Colin Kaepernick and friends continue a misguided protest

For another week, Colin Keapernick and his misguided friends have continued their protest by taking a knee during the national anthem during this week’s NFL games.  It is a protest they say against oppression, police brutality, and a suite of other social justice grievances.  There’s no question that any police brutality is too much. There is no argument that if police cross that line that they should be held to account.  Oppression? Oppression is in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps Kaepernick and the others might like to compare notes with women, Christians, or gays from any number of Muslim countries.  They might want to talk to some of the very few people who have escaped persecution from places like China or North Korea.  The question is whether or not their chosen protest is disrespectful.  If you deliberately withhold a sign of respect, that is by definition disrespectful.

There are all sorts of things that occur within this country’s borders that we don’t approve of.  The simple ceremony of standing for the national anthem has nothing to do with approval, it has to do with honor and respect, not just for the flag, but for the country it represents.  If approval for everything that a country does were the measure, then no one in any country ought to stand for their national anthem.  No country is spotless and free of any civil strife.  No place in the world if totally free of injustice. Some counties though, are worthy of respect from all of its citizens.

The United States more than most deserves respect.  Not blind respect, but the kind of respect that comes with the recognition of what it has done throughout its history to further certain ideals. The kind of respect that comes from seeing not the bad, but the good of a country and its decided preference for the latter.  It also genuine respect for the great, even astounding achievements of its citizens.  Here are but a few:  We freed a continent not our own from brutal oppression. We defeated another oppressive regime that dominated Eastern Europe for well over a half a century without firing a shot.  We sent men to the moon and returned them safely back to earth.  That was us, we did that, not some other country, we did.  Because of America, diseases that once plagues mankind have been made extinct.  We gave the world the electric light, the telephone, the computer.  The list of America’s achievements is long, longer arguably than many other countries centuries older than us.  Every single citizen of this country has more freedom that every single citizen in most of the countries in the world.  Every single person in this country has more freedom of religion than every single person living in China, Iran, and numerous other countries.  Such a country, despite its many faults deserves respect.

Are there issues facing this country that Kaepernick, his fellow athletes, and the rest of America should rightly speak out about?  Of course.  Protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem is their unquestioned right.  The irony is the country that offers them that right ought to be respected for it.  A further irony is that these professional athletes are rewarded for work in their chosen professions at a level that is far disproportionate to that of those who protect their rights.  Their chosen form of protest does not show respect; it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why Americans honor their country by standing for the Star Spangled Banner.  The object is not to show total approval for their country, but to honor what it has been at its best, the great accomplishments of its people, and what it strives to be.

Advertisements

The faulty rational of persistent #nevertrump’ers

Election 2016While the primaries were in full-swing, it made sense for movement conservatives to speak out against Donald Trump.  He made many a comment that would have ended the campaign of any other Republican.  His statements about Senator McCain immediately turned off many a patriotic conservative.  He made statement after controversial statement and yet his popularity with the working man only increased.  His has policies were all over the political map, some being conservative, some to the left of even Hillary, mostly all of them populist.  He was outmatched in knowledge about foreign affairs by nearly all of his opponents.  His near absolute ban on Muslims was completely unworkable, but since then has been refined away from populism to pragmatism.  He’s also made it a point to surround himself with foreign policy and military experts.  Still, there were preferable alternatives who showed greater aptitude for conservatism, and who had nearly mistake-free campaigns.

Marco Rubio had great foreign policy credentials. Carly Fiorina also proved herself equal to any of her rivals in that department and focused like a laser beam on Hillary from the beginning.  Senator Cruz has the support of the Constitutionalists and had by far the best ground game of any of the candidates, rivaled only possibly by the Clinton machine.   This was to finally be the year of the movement conservative.  What none of them realized, was that the white, non-college educated working man had abandoned the Republican party two elections ago. With no popular support for so-called ‘establishment’ Republicans (read Jeb Bush) and young, intelligent candidates who could speak the language of conservatism fluently, this election was to be the era of Regan reborn.  The problem was, the average American spoke the language of not conservatism, but populism.   Trump, like his followers, feels free to cherry-pick from any political school of thought, conservatism, nationalism, populism, and even liberalism.  In short, Trump followed former Republican constituency to where it wanted to go.

Everyone knows the result, Trump won the nomination.  the #nevertrump crowd now had (and still has) a decision to make, reluctantly follow the new GOP standard-bearer, for all his flaws, or stick with Republican and  conservative orthodoxy. As Trump filled in the gaps of his foreign affairs and military knowledge, and softened on some of his more problematic stances on immigration, the opposition of many Republicans against him softened.  Little by little, Republican diehards resigned themselves to the reality that it was Trump or bust.  Others though, convinced of the certainty of a Trump loss, and fearful of down-ballot losses stubbornly dug in their heels on the subject of never Trump, even to the point of actively undermining his candidacy.

Reluctant, even stoic support for Trump is to be expected and understandable.  He is not the second coming of Reagan, but the first coming of Trump.  Those who insist on ideological purity won’t find it in this GOP candidate.  Those who had fought hard to rehabilitate the Republican Party’s image after losing virtually all of the black and most of the Latino vote four years ago find themselves besides themselves with frustration in their candidate.  He is their candidate though, and for all his shortcomings with regards to many conservative principles and a maddening lack of political sense, is still better for America in many ways then his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The key is to show that while Trump says controversial things, Hillary has done, time and again, many things that were deeply dishonest, maybe even illegal.  While Trump’s thoughts get him into hot water, Hillary’s actual deeds (or occasional lack of) have gotten Americans killed or put in jeopardy.  While critics can theorize about Trump being bad, we have proof positive that Hillary would be worse.  Evidence of her corruption is well documented.  We don’t have to wonder how she would govern, she would turn America into her own personal fife, and we her serfs, existing only to provide her and her sycophants  with wealth.  On the subject of Supreme Court appointees alone, there is no real choice for the constitutionalist that wants a Scalia type justice on the Court.

There is no chance of Trump being replaced as GOP nominee, any talk to the contrary is pure fantasy. There is no realistic chance of someone not from the Republican or Democratic parties becoming our next president.  Even if the #nevertrump crowd could come up with a candidate with the financial means to do so, it’s too late to get him or her on the ballot in many states.  So why does anyone claiming to be a Republican seek not to simply withhold support, but actively act to undermine his campaign?  They are ideologues, but ones who fail to understand that under a Hillary presidency, none of their conservative initiatives will come to be.  Clinton will enact her liberal, even socialist policies.  If she can’t get her agenda done under a Republican Congress, the Democrats will appeal to the American sometimes pathological need to just “get things done” regardless what that actually means.  Republican control of Congress his hardly guaranteed.  Democrats are already counting on the fact that the Republicans were put into power on Capitol Hill for the express reason of stopping the liberal Obama agenda.  Whatever political victories Hillary can garner, she will lock in by appointing active judges and an ever-growing, compliant regulatory machine.

The never Trump crowd has fooled themselves that in four years, they will get a do-over if Trump loses and finally undo the Obama/Clinton agenda.  It won’t happen, what they dont’ realize is this election may be the last one for America as a true constitutional democracy.  The next election, should Clinton win, will be more like those in the democratic-socialist countries of Western Europe– mere referendums on how quickly or slowly to descend into the socio-economic oblivion, and who will go out on top. The fact is, regardless of how much the conservative true believer would rather not, there is no real choice when it comes to any meaningful governmental reform.  There is only one candidate that will appoint justices that will respect the letter and spirit of the Constitution.  There is only one candidate with a pro-growth agenda, only one candidate that will turn America away from an otherwise certain, yes certain, move toward a single-payer healthcare system.  Like it or not, the only viable choice, for all his shortcomings, is Donald Trump.

There I said it.

Maintain Liberty

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  the Declaration of Independence 

Those who would trade liberty for security should get neither
Ben Franklin knew there’d be times like these.

140 years ago today, America declared its independence from Great Britain. A few years later, after tremendous sacrifice, we won that independence and gained a great amount of freedom. Today, we still have that independence, but sadly very little of that freedom.  Over two centuries, but mostly in the fifty or so years, we have either traded away or sold our freedoms in the name of security and comfort.  Even as we would not consciously give up our liberty, our government has found subtle ways to take it.  It takes it in the form of a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy, unelected and accountable to virtually no one.

The Founding Fathers started this quest for freedom and it is one we have inherited.  Freedom did not just happen to them, they had to take it.  It will not just continue to happen for us, to keep it we will have to join that long line of patriots that began with Washington, Franklin, Adams, and the rest.  To the extent we fight to keep ourselves free, we find ourselves in their distinguished company.  The put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line. Most of us are called upon merely to keep ourselves educated, remain vigilant, and vote.  Maybe because it’s so much easier for us, we assume everyone or someone else will do it for us.  Staying free will require our participation as individuals and collectively.

Those liberties that were hard-won by others are too easily lost by us. We should with that fact in mind, repurpose the fourth of July.  Independence Day needs to be a day not just to celebrate our independence, but one that reminds us to recommit ourselves to those freedoms that this country gained by the Revolution, and all those won since. Maintaining these liberties is a constant struggle, and that sacred struggle is one that all Americans ought to take part in. We can do it in different ways, by activism, voting, sometimes just by letting those in power know we’re watching and paying attention.  When you celebrate America’s independence, remember why it was in the first place that 140 years ago it was so important that so many risked so much for it.  Remember and resolve to keep those American ideals alive in your thoughts and deeds for another year.

The Brexit is real and is going to happen.

BREXITIt’s done.  The Brexit is real and is going to happen.  The intellectual elites were against it, the “establishment” of both Britain and Europe were against it.  The ordinary, working Briton thought otherwise.  Concerns over the flow of immigrants from other EU countries driving wages down, and open boarders that let Syrian refugees in insufficiently vetted were a major driving force behind the leave vote.  Also driving the leave vote was a sense that their country was being taken from them, their sovereignty handed over to bureaucrats in Brussels.  The British voted not just to exit the E.U., but for independence.

Because they were concerned with immigration, they were labeled bigots.  Because they were concerned with the failure of Muslim immigrants to assimilate into Western European culture and with the infiltration if ISIS terrorists among the horde of Syrian refugees, they were deemed Islamophobic.

Meanwhile, the ‘stay’ proponents felt secure they had the referendum wrapped up in their favor, and so bet heavily on stocks, running the market up.  Little did they know they were only setting themselves up for a farther fall.  The opponents of the Brexit mistook interdependence on Europe for dependence. They considered the taking in of refugees, however poorly vetted, a virtue.  Even after attack after attack rocked the continent, they refused to admit the obvious—even a minute percentage of Muslim refugees radicalized and loyal to the Islamic State, and protected by a sympathetic, unassimilated native Muslim population could wreak significant havoc. They also pressed the issue of free trade.  Without the rest of the E.U. behind them the intellectuals reasoned, Britain would surely lose out on trade deals.  Of course, many countries do just fine in trade without the clout of the E.U., some of those countries are even located in Europe.  The thing about trade is, that it has to be fair to both sides.  Trade deals that are not win-win do not last, and there is always another trading partner waiting to make a better offer.

Another concern of ordinary British citizens was the weight of overbearing regulation emanating from Brussels.  Common household appliances, including hair dryers, toasters, and tea warmers were deemed too energy hungry to be used in the E.U.  You can mess with Brit’s hair dryer, but threaten their toast and tea and you have a rebellion on your hands.  A majority of ordinary, working-class Britons had seen enough of this micro management from across the Channel and demanded out.

The establishment elite never seemed in the end to understand that those things that are fixtures of British life actually matter.  It was assumed that any sensible person would give up these ordinary things in the name of the greater good.  They ‘stay’ crowd vastly underestimated, or refused to acknowledge the resentment that had always been there and building over the decades.  Britain has always had a love/hate relationship with the continent, but the two forces had always managed to balance each other out, or so it was thought.  The immigration situation was possibly the feather that finally tipped the scale away from love.  Interference from President Obama did not help, the best way to get people to do one thing is for an outsider to tell them to do its opposite.  In the end, Britons probably simply felt like they were being taken for granted by powers that did not place value on a British identity, distinct and separate from that of continental Europe. Nationalism, so it seems is not dead in Europe, and globalism is not quite the suitable alternative governing philosophy that many make it out to be.  In the short-term, independence won’t be easy, but ought to prove worth it in the long run.  Britain lasted for centuries as an independent state before and can certainly make it as one once again.

Anti gun lobby relies once more on ignorance of the Constitution

After the tragic shooting in Orlando, the issue of gun control has come to the fore of American politics.  Unfortunately, one popular solution is the proposed ‘no fly, no buy’ law whereby if you can’t fly due to the fact you’re on the government’s no fly list, you would not be able to purchase a firearm.  It sounds completely rational, it even has some Republican support.  The problem is, many of the people on the no fly or terrorist watch lists are not terrorists.  If the gun control lobby were to have their way, anyone on that list would have to prove their innocence before they could be taken off the list and purchase a gun.  There’s just one problem with that plan, it’s called the fifth amendment.

Congressman Trey Gowdy, (R, SC) more than aptly defined the problem with ‘no fly, no buy’ during Congressional hearings last year on Capitol Hill when he took DHS official Kelli Ann Burriesci to school on the topic of due process. You cannot deprive a citizen of their rights without a fair hearing.   Here apparent ignorance regarding the idea of due process unfortunately is representative of that of the general populace. The anti-gun Left counts on this ignorance to get measures like the proposed gun legislation though.  The average person on the street knows no more about civics that the hapless DHS official in that hearing.

The problem still remains:  How do you keep guns out of the hands of would-be terrorists?  If there is an active FBI investigation, and the subject attempts to buy a gun and is denied because he or she is flagged, does that not alert the subject to the fact they are being investigated?  What if the person is innocent?  Would they have to prove their innocence in order to regain their second amendment rights?  That’s not how our system works.  In out system, you are innocent until proven guilty.

One way, aside from rescinding the fifth and or second amendments, would be to insist that the government either bring charges, or close the case any individual denied sale of a firearm as a result of being on the watch list.  After a brief waiting period, the person would be allowed to complete the sale of their firearm or be in police custody.  Law enforcement would in some cases be made to show their hand, so it’s probably not a solution that the FBI would put forth. It would though force the burden of proof be placed upon the accuser as it should be.

Better for our rights would be to deal with the root cause of the problem, in this case terrorism.  If we could show that ISIS as the inevitable loser in this war, destroy their capital, their mystique would fade, recruitment numbers would dry up.  They would be forced into deciding whether to be a state, or just another terror group with a cool acronym . At any rate, they would be too busy defending their territory to cause much mischief elsewhere.  Fewer terrorists here mean fewer shootings, bombings, and stabbings to contend with, less call for sacrificing our Constitutional rights by those who don’t even know what they are.

 

 

 

 

 

All terrorism is a hate crime.

GWOTOnce again we are faced with a tragedy born of hate perpetrated by an Islamic extremist terrorist.  Many have said that since the shooting early Sunday morning took place at a gay club it was a hate crime.  It was, but then every single act committed in the name of ISIS and their like is a hate crime, be it against gays, Christians, Jews, heavy metal fans, or soccer fans, or anybody else not exactly like them.  The fact that the terrorist’s targets were gay in this instance is irrelevant in the big picture.  This particular murderer just picked the group he hated the most to massacre, as if picking from some twisted, macabre menu.

It is not who he decided to massacre that should disturb or enrage us, it is that there is an entire self-proclaimed nation of extremists out there that has convinced themselves and their followers that the value of  human life is negotiable, worth much in the case of some, worth nothing at all in the case of others, many others.  Like the NAZI’s before them, they revel in having enemies that all their woes can be blamed on.  Scapegoats to blame for their failures and those of their bankrupt ideology.  They lie to themselves that their deeds serve a higher purpose.  They dehumanize others in order to kill them without remorse.  What eventually ended the NAZI’s reign of terror against the weak and the defenseless was a sustained and coordinated effort by the strong– not to reach an accommodation or accord with them, but to destroy them in detail on every battlefront.  What’s more, we and others who shared the means to do so made an irreversible decision to defeat the enemy and never give anything less than our utmost to do so.

We have heard a lot of strong talk after Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and the rest.  Each time we resolved not to be cowed or give in to terror.  We vowed to take the fight to the enemy, attack them with every means at our disposal. Indeed, we have taken action, we’ve killed them, captured them, taken away their money.  We’ve done so for years, but for all of those things we’ve done, there is still one thing that remains to do before we can end the terror.  We have to make that same public, non-negotiable, irrevocable pact with ourselves and our allies to win this war as we did the one three-quarters of a century ago against a similar foe.

With the military victory, we must strive for the moral victory. We have to win this fight staying true to our values.  We have to do it while preserving the rights to free speech, religion, and peaceful assembly, the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, the right to bear arms.  We have to respect and morn all who have been lost in this struggle, be they gay, straight, Christian, Jew, cop, soldier, or innocent bystander.  We have to understand what our enemy does not– that every human life is sacred, not just those we approve of, or those we can relate to, but all lives.  The reason is simple because all of what we call civilization is hateful to them and thus a potential target for their militant extremism.  Every act of terror by definition is a hate crime, it’s not the victims that determines this, it is the terrorist.