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?

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Calling them out

The corporate press in America preens about being an agent of accountability for public officials.  In recent years, though, many Americans have come to wonder “who watches the watchers?”

Thanks to the internet, the answer can be: everybody.  Knowing this, President Trump executed a genius communication move last night by announcing his “1st Annual Fake News Awards.”  While some may have laughed at the claim these were “highly anticipated,” events bore the description out as the hosting GOP website crashed for approximately two hours after the tweet (from all the incoming traffic), and on Twitter the hashtag #FakeNewsAwards trended globally (it still is as of this writing, more than 14 hours later).

Some in the press are trying to counter by pointing out the mistakes on the list were later acknowledged and corrected.  And for the most part, they’re correct — while still being disingenuous.  Any student of journalism knows the first copy is what gets the attention — retractions almost never get the same level of resonance.  What Trump’s compilation does is remind and show overall just how sloppy/slanted/partisan the news coverage was in 2017 as the press hurried to seize on anything that might remotely make him look bad, without taking time to verify or research context.  (Hint to media executives: when your only source is that another news outlet is reporting something, you’re on very shaky ground.)  It is a very damning list.

By releasing the compliation on Twitter, Trump circumvented the media gatekeepers.  His public stature prevents Twitter from blocking such a move, but it’s worth noting plenty of voices on the Right are being silenced deliberately there and on other prominent internet platforms.  The press is working overtime to respond to Trump today, but that means they are reacting to his messaging, rather than producing their own biased news cycles.  And in doing so, they are giving the compilation even more coverage, potentially showing more Americans the sum total of what the epithet “fake news” really means.

As I said, it was a genius communication move.

In desperation, some have taken to claiming that Trump’s effort to point out media errors amounts to attacking the First Amendment, and equating it to various dictators’ muzzling of opponents.  This childishness trivializes the very real dangers advocates of free speech, criticism and accountability face around the world today.  Let’s be blunt: the First Amendment does not provide anyone the right to print whatever they want without being challenged for it.  When corporate news have to have the administration’s prior permission to run their stories, or CNN’s Jim Acosta is arrested or killed I might reevaluate the vacuousness of this whining, but not until.

I still shake my head in amazement that our nation’s reached the point where Donald Trump could become president.  But as others have pointed out, he looks a lot better if you evaluate him by what he’s done, versus what he says or what’s said about him.  In the meantime, Trump is showing how to play offense in this struggle, the media are getting a dose of their own medicine and it’s clear they don’t like it one little bit.  To which I can only say:

It’s about time.

Who needs credibility?

UPDATE: a good summary of a bad media week can be found here.

The mainstream press is tripping all over itself trying to manufacture scandals for the Trump administration — and in the process, shredding what little credibility they have left.  They are as uniformly hostile to Trump as they were protective of Obama, and anyone who believes their claims of objectivity is simply either not paying attention, or is beyond reasoning with.  The press is being aided in their efforts by Robert Mueller’s investigative politically partisan team, which is habitually (and illegally) leaking material to said press.

The Department of Justice would do well to look into both the leaking by the special counsel’s investigative team, and the editorial processes that keep producing these slanderous misfires by the press.

CNN thought it had a major scoop indicating Donald Trump and his inner circle coordinated with Russian-aligned operatives in 2016 to tilt the presidential election.

CNN was wrong

The CNN report hinged entirely on an email that was supposedly sent on Sept. 4. The September email to Trump and his team included a “decryption key and website address” for the WikiLeaks dump, the article added.

There’s a major, glaring error in this story, which CNN promoted all Friday morning and into the afternoon.

The email upon which the entire story hinges was sent on Sept. 14, not Sept. 4, meaning the email merely pointed Trump’s team to a trove of already-public hacked DNC documents.

The difference between Sept. 4 and Sept. 14 is difference between someone merely flagging already public information and someone quietly slipping the GOP nominee and his team advance access to hacked correspondences.

CBS News also misreported independently that the email was dated September 4.

Why is this even an issue?

And why did it take the Administration six months to enact ANY penalties?

The Department of Justice is cracking down even further on so-called sanctuary cities, saying that cities with such policies are not eligible for a federal assistance program used to help fight violent crime.

According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, four cities — Albuquerque, N.M., Baltimore, Md., San Bernardino, Calif., and Sotckton, Calif. — have expressed interest in the department’s Public Safety Partnership, or PSP, program.  The initiative was launched in June in 12 cities that the Justice Department said needed “significant assistance” in combating “gun crime, drug trafficking and gang violence.”

Now, in letters to those cities, which limit cooperation with the federal government when it comes to immigration law, Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson tells the police chiefs they must show a “commitment to reducing violent crime stemming from illegal immigration” in order to be added to the PSP program.

The four cities must prove to the Justice Department by Aug. 18 that they will give federal immigration agents access to jails to question immigrants, as well as provide 48 hours notice to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the release date and time of someone who has been flagged for violating federal immigration law.  The cities must also show they do not block communication between local police and federal immigration agents.

The basic premise of “Sanctuary Cities” is flagrant disregard of federal law.  The Federal government shouldn’t just withhold funding from a new program.  Any such declared “Sanctuary city” should lose ALL federal funding of any kind (not just from the Justice Department), and any public officials who have declared intent not to comply should be removed from office under the Constitution’s supremacy clause.

This is a national security issue — one of the very few areas where I believe the Federal government has the main role.  The costs of our lax and negligent enforcement of immigration law has led directly to the rape and murder of U.S. citizens.  No State or local government complicit in such defiance and mayhem has any legitimate claim to ANY Federal funds of any kind.

I am not a fan of strong Federal government, but where it has been tasked specifically by the Constitution to do certain things it should do them vigorously and well.  To that end, the President should immediately do the following:

  1. Suspend ALL federal funds to any declared “sanctuary city.”
  2. Arrest ALL officials who have openly supported such areas as having knowingly aided and abetted illegal immigration and the crimes that result from it
  3. Refuse to allow Congress to recess until it has passed full funding of enhanced border security (including the wall) and eliminated the H1B and H2B visa programs.

The administration’s current push toward prioritizing legal immigration to those who already speak English and have skills to offer is but a tiny step in the direction we must go.  And it’s good to see an official remind the press that a poem added to the Statue of Liberty 18 years after it was erected does NOT constitute national immigration policy.

Open borders and a welfare state are NOT compatible.  I’ve said it before: there should not be unemployment benefits at the same time we’re importing foreigners to “do the jobs Americans won’t do.”  Close the borders, and the wages for jobs will rise until people ARE willing to do them (cutting off unemployment benefits will be a motivator as well).  The administration is absolutely right to say that immigration policy should be based first on what is good for America and the people already here.

That includes repatriation of all those who are here illegally, no matter how long they’ve managed to “live in the shadows.”  Lawbreaking is lawbreaking, period.

The truly sad thing about the Left’s abuse of the appeal to compassion and emotion is that, for people like me, it’s been worn out.  NOTHING short of full-up globalism will satisfy these people, and that is not in anybody’s interest except for a handful of string-pullers behind the scenes.  Although well-traveled, I am NOT a “citizen of the world.”  I am an American, one who’s worn the uniform to defend my patrimony, and I’ll be damned if idiots like CNN’s Jim Acosta are going to simply give away what I and generations before me have fought to preserve.

As for the Republicans who’ve done all they can to stymie Trump, I’ll simply say this: he’s not our last chance.  He’s your last chance.  A last chance to show the system is in any way responsive to the problems facing real Americans.  And if you undermine that chance, you do so at the very real peril of convincing those who love what America once stood for that our government has become destructive of Life, Liberty and property, and that we need to institute new safeguards for our liberties.

If (when?) it comes to that, it’ll be, in the words of the President, “sad.”  But also necessary.  And probably long overdue.

Why CNN is now a target

Since the election of Trump, CNN has gone completely out of its way to distort reality to support its preferred narratives.  See recent example below (helpfully recaptioned at the bottom to bring us back to reality):

CNN's world

Full disclosure: I personally scrolled back through CNN’s Twitter feed to confirm that yes, they did in fact Tweet that message and image.  I also visited EuroNews to confirm the quote that was added to the bottom of the image above. (Due diligence is more important today than ever before).

This is how little respect CNN has for the average viewer’s intelligence.  (To be fair, even the college-educated aren’t necessarily prepared to think critically these days.)  It took me less than five minutes to confirm both parts of the meme above, and to cross check with other news sites that noted the more violent aspects of the G20 Summit protests.  Yet CNN boils it down on Twitter to a “we are the world” gathering of “peaceful” protestors.  Even in their own photo, the question should come up “why so many police officers there?”  But answering that question would mean looking at the long history of Leftist violence at such international meetings (such as the “Battle in Seattle.”).  There are many like me who also distrust the globalist agenda for different reasons, but you don’t (yet) see us acting like this on a regular basis.

Angry at the deception yet?  In the event you think this is just an isolated instance of malpractice on CNN’s part, here’s some more reading for you.  This isn’t new for CNN — or, for that matter, most of the corporate media world (I include Fox in that as well, for what it’s worth).  The divide between reality and their reporting has been growing for some time.  With the election of Obama, however, most of what was left of the pretense of objective journalism was jettisoned in order to enable the Anointed One’s “fundamental transform(ation)” of America.

CNN’s reputation deserves the trashing it’s currently experiencing.  But while it’s fun to see the media get a well-deserved comeuppance, let’s also remember that if there’s to be a restoration in this nation critical thinking and rational discourse MUST be taught and emphasized again — even in policy areas where the facts are very uncomfortable to the individually messianic “we can save the world” worldview.

Distract and demolish?

While CNN (and many of its fellow travelers) are now caught up in the fact the network essentially threatened to “out” a citizen for exercising free speech, the Trump administration continues to make at least American history great again:

President Trump donated the first quarter of his presidential salary (to the Antietam Battlefield National Park) in early April, totaling $78,333.  The Interior Department said that after Trump donated his salary to the National Park Service, anonymous donors sent money for the agency to use in preserving the nation’s historic parks, which are suffering from a $12 billion maintenance backlog.

On top of this, Trump has reduced White House spending:

There are 110 fewer employees on White House staff under Trump than under Obama at this point in their respective presidencies.  Nineteen fewer staffers are dedicated to The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Currently, there are five staffers dedicated to Melania Trump vs. 24 staffers who served Michelle Obama (FY2009).

The pattern in all of this seems to be that Trump’s seemingly random social media messages are keeping the corporate media in a state of apoplexy while his administration actually has the nerve to do some of the things he promised to do:

Trump scares the media, makes them angry, and distracts them. Meanwhile, quietly he moves from accomplishment to accomplishment. Downsizing the State department and EPA. Getting most of his travel ban enacted. Illegal immigration is down significantly. Exited TPP and the Paris accords. Hiring freeze on federal employees. Revocation of DAPA. Border wall prototypes being built. Handcuffs removed from ICE. Supporting apprenticeships. Reestablishing the Space Council. Establishing an American Technology Council. Establishing the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. Implementing a strategy for “America First” offshore oil drilling. Reducing federal power and increasing local power over education. Revocation of multiple executive orders written by Barack Obama. Directed EPA to revoke “Waters of the United States” regulation (the one that extended federal control of waterways to include non-navigable waterways such as irrigation ditches, flood ponds, and puddles). Revoked Obama’s Social Security gun ban. Revoked DoE Title IX guidelines. Banned administration officials from lobbying their federal agencies for five years, as well as banning them for life from lobbying foreign nations and political parties.

This is only a partial list. And while this has been happening the MSM has been focused on fake Russian collusion and his tweets and his trolling.

I believe that these are effective tactics supporting a long term strategy, and that it is working.

Several of the accomplishments above took considerable time and coordination.  Many of Trump’s choices for key positions seemed solid when first announced (It doesn’t get any better than General James Mattis for SecDef).  If it turns out that he put principled, capable people in charge of executing his promised agenda, then provided top cover by keeping the corporate media focused on him personally rather than what his administration was doing, it’s possible he might go down as one of our more accomplished presidents.  Despite the cringe-inducing antics at times, it seems the president may understand how to navigate and negate our current media-saturated environment better than any Republican president since at least Reagan — if not earlier.

Here’s hoping there truly is a method behind the madness.