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.

They will stop at nothing

NBC floats the idea of declaring any reelection of Trump invalid on grounds those who support him are ‘racists:’

If the Trump era has taught us anything, it’s that large numbers of white people in the United States are motivated are motivated at least in part by racism in the voting booth…

Rather than excuse racist voters or try to figure out how to live with their choices, [Terry Smith, a visiting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law] argues that racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government, Smith says, has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.

Naturally, two of the proposed remedies are old standbys: eliminate ID requirements to vote, making vote fraud easier, and turn the Senate into another House of Representatives:

Because the majority of white voters in the South vote Republican, and because they outnumber black voters, there isn’t a single Democratic senator from the Deep South other than Doug Jones in Alabama, who may well lose his seat in 2020. Smith argues that we could remedy these disparate, racially motivated outcomes by creating Senate districts. Presumably, that would make it at least possible for black voters to elect a senator who would support their interests.

Translation: we’re not getting the outcomes we want, so let’s make it easier to commit vote fraud, and change the constitutional form of Congress so things might go our way.  I’ve said it before: the Left will delegitimize any institution they cannot control.  More importantly: who gets to determine if voters are casting “racist votes?”  Had Obama lost in either 2008 or 2012, would the learned Terry Smith say that outcome alone was proof of racist motivation (policy differences be damned), and invalidate the election?

This line of thought is very much in the mold of leftist revolutionaries who seek to have the public vote until they get it “right” — after which usually no more voting is allowed.  Ever. Make no mistake: the Left will not accept a Trump reelection, by any margin, however large.  Plan accordingly – November is not far away.

Decorum and Defeat

The Christianity Today news site weighs in on impeachment:

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

Translation: “yes, Trump managed to put a wedge between Planned Parenthood’s abortion empire and federal funding; yes, Trump has reversed some of Obama’s specific policy targeting of Christian groups; yes, minorities and the underprivileged are faring better economically than they have in ages; yes, Trump is completely reshaping the Federal judiciary by appointing people who respect the Constitution; yes, Trump is resetting trade policy to protect the U.S., and pressing allies to shoulder their share of the defense burden… despite all that, he’s crude, rude, uncouth and must be removed.”

In other words, better to go down to polite defeat than to get dirty while fighting.  What a joke.  I remind this magazine of the personality contrasts between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.  The former was fond of alcohol and cigars (which killed him), was notoriously unkempt, and lacked any political polish whatsoever.  In contrast, Lee was the so-called “marble man,” — the West Point graduate who did four years without a single demerit… the consummate gentleman of refined manners and a personal ethos that inspired others to follow him.

Lee lost.

When confronted after the battle of Shiloh about Grant possibly crawling back into the bottle, Lincoln refused to remove him, saying “I can’t spare him… he fights.”  For anyone who wants to see America safe and strong, the same is true of Trump.  I don’t idolize the man (or any other, for that matter).  But results matter.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address one other part of the editorial:

…the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

That is but one interpretation of what happened, and I don’t believe it to be the correct one.  Here’s an “unambiguous fact:” former Vice President Joe Biden openly (and profanely) admitted in a public forum that he withheld U.S. aid from the Ukraine until they agreed to fire a prosecutor.  One who just happened to be looking into a company for which Biden’s son was paid thousands a month to “consult,” despite having no relevant experience.  This is what Trump asked Ukraine to look into — whether the former U.S. vice president had abused his office.  Looking after the nation’s vital interests surely must include investigating possible corruption, right?

To the writers of the editorial, though, that’s abuse of power by Trump.  Sorry, that position is more alchemy than Christianity.  The same people screaming “no one is above the law” are also yelling it’s wrong to look into actions Biden has acknowledged, because he’s a presidential candidate.  So which is it?  Can one now avoid scrutiny simply by throwing their hat in the ring?  The writers of this editorial have swallowed a Democratic talking point without showing any discernment whatsoever.

It’s proper to be concerned about our witness, individually and as the Church.  And it’s a good thing to strive for leaders we can emulate.  We must be careful, however, of allowing the Enemy to use that concern to neuter effective resistance to godless globalism.  I hope Christianity Today is enjoying all the temporary plaudits they’re receiving from people who detest everything Christianity actually represents.  They fell for the trap, creating yet another crossfire that can only benefit the other side.

For all the public fables of Washington and the apple tree, or Lincoln and his log cabin, we never have or ever will elect a perfect man.  I would love Trump to be more Christ-like as a person.  But I need him to be an effective defender of America, its people and its traditions as a president.  I don’t know why that is so hard to figure out.

Echoes of Cromwell

So the House of Representatives stands adjourned, having failed to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for action.  You know, the articles that were so urgent they were rammed through in a party-line vote.  Mixed messages much?

Perhaps when Congress returns to town they should be forced to listen to this speech from nearly four centuries past:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”  (emphasis added)

Oliver Cromwell, dismissing by force the English Long Parliament – April 20, 1653

These are no longer merely parliamentary games.  The Democrats are carelessly playing with literal fire.  Confidence in Congress has been in the dumpster since long before the current chapter.  The bewildered reaction of the Left to the 2016 election showed they simply did not comprehend the level of anger in the country — an anger that had only been stoked by their treatment of the earlier, more ‘polite’ Tea Party movement.  The past couple of days show they are either still clueless, or past the point of caring.

Trump is undoubtedly no Cromwell.  But the more the Democrats shred our institutions and precedents in their hunt for his scalp, the more the door is opened for one to appear.  When social and/or governing systems break down, people cast about for the rescuer on the white horse.  Not since the early 1930s has the U.S. been so ripe for such a development.

History will judge Pelosi’s partisans as harshly as Cromwell judged his own miscreant legislature.  Perhaps, like the England of old, the U.S. is due for a reminder just how rare, precious and fragile self-government really is.

Burning down the House

Donald Trump is now the third president of the U.S. to be formally impeached by the House of Representatives.  Today the House, under Speaker Pelosi, is saying they will “delay” sending that Constitutional indictment over to the Senate until they are assured of a “fair trial.”  In other words the House has, by implication, already convicted the Senate of being governed totally by partisanship — a case of projection if there ever was one.

Under the Democrats, the House has been out of control for all of 2019.  Their crusade to fling poo at the president until something kind-of-sort-of might seem to stick is a perfect example of why our Founders created a republic, not a democracy.  Remember that generation later watched the French Revolution unfold.  They saw first hand the deadly dangers of passionate, unrestrained mob rule — which is exactly what this whole impeachment charade has been, complete with armed Antifa thugs in the streets at times.  Not content to merely be in the opposition until the next election, the House Democrats have taken it upon themselves to delegitimize both the Executive Branch and the other chamber of Congress.

Given these circumstances, it’s important to set a benchmark and declare this abuse of one of the Constitution’s most somber provisions as invalid.

Enter the Supreme Court.

The country must decide whether, henceforth, impeachment will be a routine clash between a House of Representatives and White House of different parties over policy differences or acute personal abrasions, as this is, or whether the authors of the Constitution meant, and the national interest requires, that it be reserved for accusations of high crimes on the same plane of misconduct as treason or bribe-taking…

Rejection by the majority in the Senate is not an adequate debunking of this abuse by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives of their offices. The country is at a turning point: routinize presidential impeachment or keep it as a last resort in extreme cases of wrongdoing. When the executive and the bare majority of one half of the legislative branch are so severely and antagonistically divided, the traditional tie-breaker is the judicial branch, and it should be consulted.

(emphasis added)

I agree.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should immediately request a Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutional validity of the House’s actions.  Such an examination would have to compare the way the Democrats rammed this through with the precedents of previous impeachment proceedings.  I believe such a public comparison would lay bare the manner in which the Democrats abused their majority to deny Trump and the Republicans any effective opportunity to defend the administration by presenting an opposing view of the issues in question.  As the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise noted during the pre-impeachment vote discussion, the GOP is still waiting for transcripts of interviews in which they were not allowed, or the ability to call their own witnesses.

The American people have a highly developed sense of fairness, and perhaps an unhealthy obsession with achieving it.  That usually gives an advantage to liberals when they propose heavy-handed government intervention in the name of “compassion.”  In this case, however, I believe many Americans have been turned off by what has clearly been an unfair process that demanded Trump prove himself innocent rather than place the burden of proof on the accusers.  That’s just one of many reasons thousands of people waited in freezing weather for hours to hear the president speak, even as the House marched toward impeachment.

There’s just one problem with taking this pseudo-impeachment to the Supreme Court for validation.  In the event they rule the charade for what it is and dismiss it, the Democrats will immediately claim the result is due to Trump having selected 2 of the justices, creating a slim ‘conservative’ (and I use that term loosely) majority.  They will press this hard, and in so doing, seek to damage the legitimacy the remaining third branch of the Federal Government — one whose rulings they used to consider holy writ, when it served their cause.  It really has come to this: if the liberals can’t run the machinery, they’ll sabotage it.  Having burned down the House, they’ll burn the rest of the structure, too.

But only if we let them.  The most significant result of Trump’s election in 2016 may be that the other side has dropped all masks and pretense.  Their agenda and attitudes are clear for all to see.  Come November 2020, the Democratic Party must be destroyed, not just defeated.  They need to suffer electoral loss so great that no political organization will again dare do what they’ve tried.  And we need to be ready for the inevitable temper tantrum that will result in such a case.  As they’re doing in Virginia and other States, keep your powder dry.

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.