The absolutely useless GOP

It’s clear at this point in history those of us who want a restoration of the characteristics that once made America great — prudence, self-discipline, foresight, statesmanship, to name a few — will have to look somewhere other than the GOP to find them:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was hoping his Republican colleagues would be embarrassed by their vote to jack up federal spending earlier this year and support his plan to phase in a balanced budget. Few were.

Paul got 20 other Republican senators on Thursday — less than half of the Senate GOP caucus — to vote for his “penny plan,” which would balance the federal budget over five years by cutting spending except for Social Security by 1 percent every year. No Democrats back the proposal…

“Republicans only care about budget deficits when they’re in the minority,” said Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks.

Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self Governance, agreed, saying, “There are very few sane people willing to have a rational discussion about fiscal responsibility … It’s obscene. These guys are pigs in slop.”

One percent a year should be easy to find in a $4 trillion budget.  But I’m sure the gluttonous swamp would cry the fiscal sky is falling (“Children will starve!  Seniors will be destitute!  Illegal aliens won’t have as much welfare support”).  Well, maybe not that last talking point (they aren’t completely foolish and willing to admit their agendas).  But here’s some perspective:

Paul’s plan would have reduced spending by $404.8 billion in the fiscal year that starts October 1. After the budget balanced in five years, spending would be held to 1 percent increases per year, resulting in a budget that was 14.6 percent bigger in 10 years that it is now.

In other words, even after balancing the budget, the overall size of it would continue to grow.  Don’t overlook the fact in the excerpt above that a mere one percent of Federal spending equals $404.8 billion!  A true conservative would say balancing the budget would be preparatory to starting to trim back the Federal Leviathan.  Yet these GOPers can’t even countenance the first step!

Putting America first, or “making America great again” is inseparable from solving our budgetary house of cards.  You failed once again, GOP.  When you ask yourselves how in the world a man like Donald Trump could get elected, just look in the mirror.

As for us, primary season is upon us.  One of my Senators just guaranteed he won’t have my vote.  How about yours?

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A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Anticipating change

One of the primary benefits of studying history is wrestling with the question “how could they not have seen that coming?”  As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20/20,” but foresight usually falls far short of that.  Most people expect things to continue on as they always have in their experience.  Until suddenly they don’t.

Try to remember that Sarajevo once hosted an Olympics. Remember that Beirut used to be called “The Paris of the Middle East.” Remember that women used to wear lipstick and miniskirts in Tehran.

I believe this inability to visualize the possibility of disastrous change is one of the key vulnerabilities of the United States.  Yes, every generation whines about how things aren’t like they were “in the good old days” — mine included.  But few put these vignettes together into a narrative that might be pointing to a larger journey into disaster.  This blindspot in America is likely caused/enhanced by the fact we haven’t faced disaster as a society in a very, very long time by the world’s standards.  Even though we participated in both World Wars, the chance of either posing an existential threat to the United States was extremely low.  The last time American civilians had to fear soldiers on the march in their homeland was the War Between The States — over 150 years ago.

Any advanced and thriving civilization has large numbers of people – especially at the top of the pile – who are comfortable and safe, and are so for generations. This lack of meaningful threats, from birth onward, causes the amygdalae structures in the brain to not fully develop compared to prior, more stressed, generations because of a lack of stimulation; thus, the ability to recognize actual threats has atrophied. This leads to the society as an aggregate, and the leadership class in particular, taking actions that they do not recognize as dangerous, which result in the collapse of the civilization.

When gun controllers say the 2nd Amendment is outdated, they are reflecting the atrophy described above.  The Holocaust is well-known; the various Communist purges less so, but far too many believe that’s just what happens to “other people.”  It couldn’t happen in America, right?  Some people know better but choose to seek disarmament anyway, the better to advance a political agenda.  But a substantial number simply have no personal frame of reference of an experience where they were in mortal peril, and needed to defend themselves.  Media coverage of the topic emphasizes criminal use of firearms, neglecting the far larger number of cases of defensive use.  This is one reason why veterans and many civilians are separated by a wide gap on the 2nd Amendment.  The handful of veterans who are celebrated for advocating gun control are either those whose work never exposed them to danger, or who know better but desire public acclaim more than common sense.

The same dynamic is at work in the issue of mass migration.  The millions of current Muslim “refugees” (an abused term if there every was one) trigger a much different social memory in Eastern and Central Europe than it does in the West.  The advance of Islam in the Middle Ages was largely stopped at the Battle of Tours, so Western Europe, Scandinavia and England never dealt with the threat on any large scale.  Not so with the East, Islam’s initial momentum culminated in two sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683), and sectarian violence and discrimination between Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic ensued for generations.  This is the origin of the term “balkanization,” and if you’ve paid attention you’ve heard it applied to modern demographic trends in the U.S.

That is why Polish, Hungarian and Czech attitudes toward the current wave of Muslim migration differ considerably from those of the Germans or French (though the latter two are starting to realize the consequences).

In the United States, immigration has become enshrined as part of the national experience.  The downsides of previous waves of immigrants (ethnic tensions in the cities, cramped living conditions, crime, etc) are rarely examined except to try to place the blame solely at the feet of Anglo-Americans.  That’s why those who oppose mass immigration (especially the illegal variety) today are accused of being “on the wrong side of history.”  Those who know their history, however, realize today’s wave of invaders “immigrants” bear little resemblance to those of Schoolhouse Rock fame.  For starters, immigrants in the late 1800s understood they were leaving most all ties to their homeland to become immersed in a new one, which required adaptation to language and culture.  They were scrutinized carefully by U.S. authorities to screen out political radicals, the diseased and those who would likely become a burden on society.  Today, millions have entered the U.S. without permission or scrutiny (the largest contingent by far being from Mexico and Central America).  In the U.S. they can watch Spanish-language TV, demand translation services for all official business, and largely insulate themselves from adapting to their new home if they so choose.  There is no incentive to assimilate; indeed, many ardently proclaim their greater loyalty to their country of origin.  As one person put it online:

“Too many people are coming to America just to be in America. They aren’t coming here to be Americans. That needs to change.”

In short, immigration today bears only a passing resemblance to the immigration of decades past.  It more closely resembles the settling of the Goths within the Roman Empire.

The point of this post is to emphasize that America is not immune to disaster, despite her long history.  Over the decades, many planks have been removed from the platform our Founders carefully constructed – overturning the prohibition of an income tax, allowing direct election of Senators, and so forth.  Each of these, while debated at the time, were considered incremental in effect.  But decades of such increments eventually add up to something substantial.  Our politics today are not about degrees of policy anymore.  There are irreconcilable differences in the worldviews in play, and a desire to use the machinery of government to enforce an orthodoxy at odds with our traditions.  We are at a tipping point in our history.  Those who would disarm and displace the historical American body politic now hardly disguise their intent.  Those who recognize what is at stake are more energized to resist it than ever before (hence the previously inconceivable election of a man like Donald Trump).

Many Americans assume those who are preparing for possible disaster somehow are looking forward to it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  They fail to realize the ability to visualize potential futures and make preparations to meet them are the best ways to prevent America from suffering the fate of other nations.

What do YOU see ahead?  What are YOU doing to prepare?  What are YOU willing to do to prevent disaster?

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Molon Labe

 

On laws and the flouting thereof

Every day brings new evidence that the desired state of being “a nation of laws, not of men,” is no longer true of America:

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 150 people in California in the days after Oakland’s mayor gave early warning of the raids, it was announced Tuesday…

On Saturday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents that “credible sources” had told her a sweep was imminent, calling it her “duty and moral obligation” to warn families.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about 800 individuals sought for arrest eluded the organized crackdown, most with criminal records and multiple previous deportations.  So how is the mayor’s warning not a case of obstruction of justice?  In fact, why isn’t the entire “sanctuary state/city” nonsense chargeable as conspiracy to obstruct justice?

While we’re talking about illegal immigrants, let’s note that Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago has created a municipal identification card “for undocumented <read: illegal> immigrants and others” that will be considered valid ID for voter registration and votingMeanwhile, 12 States and the District of Columbia issue drivers licenses even to illegal immigrants who cannot provide previously required documentation such a Social Security card.  When you add this to the nationwide push of “motor-voter” laws, it’s easy to see how we could have tens or hundreds of thousands of foreigners voting in our elections each cycle.  Indeed, Pennsylvania currently faces accusations that about 100,000 illegal immigrants are registered to vote in that State.

Here’s the irony: the investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign is allegedly supposed to determine whether it “colluded” with Russian influence to win the election.  In other words, foreign interference is undesirable (on that, at least, we can agree).  But if that’s the whole point of the investigation, why are there not similarly prominent efforts to look into and prosecute the facilitation of foreigners living and voting illegally in the United States?

Immigration and naturalization are the purview of the Federal Government under the Constitution.  Any State or local official who deliberately interferes in these matters should be held to account.  Many do so today because such “virtue signalling” to our invaders and their domestic supporters carries a nonexistent personal cost.  Sure, a few would be willing to act as “martyrs” if we got serious about accountability, but the vast majority are crybullies who would think twice if others hit back.  It would send a tremendous signal if Federal agents arrested the mayor of Oakland for harboring fugitives with her warning of ICE raids.

Don’t worry, though — I’m not holding my breath that such true accountability will occur in these lawless times.  *IF* the rule of law ever returns to this country, it likely will only be after a harsh period of restoring discipline and individual accountability.  The pendulum has swung too far for it to be otherwise.

Simply unbelievable

Many on the Left were certainly hoping to use last week’s school shooting to push for more gun control (there’s even been talk of a “semiautomatic weapons ban,” which would essentially outlaw the vast majority of rifles and handguns in circulation today).

But as the facts come out about this tragedy, it’s more and more clear that anger — and an insistence on maintaining the right to self-defense — is far more appropriate.  To summarize:

  • Local police had been called to alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz’s residence 39 times over the previous seven years, with the Broward County Sheriffs involved in 23 of them.
  • The Broward County Sheriff has admitted his department did not follow standard protocols regarding such a recurring residence, and two deputies are under investigation in that regard.
  • The FBI says it also failed to follow protocols after being warned in January about Cruz — one of two such warnings it received.
  • During the event, Cruz was able to leave the school undetected because officers were watching security video they thought was live but had been rewound more than 20 minutes.   As much as I try not to use it, all I can say to this is WTF?
  • And to top it all off: there was an armed, uniformed sheriffs deputy assigned to the high school as a resource officer who never entered the building or engaged the shooter during the entire massacre!

The Broward County Sheriffs Department released that last item Thursday morning, right after the previous evening’s CNN “Town Hall” on the event, during which Sheriff Scott Israel puffed his chest and pointed fingers at Dana Loesch and the National Rifle Association, as though the failures listed above are somehow their fault.  Sheriff Israel had to have known of his officers’ failures even as he preened for the cameras!

Given all the above, public school teachers would be justified in refusing to work until/unless they are given permission to be trained and armed.  These data points starkly illustrate the truth of the adage “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”  The gunfire lasted four minutes.  Time that on a clock, and while the timer’s running, imagine being a teacher or teenager in a closet hearing gunfire the whole time… with no effective way to fight back.  While a armed veteran officer cowered outside the school, a 15-year old JROTC cadet died holding a door for fellow students to escape (one of three cadets to die that day), others quickly thought to use kevlar mats to protect their classmates, and a beloved coach, with no weapon available to him, died shielding his students with his own body.

This entire event is best summarized by a military acronym whose use I also keep to a minimum:  FUBAR.  I’ve really, really tried not to entertain theories that mass shootings are a conscious tool of people who want to disarm us, but such a complete and catastrophic failure makes that increasingly difficult.  It doesn’t help the government any that one of the most prominently featured students with various media is the articulate son of an FBI agent.  There’s also the fact that four months after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history (in Las Vegas), the authorities are either still clueless about what happened and why, or are simply refusing to tell the public anything.

The Left wants us to be angry, and I am.

I’m angry that government at every level utterly failed to recognize and act on a wealth of threat information about Cruz.

I’m angry that the information was not routed in such a way as to prevent Cruz from purchasing his weapons (the entire POINT of a background check!).

I’m angry that a veteran officer (with enough time to qualify to retire) did NOTHING as 17 people died around him.

I’m angry that only the resource officer has had the sense of shame enough to resign (although he stands to collect his retirement).  While there have been public calls for people to be fired, recent history doesn’t lend much confidence anyone with real authority will be held accountable.

I’m angry that institutions such as the FBI are more focused on political witch hunts than they are actual protection of citizens.

I’m angriest that all of this is being exploited emotionally to try to further restrict our means of self-defense, even as it becomes apparent we cannot count on anyone else to take care of it for us.  There’s not a law or restriction that could have solved the failures listed above, and I don’t intend to pay for somebody else’s abdication of responsibilities.

The Bible cautions us “in your anger, do not sin.”  I don’t think it’s a sin to warn the gun-grabbers they don’t know the fire they’re playing with.  In the same passage we’re told not to give the devil an opportunity.  The history of firearm confiscations would seem to show it’s just that – a grave opportunity for evil.  So I’ll conclude with a phrase that’s being seen more and more these days:

molonlabegreek

Whither adulthood?

One of the more ridiculous calls since the school shooting in Florida is to lower the voting age to 16.  As CNN and others continue to exploit grieving classmates and parents on air to make their emotional appeals for more gun control, some are saying the kids are showing enough ‘wisdom’ that it’s a shame they can’t vote.

Give me a break.  Even setting aside for the moment that some of these kids are being coached and controlled on talking points, let’s not forget that others their age were recently consuming laundry detergent as part of an online “challenge.”  And that challenge is only one of several idiotic trends in recent years.  In short, those who are calling for 16-year olds to vote are doing so in the expectation they’d be an easily manipulated voting bloc.  That’s to be expected since statists have always counted on youth to be their vanguard.

It’s easy to forget that as recently as the 1960s, the Federal voting age was 21.  The national agony of the Vietnam War raised the profile of a longstanding question about  young men being old enough (18) to be drafted and possibly die for their country, but not old enough to have a say in its decisions.  This juxtaposition led to the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971.

Many people may not realize it, but a similar dilemma is presenting itself.  During last night’s CNN “Town Hall” on gun laws, Marco Rubio professed support for “taking away” the right of an 18-year old to buy a rifle.  The alleged gunman in last week’s shooting was 19 and had purchased his weapon legally (in no small part because of failure to act on his past behavior), so this would at first seem a targeted response.

The problem is this: though he has flip-flopped on the issue, Rubio has in the past also expressed support for expanding Selective Service registration to include women as well as men, while never mentioning any change to the draft age.  Taking these positions together, Rubio is saying an 18-year old man or woman is old enough to be handed a rifle in the service of their country, but not old enough to be entrusted with the Constitutional right to own one!

At what age do we become “responsible adults?”  Clearly the mileage varies from person to person.  It’s safe to say, however, that our society increasingly postpones leaving youthfulness behind.  As it says in the linked article, “We expect less maturity from young adults and deny them the responsibility that helps them grow. They live down to our expectations.”  All the better to develop an electorate that desires a Nanny State to facilitate their extended childhood.  In other words, current trends are not conducive to maintaining our individual liberties.

This is the broader discussion we need to have: at what point should people be entrusted with the rights and responsibilities of adulthood — including full accountability for their actions?   In more than half of the States, the age of sexual consent is 16, but in all States one must be at least 18 to get married without parental or court approval.  As a 19-year old, last week’s gunman will stand trial as an adult and is eligible for the death penalty.  But under Rubio’s proposal, others who are legal adults would not have the full privileges of owning a firearm.  As it now stands, 18-year olds are able to serve in the military, but not purchase cigarettes (until 19) or alcohol (until 21).  I can attest first-hand to the discipline issues that creates in the armed forces.

I can also attest to the difference those three years make in developing adults.  Not long ago, I went directly from teaching college freshmen to teaching high school seniors.  It was amazing to me the difference in overall maturity and engagement just that one year made.  (As already stated, the mileage varied.)  With both my older Musketeers, I waited until 16 to let them get a driver’s permit, and 17 for their license — a year behind what the State would have allowed.  There’s a reason, after all, why young men under 25 have the highest car insurance premiums.  When the time came to teach them, both showed a seriousness about the responsibility they were taking on, and neither gave their mother or me reason to worry they’d be reckless with a car.  (Six years on, both are still “wreck-less.”)

Which brings me to a final point: the role of fathers in developing adulthood.

Without dads as role models, boys’ testosterone is not well channeled. The boy experiences a sense of purposelessness, a lack of boundary enforcement, rudderlessness, and often withdraws into video games and video porn. At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces. When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.

I believe the erosion of the nuclear family has contributed greatly to the rise of extended adolescence and immaturity.  When I think of the number of times over the years I’ve had to correct my young men when their interactions with their mother or others were less than respectful, it gives me great pause to wonder what would have been were I not in the picture.  I’m by no means a perfect man or father, but I’m engaged in bringing out the man in my Musketeers.

Given the state of today’s culture, we have some decisions to make.  Do we expect more of our young people and hold them to those standards, or do we move the goalposts of adulthood expectations to a higher age?  Should we standardize expectations so that all the rights and privileges apply at the same age, or do we have justification for doling them out a few at a time over several years?  And if a 19-year old can’t be entrusted to have a firearm without adequate consideration of others, do they really need to be in a voting booth helping decide national policies?

I don’t profess to have the definitive answer, though I believe a strong case could be made for making 21 the standard legal age for all purposes — and that includes eligibility for Selective Service.  As I said, though, this needs to be a conversation.  What are your thoughts?

Stop looking to government to save you

Because it’s plain that is its last priority.  Our nation’s Federal law enforcement has now spent over a year investigating politically charged claims that President Trump somehow colluded with Russia to “steal” the election away from Hillary Clinton.  (After all, how else to explain the anointed one’s failure to ascend to the throne?)

But apparently that same apparatus had no resources to spare when told specifically and repeatedly about the threat posed by Nikolas Cruz.  More than FIVE MONTHS before the troubled young man shot up a school on Wednesday, a YouTube channel owner alerted the FBI to online comments Cruz made under his own name about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.”  Today the FBI admitted it was also given very specific threat information about Cruz SIX WEEKS ago… and did NOTHING:

‘The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,’ said the FBI in a  statement on Friday.

The agency went on to state that this information, which came in over their Public Access Line, should have been classified as ‘a potential threat to life’ and the Miami field office notified about the information.

Those protocols were not followed however for reasons that are still not clear, and on Wednesday Cruz shot dead 17 people.

Maybe too many agents were busy trying to trap Trump associates.  Maybe they were all busy sending thousands of text messages to their lovers.  The truly cynical part of me can no longer dismiss the possibility some in our government allow such things to happen because the public then willingly surrenders more of their rights in an elusive quest for security from Uncle Sam.  Whatever the reason, Florida Governor Rick Scott is right to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.  But accountability shouldn’t stop at that mostly symbolic gesture.  EVERY agent who was privy to the information that citizens had provided should be fired and prosecuted for gross dereliction of duty resulting in loss of life.

We’re constantly told we need a perpetual surveillance society, and that if we “see something, say something.”  But what good does it do to surrender our rights to privacy and accept an Orwellian panopticon if those in authority fail in their part of the devil’s bargain and refuse to protect us?

And the Left wants us to give up even more of our rights by disarming?  I think not.  In fact, it’s plain the opposite needs to occur: more citizens need to arm and train themselves.  At the same time pundits are praising the willingness of Coach Aaron Feis to give his life shielding students, they’re asking what needs to be done to prevent such tragedies.  It shouldn’t be so hard to connect the dots: train and arm willing teachers so schools stop being inviting soft targets.  No teacher who is willing to risk their life for their kids as Coach Feis did should have to face an attacker unarmed.  I saw this graphic online recently and it speaks for itself:

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Nothing in the above list is more precious than our children — our future.  The utter failure of the FBI in this case reinforces the adage that “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”  We have a God-given right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and that includes the right to defend those things.  We may delegate some of that authority to police agencies, but one of the first things I learned as a military officer is that while you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility.  All of us, as citizens and parents, are ultimately responsible for the defense of our families and communities.  That responsibility means facing head-on the fact there is evil in this world that requires the average person to be prepared to confront it at any moment.

It also includes the responsibility to punish those we empower to act on our behalf, but who fail to do so.  There MUST be a revival of accountability — and personal responsibility, including self-defense — in this country!