For those with ears to hear

I was impressed by President Trump’s State of the Union address.  It was one of his better public speaking performances, and whoever helped him craft the remarks instilled some great message discipline.  The speech covered a wide range of topics, some of which I thought could have been left for a different venue in order to tighten up the key points.  But those key points shone through, as this analysis by Glenn Reynolds shows:

So one of the interesting things about Trump’s speech last night is how it seemed calculated to demolish all the standard anti-Trump tropes from the media and from the left and to do so with compelling imagery. Consider:

Trump’s a Nazi: Praise for Holocaust survivors, and a touching rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (With Trump waving his fingers like a conductor).
Trump hates minorities: Brags about record low black, Hispanic, and Asian unemployment — while white-clad Democratic women, overwhelmingly white themselves, sat prune-faced.
Trump’s a Russian tool: Withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
Trump’s a warmonger: Without me, Trump says, we’d be at war on the Korean peninsula. Also, I’m looking at pulling out of Afghanistan.
Trump hates women: Except he got even the prune-faced white-clad Democratic women up dancing (and chanting “USA! USA!”) when he talked about record female employment in and out of Congress.

And his rebuke to socialism was designed to strip the glamour that the media have tried to imbue it with by tying it to the abject misery of Venezuela.

In debate, I think this is called cutting across your opponent’s flow. ((As a former competitive debater, I can confirm that term.  – Jemison))  And I think it’s Trump’s opening shot at 2020, as well as an effort to undercut the “Resistance” in and out of Congress. Plus, as Ann Althouse notes, despite the predictions of lefties like Robert Reich (see below) it was all wrapped in optimism and sunny American exceptionalism.

Genuinely Reaganesque.

There’s one Reynolds missed.  While I’m not in favor of the government providing taxpayer-funded family leave after the birth of a child, I was very glad to see him pivot from the “image of a mother holding her new baby” to the horrors of the recent pro-abortion legislation in New York and Virginia.  The contrast was deliberate and well-executed, followed by a call to Congress to outlaw late-term abortion (it’s a start).

Overall I was encouraged by the way in which the speech was an invitation to work together for the good of the country, without retreating from strongly held policy positions.  If the goal in politics is to capture the middle ground, I think Trump did a good job of it last night.

Naturally, many in the country today are dismissing everything he had to say.  Some, like Senator Chuck Schumer, were dismissing it even before hearing it.  No matter how reasonable Trump tries to be, nor how many facts he arms his talking points with, there will continue to be those partisans who refuse to listen.  Not only because they are invested in the Democratic party, but because they abhor the vision of America Trump’s election represents — a return to the roots, if you will.  The most “Reaganesque” moment of the speech in my opinion was when Trump pledged our nation would never be a socialist country.  The fact there were audible boos in the halls of Congress to this rejection of socialism should be a wakeup call to Americans who value their freedom.  It is not hyperbole to say there are members of Congress dedicated to subverting everything our Constitution and our history stand for.  They will not be swayed by reasonable arguments, demonstrable facts or the evidences of history.  They will have to be fought tooth and nail as if the survival of our nation depends on it.

Because it does.

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This -n- That

There’s been a lot going on this week.  While I haven’t had time to write a long-form post till now, here are a few scattered thoughts on recent developments:

It’s interesting that for a couple days it looked as though Trump were going squishy on demanding funding for border security (the wall).  But as with many issues in this administration, it often seems the news coverage greatly exaggerates the death of the president’s resolve on key issues (and this may the media’s intent).  It says something that within 24 hours the talk went from Trump being stymied by his own party in the House, to Speaker Ryan very publicly bending to the administration’s wishes.  In short, Trump comes out of this with a stronger hand, not a weaker one, even if the Senate fails to follow through.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of Tocqueville’s observations about Americans self-organizing, “we the people” are making a stab at ‘doing the jobs our government won’t do,’ to appropriate a phrase.  In less than 4 days, a private fundraising effort for the wall has drawn nearly 200,000 donors and, as of this writing, over $12.1 million.  While this large sum is dwarfed by the estimated $5 billion to build the wall, the enthusiasm being shown may well have tipped the balance for the actions in the House yesterday.  There is, after all, more than one way for the citizens to make their point, if they are determined to do so.

The departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis set many tongues wagging yesterday.  Mattis was a highly regarded Marine general and military intellectual, known as the ‘warrior monk’ before putting on the suit and taking over as SECDEF.  But as others have pointed out, having operational and tactical savvy doesn’t necessarily translate into strategic acumen.  Regardless, it appears his resignation was predicated on disagreeing with Trump’s intent to disengage from Syria and greatly reduce our footprint in Afghanistan.  If they fundamentally disagreed on these policies, the honorable thing was for him to resign, not to backbite the president from the official perch at the Pentagon.  So regardless whether Trump’s policy proves wise or not, I respect Mattis for his action.  I also respect Trump for following through on a campaign promise to stop policing the world.  Unless someone can articulate a very clear, rational vision of what staying in Afghanistan can achieve, it’s time to recognize 17 years of occupation is long enough.  Let Syria and Afghanistan figure out their own destinies, and let’s free America to do the same by extricating ourselves from all these nebulous multilateral commitments.

That includes immigration.  The United Nations lived up to its reputation as wanting to be a global proto-government by creating a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”  In other words, facilitating the mass movement of peoples into alien lands.  The United States was one of only five nations who refused to sign onto the compact, correctly noting it was an attempt to create international “soft law” that would infringe on our national sovereignty.  The other four refusals came from Israel, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic — all of whom have been under pressure for months due to their refusal to allow open passage across their borders.  Instead, they are putting the needs of their own citizens first… and what’s so immoral about that?

The real immorality today is the utter lack of accountability shown by the leaders of these various nations to the aspirations of their people and the requirements of the law. Whether it’s Theresa May slow-rolling the Brexit process, Emmanuel Macron trying to tax his people in the name of dubious “climate change” fearmongering or former FBI Director James Comey showing his utter disregard for legal protocols, the attitude is the same.  The main question today is how much longer will these globalist charlatans escape consequences for their actions.

A view from the ground

Given that a large portion of the ‘migrant caravan’ crashing against our southern border is from Honduras, it might be useful to hear from someone familiar with conditions in that country:

I am not involved in politics but would like to present to you a new perspective in regards to the current immigration crisis based on our daily life and experiences on the northern coast of Honduras. I speak fluent Spanish and live alongside Hondurans every day in the workplace, in the local community and in the most intimate corners of my own home. Although I will never be able to change the color of my skin or re-write my cultural history, I do know and love the Honduran people and have lived in this culture my entire adult life…

Some are indeed refugees seeking legitimate asylum. But others are simply fleeing generally difficult (but not dire) conditions, or have simply chosen what seems to be the easier route of escape. It is not impossible to forge a humble living in Honduras (over 9 million Hondurans survive in this culture every day), although it is true that much corruption, lack of opportunities and violence abound…

We who are on the frontlines in Honduras have offered high-quality free education and character formation in the Living Waters Ranch school we operate out of our rural homestead to over 100 at-risk Honduran youth in the past five years. More than half have walked out because they admittedly had no interest in studying or preparing for the future. This type of apathetic attitude is common among youth in our area…

Honduras is in desperate need of reform and an effective judicial system as it is overwhelmingly true that injustice and violence reign. But that does not mean that the solution is for Hondurans to flee the country illegally…

If the United States accepts the several thousand immigrants in the caravan, there are still over 9 million Hondurans living in what those who have fled claim to be unbearable circumstances on Honduran soil. What good can be brought about by extending help to a very small percentage who present themselves as refugees unless wide-scale change will be brought about by and for the masses who have stayed behind?

The natural bent of human beings is to travel the path of least resistance.  That’s why upholding standards is important — to incentivize desired outcomes and deter undesirable ones.  Right now our squishy enforcement of immigration law means that for many, trying to jump the fence in Tijuana is far easier than organizing to try to improve conditions at home.  A major problem is that this wave of invaders is bringing with it the very cultural patterns that facilitate those conditions in the country they left, such as a lack of planning for the future, a disregard for law and order and a willingness to step on others to achieve what one has not earned on their own.

None of that is to say that individual Hondurans are somehow subhuman or unworthy of a better life.  (For the record, my wife and I sponsored three children in Honduras for about a dozen years through Compassion International).  The problem here is collective culture.  The roots of Latin American culture are inarguably different from those that resulted in the formation of the United States.  Indeed, the cultural path from which the United States descended is different from just about every other part of the world, save certain portions of Europe (which, tragically, are even farther along in the process of abandoning it).  We are justified in saying to those sneaking in for the benefits that, in the words of a former President, “you didn’t build that.”  They don’t sustain it, either.

Politics, it is said, is downstream from culture.  That’s why the emphasis on multiculturalism in the U.S. over the past half century has been so destructive: it is eroding the foundation upon which our social norms and system of governance rest.  We have been inundated with new arrivals who do not understand why our nation has been so successful, and have little to no desire to learn.  They just want the U.S. to subsidize a lifestyle their own cultures couldn’t produce.  Trouble is, as more such people arrive, it is transforming our own culture in such a way we may not be so successful for much longer.

Being a compassionate nation is praiseworthy.  But there is no compassion in taking away the birthright of one to hand it to another.  Those who profess sympathy for the plight of Hondurans have other options available to them.  The author of the linked piece is far from being the only American to forego the comforts of home to invest their life with another people.  Missionaries have done so for decades — centuries, even.  The difference is that in the past a consciously Christian West was sending them out and sustaining them to bring to others the light of Christ, from Whom all other lasting blessings flow.

Now, however, the “bleeding hearts” follow their own path of least resistance: “it’s easier to help by just letting in anyone who wants to come.”  That attitude is indicative of the same short-sightedness and willingness to step on the rights of others that hobbles many other countries around the world.  It is treating the symptoms, not the problems.  For many, it’s also a cynical move to “elect a new people” more amenable to their political agenda.

Everyone has the right to take personal action to help another.  No one has the right to subsume an entire country in aliens just to feed their self-esteem or lust for power.

Another step in the right direction

Yesterday I made note of President Trump’s decision to deploy 5,000 military personnel to support the Border Patrol as an increasing number of crowds of migrants head toward our frontier.  It’s worth noting the latest group to storm across the Guatemala-Mexico border, headed north, appears to be armed:

The second migrant caravan, believed to be armed with bombs and guns, crossed into Mexico on Monday despite a huge police presence.

Hundreds of migrants following in the footsteps of the first caravan heading to the U.S. border crossed a river from Guatemala.

The second group back at the Guatemalan frontier has been more unruly than the first that crossed. Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said Guatemalan police officers were injured when the migrant group broke through border barriers on Guatemala’s side of the bridge.

Mexico authorities said migrants attacked its agents with rocks, glass bottles and fireworks when they broke through a gate on the Mexican end but were pushed back, and some allegedly carried guns and firebombs.

More Americans need to be asking how these groups of hundreds and thousands are making a trek of more than 1,000 miles to “El Norte.”  Anyone familiar with military movement knows such a mass of humanity requires considerable logistics support.  Who is paying for all of thisWhy aren’t they being identified and pressured to stop?

Here’s what’s going to happen: when this wave of people reaches the U.S. border, they will be abandoned by their enablers.  Whoever is behind this is not going to fund returning these people to their countries of origin.  They will expect the situation to cause migrants to try desperately to get across the border by force, or else form huge squalid camps of squatters.  Either way, they expect video that will play on heartstrings to get their way.  Again.  The question is whether our nation has the will to say “no means no.”

It appears at least the President may.  Word is that he plans to attack one of the main motivations for these groups: “birthright citizenship:”

President Trump plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil, he said yesterday…

John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told “Axios on HBO” that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. — green card holders and citizens.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that children born to immigrants who are legal permanent residents have citizenship. But those who claim the 14th Amendment should not apply to everyone point to the fact that there has been no ruling on a case specifically involving undocumented immigrants or those with temporary legal status.

If Trump follows through on the executive order, “the courts would have to weigh in in a way they haven’t,” Eastman said.

And that is a legal fight well worth picking.  I fully agree with Eastman that the 14th Amendment has been misapplied — abused, really — to twist our legal system into knots over a number of issues.  Historical context clearly shows the citizenship clause was designed to clarify the status of former slaves after the Civil War.  Virtually no other country in the world has a system where a pregnant woman can illegally enter the country, have a baby that’s automatically a citizen, then use that “anchor” baby’s status to sponsor scores of relatives into said country.  That’s demographic invasion by stealth, which is precisely what’s been going on the last half century.

I’ve said before that we give away citizenship and the privileges of voting far too cheaply.  Our current system provides huge incentive for people to make the hazardous journey to enter our country illegally.  If birthright citizenship were properly abolished, it’s likely few people would continue to pay large sums to shady “coyotes” to be smuggled across the border, often to be abandoned to die in the desert on the other side.

Leftists will accuse our country of heartlessness if we both secure the border and dismantle birthright citizenship.  In fact, we’ll be removing incentives that have led innumerable people to risk their lives — often losing — to cross our border.

These steps are long overdue.  The time is also right to ask the Supreme Court to finally rule on the issue, as there are two new members (Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) who respect the Constitution in its original context.  If Trump is successful in repelling the current invasion and getting a Supreme Court ruling abolishing the misguided concept of birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, he will have earned a spot in the pantheon of our greatest presidents.

Who’d have imagined it?

It’s a good start

It appears that for the first time since World War II, the U.S. will actually use its military to defend its own borders:

The U.S. military plans to deploy 5,000 troops to the southwest U.S. border in anticipation of a caravan of would-be asylum seekers and migrants currently moving northward in Mexico, U.S. officials said Monday.

“This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” President Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday morning, without directly mentioning troop numbers.

Under the latest plans, about 1,800 troops will go to Texas, 1,700 to Arizona and 1,500 to California. The troops will be drawn from about 10 U.S. Army installations and consist largely of military police and engineers, one of the U.S. officials said. U.S. Marines also will be deployed, the U.S. official said.

Some already have begun to deploy to the area and most are expected to serve there until mid-December, a Pentagon official said.

The concept appears to be have the military run (and likely expand) detention centers, freeing up Border Patrol personnel to police the border and effect arrests.  There seems to be great reluctance to use the military directly for border enforcement, though there is no legal reason preventing them.  The Posse Comitatus Act prevents using the military for domestic law enforcement, and does not apply to the defense of an international frontier.  That said, I can understand the administration’s attention to the optics of the matter.

It must be said, however, that this has to be a sustained effort.  The troops that are expected to leave in “mid-December” must be replaced with others.  We’ve sustained rotational deployments overseas since 9/11; there’s no reason we can’t do the same at home.  This can’t be a temporary “look like we’re doing something” the way previous deployments of Guard forces to the border have been.  Only a sustained and public commitment to being serious about controlling our border will deter future “caravans.”

Be sure to vote a week from Tuesday for a Congress that will back the administration on this and many other issues.

Words matter

After briefly flirting with an accurate headline, the Associated Press is forced to, um, retreat:

The Associated Press on Sunday changed a headline after a backlash from liberals furious at the AP for describing a caravan of illegal immigrants heading towards the United States as an “army of migrants.”

“A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US,” read the original headline on the AP story. The AP later changed the headline to replace the word “army” with “caravan.”

Though the AP has used the word “army” to refer to large groups of people besides migrants — including nurses and political activists — many on the political left criticized the wire service for its original headline.

That would be because the original headline didn’t conceal the impact of this mass of invaders the way “caravan” does.  The Left doesn’t want people waking up to the fact that carrying a weapon is not required to be an invader.  What other term would you use to describe a group of thousands of people, carrying the flags of their (supposedly oppressive) nation of origin, who break through border barricades and refuse to heed orders of local officials?

As I’ve stated before, this is a pivotal moment. No longer are immigrants content to quietly seep across our porous borders. Now they are arriving loudly, by the thousands, proclaiming that nobody can stop them. Nor are they pretending they will “assimilate.” If this succeeds, we no longer have even the pretense of sovereignty.

Trump is said to have told the military this is a national emergency, and if true, he is correct. The enemies of our nation are looking for a confrontation that results in capitulation. This cannot be allowed. There is likely fear of the “optics” of efforts to halt this mass of people. That cannot be the deciding factor, in no small part because of the optics of NOT stopping it.

Deadly force is not necessarily the only option (though frankly, at this point I fear it may come to that). The military has a considerable number of non-lethal crowd control tools, many battle-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now is the time to employ them to enforce our border. If 5,000 people march to the Rio Grande, only to have their skin heated by microwaves and eardrums blasted by sonic weapons, and have to abandon their effort, it will send a loud message that we have regained the will to control our own destiny.

If we lack that will, we should disband our armed forces. Because if this caravan army succeeds, it will only be the first of many to follow — with our nation vanquished shortly thereafter.

Don’t just threaten — simply do it

Another large group of Central Americans are headed north to the United States, clearly egged on and financially supported by various interests opposed to U.S. sovereignty.  The timing of this is obvious, to underscore the issue just as we reach the election.  As such, it is a make-or-break situation for the administration, which campaigned on regaining control of our borders.

The president is saying the right things.  The question is whether his administration will follow through, with all the “resisting” that will engender on the Left.

Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to seal America’s southern border with military force unless Mexico intervenes to stop the flow of illegal immigrants traveling to the U.S. from Central America.

The stern, tweeted warning came as a group of more than 4,000 travels north through Mexico in the hope of reaching the United States, despite having no visas or other legal papers to enter.

Trump blamed his Democratic rivals for the resulting chaos, saying ‘they want Open Borders and existing weak laws.’

I’ll repeat what I’ve said here many times: the sole legitimate purpose of a military is to secure a nation from invasion and external interference.  But that seems to be the only thing we WON’T use it for in recent decades.  If our country doesn’t have the will to seal our borders against obvious and recurrent provocations, then we deserve the fate that awaits us.  These invaders won’t become Americans.  They will continue to make America a little more like the places they came from.  I don’t recall “we the people” agreeing to that.

The gauntlet is being thrown, in a very public fashion.  Trump has to respond, or will lose the support of a significant part of his base: Americans who feel increasingly alienated in their own country.  The Left believes that confrontation on the border, covered by a sympathetic press, will help their cause.  But if Trump has the backbone to use the military and all other resources at his disposal to detain this entire group, holding them for immediate processing back to their home country, he likely can ensure his reelection in 2020.

The next three weeks should be interesting ones.