Harsh Reality

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time to Enforce Some Basic Rules for Protests

The U.S. Constitution provides Americans the right to protest things that make us upset. It's in the First Amendment, right alongside the rights of freedom of speech, religion and the press.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
I obviously added the emphasis in the above quote, but just to draw your attention to the relevant words. You'll notice your right to assemble with other people to express your grievances is constitutionally protected as long as it's peaceful? This is because when a bunch of people get together and they turn violent it's called a riot. Rioting is a felony under federal law if you cross state lines to do it. And that includes organizing to do so electronically. The definition of rioting is basically 2 or more people using unlawful violence or threatening to do so. This is a generalization, but that's basically it. So it's a pretty broad crime. Planning on committing violence or threatening violence? Traveling across state lines to meet a friend or 2 or a thousand? That's probably a felony and not a constitutionally-protected activity.

State laws are different from place to place, but I imagine most jurisdictions have some criminal prohibition against rioting, or at least destroying property and assaulting people. And arson is a pretty universal no-no.So, since we can see an infinite number of videos on social media of thousands upon thousands of people smashing, looting and burning stores, police stations and cars, assaulting people, why aren't jails overflowing with people charged with rioting? 

Good question.

To begin with, most of the places these things are happening are run by Democrat politicians sympathetic to the rioters. The people in the crowds are their voters. Or, at least, they don't support the Republicans. So they're not exactly going to order their police departments to arrest crowds of their voters. And, let's face it, Republicans are surrendering on every issue at every level, too. So, it's not like it would be any different if a Republican were in charge of any of these cities.

When rioters have been arrested, the liberal prosecutors in these cities have mostly released them without charges, or they've just released them without having to post bond. So even the worst of the worst who get arrested end up with basically nothing happening to them. It's a free-for-all. There's literally no reason to not commit violent crimes because 1.) They stand virtually 0% chance of being arrested; 2.) If they are arrested, there's a high probability they won't be prosecuted, much less convicted or jailed, and; 3.) Police are much more likely to arrest and prosecute the victims of mob violence for defending themselves. So, if you want to block a highway, you can be pretty sure the motorists will do as you order them to do or the police will arrest them for driving through your blockade because they could've hurt someone. Or, if you attack someone's business or go onto their private property, you can cry to the police and show them your cell phone video of them resisting your "peaceful protest" and the police will arrest them and charge them to the full extent of the law.

This is the bizarro world we're living in.

As far as federal authorities, it's a little sticky. First, law enforcement is almost exclusively a local matter. Federal law enforcement don't have the resources to round up significant numbers of people. If they would, they need substantial support from local authorities to process people who commit federal crimes. The federal government doesn't operate jails everywhere, so they need help from the locals. And we've watched for the past several years how the localities where these riots are happening cooperate with federal agencies. They don't. So if the locals aren't going to arrest or prosecute the rioters, why on earth would they help the feds do it?

All this being said, I was thinking about some things authorities could do to make protests a little more manageable.

1. No masks. I know, this goes against everything liberals are ordering. But local authorities aren't enforcing any of these rules on protesters, anyway. A few years ago, I saw police at Auburn University enforcing a "No mask, no hoodie" rule. This was during the time conservative speakers were being run off campus by these same crowds of violent, masked leftists who showed up to burn things and scream at people for saying things they disagree with. It worked remarkably well! I believe the Auburn talk went off smoothly because the protesters, unmasked and un-hoodied by police, mostly went home. They were cowards. They were willing to be violent idiots, but only if they could do so anonymously. I always wondered why other venues didn't enforce such a rule. They should use that for protests everywhere. You can protest, but no mask and no hoodie.

2. No backpacks. This should be a no-brainer. With all the clubs, bike locks, tire irons and other blunt-force weapons antifa likes to attack people with, to say nothing of their habit of throwing Molotov cocktails, spray painting over security cameras (and now shooting motorists), there's no reason anyone should be allowed to carry a backpack to a protest. The Tsarnaev brothers carried a pressure cooker bomb to the Boston Marathon in a backpack, and that resulted in a nationwide ban on backpacks and ladies' purses at events. If you want to attend most sporting events now, your wife has to put her tiny items in a clear bag that is subject to inspection. And that's just to attend a concert or football game...something where there's not scheduled to be any burning and looting. The backpack ban should include claims of medical supplies from supposed antifa "medics". The fact that protest organizers would expect there to be enough injuries at their event to need a bunch of "medics" is evidence they expect violence. If they're planning a peaceful event, they can rely on 9-1-1 and real paramedics in the off chance someone doesn't feel well. Bottom line: If you can't carry it in your hand or in a pocket, it doesn't come to the protest, just like it doesn't go in the stadium.

3. No bicycles, no skateboards. We've all seen the weaponized use of bicycles at these riots. It always seems like an army of random people with bicycles just so happen to be walking their bikes in the middle of a protest. if you watch enough videos, you'll notice a pattern to how these "innocent bystanders" interact with their bicycles to interfere with police. The cops have caught on to this, though, and actually police departments are using their own bicycles to make movable walls and otherwise disrupt rioters' movements. Anyone legitimately there for a peaceful protest doesn't need to be walking their bike around in the crowd. And, if you've watched even a dozen videos of these riots, you've no doubt seen skateboards being used as weapons to smash cars or assault people. Just like bicycles, there's no legitimate need for a skateboard at a peaceful protest and it's remarkable how many rioters you see walking with a skateboard in their hand.

If police were serious about diminishing the potential for violence at these antifa protests, these are three simple rules that would go a long way toward keeping things peaceful. Don't allow people to hide their identity, no backpacks and no bicycles or skateboards in the protest area.

And what's that I hear you saying? What about guns? Well, there are already thousands of laws on the books regarding the purchase, possession, ownership, carry, display, concealment and use of firearms. Some states and localities are more restrictive, some are more relaxed. And this is concerning a specific constitutional right. So, firearms at a protest will already be covered by layers of federal laws, state laws and local ordinances. I have nothing to add.

But, from looking at videos of riots, local officials could use some tips on things that could help them assist their local protesters to stay within the protection of the First Amendment.

Just doing my part. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

NASCAR Got Woke, About to Go Broke

Back in 2018 I wrote in my national column over at WND.com about the "other swamp" that needed draining. The putrid swamp of leftist totalitarianism infecting the boardrooms of corporate America. You can read that piece here.

I wrote about the inexplicable move by many CEOs and corporate decision makers to ditch their own customers and embrace "woke" leftist culture who hates and mocks their customers and, craziest of all, doesn't use their product. Destroying their company's brands to advance their own personal political agendas. A couple big examples of this I wrote about in the story include Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis ranting on cable news about President Trump, going so far as to declare he didn't want the business of Trump voters. This despite the fact President Trump overwhelmingly won the votes of both white men and white women, and industry analysis shows over 90% of camper sales are to white Americans. He literally told a massive part of his customer base, likely a majority, he doesn't want their business! His exact words were "don't shop at my business".

Other examples include Yeti coolers cutting ties with the NRA, despite their customer base being overwhelmingly white male hunters, fishermen and many members or supporters of the NRA, and the years-long dumpster fire known as the NFL. The NFL, deciding it hadn't sufficiently destroyed its fan base with ridiculous rules turning the game into touch football, adding male cheerleaders prancing and pirouetting around the sidelines and letting players mock veterans and patriotic fans to their faces in taxpayer-built stadiums, has now embraced anti-American protests by players during the National Anthem.

Insulting their own customers might make sense if there was some other, larger group of customers these liberal gestures would appeal to that would replace their existing customers. But there isn't. Feminists still hate the NFL. Perpetually-offended vegans in the grievance studies faculty lounge are not going to suddenly take up hunting or fishing and need expensive coolers. Repeated studies in both the recreational vehicle industry and the U.S. government's Park Service and other agencies show the Americans who enjoy camping, hiking and traveling in an RV are a pretty steady demographic, no matter how much advertising or promotion is done. These large companies are so overcome with the mental illness of liberalism they are willing to insult their own customers and destroy their own businesses to prove to their liberal friends at cocktail parties how woke they are.

But there's an old truism: Get woke, go broke.

NASCAR has been headed down this road for years. A certain formerly-popular driver makes a point of sticking a thumb in the eye of NASCAR fans at every opportunity. He is the son of a deceased NASCAR legend, and he was never was able to achieve his father's skill level, success or fan support. So there may be some unresolved subconscious psychological resentment causing him to lash out. But who knows? He could just be an ungrateful jerk.

A few weeks ago, though, NASCAR made the announcement that Confederate flags are banned at future races. The decision was made in the aftermath of the death of a man in Minneapolis during an arrest. Although having nothing to do with auto racing in general, or NASCAR in particular, there was a mad dash among communities and corporations all across America to prove they aren't racist. Virtue signaling was all the rage, with every organization seeming to rush to staff meetings to brainstorm ways they could jump on the bandwagon and show their anti-racist street cred. This move came at a bad time for NASCAR, though, as all sports and entertainment businesses were reeling from the coronavirus shutdown. There is a real question how much fan support will return after an extended period of time without sports? To add insults to the fan base for the sake of obvious shameless virtue signaling was never going to end well.

Add to this already tough mix the Bubba Wallace noose hoax and NASCAR is looking over the edge of a steep decline, if the series survives at all. NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is a black driver for the iconic Richard Petty. Wallace has marketed himself as a black driver, wearing Black Lives Matter clothing and slogans along with his driving suit. His car is either sponsored by Black Lives Matter, or at least has that logo featured as the primary sponsor all over his race car. I presumed his focus on this is an attempt to expand the sport's base of support to black sports fans, especially since he drives for a business-savvy, legendary race team at Richard Petty Racing. I suppose it makes sense from a marketing standpoint. But it always came with risks.

Stock car racing has a particular popular image, fair or not. The old stereotype of fat white Southerners racing ordinary cars around a track on Sunday, then using those cars to run moonshine whiskey through the hills and hollows of Appalachia is obviously not true anymore. It might've never been entirely true, but that's another discussion. The reality for decades has been international drivers with million dollar contracts driving multi-million dollar purpose-built race cars in a series with billion dollar television contracts and many billions more in licensing. Despite all that, the public perception of NASCAR as a "hillbilly sport" enjoyed by hillbilly fans is a hard stereotype to break.

Having a featured black driver put NASCAR in a position to have to keep that driver happy. Drivers or team owners frequently get upset at each other or the series or race officials. It's part of the sport. But, in America's current racially-charged climate, and especially with the stereotype of stock car racing as a redneck sport, a black driver being offended about anything had the potential to be devastating. It would be seen by many as proof the sport, fans, participants and/or NASCAR itself is racist. Not only would this be counterproductive to efforts expanding the fan base with black sports fans, it could cause the normal split among fans in any drama (between drivers, for instance) to be open to become extra toxic with charges of racism.

And that's exactly what happened.

This week NASCAR announced a noose was discovered in Wallace's garage at Talledega Motor Speedway in Alabama. Officials put out the expected statements of outrage and indignation, announcing a lifetime ban for the perpetrator. A special parade was ordered for Wallace, with all of the teams and drivers walking in a colorful display alongside and behind Wallace's car as he drove slowly down the track. Local, state and federal law enforcement was notified and NASCAR began a thorough investigation. 

There was a problem, though.

According to sources:

The story fell apart within hours. It appears several stories were leaked to trusted media sources looking for an explanation that would have the least amount of damage and help get this event off the radar. The garage door handle story seemed to get the most traction and made it look like it was just a big misunderstanding. It was also leaked that Wallace, himself, did not see any noose. So this was helpful for getting the driver they were heavily invested in out of the direct fallout. Once the story was settled on, the FBI and NASCAR put out a statement about it just being a garage door handle and the matter was closed. As bad as it was, it might've ended there. Instead, Wallace immediately went on CNN to be interviewed by notorious race-hustler Don Lemon. Rather than help NASCAR close the chapter, Wallace largely blew up the carefully crafted story and angrily insisted there was a noose and that he had pictures of it. He seemed to many viewers angry that it was not a noose. By the next morning, Wallace put out an official statement that had clearly been crafted by a public relations professional. It was gracious, humble and lightly self-deprecating. The exact opposite of the combative, angry man throwing insults at NASCAR on a racially-charged cable TV program.

People have short memories and things blow over, but I'm curious how far NASCAR can go after this debacle. Between the coronavirus shutdown, jettisoning their generational fan base and the racial accusations surrounding Wallace that NASCAR made into an actual federal case (with 15 FBI agents taken off their normal duties to investigate a garage door handle), I don't know who will be the customers buying tickets and merchandise.

NASCAR's decisions over the past few years should be chronicled and studied by future business school students as an example of how not to run a business.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Left Never Stops

This past week of statues being torn down and iconic product brands being banned reminds us that the outrage machine of the left never takes a day off.

If it seems like nothing is ever settled with your liberal friends, no matter how much they get their way on every issue over the years, that's because they are never satisfied. If they want a new law, they scream until they get it. Once they get it, they scream that it needs to applied to more people (or be stricter or have a bigger bureaucracy or more funding, etc.). Once they achieve that, they demand even more, no matter how absurd things get. And there is never any assessment, accountability or honest reflection on the effectiveness of whatever program or initiative they come up with. The only thing that matters is their good intentions.

For liberals, life is just a never-ending series of goalposts for them to move as their emotions twist wildly, propelling them to their next set of demands.

We saw this over the past 25 years with gay rights. The original demand was to decriminalize homosexuality. The repeated claim was "It's nobody's business what goes on in someone's bedroom!" and "If you're not gay this will have no effect on you!". Then a few states had civil unions, and the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by Bill Clinton cemented those into place by giving federal assurance states would not have to give full faith and credit to civil unions with which the people in other states disagreed. Eventually, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, but by then the court had already struck down state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman. After gay marriage came citizens being forced to participate in gay weddings and an immediate pivot to cross-dressing as a civil right. Now that the Supreme Court has rewritten the Civil Rights Act to add transgender people as a protected class, it's anyone's guess what the next demand will be. And, despite the original claims during the decriminalization argument, what happens in the privacy of someone else's bedroom actually did become everybody's business and impacted everyone.

We know the left never rests on their victories.

One has to admire the tenacity of liberals, though. They never take "no" for an answer. They never stop haranguing. They never accept defeat and move on. With every setback, they regroup and begin the push again. They learn from their mistakes and make changes accordingly. Sometimes they try the same line of effort, other times they look for a different way to achieve their goals. In the example of gay marriage, they organized in every state and made pushes to lobby legislators. When that didn't work, they got their matter put on referenda. When those failed, they sued on a variety of novel legal theories in state courts. When those failed, they took their case to federal courts. All the time, they were benefitting from exposure and constantly moving the Overton Window. What had been a shocking idea only 18-20 years before suddenly was an old discussion, and finally seemed inevitable.

There is something to be said about simply wearing out your opponents, too. Leftists excel in remaining on offense, even when they hold power and should naturally be on defense. Instead, they use their power to supercharge their agenda and aggressively punish dissent. We've been seeing this on college campuses and in corporate America.

It's not just big things, it's little things, too.

Those who remember the seatbelt laws that cropped up in the early 1980s can attest to the constantly increasing enforcement and penalties from the time those laws were passed. Originally, most states only required seatbelts in certain circumstances or for certain vehicles. And many seatbelt laws were originally not a "primary offense", or something for which you could be stopped by itself. Also, pickup trucks, SUVs, delivery vehicles, taxis, farm vehicles and others were not included in the beginning. But, one by one, all these exceptions used to pass the original law were re-characterized as "loopholes" by the left and eventually closed until the law and its enforcement was far beyond its original application.

This is how they've tried gun control, as well. Limitations here and there, then shift the demands to closing "loopholes". But those were never loopholes, they were concessions. Specific exceptions made by proponents of the law to get buy-in from people who wouldn't otherwise agree to it.

Liberals are also masters of exploiting a crisis as cover to ram through an agenda behind the backs of an otherwise distracted or grieving public. We saw this on display recently during the coronavirus panic as Democrats stuffed billions of dollars worth of goodies for their constituents into relief bills. Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously touted the benefits of never letting a crisis go to waste. The left has moved at lightning speed during the recent national shock over the video recorded death of George Floyd in Minneapolis during an arrest. The instantaneous push to ban, tear down and remove anything related to the Confederacy was reminiscent of the rush after the Charleston shooting in 2015. Although, there was no obvious connection between George Floyd's death and anything having to do with the Civil War. The changes achieved by the left are significant and permanent, but are achieved at incredible speed due to the national shock. The left is never too shocked about anything to advance their political agenda.

Combining these ideas, the state of South Carolina for decades flew the Confederate Battle Flag above the statehouse dome under an American flag. Liberals demanded for years that it be taken down. In 2000 a compromise was reached whereby the flag was removed from above the dome down to a flagpole next to the Confederate War Memorial on the statehouse grounds, a place critics argued was the appropriate place for the flag. In addition, a multimillion dollar memorial to slavery was constructed on the statehouse grounds as part of the negotiated deal. So that was the end of the matter? Not even close. Immediately upon the deal's completion, groups began demanding the flag be removed from the war memorial. After 15 years Governor Nikki Haley ordered the flag removed from the war memorial in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston shooting. It took a few years and quick movement in a crisis, but liberals eventually achieved everything they demanded, and then some. As flags were ordered taken down across the South, Obama led the talking point that all things Confederate should be stowed out of public view in museums. But within months liberals in various places began complaining of Confederate items on display in museums.

In our current national purging of monuments, statues and other historical items, the argument that these things should be banished to museums is making a comeback. Notably, this week the New York Museum of Natural History announced it was removing the famous equestrian statue of President Theodore Roosevelt, its original and largest benefactor. We've gone from only removing the Confederate flag to removing statues, monuments and grave markers of Confederates, to tearing down or removing U.S. presidents, union generals of the Civil War and others. Even artwork exhibited at museums is not safe.

Ultimately, the left gets everything they want. Maybe just a little bit today, maybe a big bite. But, eventually, they get everything. And then some.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Explanation for the Current Chasm Between the Left & Right

Available on Amazon
Stepping out of my normal posts to the blog, I'm going to do a book review. I've never done one in a column format, and this is a particularly appropriate book and topic for the events happening all around us and in the news lately.

Christopher Caldwell's 2020 book 'The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties' does a remarkable job of explaining the historic divide in American politics by knitting together topics we all know about and showing how they relate to each other.

This is a combination social studies and history book of America since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although I disagree with some of his arguments (blaming 'Reaganomics' for the steep increase in the national debt in the 1980s but ignoring the exponential federal explosion in spending once the Democrat-controlled Congress saw the tidal wave of tax revenue pouring in from the economic expansion under Reagan), Caldwell is focused on a bigger picture and does a great job. This would be a great book for advanced H.S. students or college - or anyone, really - to help explain the stunning transformation of the United States over the past half century. It's written in a more-or-less apolitical, "top-down" overview style, which is necessary considering the breadth of the time covered. Caldwell does a remarkable job of identifying the reason behind the transformations most readers will know from our own lives.

For instance, I have pointed out the interesting fact that Americans no longer even try to amend the U.S. Constitution. For nearly 200 years, the Constitution was amended from time to time to make massive changes in American society. Caldwell argues the Civil Rights Act effectively set up an alternate constitution under which post-1960s America largely operates. With the incredible social tension we all see coming from "conservatives" still trying to operate under the original Constitution while "liberals" force American law, culture and society ever leftward by use of the new de facto constitution of civil rights. His view is undoubtedly correct as he gives example after example of the expansion of civil rights in ways never imagined when the law was passed, at the expense of eroding rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. After the Civil Rights Act, there was no longer a need to amend the Constitution (or even win at the ballot box) because virtually any liberal initiative can be achieved through the courts by expanding civil rights in some manner.

We've seen this in recent landmark Supreme Court decisions. Just this week, Justice John Roberts and a majority on the court decided to expand the Civil Rights Act to include transgender people. Of course, there's no reference anywhere in the law to cross-dressers. So the court simply added that into the law themselves. Ta-da! A whole new class of people with constitutional rights based in a law where they were neither mentioned nor even likely imagined when the Constitution and the law was debated and enacted.

We see evidence everywhere that the Constitution has been displaced by the new, de facto constitution of the Civil Rights Act. First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of association are abridged in the interest of furthering the goals of the new constitution. This fact explains the chasm between conservatives and liberals in America today. As conservatives view the country and people through the lens of the original Constitution and the liberties it protects, the left is all-in on the de facto new constitution of Civil Rights. The biggest difference between them being the original is designed to limit the reach of the government, while the new constitution is an ever expanding bag of goodies from the government to preferred groups of people with a shockingly large bureaucracy to administer it and wield it against individual Americans deemed to have violated it.

Most interesting of all, though, is President Donald Trump's name is never mentioned in the book. He is REFERRED TO, but only in a dismissive, dehumanizing way. I'm not sure of Caldwell's politics, but I take it he's a "never-Trump" Republican. The index under "Trump, Donald" lists two references, but in both of those Caldwell twists himself into a pretzel to avoid saying his name. He refers to him as a self-promoting real estate developer and implies he is the shameless result of conservatives being shamed by the left into hiding their political beliefs in the politically correct civil rights culture of post-1960s America.

(***Spoiler alert***):
Also very surprising, Caldwell does an admirable job of chronicling America's gradual cultural transformation, but stops in 2015. The book was published in 2020, with a LOT happening in those missing five years. The book ends so abruptly that I thought my copy of the book was a misprint, missing 50 pages or so. It's as though Caldwell cannot physically force himself to write about Donald Trump. I have no way of knowing his motivations, but his completely ignoring an entire American presidency that resulted from the very topic of the book is just weird. Maybe he has some other reason other than the usual Trump hatred and disgust the rest of America is all well familiar with from Ivy League elitists (Caldwell is a Harvard graduate), but there's no indication of what it might be. That deficiency makes what would have been a great - and more relevant - book only pretty good.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Long March to Put Criminals in Control of the Streets

The current leftist mantra of defunding police is only the latest in their ongoing effort to limit the ability of citizens to maintain order in communities and allow criminals to run wild, victimizing the public. It fits naturally with the leftist theme that people are not responsible for their own actions, and bad behavior should be excused as something or someone else's fault. The ultimate goal has always been to tie the hands of authorities seeking to ensure order and allow criminals to terrorize law-abiding people.

For several years liberals have complained that police vehicle chases not only endangered the criminals being chased, but innocent motorists and pedestrians. A rational person would point out the criminal choosing to lead police on a chase using a vehicle is the one endangering himself and the public. But leftists turn the narrative on its head and blame police for the danger imposed by the intentional acts of a criminal. Cities that don't already ban police chases are now a patchwork of complicated rules for officers to untangle and try to apply in a dangerous situation. Some departments ban chasing drivers suspected of drunk driving ("if they're already driving badly at 40mph, they'll be even more dangerous at 100mph"), property crimes such as car theft and routine traffic offenses. Ultimately, these rules tie the hands of officers and favor people who are willing to put the public in danger to resist arrest.

It's essentially a hostage situation. "If you chase me, I'll hurt these people."

The Obama administration used the leftist concept of restorative justice to cajole schools into not suspending certain students who otherwise would have been, or notifying police of violent students. The program, said to be aimed at ending "the school to prison pipeline" resulted in unnecessary chaos and violence in America's schools and led to the largest school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida by a former student who had flown under the protective radar of the program.

Many cities have resorted to issuing tickets instead of arresting offenders for perceived minor crimes. Other cities are de-criminilizing entire classes of crimes. Interestingly, the pattern for de-criminilization was set by the federal government during the Obama years where, instead of arguing for and pursuing the repeal of certain laws, the Department of Justice simply exercised its otherwise legitimate prosecutorial discretion to simply ignore federal laws the administration didn't like. Immigration and drug laws were the main examples of this. Liberal city officials across America have  now adopted the Obama/Holder model by simply ignoring and refusing to prosecute state criminal laws with which they disagree. Social justice prosecutors in several large cities now allow all kinds of crime, from fare-jumping and theft to drug dealing and minor assaults. You may have seen videos of thieves brazenly clearing off the shelves of products in a store and walking out, knowing the store owners will either not call the police, or the police won't come, or prosecutors will not bother trying to add up all the stolen merchandise to see if it totals more than the amount above which a theft charge will be filed.

In New York City, this year has seen a new experiment in letting criminals just have their crime sprees without worrying about sitting in jail. The criminal courts' no-bail initiative rests on the presumption criminals are sorry about their crimes and won't do it again. Therefore, why should they sit in jail? The results have been predictable as criminals have been arrested and released and rearrested over and over, occasionally taunting the police and their victims as they walk free again minutes after being booked.

A somewhat related version of this insanity was applied during the coronavirus panic as thousands of inmates in liberal cities around the country were released into the community to commit mayhem and murder. The excuse that authorities were afraid the prisoners might catch coronavirus didn't make any sense considering there was no hesitation by these same authorities to jail otherwise law-abiding citizens accused of violating absurd orders to not attend funerals or let their children play outside in a park.

The common denominator is criminal activity is excused.

The recent Atlanta shooting death of Rayshard Brooks actually incorporates a few of these law enforcement critiques into one case. Brooks had been held in jail on felony child abuse charges, but was released for fear he would catch coronavirus while locked up. Reports and video indicate he was intoxicated in his car at a fast food restaurant when police encountered him. After talking with him for awhile, checking his license and registration and administering the normal field sobriety tests - the usual stuff cops do thousands of times a night across America - Brooks got aggressive with the officers and began physically fighting/wrestling them to avoid being arrested. Several commenters on news stories and social media employed the same line of reasoning as that in liberal criticisms of police chases: "They should've just let him go. They had his license and registration, they could've just gone to his house tomorrow and arrest him there."

To begin, the suggestion officers should stand aside and allow a verified drunk man to get in his car and drive away simply because he doesn't want to be arrested is ludicrous. It's also safe to presume any person willing to physically assault two police officers wouldn't think twice about physically attacking anyone else they may encounter. Finally, the suggestion police could simply arrest such a person peacefully at their home the next day assumes that person would be willing to be arrested. What if they didn't want to be arrested tomorrow, either?

We've reached a place in a formerly civilized society where public officials refuse to enforce laws, refuse to jail those who break the law and seriously suggest criminals should only be arrested if they agree to it.

This week in New York City, the wife of mayor Bill diBlasio spoke of the nirvana New York would be without police. Other leftists ask us to imagine a world with no police.

Efforts to defund police - to reduce or remove their budgets and redirect those funds to community programs - are the next step toward the ultimate goal of abolishing police.

Things are going to get worse before they get better.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Left is Unconstrained by Principles

Many of us in the commentary class spend a lot of time thinking about big ideas. Asking why things are the way they are? Some of us spend our time crafting perspectives on current events or trends that ordinary people often miss because they forgot about something or didn't think to make those connections. Radio host Rush Limbaugh claims to "make the complex understandable". That is actually how I managed to operate as a successful trial lawyer for nearly two decades. I took complex legal theories and unfamiliar language and transferred those to stories, anecdotes and common language so that jurors from all walks of life could easily understand the relevant principle and then made my argument in how that principle should apply in the case these jurors were about to decide. When I returned to broadcasting and writing opinion commentary, that skill naturally transferred to a wider audience of listeners and readers.

It's rare to come across an observation that summarizes a large concept so succinctly. But this comment on social media, by a user who I won't name because I haven't spoken with him, is an outstanding cut-to-the-chase explanation of the reason for the disconnect:
"The reason why leftism always ends in cascades of blood is that it has no limiting principle - nothing in it that defines when enough's enough and it's time to stop. All that stuff in Christianity about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek is there to give it a limiting principle. But leftism has none, and the question is not whether it will go to its most horrifying extreme before it collapses, but only how fast it will happen."
If it feels like the political left and right in the U.S. and other Western countries are speaking two completely different languages, that's because they are. The goal of liberals is never what they claim it to be. They always some immediate grievance they claim will be resolved if they are just given their way. But, as we all see, when their demands are met they simply shrug that off and move on to their next grievance with a new feigned outrage as the excuse for their new demands. But they never stop. There is never a point at which they are satisfied. There is an end game they have in mind, they just will not be open about what it is. They have a goal, but they cannot be honest about it.

The end game for the left - for communism - is always mass killing and oppression. The world is full of recent examples: The USSR, China, Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea. Even Venezuela right here in our own hemisphere over the past several years. Venezuela went from the richest nation on their continent to complete collapse into dystopian hellhole as one sector of their society after another was "liberated" by communism. It all began with promises of utopia & fairness. It's a perfect demonstration of why the left keeps their focus on some immediate bogeyman until they achieve their short-term goal, then they immediately ignore the destruction in their wake and move to next target. Like stepping stones across a river. They won't tell you what's on the other side, though, because people would fight back against it.

These are not good people. They tell you they need to be put into control of everything for your own good. They put good people in a position to have to call them liars. Most people are very uncomfortable with that. It's a weakness. As soon as they control the levers of power, in a university or a city or state...it always ends up with quashing dissent and eventually forced submission. Violence is always required to complete the process to marxist utopia. The Bolsheviks, the Cultural Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia...mass murder is always the final result of collectivism. The only question is how quickly it happens.

Ronald Reagan and others of his era referred to "godless communism", a phrase you never hear anymore. But it is correct. Western Civilization is built on spiritual principles that restrain people into honoring the different ideas of others and changing and improving our societies to allow maximum freedom for as many as possible. The left is constrained by no such principles. There is no basis in their ideology to prevent them imposing their authority on people against their will. Up to and including murder. Which is why they have to lock people into their nations like prisoners and kill those who try to escape. It's why it was called the Iron Curtain. Why Cuba kills its citizens who try to escape the island. Why the Soviets built a wall across Berlin. And it's why collectivist programs like Obamacare are mandatory.

One side has limiting principles and a culture of free speech and improving society through new ideas and debate. And you are free to leave at any time to go to a country you like better. The other has no limiting principle except total control, with zero tolerance for dissent or debate. People flee those countries to come to Western nations. Nations our own leftists claim are the worst nations on earth.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Major Media is Reduced to a Parody of Itself

MSNBC assured us the riots were peaceful as a looted liquor store
burned directly behind the reporter.
The lies have gone from insulting to just weird.

Major media has carried water for liberal Democrats for years, twisting anything and everything into a narrative to help Democrats win elections, as well as taking the points of their stories directly from Democrats.

Remember when someone ratted out the 'Journo-List' in the early 2000s? A who's who of major media figures, as well as young up-and-coming reporters and media had a secret listserv (if you don't remember those, they were basically an electronic mailing list) where these "journalists" all got together and colluded about how they would cover stories. Literally all planning together and debating how to report an event so they gave maximum benefit to Democrats.

Obama's eight years was one long media love affair.

The Wikileaks email dump revealed major media reporters, anchors, writers, columnists and others all emailing and discussing their stories with Hillary or her staffers. One reporter even submitted his articles - about Hillary - to Hillary, John Podesta or other high-ranking staffers to get her approval before publishing it. Like a teenage girl with a crush, the media tried so hard to please her. But that was all under the table.

In the 2016 presidential campaign Democrats didn't even care if they looked like embarrassing fan boys. Remember when Hillary disappeared for long stretches and she gave her first interview in several months? Wracked with scandals, apparent illness and refusing to interact with media, a reporter asked Hillary what was her favorite flavor of ice cream? Shameless. We also learned CNN's Donna Brazile helped Hillary cheat by sending her the CNN debate moderator's questions in advance and Andrea Mitchell of NBC News was busted taking questions for Hillary by text message from one of Hillary's handlers. She literally got the question Hillary wanted the reporter to ask in a text message, nodded at the staffer and then read the question. These are very dishonest people.

With "Russian collusion" the media sunk to openly handing over their platform to Democrats to yell outlandish accusations about President Trump. He was a Russian spy, he told the Russians to hack the election and hack emails and any number of other sinister - but plainly absurd and baseless - accusations. We now know that all the faux outrage and wild claims of Democrats were false. Although they promised mountains of evidence and pending indictments for the President, there was literally nothing there. It was all completely made up.

During the Chinese coronavirus situation and the recent urban riots around the U.S. and Western Europe, we can see the Democrat media has found a way to be even less honest. With everyone carrying around cellphones that double as a television camera, we are all transported directly into the scene of pretty much every news event. They're everywhere. And the more spectacular the video or photos, the more they get shared around and viewed on social media.

But having videos and pictures of everything doesn't really help the leftist media keep its Democrat propaganda narrative going. Because they lie. A lot!

During these riots the Democrat narrative is the riots are peaceful. So they report this. Even though we can all see with our own eyes that what they are saying is the exact opposite of the video of the event. Fake news journalists don't care. They just keep reporting the stories the way they think will help Democrats the most. MSNBC's Ali Velshi reported from the riots in Minneapolis and tried to convince us the protest wasn't unruly. As he spoke, swarms of shirtless rioters swarmed around him and a fire raged in a looted liquor store directly behind him. Nearby, the Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct building was overrun, looted and burned, the police trying to fight off the mob from the roof had to rescued by helicopter.

In the past day or so, the New York Times ran a story detailing how former president George W. Bush would not be voting for President Trump. They literally just made that story up and reported it as fact. A spokesman for the former president gave a statement denying the story. The Times never talked to Bush. They just made up the story and reported it as fact. This is also known as a "lie".

It's gone from dishonest and shameful to outrageous to insulting to just really weird. It makes one wonder how detached from reality someone has to be in order to write or speak an obvious lie while one's viewers/readers are watching video showing the opposite of what is being reported? There's really no reason to watch major news media anymore. And there hasn't been a reason to do so in decades.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Leftists Stoke Chaos to Ram Through their Agenda

A remarkable feature of liberalism is the speed at which they can push their agenda. It goes hand-in-hand with the mantra of political opportunism "never let a crisis go to waste".

The rioting in American cities is only a few days old, and statues that offend liberals are being ripped down by local governments all over America. Confederate monuments that have stood for over 100 years are being ordered removed almost simultaneously in Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia. In Dallas, a statue of man in a cowboy hat representing the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency was removed within hours of a decision by local officials. The justification is accounts in a book that hasn't even been released yet recounting stories of police in that agency not behaving in social justice warrior-approved fashion several decades ago. Desperate to join the destruction, Indianapolis' Democrat mayor found a monument with the names and units of the 1,600 Confederate soldiers who died in a POW camp and buried in a mass grave in Indy and ordered it torn down.

Many of us have warned for years that the Confederate statue or Confederate flag issue was not just about those things. It was about something bigger. It was just the beginning of erasing American history, and that leftists would never be satisfied at achieving these goals and would only be emboldened to move on to other targets for removal, helping them re-write American history.

In the wake of leftist protests in the past few years, Baltimore took the occasion to tear down the public statue of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney because current-year leftists disagree with his legal decisions from 180 years ago. Last year in California, city officials ordered a statue of President William McKinley removed and Pittsburgh officials tore down a statue of American composer Stephen Foster.

Leftists are now increasing their demands to tear down monuments to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others, and remove their names from places and buildings.

Liberals have become experts at using the cover of chaos - chaos they create - to make permanent changes that would be difficult in ordinary times. Obamacare was rammed through by the left citing a "healthcare emergency". Nancy Pelosi famously telling Americans their bill would have to be enacted for anyone to know what was in it. Similarly, the Patriot Act was shoved down America's collective throat on the excuse of a national security emergency. Politicians later acted stunned at the provisions, in the law they voted for, that inflicts serious infringements on Americans' privacy and has had no visible impact stopping terrorism. The massive expansion of the surveillance state is being used, though, against Americans for both law enforcement and illegal political spying as we've seen in the Mike Flynn case and by the Obama administration against the Trump campaign. The Patriot Act was terrible for the American people, and we now see that Obamacare was disastrous, also. Making healthcare drastically more expensive and more complicated. But these massive changes have proved impossible to reverse, even though they sailed through easily under the cover of an "emergency".

These are not honest people with goodwill or who want to get along or work together. They don't care what you want. They hate you. Even though they whine about it, they don't want bipartisanship. Except to force you to cave to them. That kind of "bipartisanship", they will gladly embrace. But they only whine about bipartisanship to bring pressure on conservatives to give up. Liberalism - which, in the modern context is simply communism - is defined by dishonesty. They cannot be honest about what they want to do to you. How many Democrats in these burning cities would have been elected if they told voters they were going to shut the economy, lock citizens in their homes, empty the jails of criminals while jailing people for attending church, giving haircuts or taking their child to a park and would preside over the looting and fire bombing of entire neighborhoods while telling police to stop picking on the rioters?

Now leftist politicians in American cities and states are using the riots they are stoking to push through otherwise unthinkable policies such as defunding police departments to appease protesters in a show of claimed solidarity with rioters. This is just an expansion of their increasing demands to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to facilitate open borders, which globalists of both parties also call for abolishing.

Ordinary Americans find themselves shocked into inaction in the face of chaos, and the left uses that period of shock to make permanent changes. Wash, rinse, repeat. I don't know what the answer is. But we are careening faster and faster into a communist dystopia where our laws, government and society are completely controlled by liberal initiatives rammed through during "emergencies" and the only history anyone has access to is politically correct books written and approved by the social justice crowd intent on destroying any memory of a time without their control.

Do you think Ronald Reagan's name is safe on the airport in Washington, D.C.? Or Mount Rushmore won't be targeted for destruction? Nothing is ever enough for the left. Whatever they achieve is just a stepping stone to the next fake outrage and demand.

Once these agenda items are achieved, they are difficult or impossible to reverse. The only answer is leaders must rise up to stop the political opportunism and give people someone and something to rally behind.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

History is a Continuum, Not Isolated Events

Everybody tends to think history is a series of eras. And the further back in time we look, the more disjointed and disconnected events seem to us. Because we mostly know how it turned out. Forgetting that the people living through those events and times didn't know how it ends. This is why it's so easy for some to look back and judge people from the past for being unfair or unreasonable. Because we have the benefit of hindsight.

I was talking to a World War II veteran a few years ago and somehow a particular historical event came up from that time that, in hindsight, was regrettable. Without getting sidetracked into the details of that discussion, he shared the fear and anxiety Americans were facing as a result of the German conquest of the European continent and the Japanese navy's attack on the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At that time, the German army appeared unstoppable in Europe and the Japanese military was an efficient machine rampaging across Asia and the Pacific. The U.S. was still floundering in a decade-long crippling economic depression and had only a small military. Things looked bad on every front. Men were drafted, ordinary consumer goods were rationed. As we talked, it was very hard for me to imagine such a momentous time without knowing what we all know now: The U.S. would win the war and become a dominant superpower. The American industrial capacity set up during the war, combined with the utter destruction of every other industrialized nation on earth, would pave the way for American prosperity and economic dominance for generations. But, at the time, they didn't know that.

History happens by the second, by the minute and by the hour. It is all a continuously flowing experience made up of events that lead one to another to another. It seems obvious, but I write this because we are increasingly detached from our place in history. Viewing the present - this day - as all that ever existed, and judging all of the flowing experience of history through an official "now". It is dehumanizing. Transforming every human being who ever lived into a two-dimensional character on a TV program airing this minute. With heroes and villains being portrayed according to whatever our morality of the moment happens to be. And that morality may suddenly change at any minute. Even more disturbing is the revisionism of actual historical events. As times change and historical events are parsed by scholars and others, a clearer picture surely emerges. A picture that those in the midst of the events didn't have. But we are witnessing a disturbing trend now, where history is re-written over and over, with facts changed to conform and support whatever is the current official morality on a particular matter.

It is cliche to say this, but it really is incredibly Orwellian. I refer, of course, to George Orwell's dystopian fiction '1984' where the antagonist Big Brother proclaims all official truth and ruthlessly enforces that belief on the population by demanding they repeat only the current "truth" and disavow any other version. Big Brother uses the media to broadcast the official "truth" and protagonist Winston Smith commits the thoughtcrime of consciously noticing that the official "truth" is often the exact opposite of things he personally knows to be true, or whatever was officially declared to be the "truth" previously.

A particular passage in the story - written in the 1940s(!) - is shockingly prescient:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
As history is re-written, not merely clarified with better understanding of the events, but actually rewritten to erase events and people and replace them with alternate events or enhance or diminish people to conform them to the current official "truth" (referred to with the Orwellian euphemism "political correctness") we see this fictional totalitarianism enforced in real life. In the current year. As wrong discussions, wrong words or wrong thoughts are banned, people doing good things demonized, people doing bad things extolled as virtuous, historical monuments torn down, streets and buildings renamed and an ever-changing official "truth" is ruthlessly enforced by vilifying anyone asking questions or even noticing the disconnect between what they personally know to be true and the official "truth", we see this Orwellian social conditioning in our own lives.

As American cities are looted and burned, it should be noted we are not on a historical island. To this point, Black Lives Matter spokespeople are correct to cite a running history of the experience of Africans in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. (Although, it appears that much, or maybe most, of the rioting is being done by ANTIFA and other anarchist political groups not necessarily connected in any meaningful way with BLM or other black organizations. This is apparent as these same groups are using this opportunity to riot in other nations.) They are correct that none of their lives, or anybody's, is disconnected from history or historical events. We are part of it. We are living it. But history has not stopped, as though we are all living in an "endless present" where it is 1700 or 1830 or 1920...all in the current year. Since those responsible for violating the current official truth imposed on those previous historical times are all dead, the always-changing current population is being substituted as the responsible violators. It is a strange combination of both an inability to change history and a demand to accept responsibility for it.

The Great Migration. 1916-1970
Africans and others were brought to the North American continent in bondage from 1619 to 1807, when the slave trade was abolished. A period of 188 years. Near the end of that time, the American colonies became an independent nation and adopted the U.S. Constitution in 1788. The slave trade was abolished 19 years later and the practice of slavery itself was formally abolished by constitutional amendment in 1865. Slavery was outlawed 77 years after the Constitution was adopted and 58 years after the slave trade banned. During the 155 years since the 13th Amendment was enacted banning slavery, the Constitution was further amended to ensure citizenship to freed slaves and federal laws were enacted to protect voting rights and equal treatment under law. During that time, American courts have consistently expanded the legal interpretation of the Constitution and federal laws to add additional protections. In the early 1920s, black Americans undertook the Great Migration to Northern cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and New York where they exerted substantial political power, both at the local level and at the federal level in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and on every level of the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Eventually, an African American from Chicago rose quickly from the Illinois statehouse to the U.S. Senate to President of the United States, easily winning back-to-back Presidential elections.

We are currently writing a new chapter on a historical continuum, not merely experiencing an isolated episode. What comes next or how our present time will be viewed in 100, 200 or 300 years is anyone's guess.