Obama as the new Nixon?

The president as above the law.  From Victor Davis Hanson discussing the de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants:

Legally, President Obama has reiterated the principle that he can pick and choose which U.S. laws he wishes to enforce (see his decision to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, his decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration’s contempt for national-security confidentiality and Senate and House subpoenas to the attorney general). If one individual can decide to exempt nearly a million residents from the law — when he most certainly could not get the law amended or repealed through proper legislative or judicial action — then what can he not do? Obama is turning out to be the most subversive chief executive in terms of eroding U.S. law since Richard Nixon.

via Are We in Revolutionary Times? – By Victor Davis Hanson – The Corner – National Review Online.

For another comparison of our current president to Nixon, see this.

40 years of Watergate

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the burglary of the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate office complex.  That event on June 17, 1972, would bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

I remember news of the burglary and the subsequent dripping out of details and the final whole cascade vividly.  I was a college student at the time.  I realize many of you weren’t even born yet.  So I first ask those of you who remember it:  What has changed since the Watergate scandal?  Did it change the way you view the office of the president or our government or journalists?  Did it make you the cynic you are today?

To the rest of you and to anyone, what, to use grandiose language, is the legacy of Watergate?  It was uncovered largely by old-fashioned investigative journalism, as well as bipartisan Congressional investigation.  Do you think if an event like this happened today, in our media environment of 24-hour news, the internet, and yet cash-strapped newspapers, that it would be that big of a deal?  Are we in a state of scandal overload, so that the serious gets lost in the trivial?

Watergate scandal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Obama decrees amnesty for young illegals

President Obama, not by Congressional lawmaking but by executive order, announced that illegal aliens whose parents brought them here would no longer face deportation:

The Obama administration announced Friday it will stop deporting illegal immigrants who come to the country at a young age. . . .

The change in policy could allow as many as 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally not only to remain in the country without fear of being deported, but to work legally, according to a senior administration official speaking to reporters Friday. . . .

The new policy will not grant citizenship to children who came to the United States as illegal immigrants, but will remove the threat of deportation and grant them the right to work in the United States.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the policy change will apply to those who came to the United States before they were 16 and who are younger than 30 if they have lived here for five years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the military.

via Obama makes election-year change in deportation policy – TheHill.com.

What do you think about that?  What do you think about the way it was done?

Maccabees and the insurance mandate

Good stuff from the Book of Maccabees, as applied by John Garvey, president of Catholic University on why he is suing the federal government over the Obamacare contraceptive/abortifacient mandate:

A wonderful story in the second book of Maccabees describes the martyrdom of the old scribe Eleazar. It occurred during the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus Epiphanes. He forced the Jews “to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God.” Eleazar was ordered on pain of death to eat pork. He refused.

The men in charge of the sacrifice, who had known him for a long time, took him aside and offered to spare him if he would just eat something that looked like pork. “Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life,” he said, “lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his 90th year has gone over to an alien religion[.]” And so they killed him.

This is a story about religious freedom, and it has two points. The first is that we should put our duty to obey God’s laws above our obligation to the state. (And it is cruel on the state’s part to force people to commit sinful acts.) The second is that, quite apart from our own failure in forsaking God’s laws, we do an additional wrong in leading the young to believe that this is acceptable.

I have found myself thinking a lot about Eleazar in the past few months, as we have looked for a way to escape the dilemma the Department of Health and Human Services has posed for The Catholic University of America with its mandated-services regulation. The regulation orders the university, in its student and employee health-insurance plans, to cover surgical sterilization, prescription contraceptives, and drugs that cause early-stage abortions at no added cost to the subscribers. If we fail to do this, we will have to pay a fine of $2,000 per full-time employee, or roughly $2.6-million per year.

The Catholic Church believes that married couples should be open to the possibility of new life, and that artificial interventions to prevent or terminate pregnancy are wrong. News coverage of the dispute has observed that many members of the church dissent from this teaching. Many of the Hellenized Jews in Judea went along with Antiochus’s decrees, too. That division of opinion did not make the treatment of Eleazar any more liberal.

Like Eleazar, our university has been ordered by the government to do something it views as morally wrong. America, unlike the Seleucid Empire, has traditionally taken a tolerant view toward folks in that predicament. When West Virginia ordered the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag (an act they viewed as sinful), the Supreme Court said, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official … can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Like Eleazar, we are not concerned only about the uprightness of our own behavior. We are worried that we will do an additional wrong by leading our students to believe that the actions the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to promote are acceptable. Our mission, as a Catholic university, is to see that our students grow in wisdom, age, and grace during their time here. We teach that virtues like chastity, fidelity, and respect for life are not just ideas worth debating in philosophy class, but also ideals worth living. Compliance with the government’s mandated-services regulation would make that a lesson in hypocrisy.

via A Matter of Faith and Freedom – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

By the way, though most Protestants don’t consider the Apocrypha, those histories of the Jews between the Testaments written in Greek, to be canonical (Catholics do), all of the old theologians say they are profitable to read.  Luther included them with his translation and the Confessions sometimes quote them.  So you might be interested in The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, a new offering from Concordia Publishing House.

 

Freedom of worship or freedom of religion?

Terry Mattingly points to a shift in language and of thinking that could be devastating to religious liberty:

With the sounds of protests echoing across the campus, President Barack Obama knew his 2009 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame would have to mention the religious issues that divided his listeners.

“The ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt,” he said. “It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us.”

With this sweeping statement Obama essentially argued that religious faith contains no rational content and, thus, offers no concrete guidance for public actions, noted Thomas Farr, director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. This would shock America’s founding fathers or anyone else who has used religious doctrines and arguments in favor of human equality or in opposition to tyranny.

The president’s views were even more troubling when combined with remarks weeks earlier at Georgetown by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Farr, during a conference sponsored by the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. The daylong event drew a variety of scholars and activists including Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Jews, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mormons and others.

Clinton’s speech contained repeated references to freedom of “worship,” but none to freedom of “religion.” She also argued that “people must be … free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose.”

Thus, the secretary of state raised sexual liberation to the status of religion and other central human rights, said Farr. This evolving political doctrine is now shaping decisions in some U.S. courts.

“Powerful members of our political class are arguing,” he noted, “that there is no rational content of religion; that religious freedom means the right to gather in worship, but not to bring religiously informed moral judgments into political life; that religious freedom must be balanced by the right to love as one chooses, and that to make religious arguments against that purported right is unconstitutional.”

via tmatt.net » Blog Archive » Freedom of “worship” vs. “religion” — again.

Mattingly goes on to discuss the recent manifestation of this shift from “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship”:  The Obamacare contraception/abortifacient mandate, which exempts “houses of worship” but not religious individuals or religious institutions that minister to outsiders.

The right for monks to sell caskets

One of the medieval “works of mercy” is burying the dead.  So the Benedicting monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana, who had been making hand-crafted wooden caskets for members of their order, decided to make them available to the public.

But before they sold even one, state officials filed a cease-and-desist order, threatening the monks with fines and criminal prosecution.  It seems Louisiana has protectionist laws favoring local funeral directors, who alone are entitled to sell coffins.

Now the case is working its way through the courts, with some observers hoping that the Supreme Court will eventually weigh in to spell out the limits of business regulation.

See Louisiana monks go to court to sell their caskets – The Washington Post.

Maybe the monks could bring back the “works of mercy” tradition and apply for a religious exemption.

At any rate, what do you think of the merits of the case?  Should states be able to pass laws that protect local businesses by preventing the formation of other local businesses?


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