Clinton supporters are claiming that since Hllary won the popular vote, it proves the Electoral College is a dysfunctional anachronism that impedes modern democracy. They don’t seem to understand, or care, that statements like those only prove the reasons for the Electoral College in the 1780’s remain with us today.
First and foremost, the Founding Fathers had deep, abiding distrust of unfettered democracy. James Madison wrote in Federalist 10:
A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
This understanding that direct democracy is an unwieldy form of government, certain to end in direct violence of neighbor versus neighbor, is what drove the Founders to establish the United States as a representative republic. They strove, at every level of the federal government they were creating, to isolate the democratic forum to the smallest, most localized unit possible. Indeed, one of the striking aspects of American governance is the interplay between the states and the federal government they devised.
A large part of the reason for establishing that interplay between state and federal government was the Founder’s understanding that, even in the earliest days of the nation, there were stark differences between the various states and regions, and competing interests between heavily populated areas and sparsely populated ones. In establishing a federal government that was an equal partner of the states as regards most matters, they allowed local control over local issues, while allowing for an overarching national policy that might be in direct contravention to what a state preferred. Factionalism, which they understood was an unremarkable and inevitable feature of human society, could thus be controlled. No single faction could become so omnipresent as to impose its will on the rest of the nation.
This theory of government extends through to the idea of the Electoral College. Most of us are familiar with the idea of the Electoral College as stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68:
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.
But very few of us have given much thought to this part of the same essay:
The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.
Here we see expressed the idea, once again, of deference to state preference, even when contemplating a federal election. Yes, the election of a President would occur in all the states simultaneously, but it was not a singular electoral event. Rather, it was to be the continuation of state elections. To ensure that each state was not pressured by outside influences, each states electors are to meet in that state and vote. They are not to travel to the seat of national government. The method of their meeting and deliberation is left to the states to decide.
So how does the 2016 general election demonstrate that these ideas are still needed today? Consider this: Mrs. Clinton will assuredly wind up with more raw votes, if tabulated nationally, than Mr. Trump. But, that is due to her extreme support on the Pacific Coast. Her share of the popular vote in California, Oregon and Washington is around 65%. Of the roughly 61 million votes she received, nearly 9.5 million of them came from those three states versus only 4.3 million for Mr. Trump. To look at in reverse, in every other region of the nation, Mr. Trump outpolled Mrs Clinton by some 5 million votes and had the far higher share of the total, with nearly 53% of the votes cast.
If we were to do as Mrs. Clinton’s supporters ask, and amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College, we would be saying that only 3 of our states were electing the President. The other 47, despite a preference for the opposing candidate, would be shunned.
But the hidden beauty of the Electoral College is in ensuring that every state and every region receives import upon the selection of the President in proportion to its size and influence in the federal government. So yes, Mrs. Clinton is assured the 74 electoral votes from those states. All she needed was another 196 (or 38% of the remaining) electoral votes to win the Presidency. But Mr. Trump, by virtue of his running a broader campaign that appealed to more voters across a wider swath of the nation, gained more electors in the other states. He outpolled Mrs. Clinton in the deep south, the midwest, the plains states, the mountain west and battled her to a near draw in the northeast.
I understand its a bitter pill for her supporters to admit that Mrs. Clinton’s message did not have the type of broad appeal that resonated across the nation. But one again, the Electoral College is ensuring the candidate with the broadest support will assume the Presidency on January 20.
As I’m writing this, Hillary Clinton needs a miracle of biblical proportions to prevent Donald from winning the Presidency. Odds are, I’ll win the Powerball lottery before she does.
I’ve made no secret that I do not think Mr. Trump will prove to be a good President. I’ve been #NeverTrump since he announced his candidacy because I’ve felt a government led by him will be a disaster. As person dedicated to small government, Trump’s big government tendencies are an affront to my sensibilities. So are his attitudes on race, gender and immigration. And his love of authoritarianism and total ignorance of our Constitution remain deeply troubling, and dangerous, flaws. All of this led me to vote today for Evan McMullin.
Regardless, the man has won the Presidency. It was a herculean effort that required defeating the best political machine ever created. Now, it is my duty to support this man as President.
Support does not mean blind obedience. Support does mean pointing out those occasions when his conduct is unbecoming of his office. Support also means going to loggerheads when I believe he is advocating policies that will harm our nation. In short, support does not require anyone vacillate on their principles. Rather, it means defending those principles to the fullest while allowing Mr. Trump to govern in his way.
Indeed, it is by being supportive that we can mitigate any damage President Trump causes best. Given his history, this is likely to happen often. We must be prepared.
And it is our duty, as United States citizens to so. But for now, I’m off to bed.
It’s possible the United States has had worse candidates for President in our history. We’ve certainly had our share of horrible campaigns, and we’ve had our share of horrible Presidents.
But you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a worse combination of candidates and campaigns than 2016 has brought.
The incumbent party nominated a woman with a 40 year history of corruption and scandal. How can anyone be surprised that, true to form, she may well become the first President-elect under indictment in our history? If elected and she manages to avoid prosecution for what certainly looks like egregious violations of the law, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would be kneecapped before she ever takes the oath of office. Nobody trusts her. Nobody can even pretend to believe anything she does or says any longer. As her own campaign staff has said, she has demonstrated terrible instincts and decision making. To call the next four years under her “leadership” a disaster in the making is to be generous – to disasters.
Ordinarily, a candidate that bad and that flawed wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being elected. But the Republicans, in a remarkable display of self-immolation, nominated someone as equally awful. Every character deficiency exhibited by Mrs. Clinton is personified in spades by Donald Trump. Self-dealing? Corrupt? Narcissistic? Check off all those boxes. And just as Hillary “bleachbit” her copy, I’m not even sure Donald has even read the Constitution. But he loves his petty dictators, from Vlad Putin to Deng Xiaoping. As for the rest of us, he’s already he told us what he thinks: “For the most part, you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”
I had held out hope for the Libertarian candidacy of Gary Johnson. That was before he started talking and proved that (a) he’s either insane or killed his brain in a fog of hash smoke and (b) he’s actually not a Libertarian. He is, however, obviously just as opportunistic as both of the major party candidates.
So, the top three pretenders for President of the United States are unqualified and unfit for the office they aspire to, and probably belong in prison. What is a patriotic citizen to do this November 8th?
There is an answer. There is one candidate who, despite probably not able to carry more than a couple of states, embodies the strength of character, dedication to Constitutional principles and belief in the greatness of America we’ve found so lacking in the other candidates.
That is why, for 2016, Political Baseballs is proud to endorse Evan McMullin of Utah for President of the United States.
Since he’s only listed in 11 states, odds are you will have to write his name in on your ballot. I encourage you to find out the vagaries regarding write-in candidates in your state and take the effort to write him in. As mentioned, he likely will not win. But casting your vote for Mr. McMullin will not be wasting it, for two reasons.
First, the entire concept of “voting for the lesser evil” is what has left our nation in it’s current state. Far too often, we accept the idea of a binary choice between two poor options. This leaves voters voting not as much for a candidate, as against the opposing candidate. It’s a terrible situation that our current political parties have delivered to the American people, one who’s likely outcome this time will be the worst four years for our republic since the Civil War. By voting for Mr. McMullin, you can actually vote for someone who isn’t corrupt, isn’t beholden to either political party, isn’t bankrolled by all of the usual power players and isn’t responsible to anyone other than his own conscience and the voters. Rather than needing to rinse the stink off from voting for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, you can be proud of your vote.
Second, by now even the most partisan among us have to realize something has gone terribly wrong with our political parties if the best candidates they can come up with are the parasites they’ve nominated. If you truly want to send a message that we, the People, have had enough of their nonsense, there is no better way than to vote for a candidate who is inviolate in his beliefs. Even if you do not agree with Mr. McMullin’s conservative viewpoint, you cannot deny his uncompromising defense of his principles. I’ve heard many of you over the last two years, both conservative and liberal, say you want to “blow up the system.” Voting for Mr. McMullin is a shot right into the heart of the unscrupulous parties that have placed power and wealth above the country.
So, when you vote, don’t worry about pulling a lever or punching a hole. Write in the only candidate worthy of your vote: Evan McMullin.
Our current President forever lost my support when in April 2009 he said, ” I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” As James Kirchik wrote later that month in the LA Times,
“If all countries are ‘exceptional,’ then none are, and to claim otherwise robs the word, and the idea of American exceptionalism, of any meaning.”
Mind you, even the very liberal Kirchik was offended at the offhand way in which the new President (and latest liberal icon) had dismissed American exceptionalism as being, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. In fact, the problems that have risen during this Presidency are directly attributable to this President’s inability to identify what American exceptionalism is and why our past reliance on it has always overcome even the most overwhelming obstacles.
So, what is American exceptionalism? The idea was first expressed by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville in his book, Democracy in America. In 1835, the United States did not have an economy the rest of the world envied. We had few factories, few railroads, and our merchants were forced to trade in British pounds sterling or gold bullion. Our military was not feared, large, or respected. In fact, the 1835 graduating class from West Point totalled only 56 officers – of whom, 38 quit the Army after their 5 year commitment.
So, if the United States did not have the trappings of power that might lead a European gentleman to presume a national exceptionalism, what did we possess? How could a relatively poor and weak nation so impress this man that he would write a series of books about so seemingly absurd a concept as American exceptionalism?
The answer lies in the very nature of what America is, and what it means to be an American. Unlike any other nation in the history of mankind, the United States of America is unique in our very makeup: we are not of a single ethnicity, we are not defined by natural borders and our history is not rooted in the misty memories of the prehistoric tribes that roamed the rest of the world. Alone among nations of the world, to be American is to pledge fealty not to a man, nor a religion, nor a piece of land, but rather to an ideal: the idea that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights -and that government’s principle duty is to secure those rights for every person.
I hadn’t given much thought about this until our current election. After all, the hew and cry over Mr. Obama’s giving short shrift to the concept of American exceptionalism had come from both the right and left (although, to be certain, it was more pronounced on the right). So it seemed reasonable that the American people understood what made America an exceptional nation, even if the President didn’t. And I kept thinking that, up until Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton secured their respective party’s nominations.
I’m sad to say that it seems most people today have no idea what American exceptionalism means, or where it comes from. There are those who think it comes from an inherent nativism, forgetting that one of the most crucial aspects of Americanism is that anyone, from anywhere, regardless of wealth or circumstance, can become an American. This concept is emblazoned on the base of the Statue of Liberty. You know, the bit about “Give me your tired, your poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free”? That poem isn’t talking about the economically depressed (although the vast majority of immigrants in our country’s history have been far from wealthy). It’s telling the rest of the world, if you value freedom & liberty above all else, this is the place to come. It’s the message that brought my family here during the Cold War. It’s the message that brought everyone’s family here.
Then there are those who think American exceptionalism is rooted in being the greatest economic power on earth. They either don’t know, or don’t want to believe, that the United States’ period of economic dominance was a short one, lasting about 30 years. And it only came about because alone among the world’s actors, the United States wasn’t physically devastated by the Second World War. It has nothing to do with greater industriousness or intelligence of the American worker. If you don’t believe that, I can point to a whole world of people with as strong a work ethic as you’ll find in America.
Many of our fellow citizens think American exceptionalism is a byproduct of military might. There’s nothing wrong with having a strong military, but that’s hardly exceptional. Comparatively speaking, even at it’s strongest our military was a mere shadow of the Macedonian army under Alexander or the legions that secured the Pax Romana.
Each of those are things that any nation can take pride in, but they are hardly exceptional. Other nations have, at other times, established preeminence in trade and military might. Think of the British Empire of the 19th century, the Romans, the Persians, the Egyptians. But none of those nations could truly lay claim to being something exceptional, which is to say, something that nobody had seen before or since. Something unique.
In addition to our national identity being forged of the ideals of liberty and equality, there is one other thing that makes us exceptional. That is our willingness to be introspective and during that introspection, to demonstrate to the world that we are both strong enough and wise enough to understand that we haven’t perfected our society. After all, it took us 90 years to get from announcing to the world that all men are created equal to codifying that precept, and it took another 100 years after that before those laws began to be enforced. What other nation in history has undertaken such monumental efforts, not closeted but openly? Can you imagine the awe of the common Chinese citizen when they compare Tiananmen’s brutal repression with the March on Washington?
That is liberty. That is freedom. That is the “poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
And that is American exceptionalism. I fervently hope those of you who’ve forgotten it remember, before this nation and her ideals are left to rot in the ash heap of history.
Too often, in our poorly educated minds, the words “fascist” and “Adolph Hitler” are transposed. While Uncle Adolph is certainly history’s most infamous fascist, he was hardly alone. Fascism as a political system has existed for nearly two centuries and been used far too often and by far too many dictators to pretend Hitler was it’s only proponent. He was, in fact, only one of several fascists who rose to power in the early- to mid-twentieth century. Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo and Chiang Kai-Shek preceded Hitler to power; Francisco Franco, Antonio Salazar, Juan Peron, Engelbert Dollfuss, Getulio Vargas, Jorge Marees, Ionas Metaxas, and Robey Leibbrandt were all peers. More modern adherents include such luminaries as Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos and Tudor Ionescu.
It is obviously a false equivalency to say they are all acolytes of Adolph Hitler, especially as several of them rose to power as much as a decade before the Reichstag burned. Indeed, Mussolini considered Hitler to be his student. Nor is it correct to say all fascists are natural allies. The Axis powers of World War II were all led by fascist governments, but distrust rather than cooperation was their hallmark. And let’s not forget that despite the aid from Germany and Italy that helped Franco secure power, Franco snubbed all overtures to join them. Franco was busy in an on-again, off-again shooting war with his protege Salazar (one that lasted into the late 1960’s). What this illustrates is the variances within fascism: nazism, clerical fascism, falangism, and so forth.
So, if HItler wasn’t the proto-fascist, who was? Who founded the ideology that dozens of tin-pot dictators have adopted as their own in the past century?
That would be Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a British philosopher, writer and mathematician. Indeed, if modern students hear of Carlyle at all, it is usually because of his work in mathematics: he is credited with developing the quadratic equation (you know, the joyless algebra equation written as ax2 + bx + c = 0). And while high school freshmen the world over hate him for making their homework harder than they want, their real derision should be directed at his influence on sociology.
Carlyle was a reactionary in his approach to what he viewed as the shortcomings with classical liberalism. Whether the free market economics of Adam Smith, or the idea of natural rights borne out in our Declaration of Independence, Carlyle viewed the advancements made in the 18th Century to be the direct cause of the chaos overtaking Europe in the early 19th. This culminated in his 1840 opus, “On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History”. It is a rather long tome in which he lashes out at the idea of democratic rule and free markets as the antithesis of history’s natural order. He passionately argues that in accepting these ideas, society abandoned the natural roles of the hero as leader, of war as the principle means to glory, of industry being directed towards producing the means of war, and of societal hierarchies (today we would call them “classes” or “castes”).
Carlyle advocated that Great Men are the natural leaders of both government and society and should be elevated as such; if society refused to accept them, then it became their duty to wrest power away from the masses. He had tremendous scorn for free markets and coined the term many use today to describe modern economics, “the dismal science.” It isn’t that Carlyle didn’t believe that business owners shouldn’t be able to keep their profit (after paying the government their “equitable duty”); but rather that anyone in business not producing goods and services that directly benefitted the state should not be in business. A natural hierarchy was emplaced of men, but natural rights were not. The amount of rights a common man could be expected to receive were commensurate with his place in society; those at the top naturally had more rights than those at the bottom. And as for those at the bottom, they were generally an impediment to the advancement of the society. Enslavement or even execution was their only natural right. (Carlyle expounded further on this in “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question” in 1849).
Further, Carlyle was a proponent of the state as the only viable method by which the Great Man, or Hero, could extend his rule and direct his will. The principle role of the common man within the state was to prepare for war. Treason in thought or deed were the only crimes that truly promoted social disorder; treasonous activities included anything that could subvert the rule of the Great Man and should be eliminated at all costs. And since the state was the engine that made society possible, it was incumbent upon all citizens to ensure that undesirables be kept out, by all means necessary.
In short, Carlyle’s view of national socialism (he coined the term to separate his philosophy from that of his contemporary, Karl Marx) relied on these key points, in order of importance:
- A Great Man or Hero; the natural societal leader
- A strong, insular state
- A hierarchical society, down to and including slavery
- Policing of society to ensure adherence to societal norms
- Directed markets
- Denial of Natural Rights
Of course, today we call this fascism, not national socialism. That term we reserve for nazism, which differs from straight fascism in its adoption of some Marxist principles, particularly as relates to property rights and the veneer of popular rule.
So the question is, does Donald Trump embody those 7 principles in his vision? Anyone who’s paid attention to what he’s said – and just as importantly, not said -in not only the past 15 months of campaigning but also the past 40 years of public life, will have already recognized Trump’s themes in Carlyle’s worldview. But for those who need further convincing, let us see how Trump and Carlyle agree.
- A Great Man should be our natural leader: An entire forest’s worth of paper has been produced detailing Trump’s narcissism and self-aggrandizement, so no need to expound further on that. Suffice it to say anyone willing to proclaim the virtues of every dictator from Benito Mussolini to Deng Xiaoping to his current infatuation with Vladimir Putin sees himself as a man of similar abilities – and traits.
- The strong, insular state: His motto, “Make America Great Again,” is a paen to this idea. In case you still weren’t sure, remember one of the hallmarks of the strong state is keeping undesirables out. From his proposed Mexican wall to the Muslim ban, a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign is keeping the undesirables out – by all means.
- Hierarchical society, including slavery: Trump certainly views American society as existing within a strict hierarchy. He launched his campaign by demonizing those of Mexican heritage as “rapists and murderers.” He has been sued by the federal government for housing discrimination, but various state governments for employment discrimination and once by a trade union for refusing to pay immigrant workers. It isn’t overt racism, so much as revelation in his belief that if you aren’t in the correct class, you have fewer rights and if you reside at the bottom, you’re unworthy of much more than crumbs.
- Police State: At various times, Trump has advocated for expanded police power to ensure the classes remain in their correct position. Undesirables should be rounded up. Agitators should be put down, with force. Indeed, Trump’s idea of “Law and Order” is less about law and a great deal more about order, enforced at the point of a gun.
- Militarism: “I’d bomb the hell out of them.” “Keep the oil.” “The military would not refuse my orders, even if they found them illegal.” “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.” “I’m more militaristic than even George Bush.” Tie all of that in with his expressed desire to spend trillions on rebuilding the military machine to Cold War levels, along with his willingness to economically attack the rest of the world and yeah. Donald Trump is definitely a militarist.
- Directed Markets: The other prominent cornerstone of Trump’s candidacy is a complete refutation of free trade. It’s also, in addition to a lifelong commitment to the hierarchal society, the one thing you can go back decades (his very first Wall Street Journal interview, in 1980, in fact) and find a consistent view. In fact, Trump hates free markets every bit as much as Carlyle did in his day. After all, as Trump has said, any business that puts profits ahead of Making America Great Again is engaged in treason and should pay a heavy price.
- Denial of Natural Rights: There are two documents that historians point to as delineating natural rights. One is the French The Rights of Man. The other, fortunately, is enshrined as law in our Constitution; our Bill of Rights. At various points throughout this campaign, Trump has shown contempt for the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th Amendments. He loves the 7th (I can’t think of another politician who’s filed more lawsuits). He likes the 2nd, but only for certain people (here we go back to the hierarchical society again). That Trump thinks natural rights are a figment of some 18th century scholar’s imagination is pretty obvious.
So, is Trump a fascist? Undoubtedly, and as such, he is the antithesis of every idea this country was founded upon and supposedly stands for today. While frightening, it isn’t that he is, or that he has come within a hair’s breadth of the Presidency that worries me. No, what’s truly frightening is that so many of our fellow citizens remain blind to his nature – or worse, not blind but fully supportive of his goals.
As Americans, it is not in our nature to demonize a segment of the population based on the actions of a few of their members. That is, of course, unless the actions of the community in general, in response to the reprehensible actions of the few, are equally reprehensible.
We have reached that point as regards the American Muslim community.
Whether by design or ignorance, it has failed to accept responsibility for the fact that it’s members are willingly conducting acts of violence against the American public writ large. Rather than work with the authorities to identify those members who’ve espoused radical ideologies, they’ve given them sanctuary. Rather than remove leaders whose mosques preach hatred, they’ve continued to fund them, often lavishly. Rather than work to drown out the voices within the Muslim community who’ve preached jihad against the rest of us, those voices are elevated and given prominence.
As a nation, we’ve asked the Muslim community to effectively police itself. After Ft. Hood, after Boston, after San Bernadino, Americans said we want you to work with us. We said we understand there are differences in worship, but so long as you agree on the principles of life and liberty, we’ll work to overcome any prejudices.
Now, we can add Orlando to the list of American tragedies created by a member of the Muslim community. Another young man who had espoused antagonism towards his homeland for years, not hiding his views. Another young man who studied at mosques that reinforced his hatred of the United States. In his case, his imam has been caught on video telling his minions that “homosexuals should be killed to save them from themselves.”
This willful, conscious and intentional separation of the Muslim community from American society by Muslims can no longer be tolerated by the rest of us. We must remove them from our midst. Expel them, imprison them – by whatever means necessary; Muslims have demonstrated they are a cancer on the rest of the American public. They have proven to have loyalties not to the United States, but to Mecca.
Stop to consider if any other group acted towards the rest of us as Muslims have. If Catholics were an insular religion that demanded the extermination of Jews, they would be ostracized and imprisoned. If Baptists preached that anyone who wasn’t Baptist should be killed to save them from themselves, the rest of us would demand the expulsion of Baptists.
Undoubtedly, our political leaders will respond to this latest Muslim atrocity with appeals for calm and requests of Muslims to police themselves. And undoubtedly, those appeals and requests will be ignored and mocked by Muslims. Yet again, as they were after Boston. Our feckless and cowardly “leaders” will be ridiculed in mosques from Newark to Appleton, as they were after San Bernadino.
No more. Enough is enough. It is time to admit what we have been loathe to admit and accept reality. Muslims do not want to be part of the fabric of our nation. Rather, they want to be a nation within the nation and at war with the rest of us. That is unacceptable and intolerable. And for that reason, they must go.
Ever since getting blown out in Wisconsin, Donald Trump has been hollering about the way we select presidential candidates, calling it unfair, or deriding it as a “rigged system.” Sure enough, the left-of-center pundits and writers who support him, and most of the misguided people who’ve pledged their allegiance to the “Trump Train,” have suddenly decided that a system that’s been around almost as long as the United States is fundamentally flawed. I shouldn’t be surprised. The typical Trumpster also tends to think the US Constitution is terribly flawed and no longer relevant.
The delegate system is based on the same idea that fueled the adoption of our Constitution. That is, the best system of governance is a representative republic, with semi-autonomous states sharing power with a centralized national government. As conceived by the men who gave us our Constitution, the office of President was not to be directly entrusted to the general populace. Rather, they conceived the idea of electors being chosen by the people. The electors would then choose the President. They had two reasons for this, both outlined in Federalist 68. The first is that the general populace can be easily swayed by emotional appeals to our baser instincts. As Alexander Hamilton noted, “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.” The second was they understood the vast majority of citizens are not active politically, nor are they as attuned to the issues and policies as their brethren who are politically active. Their decision was that by entrusting the selection of Chief Executive to a group of people who were politically active, they were ensuring that the gravitas of the position was honored. Yet at the same time, because the electors were selected by the citizenry, the people’s voice would be heard. Hamilton, again: “… the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
I realize this conception of how our political system was created will confound most of you. After all, you’ve heard since childhood that the United States is a democracy. Every politician declares it during every speech. Most sadly, we’re taught in school that because we vote, we’re a democracy. Some people are taught that we’re a representative democracy; that our votes go to elect representatives who are supposed to vote the way we want them to. That’s also incorrect! We are a representative republic. We elect representatives. The representatives we elect are then to debate and vote on the issues and policies as best they see fit. The decisions they reach are not bound by any measure to popular will. We then can decide if we approve of those decisions at re-election time. There have been occasions – quite a few, actually – when a representative has defied popular will in the votes they cast. One of the most celebrated books of the 20th century, Profiles in Courage, highlights eight such occasions that profoundly changed the history of our nation.
Our founders were against the idea of political parties, but their creation is a natural outgrowth of politics. It’s only natural that people who share similar views and goals would coalesce into groups working towards implementing those ideas into law and policy. Even in our nascent stages, the republic soon found itself being divided into political parties. The very men who were opposed to the idea of political parties were creating them. As those parties formed, they began to decide on which candidates for office would receive the backing of the party – including candidates for President. Should it be a surprise that they adopted a similar system for choosing their candidates as the one outlined in the Constitution?
Of course not. Many of you seem surprised at the notion that the popular vote doesn’t decide who a party’s nominee for political office. In order to understand why this is, you need to realize that prior to 1972, most states didn’t even have primary elections. Those that did, did not “bind” their delegates to vote for any particular candidate. The delegates, in most cases, were selected at state conventions. In the remainder, delegates were directly chosen during a caucus. In either case, the general public was barred from attending: only members of the party could choose their delegates. And quite often, the national party conventions did not resolve the issue of who the Presidential nominee would be on the first ballot of delegates. It seems to me that the system worked rather well. In the case of the Republicans, the convention chaos resulted in some pretty momentous choices; men who went on to become some of our most consequential Presidents. Lincoln (3rd ballot), Harding (10th), and Eisenhower (2nd) were all the products of contested/brokered conventions. In fact, during the 1952 convention Robert Taft accused Eisenhower of “stealing” delegates that were supposedly his. That led to the adoption of the “Fair Play” rule. In an ironic twist, it is that rule which Trump is using to accuse Cruz and Kasich of “stealing” delegates this year.
The liberalization of the nomination process began in 1972, in the aftermath of the riots at the Chicago and Miami party conventions in 1968. Most states adopted primaries, many opened those primaries up to the general public (no party affiliation required) and states bound the delegates chosen to reflect the popular vote at the convention for at least the first ballot. Only a few states opted to remain with caucuses or conventions selecting their delegates. And only one state does not bind any of their delegates, while several have a mix of bound and unbound delegates. The desired effect, the nominee being chosen by popular affirmation, has been achieved. Indeed, only the 1976 Republican and 1980 Democratic conventions have offered any drama, although in both cases the insurgent candidate was defeated between the end of the primaries and the convention.
Since the liberalization of the nomination process, consider the men nominated by the popular vote: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Dole, George W. Bush, and Romney. Only one of those men could be considered consequential in a positive manner. Only 3 of them have managed to win the Presidency, and two of those left office with the country in far worse shape than when they entered. If we were to change anything as regards candidate selection, I would prefer we return to closed caucuses and conventions without general public input. You may call it “undemocratic,” but the objective is to find the best candidate; to find people who can represent the values of the party and lead the nation. The general public has demonstrated exactly what the founders feared: an incredible ability to choose the very worst people for the most important job in the world.
Consider the roll call of Presidents since 1972 and see if you can actually dispute that. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama have been elected as President. One was forced from office, another was impeached. Both Bushes left the nation economically in tatters. Carter is best remembered for his failures, while Obama is ending his Presidency with his signature achievement about to go belly up and the nation slipping back towards recession. Only Reagan managed to accomplish anything of note, but even his accomplishments have proven to be short-lived. Even ending the Cold War hasn’t lasted; today we’re faced with a resurgent and belligerent Russia and China.
You might also argue that by returning a system by which party insiders, we would be disenfranchising you. I don’t think so. Remember, the nominee is supposed to represent the party, not the general populace. I know many people who call themselves Republican or Democrat, but the reality is, they only are on election day, and often only on Presidential Election day. The other 1,460 days of the election cycle they do absolutely nothing to support the party. It’s kind of like telling people you’re a member of the cast of your favorite TV show, because you can quote some dialogue and know all the characters. In other words, if you want a say in who a party nominates, it would mean actually getting involved in the political system. Simply voting is a privilege of being a citizen. Performing the actual duties of citizenship – canvassing for candidates, raising funds, perhaps serving in local government, attending party meetings – these are also ways of becoming involved with a party at the local level. Not incidentally, it’s also how you become more acquainted with the political system.
In this year when so many of you seem more interested in blowing up the system, rather than putting in the individual effort to make it “work,” it’s also the best way to change the things about the system you don’t like. And who knows? Maybe, instead of whiners-in-chief, we can actually get back to commanders-in-chief, to Senators who worry more about representing their states than the national party committee and Representatives with more than graft on their minds.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Ted Cruz’ primary win in Wisconsin made Donald Trump’s chances of securing the GOP nomination more difficult. Folks, I’m here to let you know: Cruz’ Wisconsin victory means Trump will never see the inside of the Oval Office, unless invited by the President. This is where the dream crashes into reality, and as usually happens in that case, dreams end up in a thousand little pieces.
As you’ve heard ad nauseum by now, in order to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP Convention in July, a candidate needs to have secured the votes of 1,237 delegates. Most states require their delegates to vote as instructed by the popular vote during the first ballot. Most don’t if voting goes to a second ballot, and only two require it on a third. By the time a fourth ballot is required, all delegates are free agents: they can vote for anyone they like.
There are two reasons why Trump will not win the nomination in a floor fight. To put it another way, Trump needs to 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot, or else he’s toast. The first is that Trump’s lack of campaign organization has prevented him from having a significant presence at the state and county conventions where the delegates are actually chosen. The other is that his main rival may not be loved by the GOP establishment, but he has been a Republican for his entire life. He’s built a strong grass-roots network among other GOP activists, the very people who make up the bulk of the delegate selectees. That combination has led to a large bloc of delegates who, although required to vote Trump on the first ballot, will be voting Cruz on subsequent ballots. We already know Trump will lose the majority of delegates from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. We also know he will lose the entire South Carolina delegation. His inability to organize at the state level has cost him Colorado and North Dakota. Additionally, Cruz’ organizational strength makes it likely he will have a majority on the 112 delegate Rules Committee – and that will allow him to set rules in place that will further complicate Trump’s ability to wage a floor fight.
So, obviously, Trump desperately needs to get to 1237 and preferably more, so that he can withstand any defections from states that do not require their delegations to vote as per the popular vote (think Pennsylvania). While not impossible, the math would require he outperform what he’s done to date. To wit: as of this point, Trump has secured 37% of the GOP vote, and 714 delegates, or 45%. To get to 1237, he needs another 523 of the available 912 delegates, or 57%. All Cruz needs to do is hold Trump under 523 delegates in the remaining contests.
Begin in New York, with 95 delegates available. New York’s rules are relatively simple: for each congressional district won with a majority, the winning candidate receives 3 delegates. For each district won with a plurality, the winning candidate receives two delegates and the second place finisher (provided they receive at least 20% of the vote) receives one. Additionally, there are 14 at-large delegates. If a candidate receives a majority of the vote statewide, he receives all of them. Otherwise, they are allocated according to the popular vote, to all candidates receiving more than 20% of the vote. So, in order to secure all the delegates, Trump will not only need to win a majority in the state, but also in each of 27 individual districts. He is polling above 50% statewide, but not in every district. Because New York has roughly half of it’s population clustered in New York City, Queens, Kings, Staten Island, Suffolk, Westchester, Bronx and Nassau counties, Trump’s decided advantage there (around 90%, according to some polls) bodes well for the overall percentage. But Cruz will win several upstate counties, and John Kasich may actually hold Trump under 50% in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. It is more likely that Trump will go to bed on April 19 with about 60 more delegates than he woke up with.
The other sizable contest is in California, another apportioned state. Similar to New York, the state awards 3 delegates for every congressional district won by a candidate. While Trump is polling slightly ahead of Cruz in the Golden State, Cruz has a decided advantage in the Los Angeles area, with it’s 54 delegates, and the Orange County area, with another 18 delegates. Overall, California has 172 delegates available, but it’s unlikely that Trump gets more than 90.
There are several states remaining that are winner take all, but most of these are probably going to end up in Cruz’ column. The only one of these Trump is expected to win is New Jersey, with 51 delegates. Cruz is expected to carry Indiana (57 delegates), Montana (27) and South Dakota (29).
So, that means Trump will need to garner 313 of the other 481 delegates remaining. New Mexico’s 24 delegates are unbound, so call it 313 of 457. And Pennsylvania has a quirky method of allocating delegates – only 17 are bound, the remaining 54 unbound. So, assuming Trump carries the state with a plurality and receives 12 of the 17 committed delegates, that means he needs to carry 301 of the remaining 386 delegates. Even though the remaining contests are primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, which are areas Trump is expected to do very well in, grabbing 78% of those delegates is a herculean feat. There is absolutely no margin of error, no way more unforced errors such as led up to the Wisconsin primary can roil the headlines.
So what about the oft-threatened independent Trump candidacy? There are unsurmountable obstacles to his mounting one. Indeed, there is a reason Trump entered the race as a Republican, rather than attempting to resurrect the Reform Party or another independent bid. It comes down to money. Trump is not a poor man, but most of his estimated $2.4 billion net worth is not in disposable assets. It’s tied up in major real estate or marketing licenses. Coming up with the estimated $750 million to $1 billion required to mount an independent presidential campaign is no small feat. Indeed, campaign rhetoric aside, Trump hasn’t even been able to afford the primary bid he’s mounted: according to his latest FEC filing, he’s been forced to raise $25 million from outside sources. Further dispelling the notion of a self-financed campaign, Trump’s campaign announced on Tuesday they would be soliciting donors should he prevail at the Convention.
When combined with the organization required to ensure ballot access in all 50 states, an organization he lacks, the opportunity to mount an independent bid has already passed. It’s why the other billionaire who seriously considered entering the race as an independent set March 1 as his drop dead decision day.
So there you have it. The odds of Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination are somewhere between razor thin and none. The odds of him mounting an independent campaign are even less. Donald Trump’s political career effectively ended last Tuesday.
And for that, we can all breath a little easier.
About two months ago, I addressed Sen. Ted Cruz’ eligibility to assume the Presidency.Apparently, based on my Twitter feed over the past 18 hours or so, people are still confused. So here’s a quick synopsis, for those of you still insisting that Cruz’ is somehow ineligible.
- Article 1, Section 8 clearly defines that all matters relating to citizenship are defined by Congress.
- Congress defined natural citizenship in 1952, under 8 US Code 1401.
- Under paragraph D of that statute, Senator Cruz is a “natural born citizen.” Further, if you really wanted to say his mother had taken residence in Canada more than a year prior to his birth, he would still be eligible under paragraph G.
So, sorry birthers. This is Civics 101 stuff, and about as uncomplicated as it gets.
Many others have already set out their reasons for pledging to never support Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. It is time to add my voice to theirs; to express my outright horror and dread at the thought of a Trump presidency. There are many reasons why I can not support Trump, but they boil down to this: I will not abandon the principles that led to the creation of this Nation. Our nation, in living by those principles, once gave refuge to my family from the totalitarian states that flourished in Europe in the mid-20th century. In return, I’ve spent my lifetime defending those principles, adopting them as a creed. To abandon them on the altar of Trump would make a mockery of everything I, my family, and the United States has ever stood for.
Reason #1: Donald Trump may not be a fascist, but he sure acts like one
Fascism is a system of government that relies on four things – a cult of personality, managed markets (usually by coercion), identifying national problems as being caused by an “other,” and militarism, both abroad and domestically. Trump hits on all those themes as part of his standard spiel. The cult of personality is obvious, he’s spent 40 years developing it.
The managed markets part of his platform isn’t as obvious. After all, Trump loves to proclaim his affinity for business. But if you listen closely, you begin to see a pattern emerge. If you want to do business in Trump’s America, you have to do it his way – or else. He’s threatened Nabisco, Ford Motors, Carrier, Apple and Pfizer in just the past week. You might think using governmental power to force companies to do business in ways that are neither profitable nor humane isn’t really socialism. I’m sure many Germans thought the way Hitler coerced everyone from Mercedes to Krupps to only do business the Nazi way was perfectly respectable, too.
Trump launched his campaign last June with a diatribe against the “others.” As with all fascists, he identified a sub-population that isn’t well liked by the majority of the citizenry. A group that is forced to live on the periphery of society. Just as with the Jews and Gypsies of central and eastern Europe, a group that is largely homogenous. Donald Trump chose to demonize illegal aliens. From day one, he has castigated illegal aliens as purveyors of rape, murder and mayhem. Why do we have rampant crime in our cities? Illegal aliens. Why do we have high unemployment? Illegal aliens. Why are illicit drugs flooding our neighborhoods? Illegal aliens. For such a marginalized and relatively small group, illegal aliens have a tremendous amount of sway over our everyday lives.
Then, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino last year, Trump had a second group of “others”: muslims. Another marginalized group, living on the periphery of society and not well understood by most Americans (I read once that only 20% of us have ever actually met a muslim). And again, Trump laid many of our national ills at their feet. It’s a repetitive cycle; a simple solution to the world’s most complex and vexing problems.
Now, I am not a fan of illegal immigration or Islamists. but it isn’t difficult to see where Trump’s call for mass deportations lead to a national secret police force and internment camps. It is equally possible to foresee what they might look like:
One of Trump’s standard lines is that he’s “strong.” The United States needs “strength.” We don’t “win” anymore because America’s leadership is “weak.” And how does Trump define strength? He identifies strong governments as like the one in Beijing, using tanks to literally crush protesters. He identifies strong leaders as men like Vladimir Putin, who maintains a reign of terror over not only the Russian people but also those in neighboring countries. In short, he identifies strength as a willingness to use force – if necessary military force – to achieve goals and suppress opposition. That such a man could command the world’s largest military is something that should give everyone pause.
Reason #2: Donald Trump may not be a bigot, but he sure acts like one
Bigotry is nothing new to the United States. Carroll O’Connor and Sherman Helmsley both gained fame by playing bigots on memorable television shows. Donald Trump may be a TV star, but the bigotry he overtly displays isn’t a laughing matter. Like Archie Bunker, Trump has shown bigotry towards almost everyone who isn’t a WASP. Women, blacks, hispanics, asians – all have come under fire and derision. The ugliness almost caught him when he wouldn’t tell David Duke, of KKK fame, to take a hike. A consummate politician, Donald understands his base of support is white bigots – he couldn’t do the right thing, for that simple reason. Besides, the bigotry serves a useful purpose for him: it’s much easier to ostracize minority groups when they’re guilty of nothing more than being a minority group.
In times past, we’ve had bigots occupy the Oval Office, including the guy currently there. We survived them. But odds are the next president will serve two terms (most do) and by 2025, no ethnic group will command a majority of the population. The next President needs to be a president of and for ALL Americans, not just WASPS. If not, the divisions we’re already witnessing will fracture the nation irreparably.
Reason #3: Donald Trump may understand the Constitution, but he doesn’t act like he does
Many of Trump’s proposed solutions run counter to the Constitution. He wants to undo First Amendment protections for the press and protesters. He demands arbitrary control over the nation’s budget, even though that power is reserved for the House of Representatives. Indeed, as much as Barack Obama has run roughshod over the Constitution, he would be a piker compared to what Trump has planned. Trump’s very first act as President would be a lie: swearing to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Reason #4: Donald Trump’s moral code was written Machiavelli
I understand politics is a dirty game. It always has been and always will be. However, one could and should expect that people of conscience would occupy the political world, that their decisions would be informed by a moral code that reflects the best in humanity. Trump’s morality, such as can be discerned from his public stances throughout his life, is best described as one of expediency and instant gratification. If ever there were a perfect representative of the moral faults of the “Me Generation,” Trump is it.
Extended to how Trump would “reign,” his brand of morality would cause all previous generations of Americans to blanche. In matters of the military, he has made it plain he would order the torture of POW’s and mass casualties of enemy non-combatants. Officers who refused to carry out those orders “will be made to pay.” As if that weren’t enough, he wants to turn our military into a mercenary force, available to any nation that wants to wage war, for whatever reason, so long as they can pay the price.
That Donald is corrupt is irrefutable, he gladly admits to it. What’s more, he admits to corrupting public officials. Imagine such a man with his hands on the levers of the executive branch. The damage he can cause is nearly unfathomable when combined with Trump’s greed and insatiable desire for attention, I shudder at the thought of what would happen should he get Presidency.
I realize that for many, taking this stance is unacceptable. They argue that withholding my vote from Trump means I am tacitly supporting the Democrat nominee (and this election, both choices offered by that party are as distasteful as Trump). However, the idea that Trump represents the Republican party is either a joke or the Republican party no longer aspires to make America a “shining city on the hill.” Of course, Trump’s nomination is far from assured. I hope Republicans awake from their slumber and realize the danger their flirtation with a demagogue poses not only to the party, but the nation.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take a few minutes of your time to watch this video. Almost 70 years ago, we recognized the dangers a man like Donald Trump posed to the national well-being, and the stability of the world. It is almost eerie watching this, as if a newsreel of current events had been transported back to 1947.
Well, actually everyone is missing a few things regarding the fight between Apple and the FBI.
First, in case you’re living under a rock, to recap what the fight is over. One of the San Bernardino shooters had an iPhone that was issued to him through his job, a county agency. The FBI would like to look at the data on the phone, as it might contain information valuable to tracing the terrorists movements, finances and communications prior to the attack. This is not an unreasonable thought. It seems as if the FBI crossed all their legal T’s and dotted their Constitutional I’s, even getting a warrant for the search. Unfortunately, the FBI is incapable of getting past the security measures Apple has built into the iPhone’s operating system. So they went back to court and obtained an order that compels Apple to bypass the phone’s security. Apple is refusing, citing privacy concerns.
That’s the 10,000 foot view of the issue. And were it that easy, I don’t think Apple would put up this much a fuss about it. The problem comes about once you drop down and look at the issue up close. And the reason everyone is freaking out, I think, is they don’t understand the technology or how it works. They only know that it works – which, of course, is what makes Apple’s iOS so successful.
That’s the first thing that everyone is missing: nobody actually understands what it is they’re complaining about. For a guy who’s worked in software development and mobile tech, it would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high. Everyone just assumes that Apple can magically give the FBI the phone’s unlock code. It isn’t that easy. The iPhone’s encryption is integral to iOS – the only way to get past the unlock code is to break the encryption within iOS. To comply with the FBI’s request, Apple would have to write a software program that would alter the way iOS functions. In essence, they would have to destroy their own product.
That’s the second thing that everyone is missing: the government’s order would require Apple to blow up their business model. One of the reasons, perhaps the biggest reason, Apple has been so successful is they’ve stuck to a simple proposition for over 20 years. That proposition is that their software and hardware live as an integrated unit. Form and function, together as one. To make that happen, Apple’s products have always worked with proprietary, closed operating systems. The underlying code is not available to the general public. The FBI is asking Apple to do the exact opposite of what they’ve always done. To write code that opens iOS to the public domain; in essence, to allow anyone with minimal code writing ability to alter the way iOS (and thus, the iPhone itself) works. Is that reasonable? Can the government actually require a private firm to fundamentally change the way they do business, create products and market them?
The next thing everyone seems to be missing is that the government has massive signals intelligence infrastructure. It includes the NSA, CIA, DIA, as well as the FBI and 12 other agencies you might not have heard of. A major part of signals intelligence is code-breaking. By demanding Apple break their encryption, the United States Intelligence Community is announcing to the world they are incapable of cracking the code themselves.
The Director of National Intelligence’s counterparts in Beijing, Tehran and Moscow must be laughing themselves silly at the admission.
Now, this might sound ludicrous, but it seems to me that a government that spends $4 trillion every year can come up with $600 to buy an iPhone and have one of their ace code-breakers get past the iOS encryption. If they can’t, then we need to seriously ask why people aren’t being fired.
Finally, the last thing everyone seems to be missing is what having the iOS code broken and in the public domain would mean for privacy and security in the digital age. This isn’t like asking for the key to a locked room. The reality is that most of us have our entire lives on our phones. Everything from sensitive financial data to our Facebook profiles live in the bits and bytes of data stored on them. The government is asking Apple to provide a tool that would allow everyone access to everything stored there. Additionally, if your one of the millions of users who’ve stored things in the cloud, that data would also be available to anyone with a $10 NFC reader and 30 seconds to get close enough to pull it from your phone. The concept of privacy would be moot.
It’s a lot to digest. But what many in the media and government want to portray as relatively simple is anything but.
So, Ted Cruz has started surging into Donald Trump’s self-declared country, the land of the public opinion poll, and the Donald isn’t happy. As is his wont, the Donald unleashed an ad hominem attack on Senator Cruz. Unlike poor Jeb Bush (weak! low energy!) or Rand Paul, Trump couldn’t attack Cruz based on any outward attributes. He can’t somehow claim that poor polling should relegate Cruz to being a “loser.” In fact, Trump was forced to admit that Cruz is gaining in the polls – something that galls the GOP’s favorite narcissist to no end.
No, Trump decided to attack Cruz on the only thing he can hope to make stick: that because Cruz wasn’t born in a state, he is ineligible for the Presidency. Never mind that only 3 months ago Trump was saying it was a non-issue. Donald has gone full “birther” before on a political opponent, one whom he once fully supported: Barack Obama. That he’s going down that path again shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Trump (and the other birthers, who this time largely reside in the Democrat Party) are focusing their attention on Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution. The applicable part reads as follows:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
The contention lies in the phrase, “natural born citizen.” What exactly does that mean?
Regardless of Trump’s reason for raising this as an issue, he inadvertently has brought up a question that needs to be answered. The fact that there is any doubt over who is a natural born citizen highlights how the lack of civics education in our schools has left even the most basic knowledge of how our government is designed to work untaught. No wonder we keep electing would-be petty dictators who prefer executive orders to actually working within the Constitutional framework.
People rightly point out that the Constitution does not define who qualifies as a natural born citizen. Not unlike other areas in our founding document, the framers sought to leave grey areas for future Congresses to address, modify and change as time went along. They were pretty prescient, for a bunch of 18th century farmer-philosophers, in recognizing that as the country grew we might well need to change the mechanics of citizenship. This is why they granted Congress, in Article 1, Section 8, the final say over citizenship matters.
So, the question of who is a natural born citizen is not a Constitutional matter. It is a statutory one. Congress has the ability to define who is born a citizen, and it has the ability to define who is a naturalized citizen. In one important aspect, the Constitution was amended to define anyone born in the United States a citizen, regardless of parentage or circumstance:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Now the entire question of Senator Cruz’ eligibility comes down to this: his mother was an American citizen who birthed Ted in another country; Canada, to be exact. Has Congress ever enacted a statute that defines someone of that circumstance as a citizen?
Well, sorry conspiracy nuts and Trumpsters. Yes, in 1952, the Congress enacted 8 US Code 1401, “Nationals and Citizens of United States at Birth.” It covers the exigencies of Ted Cruz’ birth: his mother was a US citizen, his father a legal alien, both had resided in the United States prior to the birth.
The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property;
(c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;
(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States…
Question closed. Ted Cruz is eligible, by statute and under Article 2 of the US Constitution, to be President of the United States.
Now that I have your attention…
You’ll have to excuse me, but it looks to me like the liberal loony bin that’s been in charge of things for the last quarter century has finally blown their last gasket. The saddest part of it is that so many of you out there are buying the idiocy they’re selling.
I’m referring to the argument they’ve put forth that we need to willingly rescind our rights in exchange for the presumption of safety. Never mind that there is no way to be “safe” in a world where there are close to a billion people who want you dead simply because you breathe. I’m not even going to bother shooting that argument full of holes. Anyone who thinks safety can be purchased by compliant subjugation should probably be killed, anyway. They’re already brain dead.
The latest attempt at subverting the Constitution (and, not so incidentally, the very principles the Nation was founded upon) comes in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA. Before the smoke had cleared, the liberal vanguard was literally yelling about restricting gun rights. Never mind the facts – which as the hours wore on, made it increasingly clear it was a terrorist attack – the only thing the left saw was an opportunity to play on the understandable fear and revulsion the attack created. And the drumbeat has only intensified in the days since. Indeed, the quasi-communists in the media and government have hardly acknowledged the fact that it was a pair of Muslim jihadists who shot up that conference room. Instead, we get the President lecturing us about “common sense gun safety laws.” We get the flagship of liberal bias in the media, the NY Times, running their first page 1 editorial in 95 years, demanding that Americans voluntarily ignore the 2nd Amendment.
Perhaps no line in that op-ed better summed up the liberals derision of the idea of inalienable rights than this:
“No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.”
When I read that, I nearly puked. I’m serious. It made me physically ill. No right is unlimited? Rights can – and in the Times’ view, should – be regulated? Excuse me , but WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, over? This is still the United States, right? Is this still the country who fought for independence over the idea that rights are immutable and the entire purpose of government is to ensure they are neither limited nor regulated?
There is nonsense, and then there is dangerous nonsense. This type of misinformation is not only dangerous, but seditious. Don’t think so? Which other rights should be regulated and limited? Of course, we’ve seen other manifestations of this thinking since 9/11. There is the Patriot Act, subverting the 4th and 7th Amendments. We’ve had the Department of Justice arguing before the Supreme Court that 1st Amendment protections of religious practice should be subsumed to the greater good. Likewise, The DoJ has filed arguments against the free exercise of political speech. We’ve had this very President argue that the right to life doesn’t exist – he has the authority to launch drone strikes on unarmed Americans.
Enough is enough. A gun is nothing more than a machine built of metal, wood and plastic. A right is a permanent gift from God. If either of those concepts fill you with enough fear that you’re willing to become a midless drone, then you have no business calling yourself an American. You are nothing more than a lilly-livered communist wannabe and I am asking you – nicely – to get the fuck out of my country. Because quite frankly, if you’re that afraid of inanimate objects, you’re going to be too much of a coward to fight in the war that was thrust upon us. And if you’ve lost sight of the very principles that separate Americans from the rest of humanity, then you’ve lost the privilege of calling yourself an American.
The gun grabbers are out in force.
Yes, there was another shooting on a school campus. Yes, the gun used was legally obtained. Yes, it shows that for all the attempts to date to restrict gun ownership, bad guys can still get their hands on firearms.
Rather than admit the folly of their attempts to prevent Americans from owning a weapon, the gun grabbers are doubling down on their attempts to take weapons away. They’re doing this, despite admissions that none of their proposals would have prevented the most recent tragedies. Once again, though, they are making an emotional appeal: “Guns are evil” they cry. “Why do gun owners need these guns?” they ask.
Once again, the left wing is out to deny Americans a God-given, Constitutionally guaranteed right, all in the name of saving us from ourselves. The arguments they’re using are no different than the ones they’ve trotted out to try and deny us the ability to purchase a 32 ounce soda, a juicy prime rib or a McDonald’s Happy Meal. The offending item is bad for you, ergo, it should be banned!
Here’s the thing we seem to have forgotten in liberal land: the government shouldn’t be the instrument that restricts anyone’s right to ownership of anything. The Constitution was written with three goals in mind: First, to ensure the federal government could pay the bills. Second, to provide a way for the states to work out their differences. Finally, and perhaps most important, to ensure the individual liberties that all Americans enjoy. It’s this final point that has been slowly eroded, in the name of “responsible governance”. That’s code for protecting us from ourselves.
Should the Founders come to visit us today, undoubtedly they would be shocked. Shocked by the sheer number of regulations and laws to which we have willingly subjected ourselves. Shocked that the American character is no longer identified by self-reliance and responsibility. They would doubtless be amazed by their descendants willingness to cede rights for which they fought and died to the federal government.
This is the sad state to which we’ve arrived. This latest tragedy is a perfect example. The gunman’s own parents continuously abdicated their responsibility, not only to their son, but to their fellow citizens. Why? Both parents were well aware of their son’s propensity to violence and his mental health issues. Yet, his mother kept those weapons in the house and his father had the temerity to suggest that the government failed – by not having stricter gun laws, by not institutionalizing his son. One has to ask, if the father had been more than a sperm donor, would the son have been so screwed up? If the mother had said, “gee, my son has some serious issues – maybe I should store my weapons elsewhere” would he have had access? But nobody seems to be asking those questions. A little responsibility would go further towards preventing not only this tragedy, but the vast majority of these incidents.
Nope, it’s far easier to say we have to “do something.” We have to take away your guns, because some people are irresponsible. Your rights are abridged because I need a political soundbite, even though I know that even outright confiscation of private weapons won’t stop the madness.
Not quite 24 hours ago, America witnessed another maniac venting his anger at unarmed students.
The President would have you believe the cure for this is more restrictions on gun ownership, a bigger police state and further curtailing of Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. I suppose now that his time as would-be king is coming to an end, he feels pressure to enact one more nation changing agenda. Let’s not forget, this is the same guy, who in 2008, declared that Americans are “bitter” and we insist on “clinging” to our guns and religion. Since assuming office, he’s engaged in virtual warfare on the religion front. His attempts to to do so on the guns front have largely been stymied, but Obama is a true believer in never letting a good tragedy go to waste. He attempted to politicize tragedy after Newtown. Yesterday, before the blood had even dried on the pavement and before anyone knew who the shooter or his possible motivation might be, he took to his podium and declared open war on any American who does not believe in the saintliness of government intrusion.
What the President, and the rest of the progressive sycophants, fail to understand is that it is their undermining of American culture that is primarily responsible for these tragedies. The problem isn’t that criminals have guns. The problem is that law-abiding citizens do not have guns, nor are they properly trained in their use. UCC is a “gun-free” zone, meaning that any law-abiding citizen who owns a weapon cannot bring it onto campus. Of course, those with bad intent never worry about bringing along their weapons to further their heinous agendas. Net result: bad guys 22, good guys 0.
Now, let’s stop to consider the alternative. Suppose even one student, teacher, or administrator had been properly armed and trained. Suppose, instead of giving the lone security guard on campus a radio, he had a sidearm. The police response, after the 911 call, took less than 5 minutes. That’s an exceptional response (here in my little corner of liberal land, the police generally take about ten minutes to respond) and I commend the local law enforcement folks for it. However, that’s 5 minutes of shooting that would not have happened, had an armed response been available on campus.
More gun control is not the answer, for two reasons the President and his minions would need to crawl out of the ivory tower to understand. First, the most recent shooting incidents were perpetrated by people who had passed the background checks needed to legally purchase firearms. That means, quite frankly, that the intended purpose of the gun control laws we have (preventing criminals from buying guns) are a complete failure. Of course, the real push isn’t for making guns harder to get, but outlawing them entirely. Which brings us to the second point: you can’t prevent criminals from obtaining weapons by making the legal purchase of said weapons illegal.
I live in one of those states that has ridiculously restrictive laws on gun ownership. Here in the Garden State, to legally purchase a firearm, I not only need to pass the FBI background check, but I’m restricted as to who can sell me said weapon, who can sell me ammunition for said firearm and who I can sell said firearm to should I decide I no longer want it. Obtaining a CCW permit is virtually impossible; even OCW permits are hard to come by. In order to transport my weapon, the state requires me to unload the weapon, place it into a locked box and then put that box in the trunk of my car. I also happen to live in a city that places further restrictions on my weapons: I’m supposed to keep them in a gun safe, unloaded, with the ammunition stored in a separate location. Yet despite all of these restrictions, Newark suffered 4 more shootings last night (fortunately no one died), including a police officer being shot. Last year, 112 people were murdered in Newark; that’s ten times the national average murder rate. Or to put it another way, despite gun laws that all but prohibit gun ownership, you are ten times as likely to be murdered in Newark as you are anywhere else in the country. Know why? Because I can buy a weapon on the same corner I buy my milk, and almost as easily. $150 will get me a 9mm with two loaded, 12 round magazines. For comparison, that same setup would run me around $700 in a gun shop. Who has an easier time buying guns, the criminal or the lawful purchaser?
The problem isn’t guns or gun control – or even gun confiscation (and that is, after all, the final progressive aim). The problem lies in that we cannot know who truly has evil in their heart. No background check will tell us. Nor can you prevent those who intend harm from getting a weapon.
So, if you’re truly outraged by the violence, standing at a podium and railing at law-abiding Americans exercising their rights isn’t the way to do it. Instead, urge every law-abiding American to go purchase a weapon, learn how to use it and learn how to defend themselves. There is one thing I do know: the President has waged war on religion; resulting in an amoral society. And we’re going to see even more of these mass killings because of it.
This past weekend, we celebrated the creation of our nation. From the ashes of an oppressive dictatorship consumed with controlling every aspect of our ancestor’s lives, arose a nation dedicated to the idea that people should be free from government intrusion. Just review the Declaration of Independence. The 26 grievances listed by Thomas Jefferson can be summed up in one, general statement: we’re tired of being treated like little kids who need to have our every move and thought monitored.
So, how do you suppose Jefferson, Franklin and the Adams cousins would view this story? I suspect they would find the entire idea of the executive branch of the government convening a secret court to be ludicrous (after all, that was a specific complaint in the Declaration). I imagine they would then suppose that secret court demanding a publication reveal who it’s readers are, was some flight of fancy. How could such a thing exist in the country they swore their scared honor, treasure and lives to create?
Of course, the government insists such a thing is perfectly reasonable. After all, if not for the secret court, who will issue warrants against the terrorists? And the readers they’re after, of course they’re terrorists. No, not the radicalized Islamist kind of terrorist, but that other kind; the kind the government (and liberal intelligentsia) fears more: the red-blooded American! The one who might wonder what on earth the government is up to and why it’s doing what it does. The person who would have the temerity to demand the government be held accountable for its actions. Yes, that person is now declared a terrorist.
Imagine how dumbfounded the men who signed that piece of parchment 239 years ago would be at these actions of the government they created. After all, the government they sought to overthrow considered them terrorists, as well.
We’ve come full-circle. Perhaps, rather than simply wearing red, white and blue tee-shirts and marveling at fireworks, we should rededicate ourselves to this phrase:
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
We all know (or at least, should know) the words in the founding document of our great nation. But what do they mean? After all, the phrasing and terminology in the Declaration of Independence is undoubtedly mid-18th Century. To often today, words like “endowed” carry a different meaning than when Thomas Jefferson penned them. So here’s a 21st Century Translation. I hope you enjoy!
In Congress, July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
Throughout history, sometimes one group of people decide enough is enough and are ready to form their own country. When that happens, it’s only fair that the new country explain why it’s taking such a drastic step.
There are some things that are so obvious even a moron should understand them. For instance, everyone is equal in the eyes of God, Who has given us rights that no government can deny; these include such basics as living and breathing, the freedom to think, speak, worship and associate as we please, and the chance to find happiness. People create governments to safeguard these rights, but when that government either stops protecting their God-given rights, or actually works to prohibit their exercise, the people reserve the ability to get rid of it and replace it with a government that is dedicated to maintaining those rights. That’s a dramatic step, of course, and should only be done as a last resort. After all, people have shown tremendous resiliency despite suffering at the hands of unresponsive governments. But things have gotten out of hand. We’re being ruled by a dictator; one who’s been screwing with us for a long time already. It is our duty to get rid of him and his government and put in place one that will look after our safety and security, both now and in the future. Before you judge our actions too harshly, let us prove the ways the British king is ruling by tyranny:
We pass laws for the public good, he refuses to allow either us or his own governors to implement them.
In exchange for actually doing his job (you know, ruling), he demands we give up our right to legislative representation.
When he actually does allow the people’s legislature to meet, it’s only at such oddball times and in such out of the way places as to make getting a quorum impossible.
Because our legislatures dare oppose the king’s usurpation’s of our rights, he keeps closing them down. Then, he refuses to allow a new legislature to be elected – even if that means nobody has any idea who’s in charge.
He’s even gone so far as to actively work to depopulate our States and then refuse to allow new people to settle here.
He’s refused to allow us to set up courts and judges for trying criminals. Instead, he’s put his cronies on the judicial bench and their only concern is whatever he tells them to do.
He’s ballooned the bureaucracy, with the express purpose of harassing us to the point of insanity.
The King has stationed a large standing army among our civilian population, even though we are supposedly at peace. This army is not subject to civilian authority and can even override decisions made by civilian authority. As if that wasn’t enough, his army can take over any citizen’s house for their own use, and he’s given it free reign to murder anyone with impunity. Oh, he claims his murderous soldiers are held to account. But it’s always a sham trial, with a king-appointed judge finding the offending soldier innocent.
He refuses to let us buy or sell any goods beyond our own borders.
He imposes new taxes and raises old ones, without regard to whether we can pay them and without even asking us first.
He seizes dissidents and takes them to Great Britain, to be sentenced in sham trials.
He’s dissolved our local state governments, abolished our laws and instituted absolute rule in our communities.
He’s declared war on us, his own subjects and said we are no longer protected by his absolute power and authority.
He’s plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people.
Even now, he is sending huge mercenary armies to kill and maim us, rape our women and act with all the cruelty imagined by man over the centuries, establishing a reign of terror totally unbecoming a civilized ruler.
He’s even forced our citizens to fight in his armies and navies against their families and friends, under pain of death. He’s also sent the merciless Indians to utterly destroy our frontier outposts, killing everyone they come across, be they man, woman, or child, even if disabled.
Even while we’ve been subjected to this level of oppression, we’ve tried to reason with the king. But every time we’ve asked him to put an end to this madness, his response has been to escalate the torture, murder and repression further. A tyrant like this king simply isn’t fit to be anyone’s leader.
We’ve also tried to reach out to the British people. After all, we are supposed to be fellow citizens of the Empire. We’ve tried explaining to them that the actions taken by the king are not in keeping with our shared traditions, or English common law, but they seem to neither care nor consider us brothers. This leaves us no choice but to recognize them as a foreign people, and as with all foreigners, they will be our enemies in war and our friends in peace.
Therefore, this Congress, the duly elected representatives of the People of these former British colonies, with the moral authority given us by God himself, declare that we are no longer colonies. We are free and independent States, as granted by God. We no longer have any allegiance to the British crown, nor do we recognize any political or military authority of Great Britain over our territories or lives. As free and independent states, we reserve the ability to declare wars, levy taxes, create alliances, establish trade and do all those things any independent state can do. So help us God, we swear this Declaration on our honor, understanding that in so doing we may forfeit our lives and our fortunes.
A traffic post from a fellow blogger, explaining why the theory of government usually diverges from the reality of government. It is a lesson our Founding Fathers understood and tried to incorporate into our Constitution.
I guarantee they never saw the likes of the 16th and 17th Amendments, whose combined effect has been to destroy the idea of limited government they put into action.
I penned the following letter to the Honorable Christopher Christie, Governor of the State of New Jersey. I thought all of you might want to read it, as well.
Dear Governor Christie:
I am writing to bring your attention to the case of MGySgt Richard Zahn (retired), USMC. I consider it probable that you are personally unaware of his situation, otherwise I cannot believe you would allow him to be in his current circumstances.
MGySgt Zahn is currently incarcerated at the Bergen County Jail, having been convicted of several weapons offenses. Yet, the conviction and offenses are related to his defending himself from a known member of the Latin Kings street gang while in New Jersey to visit his ailing (since deceased) mother. His weapon was never discharged, and in point of fact, his actions that day led to a de-escalation of what would have otherwise been a tragic and lethal encounter.
MGySgt Zahn has served this nation with distinction for nearly 40 years. In his 26 years as an active duty Marine, he deployed into combat on 5 occassions and earned more commendations than can be listed here. They include two Purple Hearts for combat injuries and a Bronze Star. Since his retirement, MGySgt Zahn worked with Homeland Security, training FBI agents and other LEOs (including our own State Police) in anti-terrorism tactics and techniques. For his efforts and success in this work, he received a personal commendation from Louis Freeh. He has also received personal letters of commendation from the Commandant of the Marine Corps (and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) Gen. James Dunford and Gen. James Mattis, former commander of USCentCom.
Given your strong positions against terrorism and the threats it poses to our nation, I’m certain you are aware that anyone receiving these types of personal commendations cannot be someone of poor character, or someone who is given to making rash and impetuous decisons that would risk public safety. That MGySgt Zahn is sitting behind bars for simply doing as he was trained – and has trained others – to do is a miscarriage of justice. Worse, it’s an affront to every law abiding citizen in the United States. Further, I know as a former prosecutor, once you’ve reviewed his case you’ll be left to wonder why (as have many thousands of citizens around the country) it was ever brought to trial. You might also want to note that his case is beginning to receive national attention. The kind of attention that is not doing our state’s reputation any good.
Do the right and honorable thing, Governor. Pardon MGySgt Zahn and have him released today.
Once again, if you haven’t signed the petition demanding Chris Christie pardon Rich Zahn, you can find it here. Please do so soon. The more pressure we bring to bear on the Governor, the better. That any man should sit behind bars in these United States simply because he uses a weapon to defend himself is insane. If that person happens to be a true American hero, like Rich Zahn, and we do nothing to defend him, then we shouldn’t be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.
Yesterday, I brought you the story of Master Gunnery Sergeant (retired) Richard Zahn and his ridiculous imprisonment, all because an overzealous prosecutor, a soviet-style liberal judge and the New Jersey legislature’s paranoia about guns formed into a perfect storm around his case. Many of you have reached out in support of Rich Zahn, and for that I thank you. But one person sent me this link and my sense of bewilderment and outrage got sparked all over again.
This is a case that has received some notoriety, although I admit I was unaware of it until I opened that link. It concerns Michael Giles, a US Air Force airman who became entangled in a bar brawl – and as a result, is now spending 25 years in a Florida prison for the crime of defending himself. Although there are differences between his story and that of Rich Zahn’s, there are some striking similarities:
- Both men are combat veterans and career military.
- Both men found themselves in unwanted, potentially lethal situations.
- Both men used a licensed firearm to defend themselves.
- Both men found themselves victimized twice, first by their attacker and later by misguided anti-gun laws.
Here’s a synopsis of Michael’s story. In 2010, he and some friends went to a bar in the Tampa area. Two rival fraternities were also at that bar and a brawl broke out between them. Michael and his friends left the bar but became separated in the melee, at which point Michael retrieved his weapon from their vehicle. As he turned to look for his friends, he found himself in a crowd of approximately 40 brawling men. Somebody hit him from behind, knocking him to the ground and as they were getting ready to follow-up the assault, Michael fired once, striking him in the leg.
None of this is in dispute. During his trial, even his assailant admitted to an unprovoked attack with intent to do Michael serious bodily harm. It’s a clear cut case of self defense, or at least it should be. Except, he used a firearm – and the prosecutor flat-out said that was the crime. In fact, the prosecutor tried to make the case that because Michael used a firearm to defend himself, he was guilty of attempted murder. I do not know the prosecutor’s motivation in making that charge. Perhaps he thinks all career military types are capable of defeating 40 angry, drunk brawlers with their bare-hands. Maybe he thinks Michael received some sort of specialized training from Chuck Norris. It could be he thought, being in the Air Force, Michael could call in a flight of A-10’s to quell the mini-riot.
But here’s what I do know. Michael Giles used a firearm to defend himself and is now spending 25 years behind bars. Richard Zahn used a firearm to defend himself and is now spending 5 years behind bars. The linkage is unmistakable: if you dare to assert your Second Amendment rights, expect some liberal in the criminal justice system to hammer you like a nail. In wacky liberal land, the only thing worse than a gun is the person who actually uses a gun to defend themselves or others. Better you should be a rotting corpse on a slab, I suppose.
That these two outstanding citizens are facing this nightmare is what the insanity of the left is doing to our country, and it’s time we put an end to it. So what can you do? First, let’s get these guys out of prison. If you haven’t signed Rich Zahn’s petition yet, you can find it here. And you can find Michael Giles’ here. Next, it’s time to get rid of these ridiculous anti-gun laws that turn law-abiding citizens into criminals, simply because they dare to defend themselves. These two cases give us two places to start, New Jersey and Florida. As luck would have it, these also are two states that have governors seeking national prominence and who claim to be staunch conservatives. I say it’s time to put them to the test. Write, call, organize protests at the state house steps. Let’s let Chris Christie and Rick Scott know that the time for talk is over. It’s time to actually do something.
And in the meantime, they can use their executive powers to let two unjustly convicted comabt veterans go home to their families.
Within 16 hours of my writing this, it seems certain the Grand Exalted Emperor of North America, Barack Hussein Obama, will have used his pen-and-phone strategy to effectively legalize some 5 million illegal immigrants. The hand wringing in the countryside is palpable. What do we do with this guy?
I propose the answer is actually simple. Ignore him. Much like the adolescent throwing temper tantrums because he doesn’t get his way, what we’re witnessing today from the Great One is a spoiled brat getting his comeuppance. And as any parent will you, the most effective way to deal with a brat is to ignore him. Don’t punish him. Don’t spank him. Just…ignore him. It is the absolute thing a self-centered, pompous ass cannot stand.
As to ignoring him, that’s far easier than one might think. His party has been relegated to a bunch of political back benchers, unable to advance an agenda and much less devote energy to defending a President many dislike. When he takes to the bully pulpit, his speeches are already met with a cross of derision and disbelief. The rest of the world looks upon Team Obama with, at best, patronizing disregard.
Obama isn’t completely toothless, of course. He can convince the Iranians to go ahead and build nukes, plunging what’s left of Mideast stability down the toilet. He can sic the machinery of government on his domestic enemies – something he’s already done with seeming glee. Worst of all, he can rely on his sycophants in the MSM to provide him with more face time than he deserves.
But still, when even the pols in your party are doing their best to already ignore you in the quest to coronate Hillary, you’re already borderline irrelevant. Oh, and checking back to the beginning: go ahead and announce you won’t deport those 5 million illegals. We already know the reality was you were never going to deport them anyway. The only person you’ve fooled is the guy starting back at you in the mirror.
There is a fair amount of outrage after video surfaced of President Obama saluting the Marine guarding Marine One with a coffee cup.
Sadly, I don’t get outraged by his highness’ failure to properly render a salute any longer. I expect nothing more from the Buffoon in Charge than a classless display of disrespect towards the Nation and the people who’ve sworn an oath to defend her. We’ve had 6 years of watching him improperly salute the flag and our troops, 6 years of his administration denigrating the very concept of service, duty and honor. 6 years of him kow-towing to foreign leaders.
But beyond the symbols of respect toward the United States that Obama and his minions routinely trample, there are the actions they’ve undertaken that demonstrate the sneering derision they have for their country. He’s complained on many occasions about being “constrained” by the Constitution. Then there are the three grievous inactions that are indicative of his attitude towards the people who believe in America.
First, there is the Benghazi debacle. Rather than order aid and assistance to a consulate under siege, Obama ordered the exact opposite. And then went off to play cards and take a nap. In the meantime, 4 honorable Americans were beaten, tortured and murdered. The administration’s attitude can neatly be summed up by Hillary’s response before Congress; “What difference does it make?”
Second, there’s the case of Marine Sgt. Tamhooressi, held captive in a Mexican prison since this past spring. Not only has the White House failed to get him released, they haven’t even tried. Apparently, appeasing Mexican pride is preferable to a little arm-twisting.
And finally, we’ve got the mess at the VA. Despite years of promises of finally getting the VA to at least act like they care about America’s veterans, what we got was an administration that willfully turned a blind eye to the abuses. It was only when the politics became unmanageable, when the deaths of thousands of American veterans at the hands of the VA made headlines, that they at least made an appearance of honoring our service. Of course, now that the furor has subsided, the VA has merrily returned to killing veterans.
There are literally dozens of other examples. But you get the point. This guy doesn’t see anything wrong with rendering a Starbucks salute, because he doesn’t respect the men and women who’ve selected honor and duty and personal sacrifice. He doesn’t respect them because he can’t understand why anyone thinks the United States of America is worth making that kind of commitment towards. Asking him to respect something he can’t understand is asking too much.
I recently got into a bit of a Facebook kerfluffle. The reason is, I re-posted the following statement from a fellow veteran:
“This is how I feel when a civilian thanks me for my service and protecting our “freedom”. I do my best not to go high and right as I kindly explain to them “You’re welcome, however no one in the military is protecting your freedom. If they were, they would have cleaned out Washington DC years ago. How many “terrorists” have limited, restricted or taken away your Constitutional rights? The military may at times temporarily provide for your safety and security, but they don’t do shit to protect your freedom… Get my point”
I realize this POV is probably more than a little unsettling to most of you, so allow me to explain why there are quite a few of vets who feel this way.
Let me start at the very beginning. Every person who enlists in any military service is required to take the following oath:
“I,<state your name>, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
The bit about defending the Constitution, and bearing true faith and allegiance to it, would certainly make it seem like the enlistee was fired up about defending our liberties and freedoms. And most are. Yes, during my tour of duty I met plenty of people who initially enlisted for a variety of reasons, and those weren’t always the most altruistic. But it becomes nearly impossible to survive basic training without believing you’re putting yourself through hell for a damned good cause.
But you’ll also notice that the enlistee also swears to take orders from the President and the officers the President appoints over the enlistee. That makes virtually every military order also a political order. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s worked out well for most of our history. After all, there are plenty of republics that devolved into military dictatorship precisely because the military was not under control of the political institutions, or became factionalized under different political elements. The Founders were well aware of the dangers a politically isolated military would pose to a republic, and ensuring the military remained subservient to the political machinery was another genius stroke they had.
But the downside to this arrangement is what we’ve experienced over the past 15 years or so. The military has always been used by US Presidents as a foreign policy political tool (what exactly do you think Teddy Roosevelt was referring to as the “Big Stick”?). Throughout our history, though, most Presidents have used military action to either (a) defend or evacuate American citizens abroad or (b) prosecute actions against declared enemies of the US, which would also make them enemies of the US Constitution. But beginning with the Presidency of George W. Bush, America’s military was tasked with a new role: prosecuting military actions against…well, they still aren’t sure, really.
The ambiguity came after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Prior to that date, terrorists were considered criminals, regardless of where they hailed from. Even those sponsored by foreign governments, such as the group that went around bombing German discos in the mid-80’s. The response was unerring, and consistent: hunt and prosecute the terrorists legally while holding the foreign government militarily responsible. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush made a tenuous argument that the government of Iraq was responsible and invaded. But rather than hunt down the remaining members of Al-Qaeda for legal prosecution, we also invaded Afghanistan, also on the tenuous precept that their lack of a stable government allowed the terrorists to establish a de facto government.
At the same, a series of civil liberty circumventing statutes were passed and signed into law: everything from the Patriot Act and “enhanced interrogations” to warrantless wiretapping and travel restrictions were enacted. These were political decisions, which have not had political consequences for the enactors. Indeed, President Obama has actually curtailed civil liberties even further and set the table for his successor to all but abolish the Bill of Rights, should he choose.
The military, being under the control of the body politic, has had virtually no choice but to snap to and salute as these abuses take place. Their only alternatives are to either raise concerns about the political situation or mutiny. The first option, historically, has never been met by the public with much sympathy. Not that there haven’t been quite a few courageous officers who’ve tried to question under what authority the President and Congress are deriving their extra-constitutional powers, but these men and women were quietly shown the door. These people understand the military is no longer defending the Constitution, but instead defending the political process that is allowing the Constitution to be shredded bit by bit.
As for a mutiny, that remains highly unlikely. The idea of armed soldiers marching on Capitol Hill and the White House remains unfathomable to not only most Americans but most of the Americans in uniform. Again, it would be bucking nearly 240 years of history and tradition. Of course, the Romans couldn’t imagine a military leader crossing the Rubicon with an armed legion – until they clamored for Julius Caesar to do just that.
I wonder: how close are we to an armored division crossing the Potomac?