Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The United States of America: how things used to be, and are now

Last Friday, the nation recalled the events of that day 19 years ago: September 11, 2001.

It was on that beautiful morning that out of nowhere, an airliner crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in downtown New York at 8:45. What the heck had happened?

Eighteen minutes later, another airliner hit the south tower, and it became clear what was going on: America was under attack. The attack continued, with a third airliner crashing into the
Pentagon in Washington, DC. And a fourth airliner, with an unknown target, had passengers who had become aware of the other attacks, organized and stopped the hijackers, resulting in the plane crashing into an empty field in Pennsylvania, instead of, perhaps, the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House, or some other important target.

That night, then-President George W. Bush addressed the nation. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America,” he said. “These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” 

In all, these attacks killed 2,996 people in the crashes and their aftermath. It was and is the deadliest day in the nation’s history. And the terrorist attacks triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism. In that regard, Bush said, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

The 19 militant Islamic al Qaeda members who hijacked the four airliners had destroyed property and killed nearly 3,000 people, but they also rekindled the American national spirit. 

Thus, the attitude of the American people toward the terrorist attacks was voiced, and the will of the people and their ideas of national pride and determination were strengthened.

In annual observances of that fateful day, the names of those lost in the attacks are read, and honor given to all those who died. Many of them died bravely trying to save others trapped in the buildings. Many more died years later from effects of the pollutants from the fires and the collapsed buildings they encountered.

What a difference in spirit we see today, compared to the strong pro-America attitude in the years following 9/11. 

There are tens of thousands or millions of younger Americans whose lack of knowledge of their country and its founding principles is astonishing. America’s ideals are unique in the degree of personal freedom and personal opportunity they provide, but many of these people have little or no idea about that.

Cultural decay has been brought on by the breakdown of the two-parent family, the movement away from attending church and Sunday school where we learned the rules for good living, and schools that ceased teaching about our country’s formation and system of government.

Single-parent households have replaced two-parent families in shocking numbers. “For decades, the share of U.S. children living with a single parent has been rising, accompanied by a decline in marriage rates and a rise in births outside of marriage,” according to the Pew Research Center. Its study of 130 countries and territories “shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households.”

Children generally do better when they have both a responsible father and a responsible mother to help them grow up to be productive, responsible adults. Children who grow up with an engaged father are less likely to drop out of school or wind up in jail. They are more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy, stable relationships when they grow up, and tend to have fewer psychological problems throughout their lives.

Lacking a more stable home life and the critical background about their country, many people, children and young adults, are not adequately prepared to fully appreciate our country and carry on the American spirit that was revived following 9/11. Since millions were not yet born, or old enough to appreciate what had happened that day, they were unable to grasp and appreciate the spirit of America that was so strong.

As traditional values are being abandoned — including the idea of marriage and family, the sanctity of life of the unborn, self-reliance and personal responsibility, tolerance for ideas different from their own — many Americans, and not just the younger generations, see the nation’s shortcomings to the exclusion of its positive aspects.

Many see America as an evil nation, and are determined to bring it down. Some indulge in riots, destroying property, assaulting people, and chanting “death to America.” 

These riots are not happenstance; there is significant organization and financing behind them. Evidence exists that the funding comes from factions both inside and outside the country that are seeking to weaken it, and turn America into one more failed socialist state.

America definitely faces a serious crisis. And while the nation has seen and dealt with serious crises before and emerged better for the experience, we must ask whether this one will be just one more time of trouble that we survive?  Or will it be the end of America as we know it? 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Violence is growing, and rioting is now moving into neighborhoods

Violence in America’s larger cities, like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and New York, has been going on for decades. Recent violence in other cities, that began as peaceful protests of police misbehavior or malfeasance, have been going on for more than a hundred nights. And in neither case have these situations been effectively dealt with, or in the case of the recent riots, hardly dealt with at all.

The violence in Seattle, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Kenosha, Wisconsin and St. Louis, Missouri began as peaceful protests of the treatment of black residents by police. But while there may still be some peaceful protesters in these cities, they have been pushed aside by violent rioters.


These people are bent on violence and destruction, looting businesses and sometimes setting them on fire, trashing and burning police vehicles and even police stations, attacking police officers who are trying to protect people and property, and threatening and assaulting bystanders. How this violence is supposed to help anyone, the rioters have not said.


The violence is moving from the downtowns into neighborhoods, with homes being threatened. After rioters broke through the gate of their St. Louis residential community, a couple appeared outside their home holding firearms to protect themselves and their property from the criminals. The rioters appeared at the curb, threatening to take over their home, arguing about who was going to occupy which room in the house, or perhaps, to burn it down and kill the owners.


Not so many years ago, these groups would have been quickly dealt with, many arrested and charged with crimes. Not today. Today, the two people trying to protect their home from criminals were the ones charged with crimes.


Today, instead of protecting the citizens and businesses in their cities, mayors tell the police to keep their distance, and leave the rioters alone, still inexplicably referring to them as “protesters,” as if there is no violence. One mayor’s plan is to just let things take their course until the rioters get tired and give up.


Another mayor did act, but only after the rioters approached her home. And still another mayor has moved his family after rioters tried to burn down the condo building where they resided.


The longer it takes to start countering the rioters, the stronger the actions against them will have to be to get them to stop, as this period of doing nothing has greatly emboldened them.


People across the nation have taken notice that this violence against innocent people and destruction of their property is growing. They have begun to worry about their own safety. If elected “leaders” will not allow police to interact to protect their citizens, the citizens understand that they will have to protect themselves and their property.


People are arming themselves in greater numbers than before. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports that as of July, 2020, 40 percent of firearms purchases were by people who have never owned a firearm before.


The NSSF, utilizing the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, determined that from January through July, 12.1 million background checks were recorded, which is 71.7 percent higher than the same period last year. The NSSF notes that this equates to nearly 5 million first-time gun owners in the seven months surveyed. More than a few gun purchases were by women who fear for their security.


“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, a senior vice president of NSSF. Many or most of those purchases are due to the out-of-control riotous element causing so much damage and injury in recent weeks. It is likely that some of these new gun owners were previously not strong supporters of our Second Amendment, but have seen the light, and now appreciate the right to bear arms for their own defense.


Evidence is growing that the riots involve people who don’t live in the cities where the riots take place. Police in Kenosha report that 175 rioters were arrested. More than 100 of them were not Kenosha residents, and in fact, had come there from 44 other towns and cities, according to local media.


Following the Republican National Convention event in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 27, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and his wife were shoved, shouted at and threatened as they walked to their hotel, and had to be protected by police. Paul believes the crowd that protested President Donald Trump’s speech was not there by chance.


He said they were organized, well-equipped, and had a neater appearance than rioters usually do. "My feeling is that there's interstate criminal traffic being paid for across state lines, but you won't know unless you arrest them,” he said, adding, “I promise you that at least some of the members and the people who attacked us were not from D.C....they were paid to be here."


If rioters are financially supported and being bused to locations, they are much more dangerous than groups arising spontaneously, and riots will most likely continue. And, they will move into other parts of the country. This violence must be stopped.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Looking at Trump, Biden and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic


Among the stacks of criticisms of Donald Trump’s presidency is his response to the COVID-19 virus. Trump didn’t do anything, or didn’t act quickly enough, or didn’t do enough, or was just plain wrong, came the complaints.


Lost in the rush of condemnation were some relevant facts:

* The China virus caught the world by surprise.

* Even the much-vaunted health/disease experts made mistakes in recommendations and in reporting relevant data.


Now that Joe Biden has become the Democrat candidate to oppose Trump in the November election, his comments, past and present, are relevant.


Trump formed the Coronavirus Task Force on January 29, less than a month after the first cases were reported by China to the World Health Organization (WHO). Two days later, he announced travel restrictions on China.


From his basement, Biden reacted to the restrictions as “hysterical xenophobia.”


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an administration agency, began to ship test kits to U.S. and international laboratories on February 6. On February 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advised us that “There is no need to change anything you’re doing on a day-by-day basis. Right now, the risk is still low.”


And all the while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, was in Chinatown, not social distancing, and inviting her constituents to join her there. Soon thereafter, the administration requested $2.5 billion to combat the virus.


Obviously, Trump was no farther behind the curve than Pelosi and Fauci.


In early March, Trump signed a bill to fight the outbreak, totaling $8.3 billion, and he and Vice President Mike Pence met with health insurance officials to secure a commitment to waive co-pays for virus testing. And the following day Trump announced travel restrictions on foreigners who had visited Europe.


On March 13, 16 and 19 Trump did three things:

* declared a national emergency to access more than $42 billion in existing funding.

* announced the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” COVID-19 guidance. 

* signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to prohibit hoarding of vital medical supplies.


Meanwhile, during the March 15 presidential debate, Biden accused the Trump administration of refusing “to get coronavirus testing kits from the World Health Organization (WHO).” However, the WHO had not offered COVID-19 test kits to the United States.


Trump signed the CARES Act into law, and the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles on March 27. And on the 31st, Trump officially announced “30 Days to Slow the Spread.” 


Trumps actions dealing with the virus continued. But, so did Biden’s misstatements of fact.


In a comment, Trump noted that the Democrat’s politicization of the virus crisis was a hoax, like the Russia controversy and the impeachment were hoaxes. Not content with an accurate quote, Biden mis-quoted Trump as having said, “Coronavirus, this is their new hoax.” Trump did not call the virus a hoax.


Did Biden deliberately take Trump’s words out of context? Or, did he not understand the difference? Whichever the case, The Washington Post awarded Biden four Pinocchios for his error.


Biden said on ABC’s “This Week” in early March that “They’ve cut the — the Centers for Disease Control. They’ve cut the funding for — they’ve tried to cut the funding for NIH, the National Institute (sic) of Health.” In reality, the CDC’s budget is 7 percent higher than under the Obama administration, and the Obama administration had tried to cut the budget in five of its eight years.


“The Obama-Biden Administration set up the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to prepare for future pandemics like COVID-19. Donald Trump eliminated it,” Biden tweeted on March 19. But this, too, was wrong. The Directorate was made part of a new unit, the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate, which strengthened the response to biodefense threats.


On CNN in late March, Biden suggested Trump should send our experts to China to help out. “There was no effort to do that,” he charged. But CDC representatives visited Wuhan on January 8th.


According to Biden, Trump told governors to get their own medical equipment. But he had blundered again. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Trump had said. But Biden neglected the rest of the comment. “[The federal government] will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”


Clearly, Biden’s mangled performance on the virus is not a reason to vote for him.


Now that Trump’s initial actions and Biden’s falsities have been discussed, here is some information on COVID deaths from the CDC that helps clarify the high number of deaths attributed to the disease.


“Deaths are coded [for the virus] when coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 are reported as a cause that contributed to death on the death certificate. These can include laboratory confirmed cases, as well as cases without laboratory confirmation. … COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause on the death certificate in 94% of deaths.” (emphasis added)


Far fewer people died of just the virus. Death is much more likely when other health problems are present.