Donald Trump’s moving Memorial Day speech, plus a few other reminders of why we honor the fallen today.
That title is correct: I’ll give you a brief rundown of Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America, an abortion panel, and a military panel. Things happen quickly on a National Review cruise and if I miss a bit of blogging, I’m seriously behind the eight ball.
Hillary’s America. Because Hillary’s America showed only briefly in Marin, I missed it. Fortunately for me, the movie’s two writers and producers were on the cruise and hosted a special showing yesterday.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s quite a good movie, as it is well-researched, well-written, and very professional produced. The movie begins with Dinesh’s sentencing for a campaign donation crime that, when it is a small, first-time infraction, as was the case with Dinesh, is invariably treated with fines and other minimal punishments.
Dinesh was special, however, for at the time the Justice Department got him in its sights, he was the writer and producer of the scathing (and prescient) Obama’s America, a documentary that ranks immediately behind Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine when it comes to popularity and revenue. Not only was Dinesh prosecuted with the full force of federal law, he had the misfortune to appear before a Democrat-appointed judge who sentenced him to time-served, plus two years of sleeping in a supervised facility, five years probation, mandatory public service, and court supervised therapy.
The first four items were the normal punitive stuff one would expect from a corrupt government. The last punishment was purely Orwellian punishment for “wrong thinking.”
If Bill Clinton and Al Gore couldn’t do it, then no one can. A Leftist Facebook friend posted an article from The Hill with a lede saying that Donald Trump “floats rolling back food safety regulations.” The implication, obviously, is that in Trump’s America, we’re all going to die from salmonella and e. Coli. Read through to the end, though, and you discover that Trump is instead making a remarkably sensible suggestion:
Trump’s economic policy plan also calls for “an immediate halt to new federal regulations and a very thorough agency-level review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped.”
Agencies would be required to list all regulations and rank them in terms of their contribution to growth, health and safety. The goal, Trump said, would be to strengthen the rules that are useful and reduce the rules that harm the economy.
One of my Leftist Facebook friends stopped with the lede, of course, and envisioned our nation drowning in fecal matter emanating from food-poisoned Americans. In a comment, I quoted the above language and suggested that it was a good idea to control regulations, which are so big no one can know them, are often non-effective, are frequently inconsistent with each other, and are too often quasi-legislation.
To seal it for this Leftist, I reminded him that Bill Clinton had assigned Al Gore this very task of cutting back on America’s burgeoning regulations, although it never came to anything. And that’s when my Facebook friend essentially said “Well, if Al Gore and Bill Clinton couldn’t do it, then no one can. After all, Trump has never been a politician, and he’s really stupid, so what does he know?”
My reply was that voters may be hoping that it’s an advantage that Trump hasn’t been a politician. He may have out-of-the-box (i.e., out-of-D.C.) ideas that actually work. The response? A reiteration that Trump is stupid. (Has there ever been a Republican candidate, no matter how successful and brilliant, whom the Left hasn’t called stupid? I don’t think so. It’s a tired idea.)
Agencies must be reined in. Exhibit A in the “agencies need to be cut back and God willing Trump is the man to do it” category is the fact that the FBI thinks it is more important than Congress is. So it was that Jason Chaffetz had to explain to the acting FBI chair that, no, Congress gets to have all of the notes from Hillary’s FBI interview — and then serves him, then and there, with a subpoena.
The funny thing about the WaPo’s indictment of Trump as a scam artist. The Washington Post is beside itself with excitement that ardent Hillary supporter, and pay for play attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is starting an investigation into Trump’s charitable foundation. I got three paragraphs into the WaPo editorial supporting this investigation and castigating Trump before I broke into uncontrollable laughter:
I have a friend who went to college on a ROTC scholarship and has been an active duty officer for the past thirty-three years. When we last spoke, he told me that, while the new generation of enlistees has great potential, basic training has changed substantially. I forget his exact words, but they were something along the line of “we have to handle them with kid gloves, or we get in trouble.” This funny video would seem to support his sense of a drastically changed military:
Everything that’s wrong with the Left in one website. At City Journal, Oren Cass has written a short article that looks at modern Progressivism through the filter of Hillary’s campaign website. In some ways, the article says something we all know, which is that the modern Democrat party is not concerned about America’s well-being but, instead, is concerned only about its only survival, something it achieves by getting special interest groups to vote for it:
Framing issues as who instead of what leads to a governing model that would divide society by race, gender, sexuality, profession, and location, targeting policies to each defined demographic. A divide-and-conquer strategy may achieve electoral success, but it is toxic to good government. When politicians treat elections as exercises in log-rolling, each policy becomes tailored toward the special interest that cares about it most. Thus Clinton’s crime policy emphasizes a friendlier attitude toward criminals. Her immigration policy concerns itself primarily with helping those who have violated immigration law. Her education policy explicitly endorses the status quo for most students but promises to “listen to teachers.”
In a world of fixed resources, such a model inevitably undermines the idea of equal protection under the law, pits groups against one another, and leaves some explicitly favored by government as winners. It also normalizes subjective standards for government action. Clinton promises to extend President Obama’s executive actions on immigration to “additional persons with sympathetic cases.” Whatever one thinks of our immigration policies, tilting them toward “persons with sympathetic cases” does not suggest rigorous application of the law.
When it comes to blacks, which are the group most harmed by the Progressives’ “divide and control” strategy, Thomas Sowell has the right of it:
Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry, and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians.
Racial polarization makes both the black population and the white population worse off, but it makes politicians who depend on black votes better off.
Hillary Clinton desperately needs black votes in this year’s close election. Promoting fear, anger, and resentment among blacks — and, if possible, paranoia — serves her political interest. Barack Obama has mastered the art of keeping black voters aroused while keeping white voters soothed — thanks in part to the gullibility of much of the public, who mistake geniality and glib rhetoric for honesty and good will.
Blacks and Muslims should be angry at their criminal cohorts, not at us. In the context of an article about political correctness, Andrew Klavan said something I’ve been struggling to say for some time. He acknowledges that blacks are on the receiving end of much more police activity, something frustrating and insulting to law-abiding blacks, but that’s because the black community’s bad eggs commit a disproportionate amount of American crime. Likewise, because children have big mouths, perfectly nice Muslim kids in school find themselves being called terrorists, reflecting the fact that acts of mass violence all over the world come primarily from their co-religionists. That’s certainly not nice, but Klavan says that law-abiding blacks and Muslims are putting blame in the wrong place:
It seems to me if you are an innocent black person being troubled by the cops, if you are an innocent Muslim under suspicion from your neighbors, the people you should be angry at, the people to blame, are not the people acting on rational suspicion. The people at fault are the bad guys who have drawn that suspicion unfairly onto you.
A black man targeted by the police shouldn’t be angry at the police. He should be angry at the thugs and criminals who look like him and make his race a target. And before Muslims blame non-Muslims for the prejudice against them, maybe they ought to look to — and openly condemn — those Muslims who have given their religion a very bad name indeed.
The problem is prejudice, yes. But it’s the tribal prejudice that says we should blame others before we blame “our own.” “Our own” are the good guys, no matter what race or religion we are.
Someone should read those words out loud at the Republican Party Convention. They’re very important.
I’m doing actual legal work today, but I want to clear my spindle before it gets completely out of control. Here goes, a quick, down-and-dirty round-up:
President Trump? Scott Adams has pretty much nailed everything that’s happened so far in this election, at least when it comes to Trump’s tactics and trajectory. Watch him on Bill Maher’s show explaining precisely why he thinks Trump will win, and win big. He also says not to worry: Trump will not be a crazy, war-mad, racist, irrational president — although Hillary could be a problem if elected because she’s a walking alcohol cabinet and drug pharmacopeia.
ACLU Director mugged by reality and other bathroom musings. When Maya Dillard Smith, interim director of the Georgia chapter of the ACLU, went into a public bathroom with her daughters, only to have the girls frightened by some manly looking so-called women, she summarily quit the ACLU, went public with the reason she quit, and was roundly and soundly ignored by America’s mainstream media.
Incidentally, I asked two boys who are in high school if they think the Obama directive will result in boys who are not transgender taking advantage of its broad language and visiting girl’s bathrooms and locker rooms. Both boys instantly answered “No! No one would ever do that.” Then they said, “The girls would chase them out.” Then, after a moment’s cogitation, they proceeded to name all the “weird,” “goofy” boys they knew who would, in fact, probably take advantage of the opportunity to see teen girls naked or nearly so.
And while I’m on the subject, people concerned by the ongoing sexual assaults against Muslim women in refugee camps have a radical solution for the problem: separate bathrooms for men and women. No, I’m not kidding. The Lefties on my real-me Facebook page, the same ones championing Obama’s transgender diktats, are thrilled about this idea. We truly are a culture that’s moved beyond parody.
One of my Facebook friends proudly noted that only West Point and Annapolis exceed Harvard when it comes to the number of Medal of Honor recipients who attended any single educational institution. He posted a picture of those so honored:
The weird quality, of course, is the fact that, for all three institutions, the last people who received the Medal of Honor did so for their heroism in Vietnam.
Why in the world did these institutions, which were so heavily represented up to Vietnam, later stop producing Medal of Honor recipients? It’s easy enough to say that Harvard went all peacenik and wasn’t sending any students or graduates to serve in wars since Vietnam, but that doesn’t explain the absence of West Point and Annapolis names since Vietnam.
Can anyone explain this to me?
I’ve got several very moving images here but, before I dive into them, I want to make sure you read the story of Army Sergeant James John Regan, the man whose life and death led to this picture, one so moving that it has appeared repeatedly on social media every Memorial Day since his death in 2007:
And now for the other illustrated reminders of what today is all about:
And a political one, because it matters:
(Thanks to Caped Crusader for helping compile this post.)
When my teenage son realized that Monday isn’t just a school holiday but is, in fact, a national holiday honoring the men and women who have died serving our country, he made an interesting comment about those who died. “It’s hard to appreciate that they’re real people because you never know who they are.”
Think about that: Despite the fact that our country has been actively at war for three-quarters of his life, my son has never known someone who died while fighting on America’s behalf, nor has he ever met someone who lost a loved one to war. For so many in America — and this is true whether they support or oppose the war against fanatic Islamism — this multi-front war is an abstract thing. Thanks to our all-volunteer, professional, and efficient military, while our taxes help fund the war, most of us are utterly disconnected from it.
No wonder that for Americans young and old, Memorial Day is just understood as the excuse for another three-day weekend in the list of American holidays. To the extent people think about it, many confuse it with Veterans’ Day, believing that it’s a day to honor the troops, not to remember and honor the dead. And if you’re celebrating the troops, most of whom, thankfully, survive battle to come home and live out their natural lives . . . well, heck, a pool party and barbecue is a great way to do it.
Focusing on the dead — or the “honored dead” as they rightfully said during the Civil War — one realizes that my son is right that the sheer numbers make it hard to get a handle on each individual loss. The sad fact is that Americans have lost many men to battle throughout our history. According to a Wikipedia post documenting fatalities in every single American war, from skirmishes to Civil and World wars, the total of American dead in combat is somewhere above 664,440, with another 673,929 deaths from things other than combat (presumably disease, imprisonment, training accidents, etc.). That’s a grand total of at least 1,354,664 war related deaths
[A little interjection, which is that as I’m writing these words, my Spotify playlist, which is randomized, came up with one of the saddest Civil War songs I know:
It’s a particularly apropos song because it involves a young woman trying to separate her brother from the unknown dead and wounded in the bloodiest war in American history.]
Back to the main point, I realized that my son had accidentally stumbled upon precisely the formulation attributed to Stalin: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths are a statistic.
How does one bring the young to realize that, if you’re fortunate enough to live in a free country that values the individual over the collective, each number is a person? Those who died were children who left grieving parents, parents who left grieving spouses and lost children, brothers or sisters whose siblings will now age alone, or friends whose loss is a never-ending hole.
I started the process of giving the dead names by showing my son a picture that I found on a friend’s Google+ feed. As you can see, it’s an iconic picture, but one with a difference — every person in the photo is identified. They’re not icons at all. They’re real young men who fought — and most of whom died — defending America’s security and bringing freedom to parts of the world most Americans never had seen and never would see:
The transformation in my son when he realized that these were young men just like himself — young men who played sports, flirted with girls, went to dances, and just enjoyed their lives — was surprising. He was suddenly awed and saddened. They weren’t historic curiosities; they could have been him or his friends.
As war becomes a pocket industry for a small subsection of society, those of us insulated from its reach have an obligation to make others aware that we are, and long have been, the beneficiaries of those who, willingly or not, fought for America. And while a few of our wars were misbegotten or foolish, the vast majority have seen Americans shed blood to bring freedom, whether at home or abroad.
Those who gave their lives truly are the honored dead and it behooves us to remember that none were statistics — all were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for liberty. I recommend a visit to Honor the Fallen, which puts a face to every person who has died in the last 13 years defending Americans against the Islamic fascism that has been the bloodiest, most genocidal force in the history of the world. Also, if you’d like to remember the dogs who served so well, many of whom died protecting American troops, go here.
UPDATE: Mike Rowe made much the same point, only with more focus.
If you haven’t read Jerome K. Jerome’s charming Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, first published in 1886, I recommend it. It is a pleasant antidote to today’s Sturm und Drang. But if you like to be mentally perturbed, you can’t do better than to read this post.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. During a Private Facebook discussion, a British graduate student quoted the Bible to support Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk. When this private discussion got publicized, the university decided it might have offended people, and immediately expelled him from its Master’s program:
Ngole’s future at the university was then subjected to the “Fitness to Practice” committee, which ruled that his conservative Christian beliefs about marriage would negatively impact his “ability to carry out a role as a social worker” and that his post “transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.”
The committee ruled that Ngole was to be “excluded from further study on a program leading to a professional qualification.” In late February, the school informed Ngole that he would no longer be recognized as a university student.
“Your student record will be terminated shortly and your library membership and university computer account withdrawn,” Ngole was told. “You may wish to contact your funding body for advice on your financial position.”
Ngole appealed the committee’s decision . . . and lost:
He was told by the university’s appeals office that his post was “inappropriate” and went against outlined conduct. The appeals committee determined that the expulsion was a “proportionate” punishment.
George Orwell published Animal Farm in 1945 and 1984 in 1948. He was prophetic, with 1984 becoming a reality only 32 years after he first predicted an all-controlling government.
Meanwhile, suffer the little children…. There’s not a speck of blood to be seen in this video, there are no bombs exploding, body parts flying, or knives flashing, yet it is one of the scariest videos I’ve ever watched:
Some of my harder-Left friends on Facebook are going crazy with posters again, so I thought this would be a good time to deconstruct a few of them. Let’s start with this one, which requires its own post. (Incidentally, the fact that it takes just one sentence to spin out a series of lies and a sadly long post to deconstruct all these lies explains why Progressives get away with so many lies: Everyone will read a short poster; few will read a long post.)
In the above poster, Occupy Democrats takes on the contention that President Obama has weakened America (a claim made by all Republican candidates, not just Trump). To challenge this assertion, OD contends that Obama’s list of accomplishments includes “tripling the stock market, cutting the unemployment and uninsured rates in half, cutting the Bush deficit by three-fifths, saving the auto industry, ending two wars, and getting bin Laden.” Let me take these claimed accomplishments one at a time: