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.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Filling the Supreme Court vacancy is both critical and divisive

Presidents have the duty to nominate persons to fill federal judiciary vacancies. Each of our 45 presidents made judicial appointments, and all but four nominated at least one justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to the Court’s Home page, the Supreme Court “is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.”

The controversy that arises each time a vacancy occurs on the High Court in recent years regards the second of the Court’s two functions: its role as “the interpreter of the Constitution.”

The question now at the front of the debate about the Court is – as former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano put forth in chapter 2 of his book The Constitution in Exile – given that the Court addresses “issues the Founders never dealt with, should the Court treat the Constitution as a living document, allowing judges to interpret it according to the times? Should the Court try to discern the Founders’ ‘original intent’ and apply it to these new situations and issues?”

Typical of the wild responses to all things related to President Donald Trump by the increasingly socialist political Left, the opportunity that he now has to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy – the Court’s “swing vote” – has them beside themselves, issuing feverish predictions of doom and gloom.

As the Court’s swing vote, Kennedy sometimes voted with the judicial conservatives, who commonly support the original text of the U.S. Constitution, and at other times voted with the judicial liberals, for whom the Constitution’s meaning changes over time.

Now, President Trump must nominate someone to fill that vacant spot on the bench, and is expected to pick another judicial conservative in the mold of the late, great Antonin Scalia, as he did by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Scalia Court vacancy.

The Founders, being the brilliant humans that they were, understood that a document intended to be the backbone of a unique and superior form of government, needed to promote broad principals that outlined how the republic should function and would endure forever.

Putting the individuals who have served and will serve on the Supreme Court into perspective, Constitutional scholar Mark Levin says in his book, Men in Black: “The biggest myth about judges is that they’re somehow imbued with greater insight, wisdom, and vision than the rest of us; that for some reason God Almighty has endowed them with superior judgment about justice and fairness. But the truth is that judges are men and women with human imperfections and frailties,” like the rest of us.

With such a wide spectrum of human qualities, how can we trust important judicial decisions to the luck of the draw, the nine people sitting on the Court at any given time?

Therefore, great care must be used when selecting someone for a seat on the Court, and someone with judicial humility who will support the principals of the Constitutions should be chosen, rather than someone who will bend the meaning of the Constitution to suit some personal preference or perceived social need.

Imagine a Court with 5 (or more) from the contingent that decide cases not based on a stable set of principles, but on the passions of the day, which might be different passions 10 years hence, and likely were different passions 10 years earlier.

Under the guise of “the Founders could not possibly have imagined _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite issue),” liberal judges often make decisions based not upon Constitutional principals, but based upon their idea of what should be, or what they believe is best. The Constitution is not a “living” document; its foundational principals live on forever.

As good a blueprint for a nation as our Constitution is, its creators realized that changes may at times be needed, and it has been amended 17 times since the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, were enacted shortly after the states ratified the Constitution.

Within its original 4,400 words is the process for changing it. It is a difficult process, by design, so that changes would have to be very strongly supported by the states. Neither those original words nor those of the amendments authorize changes to be made by judges or by five Supreme Court Justices.

America became the freest, most desirable nation in the world by following the guidance of the Constitution. And despite the changes that have occurred in the last few decades through judicial lawmaking, America still is a great nation.

But we cannot afford to keep traveling down the road of judicial twists and turns that liberal judges create, or the nation will become unrecognizable, and just one more socialist quagmire.

So while the Left continues to rely on scare tactics to create opposition to Trump’s choice for the Kennedy vacancy, even before that choice is made or announced, the president is duty-bound to make a nomination, and will likely propose someone who appreciates and honors the guidance of the U.S. Constitution, and will not legislate from the bench. For that we should all be thankful.