This is chiefly idiocy at work

The American Cultural Revolution continues apace:

The mayor and city council in Duluth, Minnesota, are considering renaming any position containing the word “chief” because they believe it is a “microaggression” for Native Americans.

Job positions within the city’s government, including chief administrative officer and chief financial officer, would be renamed under the new policy as part of the city’s efforts to be more inclusive.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said the city will vote next week to remove the word “chief” from city job titles “so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”

Alicia Kozlowski, Duluth’s community relations officer and a member of the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, told the Star Tribune that the city is being proactive in working to remove these titles even before protesters have made the request. She said she finds the city’s use of the word “chief” to be “a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression.” (emphasis added)

First of all, I detest the word “microaggression,” which in reality means “I have such thin skin and a chip on my shoulder that I chose to take offense at something you said, regardless of any actual intent to offend.”  And it’s telling that now cities are actively looking for things to do to look virtuous to various groups without anyone actually saying they’re offended in the first place.  Nice to know Duluth is so well-run that they can devote such effort to incremental improvements towards paradise.  I’m sure whatever will be spent on changing signage, stationery and such to reflect the new titles is worth some potholes not getting repaired.

As is the case with most fussing these days, this issue completely ignores history:

chief (n.) – from about 1300 A.D., “head, leader, captain; the principal or most important part of anything;” from Old French chief “leader, ruler, head” of something, “capital city” (10c., Modern French), from Vulgar Latin *capum, caput “head,” also “leader, chief person; summit; capital city” (from PIE root *kaput- “head”). Meaning “head of a clan” is from 1570s; later extended to headmen of American Indian tribes (by 1713; William Penn, 1680s, called them kings. Commander-in-chief attested from 1660s.  (emphasis added)

In other words, the term “chief” was used to refer to people in positions in Europe THREE CENTURIES before any indigenous Native American officials were bestowed the title by Europeans trying to approximate their position in familiar language.  The application of the term acknowledged the leadership of the tribes being encountered.  But the term was not appropriated from the tribes’ own languages.  Duluth (or any other city) has no business attempting to eradicate its usage.

Where does this end?  In the U.S. Air Force, the top enlisted rank (E-9) is called a Chief Master Sergeant.  Achieving that rank is a career pinnacle, and much of the trappings associated with it uses imagery of Native American “chiefs.”  The Navy has a similar term: “Master Chief Petty Officer” (also the service’s highest enlisted rank).  Such modern usage it titles should be recognized as simply acknowledging authority, but today’s Red Guards refuse to see any history, reason or nuance in their efforts to pull down all of the present in favor of the latest “Year Zero.”

History is important.  Language is important.  Culture and tradition are important.  That’s not to say that change isn’t sometimes needed.  But in the effort to pull up weeds, we need to avoid killing vital roots that sustain our way of life.  Slashing and burning the past never yields much in the way of good fruit.

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within”  – Ariel Durant

Does anyone doubt we’re doing a good job of that these days?

American insurgency

“The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.” – Mao Zedong

Under cover of protesters reacting understandably to what appears to be yet another instance of police brutality, the enemies of our nation have launched what amounts to a full-blown insurgency.  Pallets of bricks conveniently show up in time to be thrown through store windows.  Networks of celebrities are providing bail money for those who are arrested.  Politicians are pledging support to Antifa, even as the Federal government finally labels it a terrorist organization (spoiler: it always has been).  And the airwaves are thick with misinformation and misdirection, minimizing the extent to which actual violence and destruction have become daily routine over the past week.

And if that wasn’t enough, at least one potential agent provocateur has now been arrested while posing as a National Guardsman.  Keep that in mind the first time you hear of an incident between a Guardsman and a ‘protester.’  Things are not always as they seem, especially in press reports.

This is perhaps the most dangerous moment for the U.S. since 1861.  President Abraham Lincoln rightly pointed out:

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow?  Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. (emphasis added)

And so it was our adversaries, beginning in the Cold War, began the “long march” through American institutions, seizing control of the means to shape the culture in such a way as to alienate a significant portion of the population from loyalty to the United States.  Their efforts were greatly aided by the deep scars of slavery and racism in our country.  One of the major reasons any sort of lasting racial reconciliation eludes us is that the issue is too useful a wedge for gaining influence — and yes, this is a trick used by partisans of many persuasions.  Remember the adage “divide and conquer.”

Now we’ve arrived at a point in our cultural programming where trying to rightly discern between protest and pillaging is dismissed as ‘racist.’  Now Mao’s ‘fish’ in the above quote can swim easily in the ‘sea.’  If only pillaging were the only goal, however.

Mao Zedong literally wrote the book on insurgency, after successfully fighting the Japanese in World War II and toppling the post-war Nationalist government of China.  He identified three phases to a revolutionary insurgency:

(1)  Organize: Build cells and support
(2)  Guerilla Warfare: Undermine the Government
(3)  Conventional (open) Warfare to topple the Government

Our internal enemies are well organized and enjoy considerable support from “the commanding heights” of society: educators, politicians, entertainers, wealthy ‘movers and shakers’ and so forth.  The violence we now witness is the movement into phase two.  Our Federal, State and local leaders are confronted with a choice: show restraint, in which case they look weak, or crack down, in which case the propaganda machine will work overtime to paint them in the worst possible light.  Either way, the insurgents seek to reduce support for our government.  President Trump has openly criticized State and local leaders for not doing more to control the violence.  Contrary to published reports, he is not calling for the arrest or abuse of peaceful protesters.  (Don’t rely on reports: listen to the man’s own words.  And notice ABC’s headline for the linked video.  Do they match?)  The corporate media blur the distinction between protester and criminal so that the president’s calls for law and order appear to be an effort to curb legitimate expressions of dissent.  Heads, they win.  Tails, he loses.

Do not lose sight of the fact that during all of this chaos, the public is not paying attention to the recent declassification and release of very damning documents that show how contrived and politically motivated the entire “Russia Russia Russia” hoax was, and how Michael Flynn was wrongly targeted as part of that process.  Powerful people have great reason to do anything to keep focus from turning to these developments.  Many have remarked about 2020’s penchant for disaster. Think of the main media themes in the U.S. this year: in January, it was impeachment.  Hardly had that fizzled than we were told COVID would kill us all, so better shut society down.  Once it was clear society was tired of being shut down and was de facto on the way to opening up, suddenly a case of police brutality sets the nation on fire.  (By the way, want to see ‘diversity?’  Look at the four officers involved and fired — it wasn’t a gang of white cops, but photos of officers Thao, Kueng and Lane don’t appear in the Minneapolis Star’s report on Monday. Why is that?.)

None of these events are occurring in isolation.  This is not a normal election year.

I believe the experience gained in our overseas fights must be put to use here at home, and quickly.  The networks of support for organizing violent, criminal activity, must be rolled up, and those involved forced to pay a high price for their incitements.  There are very good reasons not to like Donald Trump, who is a deeply flawed man.  But many of his opponents (on both sides of the aisle) are no longer the “loyal opposition” — they are literally fifth columnists who are a domestic threat to the Constitution of the United States, willing to overturn an election through rumor and innuendo from within the apparatus of shadowy government agencies.  Never forget that our leaders and our armed forces take an oath requiring them to defend that document against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic.  At the very least, there are a large number of people guilty of sedition in this country.  And while treason is a word too lightly tossed around these days, an argument could be made it’s applicable in some cases as well.

Even if the government moves effectively to end the current crisis, it’s not finished.  The reason insurgency is so hard to defeat is that unless the ideas and motives behind it are completely discredited, even losing in stage three can leave a small cadre of the committed to begin all over again.  This is the type of war we have been fighting in Afghanistan and the Middle East since 9/11, and the reason Al Qaeda and Islamic State still persist, however diminished.  Killing combatants is easy.  Killing an idea is damned well impossible.  (I use “damned” deliberately, as the resiliency of Marxist and Jihadist aspirations, despite the long historical record of horrors in their names, shows the hellish perniciousness of their deceit.)

This is why the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  We have been lulled into complacency, our attention directed anywhere other than where it needs to be.  Whether the insurgency grows to phase three or is knocked back to the starting line for another generation depends on Americans learning what’s really going on.  Lots of dots need to be connected to see the picture.  The question is whether we have the attention span and discernment to do so anymore.  Otto von Bismark, the statesman most responsible for the creation of a unified Germany in the 19th Century, is said to have remarked “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

I certainly hope that still holds true.

Make America self-reliant again

Learn the word: autarky

For decades Americans have enjoyed access to cheap goods, due in large part to the fact that we’ve outsourced our industrial and supply capacity to cheap, overseas markets like China and Vietnam. The free traders, roosting in their D.C. think tanks and on Wall Street, worry that the U.S.-China trade war is uprooting our supply chains and that Huawei (shown to have deep connections to the Chinese intelligence apparatus) is only a theoretical threat. They tell us that we must come to terms with China’s rise, that there is no other way. But what if there was?

My critics will more than likely dismiss this idea either insane or reckless. But throughout the late 19th and 20th century, it was a policy that led to prosperity and self-sufficiency. I’m talking about autarky. In our over-globalized world, a policy of total autarky is infeasible. But a degree of autarky should be recognized as self-evidently in America’s national interest.

Autarky, for those unfamiliar, was an economic and industrial policy of self-reliance wherein a nation need not rely on international trade for its economic survival. This is not to say that said nation rejected international trade or isolated itself from the global economic order, rather that it merely could survive on its own if necessary…

In the early days of the American republic, Alexander Hamilton advocated for a limited measure of autarky. Hamiltonian autarky—or industrial self-reliance—aimed to protect weak American industries from foreign manipulation by the likes Great Britain and France. Today, we must look to protect what remains of American industry from the manipulations of state-backed industrial sectors in China…

Critics, namely neoliberal internationalists and free-trade libertarians, will assuredly wail and gnash their teeth about the bounty of cheap consumer goods we have “won” from free trade, but to that I would caution: The United States risks becoming its own special category of the “sick man”—an obese has-been that sinks into a recliner and stuffs its face with cheap consumer goods provided by its global rivals, looking back woefully on its glory days. But it is not yet too late.

Hamilton was far from the only advocate of American economic independence.  Henry Clay, possibly the most influential Congressman in the nation’s history, fervently believed in the “American System” that emphasized a tariff to protect and promote American industry, a national bank to foster commerce, and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other “internal improvements” to develop profitable markets for agriculture.  It was an inward-looking “America First” way of developing the young nation’s economy into the powerhouse it would eventually become.

Bringing critical manufacturing home reduces our dependence upon others, and provides large numbers of well-paying jobs — jobs that will be essential as our economy recovers from the COVID crisis.  It will also reduce avenues of influence and espionage by our enemies, such as the telecommunication company Huawei.  We’ve been given a glimpse of how helpless we will soon be if we stay on our current path.  Will we be foolish enough to return to the status quo ante when this is all over?

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?

Appetite for destruction

How joyless must life be for anyone who believes humanity to be merely a plague?

Fifty years ago, I concluded that the best thing for the planet would be a peaceful phase-out of human existence. We’re causing the extinction of hundreds of thousands of other species. With us gone, I believe ecosystems will be restored and there will be enough of everything…

At 25, I wanted to show I was serious. A medical school gave me a discounted vasectomy in exchange for being a student doctor’s first try at the procedure, which was successful…

Procreation today is the moral equivalent of selling berths on a sinking ship.  It’s true that society would be greatly diminished without children, but it isn’t right to create them just because we like having them around.

And on the flip side, if they’re inconvenient, just abort them, right?  The author doesn’t say this, but one can deduce enough of his worldview that it’s a good bet he supports abortion on demand. (“Marriage never made sense to me anyway: I would have missed getting to know many wonderful women had I stuck with one.”)

This desire to destroy humanity comes straight from The Enemy, who sees in us the imago dei and strikes at it in any way possible: war, murder, abortion, suicide — anything that snuffs out the physical vessel carrying the lifebreath of God.

As the Genesis account makes clear, we were entrusted with the stewardship of the Earth.  One cannot steward if one is not around.  Are there areas in which we can do better?  Most certainly.  But the root cause of the world’s problems is not our existence.  It’s our fallen, sinful state – the same state that causes so many to worship the creation instead of the Creator.

Regarding this business of “selling berths on a sinking ship:” I can understand people who wonder about the wisdom of bringing a child into the world.  I first became an uncle days after 9/11, and I wondered what sort of world my niece and my own (then young) children would grow up in.  In many ways it hasn’t been what I would have wished for them.  But one of the advantages of studying history is a realization there truly is nothing new under the sun.  Did Americans in 1942, or 1917, or 1863 have any less reason to wonder about the world they’d leave to their posterity?  What about earlier Europeans facing the plagues, or invasion by the Mongols?  The West has enjoyed such a high standard of living since the 1950s that we forget what a rare exception to the rule this has been (and how much a Biblical worldview has been instrumental).

The West has all but lost the hope that comes from Christ.  Churches are emptying.  Bibles are unread ornaments.  People trust their own wisdom rather than that of the ages.  Other worldviews are not necessarily devoid of logic — their logic simply produces different conclusions.  If we believe our physical environment is all there is, then preserving it at any cost – even human extinction – can seem a reasonable conclusion.

Modern environmentalism (as opposed to Biblical stewardship) is a religion.  It seeks to answer “the big questions:” how did we get here (chance/evolution), why are things imperfect (human activity), and what is the solution (in this case, complete elimination of humanity).  The writer of the linked article clearly takes comfort and derives purpose from adherence to the logic of his beliefs.

But if we believe this is just a stopover on the way to eternity, then the value of each individual human being becomes infinitely greater than a world already subject to entropy, whether we’re around or not.

It behooves us not to knowingly or carelessly foul our temporary home.  It profits us even more to remember it’s just that: temporary.  But love — true, sacrificial love: that between spouses, between parents and children, between those who belong to the Body — is eternal.

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.

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.  

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?

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Some vital perspective

In an online forum, a professor asks where to place Trump on a list of world leaders.  Most likely blinded by Trump derangement syndrome, the professor concludes Trump comes in ahead of Stalin.  Another forum participant has a better analysis:

Professor ZZZ asks: “[W]here [would] you put Trump?”

No new, major land war(s) in Asia—so Trump is ahead of LBJ.

No missile crisis risking an exchange of nuclear weapons with a superpower—so Trump is ahead of JFK.

No wars of national conquest—so Trump is ahead of Polk (Texas) and McKinley (Philippines, Cuba).

No move to war after foreign power made full, reasonable efforts to amicably settle reasons for dispute—so Trump is ahead of Madison (War of 1812). Under Madison, we burned down the capital of British North America (York/Toronto), and they returned the favor in Washington. So Trump beats Madison.

No wars against native American tribes—so Trump is ahead of [fill in the blank—many such presidents could be listed here].

No wars based on poor intelligence or to prop up foreign absolute monarchies—so Trump is ahead of both Bush I and Bush II.

Trump has not interned 100,000s of US citizens based on race—so Trump is ahead of FDR.

Trump has not allowed a U.S. state or territory to go into civil war and then allow its government to be hijacked by the brigands who engineered the civil war—so Trump is ahead of Buchanan (Bleeding Kansas).

I still don’t know why President Clinton blew up an aspirin factory or why Secretary Clinton permitted NATO forces and materiel to blow up Libya—so Trump probably comes out ahead of both of them too.

Trump is ahead of Woodrow Wilson: World War I, and his resegregation of the federal civil service. I grant you that being ahead of Wilson is not saying much…but then, the nation survived Wilson, and no one today thinks of Wilson as having lowered the bar vis-a-vis future presidents. ((I do… he was more openly hostile to the Constitution than any president before him — Jemison)) Professor ZZZ seems to be worried about this. He wrote: “Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come.” Really?—Will we pay for it in years to come, or is this just a shabby slippery slope-type argument? …

If words and pretty speeches are the measure of a president, then Trump comes up short. The question is whether that is the correct standard for measuring presidents in a dangerous world.

This is why knowing history is indispensable — it provides essential context within which to understand the present.  As for the last point in the quote, I remind those who gauge world leaders mainly by their oratory that Adolph Hitler was a rather gifted and mesmerizing speaker by all accounts.  For all his bluster and distracting patterns of speech, Trump has consistently pursued exactly what he promised to do during his campaigning.  In a world rightfully cynical about politicians who routinely fail to do that, this performance counts for a lot among his supporters.  It’s the key reason many voters are willing to overlook the baggage of Trump’s many personal shortcomings.  That our self-professed elites can’t understand that says more about them than it does Trump or his supporters.

A final thought: it appears Trump has survived one of the most nefarious political plots ever contrived against a president.  If that’s the case, and he successfully brings to public account the unelected bureaucracy that attempted it, his administration may well be remembered as one of the most consequential in our nation’s history.

(H/T: Instapundit)

A one-way ticket

Democrats must be concerned about internal polling indicating Trump’s policy successes are pulling away minority votes:

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced a bill Monday that would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery on the black community and propose slavery reparations initiatives.

Sen. Booker tweeted in reference to the bill he will be backing in the Senate, saying, “I am proud to introduce legislation that will finally address many of our country’s policies—rooted in a history of slavery and white supremacy—that continue to erode Black communities, perpetuate racism and implicit bias, and widen the racial wealth gap.”

Senator Spartacus” obviously doesn’t see the irony inherent in a Black U.S. Senator complaining that blacks just can’t get ahead in this country, less than three years after a Black man left the Oval Office.  That said, let’s examine his complaint:

Few things “erode Black communities” like the twin scourges of welfare and abortion. Both are practically sacraments to leftists.  And both have devastated the nuclear family, which study after study shows is vital to social and economic mobility.  The advocacy of abortion in America, in particular, has demonstrably racist origins.  As for the welfare legacy of the Great Society, let’s review the thoughts of its architect, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson:

These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.

No amount of monetary compensation can undo the damage that two generations of government paternalism has caused the Black community.  Only by leaving Uncle Sam’s plantation and its slave mentality of perpetual victimhood, and taking personal ownership of their community’s fate, is there any chance for improvement.  (The same is true for all Americans, not just Blacks.)  Reparations are the exact opposite of that.  It’s “enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”  Of course, it’s good for buying votes, though, which is the real point.

At the same time, reparations represent an injustice to the rest of Americans.  Inevitably, it will open the door for demands by the Native Americans, Hawaiians, the Chinese and others, each with their own legitimate historical grievances.  The fabric of our society will become even more frayed as each group jostles for its share of the loot.

And where will that loot come from?  Largely from the White Devils, of course.  After all, we pale skins are the root of all evil — our college professors told us so.  Sarcasm aside, I’m the first in my family history ever to go to college.  My ancestors were hardscrabble, not wealthy, and none ever owned slaves, even though they were eeeeeeeevil Southerners.  It wasn’t my white skin that got me through college.  It was my parents ensuring I made use of my high school education, and instilling the work ethic that allowed me to work and go to school at the same time.  If he had any sense, Spartacus would see why I’m less than enthused at the prospect of being taxed to pay for others’ historical sins.  Apparently to the Democrats, I’m a “deplorable,” a “bitter clinger,” and a cash cow for redistribution schemes.  I wonder why they’re having a hard time connecting with my demographic these days.

We need a different vision if this country is to survive, a century and a half after it nearly tore itself apart.  (Today, by the way, is the anniversary of the effective end of that cataclysm.)  I’m reminded of a line from the movie Kingdom of Heaven:

“We fight over an offense we did not give against those who were not alive to be offended.”

We are at a crossroads.  Either we acknowledge our shared history — good and bad — has led all Americans to where we are now, which is a place of privilege beyond compare to most of the world’s population.  Or we begin fighting over the scraps of that heritage, and in the process tear apart what remains of it.  We can no longer afford would-be leaders who use grievance-mongering for personal advancement (I’m looking at you, Southern Poverty Law Center).

Which is why I’ll say this: there is one form of reparation I would support, and one only.  The original offense of the slavers was to forcefully remove Africans from their home and transport them to the Americas.  If any slave’s descendants truly believe this country is irreparably unjust to them, I support funding a one-way ticket to whatever African country they choose.  I don’t expect a mad clamor to take up such an offer, however.  Anyone with eyes can see that even the poorest of families in the most violent of Democratic-run cities like Chicago or Baltimore still has more opportunity and more to be thankful for than the vast majority of their distant relatives overseas.  Deep down, Senator Spartacus and his ilk know it.

And that, I submit, is reparations enough.  If it isn’t, by all means book the flight, bill Uncle Sam, and leave your U.S. passport on the way out the door.