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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The value of the vote

Caution: this is a long post; that’s why it has a “jump break” on the front page of the blog.

It’s ironic that Bernie Sanders brought this up while I’ve been re-reading Heinlein’s Starship Troopers:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he thinks every U.S. citizen, even the convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, should be allowed to vote in American elections.  Sanders offered his stance at a CNN town hall Monday when asked whether he thought felons should be allowed to vote while they’re incarcerated, not just after their release.

He was pressed on whether it was appropriate to enfranchise sex offenders or someone convicted of a heinous crime like Tsarnaev, who with his brother carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead and injured hundreds more.

“Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said in response to a question about restoring felons’ voting rights.

It appears Sanders is saying everyone should have the privilege of voting, regardless what they’ve done in their lives.  That’s not merely wrong, it’s disastrously dangerous.  Unlike the (poorly done) movie of Starship Troopers, the book discusses in great detail the importance of the franchise.  Indeed, the book is highly controversial for presenting a futuristic society in which the only full citizens with voting privileges are military veterans.  Pardon the excerpt from one of the book’s classroom discussions:

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Mitt Romney disapproves this message

Trump shows again his mastery of Twitter:

trump tweet warren

In case you don’t get it, click here.

While this is a brilliant poke at Warren, I’m sure there are many, Mitt Romney especially, who are holding their noses and saying “that’s not presidential.”

Wrong.

The simple fact is that if Romney had been 1/2020th this willing to dig at Obama’s smug overestimation of himself, we might have avoided a second Obama term.  Not that it would have meant much, since Romney is the epitome of “RINO” (Republican in Name Only), mouthing small government platitudes but doing nothing to actually advance that agenda.  Do recall that Obamacare was advertised as a logical extension of Romney’s own prior government intrusion into healthcare in Massachusetts.

But wait!  There’s more!  Romney is now a Senator from Utah.  Huh?  That sounds like a Hillary move, suddenly becoming a New Yorker to get into the Senate.  What’s more, Romney had plenty of use for Trump in 2012 and 2018, when he sought the man’s endorsement for president and senate, respectively.  But now he wants to bite the hand that supported him:

It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.

I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

Well, Mr. Romney, it’s well known a lot of us conservative patriotic Americans didn’t have you as our first choice in 2012, and wish Trump had told you to pound sand when you asked his help into the Senate last year.  Anyone should have seen you would take on the mantle of a McCain or a Flake, sniping at your party from the inside, where you can do the most damage.  You’re not interested in supporting the public’s agenda, only ensuring you are applauded by “all the right folks.”  You know, the ones praising your recent op-ed, but at the time said you were literally Hitler when you dared to run for president as a Republican.  Have you really forgotten?

I admit I wish the president would reign in some of the more gratuitous sniping, and show a little more message discipline.  But to all the “never Trumpers” out there, scratching your head and wondering why Americans could support someone like Trump, it’s simple:

You chatter.  He fights… and gets things done.  Patriots are tired of alleged leaders who will only fight in prim accordance with the Queensbury Rules while our adversaries routinely punch below the belt.  Reversing this country’s disastrous heading is a massive undertaking.  Those who are afraid of getting their hands dirty or their positions criticized by the legacy media are of no use.

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UPDATE: Hey, Mitt — got any thoughts about expectations for the behavior of Congresscritters while you’re at it?  I know… if you criticize her you might lose face with the swamp elites you run with.  Rashida Taleb has already overturned two centuries of tradition so she can wear a symbol of Islamic oppression of women on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Will she also be allowed to make that kind of foul public language standard there, too?  Before you play the moral equivalence game between her and Trump, consider this: at a minimum, the difference is she hates everything traditional America stands for.

Facts versus feelings

The issue of illegal immigration is an emotionally charged one.  I believe far too many of our leaders enable its continuation due to cynical political calculations: if the American people won’t vote them greater powers, they’ll import a people who will.  But for the average citizenry, those who support the continued entry of hundreds of thousands of migrants each year are largely driven by genuine compassion.  Indeed, it’s hard not to compare the conditions many of these people are leaving to those in the U.S. and not feel a sense of obligation to help.

That is why dispassionate examination of the facts of the matter is absolutely essential.  Simply put, this ongoing, unprecedented wave of migration is demonstrably harmful to the citizenry already living within the United States:

A majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation.

In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it…

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates. Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized. While barriers to welfare use exist for these groups, it has not prevented them from making extensive use of the welfare system, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children,” added the Washington-based [Center for Immigration Studies].

The numbers are huge. The report said that there are 4,684,784 million non-citizen households receiving welfare… Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).

The American people have historically been a generous one, no doubt in large part to the legacy of Christian charity.  The current level of charity, however, is both unsustainable and unfair to the Americans who have paid into various systems like Social Security and are now unlikely to realize their promised benefits because those funds went to others.  The injustice of transferring wealth from citizens to those who have entered the country (legal or illegal) only to become a burden on it should be obvious.  Given the fact the United States is already flirting heavily with insolvency, carrying trillions of dollars in debt and routinely hearing warnings about Social Security and other programs running out of funds for promised benefits, it’s clear the current situation cannot be tolerated.

The soothsayers who want to allow the status quo to continue try to shame concerned Americans by pointing to our history as a ‘nation of immigrants.’  In doing so, they omit certain critical data points:

  • Past waves of immigration, such as the early 1900s, were conducted according to strict legal protocols, requiring processing at such places as Ellis Island.  It was not a free-for-all “rush for the border” as we have today.
  • Previous immigrants had to prove, among other things, that they had the means to be self-supporting.
  • Previous sources of immigration were mainly from Western European nations with at least a tenuous connection with the English social and political context that framed the United States.  Today, not so much.  (Note the dramatic change on this animated map, both in terms of volume and sources of immigration, starting about 1970.)

This is not to say that individual people from other parts of the world are any less human. It acknowledges, however, that culture is an essential facet of any country, and is not easily discarded in favor of a new worldview. In short, we have allowed alien ways of thought to establish themselves among us, with major implications for the future of our Constitutional heritage.

Much, if not most of our current inflow of people is from Latin America.  Is it not prudent, then, to examine the fact Latin America is “the murder capital of the world?”

With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for roughly a third of global murders. It is also the only region where lethal violence has grown steadily since 2000, according to United Nations figures. Nearly one in every four murders around the world takes place in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. 

The linked article goes on to note most of these murders are never solved, a result of the very weak legal systems and lack of accountability that exist in most of the countries south of the Rio Grande.  Gangs like MS-13 represent the effective local authority, and it should be no surprise that as we continue to receive large numbers of people from this area, that the established gangs export their influence north with it.  It’s understandable to want to help people fleeing such lawlessness.  But such an impulse has to be tempered by at least two questions:

  • Given the pervasiveness of violence and lawlessness, are we willing to import the entire populations of countries like El Salvador or Honduras to allow their people to escape it?  For how many nations are we willing to do this?
  • Does it do any good to permit large-scale immigration from this region that results in importing to the U.S. the very social problems so many profess to be fleeing?

The first duty of any legitimate government is the protection of its own citizens, not provision to outsiders.  Yet many of our leaders seem to turn that on its head, viciously attacking and slandering any who then question their priorities.  In turning the U.S. into the world’s charity, we have forgotten a warning given to us in the famous parable by C.S. Lewis:

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

Indeed, the benevolence we think we bestow when we allow people to move to America only to become trapped in ethnic enclaves as wards of the state, is indeed largely imaginary.  Worse, it breeds understandable resentment among citizens who see their job prospects (see: H1B) and sources of public support diverted to newcomers, many of whom already broke our laws just coming here.

Our commendable compassion is being used to subvert us, and it’s well past time that stopped.  It isn’t compassionate to destroy one’s own nation trying to provide dubious help to others.  Universal birthright citizenship and the resulting “anchor babies” need to go, as does the vast majority of immigration of any kind for the foreseeable future.  When the lifeboat is already leaking and listing as the U.S. is, it’s suicidal to keep adding to the passenger list.

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.

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?

Treasures should be guarded

I’ve noted before that we have greatly cheapened the value of U.S. citizenship.  If anyone from anywhere can sneak into our country with a reasonable expectation that if they “hide in the shadows” long enough for another amnesty, then our birthright citizenship means nothing — or nada, if you must.  That should be completely unacceptable to any citizen already here.

One particular aspect of that citizenship that is clearly neglected is our voting process.  There should be absolutely no opposition to requiring photo I.D. to cast a vote — but the soft bigotry of low expectations (plus a desire for a fraud-conducive system) in the Democratic Party keeps claiming there’s no need, and that it’s an undue burden on minorities.

That’s a load of Donkey manure.  One already needs a photo ID to do all sorts of everyday things.  But the Left says there’s no indication enough fraud exists to require such documentation.

Well, how about this:

Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during last month’s presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News…

“There’s always going to be small problems to some degree, but we didn’t expect the degree of problem we saw in Detroit. This isn’t normal,” said Krista Haroutunian, chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers…  (emphasis added)

Republican state senators last week called for an investigation in Wayne County, including one precinct where a Detroit ballot box contained only 50 of the 306 ballots listed in a poll book, according to an observer for Trump.

Detroit has not had a Republican mayor since 1962.  It’s safe to say there’s a well-oiled Democratic political machine in that city now, and that the Democrats have run everything as Detroit went from being a high-flying manufacturing center to a broken shell of its former self.  As for the comment above “this isn’t normal,” I’d say it applies more to getting caught than to having such irregularities.  What’s amusing is that this came to light because Jill Stein and her Green Party demanded a recount that spent a boatload of money in Michigan and Wisconsin only to find Trump had 131 more votes in Wisconsin than originally recorded on election day.

Everything today revolves around convenience, which is why the arguments against voter I.D. have traction.  Simply put, a lot of people don’t care if a lot of their neighbors are too lazy to take the few required steps to participate in what should be a secure voting process.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in order to vote, you should have to pass a basic civics exam on how the Constitution sets up our government, you should have to have photo I.D. to vote, and your finger should be dipped in a Red, White or Blue ink (your choice) that doesn’t wash/rub out for a couple days. (I also believe that if you’re on public assistance, your voting rights should be temporarily suspended.  Make sure you can take care of yourself before you start impacting others.)

I was in Iraq when they held their first post-Saddam election.  From what I saw, they took their process and its security much more seriously than we do.  That should shame us into action.  Iraqis went to polling stations even with the threat of terrorist activity across the country (something that, thankfully, we only know a little about… for now).  And we can’t be bothered to get an I.D.?  Give me a break.

Clean up the voter rolls, pass the photo I.D. requirement nationally, and start making people demonstrate knowledge of the system and its history before letting them participate in it.  Compared to how many have died or been wounded over the decades to give us the space and freedom to even hold elections, is that really too much to ask?  Some things worth having are not convenient to maintain…

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

— Thomas Paine, from “The American Crisis,” written when protecting freedom (during the American Revolution) was a lot more inconvenient than it is today.