It’s not just the military

A former Naval officer makes an observation in The Atlantic magazine:

I spent nine years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. I served as an aircraft commander, led combat reconnaissance crews, and taught naval history. But the first thing I did upon joining the military, the act that solemnized my obligation, was swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. How strange, then, that despite all of my training, the millions of taxpayer dollars devoted to teaching me how to fly, lead, and teach, not once did I receive meaningful instruction on the document to which I had pledged my life.

It’s a fair statement.  I’ve always been interested in the history of our nation and its institutions, so when I served on active duty I had a fairly solid knowledge of our Constitution.  It surprised me how many others did not — and moreover, how many didn’t care.  A member of one of the teams I once led was an enlisted legal resident from the Philippines (did you know citizenship is not required for military service?  You do now…).  She was studying for her citizenship exam, and we were all cheering for her to complete that lengthy process.  Out of curiosity, I asked to see the study materials she’d been given.  It was fairly detailed, and I realized if she mastered it she’d likely have a better grasp of how our nation is supposed to function than most high school graduates do today.  (This is why LEGAL immigration processes and paths to citizenship, rather than amnesties, are important).  For fun, I tossed a few basic questions from the book out to the rest of the team, and was disappointed in how little they could answer.  Like the author of the linked article, I reminded them they’d sworn an oath to protect the Constitution, so they might want to know what’s in it.

The military is in many ways a reflection of the society from which it’s drawn, and this is but one example.  There is a glaring lack of basic understanding of our institutions, particularly among those who are handed the privilege of voting at the tender age of 18.  I taught High School for a year after leaving the military.  The seniors I had for Government were roundly disinterested in the subject (to be fair, they weren’t thrilled with many others, either).  I explained they wouldn’t play any of their sports without knowing the rules.  So why were they content to begin adult life without knowing them?  Frankly, it was a depressing experience.

Almost 2,500 years ago, one of the most successful republics in history inscribed 12 tablets with basic social laws, and placed them in a public forum for all citizens to see.  This action did not create a utopia, of course, and by today’s standards some of the laws are quite questionable.  But it did foster an idea later expressed as “lex rex”  (“the law rules”), as opposed to governance being merely the whimsy of those in power.  Though that republic later fell into tyranny and then disarray, later documents such as the Magna Carta continued this line of thought: that there were limits even to a king’s power.

What limits today do Americans recognize on Uncle Sam and his little cousins, the States?  Can Sam simply take your money without due process?  What about your home?  Is the 2nd Amendment subject to curtailment by the States?  Did the writers of the Constitution intend for the government to be a dispenser of welfare?  Are we supposed to have equal justice under the law, or is your risk of prosecution for similar offenses dependent on whether you are a former deputy FBI director or someone working for a president who acts as an ‘outsider?’

Short of the Bible, there is no more important document in our society’s fabric than our Constitution.  Yet the average American today is alarmingly ignorant of both.  Is it any wonder our nation is so troubled?

Slandering America

An estimated 22,000 people, many of them armed, descended on Richmond Monday to demonstrate their support of the Second Amendment in the face of efforts by Virginia Democrats to curtail constitutional rights.  Only one arrest was made (most likely Antifa-related), and the peaceful, if loud, crowds were even seen picking up their trash, reminescent of the Tea Party rallies of a few years ago.

Many on the left and in the media (but I repeat myself) are visibly disappointed that their hype of a violent “white nationalist” threat was dashed against the reality of a gathering of responsible Americans from all walks of life.  They certainly had tried to fan the flames.

Here’s one of those “white nationalists” speaking for himself today (click here for video):

2A

The powers that be will do anything, say anything, to undermine America and all it stands for. Ignore the mainstream media. Dig for the ground truth.

American extinction

A trio of reads, looking at current trends from different lenses:

First, the Wall Street Journal notices how changing demographics are influencing the future of our politics:

For years, the establishment media has admitted that the nation’s changing electorate — almost entirely due to mass legal immigration — is dooming the Republican Party in elections across Orange County, California, and now, Virginia.

Under current legal immigration levels, the U.S. is on track to import about 15 million new foreign-born voters in the next two decades. Those 15 million new foreign-born voters include about eight million who will arrive in the country through chain migration, whereby newly naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the country…

Ronald Brownstein, senior editor for The Atlantic, notes that nearly 90 percent of House congressional districts with a foreign-born population above the national average were won by Democrats. This means that every congressional district with a foreign-born population exceeding roughly 14 percent had a 90 percent chance of being controlled by Democrats and only a ten percent chance of electing a Republican.

But immigration (legal and illegal) isn’t the only driver of this demographic change.  The original posterity of America’s founders, increasingly, isn’t showing up anymore:

The accentuated shift toward racial and ethnic diversity among the nation’s child population is not only driven by a growth in nonwhite racial and ethnic groups. It is also facilitated by a decline in young whites. Overall, the nation’s white population has grown tepidly–by 0.1% since 2010. It declined by 247,000 between 2016-2018 according to the new estimates. But the number of white children under age 15 has declined over the 2010-2018 year period by 2.2 million, continuing a trend already observed in the first decade of the century.

This decline in white youth reflects lower white birth rates. But more importantly for the long term, it reflects an aging of the white population that has led to proportionately fewer women in their childbearing years.

As a result of these trends, the very idea of American citizenship is being rendered moot:

Americans cherish their citizenship. ((I’m not sure that’s demonstrably true anymore — Jemison))  Yet they have all but lost it. The erosion of the citizen is insidiously accelerating in two quite different directions. It seems as if we are reverting to tribal pre-citizenship, in the manner of clan allegiances in the centuries before the rise of the Greek polis and the seventh-century-B.C. invention of the concept of the citizen (politês). Or perhaps the better comparison is to the fifth-century A.D., when northern nomadic ethnic bands crossed the Rhine and Danube and replaced the multiracially encompassing notion of “civis Romanus sum”—“I am a Roman citizen”—with tribal loyalties to fellow Goths, Huns, or Vandals…

…multiculturalism is retribalizing America, in the manner of the fragmentation and evaporation of the Roman Empire. Millions seem to owe their first loyalty to those who share similar ethnic, racial, or religious affinities rather than to shared citizenship, common traditions, and collective histories that transcend race, creed, and clan.

If we wonder why illegal alien residents who commit felonies are rarely deported or must be deported repeatedly, or why few college graduates know much about the Constitution and American history, or why loud social-justice-warrior athletes so eagerly mouth Chinese platitudes about curtailing free speech inside the United States, or why the protections offered by the First and Second Amendments depend largely on where you work or live, one of the reasons is because American citizenship as we once knew it is becoming meaningless.

I highly recommend reading and thinking about each of these linked pieces.  Those who foisted the Immigration Act of 1965 upon the country succeeded: they have dissolved the people and “elected” another… one less likely to oppose their anti-American agendas.

Deliverance or discipline

Every nation, every generation, faces the crossroads:

“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.  When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,  if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place…

But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.  And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’  Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers…”

Request: A weekend of prayer

The next couple of days may prove to be “the deep breath before the plunge.”  Not to be melodramatic, but as Gandalf told Pippin, “the board is set, the pieces are moving.”  I believe the weeks ahead, between now and the 2020 election, are some of the most critical our country has faced.  As many of our past leaders have noted, our greatest dangers come not from external enemies, but rather from within.

So how is the board set, and what pieces are in play?  First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a public statement today, finally publicly directed her party’s committee chairs to begin drafting formal articles of impeachment against President Trump, despite the fact any fair observer of the “inquiry” thus far would note it has hurt, rather than helped, their case.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced the committee will hold hearings toward that end, beginning Monday morningBut that’s not the only piece moving on Monday.  That same day, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is scheduled to finally release the report on his investigation into possibly serious improprieties by the previous administration to justify spying on the Trump campaign in 2016.  These are suspected to include, according to many sources, FBI personnel tampering with interview documentation and concealing potentially exculpatory evidence from their requests to the FISA Court for warrants on various Trump allies.  The IG’s semiannual report to Congress at the end of September noted it had 48 open cases regarding official misconduct by Department of Justice employees.  It’s not unreasonable to think that might be related.  The new report due Monday is rumored to be around 1,000 pages.  As some commentators have noted, it doesn’t take 1,000 pages to say there was no wrongdoing.  But if one is making a detailed case… or in fact has already referred charges to U.S. Attorney John Durham for prosecution, such a lengthy report would be expected.

The release of the report will be followed by an appearance by IG Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, two days after the report’s release.  These two dates — December 9th and 11th — have been public for a while.  So it’s likely not a coincidence Speaker Pelosi told her House to get moving with impeachment today.  The Democrats’ own day of reckoning may be imminent, and it’s been clear this week they’ve been counter-programming the public narrative against any potential negative revelations.

What I can’t understand is why the Democrats would formally impeach the president, forcing a trial before the GOP-controlled Senate.  The Democrats have been patently unethical in their conduct of the “inquiry” to date, refusing to allow the GOP to call their own witnesses (with one exception), limiting GOP members’ access to interviews and documentation, and generally riding roughshod over any notions of fairness to the accused.  This, of course, is now standard procedure for the Left (see: Brett Kavanaugh).  Pelosi’s partisans deliberately have presented a warped, one-sided perspective of the issues at hand (much as they’re alleged to have done with the FISA Court), and their allies in the press have been their megaphone.  Representative Nadler’s opening assertion that “the facts are not in dispute” is about as true as “the science is settled” when it comes to global warming climate change climate crisis.

The Senate, as the Founders intended, tends to be more sober and dignified about such things, so there’s not likely to be a “payback is a b–ch” approach to their own proceedings when the ball lands in their court.  But I strongly suspect there’ll be a concerted effort to make sure America gets, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.”  That possibility alone should make the Democrats think twice about handing off the baton to the Senate.  There’s already enough evidence that’s been made public that puts the lie to the narrative they’re selling.  But as Glenn Reynolds has said repeatedly about the odds of a Trump reelection, “all the Democrats have to do is not act crazy… and they can’t even do that.”  So here’s hoping they try to hand the Senate a lit stick of dynamite, only to have it blow up in their own face, like Wile E. Coyote.

While I could be wrong, I only see two possible outcomes at this point.  One is that the president is removed from office.  Such a result will, I believe, only convince many (including me) who love this country that it no longer represents them and will not tolerate them interfering with the agenda of their self-declared betters.  The Democrats underestimated the anger that helped propel Trump into office.  I don’t think they have any notion of the anger that would result from his removal, either.

The second outcome is for the administration to successfully pull the covers off the Deep State shenanigans that began even before Trump took office, and to do so in a way the public and press cannot ignore.  There is every reason to believe that if a full public accounting took place, the outcry for justice would be deafening.

Either way, the result will occur in a nation that is armed to the teeth.  I generally see that as a good thing.  But given the chasm that has opened among us, it’s also a sobering thing to remember.  Sure, the “side” I identify with likes to joke that we have most of the guns since the Left finds them icky.  I enjoy ribbing the other side as much as the next guy.  But as a historian I also know in 1860 both the Union and Confederates held each other in martial as well as social contempt, convinced the war would be quick and easy over their “deranged” opponents.  How’d that work out for them?  Most wars start with such ill-considered bravado.

The day may come when ballots fail and bullets are required, if we are to remain free.  Americans have faced such situations before, and must be prepared to face such again.  But let no one kid themselves about what that may mean for all we hold dear.

So I ask that this weekend be one of prayer — a deep breath before the plunge of next week.  Prayer for the truth to be fully revealed, no matter where it leads.  Prayer that our country will once again value truth over shading information for partisan or personal advantage.  Prayer for our leaders — on both sides of the aisle — that they will be honest with us, sober, and careful with the governance of our nation.  Prayer that our disputes will be resolved peacefully, rather than in the streets (*).  Prayer that for each of us, God may guide our words and our actions, balancing the requirements of justice and mercy, passion and restraint.  And most importantly, prayer that the Spirit may bring revival in this land, restoring the fellowship and discipleship of repentant believers that was so vital to its founding.  For everything, we are told, there is a season.  May God show us what this season is, and what is required of us in response.

God bless you, and God bless America.

(*) I believe many in our nation fail to realize how the peaceful resolution of the disputed election in 2000 was a historical anomaly for the world, and a testament to the strength of our society.  We should never take such for granted.  

When all politics aren’t, in fact, local

Former U.S. House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal is most commonly associated with asserting that “all politics is local.”  As we’ve moved away from Federalism and republicanism toward democratic homogenization in this country, I think that’s become less and less true:

Coloradans are drawing a line in the asphalt when it comes to California’s growing influence on their SUVs, trucks and votes.

The Colorado-based Freedom to Drive Coalition filed a lawsuit this month against the state’s adoption of California’s zero-emissions vehicle standards, arguing that the rules violate state law and would add thousands of dollars to the cost of the heavy-duty vehicles favored by drivers navigating Colorado’s snowy roads.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Electoral College are balking at the lopsided flood of cash pouring in from California to prevent Colorado voters from overturning the National Popular Vote bill, which Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed into law in March.

Figures compiled by Protect Colorado’s Vote show that more than 98% of the donations to Yes on National Popular Vote have been from Californians, while Coloradans have contributed 99% of the revenue raised to exit the compact.

“Obviously, California is incredibly engaged in getting Colorado’s votes,” said Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who heads the referendum campaign.

This situation exemplifies why the Electoral College was put into place.  Without it, just 9 States (California, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia and Florida) could elect the president, since they account for just over half the U.S. population.  Other States would become mere subsidiaries of one of these population centers.  Those who want the popular vote to prevail in presidential elections know they face an uphill battle to amend the Constitution.  Thus the “National Popular Vote” bill effort in many states, trying to put together a coalition to lump together a bunch of States to do what I believe to be an unconstitutional end-run around the Electoral College.

As the article above shows, what may work for California (and that’s arguable) may not apply to the conditions of another State, like Colorado.  This is one of many reasons the Founders intended most governance to be local (State and below), with the Federal government largely charged with handling the external affairs of the federation of States.  Too much of the divisiveness in this country is driven by efforts to impose “one size allegedly fits all” solutions from Washington, D.C. (or Sacramento, in this case).  What’s tragically ironic is that the loudest proponents of unitary government suddenly find their inner secessionist whenever the Federal Government goes against their agenda.  States like New York are passing local bills enshrining the legality of abortion, since many expect Roe v. Wade to be reviewed, revised or overturned in the next few years by a Supreme Court with more constitutional originalists on its bench.  The Left will stick up for “States’ rights” in such a scenario, but more times than not, they are happy to use Federal power to bludgeon the entire nation into compliance with their agenda.

Campaign financing has been another insidious erosion of local politics.  Note in the linked article who is funding the two sides of the National Popular Vote campaign.  Why are Californians allowed to contribute to campaigns in Colorado?  Another example is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes.  Once she won her primary in 2018, out-of-state money provided the majority of her general election campaign financing.  How does this square with the idea a ‘representative’ reflects local opinion and priorities?  (Spoiler: it doesn’t.)

What this does is turn every Congressional/Senatorial race into a national campaign.  We hear about the outsize influence of billionaires.  Well, guess who has the wherewithal to fund candidates all across the country?  That’s not the vision the Founders had in mind.  Want to reign in the influence of campaign contributions?  Two steps: only allow individual citizens (not corporations, PACs or any other organizational source) to contribute, and require them to contribute only to their State/local races.  As is often pointed out, only the office of the presidency was designed to be elected by the entire nation.  The current campaign financing model undermines that.

A truly federal system allows for variations and experimentation of policy to best meet local conditions and aspirations.  We have moved away from that to our great detriment.  How about some of that magic “diversity” when it comes to letting locals set their own agenda?  Save the Federal power for things that truly matter to everyone — like upholding the “Life” part of “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” by protecting the unborn.

How do we honor our dead?

Today – Memorial Day – is supposed to be a remembrance of all those who perished while serving in uniform, defending this nation.  It’s fitting that we have such a day.

But do we really honor our fallen?  This picture captures well the fact that today’s peace is underpinned by yesterday’s carnage:

holding up society

Would you be incensed if the young man in jeans was wearing a swastika armband?  I’d venture most Americans would.  It would show an appalling lack of appreciation how many of the dead represented in the image died to destroy Hitler’s regime.  But what if the young lady were wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt?  Or if the child were dressed in the uniform of the Soviet-era Young Pioneers, complete with a badge picturing Lenin?

Continue reading