Earlier today, I was ruminating on a few things when out of nowhere the old saying, “there’s no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole” came to mind.
You might be familiar with it. It relates to the concept that when facing the enemy, soldiers suddenly get religion. I can certainly understand it. I found myself praying fervently in such situations and that was years before receiving my salvation.
When you stop to think about it, it isn’t just soldiers in foxholes who find themselves asking the Almighty for help in dire circumstances. Perhaps you haven’t been saved but still found yourself praying for help in a time of need. Don’t think so? I can almost guarantee at least once in your life you’ve said something along the lines of, “Hey God, get me out of this and I’ll donate to the Children’s Hospital” or “If You help me pay my bills, I’ll go to church every Sunday” or “Dear God, please help my kid get over the flu and I’ll write a big check this Sunday.” Sound familiar?
Odds are that those without salvation will wonder “why did I do that?” once the drama has cleared. They might feel foolish. They probably won’t tell anyone that they actually prayed. If anyone was in earshot, they’ll deny it or try to explain it away. That’s a funny thing, because psychiatrists make a meaty living by telling people that their prayers are just a cultural remnant from their childhood. a way of coping with stress that is meaningless.
Don’t believe the psychiatrists.
For those of us who are saved, I could go into a long dissertation here about whether God hears and answers the prayers of the unrepentant. Or delve into why that entire prayer structure is wrong. Maybe we will discuss those things, some other time. But this post is for those among my readers who aren’t saved yet.
I’m here to tell you that those prayers are not worthless and to assure you that God did indeed hear you when you asked for help. How do I know this? My Bible says that God doesn’t want anyone to go away from Him (2 Peter 3:9). It tells me that God hears everyone, even if they aren’t in a state of Grace. Consider the case of the Ninevites. The prophet Jonah warns them of impending doom. They pray for deliverance and God spares them. These were not men of faith; indeed they had a jolly time persecuting Jews. But God heard them and spared them.
The Bible also tells me that God is constantly talking to us, even when we aren’t saved. It’s all an attempt to bring us back to Him. Paul wrote to the Romans about how God uses our conscience to talk to us (Romans 2:14-16). James wrote about a myriad of other ways God speaks to us as individuals. God is using me to speak to you right at this moment. And GOD USES OUR PRAYERS TO SPEAK TO US.
One of the few things I truly despise is the false teachers who warp Scripture to fit their personal agenda. I’ve heard people preach that if you’re unsaved, God won’t hear your prayers. They often twist John 9:31 into a pretzel to make this point, but they’re wrong. I’m not going to get a scriptural argument on this point. But just follow the logic here: if we say the way to salvation is through prayer, and God doesn’t hear the prayers of the unsaved, then how do they get saved?
That’s what this little post is all about. I’m hoping that by now you’ll have come to recognize that during those times of fear, anxiety, doubt, and pain God was calling out to you. He was letting you know that if you simply trust in Him, he can and will set things right.
If you have, then the world’s simplest prayer
will set you free. If you just prayed that prayer, find a Bible-believing and -teaching church near you.
If not, I hope I’ve given you something to consider. But don’t think about it for too long. After all, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and if you stuck around this long, God is speaking to you now.
When I was 4 years old, my mother let me stay up late and watch Neil Armstrong take that giant leap for mankind. I was hooked. The rest of my adolescence was spent dreaming of and planning to be an astronaut. I watched with fascination during the rest of the Apollo missions, the hookup with the Soyuz capsule, Skylab, and the space shuttle. As things turned out, I never realized that dream but my interest in space travel hasn’t waned. In fact, I have the NASA and ESA channels locked into my TV.
I was naturally interested when NASA announced they were planning a return to the moon. And naturally, I was disappointed when Artemis 1 didn’t get off the launch pad. When I heard the reason the launch was twice scrubbed is due to 45-year-old engine technology failing, I was stunned.
We’ve spent billions on the SLS rocket, and NASA is using the same engines that powered the space shuttle? Billions on research and technology development, but Lockheed couldn’t come up with something better? What the heck are we doing?
Further, why the moon? NASA says it is to eventually build a moon base. But of what use is a moon base? As a platform for launching expeditions to other planets, it’s useless. A geosynchronous space station, to which supplies and parts could be resupplied relatively easily, is more logical. Besides, we’ve been there already and discovered it to be as inhospitable a place as our solar system offers.
When you dig into this program, these are just a few things that stick out like a sore thumb. Here’s the reality. NASA lost the space race. Not to the Russians (who are using even older tech). Not to the Chinese, the Indians, or the Europeans. No, NASA lost the space race to Elon Musk and SpaceX. They know it, the world knows it, but the public largely doesn’t know it. Yet. Once they do?
They won’t stand for spending billions on a government program that can’t compete with the private sector.
NASA is being kept alive for two reasons. First, it is the government’s way of getting the nascent Space Force into its theater of operation (never mind that actual launches are handled by SpaceX). The other reason? The second and third largest NASA contractors (after SpaceX) are Lockheed and Raytheon, who also happen to be two of the Pentagon’s biggest suppliers. They are also the two principal leads on the SLS design.
Beginning to see a pattern here? Lockheed and Raytheon have soaked the government for billions of dollars, for a design that is fundamentally unchanged from the 1970s, for a rocket they can’t even get off the ground. In the meantime, Musk’s SpaceX is already handling almost 80% of NASA’s launches. Oh, and while NASA is struggling to get back to the moon, SpaceX is powering ahead with their own heavy launch space vehicle, Starship.
And they aren’t trying for the moon. They’re aiming for Mars – and not to visit. Musk plans to plant a colony, officially marking humanity’s expansion from our terrestrial roots. While NASA and its military contractors fall further behind schedule on trying to get 4 people to the moon, SpaceX is on target to land 50 people on Mars by the end of 2029.
The bloody nose for NASA would be immense. The reality is that NASA should have been dissolved years ago. Their functions are already being managed by SpaceX. It has become merely a way for the government to funnel billions of tax dollars to military contractors. it is a boondoggle wrapped in corruption, incapable of doing things the private sector does routinely.
The leader strides to the podium. Behind him is the nation’s oldest government building, recognizable by all. It’s portico is bathed in a dark crimson light, making the brickwork somehow ominous. The normally white columns stand out, like flickering pillars of fire. Members of an elite military unit stand at the ready in the background, their dress uniforms barely distinguishable in the lighting – except for the white caps they wear.
He raises his fists in the air and launches into a twenty minute long rant, decrying his political opposition as enemies of the state. He yells, he screams that they intend to tear down the country. He vows to fight them, to destroy these political opponents. With wild gesticulations punctuating his every word, he exhorts his followers to ensure the voices of the opposition are silenced.
What I’ve just described might sound like a speech delivered by Adolph Hitler. Or Benito Mussolini. Or Fidel Castro. But it isn’t.
This was Joseph R. Biden, 46th President of the United States, evoking the memories of petty tyrants throughout history.
It should scare the bejeezus out of you. This is the same President that in the past month has unleashed the federal police against his political opponents, bypassed Congress to spend a trillion dollars of public money to solidify his support among his most ardent supporters, is desperately trying to “normalize” relations with the world’s greatest terrorist state, and is determined to prolong a European war.
He says he wants to warn us about the rise of fascism in the United States? Too late. It’s arrived in the person of the president.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, “write as you speak.” This might sound intuitive to you, but for me, it took some serious retraining. You see, I dropped $10 dollar words into everything I wrote. After all, I reasoned, I had spent a lot of money to get the education where I learned those words. Why shouldn’t I use them? What I didn’t understand was that most people don’t want to run for a dictionary every time they opened one of my emails. I had failed to “read the room,” as the saying goes.
The same can be said for the President’s asinine student loan bailout. I understand why he did it. Protestations from the administration aside, Joe Biden’s poll numbers are further underwater than a nuclear submarine awaiting orders. In particular, he is way underwater with what might be the group that put him over the top in 2020: 20-something college graduates. So giving them a cool $20,000 must have looked like a gimme to him.
Look, I get buying votes. It’s a practice as old as the republic
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.Alexis de Tocqueville
except in this case, it isn’t Congress, it’s the President.
That brings us to the first problem with this handout. The Constitution makes it pretty plain that any appropriations are supposed to begin in the House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 7). Nowhere does the President have the authority to magically create money to hand out to a select group of people. He’s claiming that an obscure law, meant to provide temporary relief after 9/11, gives him that authority. Most legal beagles are dubious. The lawsuits to come should be entertaining.
Now, as mentioned, the money to pay for this isn’t being reapportioned from some other program. At least, none that anyone knows about. That means this is brand new spending. How much brand-new spending? Nobody’s quite sure. The administration (via the OMB) thinks $260 billion. The CBO thinks it’s more like $500 billion. Just yesterday, Penn-Wharton said this will end up costing you and me $1 trillion. Last week, Democrats were crowing about their “Inflation Reduction Act” (protip: it does no such thing) and the $210 billion in deficit savings it is supposed to bring. Well, with a stroke of his pen, their nominal party leader just played Enola Gay to their Hiroshima.
Then there’s the question of income redistribution. Nobody will ever confuse me as someone in favor of such schemes. But if you’re a fan of such socialist hogwash, let me ask: are you in favor of a reverse Robin Hood scheme in which the government steals from the poor and gives to the rich? That’s exactly what this is: waitresses and truck drivers will be sending part of their paychecks to lawyers and accountants, so they can buy their soy lattes. On what planet is that considered fair or equitable?
I understand how difficult it is the pay off onerous (sorry, $10 word. Buy a dictionary) student debt. My personal debt was over $72,000 and took 18 years to pay off. But that’s the thing. I made my monthly payments, even during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. Once upon a time, that wasn’t anything to talk about. Everyone did it. It was called being an adult. But we have a senile president being led around by the craziest people in Congress. Responsibility is passe.
This was written by someone else, who’s been gracious enough to allow me to post it here. I might not have written it, but the thoughts mirror mine and possibly yours. Leave your feedback in the comments.
Imagine a Roman of the 2nd century contemplating an empire that stretched from Britain to the Near East, thinking: This will endure forever…. Forever was about 500 years, give or take.
France was pivotal in the 17th and 18th centuries; now the land of Charles Martel is on its way to becoming part of the Muslim ummah. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the sun never set on the British empire; now Albion exists in perpetual twilight. Its 96-year-old sovereign is a fitting symbol for a nation in terminal decline. In the 1980s, Japan seemed poised to buy the world. Business schools taught Japanese management techniques. Today, its birth rate is so low and its population aging so rapidly that an industry has sprung up to remove the remains of elderly Japanese who die alone.
We’ve gone from a republican government guided by a constitution to a regime of revolving elites. We have less freedom with each passing year. Like a signpost to the coming reign of terror, the cancel culture is everywhere. We’ve traded the American Revolution for the Cultural Revolution. The pathetic creature in the White House is an empty vessel filled by his handlers.
At the G-7 Summit, ‘Dr. Jill’ had to lead him like a child.
When we were young and vigorous, our leader was too. Now a feeble nation is led by the oldest man to ever serve in the presidency. We can’t defend our borders, our history (including monuments to past greatness) or our streets. Our cities have become anarchist playgrounds. We are a nation of dependents, mendicants, and misplaced charity.
Homeless veterans camp in the streets while illegal aliens are put up in hotels.
The president of the United States can’t even quote the beginning of the Declaration of Independence (‘You know – The Thing’) correctly.
Ivy League graduates routinely fail history tests that 5th graders could pass a generation ago.
Crime rates soar; we blame the 2nd Amendment and slash police budgets.
We slaughter the unborn in the name of freedom, while our birth rate dips lower year by year.
People who fight racism by seeking to convince members of one race that they’re inherently evil, and others that they are perpetual victims. A psychiatrist lecturing at Yale said she fantasizes about “unloading a revolver into the head of any white person.”
Our ‘entertainment’ is sadistic, nihilistic, and as enduring as a candy bar wrapper thrown in the trash. Our music is noise that spans the spectrum from annoying to repulsive.
Our culture is certifiably insane!
Our national debt is so high that we can no longer even pretend that we will repay it one day. It’s a $31-trillion monument to our improvidence and refusal to confront reality.
Patriotism is called insurrection, treason celebrated, and perversion sanctified.
A man in blue gets less respect than a man in a dress.
We’re asking soldiers to fight for a nation our leaders no longer believe in.
How meekly most of us submitted to Fauci-ism (the regime of face masks, lockdowns, and hand sanitizers) shows the impending death of the American spirit.
This is the nation that took in my immigrant great grandparents, whose uniform my Grandpa, my father and most of my uncles wore in the
Navy & Military.
During Britain’s darkest hour, when its professional army was trapped at Dunkirk and a German invasion seemed imminent, Churchill reminded his countrymen, “Nations that go down fighting rise again, and those that surrender tamely are finished.” The same might be said of causes. If we let America slip through our fingers if we lose without a fight, what will posterity say of us? While the prognosis is far from good, only God knows if America’s day in the sun is over.
I don’t want to imagine a world without America, even though it becomes increasingly likely.
I believe that we in America are at the moment in time to stand up, or let it fall! We now may soon be at the next step in our country’s future.
I believe that it might be closer than we think.
Pulled from the archives. Now that primary season is over and we’re headed for another general election in 2 1/2 months, this seems like a good time to dust this one off.
It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper (ok, I’m being quaint, but some of us do still read newspapers) or turn on your television without hearing about how our elections are under assault. If the Russians aren’t rotting our minds with memes of Hillary Clinton drunkenly gazing at balloons, the Chinese are hacking into our voter rolls. When the Chinese aren’t hacking into voter rolls, the Iranians are hacking the voting machines themselves. When the Iranians aren’t playing centrifuge subterfuge with the voting machines, the North Koreans are actually changing vote totals.
It’s a wonder a beloved TV sitcom character hasn’t been elected to Congress with all this electronic doo-dah. Oh, wait…
Okay, the security of our electronic voting systems are important. I don’t mean to belittle them. But that insecurity highlights a much bigger problem our nation faces: in a representative republic, the integrity of the electoral process cannot be open to interpretation. When it is, then the legitimacy of the election outcomes that select our representatives comes into question. No government without said legitimacy can stand for long.
It seems to me that I’m not the only one thinking the way we vote has become an absolute mess over the last twenty years. You would have thought that after the disaster of the 2000 election, the one in which “Hanging Chad” came to mean something other than executing a yuppie horse thief, we would have gotten our act together. But as the most recent election demonstrated, if anything we got worse at both voting and counting the vote. Of course, much of the coverage centered on our favorite county (Broward) in our favorite state (Florida) for electoral shenanigans. This overlooks that there were nearly four dozen House races that still weren’t called a full week after the election. It overlooks serious charges of vote tampering and fraud in California, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Alaska, North Carolina, and Utah.
Since we didn’t learn from the disaster that was 2000, allow me to propose some simple changes that would be relatively simple to implement that would go a long way to ending the nonsense. Will it end voting irregularities forever? No, of course not. They are a feature of any voting system since man-made systems are imperfectible. But we can do much better than we have to date.
Step 1: Implement a national Voter ID system
Look, forget all the nonsense about poor people, or black people, or Hispanic people, not being able to get a valid state ID. It’s the 21st century, for chrissakes. There is absolutely no reason an adult should not have a valid ID. I challenge you to find me a state where you can buy a beer or pack of cigarettes without a valid ID. If we demand you have a valid ID for something as mundane as getting a cold brew at a restaurant, any argument against having one for something as important as voting is ridiculous on its face. Remember this sob story? The only reason he was prevented from breaking the law was due to Tennessee’s voter ID law.
Yeah, Voter ID laws work exactly as intended. Which may be why the same crowd that is all for open borders and illegal immigrants voting in our elections are so against them.
Step 2: Get rid of early voting
It seems many of the problems we run into with counting the vote (and where some of the greatest opportunities for general screwing with the ballots) comes from the fact that in some jurisdictions, people can actually begin voting up to a month before election day. There are other reasons to get rid of early voting (seriously, who but the most partisan hack is 100% certain of who they’re going to cast their ballot for a month before election day?), but that’s another post for another day. Anyway, the nonsense we witnessed around the country last November, with ballots mysteriously materializing from car trunks and classroom closets, would immediately end simply by getting rid of early voting. I understand voting in the middle of the week is inconvenient for a great many people, but that brings me to my next suggestion, which is…
Step 3: Make all national elections a national holiday
See, now nobody has the excuse they can’t get off work to go vote. Yes, the lines might be long. But if voting becomes a holiday, think about this: how long will it be before the nation’s retailer’s start offering discounts when you present that “I voted” sticker? I bet Friendly’s even starts offering a free scoop of ice cream!
Step 4: End “ballot harvesting”
Look, I don’t know who came up with this piece of insanity. I’m ambivalent about absentee ballots, to begin with (I can’t get around particularly well these days, but I still show up to vote in person), but if your state is going to allow them, shouldn’t the very least expectation be that you put the doggone thing in the mailbox yourself? I don’t know who thought the idea of letting party operatives handle them was a brilliant idea, but they need to be taken out back and put out of their misery the same way we do horses with broken legs. Heck, we’re ten weeks past the election and one district in North Carolina got so fouled up with ballot tampering as a result of this idiocy that they likely need to call a special election. Stories have come from California of voters just signing a blank ballot and handing it over to a party apparatchik. I’m 100% certain no tampering happened in those instances whatsoever, right?
Step 5: Get rid of electronic voting machines
I don’t know if the Russians or Iranians or little green men from Mars are trying to break into the electronic voting systems in use around the US. What I do know is there is enough distrust that those systems can be secured against sophisticated hacks (or even hacks from 300 pound couch potatoes) that we should have already stopped using them.
Step 6 : JIT ballot verification
This is little more technical, but every bit as important as anything else. During the latest Broward “Whose Vote is It Anyway” episode, we were once again treated to election workers trying to decipher illegible ballots. Just because that wasn’t enough fun, then we heard that poll workers could, in the event a ballot was indecipherable, just fill out an alternate one. Just fill out an alternate one? Are you kidding me?
In software engineering, we use “Just-In-Time” testing to validate that our code at least has the correct syntax and spelling to not cause a digital rejection of our work when trying to make it do something. It isn’t that hard to do something similar with a paper ballot. Optical scanners, which have been around for longer than most of you who read this blog, can detect if too many circles on a line (or a row) are filled in, and if they’re filled in correctly – and check this out, they CAN EVEN COUNT THE VOTE IN REAL TIME. If your ballot is illegible, for whatever reason, the poll worker can hand you another blank, destroy the bad one and scan the corrected ballot all before you leave the voting booth! Amazing!
This won’t completely end the questions about voting. Some states will complain vociferously about Congress passing any further restrictions. I can already hear the Chamber of Commerce harping on yet another paid holiday. Democrats will kvetch about Voter ID and the loss of early voting, Republicans about JIT verification. Both will scream bloody murder over ending harvesting.
But these six steps will make our elections more secure and provide for quicker vote tabulation. They address some of the biggest questions the nation has about our elections. It puts what is the most vital process in republic back into the sunlight, restoring the trust that the process isn’t corrupted. In short, it is the first step in injecting some sanity back into our politics.
As I’m writing this, we’re finding out more about the FBI raid at the Mar-a-Lago resort, the primary residence of former President Trump. I won’t bother rehashing the details from last Monday. Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’re already aware of them. Heck, odds are that even if you’ve been living on Mars, you’re aware of them.
Of far more import is the reason behind the seizure of the documents. The Department of Justice hasn’t said much of anything. What we know is from the cover page of the warrant and the property list. According to them, they took cases of classified documents, including some marked “Top Secret” and “SCI.” They also grabbed some photo albums and a letter from the Italian Prime Minister.
We also know that they were looking for evidence of espionage.
I don’t want to say that’s a fantastic allegation, but stop to consider what that charge means. It means that a President of the United States is actively working as a spy for an unnamed foreign government.
Ok, forget fantastic. I know the severely TDS impaired types are lapping that up. But we’ve seen this story before, with the dummied up “Russia Russia Russia” idiocy that tied the nation in knots for 3 years. Let’s not forget how many times we heard that the FBI had proof of that conspiracy, only to have it all fall apart.
So, here we are (again). The FBI is trying to tell us that Donald Trump is a foreign agent (again). Their proof? Well, we don’t have any (again) and they won’t tell us their causi belli (again).
All of this is quite laughable, except that the Very Serious People are all nodding their heads like those dashboard bobble-heads in agreement. “We got him NOW!” they’re screaming from the ivory towers.
Except, of course, they don’t have him on anything. Trump’s lawyers are already saying the documents in question were declassified before he left office – and that they notified the DOJ and National Archives of this back in June. Already this latest tempest in a teapot is devolving into what amounts to a bureaucratic snafu, a battle over clerical matters of what paperwork was filed where and with whom.
Of far greater importance is what the raid signifies to everyone to the right politically of Al Gore. I keep hearing from pundits that Merrick Garland is apolitical. I think that’s a massive miscalculation. Garland is every bit as political as any member of Joe Biden’s cabinet. More than likely, he authorized the extremely broad search-and-seizure warrant in hopes of uncovering damning evidence that Trump led the January 6th riots.
It’s a political miscalculation of the highest order. Instead of finding a silver bullet, they let a genie out that may never get back into the bottle. Why? Regardless of what many non-Trump conservatives think about Trump as a man, most just had their suspicions about progressive infiltration of our government confirmed. Instead of permanently putting Donald Trump to pasture, Garland’s faux pas probably handed the GOP nomination in 2024 to him.
You can bet Trump will remind voters of the DOJ’s corruption daily during that campaign, ginning up the GOP turnout. Democrats may well rue August 8, 2022 for a long, long time.
I dug this one out of the archives from three years ago. Yes, the specific topic (immigration reform) isn’t currently a hot topic. But the problems I ranted about have only become worse. Read on… if you dare.
Well, THERE’S a headline I never thought I would see, much less write.
Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past week, you might be confused by this topic. It certainly seems a great number of people who should know better – our politicians, our press and our pundits – are confounded, similarly to how a dog might wonder what his master is up to by having a bone yanked away just as he’s about to take a bite.
So a quick refresher course might be in order, both for those recently arrived from outer space and us more earthbound types.
On January 9, during what became an impromptu, hour-long televised bipartisan meeting on immigration matters in the Cabinet Room, the basic framework for granting amnesty to the roughly 800,000 “Dreamers” seemed agreed to. In exchange for amnesty, Democrats would agree to a $1.8 billion down payment on border security measures, which presumably would go towards further development of the border wall. Hammering out the long overdue overhaul to America’s immigration system would be fast-tracked after the budget was passed.
But in typical Washington fashion, nobody could long stand the positive vibes. Liberals immediately decried the border wall, Trumpkins decried the amnesty. And so…
On January 11, a new “Gang of Six’ (apparently, the old “Gang of Eight” atrophied in the bright sunlight the last time Congress attempted to tackle immigration) struck a deal that they simply had to know was going to be a non-starter with anyone politically left of California. In exchange for amnesty not only for “Dreamers,” but their extended families, granting permanent residency to everyone here under Temporary Protected Status and a couple thousand fewer lottery visas, the government would get $1.8 billion in border security measures.
The White House almost immediately announced their displeasure with essentially granting fully legal status to over 4 million illegal aliens. Which brings us to…
Can you say “verpiss dich?” No? How about “shithole” (or “shithouse,” depending on who’s interpretation of events you choose to believe)?
That evening, during a meeting with the Gang of Six and a few others, the President made his position clear: no more unfettered immigration from shithole (or shithouse) countries, which he loosely defined as being Haiti, El Salvador, and pretty much all of Africa. But not Norway.
And so, for four days now, any discussion of doing the actual work required of this Congress and the Executive branch – little things, like passing spending plans for the federal government and actually passing a realistic immigration plan and doing something about border security and doing something about entitlements and…
You get the picture? Instead of focusing on the real business of governance, we’re distracted by discussions of the President’s racial animus. (For the zillionth time, he isn’t a racist – but he is, as we all are, a prejudiced shithole. Deal with it.) And here’s the part that drives people like me nuts: any substantive discussion regarding immigration is immediately tinged with calls of “racism” by those opposed to anything other than fully open borders. All because the President uttered a rather crass epithet in describing a rather larger segment of the world.
Here’s what should be beyond dispute: there are large swaths of the globe in Africa, Asia, Central and South America that are, in the common vernacular, either outhouses or the holes located at the bottom of an outhouse. There isn’t one sane person who would describe Haiti, Gabon, Rwanda or Chad as a prime tourist destination. Nobody except a Jack Nicholson character would characterize Thailand, Libya, El Salvador or Venezuela as the kind of place where you would want to raise your kids (it’s a great neighborhood, Mr. Nicholson – on a good day, you can get three hours of electricity, the corner market will have toilet paper and the drug gangs will only take half your belongings!).
Here’s what should also be beyond dispute: not everyone from a basket case nation is themselves a basket case. Yes, the predominant population in those places isn’t
(the following statement will be too true for some of you)
what we want as new Americans. After all, if they were their countries wouldn’t be basket case outhouses. But some of those people are the sorts of folks we do want to come here, and those should be the ones we allow in.
****TRIGGER WARNING CANCELLED****
Merit has nothing to do with nation of origin or skin color. Conversely,
****TRIGG… oh, screw it
barring someone from, say, Haiti likewise has nothing to do with skin color, either. But the President’s remarks, which were in response to the asinine idea that the “temporary” in TPS now means the same thing as permanent in non-Washington speak, have been twisted, misconstrued, massaged and rebranded by both sides of the identity politics war into competing clarion calls.
That’s what all the teeth gnashing , thumb sucking and 140 character diatribes of the past four days have left us with. If you happen to agree with the President’s position that maybe, just maybe, a system that right now says if your homeland, which wasn’t in particularly great shape to begin with, get whacked with a hurricane, you get to stay here indefinitely, is off-kilter, you’re branded a racist. If you sort of wandered over the border, or maybe overstayed a tourist visa, a couple of decades ago, no biggie – you get to stay, too (why should our laws apply to you? You meant well)! If you think that a system that says we’re going to have immigration based on a lottery, where winning not only means you get to set up house here, but you can bring your mother, your brother, your great uncle and your second cousin thrice removed while we deny a software engineer residency is just a wee bit out of whack, you’re a racist. If you happen to think the systems in Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, etc, and so forth (all, by the way, “enlightened liberal” democratic societies) might be something we could learn from, you’re obviously a racist. Because those damned Canucks are totally racist, eh?
So, how do we get out of this miasma of non-productivity? I’d suggest the first thing to do would be for both sides to ditch to identity politics and identity politicians, pundits, journalists and all the rest of that diaspora. Al Sharpton, you gotta go. Same for you, Sean Hannity. Because so help me, if I hear one more idiot yell “I’m a proud black man!’ or type in all caps “I’M PROUD TO BE WHITE”, I just might lose it.
Speaking of identity politicians, if I see one more disingenuous congresscritter emerge from a private meeting fuming about language, I might just have to point them to their own past statements (bunch of hypocrites, the lot of ’em). Besides, ever listen to the tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon Oval Offices? You would hear language that would make a Parris Island Drill Instructor blush. And Trumplicans don’t get a pass on this, either. Saying the President didn’t utter one epithet because he used a different cuss word is equally disingenuous. It was pure huckstering on both sides, and it had the desired effect. The status quo will remain for at least two more years. Congratulations! Washington has once again succeeded at doing the one thing it’s proven incredibly efficient at: creating new problems while ignoring the existing ones. It’s back to the ramparts, you plebes – fight the good fight and if the country burns in the meantime…well, at least I won reelection.
I believe in meritocracy. The concept that the best and brightest among us should be making the important decisions that affect everything and everyone. Certainly, they’ll be wrong on occasion. That’s human nature. But the odds are they’ll be right far more often than not and we’ll all be better off for it.
The nation was founded by experts in political theory. The documents they created, our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, have proven to be guiding lights not only for the United States but the world. And they were smart enough to recognize that their first attempt at a national compact was not working and hammer out something better.
Throughout our history, our reliance on meritocracy has worked well. There have been fits and starts, but the country has inexorably become more just. Our living standards have continuously improved and the opportunities our meritocracy created lured the world’s best to our shores.
Our meritocracy reached its zenith in the Cold War period. Experts in every field of human endeavor made breathtaking creations that made the USA the envy of the world. All of the technological marvels of our time, all of the medical breakthroughs, the 20 year Pax Americana all resulted from the effort of those experts.
But something has happened over the past 25 years. The experts have been wrong far more often than they’ve been right. What’s worse, they’ve been wrong about the Very Important Things, and that’s led to public policies that have diminished the nation as a whole. From failing to recognize the threat of Islamic extremism (and actually funding it!) to WMD in Iraq through “2 weeks to stop the spread,” I’m hard pressed to think of a single thing our current crop of experts got right.
Now our current experts have gone from simply being terribly wrong to being dangerously misguided. They tell us boys can be girls. The coastlines will be underwater – 10 years ago. That experimental medications are safer and more effective than fully tested ones. That people who can only afford to put a side of poor meat at dinner three times a week can spend 2 years of earnings on a car you can’t drive in large swaths of the country.
I’m waiting for the day they tell us the sky is green and grass is orange.
The simple fact is that for a generation, our meritocracy is less a society led by the best and brightest as much it is led by the politically connected. It’s time to put all of them – in government, in academia, in medicine, in science, in engineering, in every field and every occupation – out to pasture.
As of this writing, it’s been about 12 hours since the FBI executed a search warrant at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. It’s notable because it is the first time in history the principle federal law enforcement agency has ever legally searched the primary residence of a former president.
Press reports indicate the search warrant was to identify and locate official records from President Trump’s tenure, including possible national security documents. If the President was in possession of such records, he would be in violation of several laws. Those laws carry significant penalties. Most importantly, one of those laws is the Official Secrets Act. Were the former President convicted under that law, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
There’s no way to look at this without recognizing the political and social implications. President Trump still commands a large and overly devoted following. Additionally, many more Americans may not necessarily support him, but do support the political agenda he represents. If this warrant wasn’t predicated on strong evidence, or the search didn’t yield anything of importance, then he will be vindicated in his claims of a witch hunt. The result will be an absolute decimation of the Democrat Party and complete loss of faith in the government and its institutions.
Which is why I tend to think there must have been significant evidence presented in the affadavit for the warrant. We like to think judges are impartial and free of political considerations. But there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t understand the historic implications of searching a president’s residence. There isn’t a judge anywhere who would not recognize that searching this particular president’s residence has the potential to tear the country apart. Signing that warrant put into motion the potential for political violence on a scale we haven’t seen since the late 1960s and early 1970s.
An indictment is almost certainly forthcoming. The judge who signed the warrant had to have reached the same conclusion. Without that level of evidence, they wouldn’t have taken that risk. That’s the reality of this moment.
Any ensuing trial will be the most closely watched in history. If the evidence isn’t ironclad, a large segment of society will never accept a verdict. If the charge is something spurious (a la convicting Al Capone of tax evasion), the anti-Trump part of society would recognize a pyrrhic victory. Yes, Donald Trump would be convicted of a federal crime and barred from holding office, but the “witch hunt” claims would be bolstered. Instead of removing him from the political scene, it will only make him even more influential.
These are certainly considerations made by the Justice Department. The risks associated with this prosecution are immense and there is virtually no upside unless there is a slam dunk case. For the sake of the country, let’s hope they haven’t miscalculated.
The Bard famously wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Growing up, we’re taught this line from “Romeo and Juliet,” the tale of star-crossed young love gone horribly wrong. Well, today I want to use it to tell a much happier tale. It’s the story of the most amazing woman God has put on this planet since Mary. A woman so incredible that even Shakespeare would have trouble doing her justice. While my skills with a quill are no match for his, I’m about to try.
Nearly a quarter century ago, Linda came into my life, a visage of beauty that left me so awestruck I couldn’t find the words to say “Hello.” But something (God? Fate?) gave me the courage. After a few minutes of conversation, I asked her to dinner. Except, in classic fumble tonguededness, I think I might have asked her to take me to dinner.
No matter. She turned me down cold.
It took two more attempts before she finally said yes. By the end of that summer, we were engaged. And married the next. That was 22+ years ago and in that time, my love for this woman – a love I thought bottomless on our wedding day – has only grown.
But why? What enchantment has she weaved over my heart, my soul, my being that could do this? Oh, I could recount the times she’s stood by my side when things looked black. The times businesses failed, the times my health failed. If you’re reading this, chances are you already about some of these events. While all of those have made my appreciation of her steadfastness grow, they don’t explain the love in my heart.
Could it be her beauty? The years have dulled that shine, as it has to all of us. Despite that, she is still a beautiful woman, in many ways more lovely than that first time I saw the setting sun dance through her hair. Others fade with maturity. Linda has become an ever more wondrous sight to behold each morning when I wake. That beauty may have drawn me like the proverbial moth to a flame, but it doesn’t begin to explain the way I love her today.
Is it her charm? Her wit (and if you’ve been on your receiving end of one of her barbs, you won’t soon forget it)? Is it her ability to put others at ease when uncomfortable?
No. None of that explains it, either.
In the end, it’s inexplicable. I don’t think it needs explaining. You see, what matters – what truly matters, above all – is this one simple fact:
My wife loves me for who I am. All she’s ever asked of me is to be me. All I’ve ever asked of her is to let me love her, as best I can, for as long as she’ll have me. 22+ years later, she’s still ok with that bargain. And with more love than I ever thought I had to give, so am I.
Now for a bit of news: today is Linda’s birthday, and I nothing would make me happier than for all of you to wish her a happy one!
I’m sitting here on a rainy Saturday afternoon in mid-July. I’ve spent the day as follows:
- I managed to get out of bed and get dressed. This has become a chore. I tend to wake with legs that are simultaneously numb and in excruciating pain. It takes a half hour (at least!) of massaging my calves and feet before I can stand up. (To give you an idea what it feels like, cut off the circulation to a leg so it falls asleep. Then hold your sleeping leg over an open flame. Keep it there. Yep. Not fun.)
- Eat breakfast. Thankfully, I have a wife who’s willing to cook, since I can’t properly grasp a spatula. Or a knife. Or any other cooking tool. Heck, I can’t even use the microwave. Or pour a cup of coffee without spilling half the pot. Have I mentioned lately that I married the greatest woman in the world? I should probably devote a post to her one day.
- Shave. I don’t know whether it was Mr. Remington or Mr. Norelco who invented the electric razor, but God bless them. I would resemble the wolfman without their invention.
(In case you haven’t noticed, mornings are no longer my most enjoyable part of the day)
- Take my daily walk. I’m up to about a half-mile now. For a guy who used to bike 20 miles just to warm up, it doesn’t seem like much. But 3 months ago I was still stuck in a wheelchair. Small victories!
- Get through my email. Even though I haven’t worked in over 2 years now, I still get around 150 of them a day.
- Take a nap. I do that more than I ever did. I guess I’m finally catching up on all that sleep I missed in my 20s🙂
Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed. Today I finished “Aeon Rising” by Michael Mather. I’m also reading a tome on argumentative thinking -essentially, relearning how to argue all sides of a position intelligently. While I’ve applied that type of thinking throughout my adult life, I’m still picking up a few pointers.
Mather is a decent author, generally creating post-apocalyptic worlds with a hard science fiction underpinning. In this one, an apparent supernova explodes in Earth’s backyard, creating all kinds of disasters, melting the South Pole, stranding a spec-ops force in the Amazon. Only… Is it really a supernova? He blends in AIs (both good and not so good), a couple of mad scientists, a rogue senator and colonel, a Chinese spy/astrophysicist, the NSA, and a shadowy tech terrorist group.
Rereading that last part makes me realize it probably sounds like a bit too much to jam into one novel. Hey, I mentioned Mather is a pretty good writer. He not only gets it all in, but they’re essential to what is a tightly wound story.
So, I got off on a tangent. This was supposed to be post about rainy days, and somehow it turned into a book review. Anyway, back to my original subject: rainy days SUCK. They especially suck when you spend most of your day trying to ignore pain. See, not only can’t you do things outdoors which helps alleviate the pain. The damp, cool air makes everything hurt more than usual, as well.
Anyway, the sun is supposed to make a reappearance tomorrow. Here’s to better days ahead!
You might have noticed I’ve only posted twice over the last 18 months. Well, thrice if you include this one, I suppose. There’s a very interesting story that explains why.
In February 2021, as we were entering week 48 of “two weeks to stop the spread,” I was told the blood clots in my lungs needed to be removed ASAP. The procedure would be difficult but not especially dangerous. Oh, and for good measure, there were only two hospitals in the country capable of doing it. Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, and UCSD in San Diego. We opted for Temple since flying cross-country during the pandemic was virtually impossible. Thus began 7 intense weeks of testing, doctors appointments, consultations, a couple of minor procedures to prepare for the actual surgery, and more tests.
Finally, the day for the actual surgery arrived. April 7, 2021, was the day my life changed. Due to the pandemic, my wife wasn’t allowed to come with me, but the doctors had assured me I would awake the following day and they would try to arrange a visit. I was apprehensive, my wife more so. But I needed the operation or I would be dead within the year, so I arrived ready for the surgery at 6AM that morning.
Only, I didn’t wake up the following day. Or the day after that. Or even the week after that. Instead, I slipped into a coma and didn’t wake up until June 26. I was awake for two days but then slipped back into a coma for another ten. I didn’t finally come about earnestly until July 7 – a full three months after the surgery.
Now, I obviously don’t know all that happened during that three months. Nobody even knows why I went into a coma.* But there are a few things I do know. While I was asleep, I suffered a series of trans-ischemic events (mini-strokes for the rest of us). I know at one point, the doctors were certain I was dead, only being kept alive by machines. My wife, knowing that wasn’t how I never wanted to live in that condition, made the heart-rending decision to terminate life support. I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil she was going through over those days. Only 3 years prior she had been tasked with making the same decision for her brother; he died within minutes. Now she was tasked with making the same decision for her husband.
Thankfully, I survived. They “pulled the plug” and expected me to expire. God had other plans – I just kept right on breathing. That brings up another thing I discovered about my time in my coma. When my wife announced on social media that she had to make an impossible decision, she asked for prayer. Boy, did you all respond! I have heard from literally hundreds of people, including a whole bunch of you I’ve never met, who told me they spent time pleading with the Almighty for Him to allow me to live.
I spent another 2 1/2 months in rehab. I had to learn to eat and talk. When I first awoke, it was as if I were paralyzed. I couldn’t even move my arms and legs. It was a difficult process that I again went almost alone. Almost, but not quite. Even though I was despondent and begging God to just let me die, he gave me the strength to push through. Finally, 25 weeks after going in for a difficult but not particularly dangerous procedure (except, you know, for the almost killing me part), I returned home. I still couldn’t walk, or even stand up. My left hand was virtually useless. I could barely grasp a spoon with my right. Even sitting up for a few hours exhausted me. But I WAS HOME. And alive.
The past 8 1/2 months have been difficult, to say the least. It is, I hope, understandable that I haven’t posted much recently. My rehab is going well. I can walk some – up to a half-mile, although it is slow and painful. The neurological damage from the strokes and, as we’ve since discovered, very poor care while in the coma forces me to wear a leg brace. It’s also badly disfigured my hands and wrists, so even common tasks like shaving and using a fork and knife have required many hours of therapy and experimentation. My speech is a little more slurred than it used to be unless I concentrate.
I’m not complaining, though. Quite the opposite. I’ve had people ask me how I can be actually happy with all the last 18 months have brought me. I think the answer should be obvious.
I AM ALIVE!
In His infinite wisdom, God has seen fit to give me another chance at life. I don’t know why. It may simply be to strengthen my faith. If that’s the case, He’s succeeded.
Anyway, I’ve mastered the two-fingered typing method. Sort of. I hope to be posting more frequently, although a daily post is probably out of the question. And a final thought: I noticed almost 1400 of you are still following this site, despite not very much content lately. I thank all of you. You are a big part of the reason I’m trying.
There are two other reasons I’m going to attempt returning to blogging. They are two fellow bloggers. First is Beauty Beyond Bones. She has gone through more than I, yet her faith remains strong and her voice, stronger. The other is Peter Venetoklis at Roots of Liberty, whose views don’t always align with mine but whose positions and arguments are always well thought out and reasoned. These people have inspired me to metaphorically pick up my quill and inkwell and get back in the game.
After all, we have a lot to discuss and I can’t wait to get the discussion started.
*My doctors think the coma was a result of systemic shock, but they aren’t sure. If you’re a long-time follower, you’re probably aware I’ve dealt with Crohn’s Disease for 30+ years. The doctors think the combination of being weakened from a few years of pulmonary hypertension and Crohn’s may have left me so weak that the coma was my body’s attempt at shielding me from the pain of the surgery.
War is hell and the first victim is the truth. Propaganda is flying from both sides. But here’s what we can be sure of:
* Russia invaded Ukraine, without provocation, after more than a year of propagandizing their intention
* As part of their strategy, they are intentionally targeting civilians
* To prevent Western interference, they resorted to nuclear sabre-rattling early in the campaign, part of standard escalate to deescalate doctrine
The weak tea Russian apologists on the “right” prefer to ignore these facts. Not surprised, even after Japan dropped bombs on Hawaii the original “America First” wing of the GOP wanted to acquiesce to the Axis. I don’t think they’re unpatriotic. They are just badly misguided, incapable of reading history, and extremely risk averse.
The problem is the current America First wing of the GOP is buying Russian propaganda about this war hook line and sinker. This is a rather sad and frankly, disgusting turn of events. That anyone with any moral fiber or rudimentary intelligence would believe such claptrap amazes me. But this is the world we live in and I’ve discovered that attempting to reason with these people is pointless.
While I hate discounting anyone’s point of view, the simple fact is these people need to be marginalized in public discourse. This doesn’t mean censoring their opinions or banning them from the public square. Instead we need to ensure that every time they spout some bit of disinformation it gets drowned out with the correct information.
And for God’s sake, we cannot allow that propaganda to inform our national decisions.
I understand the sentiment, behind opposing sanctions on Russia, but refute it on two points:
1. People get the government they choose. Yes, Russian elections are rigged and yes, there are dissident factions inside Russia. But they do not have popular support. By making life difficult, there is a chance that something similar to 1989 will recur and topple Putin.
2. Russia has turned this into a total war. There’s evidence his strategy is reminiscent of the old Soviet doctrine of waging war on civilian populations with the aim of forcing the government to lose legitimacy. So far, it isn’t working – but by doing so, he’s opened his own population to a different version of total war, an economic one.
War is hell, and to win you have to be willing to be inhumane. Think of Sherman’s March to the Sea, or the way the Allies hammered Germany. Ending WWII by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki certainly wasn’t humane. You worry about winning the peace after you’ve won the war, not before.
Joe Biden is now officially the 46th President of the United States. Already, the press and official Washington is pretending the last 4 years didn’t happen, except that they intend to extract a pound of flesh for being subjected to it. Instead of asking themselves why it was that 75 million people voted for Donald Trump, they’ve already come to the misguided conclusion that those people don’t matter. Besides, they are probably a bunch of racists and wannabe autocrats anyway, so they suck.
For evidence of this, I point to this opinion piece published yesterday in National Review, authored by Kevin D. Williamson. I’m a long-time subscriber to NR and for the past few years, a member of the NRPlus community. Kevin’s take is not a lone cry in the wilderness. Many of my NRPlus fellows have expressed similar sentiments throughout Trump’s term. The disdain and outright contempt for anyone who dared vote for the “Orange Ape” shown in Kevin’s piece is part and parcel with the disdain and contempt that many of his ilk showed these people before Trump ever took his golden escalator ride.
I’ve often argued that what motivated Trump’s voters wasn’t the man himself. Make no mistake, there are those who would have followed him over a cliff, as we witnessed on January 6. But the vast majority of the 75 million that voted for him on November 3 do not fit into that neat checkbox. Their concerns have more to do with Barack Obama’s “bitter clingers” comments and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” diatribe than Mr. Trump. We knew The Donald is an imperfect vessel – but he was the only one willing to address those concerns in 2016; he remained one of only a handful of willing to address them in 2020.
So now we have Joe Biden calling for national unity, but immediately marginalizing the bitter clinging, deplorable “chumps” in his Inaugural Address. To highlight the ad hominem attacks against people they don’t understand and wish would just go away, we got KDW calling us “the studio audience from Hee-Haw” and continually referring to us as “Cletus” (FWIW: Cletus is the backwoods living, inbred village idiot from The Simpsons). These were not meant as complimentary terms (I suspect Kevin didn’t, but I enjoyed watching Hee-Haw when I was growing up). In so doing, he forgot that you don’t have to live in Washington to be a coastal elite. However, you can live in Texas and still be a jackass.
Make no mistake, I still enjoy the bulk of KDW’s writing. His arguments in favor of American-style federal republicanism are among the most eloquent written in the past 20 years. But he’s also made it clear that his brand of conservatism (again, a view shared by quite a few others) is better off ignoring the complaints, gripes, and daily life of a wide swath of ordinary Americans. He would rather lose elections and see the last vestiges of classical liberal thought purged from these shores than ever admit that maybe, just maybe, there is something legitimate about the populist uprising within the GOP. Admitting certain policy preferences that somehow became conservative orthodoxy didn’t work out as intended is more painful than seeing them permanently jettisoned by admittedly unconservative democrats, I guess.
But KDW, just in case you stumble across this humble blog, remember this. Conservatism was never about standing athwart history, yelling “STOP.” It was never about tax cuts or being the world’s superpower or any of those other things that seem to have come to define DC conservatism. Conservativism has always been about unleashing the power of the individual so that all of society can improve. Denying that agency to millions of us in order to preserve corrupt and decaying power structures isn’t conservative, nor is it classically liberal. Those original classical liberals put up with denial of agency for only so long before they rose up and smashed the power structures to which they were subjected.
We shouldn’t have to wish for the same.
Social media companies today are the equivalent of the public squares of yesteryear and need to be treated as such. I can already sense the “government can’t dictate what a private company allows” arguments heading my way, but the idea of technological public forums predates the internet.
The common carrier statutes – 47 USC Part 1 if you’re inclined to look them up – were originally created to prevent telecoms from censoring anyone. They were later updated to prevent ISP’s from censoring content. Those laws already give the federal government the tools to prevent what we euphemistically call “Big Tech” from censoring and de-platforming anyone based on political views.
Much of the focus has been incorrectly on “repealing section 230.” That idiocy refers to 47 USC 230, which ensures domains cannot be sued for the content they do not create. The point these people, including the outgoing President and Senators such as Josh Hawley, are making when they say that is they want to sue social media companies for removing or flagging the content of which those companies disapprove. That won’t solve the problem. It is more likely to make it worse, since without those liability protections social media companies cannot function. They would be liable to be sued not only for content they removed, but content they allowed. It would mean every single opinion posted would be subject to legal action, driving the companies into bankruptcy in short order.
Additionally, 47 USC 230 has absolutely no effect on preventing a web-hosting company from de-platforming an entire service, such as happened to Parler this week and Gab last year.
Where people should focus first is 47 USC 214, which regulates when and how a carrier can deny service to another entity. In this case, the carrier is a web-hosting company (much the same way AT&T once provided access to telecom lines) and the entity is the social media company. This section was the one used by Sprint to force AT&T to allow them access, effectively ending Ma Bell’s monopoly over telephone service.
As for 47 USC 230, paragraph d defines the obligations of an “access software provider,” but currently limits those obligations to warning about explicit content. By the way, the same statute defines an “access software provider” as “a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:
(A)filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B)pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C)transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.”
Sounds like a social media company, doesn’t it?
One simple line, say, “access software providers shall be subject to Section 202 of this Code” put into Paragraph D will prevent willy-nilly censorship and de-platforming of accounts. For those concerned about how that would be fairly enforced, the same enforcement rules that have been in existence since 1932 as outlined in 47 USC 204 and 208 will work. Remember that bit about Sprint using this section of the US Code to force AT&T to allow them access? The same works on a smaller scale. What’s more, the social media companies would be expressly forbidden from preventing access by 47 USC 202. The pertinent clause is,
It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.47 USC 202 Paragraph A
In other words, the same thing that prevents Verizon from cutting off your phone service because you texted a friend “biden sucks” would prevent Twitter from restricting your access for posting “biden sucks.” That’s a win for everyone. Well, everyone except those folks who don’t want you to exercise your freedom of speech.
As I’m writing this, Congress is once again preparing to introduce an Article (or Articles) of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. Reports suggest the focus of these articles will center on a charge of inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States. That’s an extremely serious charge to bring against anyone, much less a sitting President. It amounts to charging someone with sedition, or attempting to overthrow the federal government.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, before we get into this. The only place where anyone who thinks the events of last Wednesday were justified are on the fringes of society. It was a despicable act by erstwhile citizens of this country, one that has rightly been roundly condemned. Those people who participated in the invasion of the US Capitol are not patriots. They were not rioting. That was an assault on the United States and on the Constitution. The people who engaged and led that attempted insurrection should be tried as terrorists – because terrorism is the use of force in an attempt to frighten a government into conceding its authority.
The question is, is the President one of those who incited those actions? There can be little doubt his rhetoric is inflammatory. It is one of the things his most adoring supporters like about most about him. The President has in the past admitted inflammatory rhetoric is a tool he admires and uses, once writing
I love pitting people against each other. My whole life is based on that. It brings out the best in people and the worst in people.Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal
This long-stated acknowledgement that he strives to create division and inflame passions would preclude any possibility of the President or his lawyers from trying to slough off the incitement charge based on the idea he wasn’t trying to create division or inflame passions among his supporters. Of course he was, we all know he was. I suspect that while nobody ever wants to admit they were manipulated, at the end of the day most of those in that crowd will admit they were. The rest of us understand what he was doing with his rhetoric over the last year, by saying things that amounted to charging that the United States is incapable of running a fair and honest election. But the question remains, does this amount to incitement?
There is a reason Congress has been careful in how it crafted the laws around incitement and the requirements that speech or actions must have before an incitement charge can be prosecuted. We cherish the First Amendment’s protections of political speech, even speech that seeks to offend as its principle aim. We’ve long accepted that restricting speech should only happen under the most extreme circumstances. Incitement – calling on others to cause harm – is one of those few exceptions.
Legally, incitement is defined as,
As used in this chapter, the term “to incite a riot”, or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot”, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.18 US Code 2102, Paragraph b
What we need to focus on are the speech and conduct that are precluded as incitement. They amount to speech that promotes an idea or belief, unless that speech directly calls for violence. You can examine every statement made by the President relating to the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally prior to the event. While you will find things that may be distasteful and inflammatory, there is no direct call to violence. If you listen to his hour long speech at that rally, while he does call on his supporters to march to the Capitol Building, there is nothing in the speech that directly calls on them to engage in the conduct they did once they got there. You might infer that he wanted them to, but the reason inferences are not allowed as evidence is they are colored by your point-of-view. Additionally, judging an inference requires not your interpretation of the speech involved, but attempting to reconstruct someone else’s interpretation.
If the clearly stated legal bar for determining incitement isn’t enough for you, there is a boatload of case law that upholds this standard. Most important is Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the Supreme Court held
Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.395 US 444, Per Curiam opinion
Once again, there is nothing in the President’s speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”
My personal opinion is that the President’s actions (and more importantly, inactions) after the violence started are reprehensible. Based on those, he would resign – or at least issue a mea culpa – if he had any honor. But based on the law, he is not guilty of “incitement of insurrection.” Once again, Congress has overreached and i̵s̵ ̵p̵r̵e̵p̵a̵r̵i̵n̵g̵ charged the President with a crime they cannot prove. If Congress was serious about attempting another impeachment, they could simply charge him with “Conduct Unbecoming A Federal Officer,” which is certainly a charge that can be proved. But this charge is likely to fail in the Senate for more than political reasons. Legally, it’s a false charge and Senators would more than understand that allowing this to proceed would damage First Amendment rights for all of us.
(note: as I was finishing this up, Congress did introduce a single Article of Impeachment, for “incitement of insurrection”)
Just a quick jot here, as today is a bit on the busy side. I see where the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer of NY, thinks the Vice President should invoke the 25th Amendment. This seems to be a growing chorus after yesterday’s insanity.
This is the sort of lunacy that led to yesterday’s insanity. Yes, the President was too clever by half in his appearances and statements. By insinuating that the only way his supporters can have a voice in government was to tear down the Congress and install him as President-for-life, he shoulders a great deal of the blame for the madness. And yes, there is good reason to wonder if he’s delusional, since he seems to believe the only reason he won’t be President after 12pm on January 20 is some wild, far-flung conspiracy; a true “the world is out get me” type of fantasy often seen in megalomania.
But if you thought yesterday’s shenanigans were beyond the pale, just watch what would happen if the President were forcibly removed from power before January 20. I’ve said for years now that Trump is not a cause, he’s a symptom. Oddly, a lot of people haven’t figured out what he’s a symptom of yet. Here’s a clue: those 75 million votes weren’t all votes for him as much as they were votes for what he represents: a voice. Whether willingly or knowingly, Trump has become the personification of that part of the country which for 30 years has been told by the politicians, the technocrats, and the bureaucrats to shut up and stop worrying because everything is getting better.
Removing the symbol can feel good. Or it can inspire the opposite of repression – a fierce backlash that will make yesterday’s insanity seem absolutely beatific by comparison.
There are better ways the country can insulate itself from a megalomaniacal fool in the Oval Office in these few days left. During Nixon’s last days, his cabinet essentially cut him out of government decisions. The Joint Chiefs chairman and Secretary of Defense went as far as to inform unit commanders to ignore any orders that came from the President. In the meantime, Nixon sat around in his own “the world is out to get me” stupor, killing his liver.
There’s no reason such an approach is a terrible idea now. The man is guaranteed to be ranked alongside Nixon, Buchanan, and Hayes as one of the worst Presidents in our history. Rushing through an impeachment or exercising the 25th Amendment turns Trump into a martyr instead of a historical asterisk.
Don’t give him, or the loony tunes characters who believe he is the Second Coming, that kind of oxygen.
2020, being the sort of year that it is, has thrown yet another hand grenade into our midst. Over the past 72 hours, I have seen far too many people claiming that “Safe Harbor Day” is not a thing, that its purpose is unconstitutional, that “nothing is final until January 20th.”
Granted, this is a bit more than you’ll get in a Civics 101 class, but all of those assertions are being made by people who (for the most part) are well aware they are flat-out lying to their readers and listeners. Hopefully, by the time I’m done here you’ll walk away a bit wiser and understand why today really is the end (finally!) of the Presidential Election of 2020.
To understand why this date is crucial and supported by the Constitution, you first need a little history. While everyone, not incorrectly, points to the election of 1876 as the flash point that led to the reforms that were first codified in 1887, and later as Title 3 of the US Code, the reality is that the first 80 years were filled with electoral headaches. There was the election of 1800, which resulted in the 12th Amendment being ratified. Nobody much recalls that the election of 1860 resulted in 4 candidates receiving electoral votes – only that the result was the Civil War. The election of 1824 could not be resolved in the Electoral College and wound up being decided in the House of Representatives, the last time an election has been decided in this way. The elections of 1868 and 1872 (as well as 1876) were marred by allegations of voter intimidation by the KKK. The election of 1872 featured one candidate, Horace Greeley (yes, the newspaper editor) dying before the Electoral College met. That all resulted in all sorts of recriminations, as Congress debated if electoral votes for a dead man should be counted and 14 electors were disqualified for that reason (hope you’re paying attention).
All of this set the stage for what is easily the most contentious election in our history*: the election of 1876.
President US Grant’s second term was marred by one political and financial scandal after another. Corruption was rampant. The Panic of 1873 was global financial collapse whose effects were still being felt at the outset of World War 1, some 40 years later. Add in the horrors of Reconstruction, which didn’t “reconstruct” much of anything except the same animus that had led the Confederacy to revolt in the first place, and the nation was a powder keg.
The Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden, a well-known prosecutor and governor, as someone who could reform the government, end Reconstruction, and erase the corruption. Tilden was best known as the man who successfully tried “Boss” Tweed, so his bona fides were well established. Initially, the Republicans tried to get Grant to run for a third term, but he was reluctant. A joint resolution of Congress asking him not not break with precedent seems to have been the final decider for him. Regardless, the GOP was without a candidate heading into their convention. After 7 ballots, they finally settled on Rutherford B. Hayes, who by all accounts was a nice guy but virtually unknown outside of his home state of Ohio.
The campaign itself was an occasionally bloody affair. The KKK engaged in a campaign of voter intimidation and ballot stuffing throughout the old Confederacy (in fact, they likely overplayed their hand, as South Carolina wound up with more votes cast than state residents). Shots were fired at Hayes while he was eating dinner once. Things became so heated that Grant called up the Army to encamp around the District of Columbia, as there was genuine fear that elements of the Confederacy might engage in a Second Civil War.
Yes, it was that tense.
When the votes were counted after the election on November 7th, Tilden had 184 electoral votes, Hayes 165. But 4 states, represented by 20 electors, sent two sets of electors to the College. Nothing like that had ever happened in the nation’s history and there was nothing in the Constitution to guide anyone as to which electors should be recognized. There were no laws, no statutes, no anything. But there was precedent for Congress challenging and disqualifying electors. Just four years prior, Congress had removed 14 electors for voting for a dead man (told you this would come up again).
So, Congress created a joint commission to determine which electors should be recognized. It was truly a bipartisan affair. The commission was made up of 5 elected Republicans, 5 elected Democrats, and 5 Supreme Court Justices, 2 appointed by Republicans, 2 by Democrats and the 5th to be determined by the other 4 justices. But even here, the times informed the choice: the original Justice selected was promptly selected to the Senate by the Democrats in Illinois, who thought he would serve out his time on the commission before taking office. He surprised everyone by immediately vacating his seat.
Complicating the commission’s work was that in three of the states (Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana), voting irregularities simply could not be sorted through (remember South Carolina, with more votes than residents?). Oregon’s competing slates featured a split ticket and full ticket for Hayes. After more than a month of testimony and haggling, the commission came to an agreement. The Democrats would get an end to Reconstruction and a promise from Hayes not to run for re-election. The Republicans would get all 20 outstanding electoral votes certified for Hayes. It is the only time in our history that someone achieved a majority of the popular vote but failed to secure the Presidency.
It was against this backdrop that Congress passed the Electoral Act of 1887. Prior to then, the date the Electoral College met was generally agreed on in a joint resolution of Congress, in accordance with Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution. This was Congress’ way of setting a timeline for when electors needed to be submitted to Congress for certification and when electors would meet to cast their votes – and avoiding the fiasco that had occurred just ten years earlier. What Congress did was take the electoral powers granted it under the Constitution and codified them, so that everyone would know the rules. Further, they stipulated that any state that could not certify their electors prior to the Electoral College meeting, would risk not having those electors recognized.
In 1948, Congress went a step further and codified the entire election process under Title 3, Chapter 1 of the US Code. There are 21 sections in this chapter, covering everything from election day (Sect. 1, “The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.”) through the Presidential Succession Act (Sect. 19) and the steps a President needs to legally accomplish to either resign or refuse his office (sect. 20).
The point is, these laws are based on the Constitutional authority granted Congress, either under the 12th Amendment or Article II. Their constitutionality was upheld in Bush v Gore, when the Supreme Court ruled that if a state is ready to certify their electors, then all other proceedings are moot:
Because the Florida Supreme Court has said that the Florida Legislature intended to obtain the safe-harbor benefits of 3 U. S. C. §5, Justice Breyer’s proposed remedy—remanding to the Florida Supreme Court for its ordering of a constitutionally proper contest until December 18-contemplates action in violation of the Florida election code, and hence could not be part of an “appropriate” order. (emphasis mine)Per Curiam opinion, Bush v Gore
You’ll note that while most of the opinion recognizes the Florida Supreme Court’s creation of due process conflicts that require a remedy, because the state legislature was prepared to certify their electors under 3 USC Chapter 1, Section 5, they could not stand in the way. Whatever the remedy was, it could not violate the “safe-harbor” provisions of electoral law.
So what does this section of the US Code say about “safe-harbor”? It says:
If any State shall have provided, by laws enacted prior to the day fixed for the appointment of the electors, for its final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors of such State, by judicial or other methods or procedures, and such determination shall have been made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes as provided in the Constitution, and as hereinafter regulated, so far as the ascertainment of the electors appointed by such State is concerned.https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title3&edition=prelim
In layman’s terms, if a state has certified their electors 6 days before the Electoral College meets, then those electors are the ones who cast their votes. This is crucial. It was Congress determination not to relive the nightmare of the election of 1876 by ensuring that each state certified their electors before the voting began. Also, as recognized by the Supreme Court some 20 years ago, legal challenges to a state’s electors must be decided no later than 6 days before the Electoral College meets. Any legal challenges to certified electors (how an elector is certified is covered under Section 6) after that date is moot.
Does this mean all of the lawsuits currently in state court are now worthless? Yes. Absolutely. Does it mean pending actions in federal court are now over? For the most part, yes. While a court might find some abrogation of due process or equal protection, they will be required to follow Bush v Gore and Justice Alito’s decision; the remedy cannot be to invalidate the state’s electors.
*I know in our desire for relevancy, we want to think of either the election of 2000 or 2020 as the Most Contentious Election In American History, but they probably don’t even make the top 5. 1800, 1824, 1860, 1872, 1876, 1920, 1940 and 1960 all featured results that were at least as, if not more disputed.
It isn’t often I see something on social media that gets my blood boiling. Over the past 24 hours, though, this has been making the rounds.
This has got my blood boiling.
Folks, if you are calling for the President of the United States to install a military dictatorship, you are not a patriot. You’ve forgotten what the Minutemen were fighting against at Lexington and Concord. You’ve forgotten why those esteemed gentlemen at the Second Continental Congress swore away their fortunes and their very lives, if needed. You’ve forgotten why our fathers and grandfathers stormed the beaches at Normandy, at Anzio, at Tarawa, and at hundreds of other battles throughout our history.
Maybe you’re willing to throw away the idea of a country that exists to defend freedom at the altar of a single, deeply flawed man, but if you are, remember this:
Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.Ronald Reagan
Willingness to live by those words, and die by them, is the mark of a true patriot. If you can’t live by those words, then you need to start doing some deep soul searching, because there is something deeply flawed within you.
A few of you – ok, it’s actually quite a few – seem to have bought into the latest line of idiocy.
Which line is that, you ask? The one the “presteejus” legal firm of Trump, Giuliani & Ellis is spouting about “just wait until we try our case at the Supreme Court.” Folks, that’s about as asinine a claim as can be made.
The Supreme Court is not a trial court. It is the highest appellate court in the land. The 9 justices only accept cases where the circuit courts have differing opinions about a law, a law deserves scrutiny to see if it passes Constitutional muster, or if a law was severely abrogated in the circuit courts. It doesn’t hear or depose witnesses that are not already in the case file (it rarely hears witness testimony, ever). It does not search out new evidence.
This is why this bullcaca being spread by those folks is, well, bullcaca. The time to get that evidence in the record was in the original cases. Trump’s lawyers never even attempted to get any of their “evidence” into the record, aside from one case in Michigan. Not in any of the Pennsylvania cases. Not in the Nevada case. The Arizona case was dropped. The Georgia case was dropped. The Wisconsin case was pulled when they realized their evidence was based on faulty data.
In other words, while there’s always a chance the Supreme Court will agree to review one of these cases, it’s more likely it won’t. There’s nothing in any if them that appears to be an egregious, reversible error. It won’t be the Michigan case, which was never appealed. It won’t be the Nevada case, which was narrowly focused on voting laws used in one county and dismissed with prejudice.
The only ones that might gain their interest are two Pennsylvania cases. the first has to do with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowing mailed ballots received up to 3 days after the election, an apparent violation of the state’s statute regarding when ballots are due. That case would be regarding executive authority being wielded by the courts when none is granted. However, that would only affect about 25,000 ballots in a state Trump lost by 84,000 votes, so it wouldn’t be enough to swing the state’s electoral votes. It would be important in asserting the principle of legislative prerogative, but so far nobody has shown any interest in getting this before the federal bench.
The second is the one that has received national attention, the one dismissed for lack of evidence and bad faith claims by the circuit court judge and later upheld by the appellate court. That faces a mighty climb, but Rudy, et al. could argue that they should have been allowed an evidentiary hearing and to amend the redress asked to mailed ballots only. Even if against all odds the Supreme Court decided to hear those arguments and then rule in Team Trump’s favor, it wouldn’t swing those votes. It would only send the case back to the circuit court for the evidentiary hearing and a new ruling.
And now here’s the kicker: all of that would have to happen by December 8. If the Electoral College votes on December 14, you may ask, why do the Electoral Slates need to be decided by December 8? The reason for that harkens back to the election of 1876, when several states sent competing Electoral ballots to Congress, creating a huge mess. So Congress passed the Compromise of 1877, part of which ended Reconstruction in exchange for granting Hayes’ electoral votes recognition in Congress. The other, less famous part requires states to submit their electors no less than 6 days before the Electoral College meets, allowing Congress time to resolve any conflicts before the vote.
*Many people are confused about what Bush v Gore decided. The Supreme Court ruled the Florida recount over, allowing the state legislature to send the Bush electors to the Electoral College, although Congress preferred to send the Gore electors. It affirmed the states’ right to resolve electoral disputes before Congressional intervention.
So that’s what makes all this wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments so unseemly. In one week, the electors will have been chosen. At this late date, you are not going to get the Supreme Court to order a new trial that might cause one slate of electors to be replaced by another when there is no evidence in the trial record – and no evidence in the record, period, as pointed out by two judges – that would support such a move. Team Trump is not stupid, they know this. They’re counting on the fact you don’t know this.
It is one last desperate plea to be seen as going down as fighters, when the reality is they never fought at all. They’ve made noise, they’ve blown apart legitimate concerns about election integrity on the altars of one zany conspiracy theory after another, they’ve filed dozens of lawsuits. But they never made any cogent arguments in any court that any particular state was the subject of a massive conspiracy to defraud the citizens.
In the end, the Supreme Court will see through the charade. It’s a shame that many of you haven’t.
*Joe Biden, to the surprise of nobody who’s been following the vote counts, is now the President-Elect. It isn’t the outcome I wanted, but it is what it is. If we’re true patriots, we wish him well, line up as the loyal opposition and carry on.
*We’re undoubtedly in for a bumpy month while we await state certifications. It seems a foregone conclusion the President will unleash every legal tool available to him to stave off the inevitable. That’s his right, but history is not on his side. The courts (properly) prefer not to be involved in elections, unless there is clear evidence of malfeasance.
*We can only hope when all is said and done, the President concedes. I’m not asking him to be gracious about it, that would be totally out of character. But failure to do so will only validate every tweet, op-ed, and media commentator who has labeled him as a wannabe dictator.
*Finally, those of us who call ourselves conservatives need to ask if the last four years were about fealty to a single man, or loyalty to our founding principles? Because if the last four years for you was about loyalty to a person, then you’ve lost. If it was about loyalty to principles, then you understand that this is just a temporary set back, and a narrow one at that.
We spent four years laughing at “The Resistance,” and with good reason. Watching them parade around in their pink pussy hats, strip naked and howl at the moon, and all of the other idiocy we witnessed. We read with justified derision the same op-ed column for four years, penned by Max Boot and Thomas Friedman and Charles Blow and a hundred others. Only the bylines changed, but the basic template never wavered. We watched incredulously as mobs took to the streets, egged on by the pinheads in network newsrooms.
So why are we emulating them?
Look, I understand being upset with the way the election played out. I’m not happy about it either, but it wasn’t unexpected. Part of the problem with partisanship is it can blind you to the mindset of the opposition. As much as we crave being understood by the liberals, we also fail to recognize the same fault within ourselves. Yes, the nation as a whole is riven with very real polar policy ideas. But the past 8 years have also been marked by a new phenomenon: visceral hatred for the opposition leader. And hatred is a powerful motivater.
Expecting that there wouldn’t be record turnout by liberals eager to vote against Donald Trump – a man who seems to relish hatred, judging from the way he stokes it – was being blind to reality. Make no mistake, there is a LOT of hatred for the man. All of the insanity over the last four years came, in large part, because the President exposed the dark underbelly of the left, and they were driven insane by their hatred of being exposed for what they are and the man who exposed it.
Now here we are doing the exact same thing we said was silliness wrapped up in insanity. The really crazy part of this is the President hasn’t lost his reelection bid. Yes, he has a hard road to get there. But why are we making it easier for the self-admittedly biased media to portray us as crazed lunatics? Why are we in the streets, hurling unsubstantiated charges and otherwise acting like impassioned toddlers who’ve had their Tootsie Pop® taken away?
This election is not over. There are still votes to be counted. We may not like the rules that were established in some states regarding how a ballot could be cast, or when it has to be received by the district polling office. Those are legislative fights to be fought later, not retroactively. We may worry about fraudulent ballots, but there are legal processes that allow those ballots to be challenged. Demanding vote counts be stopped or expanded, depending on current situations, is churlish behavior that reeks of desperation. Let the processes play out – it’s a little hard to pretend you’re the party of law and order if you’re disregarding election laws you don’t like.
Another thing, while we’re talking about fraudulent ballots. Undoubtedly there are some that will be uncovered by legal challenges. But will there be 35,000 in Michigan? 23,000 in Wisconsin? Hundreds of thousands in Pennsylvania and Georgia? That stretches incredulity beyond reasonableness. It would mean that the same scheme to defraud exists en masse across multiple states, with hundreds, if not thousands, of people working feverishly to not only perpetrate the fraud but then remain silent about it. It would be the greatest conspiracy of all time. The odds of successfully carrying it out are even less than that of the Russians stealing the 2016 election.
If we want to be the adults in the room, the people the rest of the country eventually trust to straighten out the mess, we need to act like it. Enough with emulating the worst traits of our political opponents. We’re better than that. It’s time to prove it.