Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
As Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan ramp up efforts to take on entitlement reform in 2018, you will hear several takes along the way about how the GOP doesn’t care about hungry kids, the elderly, and folks who actually need assistance from the government. Wading through these responses from far leftists and Democrat politicians sound like an episode of The Dr. Oz Show, where everything Republicans vote on or propose can “literally” kill you.
My views on entitlements cause many disagreements between myself and many of my Republican friends and counterparts. It’s one of many things that I feel justifies the self-identifying “Conservative Democrat” label. My Republican friends in college believed that helping others is never fully achieved through taxes, rather it was the role of private charities (nonprofits, churches, etc.). While I don’t disagree with that, I also think it’s incredibly important for the government to step in where those charities cannot. In some regards, we have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves, be it in the form of SNAP for the family that’s having a tough time after the loss of a job, in the form of disability assistance for those who have a legitimate ailment that requires lots of medical assistance and renders them unable to work full capacity, and helping our seniors, many of whom were promised those social security benefits at retirement age from the time they started working. I get the point: it’s our own responsibility to help ourselves and largely, I agree with that. But unfortunate situations and circumstances happen and for those exceptions, our government should be there where private charities are not.
The Card With No Limit
There are many who wonder where I cultivated any sort of fiscal conservatism as a Democrat. It all started when I worked at the town grocery store through my last few years of high school. I worked about 40 hours a week, minimum wage, and there were great and not so great things about it. But it was where I learned that many people (not all, but many) who utilize EBT were able-bodied Americans who relied solely on the government to help them. Not the senior citizen who bought into the New Deal. Not the mother who worked 40+ hours a week who had a little extra help to do what she could for her kids.
For those who wonder where the term “entitlement” came from, you would have to be behind that cash register to fully understand it. While there were those who did not make a big deal about utilizing the SNAP/EBT program, there were several others who strutted about, flashed their cards like they were holding American Express Black; as if they were actually proud of being permanent recipients of a program that is meant to be a temporary fix. These weren’t Americans who needed a small boost to get them out of a hole; these were Americans who had officially given up on finding gainful employment. They succumbed to the belief that their role in life was to sit back and allow their government to control every aspect of their lives, including how much food their family was going to eat for the next two weeks. These were Americans who believed the American Dream was something they couldn’t provide for themselves. It used to make me angry as that sixteen-year old-cashier in small-town Arkansas. Looking back on those stories, I’m less angered and more heartbroken.
Sitting Alone At The Party
Those problems I listed are legitimate problems I have with certain entitlements and that is where the disconnect with many in my own party start. Democrats usually lie to themselves when they ignore these stories and others about people who claim SSI disability at ages nowhere near close to retirement caused by years of drug abuse, extreme obesity, “a bad back,” among other things. There is a sense of entitlement many people (not all, but many) on these programs have: it’s there, the government gives it to me, and I deserve this for [insert absurd reason here]. They don’t care what someone else earned and was taxed so that they could have food on their plate, be it the One Percenter up in the tower with their name on the building, the nurse making over 100K a year who squirrels most of her money away in 401K to keep the government’s hands off of it, the middle class family whose insurance went up post-Affordable Care Act, or the grocery store employee who stood there all day scanning groceries, struggling to eat ramen and pay bills while they arrogantly grin about the goodies in their basket.
I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a recipient of government programs. I utilized Pell Grant, loans, and other programs in college. I cashed out unemployment around the time I was fired from a stressful job in higher education. I’m not against help; it should exist for those who need it to get to the next part of their professional lives. But it amazes me that there are those who pay into these programs and “make too much money” to utilize them, usually those families in the middle class or single individuals who did the right thing and may actually need that temporary fix EBT or another program can provide.
Whenever anyone attempts to have a rational discussion about the long-term effects of creating a welfare state on the backs of others, an immediate shutdown occurs, followed by a play of identity politics. I actually had a young white millennial tell me one evening, “You’re black and you’re gay, how can you want a change in these programs?” when I stated how millions of Americans staying on entitlements long-term can harm our country.
For years, I would sort of dismiss or roll my eyes at my Republican friends who told me for years that Democrat politicians support these programs because it creates a voting base dependent upon them for survival. It seemed crazy to me that a party that claims to pride itself on help as needed (civil rights, LGBTQ rights, safe-legal-rare abortion, EBT, disability) would want people to remain dependent on the government exclusively for its survival. But witnessing how the last eight to ten years has created the worst sort of sense of entitlement and the worst sort of hyperbolic replies, (#ItsMyBody, #BakeMyCake, #EverythingIsRacist, #TaxTheRich) those Republicans begin to make a lot of sense.
Leave My Stuff Alone
I always believed in the mantra, “We help our kids, we help our seniors, we help those who have legitimate disabilities that render them unable to work, and we offer temporary assistance for those who need it. And everybody else needs to hit the pavement and work for the wages, their food, their health insurance.” For many on both sides of the aisle, that is unreasonable to ask. The far left says that’s not enough and everyone should have these things whether they can afford it or not, regardless of the reason. The far right believe “we” don’t help anyone but ourselves. But for many who share some of my line of thinking, these are things that we can negotiate and really explore. Having a rational discussion about a reasonable birth year to raise the age of Social Security or completely eliminate it, deciding a cap on SNAP/EBT programs in a lifetime, putting restrictions in place to keep those receiving these programs from abusing drugs are not unreasonable.
Democrats like California Senator Kamala Harris like to grandstand on entitlement reforms and ending government mandated healthcare by claiming the Republicans are “taking it from us.” What she and those who agree with her fail to realize is that Republicans can’t take something away from you that technically wasn’t yours to begin with. We talk about how we can cut military spending or cut multiple things funded by the government to provide food, clothing, and healthcare to millions. I agree that there is a lot of spending we should assess. But just because we can afford it, doesn’t mean that we should provide it. Attitudes like these slowly create societies where people feel financially and emotionally handicapped. It creates a society where programs aren’t temporary fixes but are permanent leaks and cracks that become too much for anyone fix. It eventually creates conditions like the ones you hear about in Venezuela, where the government rations your food and controls your money.
We need to strongly encourage an overhaul of government programs so those on entitlements who are nowhere near retirement age can jump into the workforce again, to be competitive in the workforce, to have income that is earned. The only way we can encourage that is by restricting or even eliminating programs designed to encourage those to rest on their laurels and forever enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor.
Regular Contributor Chad Felix Greene
It appears a major LGBT advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, is intentionally misrepresenting a now discredited claim that the Trump administration instructed the CDC not to use a series of words important to the Left. As Yuval Levin detailed in an article for National Review titled No, HHS Did Not ‘Ban Words’, the concern began when the Washington Post reported “The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.”
As Levin explains, however, “In other words, what happened regarding these other terms (“transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based”) was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided.”
The Left-wing media leapt to many conclusions ranging from demands of censorship to intentional targeting of LGBT Americans. On December 17th, 2017, the director of the CDC made a clear and public statement denying the assertion there were any banned words or that the Trump administration was interfering with research or reporting. On December 18th, 2017, the Human Rights Campaign tweeted: “After attempting to erase transgender Americans from CDC documents, we're now seeing the Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.”
Nevertheless, the thought of the CDC refusing to use the word ‘transgender’ sent ripples of worry and anxiety through the LGBT world, mostly validating what the Left already believes about president Trump. The Washington Blade quoted Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, saying, “For the CDC to be told when you’re submitting budget documents, don’t talk about transgender people, or even use the term is potentially horrifying.” The Blade further stated, “In the view of many LGBT advocates, the report reinforced the widely held belief the Trump administration is seeking to eliminate any mention of LGBT people from public life…”
Strangely, the HRC continued its efforts on December 19th, 2017 tweeting the list of words with the headline: HRC Projects CDC’s ‘Banned Words’ Onto Trump Hotel. The linked article contained an image of the phrase ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ projected onto the hotel. The article states, “In conjunction with the enormous light display, HRC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for any and all records, including communications with the CDC, relating to the banned words from November 2016 onward.”
On the same day they tweeted, “Our message for the Trump-Pence Administration is this: you cannot erase us. We will meet attacks on our community with a resolve to be louder and more visible than ever before.”
The Director of the CDC, as stated, clarified this as a misrepresentation a full two days prior by tweeting: “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.” And as Levin pointed out, it appears to be nothing more than members within the CDC presuming to know what Republican’s might react to and attempting to protect their budgets accordingly. This does not appear to be based on any evidence other than political prejudice. It is patently absurd to take the assumptions of politically-minded individuals within the CDC and determine it as evidence of motivation from the administration itself.
More baffling is that there is nothing to investigate here. Levin was easily able to verify the details and none of it is particularly nefarious. How could a massive organization representing the LGBT community stage a public protest two days after what they are protesting was proven to never have happened by official sources? From an outside perspective it seems the motivation is either purely blind dedication to a political narrative or intentional deception for the same goals. No honest, respectable organization would so blatantly deceive the public over something so easy to prove incorrect.
Unfortunately, the troubling truth is this organization is catering to an audience eager for protesting what they are utterly determined to believe is an oppressive government bent on their destruction. President Trump is arguably the most pro-gay president to ever walk into office and despite the hair-on-fire panic over his Vice Presidential choice, there is absolutely no indication his administration has any anti-LGBT goals in mind. The audacity to demand ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ has the same nonsensical pattern as the ‘You Will Not Replace Us!’ chant at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally earlier this year. Both groups seem profoundly lost in their own hallucination of events and are filled with outrage and intense emotion over absolutely nothing.
When ideological groups begin gathering to chant in defiance of their existence being threatened by an imaginary force, it becomes greatly concerning. What we see here is a series of confirmation bias events that appear to demonstrate a pattern. The HRC sites several Trump administration actions that provide evidence of this attempted ‘erasure’ of the LGBT community. They began in January of this year when they panicked over Trump ‘removing’ pages from the official White House website that included the words ‘LGBT.’ This, of course, was merely a transition from one presidency to another and Trump did not ‘remove’ anything. The next panic was over the accusation Trump ‘removed’ LGBT from the upcoming 2020 census report, a claim quickly proven false as sexual orientation and gender identity were not asked on the 2010 Obama-approved report previously.
More recently the HRC claimed the “…Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.” This claim appears to be nothing more than speculation as the comments provided were selected to present a positive light on the proposal. However, it assumes religious exemptions would somehow impact LGBTQ healthcare. Beyond refusing to perform transgender surgeries, there is no currently demanded religious objection to providing the same care to LGBTQ individuals as everyone else. There is nothing for the Trump administration to disclose, which is likely why nothing was.
Lastly, on December 18th, 2017 the HRC tweeted several times in regard to President Trump’s National Security speech demanding to know why LGBTQ issues were not specifically addressed. They stated, “As #LGBTQ people are under attack in Chechnya, Egypt, and elsewhere, this National Security Strategy doesn't even acknowledge LGBTQ people and the threats that they face.” Strangely, the Left appears to now be highly concerned about the treatment of LGBT people in Islamic countries and controlled areas, something President Obama never addressed and which they never demanded previously. The primary theme of President Trump’s security speech was security in the United States. LGBT do not face any significant threats in the United States.
What the LGBT Left has done is collect the above examples and pieced them together into a narrative which confirms their belief in an intentionally anti-LGBT administration. The latest outrage, despite being disproven, fuels this fire. They react to the lack of evidence, or in this case the refutation of their claims, by concluding that the disproved narrative is, in fact, true enough for their current emotional outrage. If challenged they will simply ignore the claims or create further narratives of conspiracy or media deception etc. to maintain the view. They simply do not care that it is false.
It is profoundly disturbing that an organization of this size and influence, however, would be so willing to participate in such dramatic deception. It legitimately appears that the HRC is dedicated to pushing a narrative of an oppressive and dangerous anti-LGBT Trump administration by any means necessary. Sadly, the majority of LGBT individuals will accept it as true because it already fits what they believe must be true. Has the LGBT movement fallen so far that they must fabricate outrage in order to stay relevant? Is this what LGBT individuals want in representation and advocacy? From a purely objective point of view, these types of stunts only discredit and hurt the movement as a whole.
We must never cease in calling out deception and demanding truth from our media. Powerful voices are openly deceiving millions of people with grand acts of propaganda and theatrics and the simple truth that none of it is real does not matter. The only weapon we have against this type of campaign is repeatedly shouting out the truth and exposing the lies. To stay quiet and recognize defeat in the face of a remarkably dedicated and overpowering enemy is simply not an option.
For more from Chad, visit chadfelixgreene.com and follow him on Twitter @chadfelixg.
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet. -Rodney Dangerfield
As we approach the end of first year of the Trump Administration, I thought it would be fun to review the impact that President Trump has had on my life and the country’s life, as I see it, both the presidential and the unpresidential.
The first thing that comes to mind is the improving economy, which is showing signs of life after 8 years in a semi-conscious state. For many, especially young people, the impact of the Obamacare economy was largely part-time employment. Because anything over 30 hours a week required an employer cover their health insurance, we got hourly workers who had to work 60 hours at two jobs with zero benefits and zero free time, or others, kids mostly, who had to commit to one part-time job exclusively or lose it. This put moving out of their parents’ nest beyond reach financially, and gave them wasted unproductive time largely spent eating and playing video games. Of course, Obamacare allowed them to stay on their parents’ insurance (assuming they had any) until they were 26, but the period after that was apparently not considered important enough to give any attention to, so they languished.
But now, under Trump, it seems like more and more “Help Wanted” signs are showing up, and not just part-time. I’m not sure about where you’re from, but from where I sit, opportunity is starting to knock again and full time jobs are becoming more available. I hear the unemployment rate may even go below 4%, which would be interesting, considering it never did count those who gave up looking for jobs. I wonder what happens when they all start getting hired again. I suspect the move from part-time to full-time jobs is making a difference in real dollars, and I can certainly attest to that in my world, as my own kids have better jobs now than they did last year. A new sense of confidence seems to be wafting over things, and even if President Dangerfield continues to moronically tweet his way through the Halls of Government for the next 3 years, his overall impact on the economy so far is proving to be a positive one. Even his detractors have to grudgingly admit that stocks are up and things look brighter, economically speaking.
I’m not saying these detractors don’t have anything to complain about when it comes to the sometimes juvenile Trump. He is one of the most thin-skinned and transparent man-children I’ve seen in years. That said, I still get a chuckle from watching grown adults attempt to deal with being so wrong last year, especially the ones who can't see any redeeming qualities in him at all. Like those dealing with a death in the family, these Trump haters now range from resigned bitter acceptance to continued rage at the man, even after all this time. On both the Left and the Right, people still wail and moan about how ‘unpresidential’ he is, and how so-and-so would have been so much better.
We were taught that the President of the United States was to be gracious and genteel...quick to laugh and slow to anger, at least in public. We were taught that the President should be always patient and kind, and whether blessed with a sharp wit or dull, to be temperate in his speech and manner. The President was to be a gentleman (or woman) and wise...deserving of the respect of the Office as well as deserving of the respect for the character of the person holding it. The President must have the heart and will to do good for the sake of the country, with humility and modesty, to shine as an example of what any American could achieve.
At least, that’s what we were taught.
In reality, we've had our share of cads and scoundrels living in the White House, and a Free Press more than willing to hide their sins from the public for the Public Good. In Trump, we have the opposite...an orange, bumbling big mouth and media on both ends of the spectrum that are more than willing to showcase every flaw this president has, which are many.
In the past, we’ve had presidents who were vicious, vindictive, and violent. With sometimes temperamental egos and much arrogance, these men thought nothing of stepping on anything that kept them from power. But the public at large was always shown the softer side. The Statesman, the Calm Leader with the serious demeanor of resolute wisdom, at least for the most part. But Trump is the layman president, and while being wealthy and mostly respected before being elected, still comes into meetings like a Regular Joe, with a comfortable easy-going humor that, by all accounts, immediately breaks the ice. Of course it also occasionally backfires as he tosses both good taste and tact out the window for the sake of a cheap laugh, usually at someone else’s expense. His enemies leap to showcase these moments, hoping to bring him down for being a lout.
Politics has always been messy. George Washington may have been the last person to occupy the Oval Office with so much distinguished high moral character and so few political enemies. However, even Washington probably had moments when he would have rather been fishing than dealing with the realities of the political process he was burdened with.
With Trump, we have two things most presidents had: his ego, which is massive, and, I believe, the heart and will to want to do good for the country. He wants to be the best President he can be. On the other hand, while he may be a very smart man with good sense in many ways, he has also proven that he's an adolescent in many others. No one can mangle a comment or phrase like he does when he's riffing at the worst of times and places.
Remember, even he didn’t think he was going to win the election. So while he makes mistakes and shoots his Twitter mouth off like a WWE trash-talking wrestler, I figure he has the heart to try to fix what he sees as broken, and is learning to have sense enough to listen to people he trusts who may know more than him. That doesn’t make him less of a gaffe-prone diplomatic amateur, but it does make him redeemable. I remain presidentially optimistic, but realistic enough to expect mistakes as he plods along wanting to be right all the time.
Yet amid all this distraction, his administration is not standing still. His appointees and Cabinet are burning through regulations, enforcing laws, and filling judge positions at a quick rate, undoing much of what the narcissist Obama and his corrupt bunch were trying to advance. Sure, the next bunch can undo this activity if they gain power, but Trump has at least 3 years to make permanent what he can, and hopefully Congress will soon start making some good moves in that direction as well.
On the world stage, Trump’s global trips have been successful, despite media ill-will and unflattering spin to make him out to be more of a President Dangerfield than he actually is. He’s charmed various leaders while alienating others, but we expected that. At home, he continues to keep his base happy while his chagrined enemies fester and fume at his latest ‘mistake’ as they see it. As of this writing, Mr. Mueller could not be reached for comment, but even with an investigation under way, Trump is not letting it or ‘Fake News’ stop him from doing what he thinks is right.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Trump gets no respect, no respect at all. To many, he could easily fire off a nuke and blow us all to Kingdom Come, but he probably won’t. He could easily offend world leaders potentially causing global mayhem, and probably already has. He could also do some good and listen to people that others still ignore, and he probably is. None of these are mutually exclusive.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but President Dangerfield, imperfect but amiable, is doing pretty good so far if you ask me.
Classic Rodney Dangerfield:
The concept of Federalism, as envisioned and created by our Founders, is not something modern Americans have experienced. It exists only in the minds of a relatively small number of idealists and scholars. The United States of America as they exist today do not reflect the vision of our Founders or the clear wording of the United States Constitution. Instead of a union of free, independent States, we are merely vassal states paying homage and tribute to a distant overlord.
With the States losing their Constitutionally derived authority and duty to check the power of the federal government, it has been allowed to grow far beyond its original purpose, usurping the States’ role in direct governance and assuming the role of moral compass. This transformation was, by turns, violent and insidiously innocuous. To return to our Federalist roots, We the People must be bold, retaking our rightful role in the hierarchy of power, stripping undue power and authority from the federal government and returning it to the States.
From 1789 to 1860 the way in which power was exercised in America by and large adhered to the framework given in the Constitution. The federal government was given well-defined and limited powers, while the power of the States was intentionally broad and virtually unlimited. It was accepted that the legislatures of the several States were in a better position to determine what was best for their own citizens. However, a long unsettled and contentious issue brought forth a serious moral debate in regard to the federal government’s authority to regulate governing practices within the individual States. Slavery, contrary to popular belief, was not accepted or endorsed by all of the Founders. While viewed as morally wrong and even an affront to God, by many of these men, they placed the ratification of the Constitution first. It was widely believed that slavery would, over time, be viewed as the moral stain that is was, and that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the newly written Constitution would eventually push slave owners into an ideological corner, forcing them to abandon it. While we can criticize this “Three-Fifths Compromise” ad nauseam, ensuring the ratification of the Constitution and the formation of a union of states was not only the logical path, but the only path that assured the issue of slavery would be confronted and resolved.
After years of compromise, heated rhetoric, and the occasional violence committed by both sides, the election of Abraham Lincoln was viewed by many as the catalyst that divided the Union. In response to the election, South Carolina issued the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” After the secession of six more southern States, the governing body of South Carolina ordered federal troops to leave their position at Fort Sumter and quit the State. With their refusal to comply and the Civil War that followed, Constitutional Federalism was dealt the first of many grievous wounds. The principle of State sovereignty was erased with fire and blood.
Following the war, the assault on republican Federalist ideals continued unabated. Reconstruction, the systematic dismantling of existing power structures in southern States, put legislative authority behind the idea that the national, or federal, superseded the will of the sovereign States and the people residing therein. Contrary to Constitutional limits on federal government power, Congress took on the role of moral and political arbiter for the States, supplanting the reality of a union of free States with the illusion of homogeneous national identity.
While doing a more detailed study on the legal history surrounding the passing of the 16th amendment to the Constitution and the events that preceded it, the obvious obfuscation and weird political / Constitutional theory made one thing abundantly clear: This was the most obvious and immoral power grab in US history up until that point. The individual income tax remains the largest single revenue stream for the federal government.
Until 1913, the federal government existed primarily on revenue from “consumption” taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. As the federal government slowly expanded its power (as governments of men are wont to do), they expanded the encroachment upon the rights and powers of the People and of the several States. As they left the realm of “general welfare” and ventured into “specific welfare,” the size, reach, and cost of running the federal government began to increase. In order to fund this, the United States Congress amended the Constitution to change or “clarify” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4, giving them a virtually unlimited stream of revenue. Additionally, by taking away the power of taxation from the several States, the federal government was able to further marginalize the State governments by becoming a funding source for State revenue / budget shortfalls, using tax dollars that should have been collected by the State to begin with.
Along with the federal monies came regulations, rules about the way certain programs would run, and unprecedented federal oversight of overall State government function. The State legislatures had essentially turned into subordinate entities, as opposed to the semi-sovereign, independent governments they were intended to be, and citizens became subjects of the federal government. Taking a portion of people’s income and wealth to fund the very institutions that only exist to control and regulate them seems especially cruel, considering we are now told that we need the federal government and its overall control for the good of society and that to remain safe from *fill in the blank,* we must abandon freedom for the protective embrace of the benevolent ruler.
Such is the power of taxation. The money goes up the ladder, a slightly smaller amount of money in the form government services comes back down, but with conditions attached. Constitutional republican Federalism had received another major blow, but still another would land the same year, ending the charade the federal government had made of it.
The founders were very clever men. When creating the Congress, they left the appointment of Senators up the the legislatures of the States. This brilliant move gave the States yet another tool with which they could keep the federal government in check. The States knew that they could use their leverage in the Senate to ensure the interests of the central government would not overshadow the rights of the citizens. By changing the manner in which Senators were chosen, they removed a huge piece of insulation between the individual and the federal government. The various reasons given did nothing to justify undermining the last levee holding back the tide of federal intrusion. It was as if the federal government saw it as their job to police corruption within the state legislatures, step in to break deadlock, and force them to fill vacancies.
None of these things are within the proper Constitutional authority of the federal government. Furthermore, this system was never meant to be efficient. The ways in which the President, Representatives, and Senators are elected differ to reflect the jobs they do and the way each offsets the other.
Senators were not elected to represent individuals or constituents. They represented their entire state. With the 17th amendment, the power of the fifty individual States passed from reality to imagination with the States themselves pulling the trigger, having been duped by the romanticism of the popular vote. Senators, once unhampered by public will, had now become panders who never really solved anything, letting issues fester so they would always have a platform for reelection. It became a smaller version of the House, rife with petty disputes and vendettas. With the first Senators elected by popular vote, Federalism breathed its last and The United States became America.
We have watched the federal government grow, take on debt in our names, dictate what should be personal decisions, and legislate liberty into submission. It seems as if the beast is too big to stand against, too powerful to oppose. People must remember where the true power lies: With them.
The Constitution is a contract. The federal government has not upheld its end; instead, it perverts and destroys this contract under the noses of the oblivious citizens, who were duped into believing this is the way things were meant to be. The solution is clear: We must set a date for a Constitutional Convention. Give the States time to select delegates. All non-essential functions of the current federal government must be immediately suspended, while the essential, Constitutional, functions shall fall under a civilian council selected from among the delegates. All federal courts would be abolished and all federal laws suspended unless they fall within the bounds of the Constitution. The delegates will then return it to its original form, excluding anything that violates the principles of this country's founding. We cast off this illusion of powerlessness and regain what is ours.
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered one of the most powerful and moving speeches in our history. His words should ring in all of our ears and remind us of the duty we have to the cause of liberty: "This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment for this country. For my own part I consider it nothing less then a question of freedom and slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions for fear of giving offense, I shall consider myself guilty of treason towards my country and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings."
Being a Mexican-American is not like being a German-American, an Italian-American, or even an Egyptian-American. For some Mexican-Americans, it is not enough to be of Mexican lineage. One must pride themselves for having come from Mexico and being descendents of the murderous Aztec Empire. Most importantly, they must not forget their mother tongue, Spanish.
Earlier this month, I was annoyingly reminded of these individuals who feel they have a right to demand other Mexican-Americans speak Spanish. They also feel it is their moral imperative to inform me that I am not a real Mexican. I know right? Real a**holes. After leaving this less-than-pleasant individual, I could not help but think of my family history and what brought them here.
My father does not know Spanish. My mother only speaks ranchero Spanish, which is more slang than actual Spanish. I am a 4th generation American, and my ancestors came from the poorest regions of Mexico. They did not come here for vacation, or even temporary work. They came to make America their home, as their lives were largely fated for agrarian poverty if they did not.
A Mexican’s social status, income attainment, and even education, have mostly been determined by the color of their skin and by their pedigree. It is very easy to see this disparity today. One only needs to look those at the fore of Mexico’s government, commerce, and even television personalities versus those who work the fields in the rural states. Who looks more white and who looks more moreno (non-pejorative for “brown”) determines who is at the top in Mexico. My ancestors have all been moreno, and therefore poor.
In spite of this, many 3rd and 4th generation Mexican-Americans fly the Mexican flag with pride. They believe “the border crossed them” and America owes them for their grievances against the gringos. They demand all Mexican-Americans know Spanish fluently. For them, a Mexican-American who does not speak Spanish is not worthy of the designation.
Other Mexican chauvinists I have encountered have literally said my parents did me a disservice by not teaching me the Spanish language or Mexican culture. As if I needed a critique from a man with neck tattoos or another who was looking for the nearest bus stop.
They fail to recognize the racial injustice many Mexicans fled and the opportunity America continues to hold. For many morenos, including my ancestors, a life in Mexico meant grinding poverty and a judgmental society that looked down upon them for being more Native than Spaniard. They would never be invited to dine in the walled villas of the Mexican elite, but they could clean their dishes. Why would anyone do that in Mexico, when you do the same in America and have indoor plumbing?
A moreno in America could earn enough money to send his children to school instead of having them till the fields for subsistence in Mexico. A moreno could live a more comfortable life in America and with less discrimination. The United States even 30 years ago was not as discriminatory as Mexico is today, yet many Mexican-Americans ignorantly deny this claim and argue that it is America which is more racist.
That is not to say Mexicans have not experienced racial prejudice in America. An ignorant American once shouted a racial epithet at my grandfather, but he would go on to tell me, “They’re only words. F**k them. They don’t control me, mijo. I control me.” My grandfather ignored both ignorant Americans and ignorant Mexicans who wanted America to become more like Mexico. He let them live in their ignorance while he worked hard and cared for his family as best he could.
My great-grandfather worked until his dying day, but some his children went to college, others got good jobs, and some joined the U.S. military to fight in World War II. He learned six languages (including English) to become one of the best-paid Mexicans in his town. He even earned more than some of his white peers. My grandmother wanted for nothing as a child and the family was comfortable. In Mexico, that would have never happened. It is not that well-paying jobs did not exist, but rather the best jobs only went to people who were not moreno.
I will never feel badly for not speaking Spanish, and I will never feel Mexican pride. Why should I speak the language and cherish the culture of those who treated my ancestors more like serfs than citizens? I have pride in my ancestors who have done what all good parents do: ensure their children have a better life than they did.
I have often desired to engage those who ignorantly espouse the tribalist tenets of La Raza and selfishly demand Mexican-Americans speak Spanish. I have wanted to ask those who criticized my parents, “Why don’t you return to Mexico if you have such pride for it?” But to do so would give credence to their ignorance. Instead, I will follow the lessons of my ancestors and remember: “They don’t control me. I control me.”
Guest Contributor Bryan O’Nolan
Human civilization has done pretty well arranging the holidays and civic observances in its various calendars. In America, we get it right, for the most part. We have, however, a glaring error that ought to be fixed. Now, I’m no Euro-fetishist — “Fahrenheit, Feet and Ounces” is my “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight” — but in remembering the war dead Europe gets it right. The United States needs to reform her calendar so that Veterans Day — celebrating the living — is the last Monday in May, and Memorial Day — honoring the dead — is observed on the 11th of November.
We have an incredible opportunity before us, an opportunity to right this calendrical error. November 11th, 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended World War I, the day which gave birth to our Veterans Day. What better time than this to realign our public calendar to the reality and mood of the seasons?
For thousands of years, man has plotted his seasons and days by stars and floods and has attached special, reverential meaning to the variations he has observed. Nearly five thousand years ago, the Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland was digged and carved by earnest hands so that the rise of the Winter Solstice, when the day begins to grow long, would shine through a carefully aligned and hewn roof box and then down the stone and earthen passage to fall, bright and distinct, upon the tomb or altar carved, shaped and reverenced by its makers. Man has made, at great cost, calendars of stone and wood the world round in order to know and tell the movement of the seasons. The ancient Egyptians designed their lives, calendar and holy festivals around the seasons of Inundation, Growth and Harvest.
Christmas is similarly well timed, the Light returning to a world in darkness. I consider it no coincidence that Hanukkah falls similarly in the year.
Easter, the season of rebirth, is in the spring, as is the Jewish Passover. Spring is the season of emergence, the deliverance from winter into the promise of summer and harvest.
Eight of the ten federal holidays are similarly well-arranged. They are of two types, though there are certainly more of the latter: Seasonally Appropriate holidays, and holidays of Specific Remembrance. Thanksgiving, at harvest time, is of both types. Columbus day is timed with the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the New World on October 12th. Presidents’ Day — when we honor the profane god-kings whom we suffer to monarchize, traveling with their small, empowered personal paramilitary force from the White House to Camp David, to the Southern Palace at Mar-a-Lago, to the Island Palace at Martha’s Vineyard, etc. — is of the latter kind, nestled between the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington, technically celebrating the latter. Independence Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, are similarly date-dependent. The last of the eight is an outlier; Labor Day is placed, seemingly, where a decent end-of-summer three day weekend ought to settle and laudably celebrates organized labor on a day other than May Day, when communists and other labor-fetishists celebrate the working man.
The remaining two are complicated. What we call Veterans Day today was declared by President Wilson — or, perhaps, his wife, given his incapacity — in November of 1919 to be observed on the 11th of that month, being the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended the first World War. It was then called Armistice Day, by which name it was still by habit yclept by my grandfather to his dying day. After the Second World War, the holiday was translated to Veterans Day: from a day celebrating the end of the Great War to a day celebrating those who fought in all wars. To this day it is thus.
The distinction, it should be said, is instructive. Armistice Day was an annual day of giving thanks to those who had died in a specific war. There are the so-called “thankful villages” in England, each notable for its rarity, who sent men to war in World War I and returned every one of them home safely. Our Memorial Day is, similarly, for those men who made it home.
It would be well to note, here, that in Europe the November holiday is analogous to ours of May. This is owing, in part, to the fact that European nations suffered exponentially more than we did from the First World War and bear the after-effects to this day. The Great War was a violent rift political, social, geographical and religious; an aching, festering wound not since closed.
Memorial Day has its origins in the Civil War years as Decoration Day, initially celebrated in the South to decorate the graves of the fallen. As the holiday was appropriated by the North during and after the war, the day came to be called Confederate Memorial Day in the South. In the North, a day in late May was chosen as in that season the flowers used for grave decoration were most likely to be in bloom. Practice tended towards calling the day Memorial Day through the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries until the day was formally nationally declared in the 60’s and anchored to its present date of observance in the 70’s. This, on its own, makes sense.
Where this all goes wonky is when one tries to square the timing of the holidays — one based on flower bloomage and another on a firm date — with the oft-confused modern understanding of the days themselves and the practice of observing them.
I love and will defend tradition as reflexively as anyone, but does it make any damn sense to be having a cookout, downing brewskies in the sun and setting off fireworks in recognition of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country? No; the bright promise of summer ought to be spent with those who were willing to make summer of winter’s violence and lived. Historically, winter was a time of scarcity, when survival was far from guaranteed. Spring, summer and plenty were the fulfillment of the cycle of death and rebirth. We should be celebrating survivors, then, in the sunlight and promise of summer, not in the gloom of autumn.
Does it make any sense to celebrate the living in the creeping chill, under ashen, laden November skies? Or ought we honor the fallen in the darkening gloom, honoring their sacrifice, when the season is low and congenial to sadness and loss? In autumn the year is growing cold, the leaves fall and the trees are barren and even a relatively nice day carries, at least here in the Northeast, the far-off nose of winter.
I will not ever say that reason should always reign supreme, however common good sense at the very least ought to obtain when it comes to celebrating and remembering those who fought and those who gave all for our country.
The living deserve high-fives, cold brewskies, grilled meats, newly-open swimming pools, sunshine and fireworks in the sun.
The honored dead should have our undying gratitude in the dying of the year.
Wouldn’t it be just and right and honorable for our country to recognize this in 2018, the hundredth anniversary of the end of a cataclysm which so scarred, so deeply wounded the Western world that it has scarcely recovered?
In Britain, poppies are worn in remembrance of that day. We should wear them as well in November, and in May celebrate the living.
Guest Contributor Cal
If the Weinstein sex abuse allegations have proven one thing, it is that projection of guilt is rampant among the American left. Not only among the Hollywood elite but journalists and left-wing politicians. That is not to suggest that the right does not project guilt. I am looking at you Tim Murphy, you piece of garbage.
However, Americans should have seen the warning signs of the left’s indifference to sexual harassment and abuse. For nearly a century, Hollywood has used sex as a tool of power and access. During the Academy Awards, a standing ovation was given to convicted yet unpunished rapist Roman Polanski. Furthermore, the left continues to hail serial predator President Bill Clinton as one its most popular presidents.
This month has been a huge unveiling of left-wing hypocrisy, many of whom chided Fox News for Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Hollywood, Vice, Vox, and even the California’s State Capital have not been spared from what appears to be a pervasive culture of rapey “feminists.” However, I am not optimistic things will permanently change for the better.
The left continues to claim they are the champion of women’s rights. Some have claimed Republicans are to blame for Harvey Weinstein. Journalists and editors have been fired from news outlets due to their behavior, but nothing has been announced on how to prevent future sexual harassment.
Even the opinion article which shined a light on the abuses in California’s Capital does not name names. Its signatories claim they want to change the system, yet do nothing to root out known abusers. One signator claims there is a sitting state legislator who assaulted her but she does not want to name that vile individual. That is how Weinstein was outed for his abuses, people talked, yet no one seems to follow that brave example. My cynical side believes they will not name abusers for fear of hurting the Democrat brand and fear of never working in the lucrative world of California politics.
California’s Legislature is like Hollywood. They claim they want to do something, but refuse to give details, and later they will take a victory lap. Wash, rinse, repeat. There will probably be a temporary spike and then sudden drop in sexual harassment and assault claims. Mostly due to the fact predators will go into hiding until public interest has fallen.
By 2018, Hollywood elites will pat themselves on the back for ridding themselves of Harvey Weinstein and rooting out this monster. California Legislators will congratulate themselves on updating policies and laws to stop abuse, but both institutions will still be rotten.
Until the next Weinstein-esque controversy, the left will continue to project and claim that it is the right who are the oppressors and abusers of women because we dare oppose the killing of the unborn. They will continue to claim people like Vice President Mike Pence are dangerous men who promote “rape culture” and “toxic masculinity,” because he refuses to meet women alone. All the while ignoring their own or even suffering in silence for fear of losing their jobs.
Guest Contributor Jeff
It is a day every year that I take time to honor my twins with a lighting of a candle at 7 p.m. I remember them always in my head, but for this day, I light two candles for my remembrance of my boys and a candle for all others who have lost.
As a father, a first-time father at that, the loss was hard and compacted nearly daily after the fact as well. Everyone knew we were expecting a child; most knew it was twins. When we would encounter friends or family, the condolences were given freely, mostly to the twin’s mother. One out of every ten encounters would give me a pat on the shoulder, a hug, or a simple “I’m sorry.” All those times were great, but not the same. I thought maybe it was my circle, but quickly found out it was happening to other fathers as well.
As a result, we clam up, we become numb to things, and we just grow to accept that we are only there physically. To this end, when I finally was able to open up about the experience, I began sharing this freely, especially every year on their birth (and death) day. Sometimes that male gene or brain causes us not to be as open as we should, so seeing others open up about it can help, because there are a lot of us out there that could use some attention and comfort (even if we are highly reluctant to ask for it). The number in this awful club grows every year.
A staggering number of pregnancy and infant loss occurs each year. Approximately 24,000 pregnancies result in stillbirth, about the same amount die within the first year, and about 2,000 pass away due to SIDS. (1)
The loss of life is never an easy thing, especially with ones so small, so beautiful, and so helpless. It haunts your dreams, your thoughts, and impacts you in ways that you will never fully understand. My twins died nearly 11 years ago, it still hurts and affects me, even with prior knowledge that their birth at 25 weeks with them having TTTS (2), that one, though likely both, would die. You are not prepared for it when it happens.
But stepping outside of my circle of pain, I am reminded of the pain that those around us felt as well. The NICU doctors, nurses, and staff become all too familiar with loss. Then there are the friends and family members that have to deal with the hole their friend, brother, sister, mother or father now are experiencing. Many within that circle find it difficult to express ‘proper’ feelings toward the parents. (The use of ‘proper’ here is a word of convenience.)
There are groups out there that attempt to help with those who have suffered loss, with most doing great work in assisting individuals with coping and finding ways to keep to going. Not every location has resources for face-to-face therapy, so sometimes turning to online communities can help.
It is a subject that we all have troubles approaching with ease and comfort, which I am thankful for, as it is not a frequent event as it once was. So tonight, if you know someone that has lost a child, whether during pregnancy or as an infant, give them a quick message of support, light a candle for them and others at 7 p.m., and hug your child a little extra hard tonight.
1. CDC Stats via https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html
2. TTTS: Twin-to-Twin Syndrome (For more information go to https://www.tttsfoundation.org)
It seems all anyone can talk about lately is Harvey Weinstein. Social media has been positively glutted with coverage of the fallen movie titan! This is for numerous reasons. One is that he possessed such an entrenched position that he seemed untouchable. (Ahem.) Another is that he is a figurehead of Hollywood, that social stratum that loves to tell us how to conduct our own lives. To see that industry revealed as being far more guilty of its own accusations leads to this coverage.
One of the many pathetic explanations made for his decades of satyriasis is that this is emblematic of one of our society’s supposed problems – “toxic masculinity.” Feminists and media have hurled this charge like birdseed at a wedding, and the laughable aspect is their entreaties come off like those of the anti-gun lobby; the louder they rage the more evident it becomes they do not know their subject. A feminist hectoring men on how they need to conduct themselves holds all the import of an atheist lecturing on the nuance of the Gospels.
As a testosterone-infected male, allow me to say: Harvey Weinstein is hardly the paragon of masculinity. He’s as masculine as a plush panda toy with a vulgarity-laden voice box. He represents my gender no more than a jodhpur-adorned shepherd in the Alps, a guano farmer in French Polynesia, or a hipster in a drum circle at Burning Man. They are male all, but none is the figurehead of masculinity. Telling me Weinstein represents me in any fashion is to expose your ignorance of manhood like Harvey did with his expansive genital-shielding belly.
My favorite reaction to the decades-long sex scandal was the call for men to stand up and halt these aggressive actions on behalf of women. Oh really?!?! Funny, since feminists and the media have spent the past generation attempting to tamp down this very behavior. Men who cherish and protect women have been cast in the role of the enemy. Holding a door open for a lady has been called demeaning. Any chivalrous or traditional act is regarded as casting the female in a subservient role. Treat women as equals, and don’t pay them preferential attention, has been the lesson plan.
It has been a lesson I have long ignored. Showing a lady deferential treatment is not an aggressive social statement. Holding open doors, carrying their parcels, and aiding in ways that are helpful or polite is not the result of a sexual caste system. It is the pinnacle of positive human interaction. I gladly take items from the top shelf, and I still buy drinks for unknown women with whom I have no intention of speaking further. It is the fertilizer that nourishes humanity. I revere women, and if my actions generate an aggressive response that is more on the recipient than on me.
What the feminists and reactionaries this week calling for my intervention fail to understand; I already do look out for the ladies’ well being. That poisonous tendency I have to treat females with elevated respect means I will also step in when they are treated lowly. I have known a number of abuse victims, and I react viscerally each time. I have had altercations as a result of seeing mistreatment in my periphery. Even this week, while messaging a friend, she revealed enduring bouts of similar abuse, and I found I was practically typing with a fist.
Yet here are the intersectionalists, who have spent time demonizing my charitable acts, now commanding that I change course and take action.
PRE-WEINSTEIN: Don’t you dare treat women like damsels!
POST-WEINSTEIN: When are men going to come to the rescue?!
This would all be so very confusing, were men the type to listen to the lectures in the first place. There is a stark reality in this interaction of the sexes involving feminists. They view males as a toxic entity and thus feel the need to dictate changes and policy upon our lives, and yet if I followed every one of their dictums and commands, in the end, I’d become a neutered hamster. And they would STILL resent me, just based on my plumbing alone.
This is where the feminist agenda becomes worthy of a laugh-track. They hate men so much that they want nothing to do with us and thus have no clue what makes us operate. The result? They attribute Weinstein with alpha-male qualities. His Hitchcockian silhouette, the ever-present hapless 3-day partial beard, and his diesel engine-with-a-thrown-rod demeanor all represent a person who has largely given up on himself. His only saving grace was his professional power base, and he cloaked himself in it entirely (save for when he opened it for French Actresses in Cannes).
Weinstein is that guy in the cigar bar who relies solely on his career and net worth to exude masculinity. Too larded to actually engage in activities, when he sees other men doing things he starts braying about how he could buy all their objects in cash if he desired. Look at how Harvey acted when he was ultimately caught. He blamed his actions on his upbringing in the 60s, and on the nature of his industry. Then he kited off to Europe to evade the law and seek treatment, blaming “sex addiction.”
Utter horseshit. I have a bourbon addiction; that doesn’t mean I force myself into other people’s liquor cabinets and guzzle their Knob Creek against their will. The deflections and excuses are the acts of an impotent character. A real man would fess up, would face his accountability, and take action to repair the damage he caused, and then handle his own business.
Weinstein has acted like a privileged lout, and once exposed, he scurried with his tail tucked. Nothing about this lecher has approached manliness. To hold him up as an example while blaming my gender is an abject contradiction. It is also yet another reason not to listen to those making the accusation.
Guest Contributor @ProperOpinion
A few nights ago I drove out to a dark parking lot to help my nephew with a car he couldn’t start. Now, I’m a jerk, so I mainly enjoyed laughing at his understanding of how an engine works. Imagine a Rube Goldberg device powered by Flintstone animals. Fine, I’m a jerk, but I’m not a dumb jerk, so I realized between laughs that this kid knows nothing because he was never taught anything. I don’t know everything, but I know that first 20 percent that covers 80 percent of the issues. The Pareto Principle of engine repair. So, I started with the battery…
This episode came to mind just now while reading more about the Weinsteins of the world. How does this happen? And it made me think of a talk I should maybe have with my nephew about helping protect the women in his life. It’ll go something like this:
See them to the door
Let’s start with the easiest of easy. There are places criminals like to strike because it’s convenient. These are called doors. It only takes a second to follow a woman through her door and then she’s alone and off the street. It used to be a rule that you’d take a date or a female friend to her door or at least wait on the street until she’s safely inside until you left for the evening. It should become a rule again.
This doesn’t just apply to houses or apartment buildings. It also goes for parking lots and garages. If you see a woman going to her car take a second or two and see if there are any sketchy creepers lurking around. Doing so takes a second. Not doing so should keep you up a few minutes that night.
Leave no woman behind
You know what’s annoying? When our friends get tipsy and won’t stop talking to some rando at the bar or party. You know what you can’t do? You can’t leave them. You wait and sit through a couple minutes of too loud conversation about God knows what and you ask how they’re getting home. And you don’t leave until you know. Now, we’re all adults, and we all know that sometimes they’re going to go home together. So you do the psychopath once over and if the guy passes that, you introduce yourself and you find out their name and talk enough so there is little doubt in their mind that you know who they are and that they are leaving together. Guess what? Sometimes that girl might even get annoyed with this. Who cares. Worry about that tomorrow if they still remember.
Deal with not knowing what to say; it’s a man’s curse, so get used to it.
Okay, young man, this one is harder. You’re going to have a female friend come home from a date or an evening out one night and she’s going to be crying. Yes, a crying woman. The tears are terrifying but it’s mainly because you’re afraid you will have no idea what to say. The bad news is that you might never know what to say. The other bad news is this is no excuse, so suck it up. Sometimes you’re going to hear some extremely disgusting things that will make you so enraged you feel like you’re going to burst because your adrenalin has nowhere to go. Such is life. You still have to do it. No one said being a man is easy, and it’s seldom because of all the bears we’re fighting. Be there for them and be ready to do something if necessary.
Don’t think sometimes
This isn’t legal advice but that’s okay because I’m not a lawyer. Sometimes you’re going to see things that simply require action. Maybe it’s hearing what that crying friend just told you. Maybe it’s a woman being jerked hard on the arm on the street. We live in an age when you’re told a lot of things about what a man should and shouldn’t do. In these instances, a good rule is: don’t think. If you feel like you need to take action to protect someone, then do it and worry about the consequences later. Maybe you’re afraid of things getting physical because you’ve never been in a fight. Well, for one, you’re already winning even if you’re losing teeth because you’re the one getting beat in that scenario and not the woman. For another, even the most one-sided fights aren’t that bad at all when you consider the alternative, which is thinking about what you didn’t do from that moment forward. Scars are much easier to look at in the mirror.
And… that’s it. That’s the bare minimum of what to know and do.