Tuesday, May 31, 2016
THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 5/31/2016
Memorial Day is dedicated to those who’ve given the last full measure, their last breath, in causes that they may or may not have deeply understood. But give their all they did, if only on the orders from leaders they trusted, for the men fighting next to them or the women and children left back home.
Great movies have often given us cause for reflection and the best sometimes leave a gem for the ages. “We Were Soldiers,” from 2002, dramatized the Battle of la Drang on November 14, 1965. It was based on the book “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young” (1992) by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L Galloway, who witnessed the first major battle of the Viet Nam war. (Wikipedia)
A hymn, “Mansions of the Lord,” played over the film’s credits and served as the recessional in the 2004 funeral of President Ronald Reagan. If you’ve ever heard its somber melody, you can put these lyrics to song if only in your head.
“Mansions of the Lord”
To fallen soldiers let us sing
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
to the mansions of the Lord
No more bleeding no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night
Just divine embrace, eternal light
in the mansions of the Lord
Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard tho the angels sleep
All through the ages safely keep
the mansions of the Lord
Ronald Reagan once delivered a moving tribute to the fallen warriors of America’s wars: “We are a nation under God and I believe God intended for us to be free. We must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. The price for this freedom at times has been high but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look. The sloping hills of Arlington Cemetery with its row upon row of simple markers bearing Crosses or Stars of David; their lives ended in places called Belle Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and half way around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Viet Nam. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.”
Another thematic song used in “We Were Soldiers” was a tribute by Joseph MacKenzie in memory of his great-grandfather, Charles Stuart MacKenzie. “Charles was a sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders, who along with hundreds of his brothers-in-arms from the Elgin-Rothes area in Moray, Scotland, went to fight in the Great War. Sergeant Charles Stuart MacKenzie was killed on the battlefield, at the young age of 35, while defending one of his badly injured fellow soldiers in the hand-to-hand fighting of the trenches.” (angelfire.com)
Lay me down in the cold cold ground; Where before many more have gone//Lay me down in the cold cold ground; Where before many more have gone// When they come I will stand my ground; Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid//Thoughts of home take away my fear; Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears// Once a year say a prayer for me; Close your eyes and remember me// Never more shall I see the sun; For I fell to a German’s gun// Lay me down in the cold cold ground; Where before many more have gone.
Finally, I’d like to share a poem written by “Tarzana Joe,” the poet laureate for the Hugh Hewitt show, for a mom whose son has been deployed numerous times around the world. She prayed and thanked God every day for “putting service in the hearts of so many young people.”
A Memorial Day Prayer by Tarzana Joe: Let’s hear it for the soldiers, our sons and daughters who are founders and protectors of everything we do. They knew about the dangers but by service they were steered. Despite the threats to life and limb, they bravely volunteered. They come from every background, from humble house or suite, but due to that decision I say they’re all elite. They fight against oppression, relieve the set upon. They knew the “G” in GI Joe didn’t stand for “Gen-gis Khan.” They rescue the beleaguered; they liberate the town, and no one better never ever tell them to “stand down.” Let’s let them know they’re honored, that their nation cares. Let’s hold them in our memories and keep them in our prayers. Next time you see a soldier, there’s no need to be nervous; walk right up, stick out your hand and thank them for their service. And where a battle rages and then the bugle calls, may angels rush to raise them when any soldier falls. They stand defending freedom and everything it means. God bless the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Media watchdogs snoozed while Obama expanded executive power. They'll wake up and bite when it's Trump.
The press has done a lousy job of protecting American freedoms in recent years. But I have a modest proposal for improving press performance: Elect a white male Republican.
Bill Clinton was inaugurated as president, actor Ron Silver, then a Democrat, was there. And when fighter jets flew over the Lincoln Memorial, he was reportedly at first upset at the military symbolism, but then reminded himself that since Democrat Clinton was being sworn in, ”those are our planes now.”
We’re seeing something of a reverse-version of this phenomenon as large swathes of the commentariat realize that we might wind up with a President Trump. Suddenly,sweeping executive power (fine with many under
President Obama) is being portrayed as a possible threat to the republic. Which, to be fair, it is. But only now do they care.
At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke poses this question to folks on the left: “Has Donald Trump’s remarkable rise done anything to change your mind as to the ideal strength of the state?”
A sensible view is that we might not want the government as a whole, and the president in particular, to possess more power in general than we would be willing to allow when our political enemies were in power. Because experience demonstrates that, just as for Ron Silver “their planes” became “our planes” when the White House changed hands, so too “our president” becomes “their president” when it changes in the other direction.
But while that view might be sensible, it doesn’t seem especially common. Though a few people are evenhanded on executive power — law professor
John Yoo, for example, who supported sweeping antiterror policies under both President Bush andPresident Obama — most seem to regard stretched authority as necessary and proper when a president of their party does it, and as an imperial presidency when the other party does.
Here’s a hint: It’s the imperial presidency pretty much all the time.
But it’s nice to see the prospect of a Trump administration reminding folks on the left of this, particularly as the journalist and pundit classes are dominated by lefties. It’s terrible, we’re told, that Trump is issuing veiled threats to journalists — though Obama joked about auditing his enemies, seized journalist phone records and threatened a journalist who refused to reveal sources with imprisonment. Trump would be a warmonger, we’re told, although in fact Barack Obama has been at warlonger than any other U.S. president, if without any particular success. Trump would arrogantly ride roughshod over any opposition, though Barack Obama famously used “I won” as an excuse to ignore opponents and bragged that he had a “pen (and) a phone” to bypass congressional disagreement. (And he’s used them a lot.)
Many of the journalists and pundits who see Trump as the next imperial president were silent over these Obama actions. Like Ron Silver with his fighter jets, they saw Obama’s envelope-pushing as fine because it was by their own president.
POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media
I’d like to think that pointing this kind of thing out would address the problem, but my faith in our political classes is pretty low right now. So, given the realities, I have a suggestion for limiting the imperial presidency that will probably work: Only elect straight, white male Republicans.
In our current system, the biggest check on presidential power is public criticism, and despite the rise of niche media such as Fox News and talk radio, the kind of public criticism that actually has an impact mostly comes from the left-controlled “mainstream media.”
With a black Democrat in the White House, those organs have often been loath to criticize the president themselves, and swift to assume that anyone who does offer criticism is partisan, and probably a racist to boot. But with a white male Republican in the White House, all criticisms will be presumed valid.
Every president has some wiggle room, but white male Republicans have less in our system. So if you want the imperial presidency to wiggle less, that’s whom we should elect. And if that’s what it takes to get the press to do its job of scrutinizing and criticizing power, then that’s what we need.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a
University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
How could that be when a profane Trump has boasted that he would limit Muslim immigration into the United States, talked cavalierly about torturing terrorist suspects and executing their relatives, promised to deport all eleven-million Mexican nationals who are residing illegally in the U.S., and threatened a trade war with China by slapping steep tariffs on their imports?
A number of reasons come to mind.
First, Trump stays in the news not just by taking extreme positions, but also by taking extreme positions on issues that are already extreme. When Mexico prints comic books advising its own citizens on how to enter the U.S. illegally, when the major illegal-alien lobbying group is called The National Council of La Raza (“The Race”), and when major U.S. cities, in Confederate-style, declare themselves “sanctuaries” in which U.S. federal immigration law does not apply, then we long ago entered zones of extremism.
Of course, Trump would be wiser to become both more specific and reasonable about solutions to illegal immigration. “Making Mexico pay for the wall” could be finessed not by a trade war, but perhaps by slapping surcharges on remittances sent to Mexico, at higher rates for those in the U.S. who could not prove legal residency. Deportation certainly sounds like a reasonable punishment for the likely more than 1 million illegal aliens who either have committed serious crimes inside the United States or who have no history of being employed—then, once the border is secure, he could propose granting green card status to the illegal aliens who are employed, long-time residents, without criminal convictions, and willing to pay a fine and learn English.
Trump sounds crazy—and dangerous—in his idiotic idea to ban entry into the U.S. on the basis of religion. But is that inanity any less extreme than the administration’s European-style wish to welcome in tens of thousands of mostly young males from the war-torn Middle East without any proper method of identification and audit—at a time of spikes in radical Islamic terrorism in the West? Again, Trump cannot predicate immigration on the basis of religion, but he certainly could place a temporary moratorium of all immigration from particular Middle East countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, in the way that we do not open our arms to mass influxes of Iranians and North Koreans.
Trump was bashed for suggesting NATO’s tenure is nearing an end—again another ridiculous and dangerous idea. But that trial balloon remains an unhinged corrective to the present unhinged nature of the alliance, in which few members honor their contractual defense spending obligations, and the alliance has both expanded far beyond anything that its founders envisioned, and conducted optional and sometimes failed operations abroad that had nothing to do with trans-Atlantic security. During the Cold War, we sometimes forgot that NATO members occasionally allowed fly-over rights to Soviet Union air lifts headed to the Middle East, while denying fellow NATO member the United States the use of European NATO air space to resupply Israel.
Many conservatives tune out Trump’s adolescent solutions, but not necessarily the haywire issues he has raised. Most believe that he will back down from his original, headline-grabbing positions, and eventually offer more studied and reasonable solutions to an ignored problem that otherwise might not have been aired. And though the results may not be what his supporters have cheered on in rallies or what his critics have hoped for, they will, to many Republican voters, be preferable to President Obama’s current and Hillary Clinton’s future positions. Ignoring candidate Trump’s crude bombast for conservatives is analogous to liberals tuning out Obama’s campaign calls for supporters to take their knives to a gun fight or to get in their opponents’ faces, or his arrogant put-downs of lower middle-class Pennsylvanians or his flat-out prevarications about his relationship with mentor and personal pastor, the racist and anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Trump’s memoirs are often vulgar; Obama’s largely fictional. Trump’s selfish womanizing was consensual; former President Bill Clinton’s often allegedly coerced.
A second reason why many conservatives will vote for Trump is that they, like everyone else, are cynical about what candidates say and what they, as presidents, actually do. In 2000, George W. Bush ran as the realist alternative to neocon interventionist John McCain. Obama in 2008 never uttered the word “transgendered.” Instead, he ran against gay marriage, outlined a health plan to the right of Hillary’s that protected patients’ existing coverage and physicians, predicted a new era of presidential transparency, promised post-racial reconciliation, insisted that he could not subvert immigration law or grant amnesties by executive orders, harked on balancing the budget and reducing the national debt, and, as a former law lecturer, vowed to confine the presidency within its constitutional limits.
Third, we have become so inured to the outrageous, that many conservatives are not quite sure whether Trump is just a more in-your-face version of current politicians or if he truly is an outlier in his vulgarity. Consider, after all, the last month in politics. Recently, news stories noted that a White House guest rapper, paroled on a pending felony charge, had his ankle bracelet go off. The White House deputy national security advisor and senior speechwriter Ben Rhodes bragged about how he more or less lied and perpetuated a con to ram through the Iran deal without Senate oversight. Former Obama speechwriters joked on television about writing the lie, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” Obama himself threatened to cut off federal funds to states that did not share his reinterpretation of the 1972 Title IX Amendments to include bathroom access of their choice for the transgendered. Meanwhile, the FBI weighs a federal felony indictment against Hillary Clinton, just as stories have resurfaced of Bill Clinton’s frequent and unescorted flights on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein notorious “Lolita Express.” If that is a typical month in the life of the current administration and ongoing presidential campaign, then what exactly are the norms by which we can judge Trump as a renegade? The proper critique of Trump is that he would not restore decorum to political discourse and behavior that long ago were debased.
Trump should release all his tax records, but probably will not because they would show he pays taxes at a low rate, is not quite the philanthropist he poses to be, and is certainly not worth $10-11 billion. Candidates do not release data that they know prove they are lying or hypocritical—including Hillary Clinton, who has not released thousands of her now deleted emails she claimed were personal and the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches that earned her millions of dollars in campaign quid-pro-quo donations. Obama was never going to release his college transcripts, his personal medical records, or a video clip of his encomium of Rashid Khalidi, former PLO advisor to Yasser Arafat—most likely because he was a lackadaisical B- student who would have never been accepted to law schools without affirmative action, could have been embarrassed about prior medical issues, and at one time might have sounded as if he were a rabid Palestinian supporter. In other words, the shady Trump is now caught gambling in Casablanca.
Fourth, most Republicans do not quite buy the #NeverTrump argument that Trump is running to the left of Hillary Clinton. His critique of Bush’s nation-building is not analogous to Obama’s outreach to Iran and Cuba, and it will not lead to another Benghazi or an apology tour. Rather, his opportunistic attacks on nation-building is more akin to Jacksonian realism—dangerous perhaps in the fragile U.S.-led postwar world and lacking in idealism, but a position to the right, not to the left, of George W. Bush. He is also a crude nationalist on trade and immigration, not a naïve utopian. Deporting some illegal aliens is seen as preferable to never deporting any or protecting criminals in sanctuary cities. Insisting, for example, that Japan treats imported California rice or beef in the manner that the U.S. handles Hondas, is not protectionism or inherently anti-free-trade.
On other issues, such as Supreme Country appointments, the military, abortion, or the budget, Trump will likely be judged as more conservative than Hillary Clinton. After the shock wears off for most Republicans that Trump is only half or two-thirds conservative, they will probably shrug and see him as preferable to Clinton, who has little to no conservative propensities whatsoever. Trump may have moved the Republican Party to the center, but Clinton moved the Democratic Party much farther from the center—and to the left. The campaign will be long, heated, and polarizing, and Clinton will be attacking conservative positions far more than will Trump. The #NeverTrump crowd will increasingly have nowhere to go, given that their criticism of the Republican nominee will only empower the liberal Clinton as the race grows close. As Republican fence-sitters and dissenters in the next five months watch conservative values serially trashed by the Clinton campaign, their patience will probably wear thin by November.
Finally, Republicans might embrace a democratic fatalism—or the opinion, in other words, that “if that’s what the people want, that’s what the people get.” They may well vote for Trump as loyal party members, but also retreat to the fallback position that they never wished him to win the nomination in the first place. Some Republicans who vow to stay home in November will—but the vast majority will bite their lip and likely vote Trump.