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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Training school shooters; election oddities; fires; and the media

Did you see anything in the news of the compound in New Mexico where 11 young people ages one to 15 years old were being held in squalid conditions, and at least one of them was being instructed on how to shoot up a school? This is not just speculation; the information came from court records filed last week.

News reports – which were fewer in number than the situation called for – said that one of the five “extremist Muslims” arrested at the compound, which had neither electricity nor plumbing, was training one or more of the children to commit school shootings. And, the children and captors are all related.

Prosecutors allege that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is the son of a Brooklyn imam, also named Siraj Wahhaj, who was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the New York Post.

One report noted that Taos County officials became tired of waiting for the federal government to act against the compound, and took matters in their own hands. Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the children “looked like third world country refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes … and basically dirty rags for clothing.” The remains of one child were found at the compound.

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Ohio’s U.S. House special election featured Republican Troy Balderson versus Democrat Danny O’Connor in a race Balderson was expected to win handily, as O’Connor had been trailing Balderson in the polls and early vote counts.

And then, “Ohio election officials on Wednesday found 588 previously uncounted votes in the hotly contested special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District,” The Hill reported, narrowing the lead to only 1,564 votes.

Still left to count at that time were 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots, meaning the final result was sure to change.

Some wondered where these votes had been hiding since Election Day, and it was explained that “the votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” at the polling place, according to the Franklin County Board of Elections. No one explained how or why this irregularity occurred.

Further casting a shadow on the legitimacy of the vote from this Buckeye State district was the revelation that there are 170 registered voters over 116 years of age still on the rolls of the 12th District, and 72 of them cast ballots in the 2016 election.

This raises legitimate questions of how many votes are still floating in electoral space, waiting for someone to discover them, as well as how many other voters are on the roles improperly.

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The horrible wild fires in California are inflicting misery and causing great damage to thousands of state residents. Unfortunately, this tragedy has once again been used by the politically motivated Left to push one of their favorite themes: Climate change/global warning.

With an estimated 600,000 acres already destroyed by fire, and thousands of residents displaced because their homes have been destroyed, or face that very real and urgent threat, the radical environmentalists are heeding the words of former Obama White House Chief of Staff and now-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

But someone with actual knowledge of effective woodlands management takes a different view. Forester Bob Zybach said that when President Bill Clinton introduced a plan that was aimed at saving the spotted owl and ancient trees back in 1994 by restricting logging in the old-growth forests, that plan was a mistake. 

He knew how ecosystems thrive, flourish, die and are reborn. “We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away,” he told The Daily Caller. Years of mismanagement have served to turn the forests into a ticking time bomb. 

Zybach said that when Native Americans lived on the land and practiced human management of forests, they used controlled burns to clear pastureland and undergrowth for hunting. Without human management, nature will do the pruning, and we see now how that works. “You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs,” Zybach said.

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The news media in general may not be the “enemy of the people,” as President Donald Trump’s words have been twisted to suggest by some in the media, but many in the industry are the enemy of the president. The troubled Boston Globeis working to organize a “day of editorials” on Aug. 16 denouncing what the newspaper called a ‘‘dirty war against the free press.’’

And then there’s the opinion piece by Tina Dupuy in USA Todaysuggesting amending the U.S. Constitution to abolish the presidency. She wrote that since this president is a tyrant who will not be removed through the constitutional process of impeachment, the presidency must be abolished.

The only way to get rid of Trump is to get rid of the presidency itself?

Clearly, many in the news media have abandoned journalistic ethics, and now believe it is just fine for them to become the story rather than to merely report the story.

More and more one word is becoming especially applicable in politics today. That word is “unhinged.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Manafort trial gets underway; the special counsel circus continues

The trial of Paul Manafort for long-ago allegations of criminal behavior is now underway. Manafort served a weeks-long stint in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. He may as well have drawn a target on his back, his front, and all around his head. And because of his choosing to join the campaign, he is facing a 32-count indictment alleging he moved more than $30 million in overseas income to his U.S. accounts.

“These are serious charges,” anti-Trumpsters say, hoping against hope that something – anything – will lead to President Trump’s being exiled to a tiny island hundreds of miles from shore. However, the comment that the charges are serious is correct. More on that later. 

But it’s more than just mildly relevant to note that the charges are unrelated to the Trump campaign, the principle members of which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been trying to connect to law breaking for well more than a year, without success.

This pitifully inadequate result has not dampened the enthusiasm for the much hoped-for proof of criminal misconduct by the campaign among all those who still suffer from Mz. Hillary’s stunning, and prediction-defying defeat.

Here is a dose of reality for these champions of the highly flawed special counsel situation: “There really is no Mueller investigation without Manafort…take away Manafort and everything kind of flitters away,” explains Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton.

As stated here before, anyone who takes on a high profile special counsel assignment like this one is either crazy, has a large ego, is very talented, or will resort to the gutter. The jury is still out on Mueller, as so far all he has are a bunch of indictments against foreigners who will never stand trial on them, and years-old accusations against Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates.

“Oh, that’s not correct,” you say. “Mueller’s managed to find out about Manafort’s crimes from years ago. That takes a real pro.”

Not so fast. Everything Mueller has on Manafort was known by the FBI way back when, so why wasn’t Manafort tried for those crimes then? Because the FBI lacked sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Here is the analysis of former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano: “Paul Manafort was investigated by the federal government by a team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents for all this stuff eight years ago and they exonerated him.”

Napolitano went on to identify the prosecutor going after Manafort back then as none other than the current Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of this operation for the DOJ, due to the recusal of AG Jeff Sessions. And Napolitano also added this interesting possibility: “Well, now [Rosenstein] runs the Justice Department. And [defense attorneys] have threatened to call Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein as their first witness and have him give to the jury all the reasons why he declined the prosecution of these charges eight years ago.”

We also must not forget that it was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller as special counsel, and gave him a blank slate for what he was supposed to investigate, a blank check to pay for it, and no termination date. Rosenstein literally handed Manafort to Mueller on a silver platter, insufficient evidence and all.

Helping to illustrate just how open to abuse the special counsel mechanism really is, here is Harvard Law professor emeritus, life-long liberal Democrat, but objective legal expert, Alan Dershowitz: "They aren't interested in Manafort, they're interested in Manafort testifying against Trump or providing information," he told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."

"You have to worry not only about squeezed witnesses singing, but about them making up stories, elaborating on stories. The better the story, the better the deal they'll get."

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who is the judge on this case, agrees. “The vernacular is to 'sing,' is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is they may not only sing, they may compose,” Ellis said.

Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova believes that Manafort cannot get a fair trial in D.C. on these charges because of the highly political nature of this case and the pervasive bias against President Trump.

“Paul Manafort cannot get a fair trial in the District of Columbia,” diGenova told host Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” recently. “We now know from the Scooter Libby case and the interviews with jurors after that case that two-thirds of the jurors in the Scooter Libby case hated the president of the United States, hated Dick Cheney, wanted to know why Cheney wasn’t in the docket along with Scooter Libby.”

Is this the slime that “justice” in America has been dragged down into? 

Manafort could spend the rest of his life in jail for alleged crimes the FBI knew it couldn’t prove way back when the charges were first brought, but with the actions of the special counsel, he might yet be convicted, despite the lack of evidence.

This is the nature of special counsels: Do what you must to convict your target. If that’s not possible find someone guilty of something, otherwise you will look bad.

This is politics at its worst.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Our Founders saw freedom of the press as a vital national element


The U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of important rights is a major factor in making America a great nation. The First Amendment is especially important, as it guarantees us the right to free speech, religious beliefs, and a free press, among other things.

One of the lesser well-known Founders, John Dickson, wrote in detail about its importance. For the Founders “freedom of speech was a commodious right,” he wrote. “It is a truth-seeking right. It inheres in the nature of man and is essential to his pursuit of happiness.”

Freedom of the press is perhaps the most commonly mentioned these days, and its importance was very high on the Founders’ list. During the run up to the creation of the Declaration of Independence, in a “Letter to the Inhabitants of Quebec,” Dickson addressed the freedom of the press: “The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated, into more honourable and just modes of conducting affairs.”

He goes on to write, “Men prefer to commit their sins in private, to deny, dissimulate, deflect or defuse. But freedom of the press is a rod on those in authority so that they will put aside their passions and conduct themselves as true representatives of the people.”

The news media, especially print journalism or "the press," was christened “the Fourth Estate,” equating it with the three official branches of the federal government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. That illustrates the importance of the job of informing the American people.

A free press must keep the public well informed so that the citizenry is adequately prepared to encourage and effect sensible, constitutional government.

And because of this extreme level of importance, the press must remain focused in doing its job correctly, no matter whose chain it may yank in the process. Every right and duty carries with it an equivalent responsibility.

Freedom of the press is a two-way street; because it is so important to the constancy of the nation, it cannot falter, and its practitioners cannot allow themselves to fail the high standard they accepted with their job. If they do, they have compromised their claim to freedom of the press.

Freedom of the press therefore is not absolute; it is not a blanket justification of whatever a reporter, editor/producer, newspaper, network, etc. decides to put forth: professional rules and ethics still must control.

The press is expected not to drift off into personal bias, but to remain loyal to its sacred duty to stay on the straight and narrow path of objective truth, accuracy and balance.

What, then, can and must be done when the press generally, or particular elements of the press, shirk, flaunt, ignore, or abandon their requisite duty to the American people through false reporting, biased operation and other activities that fall short of their solemn duty?

One would reasonably expect the press to police itself and issue appropriate sanctions to those wayward practitioners and organizations that slide off the straight and narrow path. Professional ethics should be sacrosanct and inviolable.

Alas, today they are not.

No matter how much media functionaries may hate President Donald Trump, no matter how much that hate may have been justifiably created by Donald Trump through his words and deeds, that does not excuse them from the ethical boundaries in reporting factually and accurately, and without personal bias.

When Dickson wrote, “Men prefer to commit their sins in private …” he means that the press is supposed to make these sins known to the people, but it does not mean the press may join in committing its own sins.

Covering government officials may indeed be difficult at times, but that does not excuse media people from behaving appropriately.

When the president and a head of another country open themselves up to the press to talk about the reason for their meeting and the results, for example, those are the questions the press should ask. If offered the opportunity to ask other questions, fine.

But when the presser ends, shouting questions at the participants should be off limits. Especially when the question is more for the benefit of the questioner than for the people whose interests they serve.

Worse is the large proportion of “news” that is poorly sourced, based upon anonymous sources, which is not adequately confirmed, or in some cases is actually incorrect. Getting the story first is frequently more important than its accuracy, as is producing a story that attracts a large audience.

And worse, still, is the high degree of anti-Trump bias, which is so painfully obvious these days.

When Trump calls the media “the enemy of the people” he, of course, gets hammered. But if the news media fails in its solemn duty of truth, accuracy and fairness, does that not put our freedom and future at risk, as enemies do?

The press is supposed to hold officials accountable, and now must start holding itself accountable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Oh, my goodness! Trump is now smashing American foreign policy


One thing about President Donald Trump that almost nobody would argue about is that he leads the nation in the number of critics he has, which many say he has rightfully earned. Be they from the Left or the Right, Trump has more than his share of critics, and it is painfully obvious that the Left, especially, doesn’t like him.
Last week one of those critics, columnist Michael Gerson, opened an op-ed with this statement: “Setting aside the issue of whether the president is wittingly advancing the interests of a hostile power – a qualification that is only imaginable in the Trump era – what is happening to the direction of American foreign policy?”
He sets the stage for this perspective by citing some history, going back to “1952 when the Republican presidential frontrunner, Senator Robert Taft, expressed a lack of enthusiasm toward the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] alliance. This alarmed NATO's Supreme Commander, [Gen.] Dwight Eisenhower, enough to enter the race and beat Taft soundly.”
Gerson notes that Eisenhower’s up close and personal experience with the “disorders” European nations had experienced gave him the better understanding of how Taft’s idea of leaving them to take care of themselves could open the door to more world wars resulting in enormous death and destruction.
Eisenhower’s ideas of  “Atlanticism” and collective security for all members carried the day, and became the ruling philosophy. Until, according to Gerson, Trump came along.
Along the way, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected, his view of “a system of economic and political freedom that delivered better lives and fulfilled the deepest human longings” took hold.
Reagan, he said, “was firm, but not foolhardy. He was willing to negotiate. But he believed that the American creed gave our country a tremendous, practical advantage. By standing on the side of freedom fighters, dissidents and exiles, Reagan was clarifying a moral choice – not just between two political systems, but between good and evil. And this, in his view, tilted the tables of history in favor of free nations.”
Having made the strong case for the situation encountered by Eisenhower and then Reagan, Gerson then turned to the damage done to that perspective by our current commander-in-chief: “So let us take an account of what is being smashed by Donald Trump,” said he.
Gerson seems to think it is okay to evaluate the differences in the way this American President has changed the way America treats NATO since the days of Eisenhower, and then Reagan. But he but does not evaluate the way NATO countries have behaved, how they have taken advantage of the nation that is responsible for providing the strength NATO projects, and which has been and will be what discourages or defeats rogue nations from their notions about taking on NATO members. That nation is the United States of America, far and away the largest and most powerful of the 29 countries NATO claims as members.
Reagan said that “NATO is not just a military alliance, it's a voluntary political community of free men and women based on shared principles and a common history. The ties that bind us to our European allies are not the brittle ties of expediency or the weighty shackles of compulsion. They resemble what Abraham Lincoln called the 'mystic chords of memory' uniting peoples who share a common vision."
Back in 2014 each NATO member pledged to contribute a minimum of two percent of its GDP to funding the organization’s operation. But of the 29 total members, only five — or about 17 percent — have been meeting that requirement: the United States, Great Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland. And the U.S. pays approximately 3.6 percent of its GDP to NATO.

Trump, contrary to Gerson’s evaluation, is not smashing NATO and its member countries; he is exposing their dishonesty. In fact, most NATO allies rely on America’s defensive strength while not paying their share of the funding for their own defense. All the while many of them are stirring anti-American sentiment within their borders. 

Trump took withering criticism for using the term “foe” to describe actions of some of our allies. If his critics were less interested in finding something to criticize and more interested in understanding and communicating what he means with his comments, they would recognize that what he means is that these countries are working against America with their high tariffs on American products, by not paying their share to NATO, and fomenting anti-American sentiment among people whose backsides the U.S. protects.

Rather than smashing NATO, Trump is strengthening it. If and when the majority of the insubordinate nations start paying their proper share, NATO will have more resources to apply to providing a proper defense against the challenges of today. Things in the world have changed since the times of Eisenhower and Reagan.

First Eisenhower, then Reagan, and now Trump have been there to act when conditions required action by an American president to maintain the NATO alliance’s noble goals. We should be thankful Trump cares.

It’s really not that difficult, once a critic climbs down from his or her high horse and actually think a little.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Politics rules the reactions to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee


The nomination by President Donald Trump of highly respected Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is yet another opportunity for hysteria to invade the world of entertainers.

** One of the crew of ABC’s “The View,” Joy Behar, opined the other day: “Why would a president who’s under investigation by the FBI for obstruction of justice and collusion be allowed to pick a Supreme Court justice who will be there? I’ll be dead. There are many people in this room who will still be alive and need abortions … and need health care. How dare he be allowed to do this when he is under investigation?”

** Actor Ron Perlman emoted: “OK Ladies and Gentlemen who care for and respect ladies, it is official. The move back to Medieval Values, Shariah Law even, where old, bitter men get to tell women what is best for their bodies, lives, and well being is as done a deal as this is Twitter. Unless we say NO! NO!”

** Then there’s the media: CNN's Jeffrey Toobin tweeted that confirmation means "abortion illegal; doctors prosecuted; gay people barred from restaurants, hotels, stores; African-Americans out of elite schools; gun control banned in 50 states; the end of regulatory state."

The hysteria epidemic is not limited to entertainers and news folk; it is rampant among Democrats, socialists and regressive politicians. (Please pardon the redundancy.)

** House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi: “The President’s selection is a clear and disrespectful assault on the fundamental rights of women and on the quality, affordable health care of the American people.” 

** Former Virginia Governor Democrat Terry McAuliffe: “The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party.”

** Independent socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders: “President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be a rubber-stamp for an extreme, right-wing agenda pushed by corporations and billionaires. We must mobilize the American people to defeat Trump’s right-wing, reactionary nominee.”

** Senate Minority Leader Democrat Charles Schumer: "With this pick, the president is making good on his pledge to ‘punish’ women for their choices. Judge Kavanaugh got the nomination because he passed this litmus test, not because he’ll be an impartial judge on behalf of all Americans. If he were to be confirmed, women’s reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court," he said.

There is so much that these poor folks don’t know or understand, or pretend to not know. Their negative reactions were automatic, and puerile.

To put the lie to the idea that Kavanaugh is THE worst possible choice among the four final possibilities, remember that the lefties created posters opposing the nomination before the nominee was even chosen, listing “XX” as the nominee.

Among the volumes of things Behar doesn’t understand is that (1) a duly elected President of the United States is duty-bound to nominate persons to fill judicial vacancies, (2) that accusations can be made by anyone, anytime, against anyone, and therefore are not sufficient to stop a president from being president, and (3) investigations are not a finding of guilt.

Perlman is controlled by the emotions that enable actors to ply their trade, to an excessive degree. Toobin lacks professional integrity and business sense and perspective.

Pelosi, Sanders, McAuliffe, Schumer and the rest, of course, have future elections as their prime motivation.

In order to accomplish their political goals, Congressional Democrats condemn and obstruct anything and everything associated in even the slightest way with Trump.

They don’t mind trashing a Trump nominee for any position, despite her or his credentials. Not only are the 25 original potential Supreme Court nominees all highly qualified jurists, but of those on the shortlist from which he selected Kavanaugh, all were supremely qualified.

They all are proven originalists in interpreting the Constitution, refusing to alter it from the bench, and honoring the Constitution’s own process for amending it, as has been done 17 times since the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments, were ratified.

Which, of course, is precisely why Pelosi, Sanders, McAuliffe, Schumer and the rest oppose everyone on the list.

They favor judges who will alter the Constitution or enacted laws from the bench, which occurs when unelected Supreme Court Justices or judges of inferior courts bend the plain language and intent of the Constitution or laws to mean what they think they ought to mean.

This is what is meant by the Constitution being a “living” document; the idea of being able to change the meaning and intent of the Constitution on a whim, or in response to some momentary social fad, or even when changing it will accomplish something good.

Our Constitution is not chiseled unchangeably in stone. It also is not written on a chalkboard where parts of it may be easily erased and rewritten. There is a process to make changes when there is strong, broad support for change.

A governing document that is a “living” document is not a governing document at all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tolerance and polite debate are OK, as long as they get their way


Why is it that so many Americans do not understand or appreciate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees several rights, including the right to free speech, which some credit as the guardian of all our freedoms.

The Amendment says, in part: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Notice it does not specify “approved speech,” or “popular speech,” or “speech that doesn’t send people to their “safe spaces.” It is, in fact, a guarantee that protects speech in general, including, and perhaps primarily, unpopular speech, which was an important part of its design.

Our nation’s Founders clearly understood the importance of protecting speech, which many on the modern Left in America clearly do not.

Herewith some examples of higher thinking than we currently see from free speech enemies.

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” -- Benjamin Franklin, in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1737.

George Washington said, “[T]he freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

And Mr. Franklin, again, in the New-England Courant, 1722: “[I]n those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation, must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

There is an interesting paradox about free speech. On the one hand, the news media insist that their speech is and must be protected, despite numerous instances of inaccurate, careless and sometimes even blatantly false reporting. On the other, the PC crowd wants to silence things it doesn’t like, which they try to do by labeling it hateful, racist, Nazi-ish, etc.; or opposing conservative public speakers, or resorting to intimidation, and even violence, sometimes.

A recent example of the latter approach occurred not long ago when a 16 year-old boy was sitting in a Whataburger restaurant and wearing a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat. A 30 year-old anti-Trumper stole the hat from his head and threw a soft drink in his face. Following his arrest the thug said seeing the hat had the same effect on him that a Ku Klux Klan hood would have had.

Upon learning of this criminal act, the thug’s employer promptly relieved the assaulter of his duties. We must hope he was appropriately charged with assault, and is fined and/or jailed, or perhaps sentenced to training in how to behave like an adult in America.

Unsurprisingly, two people appearing in the “neutral and objective news media” thought this assault was perfectly okay. TMZ’s Van Lathan said he was perfectly happy with anyone wearing the trademark piece of Trump paraphernalia being physically assaulted. “Wish I could take the high road,” he responded to a video of the assault. “But your MAGA hat reads like a swastika to me. So ummm … hmmm. Yeah. Maybe I’m no longer a decent person.”

Well, at least he recognizes his failure as a decent human being. But another media figure, CNN contributor Mark Lamont Hill, in response to the assault, Tweeted: “I actually don’t advocate throwing drinks on people. Not at all. But yes, i [sic] think MAGA hats (deliberately) reflect a movement that conjures racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. So yes, it’s a little harder to feel sympathy when someone gets Coca Cola thrown on him.”

Hill, allegedly a Temple University professor (of intolerance and Gestapo tactics?) must have learned intolerance from the owners of the Red Hen restaurant. Or perhaps they once were his students.

The political left, increasingly enraged by its failure to persuade millions of patriotic Americans to the Left’s very narrow view of things, has abandoned all efforts toward persuasion and open-mindedness, and now has signed on to using force to get their ideas accepted.

Intimidation and violence are now seen as appropriate weapons in their efforts to force their views on those who still believe in freedom of thought and speech.

Many of those who once called themselves tolerant and caring made a U-turn, and have ordained themselves as “right,” and everyone with different ideas as “wrong.” And if you don’t agree, you better watch your back.

But where free speech and independence of ideas are concerned, the Right is right and the Left is wrong. And those on the Left would be strongly against their own tactics if the roles were reversed.

Adults are supposed to know how to behave when presented with contrary ideas; to debate and overcome ideas they dislike with words, facts, and reason rather than violence, censorship, or government suppression. And children should learn that at home and in school. It’s called being a responsible, open-minded and tolerant American.

Unless the violent, intolerant wing of the political left abandons these strong-arm tactics to get their ideas accepted, more violence will result, and that is a sad prospect for our future.