

Or what about what’s going on in Washington, D. C.? The notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in a rebroadcast of “The lobbyist’s playbook,” a 60 Minutes segment that first aired last November, did a tell-all that exposed the illegal practices rampant in our Congress, all connected with bribery, some legal and some illegal.

And we wonder why so little meaningful business gets done in our Federal government. We moan and wring our hands about problems that Congress pretty much ignores because no one is sliding money over or under the table to get the necessary legislation started.

Here’s part of Abramoff’s exchange with Lesley Stahl:

Abramoff: At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.

Stahl: You’re telling me this, the genius of figuring out you could own the office by offering a job to the chief of staff, say. I’m having two reactions. One is brilliant. And the other is I’m sick to my stomach.

Abramoff: Right. Evil. Yeah. Terrible.

Stahl: ‘Cause it’s hurting our country.

Abramoff: Shameful. Absolutely. It’s the worst thing that could happen. All parts of the system. (60 Minutes transcript or video)

I could go on — why, for example, do oil companies get government subsides? What are we doing to stop the banks from gamboling with our money? What became of the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal uncovered just prior to the FBI scandal?

Why do I bring all this up? Because if American Christians don’t see the truth about our nation–we’re just like everyone else–we aren’t going to pray for fundamental change, the revolution that needs to happen in the hearts of people.

It’s great that we have concern for those without Christ living in far away places, but it’s past time we show concern for the lost right here in our backyard. We are a nation in which, apparently, 90% of the people believe in heaven, but only 8% believe the Bible to be true and Jesus to be who He said He was.

And we wonder about injustice in America.

Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amos 2:6)

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: