Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Do Republicans realize that this is a pivotal time for America?

One thing most of us likely can agree on is that this has been a season of tragedy in the United States, most recently with the California wine country wild fires, and before that the Las Vegas shooting, and the hurricanes. Where disagreement thrives is on how we should respond to them.

During the presidency of Barack Obama our government took a sharp turn to the left, a dramatic increase in the much more gentle leftward drift it has been in for a long time. The election of Donald Trump was in large measure a backlash against Obama’s socialistic ideas, the Democrats’ abandonment of many of the values normal Americans observe, and the prospect of more of the same from Hillary Clinton.

So the voter’s said a loud “No!” to continuing the leftist governance of the Democrats by electing a Republican president and giving the GOP control of both houses of Congress. Unfortunately, what should have been a concentrated effort to start restoring Constitutional government has been put on hold by an obstinate faction of Republicans, some of whom have fallen victim to their own liberal impulses, and others who have let their egos overpower their sense of duty to their constituents, and have given in to hurt feelings in reaction to Donald Trump’s tweeting addiction, which too often gets personal.

If there is good news in this scenario for traditional Americans it is that the Trump presidency is not quite a year old, and there is time for both Trump and many Congressional Republicans to put these personal feelings behind them and get important things done.

But a sense of urgency about the Republican failures is certainly justified. A recent poll shows that a disturbing percentage of millennials would support an openly socialist candidate who follows in the misguided footsteps of Obama and company, precisely the opposite of what our country needs. If their voter participation rate increases, they could add significant support for socialist government, so Republicans had better get busy undoing the socialist initiatives and returning our government to its traditional, constitutional orientation.

Perhaps a lesson in what happens to good people when they are forced to live under the leftist, socialist prescription for governance will help, and there is probably no better example than that of Venezuela.

“As with all socialist systems, present-day Venezuela is marked by vicious poverty and a parasitical yet gilded ruling class,” wrote the President of The Mises Institute, Jeff Deist. In “The Austrian,” the Institute’s bi-monthly periodical, he wrote, “Sold to gullible Westerners as egalitarianism and concern for average people, socialism always makes ordinary citizens far worse off while destroying any hope for upward mobility. It is truly the ideology of the 1 percent.”

Economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises, after whom the Institute is named, said this about socialism in his treatise “Human Action”: “In a socialist economy it is only the government’s value judgments that count, and the people are deprived of any means of making their own value judgments prevail.”

Raphael A. Acevedo and Luis B. Cirocco are Venezuelans who participated in this year’s Mises University at the Institute as presenters on the subject of socialism’s impact on the lives of their country’s citizens. They wrote an account of Venezuela’s slide from relative freedom to a socialist hellhole for the current issue of “The Austrian.”

A hundred years ago the country began a lucrative period when it entered the international oil race, Acevedo and Cirocco write, and things were pretty good for a while, with not much government control of economic interests. It even overthrew a dictator and became a democracy in 1958.

However, the first democratically elected president, Romulo Betancourt, was a communist-turned-social democrat, and “he started destroying the economic institutions we had by implementing price controls, rent controls and other regulations we hadn’t had before,” they said, and then he created a new constitution hostile to private property.

Betancourt’s successors continued his socialist tendencies, and then in 1998 Hugo Chavez won election, promising to replace the country’s light socialism with more radical socialism. After Chavez’s death in 2013, Nicholas Maduro followed, and introduced a new constitution, which almost totally abolished private property.

“So, socialism is the cause of the Venezuelan misery,” Acevedo and Cirocco write. “Venezuelans are starving, eating garbage, losing weight. Children are malnourished. Anyone in Venezuela would be happy to eat out of America’s trashcans. It would be considered gourmet.”

And their summary of the country’s downfall: “As Venezuelans, our poor understanding of the importance of freedom and free markets has created our current disaster.”

We Americans have lost much of our freedom to government over the decades, and that increased substantially during the tragic Obama years.

Today we find that heavy federal intrusions in the area of healthcare through regulation and Obamacare raise prices and reduce access; the EPA’s regulatory over-reach aimed at killing the coal industry put thousands out of work; abundant welfare programs dampen the normal tendency of people to take care of themselves; the federal government controls much of K-12 education through financial “incentives” and Common Core requirements.

Republicans can and must address and reverse these trends. So get busy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Left jumps the gun discussing gun control after Las Vegas

From his position in the Mandalay Bay Resort 32 floors above the concert venue, the shooter in Las Vegas fired away with what sounded like an automatic weapon.

Authorities initially believed there was a lone shooter in the horrifying murder of 59 people and injuries to roughly 500 others. Since then, some wild and crazy ideas have been offered, as usual, as well as other possibilities that are more reasonable. In short, there is much still to learn.

In addition to why he wanted to kill so many innocent people, other questions need answers. New information has been coming regularly since the attack, and more will certainly be learned. If only the gun control faction would wait for more and better information before cranking up the scare machinery.

Was there just one shooter? Some present during the attack claim there was more than one, and Clark County, Nevada, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo acknowledged that the shooter probably didn’t act alone. One video shows what appears to be gunfire coming from a room on the 4th floor.

Why did the gunman have so many weapons in his suite? After the shooter killed himself police found 23 weapons in the hotel suite, along with intricate calculations about how to do the most damage. Police also found 19 more weapons, lots of ammunition and some explosives in the shooter’s home. Some weapons were reportedly acquired legally.

What was the plan for the fifty pounds of an explosive compound that were found in the shooter’s car at the hotel?

Then there is the question of how he ended up in that particular suite, perfectly suited to his evil, cowardly mission, a few days before the attack. How did he manage to get all those weapons into the suite without arousing suspicion?

Did ISIS have anything to do with this, as it has claimed? Reuters reports the following statement from ISIS: “‘The Las Vegas attack was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried it out in response to calls to target states of the coalition,’ the group’s news agency Amaq said in reference to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the group in the Middle East.” Did he convert to Islam recently, as ISIS has claimed?

The suspect is described as a white, retired, multimillionaire real estate investor and reclusive gambler with two homes and his own plane. This is an unusual profile for a mass killer. His actions have dumbfounded authorities.  Why did he target the country music concert, and how could he have accomplished all of that by himself?

Never being ones to let a crisis slip away unused, anti-gun advocates use tragedies like this to scare up support for their mission for more regulations and gun bans. But it really doesn’t help when demands for gun bans and more restrictions are so quickly thrown into the mix, confusing the issue, when so many important questions haven’t been answered.

While the Left works overtime to impose restrictions on the legal ownership of firearms that will punish law abiding citizens, one person who once was pro-gun control has studied gun deaths and found that her ideas were essentially baseless.

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former news writer at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site.  “Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me,” she wrote in a column in The Washington Post. “I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

“Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way,” Libresco said. 

They found that of the 33,000 gun deaths in the U.S., two-thirds of them are suicides and one-fifth come from young men aged 15-34 being killed in homicides, mostly resulting from gang and street violence and domestic violence.

She asked, “Shouldn’t we try to solve the two types of deaths by gun in the U.S. that account for over 85 percent of gun deaths annually?” Her conclusion was that few of the popularly floated gun control policies would address these deaths, which are the greatest problem.

One thing that does make sense is to ban “bump stocks,” devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to operate like fully-automatic weapons, and were found in the shooter’s hotel room. Fully-automatic weapons are virtually illegal, and bump stocks should also be, too.

But perspective is important, too. A Facebook meme says this: “When a sociopath used a truck to murder 85 people and injure 458 others in 2016, it wasn’t a ‘truck problem.’” It concludes: “but when sociopaths use a gun to murder people, why do Democrats always label it a ‘gun problem?’”

An assistant professor at UNLV told her history class when discussing the Las Vegas murders that President Donald Trump’s “rhetorical powers” encourage violence. If that sort of influence is indeed a factor, what about the violence-laden movies that the gun control advocates in Hollywood produce, even as they scream for gun bans?

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Climate change machinery cranks up following recent hurricanes

It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the east: when any notable weather event or series of them occurs, the human-made climate change enthusiasts engage their propaganda machine and bombard us with more dire warnings of impending doom. This seems more important to them than the suffering caused and damage done.

When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck the southern and eastern US in close succession recently, they were the first two Category 4 hurricanes to do so in the same year in 166 years of record keeping. Immediately, self-identified weather specialists Leonardo DiCaprio and Pope Francis burst forth with dire warnings of human-caused climate change.

Al Gore, who makes his money these days writing books about imagined weather calamities without the benefit of knowledge of the subject, told the World Economic Forum, “This is an unusual time. Within the last two weeks, we have had two more record-breaking, climate-connected storms.”

“We are departing the familiar bounds of history as we have known it since our civilization began,” he said. “And why? Because today like all days we will put another 110 million tons of man-made heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere, using the sky as an open sewer.”

Creating heat-trapping pollution is one thing Gore does know well. An article in The Daily Signal said this: “According to the report, compiled from public records requests and information from the Nashville Electric Service, Gore’s 20-room, 10,070-square-foot, Colonial-style mansion consumed an average of 19,241 kilowatt-hours per month — more than 21.3 times that of the U.S. household average of 901 kilowatt-hours monthly.”

If global warming/climate change resulting from human activities is really as threatening as Gore preaches, one might expect him to lead the way toward lowering pollution levels, rather than doing the opposite. Gore’s actions and his words send substantially different messages.

Those advocating the idea that the activities of humans harm the environment seem to ignore the bad news for their cause, which is good news for the rest of us: data demonstrates that there has been no real warming for nearly 20 years. That, among other inconvenient truths, is routinely ignored.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a real climate scientist, unlike Gore, DiCaprio and the Pope. His education is in atmospheric sciences, his doctorate is in meteorology, and he works at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Fed up with the pseudo-science flying around these days, he wrote a book challenging the commonly paraded idea that this season’s hurricanes are what climate change looks like. He argues that these storms are neither an aberration nor a result of rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A former senior scientist for NASA, Spencer explains that “There have been many years with multiple Cat 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, but there is nothing about global warming theory that says more of those will make landfall,” adding that “While the official estimate is that this was the first time two Cat 4 storms hit the U.S., since Florida was virtually unpopulated before 1900, we probably don’t really know.”

Spencer cited data of all major hurricanes to strike Florida since 1900 that show no increase in frequency or intensity as measured by wind speed. Florida’s worst hurricane on record struck on Labor Day, 1935, and is one of only three Category 5 storms on record to make landfall in the U.S.

Datasets from the journal “Geophysical Research Letters” in 2011 show that the global number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes have not increased over the past four decades, and tropical storms and hurricanes from 1999 to 2011 are significantly below the peak strengths. As with the data showing no atmospheric warming since 1998, this data strengthens the idea that the global warming theory is just a lot of hot air.

But why would actual scientists participate in promoting a ruse without a true scientific basis? Because there is a lot of research money for the taking if you support this hoax.

One scientist finally had enough of the dramatic changes in his field.

In October of 2010, Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara,
sent a message to Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, who was at the time president of the American Physical Society.

“When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago,” Lewis wrote, “it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).”

“How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs,” he said. “For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.”

This is a troubled time for America. It is a time when some scientists and journalists think their personal concerns are more important than the ethics and standards of their professions, or the needs of the country.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Will the special counsel investigation produce anything relevant?

How would you like to have a high-profile job with no firm guidelines for what you have to do, and plenty of money to help you hire as many people as you want to help you do whatever it is you decide to do for as long as you want the job? 

If so, you qualify for a job as a Special Counsel at the United States Department of Justice.

But you'll probably have to wait until former FBI Director Robert Mueller finishes his current run as special counsel, and by the time that happens, you may be ready for retirement.

Ostensibly, this special counsel is investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 election, something for which no evidence was found during months of research prior to the special counsel’s appointment.

In appointing the special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said: “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.” The job of the special counsel, then, is what?

Since no crime was identified needing investigation, Mueller has carte blanche to investigate whomever he wants for whatever he can find to assist him in whatever it is that he has decided to try to prove actually happened.

This is not an attack on Robert Mueller; it is about a process that is often well below the extraordinary standards of an honest, limited and responsive government of the people intended “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as established by the U.S. Constitution.

Mueller, in fact, was acknowledged as an honorable man and competent attorney when he was appointed. Back in May, conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt wrote this: “In Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has made an excellent choice that will allow Republicans to again concentrate on turning the country around.”

However, Hewitt went on to say, “It’s true that I have opposed a special prosecutor in the past,” and one reason was that “if the allegations of the politicization of the IRS during Barack Obama’s presidency didn’t warrant a special prosecutor, then this one certainly isn’t necessary now.”

Good, ethical guy or not, having accepted the job, Mueller is now under the gun to produce something. Faced with humiliation after hiring 17 Democrat lawyers, spending thousands or millions of dollars on a months-long, open-ended investigation and coming away empty handed is a result no self-respecting special counsel wants on their record.

An article in The Washington Post notes, “Thus, the idea of a special prosecutor makes sense, in theory. In practice, some investigations headed by special prosecutors have rung up huge tabs while producing modest results.”

To wit: Back in 2003, a CIA employee named Valerie Plame was “outed,” meaning her name and association with the CIA became public knowledge. An Office of the Special Counsel investigation ensued, with Patrick Fitzgerald in charge. After the investigation, a George W. Bush administration official, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was charged, tried and convicted of making false statements to the grand jury and federal investigators. And, a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, spent twelve weeks in jail for protecting the identity of a source from the grand jury.

In summary: a crime was committed, an investigation began, a journalist went to jail for protecting a source, a person was convicted for lying about things unrelated to solving the crime, and no one was found guilty of the crime. Such is what can happen with special counsel investigations.

In the current incarnation, an effort is under way allegedly to find someone associated with President Donald Trump who perhaps did something naughty he/she shouldn’t have done with the Russians during the campaign. Thus far the apparent focus is on Paul Manafort, who managed Donald Trump’s campaign until August of 2016, and who lived in Trump Tower where Trump lived during the campaign.

Manafort was the subject of federal wiretaps before the campaign in 2014, and again in 2016, either during the campaign or perhaps after he had left it. It is fair to ask who else, if anyone, in Trump Tower was wiretapped during the campaign.

When Trump suggested his campaign had been wiretapped, Democrats, liberals and much of the media ridiculed him. Could they have been wrong?

More recently, Mueller and his investigation have come under some criticism, with some characterizing the exercise as a waste of time and a distraction, others calling it a partisan witch-hunt, and one person suggesting a serious crime is being committed.

A retired United States Navy Commander has accused Mueller and other Federal Bureau of Investigation employees of treason for supposedly trying to sabotage President Donald Trump.

Mueller’s team may find an actual election-related crime was committed. Or, more likely, the only wrongs it discovers are unrelated to the Russians or the election, but can serve as leverage to help the special counsel persuade someone to “flip” and provide incriminating information against someone in the Trump campaign.

There are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, and between10,000 and 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. Odds are that someone from the Trump campaign will have violated one of them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

230 year-old U.S. Constitution is under attack by the Left

Thirty-nine delegates represented the people of the 13 original states at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When they signed the document on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was ratified and put into effect.

While the United States is young at just 230 years, the United States Constitution, our country’s supreme law, is by far the longest lasting constitution in human history. And it is responsible for our nation becoming the freest and most prosperous nation ever.

Those two paragraphs contain far more information about our Constitution than a frightening number of American citizens actually know about their founding document.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a poll about the Constitution in 2014, and it revealed how shockingly little people know about even the most basic elements of our government and the Constitution that formed it.

Here are some examples from the poll:
* More than one person in three (37 percent) could not name any of the rights protected by the First Amendment.
* Freedom of speech was identified by 48 percent, but the right to peaceably assemble came in at just 10 percent, freedom of religion at 15 percent, freedom of the press at 14 percent, and the right to petition the government at 3 percent.
* Only one of four (26 percent) could name all three branches of the government. (In 2011, 38 percent could name all three branches.)
* One-third couldn't name any branch of government.
*Asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38 percent said they knew the Republicans were the majority, but 17 percent responded the Democrats were, and 44 percent reported that they did not know (up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
*Asked which party controls the Senate, 38 percent correctly said the Democrats, 20 percent said the Republicans, and 42 percent said they did not know (also up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).

Annenberg’s director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson lamented, "Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don't is worrisome."

An Annenberg poll in 2017 would likely produce even worse results. The future of both our freedom and prosperity are in question in our country, largely because our schools and families have failed to teach our young people the fundamentals of America that are essential to creating informed citizens and preserving our republic. And as bad as the picture painted by the Annenberg study is, The Federalist online paints a picture that is much worse.

“U.S. civics education, if it exists at all, is being transformed into a political machine to push left-wing causes, undermine American government, and incite civil unrest,” writes The Federalist’s managing editor, Joy Pullman.

A 525-page report from the National Association of Scholars titled “Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics,” reveals the “New Civics” that uses attractive, bipartisan-sounding words like “civics” and “service learning” to trick Americans into allowing Leftist political machinery to hijack public funds and young minds, Pullmann wrote.

“Poor civics instruction has increased over the past half-century,” she wrote, “likely contributing to the broad decline of American civic life.” She then listed some long-standing and strong social influences we are losing:
* Volunteering has dropped dramatically despite increases in unemployment and free time
* Far fewer Americans participate in social activities and organizations
* Those who join the military are increasingly drawn from a narrowing subset of Americans
* Many adults have scant knowledge of American government and history (but still can vote!)

Anyone over the age of 60 should recognize the high degree of failure of our education system and families to properly educate our youth about the wonders of the United States of America, so that they can actually perform as competent and loyal citizens.

Recent protests adequately show that the demonstrators do not understand the First Amendment. They often don’t have an informed idea of what they are demonstrating against, and many protests are based not on what actually happened at an event, but instead on a perception of it. And, they either don’t understand, or don’t care, that a constitutionally protected protest is neither violent nor destructive.

Karl Marx would be proud of the Left’s efforts and success. We see his words at work: “Take away a nation’s heritage and they are more easily persuaded.”

Quiet subversion, done both deliberately and through ignorance, is at work in many schools and the news media. Once regarded as living its motto “all the news that is fit to print,” The New York Times has abandoned fairness and objectivity, an infection shared by much of the national news media, which now seem to subscribe to the motto, “all the news that fits.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having answered a question about whether the Founders had created a republic or a monarchy with this statement: A republic, if you can keep it.

A large number of the American people have decided that our republic should no longer be kept, and will happily sacrifice its historic and broad successes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The DACA and DREAMERS: The Good, the bad, and the ugly

The Democrat/liberal crisis of the moment has changed. Since President Donald Trump ordered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) suspended last week, DACA has totally blown the Russian election collusion (that was fervently hoped for, but didn’t cause Hillary Clinton’s self-destructive campaign to fail) off their rumor sheet and whisper campaign.

And Leftists have retreated to their safe and familiar habits, and are again calling names. Trump is “cruel.” So many Democrats have used that word lately that it must have been directed from party leaders. It is suspected that in response to Trump’s action the Democrat Party issued a talking point: “Say it’s cruel! Say it’s mean! Say it’s heartless! And stick to the message!”

The Left’s beloved DACA program has many failings, beyond being unconstitutional. Former President Barack Obama hated it before he loved it and issued the Executive Order. Twenty-two times he told the world that such a thing was beyond the power of a mere President, and he couldn’t do it because he wasn’t the Emperor of the U.S. Then he did what he couldn’t do, calling it a temporary stopgap measure. "This is temporary. Congress needs to act," he said.

What Is DACA? According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): “On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”

At first glance DACA may seem like a humanitarian action, designed to give illegal aliens whose parents brought them here as children a temporarily protected, but not lawful, status if they meet “several guidelines.”

What Trump is being called all sorts of names for doing, however, is really so much less than his Leftist critics are accusing him of. He is passing the ball for this immigration matter to where it actually belongs: the Congress. That is one thing Obama actually was right about.

All Trump did was to remove an improper order, and put the matter where it belongs. Sensible people won’t criticize Trump for that. And, Congress has six months to do the appropriate thing for these illegal alien residents. And at least until then, the DACA people are as safe today as they were before Trump’s action.

But the real problem is that, like so many things in the Obama administration, despite there being laws and regulations that are unambiguous, administrative agencies frequently ignored them, and did so without penalty. And, unsurprisingly, it turns out that the DACA implementation was rife with failure and fraud.

A story by Margaret Menge detailing much of these irregularities was published on LifeZette online last week. Quoting Matt O’Brien, an attorney who until last year was a manager in the investigative unit of USCIS, “as many as half of the approximately 800,000 people who now have work permits under DACA may have lied on their applications to get approved.”

Worse, O’Brien said, “these people were almost always approved anyway, because of the attitude of managers in the field and the chief counsel’s office.” He added, “The whole way the program is set up, it just facilitated fraud, and I’m not entirely confident that wasn’t intentional.”

With six months allotted for Congress to act, some believe that there are enough potential votes to create a path to citizenship for these DACA recipients, referred to as DREAMERS, for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. And, they can renew their two-year work permits if they were to expire before March 5, 2018.

But Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, says this would be a mistake. “USCIS never verified anything people put on their DACA applications,” she said, citing an example of how dangerous this might be. A DACA applicant named Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez was granted DACA status, despite USCIS admitting it had not checked this gang member’s application. He went on to murder four people in Charlotte, NC. The government agency merely accepted his application as truthful and accurate, never checking any of it.

She said that under George W. Bush, applications were thoroughly checked. “It’s the type of due diligence that the private sector does routinely,” she said.

O’Brien confirmed the failure of the application process, saying, “I personally witnessed an alarming number of people who had gang affiliations applying for this program,” most of whom, he said, were approved.

Menge’s article concludes by noting that the “approval rate for DACA in the two most recent quarters of fiscal year 2017 was approximately 97 percent, with only 3 percent of applications denied.”

Contrary to the idea that DACA is a humanitarian effort to help children of illegal aliens brought here by their parents, it is just another avenue the Left uses to allow anyone into the country, with no regard for their potential to harm American citizens.

Monday, September 11, 2017

2,996 Tribute to 9-11 Victims

Editors Note: What follows originated in 2006, and is repeated in 2017.

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11. 

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers joined together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person payed tribute to a single victim.We honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

So reads the introductory material on the 2996 Web page. I was assigned James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr. I was the 1357th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project.

The name of each 9-11 victim was been assigned to a blogger.

This project was a very moving one for me. In searching for information on Jim Greenleaf’s life, I was deeply touched by who this young man was. 

James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr., age 32, native of Waterford, Conn. Mr. Greenleaf was a foreign exchange trader at Carr Futures and died at the World Trade Center. He was a resident of New York, N.Y. Mr. Greenleaf was a 1991 graduate of Connecticut College, he was the son of Mr. And Mrs. James Greenleaf, Sr., and the former husband of Susan Cascio, a 1992 graduate of Connecticut College.

The following was posted by Mr. Greenleaf’s mother on 

April 6, 2002 

My Dearest Jim, 

Almost 7 months have passed and not a day goes by that I don't think about you. Some days I pretend that I just haven't seen you in long time and that you will be visiting soon. I know that it will be a long time till we see each other again, but it does help on the bad days.

Just this week Dad and I received 2 letters from old friends of yours recalling some great times that they spent with you and they wanted us to know what an impact you had on their lives. One letter we received said that she had children of her own and just hoped that some day they might grow up to be the kind of person that she remembers you as being. What a 
wonderful tribute to the fine man that you were. You touched so many people and I'm sure that you had no idea of how others thought of you. 

I know that I kissed you and told you how much I loved you every time I had the opportunity to, but I wanted to say it to you today again.

I love you so much,


Peter, Bryn and I talk about you all the time and remember all the wonderful times we spent together. 
(Patricia Greenleaf, Waterford, CT) 

Quilt graphic thanks to Kim at United in Memory

The James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and remember a dear family member and friend who lost his life as a result of the catastrophe which occurred in New York City in 2001. The fund will be used to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernard High School.

Dave McBride also hopes to help others by honoring the memory of his long-time friend with the 5th Annual 5K River Run For The Fund. The race, which takes place this Saturday, May 13th at Ocean Beach Park in New London, is part of the Greenleaf Memorial Foundation, which also incorporates an annual Golf Tournament and a Memorial Dinner. McBride and James Greenleaf were best friends since high school, graduating from St. Bernard in 1987.

Sadly, Greenleaf lost his life because of the terrorist acts that occurred as he was working in New York City on the morning of September 11th, 2001. In a tribute to Greenleaf, his family and friends created the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc., with proceeds used to award full book scholarships for 8th grade students to attend St. Bernard High School. The organization received approximately 30-40 scholarship applications annually, which require a formal essay and teacher recommendations that are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The fund also hopes to increase its scholarship offerings either to St Bernard students or other local students who will be attending college.

 Leave a message in honor of James Arthur Greenleaf Jr.

From: Lisa LaGalia Date: 11/19/2004 Message: Hi babe it me. Still not better without you. Can't you take me there where you are. We should be together
From: Maureen Griffin Balsbaugh Date: 08/29/2005 Message: At every one of your events. We know you are there in spirit....laughing.

This comment was left just a few days ago:

Thank you for posting information on Jim Greenleaf. We went to high school together. During the three years, we played football and ran track together. We ate many lunches together. 

With my return to the US in 2007, I have been able to attend the annual golf outing twice. The outpouring of help given by friends of Jimmy is very inspiring. His scholarship is helping many children attend St. Bernard H.S.

Thank you for the great site.

PS As an aside, we lost another high school friend that day, Eric Evans. He was in one of the towers when they fell. Both gone but not forgotten.

Jim Greenleaf, rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Our country’s traditions and core values are on the decline

In recent years many of our cultural values have been eroding, and in some cases are being consciously abandoned.

Standing and holding your hand over your heart during the performance of the National Anthem is a part of many activities. It is a simple but sincere way of honoring our nation and paying tribute to the opportunities it provides and its protection of personal freedom that is unparalleled in the world. Rather than honor the country that has been so good to them, some now balk at this simple act, and instead remain sitting, or “take a knee” in protest.

In fact, protest is becoming the new national pastime. Most anything that upsets somebody may well become a protest movement. A large segment of the population seemingly feels led to either start a protest, or take part in them. And some things that now upset folks are things that once were hardly noticed.

For example, some women are offended when a male in a standing position talks to a female who is sitting down. “Mansplaining,” it is called, and is considered offensive because the man is deemed to consider himself superior to the woman.

And then when a male sits and spreads his legs wide apart, that, too, is offensive to some females. They term this “manspreading,” because the male is thought to hold himself in such high regard that he can take up more space than he is due.

We also see the long-established idea of working for a living and supporting yourself and your family being abandoned in favor of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid replacing earned income. Government encourages this by making it too easy to get by without working. The ethic of getting a basic education and either going to work or continuing your education to prepare for a career no longer seems important to many people.

Sometimes economic conditions and a shortage of available jobs force people onto government support. Government imposes policies that instead of encouraging job creation often stifle it through overly strict, crippling regulations and daunting taxation, and then government spends tax revenue to support the people its policies have put on the unemployment line.

Two-parent families have given way to single-parent families, and the harm to children in that situation is often substantial. These families most often lack a father figure, whose presence can and should be a positive influence on children. And, it is becoming common for single mothers to have more children, not because they want more children so much as because they get more money from the government by doing so.

Educating children about our country’s history and values no longer takes place in many homes, and that responsibility gets transferred to schools. But then many schools no longer adequately fill that role, either. Consequently, lots of our younger citizens have no idea why America is a great place to have been born and to live, and without that understanding, proper attitudes of citizenship do not form.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many college kids cannot cope with normal events in life, and react with fear when they encounter unfamiliar or different ideas? With safe spaces and trigger warnings, even if schools still present subject matter without an ideological bias, many campuses shield students from lessons that teach about life and being an adult in the 21st century. College life should expose young people to new and different ideas and teach them to seek truth, but too often, it does not.

Further complicating the educational experience is the widely promoted idea that everyone needs a college education, and there are ample scholarships, grants and loans available to help pay for it. Colleges are embroiled in an arms race to attract students and the money they bring with them through lavish dormitories and other facilities.

Of course, not everyone needs a college education, and not everyone can complete the requirements for a diploma. And many students pursue degrees in fields that do not allow them to support themselves. Meanwhile, thousands of good paying jobs go unfilled that less expensive vocational training would have prepared people to perform.

As the college experience continues to devolve on many campuses, a group of professors from Princeton, Harvard and Yale have introduced a program that runs counter to the developing new college environment. They encourage students to avoid crippling campus groupthink and to instead think for themselves.

Sixteen professors from the three schools signed a letter warning the Class of 2021 at their school about the danger of “falling into the vice of conformism” on campus.

Princeton Professor Robert P. George told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “We’re telling our students not to fall into that groupthink,” he said. “You should be pursuing the truth. That’s what being in college is all about. It’s learning to pursue the truth and it’s learning to become a life-long truth seeker.”

To the extent this productive attitude spreads and influences more young people, the positive college environment of old will be restored, and will produce more well-grounded young people who are prepared for adulthood. That will help a lot.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Poor Donald, he can’t help it. He was born to do things wrong!”

A president’s true effect on his country can’t be fully and accurately assessed until some time after his or her term ends. But looking at Donald Trump’s record so far indicates his effect will be almost 100 percent negative, as is plainly demonstrated by media coverage and the estimates of his Democrat and liberal enemies.

Sure, he’s been in office only seven months, but all that really means is that his negative record is ultimately going to be absolutely YUGE and unparalleled!

How could so many American voters have been so wrong last November?

Trump is a man who has become famous only because his father gave him money, right? Daddy, we are told, provided gifts of $1 million or maybe $100 million. Detractors say that is why he is now worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes, only 35 times the highest reported level of help of $100 million. What’s special about that? Surely any or all of the rest of us could have done that well?

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., saw this coming and wisely wanted to save the country all this pain by impeaching him before he ever got sworn in as president. Perhaps she was in such a hurry because she wanted get it done before her trial for ethics violations begins. And some of her patriotic Democrat comrades are still working toward that end. Bless their hearts!

And CNN’s “reporter,” Jim Acosta – who has benefitted from his own journalistic failures since Trump made him famous by noticing and publicizing them – acted on an assumption. Immediately upon hearing the dire predictions of catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey advancing on the Texas coast, Acosta apparently assumed Trump was watching baseball rather than acting in advance of the storm to deal with the developing crisis. He texted Trump with the question “what is your administration doing about the hurricane to keep Texans safe?” By then, Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had already talked by phone and the federal government was already acting, and Abbott has praised the federal response. Oops!

No doubt Al Gore will soon publish another book or make another movie with withering criticism of Donald’s failure to remain in the Paris Climate Accord, that “doctrine with no teeth,” which he’ll swear could have turned the storm to the south, sparing America altogether.

Sure, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a hero to many Arizonans for his unwavering enforcement of federal immigration laws the federal government refused to enforce. The feds’ abdication meant great harm and discomfort to the people of Sen. John McCain’s home state.

But how could Donald dare to pardon the man before he was even sentenced for the misdemeanor charges he was found guilty of – by a judge, not a jury – and robbing that judge of the pleasure of punishing a man she convicted of upholding federal law?

Shouldn’t a president’s powers of pardon and commutation be reserved for people convicted of serious federal crimes, as Bill Clinton did on his last day in office for 140 such criminals, some of whom were his relatives and friends? Or, for releasing 1,500 federal prisoners and Gitmo detainees, as Barack Obama did over eight years?

Even some so-called Republicans, like the aforementioned John McCain, are critical of Trump. McCain said the timing was bad and especially so because “Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for” doing the job the federal government refused to do to protect Sen. McCain’s Arizona constituents.

With these acts Trump has joined the ranks of previous presidents, doing things their enemies dislike. Remember Barack Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” bragging on the Affordable Care Act, or “The police acted stupidly” trying to protect personal property, or when he curtsied to Muslim leaders upon meeting them?

Many people do not like Donald Trump, a condition he readily contributes to by some actions, but also because he doesn’t do things the way they expect a president to do them. However, being different isn’t necessarily being wrong. Remember, in 1532 it was a certainty that the Earth was the center of all things. But Nicholaus Copernicus revived an ancient theory saying the Sun was actually the center and Earth revolved around it. According to the existing beliefs, he was wrong. But he wasn’t.

Many in the media and the public take Trump’s words literally without thinking about what he was trying to communicate. Yes, that may be hard work, but reporting accurately is also hard work, and the media needs to step up its game.

Of course, Trump should do a better job of making sure his words convey their intended meaning; but the media must remember that their job is to convey the true message, the intended message, and leave their petty, adolescent feelings aside.

Reporters and media outlets are charged with accurately, objectively and fairly informing the public. Report what happens, good, bad and ugly, and let the people decide how to respond. Americans don’t need you to tell them what to think.

America’s future is far more important than the hurt feelings and emotional upheavals of Trump’s enemies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

America’s summer of discontent proceeds, and violence increases

Back in 1961 when Willie Nelson composed and released a soon-to-be famous ballad, its title described a situation our country would see a few years later. The title of that song is perfectly applicable today: “Crazy.”

There are always at least a few crazy things going on in America. Today, the list is long, and growing. For example, there’s the manic movement to remove statues of some of the South’s and the Civil War’s better-known personalities, or rename things honoring them that adorn the American south.

Elected officials, who ought to know better, are surrendering to the small, but very loud, group that shrieks to remove them for no better reason than that they do not like them. They say that these memorials conjure up visions – not memories – of slavery, which was wiped from our land 150 years ago.

Cities and colleges are caving in with increasing frequency to the shrieking, and the movement’s criminal element is taking matters into its own hands by destroying these pieces of our history, sometimes in the dark of night, with no regard for anything beyond their own limited impulses.

Interestingly, as recently as this time last year, no one was complaining about these memorials. What has happened since to excuse these often illegal acts and exercises in bad judgment?

A somewhat older crazy thing is the protest against the “Star Spangled Banner,” most notably by athletes who remain sitting, or take a knee when the national anthem is performed prior to an athletic contest. This is a long-standing tradition only recently seen as problematic.

It is interesting how many Americans whose talents earned them fame and fortune somehow believe the country that provided the opportunity for success is now their enemy. They now protest against the country that has rewarded them. Biting the hand that feeds you is generally not a good plan.

A group organizing a “Unite the Right” rally at the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va. was treated fairly in its permit request, although city officials did later try to interfere with the plan. After a judge upheld the original permit, the group, described as “white nationalists” and “KKK,” went forward with its rally supporting protection of the Lee statue.

Another group appeared at the rally site, one that apparently did not have a permit. This Leftist group was there to protest against the pro-Lee rally. Sometimes referred to as “Antifa,” for “anti-fascist,” the group is known for its fascist methods in fighting what it calls fascism. Crazy?

Violence ensued. Who started it is unknown. Both sides were violent and had implements/weapons to assist them. The police did almost nothing to stop the violence, and one police officer, whose name was not given, said Charlottesville police received a “stand down” order.

Rumor has it that the Antifas have set their sights on likenesses of Col. Harlan Sanders. Good fascists must not allow a statue that represents southern fried chicken to remain a fixture in the white supremacist south.

In line with their fever over the existence of statues of Thomas Jefferson and Stonewall Jackson, Democrats have already altered their Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, renaming it the Unity Dinner. Will they now demand renaming the copious things honoring the late W. Va. Democrat Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who once was a member in good standing of the KKK?

Last weekend in Boston a group organized a rally in support of free speech, which, of course, was opposed by the same group that opposed defending Gen. Lee’s statue. Even the idea of free speech has opponents on the political Left. Crazy?

These organized political protests have reached the level of pure obsession, demanding the removal of long-standing monuments and memorials of America’s past that do actual harm to no one. Overcome by raw emotion, these opponents gather at locations of the subjects of their discontent, and often abandon the perfectly legitimate American act of peaceful protest in favor of illegal violence.

America is now more politically divided than it has been for decades. Some say as divided as it was in 1861, when disagreement drove southern states to secede from the Union, beginning the Civil War.

Are we headed for another civil war? The first one saw the states that seceded from the Union receive a brutal defeat. The disaffected are following the same path of those whose statues and monuments they now condemn. They have a poor grasp of history, and seem determined to repeat it.

The first civil war arose from serious and honest policy disagreement. What we see today is primarily emotional discontent, compounded by forces bent on fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

These protests are not spontaneous. America is under attack from within, but much influence, including funding, comes from outside. Paid protesters arrive from across the country to protest and conduct violence and destruction. People with the Workers World Party Durham, a hard-Left organization, were involved in bringing down a statue in Durham, NC, according to the Durham newspaper, the Herald-Sun.

We had better be prepared for more violence and destruction, unless authorities wise up and stop these violent protests.