Let’s Repeal Newer Gun Legislation, Not the 2nd Amendment

Unfortunately, I could not make it down to DC for the March last Saturday. I did, however, watch a lot of the events on News Channel 8 which is a sister station of WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington D.C. I do not know these students, but they made me proud. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with their positions, I think these young people should be praised and not chastised or in some cases vilified. Yes, they had assistance with organizing. Who doesn’t need help with an operation of that size or one in a distant community?

On the local news, I saw a group of Moms from my area who helped find lodging with volunteer families for many students. Local vendors provided items and services at discounted rates and many donated their goods and services. I know that some airlines allowed groups to charter jets. Robert Kraft provided a Patriot aircraft for transportation. I have not seen any reports, but I suspect that teachers helped prepare speeches.

At the very least give credit to the young people who delivered remarks on stage. Public speaking has always been fear for many people, and how many of us have stood before so many people to speak into a microphone. I even agree with Rick Santorum because I hope these young people are learning CPR back in their communities.

I’ll disagree with Mr. Santorum because I believe that the young people participating in the various marches were engaged in active learning. More importantly, they were demonstrating what it means to be human. They care. It’s sad to me that many critics under the veil of our Constitution belittle these young individuals. Somehow the critics must have forgotten the idea that we are all supposed to have the same rights.

Let us all think back to the times when we were kids or teens in school. If you’re anything like me, I imagine that at least once you have thought or remarked that “THIS IS CRAZY” upon hearing the latest episode of school violence, violence in your or any community for that matter, or some shooting be it an individual, a mass shooting, or even some unintentional discharge resulting in the loss of life. For these young people, FOR OUR KIDS, this is their NORMAL not in a foreign land but here in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. These “crazy” events happen in urban areas, in rural communities, suburbia, exurbia, and the sticks. It’s nuts. Regardless of where one stands on the “gun control” / “gun rights” debate, we should all agree that what’s happening in our country today in terms of violence needs to stop.

How to stop the violence. How to stop the bullying. Those are questions that we need to talk about together. We need to communicate with one another and stop shouting without listening. From my observations, that’s what these young people are really advocating. They don’t have all the answers just like my generation doesn’t have all the answers. They’re just the ones who have spent their entire lives with this “NEW NORMAL.” Folks, Enough is Enough.

I see these 15 minutes of fame pundits (well it’s more like 15 hours thanks to all the social media) asserting that these young people have no real plans of action or are too focused on what are just artificial scapegoats in guns and the NRA. They say the students neglect the root causes of society.

I call BS.

Look, I don’t think firearms are the sole reason for the violence and discord.

I’ve seen all these social media memes, listened to pundits, and read some well-researched arguments about how guns aren’t the issue. All relevant points and I do believe that the core of the gun violence problems/school discipline problems / poor worker attitude / poor supervisor or management attitude / seemingly fewer manners / seemingly less common courtesy / just a general lack of respect / etc., etc., etc., is society in general.

That said, take your pick as to what aspects of society. It could be bad parenting, being too lenient or soft, pushing people beyond a breaking point, television, video games, social media, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I don’t know, and I don’t have a solution.

Well, I do have a means to a solution which is everyone putting aside their egos and biases for real discussions and then working together on what is practically an infinite number of problems. Many of these problems are unique to that location so a single answer isn’t the right answer everywhere. I just know that nothing will change if we insist on talking at one another instead of with one another. I can’t be alone in my repetition of that belief.

Yesterday I heard the argument that these students and people like me should care more about abortion because more lives are lost there.

Perhaps.

Here, I’m not typing about abortion. I’m not typing about repression or an individual’s right of control over their own body. I’m not typing about “pro-life” being equated with “pro-birth.” I’m not typing about the unborn.

I’m most certainly not SHAMING any woman. I’m most certainly not disparaging the March For Life.

I asked the critic. What besides overturning Roe v. Wade and defunding Planned Parenthood do you propose to stop abortions?

I didn’t hear anything about the complex societal or social problems that might contribute to abortions. What about the cost of health care or other issues of poverty for example? Aside from being more “pro-life,” SCOTUS, Planned Parenthood and intimidating or demeaning young girls and women, I honestly feel challenged to think about what else this critic felt could or should be done. This exchange was like so many others of which I’ve heard or been a part.

Support adoption?

I’m obviously pro-adoption. If I wasn’t then I would not be an adoptive father. I can also talk your ear off about how difficult it is to adopt a child. If a biological parent had to complete all the paperwork, undergo all the background checks, provide details about one’s life in every state where one has lived since the age of 18, various safety inspections of one’s home, all the references, and then take a financial hit from closing retirement benefits accrued at a previous job in another state, I truly believe that the number of unwanted or unintentionally pregnancies would drop significantly which might in turn reduce the number of abortions.

I got off topic and repetitive, but can people just agree that many of the issues that lead to abortions are the same as issues that lead to violence?

Back to the point:

As a Professor of US Political and Southern History, I can argue about interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. Admittedly I believe that the legal interpretation during 217 years of precedent from ratification in the year 1791 until the SCOTUS decision in Heller is more accurate than the new legal interpretation we have had for about the past 10 years. Your opinion may differ.

I’m certainly not anti-gun. As a rural farm boy in South Louisiana, I often had my .22 rifle in my truck when I drove to school. Most friends had shotguns or rifles in their trucks as well. Unlike them, I did not hunt, but I encountered my fair share of cottonmouths and copperheads out on the water fishing or running my lines. None of us ever thought about using a firearm on campus. A gun is a tool. Too much power is just as dangerous as too little power. For example, it would have been asinine for me to use that .22 or my Glock if for some reason I went deer hunting or knew that I might encounter a large nuisance gator. Likewise, if I used my 30/06 to take out a field mouse running toward the berry fields instead of the woods while I was bush hogging or baling hay that would have been stupid as well.

I agree that criminals do not obey laws.

I’ll also argue that laws are necessary in a free society. It’s true that to have freedom one must sacrifice freedom. Discipline isn’t an enemy. It’s the extremes that we need to fear, and a proper balance that we must strive to obtain. That’s what our Founding Fathers accomplished with the drafting and ratification of our Constitution. We aren’t a monarchy. We aren’t a democracy. We are a Republic.

I do think certain laws are needed. Old ones need to be enforced and in some cases, new ones need to be written and adopted. I get frustrated if I must wait for a red light, but I wouldn’t want to drive where every intersection is a 4-way stop or involves a round-a-bout. It’s scary to think of an America today without traffic signals. When it comes to guns, however, any mention of a law seems to lead to nothing but arguments.

I have my ideas about reforms, but I’m going to pitch a hanging curveball for either side to hit out of the park. For gun control, how about if we REPEAL specific restrictions about guns.

No, I’m not advocating a repeal or any changes to the 2nd Amendment. I lack both the eloquence and knowledge of retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

For those criticizing Justice Stevens, he did not suggest the confiscation of guns. He understands, better than most of us, that the repeal of an amendment requires a new amendment to be ratified. Unlike most of us walking the planet today, he witnessed the only time in US history when such an action happened. I do not know his intent, but I read his Op-Ed as another attempt to facilitate rational discussion based upon the facts today and historical precedent.

YES, I said REPEAL some restrictions, and restrictions that only became enacted since I became an adult.

With this proposal, guns would be considered just like other tools. Guns are powerful and can be deadly, but so can several tools or “modern” conveniences/tools such as automobiles.

If I recall my statistics accurately, the National Center for Health found that the likelihood of death due to an incident with any motor vehicle is approximately 1 in 100. For comparison sake, the chance of death from cancer or heart disease is something like 1 in 6. The chance of death from a foreign-born terrorist is in the ballpark of 1 in 45,000 while suicide or poisoning (including overdoses) is in the 1 in 100 range.

The chance of death due to an assault with a gun is about 1 in 300+.

In other words, there are certainly things more likely to result in death or injury than firearms and things less likely such as being dying as a victim of a cataclysmic storm which is about 1 in 66,000. I knew people who died because of all the conditions or events typed above, and I mourned those who passed regardless of how. A life is still a life, and a death is still a death. Whether one (1) or ten thousand (10,000), humankind is affected and thus am I and you because we are part of humankind.

Keeping those general statistics in mind, let’s repeal 3 statutes that our system codified in “modern” times.

These happened after I turned 18, and I had graduated from high school where my friends and I kept firearms in our vehicles parked on school grounds. It seems like everyone argues in favor of the “olden” days when things apparently weren’t “Crazy.”

Obviously, violence is not new, but I’m just asking if your or my 2nd Amendment rights were being violated prior to these statutes that I suggest we repeal to at the very least start over from those “olden” days when my generation walked the schools as students?

  1. The Dickey Amendment that is part of Public Law 104–208 which passed in 1996.

Yes, repeal a law that has only been on the books for 22 years. I know that the recently passed Omnibus funding bill makes alterations to Dickey, so please spare me that argument.

What the omnibus doesn’t address, however, is that for those adjustments to mean anything then the Tiahrt Amendments need to be addressed so:

  1. The Tiahrt Amendment that became attached permanently to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2007. It began as a rider to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2003. One can easily look up DOJ Appropriations for any year which I encourage readers to do.

Here, I’ll just link 2 pieces about Tiahrt from different perspectives, Gifford Law Center and NRA-ILA.

Yes, repeal something that first appeared in 2003 or 15 years ago. It’s true that Congresses since the 110th which made Tiahrt a permanent attachment have passed subsequent legislation altering its original scope. Still, nobody seems to agree about what information can and cannot be obtained because of the quagmire.

Let’s just repeal Tiahrt.

  1. 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 enacted into law in 2005.

Yes, repeal a law that has been on the books for less than 13 years. I know, the avoidance of lawsuits and burdening our court system is a given. Other industries do have similar, although more limited protections. I’m not denying that fact.

Yet, just compare the industry often used to “prove” the argument that this law is necessary for the firearms industry. Remember this protection only began at the federal level in 2005 or 214 years following the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

The automobile industry:

Can you imagine today if buyers of cars today were anti-safety instead of anti-regulation? If not for the threat of liability and regulations, seatbelts would not have been mandated and standardized in 68. State’s would not have passed laws requiring usage. Air bags would not have been required for all cars since 1998. Manufacturers would not have experimented with and marketed safety mechanisms such as crumple zones and anti-lock brakes.

Today, people would not seek out additional safety features such as:

  • Automatic emergency braking (AEB):
  • Forward-collision warning (FCW):
  • Blind-spot warning (BSW):
  • Rear cross-traffic warning: Visual, audible, or haptic notification of object or vehicle out of rear camera range, but could be moving into it.
  • Rear automatic emergency braking (Rear AEB): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent backing into something behind the vehicle. This could be triggered by the rear cross-traffic system, or other sensors on the vehicle.
  • Lane-departure warning (LDW):
  • Lane-keeping assist (LKA):
  • Lane-centering assist: Continuous active steering to stay in between lanes (active steer, autosteer, etc.)
  • Adaptive cruise control: Adaptive cruise uses lasers, radar, cameras, or a combination of these systems to keep a constant distance between you and the car ahead, automatically maintaining a safe following distance. If highway traffic slows, some systems will bring the car to a complete stop and automatically come back to speed when traffic gets going again, allowing the driver to do little more than pay attention and steer.

Sure, some of those technologies work far better than others. There’s always room for improvement, but most of that list are things developed after the year 2005. What if firearms saw similar advancement during that same period?

Think about it. The number of deaths due to vehicle accidents is lower today than it was prior to my birth. Does anyone really think the reason for the drop is less cars on the roads or better and less distracted drivers?

Why can’t gun manufacturers do the same as car manufacturers? Again this law providing additional protections for the gun industry passed 214 years after the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

Remember that I’m not suggesting touching the 2nd Amendment, the modern legal interpretation, or adding any new laws. I’m proposing doing away with changes enacted in 1996, 2003 (became permanent in 2007), and 2005.

Please consider:

The Dickey Amendment technically did not ban gun research, only advocacy. Its real goal and one it easily achieved, was to scare federal agencies into thinking twice about even collecting data that might reflect badly on gun ownership.

Tiahrt prevents the opportunity for the public to experience and demand newer technology. It limits the effectiveness of laws on the books by handcuffing law enforcement. It prevents the release of necessary data to conduct legitimate research upon which to base rational arguments.

15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 affords the gun industry-specific protections that other industries do not have. Others have some protections, but not to the same degree and scope as firearms.

Perhaps you might not care about possible technological advancements in safety, but this law also affects your pocketbook. Sure prices have increased for practically everything except for our paychecks, but seriously look at what the cost difference for essentially the same firearm is today than it was back when we were the age of the students Marching For Our Lives. Now think about the cost of ammo from back in those “good ole days” to now.

Could it be that the gun lobby has too much power?

Is the NRA really protecting 2nd Amendment rights or their financial interests? Prior to the Harlon Carter takeover of the NRA in 1977, I would have said that the NRA sought safe and proper usage of all firearms as its primary mission. Please don’t take my word, research for yourself how the organization has changed since the events that occurred in 1977.

Today, I see the organization as one that limits innovation, research, and in fact, advocated and succeeded in banning more weapons than Barack Obama managed as President. Yes, I know about the state law in Massachusetts, but that is a single state. The Armatix may not have been the right choice for everyone, but it should have at least been a choice.

Please in what type of sanity is a .22 deemed more dangerous and threatening to one’s safety than say a .500 S&W Magnum or an AR-15? Sure all can kill, but which has more force or the ability to fire the greatest number of rounds in the shortest amount of time.

One just cannot cross the NRA without suffering the consequences. Public opinion is to the point where one does not even feel the emptiness in their pocketbook because they want to believe the message at any costs.

Consider the case of Smith & Wesson when the company announced a move to increase gun safety in 2000.

Perhaps you don’t agree with these students marching. That’s your right just as they have the right to march. These children are our future. Agree or disagree at least they are attempting to create dialogue. I think we have many complex issues that need to be addressed. I don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to communicate and at least try to work together. If you feel threatened by these students, perhaps the problem is looking you in the mirror. If you feel it necessary to belittle or ridicule these young people, then what hope to do we have as a country?

Don’t accept what you want to hear as the truth, especially when the information comes from big money. Do some research and learn about the past which is filled with both mistakes and accomplishments.

I’m proud of the young people speaking out and saying that Enough is Enough.

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No I’m not accusing you of being a bigot or a racist, I’m asking why that’s the retort.

“As I prepare to take on the even more important role of citizen, know that I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure that this country forever strives to live up to the incredible promise of our founding — that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve every chance to live out our dreams.”

To me the above should not be controversial or twisted into a negative.  It seems to fit with US History.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Those words from the Declaration of Independence roll off the tongues of many, but do we even feign adherence to the sentiment penned in the year 1776 today?

Many people today announce loudly that people should be responsible for they themselves and their own actions.  Yet the criteria seem to morph depending upon who wants and sadly needs assistance.

People quote from the Holy Bible such as Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” (KJV) or Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (KJV) among many other lines of scripture.

Yet again the interpretations of judging are often contingent upon who, and scripture is quoted in attempts to justify.

Recently I heard a retort that Jesus judged such as in Matthew 7:5, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (KJV).  It wasn’t as if the person conflated themselves as Jesus.  They defended their judging by citing 1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (KJV).  They opined that whether one uses the word “judgeth,” “discern(s),” “evaluates,” “appraises,” or another, that root rests in “investigate” and they cite the prior verse, 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (KJV) as their “proof.”

I, myself, am not a Biblical scholar, and do not have any qualifications to suggest otherwise.  I read, and I discuss with others, but I do not have the knowledge to teach Biblical topics through words.

I do, however, teach history in college classrooms.  History is a broad field.  I may teach World History courses, but I can only offer the rudimentary about regions such as Latin America.  It’s the same with other regions, but with some I do have bibliographic resources that I can provide before seeking assistance of a peer who specializes in that particular area.

Even within my areas of expertise, I’m being forthright when I state that I know enough to realize how little I know of what can be known.  That is not a criticism of self but an acknowledgment of how vast that a smidge of information can span.

While not an observation from the traditional study of history sense, my mentor remarked that some of my applications of US Political and Southern History to some current legislative analyses were too erudite for his mind.  Of course one wonders if it is possible to be too erudite to another who understands the term “erudite” especially when they themselves are sage.

Think about it:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It sounds magical, magnificent, but if one reads further into the Declaration there is the passage: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

I’m not addressing the argument as to whether or not one believes that “men” includes “women” as well, but it’s evident that the Native American Indian is neither man nor woman but a merciless savage.  Even foreign immigrants had the rights of “men.”  “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”

Was it ever the case in the history of the United States where the concept of all men and all women were created equal?

Having been born as a Caucasian male in the United States it is easy for me to assert that opportunity exists for all.  Born and reared in rural areas, I worked.  With my background, I’ve needed to overcome some perceptions about my abilities professionally due to stereotypes.

I’ve never been wealthy, but that is not a result of a lack of work effort.  Part of the reason is chosen profession, but another is a decision to not skew my assessments for a pre-conceived purpose.  I believe that people have the right to think and to look differently than I do.  They have that right, but I also want people to look and to think differently than me.  At times the challenging of preconceptions does not play well when the desire is for the research and analyses to “prove” the predetermined status.

To some my decision to not give only what is wanted is foolish, but I ask if everything were the same, would it be possible to distinguish great from average; the spectacular from the humdrum; special from ordinary…?

We’ve come a long way in the United States, but we still have quite a trek still in front of us.  Some things are better; some are worse; and others have no discernable movement.  I’m not sure if that observation ever changes.

I reckon that so much depends upon who is looking and who is being looked upon.

In a rational and reasonable world, I would hope that we could all agree that the following was positive:

“As I prepare to take on the even more important role of citizen, know that I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure that this country forever strives to live up to the incredible promise of our founding — that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve every chance to live out our dreams.”

From that I read that “We the People” have responsibilities as citizens of the United States of America.  Our ancestry and the reasons and means of their setting foot upon this soil differ.  We were never perfect, and we will never be perfect for we are human beings and not machines with a single purpose.  We are a country and not a utopia.  Yet we all deserve every chance to live out our dreams.  Some opportunities are given; others are earned; but all of us deserve a chance…

Unfortunately to many that statement above is perceived as negative.  It is regarded as a threat.

Why, is because the statement came from President Barack Obama.

No I’m not accusing anyone who believes that statement to be negative as a racist or a bigot.  No, I’m not suggesting that you do not have your right to your own opinion.

I’m asking why is the above statement negative?  I’m asking why it is perceived as “I Won’t Leave on Jan 20?”

I’m asking what you experienced on that road behind that I did not and what you see on that road ahead that I do not?  I’ve heard from the bigots and the racists.  I’ve heard from people who claim to have the ability to see into the heart and soul of another.  I’ve heard from some who cite things that never happened or hark upon the “what ifs.”

I’m not calling names.  I’m not generalizing about the Left or the Right.  I’m asking the pundits, talking heads, commenters, media personalities, Blaze, Breitbart, and so on, what more do you expect?  What more do you want?

Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but it seems like you want the clock to turn back 8 years in time.  I do not remember 2007-2008 as perfect, but to some people at least all problems seem to have begun in the 8 years following that utopia they believe existed.  You’ve become rich and famous just from being able to focus on negatives, and never being tasked with fixing what you say is broken.

Again, I’ve heard from the bigots and the racists, but I want to know why the others continue.  Why is it always the fault of another?  Why is it the responsibility of others but not of ourselves?

That seems to be the message that I hear from those who continue to bash and to criticize.

Is it you and I responsible or is it the Fates whether Left, Right, the Road Ahead, or the Road Behind?

 

The Road Ahead or The Road Behind
by George Joseph Moriarty

Sometimes I think the Fates must
Grin as we denounce and insist
The only reason we can’t win
Is the Fates themselves that miss

Yet there lives on an ancient claim
We win or lose within ourselves
The shining trophies on our shelves
Can never win tomorrow’s game
You and I know deeper down
There’s always a chance to win the crown

But when we fail to give our best
We simply haven’t met the test
Of giving all, and saving none
Until the game is really won

Of showing what is meant by grit
Of fighting on when others quit
Of playing through, not letting up
It’s bearing down that wins the cup
Of taking it and taking more
Until we gain the winning score

Of dreaming there’s a goal ahead
Of hoping when our dreams are dead
Of praying when our hopes have fled
Yet losing, not afraid to fall
If bravely, we have given all

For who can ask more of a man
Than giving all within his span
Giving all, it seems to me
Is not so far from victory

And so the Fates are seldom wrong
No matter how they twist and wind
It is you and I who make our fates
We open up or close the gates
On the road ahead or the road behind.

Integrity and Rhetoric Don’t Mix Well

Donald Trump as the candidate for the GOP stated that he might not accept the results of the election.  To his credit, he most likely meant only if he there was reason to believe the results had been rigged.  The manner in which he made the statement, however, resulted in many supporters believing someone, somehow, would rig the election causing Donald Trump to lose.  One can argue if Joe Walsh’s reference to muskets meant bloodshed or civil disobedience, but it is difficult to deny that at least on the fringes supporters planned for armed violence if the tally found Trump trailing.

Hillary Clinton as the candidate of the Democratic Party stated that if Donald Trump refused to accept the results of the election that would be a threat to our country.

We have seen protests about the election by individuals who do not want to accept Donald Trump as president.  While I have no issues with peaceful protests, a few individuals have destroyed property and interfered with the rights of others.  On the other hand, some supporters of Donald Trump have intimidated and harassed people who they deem as different.  Yes, there have been false reports, but I have also witnessed the verbal harassment of students for nothing more than their Muslim faith.

Idiots are not confined to either the GOP or Democratic Party.  Idiots come in every skin color, gender, shape, size, beliefs, and everything else.  No group has a monopoly on idiots or reprehensible individuals for that matter.  Fortunately, sincere and caring individuals exist in those groupings as well.

With the preliminaries addressed…

Efforts at voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression are not unique to either the GOP or Democratic Party.  Both at times in our history have worked independently and in conjunction with one another to limit the voting power of specific groupings of people.  This history is at the ballot box directly and does not include efforts such as gerrymandering.

Most recently, the GOP has pushed for various Voter ID laws and applauded the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby v. Holder that deemed Section 4 (the coverage formula) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional.  That ruling also made Section 5 (preclearance) of the same act invalid.

People argue, but Voter ID laws are a non-solution to a problem that has been statistically irrelevant.  What is an acceptable form of photo identification?  If enforced as contended, then state identifications that were not in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005 should not have been treated as a valid ID for voting purposes.  It is true that many activities today cannot be done without having a photo ID, but it is also true that for a number of senior citizens especially there is no pressing need for them to have a current photo ID.

Unfortunately, arguments about inconvenience typically devolve into the reasoning that nothing is inconvenient as long as it affects people other than ourselves.  Seriously we could have actual hard to falsify identifications by incorporating biometrics, but many people argue that is either an inconvenience, invasion of privacy, or a potential infringement upon freedom.

Perhaps, but can anyone believe that nobody has ever made a fake ID “way back when” to buy beer or watch an R rated movie before reaching the ages of 18, 21, or 17?  It wasn’t that long ago when many boys lied about their age and had papers so that they could join the military and go into combat.

Practically every election, and the presidential election of 2016 adhered to the pattern, reports of machines changing votes are heard.  While some reports are fictitious, some are true and the fault is not a result of nefarious scheming but legitimate issues with the machines.  Occurrences as simple as oils from voters’ fingers accumulating on touch screens or humidity changes within polling locations can cause inaccurate inputs.  Simply machines need to be checked and recalibrated on location on a regular basis in every location.

While the notion is popular and it is true that hacking of the software at voting terminals is possible, in many locations these terminals are not connected and so the malware would need to be installed on each machine individually.  This type of effort to alter election results is more likely to occur in the tallying process.

Likewise, other attempts (physical) to alter election results can occur by either preventing people from casting ballots via written law, personal intimidation, or even during the tallying process.  If done during tallying, however, for all intents and purposes for a physical misrepresentation of the votes to occur everyone in the room has to be involved.  Everyone has someone watching every move.

This type of direct skewing can happen even when machine counts have paper backups as either optical scan or “paper packs.” Unfortunately, all machines do not have such “paper trails” in a physical form, and sheer numbers make it impractical to physically count each ballot.

A technological attack, however, could in theory occur at that point.  From my perspective as a history professor, we don’t have enough data to determine the likelihood of such an occurrence.  That methods are beyond my areas of expertise.

I can state, however, that seemingly everything and everybody can be hacked.  Statistically I have nothing cite, but I think most people are at least aware of the risks involved with having certain accounts.  Some people reading probably had information stolen by attacks on Target, Yahoo, and who knows how many businesses.  Academic institutions have been hacked as well with Michigan State University being just the latest for which I have a personal concern.

Should there be a recount?  That’s what this boils down to.

The other day on social media, I linked this writing from Professor of Computer Science J. Alex Halderman at the University of Michigan.  In addition to being one of the individuals involved in this questioning of vote integrity, he also provides a good outline of the actual procedures to have a recount or validation of results in these respective states.

https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba#.ajgruu2nr

I’ll leave Jill Stein’s efforts to readers to debate.  Despite what anyone might believe about the fundraising efforts, one cannot deny that she has standing to request a “recount.”

Since private individuals are paying the costs as predicated by the system, I really don’t understand the opposition.  Regardless of candidate each should want fair results, and we should expect them to abide by those results.  If concerns about the integrity of the election existed on either side, shouldn’t we all want those concerns addressed.  Once investigated, however, we expect all to accept the results.  Everyone will not be happy, but we have to move along.

It should not matter if Trump won or if Clinton won; if the election was fixed then We the People lost.  That’s what I think too many of both sides fail to understand because we have become so partisan.

In some ways it’s like instant replay in sports.  For years the call on the field, regardless of how blatant an error the call was stood.  Then we had instant replay.  Yep we all agree that the right call comes out of the replay booth, right?  Still, we move along just as we did before instant replay even though “instant” has gained a new definition.

For this election, I think a validation process is a good thing.  We need to know if someone hacked these systems.  We need to have voting terminals that have “paper trails” in the form of optical scan or “paper packs.”  When states purchased their voting equipment, people were too impressed by bells and whistles because they really had no way of anticipating reliability.  Unfortunately, it took an election for many to see the potential holes.

Should the results be overturned if these recounts / validations change the tallies?

In a normal world, I would say yes regardless of candidate.  As divided as the country is today, however, I think more harm than good would occur by changing the results.  I would hope that Democrats and Republicans would refer to themselves as Americans and not as members of their party.  I would hope that Americans see themselves as residents of a country within a world of other countries, cultures, and beliefs.  We cannot be isolated.  Historically, we may have been buffered by two oceans but with modernization that buffer no longer exists.  Nobody is immune to that pebble dropping or butterfly or bird flapping its wings anywhere on the planet. The waves or wind will reach us.

The greatest enemy is if we only care about integrity when we are the one who lost or who suffers.  Everybody will accuse the other of being the hypocrite.  If Clinton had won…because Trump won…should not change our values.  The fact that everyone is pointing their finger at someone else and calling that person the hypocrite illustrates our own hypocrisy and our own lack of integrity.

BTW:  I’ll type about the Electoral College another time.  I’ve analyzed a number of elections using various forms of proportional allocation, and it doesn’t have as great an impact as some may believe.  When people in favor today talk historically, they tend to ignore the impact of slavery in the creation of the system even when they are correct about the fears of a direct democracy.  Oddly enough, however, these same people often desire direct democracy over representational styled approaches in local and personal matters.  Those who oppose the Electoral College often fail to see the advantages of such a system.  The Electoral College, whether viewed at the point of its creation or today, has both positives and negatives.  It needs to viewed beyond the implications of a single election.

The Louisiana Flood: Press, Politics, and People

Shock, stress, despair, disbelief, fatigue, exhaustion, more stress, perseverance, work at home, work at a neighbor’s, work at family member’s, work at a friend’s, work at a colleague’s, work at a stranger’s, disbelief again, more fatigue, exhaustion taking roots, and knowing that you will repeat this seemingly perpetual cycle.  That’s present-day life in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, for my family, lifelong friends, people who taught me, those who encouraged me, those I’ve battled, those who drive me up a wall, those for whom I would take a bullet, those I’ve yet to meet, and those who I may never meet.

Sheriff Jason Ard yesterday gave a preliminary estimate of 75 percent of the homes in the Parish impacted with between 2 and 8 feet of water, and with rivers in the southern portion yet to crest the numbers will likely increase.

Approximations are that between 15 and 20 thousand rescues took place although that number is surely higher considering the efforts of citizens using their own boats to bring people to dry ground.

With waters receding in areas, the number of shelters for the displaced dropped from 8,500 to 1,244.

According to the Twitter feed of Dr. Mathew Sitkowski of the Weather Channel, the total rainfall from 12 to 14 August over southern Louisiana was the equivalent to more than 4 trillion gallons of water, enough to easily fill 6 million Olympic size swimming pools.  In Watson which is located in the northeastern section of Livingston Parish and home to the Live Oak Eagles who back in school days was one of our district rivals, 31.39 inches of rain fell during this span of time.  Even more rain followed.

Where, What, How, and Why

The Parish is a bit larger than 700 square miles in area with a population of approximately 138,000 residents.  I describe the location as being at the top of the foot, near the ankle, of the boot shaped state.  The population has tripled since I was a kid running barefoot through the fields and doubled since I graduated from the public school system.

Yep the area has changed, and I’m not talking about an additional weight of what?

(1 US Gallon weighs approximately 8.344 pounds – the history prof asked the physics prof)

– a trillion has 12 zeroes following the 1 so the water weight would be approximately the result of this equation:

  • 4,000,000,000,000 X 8.344  =  33,376,000,000,000,000 pounds  (maybe)

– the physics prof has left, so she can’t grade my head figures, but correct or not that’s a heck of a lot of water.

Returning to my comfort zone and professional history hat,

I recall stories as a child and later conducting formal oral history interviews with folks talking about how much changed when portions of Interstate 12 opened in 1967, ten years after its initial planning.  By 1976, the approximately 86-mile span was completed.  I wonder how many interstate overpasses had cattle guards just before entrances, and those cattle guards stayed well into in adulthood.   It’s only in the past 10 or so years that large gas stations and convenience stores with chain restaurants inside appeared off the Albany/Springfield Exit 32.  In many ways that exit seems more like the Walker exit of old, but today Walker is like Denham Springs and getting off on Range at Denham is just like exits in Baton Rouge.  Did I say the area has changed?

It causes one to ponder how a nondescript area to outsiders stood through well-known forces of nature.  Before my time, Hurricanes Betsy and Camille left their marks but came and went.  For me personally, Hurricane Andrew is memorable because of the power outages for weeks and trees downed.  As I discovered recently up here in Maryland, operating a chainsaw and swinging an axe are really like riding a bicycle.  With Andrew I helped cut pathways through toppled trees on many a road for folks to be able to return to their homes.

There were other storms during my time in the Free State, but I wasn’t there when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area.  I sat in my office in Georgia watching live feeds on the computer as students and other faculty saw me with that look of disbelief on my face.  Apart from my stress of not being able to contact family and friends for days and being unable to get to the state because of all the damage in surrounding states, my neck of Livingston Parish stood up well to Katrina’s fury.

Hurricane Rita hit the area a bit harder, Hurricane Isaac brought nearly 2 feet of rain as recorded in Hammond, Louisiana, about 8 miles to the east in Tangipahoa Parish, and Hurricane Gustav delivered the most damage to family and friends until…

Until rain.  No named storm, no high winds, no storm surges, not even a tropical system but just continuous pounding rain.

I know that many people think of Louisiana as flood prone.  It is in many areas, but that’s not the case in Livingston Parish.  Yes, the Parish has areas that flood even beyond the official flood zones.  Residents, however, know those areas.  They prepare, they sandbag, and most will evacuate with time to spare.

August 2016, however, was different.  It was historic.  It was unprecedented.  Rivers crested at more than double flood stage.

Areas that never had standing water saw not inches but feet.  My Dad’s house at the edge of my Grandpa’s old berry farm never saw any water from the little river running north and south about a mile to the east for at least 100 years.  This time, however, one could have floated a bateau over land cleared of pine 100 + years ago and farmed by generations.  Unlike the years before my birth, the property had the additional protection afforded by Hwy 43 running north and south at the eastern property line standing as a ley.  It’s really difficult to see photos of that land after this rain and flooding because the possibility never really crossed my mind.  I shudder to envision years past and the state of the property back then if the backflow flood waters did not have to breach about a 5 foot barrier as they did the other day.

Inside the town limits of Albany, the water reached levels that seemed improbable, no impossible, right up until it rose that high.  Homes and businesses that had never taken water inside the structure from every storm past, had floodwaters lapping over the peaks of their rooftops.  Prior to a few days ago, these businesses may have experienced inches of water standing in the parking lots.  Some even sandbagged “just in case” and for an additional barrier from the wake created by trucks on the highway.  With this “no name” storm, wake came from boats as one unfamiliar with the area might not realize that a road existed underneath the equivalent of being out on Lake Maurepas unless their prop struck the hood of a submerged 4-wheel drive truck.

Earlier I typed “little river” because we do call the Lil Natalbany a river even though the official classification would be as a stream.  A stream that is only navigable by boat a few miles downstream.  One can float a canoe or a pirogue under the Highway 190 bridge, but you would need to walk a bit before floating again near the Old Baton Rouge Highway bridge.  Launching something with a small outboard motor requires going further south to Springfield.  From there on the Natalbany one could eventually make their way into Lake Maurepas and then go to Lake Ponchartrain, Lake Borgne, and then into the Gulf of Mexico.  If I would ever want that adventure, I’d drive just a bit further toward Killian and start out on either the Blood or Tickfaw rivers and even then that would be quite a lengthy boat trip.

My point is that nobody is to blame for this natural disaster.

Nobody started a fire intentionally or allowed one to get out of control and spread.

The vast majority of people were neither negligent nor unprepared with their property.

People did not try to wait knowing that doing so would necessitate others risking their own lives to save the foolish or stubborn who failed to heed to evacuation orders or recommendations.

This devastation happened, and I don’t think any technology could have prevented it from happening.  Historically I know that one must twist, bend, and really break comparables to other areas or eras to make them seem applicable.

I think that Governor John Bel Edwards made the initial disaster declaration and the formal request for a federal declaration in a timely fashion.  I think that President Obama signed the authorization much faster than what has been the norm by both he and the living presidents.  I think that FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate has been responsive from the very beginning.

There is, however, little that the federal or state government can do in the early stages at least that are not better handled by local government.

I don’t recall ever meeting the current Parish President, Layton Ricks, but even though I haven’t seen him in years or spoken to him since becoming Sheriff I do know Jason Ard along with many of the elected officials in the local communities.  These individuals, their teams, and so, so, so, many volunteers worked to the point of exhaustion and then an additional 8 or so hours after exhaustion had set in before collapsing in worn out heaps before starting over again the second they caught their breath.  Nobody could have asked or expected more from these locals and the assistance they rendered to friends, neighbors, and strangers.  Volunteers coming from other areas did the same.

Nobody had time for photo-ops, and honestly using resources to provide for officials when so many were and are in need is a genuine waste in my opinion.  At the federal level it makes far more sense to have Director Fugate or Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security on the scene versus President Barack Obama or any President or Vice-President at this stage in the process.

I know that many people are creating political arguments by trying to compare reactions and press negativity between President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina and President Obama today.  I think both men were/are in that proverbial danged if they do and danged if they don’t as they’re caught between a rock and hard place and up “pit creek without a shaddle.” [I try to maintain a family friendly blog].

I’ll suggest another presidential comparison that makes more sense in a moment, but right now I think it’s fair to ask if a visit by President Obama would bring more press coverage to the natural disaster?  Perhaps, but the coverage would be focused more upon the President than the residents affected.

You see this disaster lacks the sensationalism because people acted like human beings with love and kindness to others instead of a selfish manner.

This disaster lacks the political opportunism to capitalize upon talking points.  That’s apparent when the major scandal is the President at Martha’s Vineyard instead of being in photos and distracting those with more pressing concerns than seeing the President or anyone for that matter who is not going to be doing a lot of physical labor.

This disaster as it is now will not sell ads.  The people affected directly are working ripping out floors, sheetrock, drywall, insulation, and shoring up frames and don’t have the time or desire to gussy up for TV or have their words taken out of context.  The entertainment and news limited to paragraph level attention spans can find people to criticize the President or anyone else without the inconvenience of seeing real people doing what they need to do.

In my opinion someone like Mike Huckabee with his Facebook post badmouthing the President is in direct contrast to what the people of Livingston Parish are doing which is pulling together.  As a historian, it’s sad to think that on and within this hodgepodge of disconnected islands surrounded by floodwaters the ideas expressed by Abraham Lincoln are being carried out while someone like Huckabee who stands under that GOP banner today relies upon blaming others.

I think the Advocate, the major daily in Baton Rouge, just printed the most ludicrous editorial in quite some time with “Our Views: Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama.”

Advocate editors, what can President Obama according to the Constitution of the United States of America do to assist the state any more than he has at this stage in the cleanup, rebuilding, and recovery process?

Do you really want him or anyone from outside to ruin all the work being done by the local officials and residents?

Do you want him to replace Director Fugate with Michael Brown so that there can be another FEMA cluster$#%^ like during Katrina?

If the Advocate wanted real assistance, why not use the power of the pen to encourage Congress to cut short their recess.

Yes I know that the House calendar deems the month of August as “District Work Weeks” of 5 days each, but editors you do understand that additional funding beyond what is already allocated to FEMA and the SBA will require Congressional approval.  The US Senate calendar terms recesses as days not in session, but either Mr. Vitter or Mr. Cassidy could show up and take control of the chamber floor during one of the pro forma sessions which SCOTUS declared were in fact actual work sessions.

In 1965 following Hurricane Betsy, US Senator Russell Long did reach out to President Lyndon Johnson to visit and see the damage for himself.

Senator Long did not want LBJ’s “best people,” but the President himself.  In 1965, however, I believe that more people respected the position regardless of who occupied the Oval Office.  People may have disagreed, and I’m typing sarcastically here but there were no differences of opinion about foreign or domestic happenings during the Johnson administration.  Seriously I think some college students today in the survey level courses seem to think of Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s like it was the Olympic games or disagreement about a traffic camera.

Unlike federal politics today, Russell Long had the ability to get things done in the Senate as did Allen Ellender.

Over in the House, the state had F. Edward Hebert, Hale Boggs, Ed Willis, Joe Waggoner, Otto Passman, Gillis Long, T. Ashton Thompson, and Jimmy Morrison of Hammond representing the 6th District.

Before someone tries the political party argument, keep in mind that this was in the age of the Solid South.  Although all members of the Democratic party, these men were part of the de facto two-party system in the state of Long and anti-Long Democrats.  Even mellowed by age, Jimmy Morrison remained a maverick between the factions.  This delegation had seniority.  This delegation played pivotal roles in most legislation going through Congress.  This delegation was visible in the small communities and responded to the poor farmer, shrimper, laborer, and the wealthy and powerful in the same fashion.  They represented their constituents, not special interests.

Today, I see very few members of Congress who command even an iota of the respect and influence of the any member of the Louisiana delegation during Hurricane Betsy.

Regardless, however, listening a recording of that conversation between Russell Long and Lyndon Johnson with Ed Willis listening in on the Long end, it’s about upcoming elections. Senator Long knew that he along with Senator Ellender and the Louisiana House delegation would secure financial assistance from Congress.  Today, I don’t think the Louisiana delegation can be confident of receiving additional assistance from their peers in other states.  In this case by not showing up, President Obama is keeping resources available for those in need and he has provided what is in his power as Commander in Chief as requested by the Governor.

You can listen and follow a transcript to the conversation between Senator Long and President Johnson at the link below:

http://web1.millercenter.org/flashtranscripts/1965_0910_long/index.htm

I will note that Congressman Cedric Richmond penned at letter to Director Fugate and other members of the Louisiana delegation did sign a letter requesting expedited actions from the President.

Political posturing, we don’t need it.

The press, well I am grateful that we have a number of journalists in print and on television who do extraordinary jobs investigating, reporting, and informing the general public.

Their job is made harder by the public relations people and commentators who try to pass themselves off as journalists or are mistaken to be in that field by the general public.

Advocate why not publish a story like that of a lady who has celebrated her 90th birthday for the past 4 or 5 years?  She is sweet and generous as can be and has lived in the same home for 90 years.  In that house she reared I think 3 children, experienced the grief of discovering the body of her husband who passed away while plowing a field, loved many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren along with the children and grandchildren of others from her generation.  She can still bake bread, tend to her flowers, but at the moment doesn’t really understand why she cannot go back to her house.

As she responded to one of the great grandchildren:

Flood you say…sweetie that house hasn’t flooded in 90 years.  The river is way over yonder, and Pappy, that would be my Daddy’s Daddy so your really great and greater Pappy built up the banks years before I was born when he had to build a dam to conserve water. We took down that dam but that river isn’t going to stray anywhere.   This old house and land doesn’t flood, sweetie.

She’s right as always except that old house had about 6 feet of water inside, and when it requires a boat to get within sight of the house what can you say because she has confused the highway with the larger river about 5 miles away.  Honestly, from a photograph I mistook the highway for that river.  That’s how deep the flooding is.

Sorry editors at the Advocate, but your focus should be on the area and providing accurate reports to your readers and to the wire services.  This flooding is a disaster, and it really strikes home for me because that is my hometown.  Those are people that I know, love, and respect.

Even with the flooding back home in my neck of the woods, there is another disaster happening at the same time with those wildfires out in California.

I cannot guestimate the number of communities destroyed by tornadoes.

Not that far from where I live now, over in Ellicot City, MD, they experienced a dramatic flood that for all intents and purposes knocked out the entire downtown area.

It was a few weeks back and only now are business owners being allowed in to see what is left of their establishments.  In 5 days, the area will be closed for a month to repair the damaged infrastructure.  I’ve seen President Obama at some of these disaster areas but not all.  It’s no different with any other president.  The sad fact is that someone, somewhere is suffering at this very moment and at multiple locations quite a number of people are suffering at the same time.

The President is danged if he does and danged if he doesn’t and that will not change for whoever follows him into the Oval Office.  No man or no woman can be everyplace at once.

Editors at the Advocate, you will need to interview real people with real troubles and not pick soundbites from the President or anyone else.  Why not talk to some of the old reporters who used to work at the paper?  They were journalists and not media hogs focused solely upon profit.

So what are the people facing this adversity in Louisiana going to do?

They’re going to try their best, maintain their faith, and carry on.  They’ll be sad, hurt, angry, and frustrated.  They’ll unleash attacks upon others just as a means of coping.  They’ll also do what they can to assist others facing the same problems that they themselves face.

That’s not unique to my hometown, my Parish, or my birth state.  I’ve seen that everywhere that I have lived.  To me that’s the United States of America but to be more exact that’s human beings.

The people of my hometown, Parish, neighboring communities and parishes may be left with flooded homes, tons of building materials, possessions, and keepsakes destined for the trash, and if truly lucky a slab and perhaps part of a frame so that rebuilding does not have to start from scratch.  It’s not politics, partisanship, but it’s a sad fact of life.

All the result of some rain from a storm that never even warranted having a name.

Does anyone care?  Should anyone care? 

The people affected care, and We the People care but apparently that doesn’t sell advertising or provide enough for some in the media to know where to look, what to ask, and most importantly when to listen.

Why I Cannot Support Donald Trump: Thoughts of an American and Professor of History

Fear is powerful.  Fear can save a life just as easily as it can end a life.  Fear is not stagnant.  Fear morphs, builds, decays, permeates, and repels.  Too little fear, and caution evaporates, danger clings and weighs upon like a wet wool blanket.  Too much fear, and we become trapped not to survive or to defend but to be imbued by a force that snuffs freedom and life itself.

Some may assert that fear is overcome by courage.  As William Shakespeare penned:

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

Shakespeare may be correct, but it is also true that even the most valiant may taste death prematurely and that could be from foolishness or being a coward in fear of that yet to come.

Fear is a weapon unlike others.  The infliction of pain, misery, injury, death may be slow or immediate.  Fear can be unfurled through actions or words.  Often a single seed out of thousands broadcast will land in fertile soil, bloom, and spread making those seeds that rested upon rocky or infertile ground, withered in the sun, devoured by birds, or trampled into oblivion irrelevant.

In 2016 the GOP and Donald Trump have tended to existing fears so that those fears do not succumb to deprivation or disintegration.  In addition, they broadcast brazenly and callously additional seeds of fear.  Their victory depends upon whether or not the present fears survive and the fate of the fears being cast into the prevailing winds.  Will fears take root and be nourished by blood and hate or succumb under the lights education and edification?

From Donald Trump we hear of a United States where street crime is more rampant than ever.  Law enforcement officers are targets, and we are being overrun with illegals desiring to do us harm.  Conditions are akin to those in Third World countries.  These are the legacies of the present government, of Barack Obama, and of Hillary Clinton.  All of this will change with Donald Trump as President because he will make America first and Americanism replaces globalism.

For Donald Trump says:

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders – he never had a chance.”

 

“America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics.

Remember: all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.”

According to Donald Trump, he is a savior of America.  He knows the rigged system better than any and therefore is the person who can fix it.  Everyone has been against him, but he has overcome censors, critics, and cynics.

Perhaps he believes that, perhaps you do as well.  I’ve never been confident in people who anoint themselves as saviors.  Some regard that anointing as blasphemous, but I’m just thinking of the comparable in American History.

George Washington managed to keep an army intact through the early portions of the Revolutionary War in spite of the odds stacked against him.  Other factors contributed and while Washington never demanded full credit, his role is difficult to discredit.  Ultimately Washington converged troops to end the military battle.

Regardless of whether or not the notes of “The World Turned Upside Down” filled the air, the colonial child had broken free from mother England on the battlefield and in spirit.

Later George Washington realized that our new country was on the verge of imploding under its existing government and participated in what in effect was another revolution in the form of a bloodless coup as those charged with amending the Articles of Confederation instead wrote the Constitution of the United States of America.  As the first elected President, Washington established many precedents still in place today.  Still he did what was asked of him; relied upon the credibility he had earned; and put the country before himself.  He did not regard himself as a savior.

Fear was present in 1775, 1776, 1781, 1787, 1789, 1791, and 1797 just as it is today. The economic downfall prior to the presidential election of 2008 is still felt and seen in many ways.  Barack Obama promised hope and change, but he did not perform miracles.  Neither did Congress.  Neither did we the people perform miracles.  We tread water. We made mistakes.  We submerged beneath the surface on occasions, but we did not drown.  We did not cease to exist.  We persevered just as the people had under the presidency of George Washington.

In 2012, the message was Forward.  In some ways we have moved forward; others we have regressed; and many more are more or less the same, statistically within a single standard deviation from the mean.  Some contend executive overreach and do have a point, but it also matters that some of the confirmed overreach happened because of 35 second sessions of the United States Senate which the Supreme Court ruled constituted being in session and not at recess.

I’ll be the first to agree that while fewer in numbers, many of the Executive Orders signed by President Obama are more significant than those of recent presidential predecessors.  Examine the list, however, and since Congress failed to take action do you really feel like these Veterans, disabled individuals, areas struck by disaster, did not deserve or need assistance from the federal government?  If Congress would not perform their responsibilities would we want a President to turn a back to the country?

No Barack Obama did not solve all the problems in the United States and the world, but he is only a man who got elected twice as President of the United States of America.  He was not a savior and never anointed himself as one.  For many detractors like Donald Trump, Barack Obama isn’t a man but a failed savior.

Of course some supporters may have felt that he could do no wrong, but many of these messages that detractors call weak and anti-American are contentions that we the people need to appreciate what past generations sacrificed for us.  Read them without benefit of knowing the author and see if they match this proverbial American dream, your values, your beliefs, more than they differ.  We the people need to realize that we does not exclude you or me but includes us.  We the people as a chain are no stronger than our weakest link.

What Donald Trump proposes is not we, but me, myself, and I with Donald Trump as that ultimate judge.  Someone else is always at fault.  Someone else is always to blame.  Fire marshals enforcing occupancy laws did so not for reasons of public safety that apply to everyone, but for the specific purpose of attacking Donald Trump.  Kazir Khan asking if Trump has read the Constitution, has gone to Arlington, and stating that Trump has sacrificed nothing is transformed into a vicious attack.

Does Mr. Khan have the right to an opinion and to state such publicly?  Why is he castigated?  Is it because he had the gall and audacity to question this one anointed by people as saviors of a country that has already been saved?

If this current police state as the rhetoric contends exists under Obama, review the words that have been written and spoken about the President.  Some are akin to those one heard in a junior high school locker room, yet the same criticisms, threats, and such have not been suppressed.  We are not oppressed as the critics and cynics contend.  We are not a Third World country.

Donald Trump wants us to fear what could be, but more so he wants us to fear what is and presents that in the darkest way possible.  There are no points of shining light.  There is no hope.  There is no laughter. There is no joy.

He wants us to accept that we are the defeated; the weak; the incapable, that we need a savior who is named Donald Trump.

What we need to understand, however, is that for Donald Trump or any individual to be that savior, we must shred that very document under which George Washington became the first President.  The Constitution no longer applies and one by one specific groups will be eliminated because they are to blame.  The problems, however, remain so a new group must be identified and eliminated.  As history holds many examples, the problems will survive, but how many people will be eliminated before nobody remains.

When has a savior or even a true leader been unwilling or incapable of the sting of words?  If words hurt, what of sticks and stones?  What will the response be to swords, to missiles?   It is an unknown; an unknown to which words alone provide any illumination of the darkness.  Donald Trump’s words, however, convey darkness and not radiance.

That’s what I fear because Donald Trump is not a savior. He’s not in the mold of either George Washington, Barack Obama, or the individuals who served in between as President of the United States of America.

Do we shred the Constitution?

Do we dissolve the United States?

Are we really seeking authoritarianism?

Too much fear, and we become trapped not to survive or to defend but to be imbued by a force that snuffs freedom and life itself.

An Aside:

While I cannot say that I truly supported any of the announced candidates seeking either the nomination of the GOP or Democratic Party or any 3rd parties or minor parties, I can say that some candidates seem less dangerous than others.  I would like to see the Libertarian Party poll high enough to be included in the debates and hope that they do meet the vote threshold to qualify for public funding in 2020.  I would also like to see a new party form in the midyear elections and make a viable showing in 2020 to become a true alternative to the current division in the 2024 presidential elections.

Many who critique my positions about Donald Trump will employ the Hillary Clinton card. Hillary Clinton has her flaws, and I have an abundance of concerns.

Still my position is based upon Donald Trump and how I envision him as President and not what I believe and know from my own work and interactions with others including Hillary Clinton.

 

The Unprecedented Attack against Donald Trump

Trump Twitter 2WHAT IS WRITTEN BELOW IS REGARDED AS A VICIOUS ATTACK:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our veterans and those who serve today. Tonight we are honored to stand here as parents of Capt. Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.

Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams. Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.” If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are Stronger Together. And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.”  ~Kazir Khan

Below are links to ABC, the Independent from the UK, and Philly Voice for comparisons.

HERE IS ANOTHER  DONALD J. TRUMP’S REACTION:

Trump Twitter 2

SINCE NOBODY SEEMS TO DOUBT THAT CAPTAIN HUMAYUN KHAN DIED IN IRAQ ON 8 JUNE 2004, WAS AWARDED THE PURPLE HEART AND BRONZE STAR POSTHUMOUSLY, AND IS BURIED AT ARLINGTON, WHAT’S LEFT OF THE VICIOUS ATTACK?

1) The preface to story, albeit at times enhanced or humbled, an immigrant living the proverbial American Dream?

2) An endorsement of Hillary Clinton which one would expect since party conventions are intended to promote both party and candidate?

3) Questions asking if Mr. Trump had read the US Constitution or visited Arlington?

4) A statement about Donald Trump’s immigration plans, comments toward Muslims, and assessments of how Mr. Trump treats other groups?

Well number 1 is not unique and given the nature of the occasion lacks in details.  I have hundreds of hours of oral history interviews of immigrants from an array of countries who came to the US at different times and for different reasons about the American Dream.  Many more are etched in my memory from Hungarians where I lived in Louisiana, Italians in nearby in Independence and Tickfaw in Tangipahoa Parish, Cajuns, and depending upon the generation of the individual someone who knew only Formosa, knew Formosa and Taiwan, or Taiwan for their entire life.

I reckon that number 2 could be a threat, but it is a convention and one should not expect speakers to offer glowing endorsements of candidates from the opposing parties.

Number 3 are just questions which I suppose could be construed as unfair or an attack.  Now I have no proof as to whether or not Donald Trump has read the Constitution, but whether a non-important misspeak or meant as some type of joke, he apparently did make a reference to Article XII before Congressional Republicans.

Likewise, I have no way of knowing if he has been to Arlington, but I can say that each time I’m there something different just sinks in.  My most recent visit was a few months back when I had some time following a meeting in Virginia.  When I got to the Metro station, I asked myself if I should go home, go to the Hill, people watch on the National Mall, or spend a few hours at Arlington.  I chose Arlington and in walking toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I found myself sitting on the benches near Joe Louis’s resting place and just listening to a number of tour guides leading multiple student groups.  It is a humbling place, and the array of markers and the diversity of those buried from the oldest graves to the most recent gives one pause.

Whether or not Mr. Trump, Mr. or Mrs. Khan, Mrs. Pat Smith, or anyone has sacrificed depends upon one’s definition of sacrifice.  In terms of death, the Khans and Mrs. Smith buried sons.  While I was a teenager I saw my Grandparents and felt their sorrow in burying their daughter, my Mom.  Semantics about sacrifice or loss aren’t that important to me because Mr. and Mrs. Khan have the right to grieve as does Mrs. Smith.  That’s a personal process.  I do not know if Mr. Trump has had a child pass away, and I haven’t so I don’t know how I would respond.  I watched the heartache of my Dad burying my Mom, and I have friends who have buried spouses.  I’ve buried family and friends, and I certain Mr. Trump has as well.  Grief and loss are there.  Circumstances do not really matter because even if one can take comfort or feel pride or respect for the way the individual died, that loss is still a personal battle that I do not wish upon anyone.

Are the criticisms of the Mr. and Mrs. Khan because of number 4?  Is this the personal attack?

Let’s allow Mr. Trump to respond.

Actually he issued a statement on 7 December 2015, yes last year, that addressed number 4. 

DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION

(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.

Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump

Videos of Mr. Trump reading and clarifying his statement from The Guardian and CNN.  Please refer to your preferred media sources if you feel these videos are not legitimate.

Per his press release last year, if Mr. Trump’s ban on immigration had been in place when the Khan family came the United States, our doors would have been shut with a sign affixed reading “Not accepting any Muslims until further notice.”

My personal thought is just how thin skinned are Mr. Trump and his supporters to blow this molehill into such a mountain?

This isn’t even sticks and stones, and if these words hurt I wonder what he might expect as President?

I wonder if how the supporters and justifiers of the criticism and disparaging of the Khans would respond if the same feelings were directed toward them.  Yes I know that so many people believe that we are already suppressed, oppressed, discriminated against, and perhaps even given unfriendly looks.  We talk about how bullying is wrong, but why do attitudes change according to who is on the receiving end?

What if we had to walk in the shoes of another?

What if the inanimate harmless objects that our imaginations transform into the most dangerous and deadliest forms known to humankind actually had just a bit of danger or animation at the beginning?  Would we cry wolf?

I reckon a number of folks would be soiling their britches and crying like newborn infants.

Mr. Khan and Mr. Trump, Deja Vu? Thoughts of a history professor.

We’ve seen it, but we have not learned or forgotten out of convenience, out of our own insecurity, because of our own vindictive jealousy, because of our hypocrisy and denial.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

“We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

“And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Good night, and good luck.”

We the People heard those words above spoken quietly but clearly on the CBS network on 9 March 1954.

The author and orator was Edward R. Murrow speaking about the junior US Senator from Wisconsin Joseph R. McCarthy.

Today the actors are not Murrow and McCarthy but Mr. Khizr Khan, his wife Mrs. Ghazala Khan, and their deceased son, Army Captain Humayun Khan killed in Iraq in 2004, posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and laid to rest at Arlington against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and his supporters.

As most are aware Mr. Khizr Khan with his wife Ghazala by his side spoke at the Democratic convention in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.  Mr. Khan exercised his right to free speech, spoke of freedom of religion, the life and death of his son, and this situation of fear concerning Muslims in the United States.  Mr. Khan challenged Mr. Trump about the candidate’s statements regarding immigration.  He asked if Mr. Trump had read the Constitution of the United States of America and what had Mr. Trump sacrificed for the United States, the birth country of Mr. Trump and the country the Kahn family decided to travel, live, and of which to become a part.

The Hill provides a timeline of events.

Donald Trump responded to Mr. Khan’s words via Twitter:

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!”

In a taped interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, Mr. Trump addressed the Khan’s in more detail.

As time continues on, Mr. Trump has become more critical of Mr. and Mrs. Khan while being more reserved in reference to the late Captain Kahn.  Mrs. Khan answered questions about her silence in a letter to The Washington Post and subsequent interviews where she begins to tear up in memory of her son.

Organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have penned public rebukes of Mr. Trump for his statements about the Khan family.

“Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has a history of lashing out after being attacked, but to ridicule a Gold Star Mother is out-of-bounds, said the new national commander of the near 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary.

“Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression,” said Brian Duffy, of Louisville, Ky., who was elected July 27 to lead the nation’s oldest and largest major war veterans organization.

“There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed,” he said. “Giving one’s life to nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard.”

Gold Star Families have requested the Donald Trump apologize for his “offensive” and “anti-American” comments.

Yet to Donald Trump, his camp, and Trump supporters, Mr. Trump is the victim.

According to them, Mr. and Mrs. Khan did not sacrifice; it was their son Humayun who volunteered and freely chose to place himself in harm’s way.  Listening to Trump supporters, no person in the military sacrifices so obviously their families who in the best of circumstances endure separation only and in the worst traumatic events and loss of life do not sacrifice.

One would think that the Trump supporters are saying damn to our military and their families, but less than a week prior at the GOP convention they extended sympathy to those lost in the tragedy at Benghazi.  Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith who worked for the state department, gave a heartfelt address about the death of her son and stated her belief that Hillary Clinton is responsible for his tragic death.  Security contractors Mark Geist and John Teigen also spoke to the same effect, and Mr. Geist appears in an NRA funded television spot supporting the Trump campaign.

Critics remind me that some of the lives lost at Benghazi were not members of the military, but that does not take away from the sacrifices they made, the choice they made for that type of work, and the sacrifices of their respective families?

Somehow though, according to Trump supporters, Mr. and Mrs. Khan are the aggressors and the ones filled with hatred .  According to some of this mentality, Mr. Khan is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat detail their “proof” of these accusations.

Others assert that Hillary Clinton is to blame for the death of Humayun Khan because she cast her vote as a US Senator in favor of military action.

Some propose that the Khan family is incapable of comprehending that they are mere pawns of the Clinton campaign and Democratic party and are being used to smear a true American patriot and hero like Donald Trump.

It’s not about people like the Khan family but about “radical Islamic terrorism” according to others.

I wonder if they think that anything is necessary concerning domestic terrorism?  The individual who murdered the officers in Baton Rouge on Airline Highway where I’ve traveled perhaps a thousand times in my earlier years by most accounts did not kill because of race but because of a sovereign citizen belief and opposition to law enforcement.  It was only 4 years ago that another group of sovereign citizens ambushed law enforcement in LaPlace, LA, where my great-grandfather lived at the time of his passing.  That ambush saw Deputies Jeremy Triche and Brandon Nielson murdered for no reason other than their profession.

Yes some excuse the domestic terrorists because in their opinion the major cause of this violence is a lack of respect for authority.  Many claim that lack of respect is evidenced by people in the Black Lives Matter movement.  Unfortunately Donald Trump did not receive the message that “decent” people do not criticize public servants based upon his lambasting of fire marshal Brett Lacy in Colorado.  Seriously I think he really believes that enforcing occupancy limits for public safety is a personal attack on him by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Democrats.

More and more people seem to be running to the defense of Donald Trump by stating that the Khan’s are hypocrites.  Again, however, the same things that are deemed hypocrisy coming from the Khans is deemed patriotism when it comes from those who label themselves “conservatives.”

Again it’s the arguments that the Khan’s have not sacrificed, the Khan’s are somehow evil, or that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Democrats are to blame for everything bad.

In March of 1954, Edward R. Murrow invoked the words of Cassius in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act I Scene II) in trying to convey the danger of Joseph McCarthy to the public.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Even though I began with that thought, I’m reminded more, however, of the words spoken by Joseph Welch on 9 June 1954 during the Army–McCarthy hearings before the United States Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations which aired live on the ABC network and the DuMont Television Network. 

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”

McCarthy tried to continue his attack, but Welch interrupted angrily,

“Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?”

Senator McCarthy attempted to continue again:

“I know this hurts you, Mr. Welch. But I may say, Mr. Chairman, on a point of personal privilege, and I would like to finish it. “

To which Joseph Welch responded:

“Senator, I think it hurts you, too, sir.”

Perhaps Mr. Khizr Khan sums up the philosophy of the modern “conservative” movement and Donald Trump with this succinct observation.

“I have exactly same rights as he does. He wants to have one set of rights for himself and he wants to have another set of rights for others.”

It would be decades before I was born, but the study of history is not contained to a single generation.  We saw a perpetuation of fear; the irrationality of hate; the process of pointing fingers of blame that encompassed the country.  Yet that generation overcame those purveyors of fear and hate.

I pray that we are still capable and have not been defeated by a desire to justify, to excuse, just because we already have the benefit of the doubt and do not want others to have the same for whatever reason.  That we have not been defeated.  That our opinions, thoughts, actions, and values are not merely a response to the dislike or distrust of another.

I do, however, maintain hope from knowing what previous generations overcame to leave me with opportunities not available to them.  I will never know their experiences in the same manner as they because I wasn’t here.  I do express that understanding and and appreciation with sentiments like the following:

“I speak to you today with deep humility. My grandfather marched in Patton’s Army, but I cannot know what it is to walk into battle like so many of you. My grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line, but I cannot know what it is for a family to sacrifice like so many of yours have.

I am the father of two young girls, and I cannot imagine what it is to lose a child. My heart breaks for the families who’ve lost a loved one.

These are things I cannot know. But there are also some things I do know.

I know that our sadness today is mixed with pride; that those we’ve lost will be remembered by a grateful nation; and that our presence here today is only possible because your loved ones, America’s patriots, were willing to give their lives to defend our nation.

I know that while we may come from different places, cherish different traditions, and have different political beliefs, we all – every one of us – hold in reverence those who’ve given this country the full measure of their devotion.

And I know that children in New Mexico and across this country look to your children, to your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends – to those we honor today – as a shining example of what’s best about America.

Their lives are a model for us all.

What led these men and women to wear their country’s uniform? What is it that leads anyone to put aside their own pursuit of life’s comforts; to subordinate their own sense of survival, for something bigger – something greater?

Many of those we honor today were so young when they were killed. They had a whole life ahead of them – birthdays and weddings, holidays with children and grandchildren, homes and jobs and happiness of their own. And yet, at one moment or another, they felt the tug, just as generations of Americans did before them. Maybe it was a massacre in a Boston square; or a President’s call to save the Union and free the slaves. Maybe it was the day of infamy that awakened a nation to a storm in the Pacific and a madman’s death march across Europe. Or maybe it was the morning they woke up to see our walls of security crumble along with our two largest towers.

Whatever the moment was, when it came and they felt that tug, perhaps it was simply the thought of a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife, or a child not yet born that made this young American think that it was time to go; that made them think “I must serve so that the people I love can live – in happiness, and safety, and freedom.”

This sense of service is what America is all about. It is what leads Americans to enter the military. It is what sustains them in the most difficult hours. And it is the safeguard of our security.

You see, America has the greatest military in the history of the world. We have the best training, the most advanced technology, the most sophisticated planning, and the most powerful weapons. And yet, in the end, though each of these things is absolutely critical, the true strength of our military lies someplace else.

It lies in the spirit of America’s servicemen and women. No matter whether they faced down fascism or fought for freedom in Korea and Vietnam; liberated Kuwait or stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans or serve brilliantly and bravely under our flag today; no matter whether they are black, white, Latino, Asian, or Native American; whether they come from old military families, or are recent immigrants – their stories tell the same truth.

It is not simply their bravery, their insistence on doing their part – whatever the cost – to make America more secure and our world more free. It’s not simply an unflinching belief in our highest ideals. It’s that in the thick of battle, when their very survival is threatened, America’s sons and daughters aren’t thinking about themselves, they’re thinking about one another; they’re risking everything to save not their own lives, but the lives of their fellow soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. And when we lose them – in a final act of selflessness and service – we know that they died so that their brothers and sisters, so that our nation, might live.

What makes America’s servicemen and women heroes is not just their sense of duty, honor, and country; it’s the bigness of their hearts and the breadth of their compassion.”

Barack Obama: “Remarks on Memorial Day in Las Cruces, New Mexico,” May 26, 2008. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Was the future President of the United States talking about people like the Khan family? Like your family and mine?  Like our friends and neighbors of all colors, backgrounds, and creeds?  Isn’t that a description of WE THE PEOPLE?

Why are those words considered anti-American by the Trump supporters and members of the GOP?

That’s how ridiculous our partisan politics have become.

[Note I can criticize Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or any past or present presidential candidate just as I can Donald Trump.  None are saviors of this country, and no previous president has been either.  My personal feeling is that when a campaign is based upon discrediting the other person and not offering anything other than I alone can fix things, then we no longer have a republic or representative democracy but a demagogue.  When supporters are able to excuse transgressions for which they castigate others, what does that say about the candidate and supporters.  I expect specifics from my representatives.  I do not expect to agree with them 100 percent of the time, but I expect them to be able to explain in minute detail their reasoning for a position.  The bully mentality always fails because it lacks staying power, and skeletons find their way out of closets].

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and the GOP Pledge

Pledge:  a solemn promise or undertaking.

Oath:  a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.

Definitions presented above are to curtail arguments based upon semantics.

I admit that my opinion below is not new or the result of any divine intervention.  I created this little video 3 years ago after a weekend of playing around with different freeware animation and voice programs.  Tech quality aside, I thought the pledge itself represented an accurate portrayal of Congressional campaigning then and still today.

This week’s GOP Convention and the criticisms levied at Ted Cruz for his speech, however, have cemented this idea as to what is most important to some, and it isn’t the United States of America or necessarily money.

The Cruz convention address is linked below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDhqM9ZnVmI

A video example of the criticism from Trump supporters, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Conservatives, and practically anyone else who begins or concludes any modern presidential election discussion with a condemnation of Hillary Clinton as the predominate or single message is linked below.

https://www.facebook.com/TomiLahren/videos/vb.868219436604578/1033099840116536/?type=2&theater

[Note:  The hatchet-man approach of attacking an opponent is not new, but I’m pressed to recall when supporters relied upon the strategy exclusively without at least a single specific about how their candidate could do better.  I should confess that I knew nothing about Tomi Lahren of TheBlaze TV until about 1 month ago, and not so much with this presentation but with others I think she needs something, anything, factual in terms of US History, World History, American Government, IR, or Comparative Politics to have any actual credibility].

If one wants a more mainstream report, ABC News has another video example which is linked below.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/texas-delegates-break-bitter-fighting-ted-cruzs-endorsement/story?id=40770379

That’s the backdrop.

Have you ever just sat back and pondered about oaths and pledges?

For whatever reasons, I had not thought about it in great detail.  Regardless of whether my perspective was personal, historical in US History, or legal, I just became engrossed by the magnitude as I reflected.

Article II Section I of the US Constitution contains the oath of office an individual must take before entering into the office of President.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Many readers remember taking this oath recorded at 10 U.S. Code § 502.

Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:

“I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

More information about military oaths for enlisted personnel or officers can be read at the following:

Elected officials take oaths of office, and a basic overview of the history in the United States can be read at the following:

Naturalized citizens must take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America before being recognized as a citizen of this country.  More information about that oath is available at the following:

As Americans we recite the Pledge of Allegiance “…to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands….”

A brief summary which does include information about the Bellamy salute and the later inclusion of the words “under God” can be read at the link below:

That’s quite a number of pledges and oaths that are common in American life, and we haven’t even touched upon areas such as marriage or devotion to family.  Some may argue that the following Biblical passage is different from an oath or a pledge, but for me it always comes to mind whenever I think of allegiance.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, King James Version).

With the GOP and their nominee for President of the United States of America, the actions before, during, and now following the convention have all stressed to me what they pledge allegiance and to what they take their initial oath.  Some may disagree but in my opinion it’s neither God nor country, but the political party which is held most important and above all others.

Consider that in the midst of primaries and caucuses, GOP party officials requested that individuals vying for the nomination sign a Pledge.

“I ______ affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States, I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is.

I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

The original intent was to discourage Donald Trump from seeking the presidency as an independent or on the ticket of a third party.  The early televised debates saw moderators ask the candidates specifically if they agreed and signed the pledge.  All, including the ultimate party nominee Donald Trump, signed.

It is the backing out of this pledge, for whatever reason given publically or held privately, that members of the GOP hold against Ted Cruz and others who sought the nomination such as John Kasich.

It’s not voting for who the voter feels is the best person to fulfill the duties of the elected office.

The party expects loyalty to the party to be greater than the union itself, the United States of America.

To vote according to one’s conscience is considered a wrong.

Freedom has been usurped not by the government but by the party who seeks to be the elected representatives to the government.

I have friends who in my opinion are more qualified and better professors of United States History than I am, who suggest that this GOP pledge and similar loyalty oaths by conservative groups are not necessarily authoritarianism but reflective of nationalism and love of country.  They propose that the modern conservative movement in the United States believes that the intent of the Founding Fathers has been lost within today’s politically correct environment.

My concern with that explanation is that when these learned individuals speak of originalism in theory, they tend to incorporate subsequent changes as part of originalism when those adaptations were positive in their opinion.  They do not disclose an acceptance that the country following the Populist Period and Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century was and remains significantly different in constitutional interpretations than it was at the time of ratification.  For example, nobody wants a return of slavery.  Nobody seems outraged that the votes for President and Vice-President are now separated.  While perhaps desired by some, nobody is going to campaign with the proposal to end the secret ballot.

It’s my opinion only, but to attempt to have originalism while including some but excluding other revisions is hypocritical.  It’s an either or proposition.  If a change goes against original intent, then the method to rectify that mistake is via another amendment such as done in regard to prohibition.

If someone is calling for originalism but yet requires a pledge to a political party, they not only diminish the country but disrespect our history and our Founding Fathers.

How can one argue otherwise, when the ideas of George Washington are crumbled up and tossed aside like trash?

Consider the document that is now known as Washington’s Farewell Address:

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

Our first President continued:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Today it seems that the self-proclaimed patriots; Americans who love their country; serve another first before country.

That is party; factionalism that George Washington attempted to warn his future generations against.

Loyalty is not to country.

That oath upon entering the military with the phrase “that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God,” seems of little meaning if one disrespects the President.

I know, some will counter that it really isn’t different with the Democratic party.  I agree but that doesn’t change anything with the modern Republican party.

I know some will counter that the President is an enemy to the country and to the Constitution.

To believe that, however, is to accept that President Barack Obama has been convicted with neither trial nor jury because judgment rests in political party.

To believe that, however, is to accept that Hillary Clinton should  be convicted and jailed although few people seem able to cite the actual charges for which she was investigated.

Given the amount of time and funds spent on investigations, she is either not guilty of the charges levied or those who believe that she is guilty are too incompetent to prove guilt even by a preponderance of evidence, let alone reasonable doubt.  (Note, however, that a decision of not guilty is not the same as being innocent).

The guilt, the fault, the failure of America and a necessity to “Make American Great Again” are the determinations of a political party that expects blind allegiance before any thought of country.

If the United States of America is so bad today, then doesn’t the blame rest with us all? 

Granted we have a number of problems and issues that require responsiveness and have lacked the attention necessary.  We are not a utopia, but we have never been a utopia.

We all have to work together.  We have to learn to live together.  We must be confident enough to sacrifice in order to have.  That’s the basic concept of originalism as the country transitioned from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Can any identify where in the Constitution the Founding Fathers argue that freedom and other fundamental rights are vested in the Republican party or conservative movement of today?  They have not been vested in the Democratic party, and what had been liberal propositions such as abolishing slavery, including women in the franchise right, are now ingrained that originalism is unthinkable.

How is it possible, however, to accept and champion a loyalty to party first as patriotic and the intent of our Founding Fathers?

That’s what the GOP expects and requires to be one of them.  It’s not US History, but World History that is ripe with examples of nationalism run amuck and loyalty to a faction is conveyed as the same as love of country.  Do we want that here?

How else can one interpret that pledge and all the hoopla when someone does not toe the line?

Who will they deem the next enemy?

Perhaps we should all look closely our mirrors?

That’s a reason to be afraid.

In Memory of a Pet, and A Cat Clinic review

DSC02017

Paka

It has been a weekend of sadness in the LAB Louisiana Boy household up here in Maryland. Saturday morning, the time came to put our 17-year-old cat to sleep. Our second oldest, she battled a number of urinary tract issues in recent years with stones, infections, and the onset of renal failure with one kidney practically disappearing. We never went the route of administering IV fluids at home because given her personality the stress would have exceeded any additional comfort from the additional fluid. Her last appointment had been about 3 months prior and the decision made was to observe quality of life.

Saturday, the conclusion presented itself with crystal clarity when she began experiencing a urinary blockage and leaving small droplets of blood. This time the humane treatment was not testing for a bacterial infection and antibiotics or any medicinal attempt to dissolve any crystalline particles so that they could be passed naturally. It was time to say goodbye.

Our veterinary clinic, A Cat Clinic, has shortened hours on Saturday, but with only a quick phone call the staff stayed beyond their scheduled closing. A short time later our cat, named Paka who Jen rescued years before I knew either went to sleep in Jen’s arms at the veterinary office. It was not unexpected but still the tears flowed that rainy afternoon as the passing came peacefully.

In my observations I often reference John Donne and Meditation XVII which took upon an enhanced meaning to me years ago when my Mom passed away while I was an undergraduate junior but also still a teenager. For me, despite any thoughts of solitude or isolation, we are not separated from others. Thus the declaration of “therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee,” has a special personal meaning for me.

When my Grandpa passed while I was in graduate school, words from Emily Dickinson in a freshman level composition course taught by the late Professor John Coumes (RIP) embossed upon my essence:

“Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly -.”

Like the tolling bells described by Donne, I experienced that “Stillness in the Room” walking into Grandpa’s bedroom to discover the lifeless body once the soul had passed. I realized the simple line of definiteness coexists with a simple and yet complex ambiguity between our world and the hereafter.

The known and the unknown merged.

Some people opine that it should be different with an animal than a human being. I respectfully disagree. Life is precious. Life is giving, enabling. It can be contemplated in terms of quantity, but the indelible mark is a result of quality. What I’ve discovered is that how one passes matters least while the manner in which one lived matters the most.

The sage elder, teacher, and blogger Walkingfox at Sachemspeaks typed these words to me about a year ago:

“What we have a habit of calling our pets have a brain, heart and soul, they all speak to us, understand us and each other and never kill unless necessary however, we seldom take the time to listen, they also all understand this and this is why in reality, we are their pets?”

Mr. Walkingfox (who I only feel comfortable addressing with the respectful identifier of “Mr.” since he is of the same generation of my Dad even though he has advised me that the formality is unnecessary) may have offered his words in the context of pets, but did he not describe the very being of a true friend? A true friend who is that individual who often sees more about you than you could possibly see.

Whether in the span of a blink of an eye or an eon, others leave an indelible mark upon us and do we not have the obligation to ourselves to leave our positive ineradicable marks with others?

A Cat Clinic: Feline Only Animal Hospital in Montgomery County

http://www.acatclinic.us/

A number of times I began writing a review of A Cat Clinic but for a variety of reasons at the time, some unknown today, I never completed the task.

A Cat Clinic is a feline-only animal hospital in Boyds, MD, which is a part of Montgomery County. It has served northern Montgomery County since 1986 when Dr. Dale Rubenstein opened the doors of the first veterinary clinic / hospital for cats in this area. Dr. Rubenstein has an impressive academic CV with an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland in addition to her DVM which she earned a Purdue. She’s certified in feline practice and is a member of various professional associations. She’s also active in the local community speaking to local groups and at local schools.

I have only been present twice when Dr. Rubenstein has conducted an examination of one of our cats. She’s professional in her approach, and from her vast experience there is little unnecessary effort either in the physical aspects of the exam or while she meticulously typed her preliminary notes. It’s obvious that she is informed and experienced even by a casual observation.

While I have no doubt about her abilities, my critique of Dr. Rubenstein is based less upon her veterinary skills and more upon her administrative role at the clinic. From my own experiences a staff is a reflection of leadership, and everyone I have encountered at the clinic is personable and dedicated to both patients and their humans. For that I credit not only the individual staff members but Dr. Rubenstein.

Our cats have been examined primarily by the other practitioner, Dr. Melissa Mustillo. Dr. Mustillo is approximately the same age as Jen and I, so we have a less formal in office experience even though a high professional quality of service is maintained. Dr. Mustillo has her own impressive academic credentials from Canisius College before going to Knoxville where she earned her DVM at the University of Tennessee. She completed an internship in medicine and surgery from Veterinary Referral Associates who operates an emergency veterinary hospital towards Gaithersburg.

I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Mustillo with both her academic knowledge and medical skills. Like her colleague Dr. Rubenstein, Dr. Mustillo maintains the professional memberships in her field and is also involved in the community She delivers a number of public lectures about different aspects of feline health throughout the area. As someone who has given his fair share of presentations and attended numerous talks by others covering a diversity of topics, I’ll assert that Dr. Mustillo is quite impressive in that atmosphere.

Personally, I love Dr. Mustillo’s professional demeanor whether it is at a formal presentation, during the course of an examination, or when answering direct questions about the patient. She affectionately refers to her patients as “kiddo” multiple times along with calling the cats by name. In some respects she reminds me of a pediatrician as she shows the patient the various instruments, explains what she is going to do, and calmly proceeds while voicing words of comfort and encouragement. She successfully lessens stress levels for everyone present.

With the “cat parents” Dr. Mustillo is forthright yet sympathetic. I do not think any medical practitioner could fake such a sincere and caring deportment.

A Cat Clinic is a friendly and calm environment for both patients and their humans. Unlike some veterinary clinics I have patronized, neither the physicians nor staff attempt to “up sell” services or treatments by shaming the clients or taking advantage of emotional feelings. Recommendations are made and options presented freely. Neither DVM has exhibited what I term an ego issue where they contend that their diagnosis or opinion is the only correct one possible. Sadly I’ve experienced this type of omnipotent personality among a number of individuals in the medical profession. I can say the same about my field with professors, and honestly no profession is immune to those beliefs. Still that attribute influences significantly my personal critique of another.

As written my medical interactions have been with Dr. Mustillo primarily, but I also credit Dr. Rubenstein for the overall demeanor of the staff. The staff has changed considerably in the 7 or so years we have been bringing our cats to A Cat Clinic. The turnover, however, is not a result of working conditions but more often a result of one of the assistants returning to school or graduating and transferring to a graduate or professional program.

With the intensified emotions of Saturday’s visit in addition to Dr. Mustillo, I do want to acknowledge the work of two staff members who are not strangers from the number of times we have seen and communicated with them during previous visits.

First is Charlotte, a young lady who often assists with getting medications and foods requiring an Rx. On a few occasions she has been the assistant during an examination, and I believe also performs some tech duties in the labs. She also fulfills the role of receptionist, coordinator, or as I refer to the position:  use your knowledge, skills, and the power of communication to solve whatever you can out front.

Saturday Charlotte answered the phone and immediately checked with Dr. Mustillo to see if we could go immediately to their office given how close it was to the scheduled closing time. She displayed the utmost in efficiency, professionalism, and compassion in that quick phone call. Upon entering the clinic, she immediately took Jen and Paka to the designated private area and did so in a manner that did not neglect the two patrons with whom she had been assisting at the time. Throughout Charlotte displayed both genuine sympathy and concern while remaining professional.

Second is a young lady named Samantha or Sam as she is known in the clinic. Sam is a local girl who recently graduated from the University of Maryland. I recall when she first started working at the clinic. She was precise and friendly with Jen and me as she took vitals. Still, you could sense a touch of nerves as I could tell how she was thinking through everything that she did and asked. There was nothing wrong with her actions that day. They were just reminiscent of observing countless students giving their first oral presentation in front of a class or watching them react to their first office meeting to discuss a book review, research draft, or essay from an exam.

The next appointment Sam used Dr. Mustillo’s expression of “kiddo,” and her movements and words had such a fluidity as she had progressed to adapting her knowledge and training to her own personality. It’s a highly impressive combination of skills that this young lady possesses.

I like to look at Sam as I often do with my former students, but of course she was never in any of my courses. I did, however, offer some unsolicited advice about her GRE preparations and applications for graduate and veterinary schools. Did she need my assistance? Of course not, but she did not dismiss me and perhaps my advice of tailoring her personal statement to address not only why the school would be good for her but also why she would be a positive representative of the school was helpful (although certainly repetitive from her mentors) as she will be moving to pursue her DVM this coming fall.

Saturday Sam came from the lab area to extend her sympathies and to ask if I needed anything before proceeding with the required paperwork. Her sincerity, her empathy cannot be quantified. She is a multi-talented young lady who has a great future ahead as she first pursues and ultimately earns her DVM. She will be a blessing to both her future patients and their parents. I consider Sam a blessing to our cats and to Jen and me, and Sam embodies the atmosphere at A Cat Clinic.

I highly recommend A Cat Clinic for those in this area. The overwhelming majority of reviews posted on online forums are positive. A few reviews cite issues with costs, but I do not see a significant disparity between costs for services rendered at A Cat Clinic and the other veterinary practices in this area. Regardless of if it is a human, feline, canine, or other living creature, increasing medical costs are a fact of our time.

They are proactive in communicating with compound pharmacies to discover lower overall costs for any Rx medications they prescribe.

One recommendation I have would be offering some form of multi-cat discounts. Perhaps they already do with established versus new patients similar what one experiences typically with medical practices for humans. It’s not a complaint against A Cat Clinic, but I would like to see more businesses offer such tokens of appreciation to existing patrons as opposed to perks for new patrons only. I have no knowledge as to whether or not A Cat Clinic does either, and my opinion is only a general one which applies to all entities which provide goods or services.

I will note that A Cat Clinic does have the equipment along with the necessary training to perform some lab work at the location which alleviates some costs along with the added benefit of reducing the time-frame to obtain results. On every occasion, Dr. Mustillo has clearly stated the reasoning for any tests and has been forthright about the costs. She also discusses options and alternatives and is confident enough to make referrals for situations beyond her areas of expertise and to encourage second opinions.

Like I wrote, this is not an omnipotent practice. While both DVMs along with staff appear to be miracle workers at times, the sad reality for all medical practices is that miracles may not be possible or meant to be.

I highly recommend A Cat Clinic and its staff.

Again, I would also like to extend a special thanks to Melissa Mustillo, Charlotte, and Sam. I wish that I had the appropriate words to convey my respect and appreciation for your professionalism, dedication, sincerity, and genuine kindness not only Saturday in a time of sadness but during the mundane as well.

RIP Paka who I like to think is cuddled up next to her younger sister Scherzo (RIP) for eternity.